Downton Abbey: A Very Crawley Christmas

Posted on February 19, 2012

“Life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.”

Given how poorly the previous season was paced – so badly that “poorly paced” serves quite well as a primary descriptor for the season – it’s a bit astonishing that so much happened in these two hours and yet very little of it felt rushed or un-earned. In fact, everything was so earned that it wound up being the best two hours of the entire series so far. A truly enjoyable wrapup of most of the storylines to date, giving the fans pretty much exactly what they wanted and still leaving enough dangling to keep them coming back. Julian Fellowes, how the hell did you manage that one? Were you drunk while you wrote the previous season and only sobered up in time to bang this one out? Did you finally recover from your Canadian-causing blow to the head? Did you feel a tingle down there while you were writing this? Whatever the secret to your sudden and unforeseen scripting success, do consider replicating it when it comes time to write series 3, won’t you?

If it wasn’t for scores of people saying, for weeks ahead of time, “Just wait until the Christmas Special,” we probably would have gone into this episode without high hopes at all. Oh sure, we’ve managed to laugh our way through some of the more ludicrous aspects of the season, but there was a distinct impression that this ship was sinking, and if it were to continue making the mistakes it’s been routinely making, the show’s big moment as an international hit would likely be extremely short-lived. In short, a LOT was riding on these two hours and Fellowes stuck the dismount, against all reasonable expectations.

First and foremost in everyone’s minds is the (seeming) resolution to the Matthew and Mary saga. With a trail of dead bodies, scandal, miraculous cures and unlikely singing duets behind them, their coming together couldn’t have been handled in a better way. That scene was just romantic enough (If they don’t put out Downton snow globes within the next year, they’re utter fools) to be sweetly satisfying, but it was also perfectly acted by both performers, giving the scene an unexpected light touch when it could have easily gotten heavy with the weight of past storylines. It just felt right. Mary’s acted far less than admirably throughout this story and plenty will say she doesn’t deserve a happy ending, given all the people she’s hurt, but as Matthew said, “You lived your life and I lived mine.” It’ll be interesting to see where they take Mary now that she’s achieved and acquired everything she ever wanted. Without that longing and frustration defining her, that’s a tough row to hoe, both for the actress and the writer. Of course, this being a soap opera, there’s no guarantee that one long-awaited proposal will mean an instant Happily Ever After, so there’s plenty of wiggle room down the road, in terms of giving Mary something to complain about do.

We still had to be treated to the two of them acting quite stupidly before they got to that kiss, though. Even though it looked like every other character under that roof, upstairs and down, was treating their eventual coming together as an inevitability (including the increasingly frantic and wild-eyed Sir Richard, we had to watch these two idiots stumble through almost 2 hours of delaying; an extended foreplay that lasted throughout the entire twelve days of the Christmas.  We had yet another morose scene around a grave, as Mary and Matthew whipped themselves over Lavinia’s corpse while Isobel looked on with a “What the fuck is wrong with these two?” look on her face. At least we got a bit of the old Isobel for a second; the one who’s pushy, but usually for a good reason and usually because she’s right. We got the previously mentioned frantic Sir Richard all but slapping her at the dinner table, which brought Matthew to her side and the ghost of Mr. Pamuk to the surface once again. And we almost got Mary fleeing Europe altogether, to get away from all her problems. But thankfully, in the end, we got to see Matthew, bruised spine and all, hand Sir Richard the beating we all wanted to see. Well, maybe a little blood would have been nice. Still, when she FINALLY said “Yes,” it felt as earned as a payoff could possibly be.

But the story wasn’t restricted to Mary and Matthew. The downstairs version of their rocky romance hit the biggest snag of all as Mr. Bates gets pronounced guilty and sentence to death in high melodrama fashion, complete with weeping wife calling out in the courtroom. Considering the testimony that most damned him was apparently his own, as he told the prosecutors every single incriminating thing he ever said so they could haul half the household onto the stand and force them into repeating it, we once again wanted to wash our hands of this tiresome, self-sabotaging raincloud of a man. Why on earth would he TELL prosecutors that Mrs. Hughes heard him call her a bitch (and how would he know that, anyway)? Why would he tell them that he referred to her as “the late” Mrs. Bates to Lord Grantham? Why didn’t Anna just throw up her hands and walk out of that courtroom in disgust? Interesting once again to note how concerned O’Brien seems to be about the whole thing. She’s really feeling guilty about that testimony, but we wonder if there’s something she hasn’t admitted to; something that’s making her feel even more guilty than we know. The good news (we suppose) is that Bates only gets life imprisonment and everyone assures Anna that they’re going to work to get his sentence overturned. Frankly, we were a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see the adventures of Lady Mary and Anna in America, with (presumably) Shirley MacLaine.

But it looks like the journey of Robert, Earl of Grantham, has spared Mary the fate of running off to Newport with Grandmama. As dumb as all his moping and maid-groping was this season, even that was paid off here. Because the only way the Robert we met in the first episode of this show would ever get to the point where he could calmly ask his oldest daughter, “Do you stay with Carlisle because he’s threatened to expose the story of Mr. Pamuk dying in your bed?” was to put him through the wringer, morally and emotionally. Talk about a BOMB DROP, though. Even after the scene with Cora prepared us for it, we were still open-mouthed when he said that line. And teary-eyed when he told her with great affection that he didn’t want her to spend her life with a man who threatened her with ruin and that she should “go and find a cowboy from the middle west” to shake up the family. Only a Robert who lost his heir, saw his other heir mangled and crippled, sat through a war that made him feel worthless, almost broke his marriage vows even as his wife lay dying, and watched his youngest daughter choose the worst possible husband could have uttered those lines. It made sense in retrospect to put him through all that, but we sure wish Fellowes had settled on a more artful way of doing it.

In other Crawley sister news, Edith has HAD IT with being the Jan Brady in this family and she makes her play for Sir Anthony, who tries his best to rebuff it. But Lady Edith’s been through way too much shit herself in the past few years and as she watches her two sisters stumble toward love, she utters her life’s creed to the flustered man: “If you think I’m going to give up on a man who calls me ‘lovely…'” She didn’t get to finish the thought, so we’ll say it, “…THEN YOU DON’T KNOW LADY EDITH, WHO ROLLED IN THE MUD WITH AN UGLY FARMER AND BRIEFLY CONSIDERED A MUPPET WITH ANGER ISSUES, BUDDY. What’s a useless arm after all that? Also, I’ll make babies for you so someone can inherit this fabulous house of yours.” Of all the Crawley sisters, Edith is the one most in need of a pushy gay to get her to say these things. Too bad Thomas can’t be her ladies’ maid.

Oh, and speaking of Thomas, he’s an idiot, but the lucky bastard managed to come out on top. Looks like he’s gonna be Lord Grantham’s valet after all. At least for now. Once you work up the nerve to waltz with the Dowager Countess, we suppose you’re capable of just about anything and probably deserve to be recognized for it.

How cute was that servants’ ball, anyway? And how funny was Matthew’s response to the news he’d be dancing with O’Brien: A heartfelt and desperate “Crikey.” Oh, and the fabulous shooting party with the outdoor luncheon that looked like a Ralph Lauren ad in Town & Country? To DIE. Never before have we wanted so badly to wear tweeds and carry a gun. Credit must be paid to the eye candy this episode, which was stunningly shot and gave the proceedings a highly cinematic feel; even more so than usual.

