okay so i’m watching the proposal again because i have a death wish or something, and can i just draw your attention to that swift look matthew gives mary after she asks about pamuk?
when he asks if she’ll stay, he really is on the edge of something. he hasn’t really committed. by phrasing it that way he’s leaving open just enough room for interpretation that he can backtrack or they can go forward without this clouding everything if he finds out it’s not what she wants. so at first she scoffs, calls him on not meaning it. because matthew does have a tendency to make a move and then backtrack, as we well know. it’s kind of a matter of self preservation for mary to not let herself immediately believe he means it. so she makes the luggage comment and he knows she’s right and he lets out that little huff of a laugh.
let’s be honest, they’ve both been drinking. the whole conversation starts with a note about thick heads in the morning. at one point he’s actually focused not on mary, but on the snowflakes above her head. his gaze kind of drifts around—it’s full of a ridiculous amount of love—and fondness, really, which is just what guts me—but he’s not really focused. it’s still a hypothetical, something he wants to be right and true so he’s daring to try it because they’ve been drinking and dancing (and i think something about his mother refusing to let him use lavinia as an excuse really did affect all of this, because matthew and isobel’s relationship is really interesting and however much he might kind of laugh at her for being so obstinate and independent and opinionated, he respects her immensely, as well), but it’s not quite real yet.
but when mary brings up pamuk matthew realizes would she stay, if he asked her to? is still hypothetical, but it’s not dismissed. she’s not really brushing away his hopeful, improbable question after all.
she’s trying to work it out. and matthew knows that when mary’s trying to work something out, she usually manages it. she certainly doesn’t waste her time discussing things that she doesn’t think are necessary to discuss. that’s one indulgence she’s terrible with, and why she could never marry a man she didn’t want to sit next to at dinner. remember how painful and forced she was with strallan and the farming dilemmas?
so when she asks, “and what about the late mr. pamuk?” his eyes dart to her so quickly. when she says “resurrect himself,” he looks away again, and up, like he’s sure enough she’s saying what he thinks she’s saying that he doesn’t have to watch her face anymore to confirm it. and then—when we argued—he smiles. he smiles. much like branson smiled when sybil was talking about how mary wouldn’t encourage them—because the prospect of having something with sybil that mary could either approve or disapprove of was miraculous in itself. for matthew, the prospect of being with mary, of arguing with mary—whatever the conditions, whatever the ghosts—is just as warm a prospect. the idea that they would be in a position that she would expect him to be bitter about pamuk means that she’s considering exactly what he hoped she would be.
and he knows more than she does, in that moment. that’s it, right then. usually mary’s the one who sees and assesses and stays quiet about everything between them, at least during and after the war. and here it switches. because matthew knows that if mary’s only concern about being with him is that pamuk would always haunt them, there’s really nothing to be concerned about. and if she’s trying to work it out and the one problem that arises isn’t really a problem at all…well. they’re about to start a life together.
and he says “no.” goddamn dan stevens for that no in that moment. because i honestly forget it’s dan stevens. it is so matthew, and it is so telling. the acting, just, ugh. all that he knows is in that “no,” and all of his sureness, and all of his love for mary, and his lovely middle class values that allow him to not hold pamuk against her and not be ashamed of her or think less of her because she’s had a life that’s not totally pristine and up to snuff by her family and social circle’s standards. and that was when i started swearing and crying on christmas, to be honest. with that no. because with that no, you know what’s going to happen. the inflection in one fucking word is enough to know that he’s in this now, that he’s in it enough to reassure mary instead of letting her doubts magnify his own and derail them both.
and you know what happens next. and i don’t know where all of this came from but i haven’t been getting much sleep lately and apparently i have a lot of feelings about mary and matthew that needed to be put into words beyond eurgh, my beautiful broken british BABIES!
guhhh it’s too early in the day for me to be dry heaving on feelings. posting this without the original cut because every glorious word of this deserves to be displayed unencumbered.
what I love most about your beautiful feelings explosion is your observation on how things begin to shift and take clarity in Matthew’s mind when Mary brings up Pamuk and arguments (well that is the central theme of your entire post, therefore I love all of it the most). this really is such a pivotal moment in their conversation. I remember punching my knuckles against my teeth at Mary’s, “Won’t he resurrect himself every time we argued?” we argued. we argued. (I also loved how this was a nod to Matthew’s, “If you really like an argument… we should see more of each other.” from 1x06. Oh babies.)
Even though she scoffs at him as you said, Mary has already gone there un/subconsciously - she has already gone to a place where they are close enough, honest enough, comfortable enough to be arguing. And I might be wrong, but I don’t think she has even the faintest realization of the true weight of her implication, but Matthew is hanging on her every word and the significance of those words aren’t lost on him. Those words, that possibility, the fact that Mary can still envision and speak of them as an entity, that was all the confirmation he needed to take his leap of faith.