Downton Abbey Series 2 Episode 2

Last night’s episode of Downton Abbey opened in April 1917. Julian Fellowes really is racing through the years in this series: the girls will probably be in Flapper dresses by the end of the series – whatever would the Dowager Countess say at that?! So what was new? Well, firstly, Matthew had been promoted to Captain Crawley and left the Front to tour England with his General to find new recruits. I can’t help thinking that it is rather too easy for Matthew to flit to and from the war, popping in Downton for dinner. But then again, he needs to have scenes with Mary so this is probably the only way to get enough of them. Speaking of Mary, she managed to find herself a rebound man, in the form of Sir. Richard Carlisle, a wealthy newspaper mogul, who looks at least as old as Mary’s father, if not older. Mary invited him to stay at the same time as Matthew was in England – no doubt to parade him as her new man. It seemed that there was no love lost between Sir. Richard and Lavinia, as they were overheard by Aunt Rosamund having a rather heated discussion: Sir. Richard was threatening her and it sounded as if he was trying to blackmail her. So, one wonders, what does he have on her and who else does it impact?

Now onto the other Crawley sisters… Edith decided to ‘do her bit’ by volunteering to drive a tractor on a farm on the estate. (Violet: “You are a lady, not Toad of Toad Hall!”) My guess in my previous post on Downton was correct then: Edith got the hots for the married farmer whom Mrs Crawley helped cure from Dropsy in Series 1. Naughty Edith. It was actually quite sweet, when they had their first kiss in a lamp-lit barn…apart from the fact that his wife was watching and promptly sent Edith a letter telling her that her services were no longer needed. That told her. Or did it?  We shall see. Poor Edith, although she was awful to Mary last series, I hope she finds someone soon – she lost Sir. Anthony Strallen and now it seems as if her nice farmer has been snatched from her clutches.

Sybil was seen working hard at the local hospital and was rather unimpressed at her parents’ repeated requests that she come to dinner from time to time. She told Branson, who had been following her around like a lovesick puppy, that she could never go back to her pre-war life, which made Branson look hopeful. Clearly he still dreams of he and Sybil living together in a hovel and discussing politics all day. Sybil had a new colleague: Thomas, who managed to wangle his way out of the war and into a job as a medic at the Downton hospital. He and Sybil formed a united front when Dr. Clarkson told them that a young gas-blinded officer whom they had both been helping to recover was being transferred to another hospital to convalesce. Sybil and Thomas tried to dissuade him, saying that the man was depressed and shouldn’t be moved yet, but Dr. Clarkson stuck to his decision and the officer committed suicide.

So who was pleased to see Thomas back? Carson: no. William: not so much. Miss O’Brien: yes. In a big way. In fact she got a bit emotional when Thomas arrived outside the servants’ entrance and showed off his withered hand. Seems he had no remorse over his actions. Now there’s a surprise! Miss O’Brien seemed to have a had a complete personality transplant when she praised new valet, Lang, on his sewing skills. Wait – did Miss O’Brien just pay someone a compliment? surely not! Later on, after noticing how Lang suffered with shell shock, Miss O’Brien said that she sympathised with him and told him that she lost her favourite brother to shell shock as he was ordered back to the Front and killed. Do I sense a possible love interest for the perpetually bitchy O’Brien. That could be interesting, especially as the trailer for next week shows Thomas returning to Downton when it is turned in a convalescence home. I can’t think he’ll be best pleased to see Miss O’Brien getting chummy with someone else.

Speaking of Downton as a convalescence home, the Dowager Countess was less than approving of the plan. Surprised? I thought not. She said: “What if there are relapses? What then? Amputations in the dining room? Resuscitations in the pantry?” I swear Maggie Smith gets the best lines.

Now back to Mary. When Carson collapsed whilst serving the family at dinner (due to stress about the lack of male staff and his stubborn refusal to allow a maid in the dining room), Mary paid him a visit while he was resting. Carson told her to tell Matthew how she feels or she’ll regret it forever. Mary said: “But what about Miss Swire?”, to which Carson replied, “As if any man in his right mind could prefer Miss Swire to you!” So, Mary decided to go and pour out her heart to Matthew. Except that she didn’t. What really happened is that she found Lavinia in Matthew’s garden and Lavinia was upset about Matthew going back to the war early. She sobbed, “If he died, I don’t think I could go on living.” Thus, when Matthew turned up, Mary decided to be a martyr and hold her tongue. Creepy Sir. Richard then proposed to Mary at the railway station (the scene was not a patch on the emotional Goodbye Matthew one in the previous episode). Mary said she would think about it – no doubt hoping that Matthew would give her an indication that he still loved her. However, Matthew said that now that he’d found someone, he hoped that she would too. Mary then decided to accept Sir, Richard which is a decision which I’m pretty sure she’ll live to regret in the near future…

A quick mention of a couple more characters before I wrap this up: Moseley unsuccessfully tried to make overtures of courtship to Anna, but she told him that she still loved Mr Bates, and that was the end of that. William joined up and asked Daisy to become his official sweetheart. Daisy smiled and nodded but later confided to Mrs Patmore that she wasn’t sure she wanted to be William’s girl. Mrs Patmore told her that she couldn’t let William go off to war with a broken heart, so she should let him think that they were courting. Now, I reckon there are two options here: either William finds out that Daisy doesn’t really love him and gets himself killed (probably doing something reckless) OR William gets killed and then Daisy realises she loved him all along. Either way, I think William’s days are numbered.

Another great episode and I look forward to seeing how everyone reacts to Downton being invaded by wounded soldiers and doctors. I expect Violet will have many a choice remark to make on the subject.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. ladylavinia1932
    Sep 29, 2011 @ 18:18:30

    Edith was not only awful to Mary last season, but I also recall Mary being pretty awful to her.

    I don’t blame Thomas for shooting his hand to get out of the war zone.

    [“Well, firstly, Matthew had been promoted to Captain Crawley and left the Front to tour England with his General to find new recruits. I can’t help thinking that it is rather too easy for Matthew to flit to and from the war, popping in Downton for dinner.”]

    I rather doubt it. Eight to nine months have passed between the first and second episodes.


    • comeandgobybubble
      Sep 29, 2011 @ 20:43:32

      True, Mary was awful to her – it would be nice if they could both manage to set aside their difference this season for a while instead of being at each other’s throats the whole time!
      No I don’t blame Thomas for doing it either – he was clearly desperate and I’ve read that men really did things like that at the Front, such as sticking a foot above the top of the trench. I absolutely loathed him in series 1 but seeing him broken down with emotion, firstly at the Front and then when the officer killed himself, made me sympathise with him and start to like him.
      I know that several months had passed but it still seemed a little too easy for him to get leave – especially right in the middle of the Battle of the Somme last episode (not that I pretend to know that much about it, but it just seemed a little too convenient). Still, I was nit-picking and little details like that don’t stop me enjoying it!


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