Daisy got a lovely wrapup as well, finally coming to terms with her relationship with William and gaining a loveable hobbit of a father in the process. “Will you be my daughter? Let me take you into my heart and make you special?” Now WHO could say no to an offer like that? Even we were all, “We’ll be your daughters, Mr. Mason!” through our Kleenex. It was adorable seeing him immediately start to give her advice, slipping right into the father role without another word about it being uttered. It was as emotionally satisfying as Daisy’s story could have been. Credit must be paid to Violet, who seemed to be the one person to punch through Daisy’s wall of stubborness about the whole affair, in a scene that was both adorable and thrilling to watch, just to see two characters who never speak to each other open up like that.  “Well pardon me, but that doesn’t sound very unloving. To me that sounds as if you loved him a great deal.” EXACTLY, VIOLET. But Mr. Mason had the final word, by reminding her that whatever else she was feeling for him, his feelings for her were as genuine as they could have been. “That’s right, I were only ever special to William. Never thought about it like that before.” And just like that, Daisy has a home to go to. Thank Mrs. Patmore and her wily way with a ouija board, which impressed even O’Brien.

Aunt Rosamund got a little story of her own, and the poor dear was made a fool of by the slimy Lord Hepworth and her obnoxious ladies maid. We don’t blame her for hating that her mother was proved right, but we did so love the delicious scene of the Dowager Countess batting him around like a bored cat with a frightened mouse.  And we love how Anna just isn’t putting up with anyone’s bullshit, leading Lady Mary and Lady Rosamunde right to the bedroom door and opening it. Girl’s got no time for other people’s shit while her man’s doing time.

We couldn’t have gotten a better wrapup to the sometimes-slog of this increasingly silly season. But just when we thought we’d managed the entire two hours without one belly laugh at something ludicrous, Julian came through for us again, having Saint Lavinia descend from heaven, her dying words of “Isn’t this better?” just not self-sacrificing and doormat-y enough, to bestow her blessing on Mary & Matthew.

To two maids, for some reason. That girl never was too bright.

[Photo Credit: Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for MASTERPIECE]

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1344922354 Eric Scheirer Stott

      Sir Richard was a complex enough character that I can’t help being pleased he was allowed a dignified exit.

    • Anonymous

      While I enjoyed this season, soapiness and all, I admit it was very uneven.  This episode brought it back.  And then some.  I have some complaints, of course, but they are minor.  I hated the Ouija board aspect, which seemed to exist solely to cram Lavinia’s saintliness down our throats one more time and have Mrs. Patmore indirectly light a fire under Daisy’s ass.  OK, I kind of loved the latter. Also, the Rosamund plot was boring.

      Isobel’s nutcracker line gave me the biggest laugh of the night.  I loved her so much this episode, I’ve completely forgiven her overbearing annoyingness from earlier this season. 

      Joanne Froggatt kicked ass.  Even though I tend to think Bates is a moron and doesn’t deserve her, my heart just breaks for Anna.  All I want is for her to be happy!

      On the other end of the spectrum, Daisy and Mr. Mason melted my heart. Bless that man. William would be so happy they have each other.

      Regarding Matthew and Mary:  Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, FINALLY.  The proposal was perfection.  Beautifully done.

      • Anonymous

        Yes! Thanks for reminding me. I laughed but didn’t know why.

      • http://www.thirteen.org/downton-abbey/category/the-downton-dish/ Gotham Tomato

        We don’t know that it was Lavinia speaking through the Ouija board. It could have been Pamuk.

        –GothamTomato

        • Anonymous

           Or even William, sweet guy that he was.

          • Toto Maya

            For a second when I saw that I thought that it was supposed to be William talking about Daisy and his dad.

            • Browsery

              Yes, you’re right, it could have been William.  At the time I thought it was Ouiji Board God blessing some undetermined couple.

            • tallgirl1204

              I thought it was William.  And I thought it was an ambiguous and general wish for everyone– for Anna and Bates, for Daisy and Williams dad.  I understand where TLo got the Lavinia thing, but I wouldn’t have thought of it.  I kind of like the vagueness of it.  

        • Anonymous

           Or even William, sweet guy that he was.

        • Browsery

          I don’t think it was supposed to be Pamuk (he wasn’t a kind person), but I didn’t assume it was Lavinia.  The statement was deliberately ambiguous: “Let them be happy,” or whatever was said.

          Although I am a very indulgent viewer, the Ouija board device was weak.

        • http://angryfemur.tumblr.com Andrea Lane

           I actually thought it was a snarky comment from Vera Bates; it never even occurred to me that it was Lavinia until you mentioned it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=22917995 Nicole Renee

          I thought it was the late Mrs. Bates being bitchy to Anna…

        • MRC210

          I like to think it was Lord Hepworth’s father, the DC’s beau of long ago (I love that word beau and intend to use it as often as possible).  He sounds like a dashingly romantic character and just the right person to bestow a blessing on young lovers.

          • http://www.thirteen.org/downton-abbey/category/the-downton-dish/ Gotham Tomato

            It seems like the answer to the question of who was speaking through the Oiuja board is a rohrchak test.

            –GothamTomato

      • Toto Maya

        I burst out laughing when the guard said “NO TOUCHING!” I don’t think that was intended, but it was hilarious nonetheless.

      • Anonymous

         When the jail scene with Anna and Bates started I yelled, “NO TOUCHING!” When the guard said it I almost died. I spent the rest of the scene wondering if Bates would start eating an ice cream sandwich.

        • Anonymous

          my favorite part of this episode, apart from the romance of the final scene, was the one with bates and anna in the prison: “NO TOUCHING!” 
          i can’t imagine julian fellowes is a fan of arrested development, but intentional reference or not, boy did that make my night. 

          • http://twitter.com/dianasof Diana Z.

             have you all seen that arrested development/downton abbey tumblr? that scene reminded me of it which  made me laugh even more. I think it’s called arresteddownton.tumblr.com

      • deathandthestrawberry

        Our whole family burst out laughing at the NO TOUCHING line.

      • Megan Patterson

         Yes! The “No touching” definitely removed any sense of gravitas from that scene, lol.

      • Isana Leshchinskaya

        visit the mashup tumblr arresteddownton.tumblr.com and you will not be disappointed!

        • LeBarron

          That. Is. BRILLIANT.  Thank you!  “What are you doing home?”  “Army had half a day.”  Buster is love.

          How did I miss this?  Probably because I’ve been too obsessed with “Telegrams from Downton”.

          http://telegramsfromdownton.tumblr.com/

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Erika-Shor/100000024452553 Erika Shor

      You are awesome and I love you, but don’t you mean the previous episode instead of the previous season?

      • MilaXX

         In the UK this was shown as a stand alone Christmas ep which aired a bit after the season 2 ended.

    • Christy Gill

      All I can say is: Finally! And not just for Mary and Matthew’s sakes. Lordy, after this season, we sure needed that wonderful episode to bring us back up.

    • Anonymous

      Maggie Smith ruled this episode. It’s not just the quality of her performance (though that is certainly part of it). It’s because, being “beyond impropriety,” the character can do and say all sorts of useful things to all sorts of people. She is the above-stairs version of what Anna used to be: connected to enough characters, and frank enough, to move plot along in ways that feel organic.

      • http://www.thirteen.org/downton-abbey/category/the-downton-dish/ Gotham Tomato

        Maggie Smith rules every episode!

        –GothamTomato

        • Anonymous

          The conversation about Sybil’s husband had me in gales of laughter.  Maggie Smith’s timing was perfection.  I’ll never think of pheasant hunting without conjuring a “political” Irishman.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=558631967 Ivona Foster

          I loved the little “Maggie” love fest with snippets from DA they showed before the episode yesterday.

    • Anonymous

      Such a satisfying ending, I take back all my complaints last week.  That proposal in the snow was PERFECT!  sigh

    • Anonymous

      Well, they are back in our good graces with this episode, but if LordBaronEarlofMelodrama Fellowes goes back to his previous season 2 hijinks next year, we will be very displeased. He just couldn’t resist that stupid Ouija board at the end, could he?

      • Anonymous

        I think there was an Ouija board in Upstairs Downstairs, too. The plot-lifting from U-D has gotten so persistent and thorough  that I’ve stopped thinking of it as plagiarism, and started thinking of it as an U-D fan’s mix tape.

      • Anonymous

        I’m not sure, but wasn’t the Ouija Board, along with various other types of spiritualism, all the rage during that time period?  

        • Anonymous

          I’m fine with including the Ouija board and spirituaism craze (though I think that was at its apex during the late 19th century); it’s the “message” from Lavinia (Pamuk really doesn’t strike me as a message-from-beyond kind of guy) that  reminded me just how cheesy Fellowes got this season.

        • sweetlilvoice

          Yes, spiritualism was still a huge rage at this time due to the high numbers of dead during the war. 

          • Browsery

            Yes, it continued well after the First World War.  Houdini, who died in 1926, was an anti-spiritualist crusader.  He would attend seances and expose the spiritualists’ tricks.

    • Anonymous

      This episode definitely redeemed the muckier poorly written plotlines and the appearance of a muppet of earlier on this season, so I was happy, though I think the Ouija board thing was a bit silly.  Violet had some great zingers, old Isobel was back in spurts and the scene between Mary and Robert was back to Downton awesomeness.  I do think that there were less plotlines and that’s what made the pacing and story much better.  The minor stories were truly minor ones, not dragging around like Ethel, Jane, the muppet, etc.  And GO EDITH!  Go get that man.  He still loves you, gf.

      I thought the trial was decent though I agree Bates is an idiot for telling the police everything EXCEPT the most important thing about the arsenic.  He was worried that would incriminate him but saying he told Robert “the late Mrs. Bates” wouldn’t?!  A poor spot of logic in the writing there.

      I actually liked that Matthew grew a pair in this ep and didn’t mind so much he ended up with Mary because I’m so tired of them mooning around.  Sir Dick had a dignified exit, considering what he might do, and I liked that they didn’t have him twirling his imaginary moustaches out of the door.

      All in all, good recoup, Julian.  Now let’s make Season 3 back to awesomeness.

      And of course, more wonderful fashions!!!

    • http://twitter.com/beagles Anne Rinaldi

      My favorite line was “Do you promise?” from the Dowager Countess to Sir Richard, when he tells her he won’t be seeing her anymore. 

      • http://www.thirteen.org/downton-abbey/category/the-downton-dish/ Gotham Tomato

        Yes, I’ve seen this episode 4 times and laughed out loud at that line every time!

        –GothamTomato

      • MilaXX

        Best line of the season. BTW I’ve saw on Vulture that there are Dowager paper dolls. 

        • Anonymous

           OMG – those are FABULOUS!!! I love the “variety of emotions” and “Includes Mr. Pamuk”!

        • Anonymous

          These are hysterical! I love Thomas and O’Brien’s evil accessories and Mr. Pamuk is priceless!

        • Wrenaria

           Hahaha. Those are amazing. Thanks for linking.

        • Kwei-lin Lum

          What a talented artist!  Go paper dolls!

    • Anonymous

      I thoroughly enjoyed this episode and have few major complaints. I could’ve done without the Ouija board, Rosamund’s story and losing Isis (if one hair on that dog’s lovely body had been harmed…). I’m fairly content to wait until next season having overdosed on the marathon today.

      • Toto Maya

        I was seriously biting my nails over Isis. Kill off William, kill off Lavinia, but you had BETTER NOT HURT THAT DOG, DAMNIT.

        • Anonymous

          I would have stopped watching if they had killed off Isis. Seriously. 

          It’s kind of like Romney and the dog-strapped-on-the-roof-of-his-car; there are just some things one cannot forgive ;-)

      • Anonymous

        I know! It’s the one thing I could never have forgiven Thomas!

      • Browsery

        It was fun to see Nigel Havers as Rosamund’s fortune hunting suitor.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/downton-abbey/category/the-downton-dish/ Gotham Tomato

      Yes, Anna saves the day so often that her standard issue maid’s uniform should come complete with a red cape.

      As for Bates and his continual self-flagelation, I have a theory: I’m wondering about the history of the relationship with Lord Grantham. From what I’ve read, it wasn’t uncommon for aristocrats to bring their Bat Men back from war because they had developed relationships with them. Was there a past tryst between Lord Grantham and Bates that, given the times, Bates feels so guilty about that he feels the need to be constantly punished?

      And as for Lord Grantham’s heart to heart with Mary: Yes, it was a long time coming and he was just about the last person on the Continent to hear the Tale of Pamuk. But as I wrote in my Downton Dish recap, when he told her to go find a cowboy in the middle west I thought, That’s Cowboys 1, Chauffeurs 0. It is all so very Fiddler on the Roof but with a gentile cast.

      And what shall we do while waiting for Season 3 to arrive? I suppose we’ll all have to play charades on Sunday nights.

      –GothamTomato

      • Anonymous

         While we’re waiting for season three to arrive I hope our boys will dish on the clothes from both seasons to date.

        • Charley18

          What a change in all the ladies’ silhouettes! Really seeing the beginnings of iconic 20s garments, especially in the evening clothes. It was so subtle, yet unmistakable. I thought yes! this is really how fashion evolves. Hope T&L decide to  contrast & compare.

          • Adriana_Paula

            Mary’s black evening dress was positively midcalf!

        • formerlyAnon

          My current favorites are the wine red dress Lady Mary wore the night she broke up with Sir Richard & the skirt (for its movement) Isobel wore at Lavinia’s grave site. But if I rewatch, I’ll have others.

      • Anonymous

        I will watch The Good Wife’s episodes that have been clogging up my DVR.

        • Anonymous

          I love The Good Wife, but it varies widely in the sophistication of episodes. Some (like last night’s) are hackneyed, juvenile and cloying (with lame attempts to refer to current events and absurd visits from Republican celebrities). Others are urbane, surprising, and thrilling (seek out the 1st episode where Bob Balaban makes an appearance — marvellous (and one degree of separation with Downton via Gosford!).

        • mrspeel2

          I’ll be doing the same thing! TGW was my favorite show for Sunday nights until Downton came along!

      • Anonymous

        what shall we do while waiting for Season 3 to arrive?
        Well, I’ll be tuning into the new Great Expectations in April with Gillian Anderson (loved her in Bleak House), the Edwin Drood production coming up, Eddie Redmayne in Birdsong…

        I’m re-watching Season 1 of the original (and still wonderful) Upstairs Downstairs on Netflix and I recently re-watched Daniel Deronda (Hugh Bonneville in a very different role from Lord Grantham!) and He Knew He Was Right (Bill Nighy is so deliciously slimy in it) both Masterpiece favorites. Masterpiece isn’t a one-hit wonder and since they’ve been churning out wonderful programs for decades, there’s plenty of them out there to keep everyone amused until season 3!

        • mrspeel2

           I never did get to watch “Upstairs, Downstairs” for some reason but back in the day, I faithfully watched “The Forsyth Saga” and “I, Claudius”! I’ve since acquired the latter DVD series, but have yet to get TFS. Someday, I hope.

          • Browsery

            I never watched “Upstairs, Downstairs” either, although I watched virtually on PBS at the time, “The Forsyte Saga,” “I, Claudius,” “Poldark,” “Precious Bane,” “Pride and Prejudice,” among many others.

             I could never get into “UD,” and have a feeling that I would not be impressed by it today. I’m sure that “Downton Abbey” owes a debt to “UD,” but it also has benefited from changed and more open times.”Gosford Park,” another Fellowes creation, took part of its plot from an Agatha Christie novel whose adaptation I watched on PBS.

            • jeeplibby02

              “Gosford Park,” another Fellowes creation, took part of its plot from an Agatha Christie novel whose adaptation I watched on PBS. 

              Which one was that?

        • http://www.thirteen.org/downton-abbey/category/the-downton-dish/ Gotham Tomato

          I know it isn’t a one-hit wonder. That was a joke!

          –GothamTomato

        • Adriana_Paula

          Go PBS!

      • formerlyAnon

        Re: Lord G. & Bates: I don’t think Lord G. has the emotional command & complexity (even though his class is noted for its ability to repress) to not have given a hint, somehow, in his scenes if that were the case.

        Yes, very “Fiddler on the Roof” but that is a very universal theme. I remember reading somewhere that when the original stage production was brought to Japan, there was some anxiety over whether the audiences there would appreciate the show.  And that the Japanese audiences loved the theme of children breaking from their parents’ values and expectations for them precisely because they felt that it spoke directly to their own culture.

      • LittleKarnak

        Not charades…The Game!!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

      The best moment of the episode was when William’s father made Daisy his daughter. I admit I cried over that scene. The Daisy/Mrs. Patmore relationship is a great source of humor. It was great to see Violet and Daisy hashing it out. Violet has an uncanny hand for cutting through bullshit.

      I also cried when Bates was sentenced to death, knowing full well his sentence would be commuted AND I’m sure he will be exonerated next season. I still love Bates, even though he is the Eeyore of Downton Abbey.

      • http://www.thirteen.org/downton-abbey/category/the-downton-dish/ Gotham Tomato

        Yes, I’m thinking that that was the major reason why William wanted to marry Daisy at the end: He wanted to match his childless father with his parentless love.

        And who know that William was raised by little elves in a hollow tree?–GothamTomato

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

          Wasn’t that house incredibly cute? The actor who plays William’s father actually looks like William, and he is very endearing. That whole bit was so well done.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

            And we really find out that Daisy was truly an orphan. Poor baby.

            • Jessica Goldstein

              I didn’t read her comments to mean she was a literal orphan. My take is that she was one of many born to poor parents, never got much attention or love, and was shipped off to a great house as a means of having one less mouth to feed. She doesn’t say “I don’t have parents”, she says something like “I don’t have parents… not like that.” It’s the “not like that” that was the tell for me. Anyone know for sure?

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

              Good point. I have to watch the episode again on the PBS website.

        • Zaftiguana

          I sort of wondered if part of what helped Daisy to finally deal with this was that William had his own reasons aside from pure love of her for marrying her, just as she did. 

      • MilaXX

         Agreed. I was pretty much over the whole Mathew/Mary saga, but William’s dad & Daisy was sweet.

      • Anonymous

        Except Eeyore is sooo cute.

        • Anonymous

          Also, I was thinking that Bates had better lose some weight in prison, or else he’ll be the Hurley of Downton Island.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-Krumel/774655640 Jennifer Krumel

      Best part: No Branson and especially no Sybil mucking up my screen. Worst part: No Allen Leech to bring my pretty……

      • Anonymous

        The episode was certainly improved by the absence of pouty Sybil and her doughy sexual-chemistry-challenged beau. Clearly, even the writers/producers agree on that score, as they could never bring themselves to have them do anything more than kiss on the cheek. I can only assume that baby was an immaculate conception. (That fella is no Thomas Watkins!)

        I’m glad when writers bother to look at the previous episode, though, giving Violet a chance to unfurl her “he’s political” smokescreen!

    • http://www.thirteen.org/downton-abbey/category/the-downton-dish/ Gotham Tomato

      One thing I forgot to mention was that Behind the Scenes special that ran after the episode: How funny is it to see the actors in modern clothes and make up? And how different they look! All of the older characters look younger wit make up and modern hair, and all the younger ones look prettier.

      –GothamTomato

      • Anonymous

        We didn’t get that on my PBS station (UNC-TV).  They went straight into East Enders.  They did air a Downton S2 marathon leading up to the Christmas Special complete with a telethon for UNC-TV/PBS contributions, which caused the show to air 15 minutes late at 9:15 pm (EST).

        • http://www.thirteen.org/downton-abbey/category/the-downton-dish/ Gotham Tomato

          Keep checking for it on PBS’s website then. Maybe they’ll post it there. It was FABULOUS!

          –GothamTomato

          • Anonymous

             Yes, it was on our PBS station.  Check the PBS online site sometime tomorrow to see if they put the episode up for viewing and perhaps the Behind the Scenes special will be available there.  I especially enjoyed the part in the trenches and “Matthew” commenting that they should have had Lady Violet there.  It was also good to see that “Matthew” was a little skeptical about his sudden cure of paralysis.

            • http://www.thirteen.org/downton-abbey/category/the-downton-dish/ Gotham Tomato

              Yes, Matthew’s cure kind-of mirrored the cure of the character Clara, in ‘Heidi’, only it was O’Brien wearing the Shirley Temple curls.

              –GothamTomato

            • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

              I had the same flashback to “Heidi” which I just watched recently on Netflix. (I love Shirley Temple.)

            • Anonymous

              Poor Dan Stevens could barely look at the camera during his commentary.

            • Anonymous

              Poor Dan Stevens could barely look at the camera during his commentary.

            • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

              Yeah, that was revealing, we are not the only ones that thought the miraculous recovery was too miraculous to be believed. But they did their research!
              I also notice that the actor who played Branson commented on just how many scenes they had in that damn garage where nothing happened between he and Sybil.

            • baxterbaby

              Loved that!  Funny to see that the actors found those scenes in the garage just as mind-numbingly redundant as we did…”three years later and I’m still tinkering with the same car” accompanied by a shot of Sybil’s feet!

            • bdoody11

              “I also notice that the actor who played Branson commented on just how many scenes they had in that damn garage where nothing happened between he and Sybil.”

              While we were watching, I paused it and turned to my husband and said, “How funny! That’s what everyone is saying over at TLo!”

            • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=558631967 Ivona Foster

              Yeah, loved his line: I’m sure Julian did his medical research… my thought was don’t bet on it buddy :)

            • trimellone

               I interpreted that to mean that Dan Stevens hasn’t had enough practice reading his notes while the camera is rolling.

          • jeeplibby02

            Is it broken into 3-minute segments on pbs.org?

      • Anonymous

        my two favorite parts were when the guy who plays Matthew talked about the miracle recovery of his legs. I swear the poor guy couldn’t make eye contact through the whole account. Like he’s personally embarrassed that the show went there. 

        the other was the final shot of Mrs Hughes. OMG what some makeup can do. Is that really her?

      • formerlyAnon

        Yes it was great. They didn’t spend NEARLY enough time on the costuming though.

        • Adriana_Paula

          That’s always frustrating; it’s like they think, “No one really cares so we’ll just do a quick nod.”  I’m still mad about the skimpy costume extras from Lord of the Rings…

          • trimellone

             ^ me too!

    • http://twitter.com/otterbird otterbird

      I assume next season will be all about the characters discovering the magical fountain of youth that Isis obviously drinks from as that freaking retriever has to be at least 11 by now and is still as springy as a 2-year-old.

      • Tally Ho

        There was a Pharoah in the first season so Isis is presumably her successor…

        • Anonymous

          I’m betting the Egyptian names are tributes to the Lord Carnarvon who paid for the discovery of King Tut.  (Apparently there’s an Egyptian museum in the basement of Highclere.)

    • Anonymous

      I’ve found the most hilarious DA parody on YouTube…it’s called “Uptown Downstairs Abbey”. Check it out!

      • trimellone

         Yup. Already recommened in the replies to a previous ep.

    • Anonymous

      It was a satisfying season finale episode, although with the the ridiculous story cliches Julian Fellowes has foisted upon us I half expected Tiny Tim to limp out and shriek “God bless us, everyone!” at the very end. I loved the behind-the-scenes bit afterward with everyone in modern clothes and makeup. Jessica Findlay-Brown made me gasp at her gorgeousness. If she went on the red carpet with just her everyday look instead of the assery she’s been dishing up she’d be an IN every time. And the guys looked even more yummy without oiled-back hair.

      When does Season 3 start?

      • Anonymous

        Me too! And I was expecting Bates to make a grand entrance to the Servant’s Ball…

    • Anonymous

      I, too, am very disappointed in not getting a chance to see the adventures of Lady Mary and Anna in America and it would have been great to see them actually make it to the “middle west” and interact with some cowboys.

      • http://twitter.com/nova1000 sarah novak

        I agree — I was excitedly spinning the tale of 1920s “Kourtney & Kim Take New York” in my mind, only to have my hopes dashed 

    • Elizabeth Silverstein

      When Mary tells Matthew “I’m Tess of the d’Ubervilles to your Angel Clare” I actually cheered. That one line, the final scene, and this whole episode allowed me to forgive all of the stupid stuff from the previous season including the amnesiac muppet. I couldn’t have made it through this season without all of the witty analysis and comments on this blog. 

    • Anonymous

      I have to complain about the ladies’ flimsy, sleeveless dresses in December.  Those big old houses were hard to heat and it was cold enough to snow so they had to be shivering.  Not to mention Mary’s extended scene with Matthew outside in the snow with just her spaghetti straps.  Of course, being alone with her man like that could have had her internal fires burning enough that she didn’t notice the swirling snowflakes.

      • Anonymous

        I was thinking all the girls needed sweaters too!  But the outside scene didn’t bother me, she was hot and bothered!

    • http://twitter.com/susanpcollier Susan Collier

       I really expected that when Lord Grantham finally learned of Mary’s
      secret, they’d show a long shot of Downton Abbey during his long scream.

      • Anonymous

        Lol! I kept waiting for Mary to explain that her ladyparts were still intact, thanks to the Turkish attaché’s favoured shenanigans.

    • Anonymous

      What a splendid return to form!  I want to watch it again.  The ouija board scenes were silly but that was just about the only (very minor) wrong note in the entire two hours.  The proposal scene in the snow was magical, Daisy and Mr. Mason made me cry happy tears, Isobel seemed like her sensible self once again, the Dowager Countess was killing it with her wit and her insights, Edith seems on track to finally have something good, and Lord and Lady G seem to have come out of a rocky period strong and intact. I even managed to be captivated by Anna and Bates’ story.  And thank God no Ethel and Giant Bastard Baby!  I do hope we’ve seen the last of those two.

      I am going to miss Sir Richard.  He’s a prick but he and Mary make a good pair.  And I’m very sorry we won’t get Anna and Mary in America.  That would have been all kinds of awesome.

      Until next year, here’s a fun link to pics of the cast in street clothes, as themselves.     http://www.papermag.com/2012/02/downton_abbey_stars_out_of_cos.php

      • Anonymous

        Oh my god, that picture of Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens is stunning. They should walk around with their heads touching all the time. 

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for the link! Especially loved the dogs at the end. There’s also a link showing a pic of RuPaul in “Dragton Abbey”. It’s supposed to air on The Soup on Wednesday. CAN.NOT.WAIT!!

      • BigShamu

        Don’t worry about Giant Bastard Baby, he’s got a gig in the 2012 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

        • MsMajestyk

          I am hoping they’ll announce it as Giant Nameless Offshoot of a Drudge.

    • Anonymous

      Have any of you found this? 
      http://www.buzzfeed.com/fjelstud/these-downton-abbey-paper-dolls-are-just-a-masterpI literally laughed out loud.

    • Anonymous

      Dying wife?  I hope Cora’s alive and well.

    • Anonymous

      Even though his character was a cad, what a treat to see Nigel Havers as Lord Hepworth.  He was so beautiful in Chariots of Fire, one of my all time favorite movies.  He hasn’t aged too badly.

      • Anonymous

        Wasn’t he beautiful when he was young?  I was hoping that he and Lady R would make a match of it and we’d see him in future episodes.  Didn’t see that ending coming … 

        • Corsetmaker

          I did as soon as I saw Nigel Havers. He’s never cast as anything other than a cad. He’s even playing basically the same role in Coronation street at the moment!

    • Toto Maya

      The was hands down the best episode of the series in my opinion. Loved it and I’ve watched it several times. I couldn’t wait to see your guys’ review of it, especially when you were (rightfully) complaining about some of the stupid crap that has been going on this season, knowing that this final episode would redeem it.

      If they decided to end the show at this point, I wouldn’t complain and would be completely satisfied. Yes, even with Bates in prison. Honestly, Bates can rot in there for all I care. I am tired of his whiny ass. From episode one he has constantly done everything possible to ensure his misery and suffering, all the while crying about how miserable he is. Thomas making him look stupid and incompetent? Don’t say anything, just cry in your room and let yourself be fired! Being framed for stealing? Don’t say anything, just let yourself be fired again and mope like a dumbass! Been arrested for the murder of your wife? TELL THEM EVERY POSSIBLE THING THAT MIGHT POSSIBLY INCRIMINATE YOU TO ENSURE YOUR CONVICTION.

      And what pisses me off is that this time, it doesn’t just affect himself. Before, Bates was the only one who suffered for Bates’ insane and stupid actions. But now he has Anna, his wife, to think about. And yet he STILL confesses everything and screws her over too. He’s supposed to come across as selfless, but he’s the opposite. He’s a selfish asshole. The fact is, I only have so much pity to grant a character on a show and he used all of his up by episode 2. I know he’ll be proven innocent in season 2, but I hope he monopolizes less plot time while it happens. Maybe Anna can have some fun again, do something that doesn’t completely revolve around Bates.

      The scene at the end with Matthew and Mary was just love. I was spoiled ahead of time when someone on another forum posted a gif of him twirling her around, but it didn’t make the scene any less sweet to me. I almost hope that next season they start out as already married so there isn’t any stupid drama keeping them from it. Let’s move on a bit in that regard, shall we?

      Also rooting for Edith with Sir Anthony. I know he’s old or whatever, but they seem to care about each other, and why the hell not? So he has a hurt arm, BFD. Go get some, girl.

      I also loved the bit with the Ouija board. I loved how O’Brien and Thomas used their friendship and deadpan faces to scare the other maids. I loved Mrs. Patmore using it to convince Daisy to see Mr. Mason. Okay, the Lavinia shit at the end was stupid. Nothing good to say about that.

      And who didn’t see the fight scene between Matthew and Sir Richard coming? I knew as soon as Sir Richard went off about Lavinia there was a fist headed for his face. It was SO CLICHE, but so satisfying that I didn’t mind at all.

      Finally, I’m really glad that Mary’s secret is known to Robert and Matthew. The scene with Mary and Robert was so touching. I feel like this storyline can finally move on, which is nice. I would have been pissed if we went into season 3 with them still being oblivious.

      All in all, this season left me looking forward to season 3. I really hope that Fellows is paying attention and can do a good job on it. After this episode, all of season 2 is forgiven by me, but we’ll see how he does with the next one.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OSYAJATXUH3QX7ZDDF52GXG4PU Janie R

      Hey, who’s to say that wasn’t the Turk that sent the message on the ouija board? 

    • lee66132000

      This was a BAD episode.  I felt embarrassed just watching it.  Mary and Matthew’s relationship has been reduced to something from a bad Barbara Cartland novel . . . and I include that cheesy marriage proposal at the end.  Poor Thomas is stuck being a servant.  And  he does have my sympathies.  Yes, he can be an unpleasant person, but I got the feeling that Fellowes punished him for wanting something better in life . . . without seeking help from the Crawleys.  Robert continues to be an asshole regarding Sybil and Branson.  Mary continues to make subtle catty comments about the U.S. and her mother’s ancestry.  Can someone please explain how Sir Anthony Strallan managed to lose the use of his arm in combat, yet Robert wasn’t even able to leave Britain, let alone serve in combat?  At least Robert had combat experience.  The storyline regarding Daisy nearly made me puke.  She spent a good deal of the season being bullied by Mrs. Patmore into becoming involved with William against her will, and we’re supposed to believe that Mrs. Patmore was right to bully her, because Daisy found a new parental figure in William’s dad?  Really?  The whole storyline about Lady Rosamund, her maid and Lord Hepworth was a waste of my time.  Sir Richard Carlisle was so ridiculously one-dimensional in his villainy that I found myself feeling very sorry for Iain Glen for being stuck in such a role.

      The only story line that did not leave me tearing my hair in frustration was Bates’ murder trial. 

      • Anonymous

        As much as I enjoy the show as a period drama of sorts, these are all fair criticisms. The “morality” underlying the storylines is often quite reactionary. For instance, this season, (1) Lord Grantham prepared to shag the maid as his wife lay agonizing literally one room over, and yet at the end of the episode the wife apologized to him for being distracted by the war and all. Hair-pullingly horrendous! His claims that he was the only one who hadn’t changed in the preceding years went unchallenged, despite the needless prancing about in a uniform and maid-snogging. Then, (2) Sir Richard was constantly mocked as a déclassé upstart, despite actually having pulled himself up to the Granthams’ level from nothing.  Meanwhile, Mary’s petty mockery of his nouveau-riche ways was supposed to go un-judged by the viewers as we still were supposed to see her as a deserving romantic heroine. 

        As much as one roots for the romance, one still can’t help seeing Mary & Matthew as two stiff-upper-lipped cousins obsessing about someone mainly because they’re at hand and yet they can’t have them. Oh well, James and Hazel made each other miserable for years on Upstairs Downstairs; maybe that’s what we have to look forward to here, too (though they already handed Hazel’s death scene to Lavinia).

        • Tally Ho

          I never got the impression that any of the characters were presented as perfect. Mary was never meant to be a deserving romantic heroine but a flawed woman hobbled by her snobbery, who finally overcomes her flaws and problems to find (presumably) true love. As Mrs. Hughes pointed out, Mary was responsible for most of her troubles.

          Sir Richard was a declasse upstart from the perspective of the Granthams, which is why they treated him like one. The little comments and snips about him was meant to illustrate how the aristocracy saw themselves different from the newly rich, who were often even richer than the aristocrats.

          • Ally08

            My objection is to the patriarchy/aristocracy always being in the right on the show, even when they’re shown as being wrong. It’s always the irritating thing with any piece of fiction when they present a conclusion that is inconsistent with the story they just told. 

            How the Lord G-Jane storyline was treated illustrates this perfectly — he faced no consequences in terms of his self-esteem or the esteem of his servants (Carson, Hughes, Jane), nor was there a sense on the show that this behaviour (towards an underling, towards his wife) meant that he was now rather an a-hole. Instead, everything continued as before in terms of his being presented as a commendable lord of the manor as before.It’s great that you’re happy with disconnected vignettes. I like a plot that builds & characters who develop & whose evolution is noted.

            • Tally Ho

              It’s pretty hard to argue that the characters don’t develop throughout Seasons 1 and 2. Most of them have changed, tremendously so. Mary is far less snobby, as is Edith. Sybil, for all her flaws and ill-chosen lover, has grown up and is independent. Even old Violet is less stiff than she was in April 1912 (can you imagine the pre-war Violet letting Sybil go off with the chauffer without blood and wounds getting involved?).

              I agree that the portrayal of Robert didn’t pan out so well on the screen, I imagine the idea was that his role was becoming increasing irrelevant as the world changed so rapidly around him that he lost his focus and thus started resorting to things that he once would never have done. And of course he wouldn’t face too dire consequences for whatever wrong actions he may have done – he is still an immensely rich and privileged earl. He wouldn’t have been treated the same as a mere mortal and he would have been allowed far more liberty than someone like Thomas would have. One of the themes of Downton Abbey was that the aristocracy lived by a different set of rules than everyone else. Unfair? Of course it damn well was, but it was also simply a fact, just as it was also simply a fact that life was a lot harsher for the servants.

            • Corsetmaker

              A man in his position, at that time, would not have suffered any drop in esteem for messing about with a servant girl. Nor even for taking a mistress. As far as his staff and tenants would be concerned, he’s the lord of the manor no matter what. And if he was a considerate and kind one then he’d be well thought of regardless of whether he had an eye for a pretty maid. Different times, different standards, and yes, different rules for the upper-class.

        • BayTampaBay

          I always viewed Sir Richard as an Anti-Hero, a preview of the new 20th century elite to come and the one person who could put Mary in her place.  Making Sir Richard into a villain was just lazy soap writing on Sir Fellowes part.

    • Anonymous

      Mmmm… I still this we haven’t seen the last of Sir Richard. He seemed inordinately interested in Bates’ trial, and given his past history with the Mrs. Bates (not Anna, the evil Mrs Bate_, I’m thinking he had something to do with her demise. So, Sir Richard will be back as the good folks from DA try to get Mr Bates out of jail.

      • formerlyAnon

        I’m counting on the Return of Sir Richard. His final conversation with Mary is not enough, in my mind, to change his score-keeping nature.

    • Anonymous

      I cried twice, and both scenes were involving fathers and daughters.  Mary and Lord Grantham were heartbreaking in their honesty with each other.  And when William’s father had that line about having no bairns  and one to pray for, I lost it. 

    • http://twitter.com/Kerry_McC Kerry McCombs

      I’m so glad you mentioned Lavinia’s ridiculous ouija board blessing! I guffawed!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

      Why were all the older ladies wanting Mary to marry Matthew? Even his mom, who didn’t like Mary for most of Season 1 & 2?

      • Anonymous

        I imagine after watching them for the last 6 or so years they realized Matthew and Mary would be miserable without each other.

    • http://www.lindamerrill.com Linda Merrill

      I think the Aunt Rosamund story line was there to illustrate that there were still many restrictions on women’s lives – even the one’s with money. You would think with her good looks and fortune, she could get any man she wanted, but she’s willing to settle for a gold digger simply because he’s a charming dinner companion. It’s possibly a foreshadowing, or cautionary tale, of what’s to come for the Crawley sisters in the future.

      Re: Bates and the trial – I thought it was simply bad writing that the prosecutors knew all about the private conversations, including who evesdropped on whom. That makes more sense than Bates actually telling the police all of that stuff – why would he, he barely speaks as it is and never shares anything. I think it was just a lazy way to get him convicted without actual evidence.

      I think Thomas proved once and for all that he’s shown no personal growth and will always be on the take in one way or another. O’Brien, on the other hand, has shown the ability to step above her general negative nature on occasion.

      Thanks, TLo for the great recaps all season!

    • http://twitter.com/carelessriver Cassie (C.M.W.)

      I liked this episode; I echo the sentiment that Mr Fellowes must have been drunk when he wrote the rest of the season (historical bitching in paragraph 3!) because this was indeed a Special, complete with Matthew’s glorious right hook and Saint Lavinia’s ill-timed “revelation”. Also, come on, who thought Bates would actually hang? Especially before his wife could call him by his given name onscreen?

      I about died when I realised that was none other than Sharon Small playing Shore (Lady Ro’s maid). She’s a thousand miles from the feisty Sergeant Havers, isn’t she? Whoever played Hepworth did a decent job of keeping us guessing. I was surprised and sorry to see Fellowes take the obvious tack on this one. Widowed sisters of earls need love, too! I did enjoy seeing Strallan again, for Edith’s sake, though I think his excuse about being too old for her is pretty feeble if he was young enough to get injured in battle. Grantham was stuck on the shelf at, what, fifty? (Given that Violet’s hated vase was a wedding gift fifty years ago.) Strallan’s got to be younger. Never thought I’d say this, but… poor Edith!

      And I think Daisy’s wrong when she says nobody’s ever cared about her, because Mrs Patmore so obviously does. Maybe she’s not as overt about it as Mr Mason, but she does commandeer the Ouija board in order to get Daisy to go and work through her issues.

      I do think we missed out on a lot of good history during the rest of Series 2. The clothing was the most accurately depicted aspect of that period, which I’m sure pleases Tom and Lorenzo! But I didn’t hear nearly enough about the horrors of gas, and regardless of pacing issues, factually Downton would’ve been most vulnerable to pandemic flu in the autumn of 1918, when we were faffing about with Peter/Patrick/whoever he was. Why didn’t they drop that episode and slot the flu in there, instead? Then Fellowes would’ve had a whole last episode to play with the characters and their various entanglements. Lavinia could have been dispatched some other way, I’m sure. Killing her in the pandemic was so easy and gave Matthew a reason to angst for all of ten minutes of the final episode, before he’s all but back to normal in the Christmas Special. We might also have gotten more in the way of an actual romance between Sybil and Branson. (Aside: does anyone else realise that she was, in fact, barely 16 when Branson peeped through the window at her trouser-dress? If she was 21 in 1919, that makes her all of 14 when the show started and thus 15 and 16 in 1913-1914. Still not as drastic as the nouveau Bateses, but Anna’s well into her majority, at least!)

      Ah, well. Bring on Series 3, and please, please, don’t let the stunt casting be a cover for shoddy writing.

      • Anonymous

        I wondered the same about Sir Anthony.  He seems older than the Earl and yet he was in combat.  I hope Edith doesn’t give up on him.  She actually looks prettier when he’s looking at her.  

      • BayTampaBay

        Sybil was born in 1897.  Therefore, she was 15 in 1917, 17 in 1914, 21 in 1918 and 23 in 1920.

        • http://twitter.com/carelessriver Cassie (C.M.W.)

           Ah! That clears a few things up… I think. One cannot be seventeen in 1914 and only fifteen in 1917. ;)

    • AWStevens

      Yeah, yeah, yeah great Season 2 ending ep.

      SHIRLEY MACLAINE will be playing Cora’s mother in Season 3!  I’ll bet she’ll be there for the wedding of Mary and Matthew…

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=558631967 Ivona Foster

        Cannot, cannot, cannot wait for the M.Smith/ S.Maclaine scene! Will watch S3 just for that:)

        • baxterbaby

          And remember, Cora’s maiden name is Levinson.  Daughter of Isadore Levinson.  Very assimilated no doubt, but if Fellowes goes there, it could be an oh snap! festival for Maggie and Shirley.  (I read a lot of British detective fiction from the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s and am constantly amazed by the casual anti-semitism, not to mention racisim in those books.)

          • Tally Ho

            I have thought about Cora’s maiden name but if she was really Jewish, the dowager countess wouldn’t let a day pass without commenting on it. Plus Cora’s seen going to church. My guess is that Fellowes selected the name because it seemed appropriate enough for a self-made American millionaire of the time.

            Another point to consider is that Martha Levinson is said to own houses in New York and Newport. Newport was a WASP preserve and Jews were not welcome.

            Then again, who knows what Fellowes’ plans are.

            • baxterbaby

              Which is why I wrote “very assimilated”.  As documented in Stephen Birmingham’s “Our Crowd” a number of the great German-Jewish merchants and financiers (who started arriving in the early 1800’s) became agnostics or Christians (if in name only). 

            • Tally Ho

              Like the Astors.

    • http://twitter.com/floretbroccoli Florrie Brafman

      NIGEL HAVERS!!!  Special bonus:  as far as I can tell, he’s the first actor to appear on the original Upstairs Downstairs to appear on Downton Abbey.  Love!

      • Anonymous

        He’s still dashing, isn’t he? And speaking of Havers, nice to see her take a detour from her work with Inspector Lynley ;-)

        • http://twitter.com/floretbroccoli Florrie Brafman

           Ha.  I didn’t make the Havers/Havers connection.  Thanks for that.

    • http://twitter.com/floretbroccoli Florrie Brafman

       Shoutout to Arrested Development?

    • Anonymous

      Well said boys!! 
      And the photography was really stunning and added tremendous beauty and feeling to the episode. 

    • Anonymous

      Great episode, and about time!   After last week I wasn’t sure I could slog through two hours tonight, but it passed before I knew it.    I enjoyed it all, though I’m still tired of Anna and Bates –  especially now that they’ve taken a turn toward Daphne du Maurier.   I wish they’d have the guts to make Bates actually guilty, but of course that won’t happen.  Still, good save!  Looking forward to next season again, which is nice.

    • Anonymous

      Have to agree, TLo.

      Downtown did the rare reverse shark jump with this episode.

    • Anonymous

      Did any of the older Baby Boomers smile when Lady Vi was talking about her wild youth, “in the ’60s”?  

      • Anonymous

        The younger ones, too!

    • Anonymous

      Loved every minute of the servants’ ball, especially Matthew dancing with Mrs. Patmore … the looks on their faces had me in stitches.  To say nothing of the Black Bottom!  It was a lovely way to end the series (well, that and the proposal of course).

      • formerlyAnon

        Yes, I though that Black Bottom remark, coming from Lady Violet to a footman, was risque enough to be a bit unbelievable. Whatever else she believes in, Lady Vi believes in the class structure. I can only assume she had had a bit much to drink.

    • Anonymous

      Well season three is looking promising, now that the war is no longer an excuse for sloppy presentation.

      It’s a shame in the previous episodes they didn’t have something about the Representation of the People Act of 1918. You would think the reform that granted all men and half the women the right to vote would at least get a mention. Arguably this was the moment Britain became a recognizably modern democracy. I have a feeling JF will regret that oversight. After all it will inevitably change the dynamics of Downton now that the servants will be discussing politics at the dinner table. How could the ever political Sybil and Branson miss all this entirely?

      • Anonymous

        Although it was an odd choice to have not one, but THREE revelation moments happen unfilmed, so to speak — Lady Grantham telling Lord Grantham about the Pamuk debacle; Mary telling Matthew about the same; and Mary breaking news of the break-up to Sir Richard (we saw the moment AFTER the revelation instead). That was consistent with this season’s overall feeling of rushed laziness in storytelling and scene-selecting/writing.

        • Anonymous

          One wonders how Lady Mary still had energy for the ball after enduring multiple cartharses with not one fainting couch in sight.

        • Anonymous

          I thought it was economical rather than lazy.  We didn’t need to hear the Pamuk story again, not once but twice, and  what could Mary have said beyond the usual “It’s not you, it’s me”?   What was interesting about all three of these revelations was the reaction of the listener (a delayed one in the Earl’s case).

          • Anonymous

            I agree. The more interesting thing in all cases is the reaction.

            • Ally08

              I don’t agree. Seeing how each character ‘spins’ the story is revealing psychologically and in terms of the relationship of the speakers. Skipping it produces a Cliff’s Notes vibe, like Jane Austen without Jane Austen characters’  dialogue or letters.

        • Zaftiguana

          For my money, laziness in storytelling/scene-selecting/writing would be filling valuable plot minutes with two different people summarizing an event that the audience saw and remembers perfectly well.

        • zoemyers

          Robert Altmann did this in Gosford Park; perhaps Fellowes thought it was effective.

    • Anonymous

      Given that since Gosford Park, Fellowes has been criticized for poaching plots, obviously from Agatha Christie, but also from a little-known gem called The Shooting Party with James Mason, I’m impressed we got through this episode without anyone getting mistaken for a pheasant — i.e. Sir Richard. Would have been the obvious way to dispatch him.

      • Anonymous

        I was sure that was going to happen too….

      • Adriana_Paula

        But then there would have to be two murder trials, which I don’t think I could survive.

      • trimellone

         I was sure I could see that coming. But . . . no.

    • Anonymous

      Hope Aunt Rosamund and Sir Richard make a match. They seem well suited. I can almost see him doing it to spite the dowager countess after that smart remark!

      • formerlyAnon

        Oh, I think Aunt Rosamund deserves a simpler man than Sir Richard. She doesn’t strike me as wanting a comrade-in-arms in the fight to establish ‘respectable’ aristocratic beach head for his new money, but someone with who fits seamlessly into the social milieu in which she’s always lived.

      • Maggie_Mae

        Sir Richard probably wants a younger woman.  He has to establish his dynasty, after all…

    • lee66132000

      ["I think Thomas proved once and for all that he's shown no personal growth and will always be on the take in one way or another."]

      Trust the conservative Julian Fellowes to use a working-class character to make this point.  His handling of Thomas was a crap shoot ever since the character returned to Downton Abbey.  In fact, his conservatism made this season, along with this particular episode, extremely hard to remain a fan of this show. 

      • Anonymous

        Agree. When you’re already filming conservative characters in a conservative era, you don’t have to layer backwards social concepts overtop of anachronistic expressions and behaviour. Excessive and jarring at once.

      • Tally Ho

        All shows need a villian. Thomas is convenient as one. I doubt it has little to do with politics or socio-economic classes (Sir Richard is unlikeable and even Mary has her bitchy moments, while most of the servants are honest, hardworking souls).

    • Anonymous

      All is forgiven for me. That was so satisfying after last week’s horrible offering. Now I am obsessing about Season 3 – if Mary and Anna aren’t going to America, why is Shirley MacLaine coming onboard? Does American Grannie come to England? Do Matthew and Mary go to America now? I’ll be furious if Maggie Smith and Shirley don’t get some great bitch-fight scenes, couched in the politest language, of course, over who is the best grandma in the family.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1046681022 Paula Berman

         Maybe American Granny is coming for Mary’s wedding? And possibly Edith’s? That would be cool, and I’m with you– I expect some major cattiness between her and Violet. Or maybe they are BFFs and engage in mutual assistive bitchery. That would be excellent too.

        • Susan Crawford

          I think you’re on the button as to how American Granny will be introduced. Clearly, she would come over to attend Mary’s wedding. Which in true DA fashion means trying to manage everyone’s life, prying, revealing secrets, confronting Violet and introducing shocking American ways into the plot. Excellent, indeed!

    • Anonymous

      Lovely summing up, T Lo.  

      The only thing I can add is that Thomas may have done a lot of terrible things to a lot of people, but when he took Isis out and left her in that gamekeeper’s hut, he became dead to me. Dead.  

      • Anonymous

        Somebody on another board–who had already seen the special–hinted about The Isis Affair.  

        They did this by mentioning the name “Duck Phillips.”  Who, by shooing his lovely Irish setter out into the dark Manhattan streets, aroused more ire than all the nasty things we saw people do to other people on our beloved Mad Men….

      • BigShamu

        Apparently you share those feelings with O’Brien. Bad move Thomas, playing Hide the Isis and pissing off O’Brien in the process.  Thomas better watch his tea closely for any hints of arsenic.

    • Tally Ho

      It was a sweet episode and a near-saving cap to the second season. It did return more closely to the origins of the first season and while we had the drama of the Bates trial and Mary’s breakup with Carlisle and engagement with Matthew, the writers brought back more of the little details about the social rules governing upstairs-downstairs relationship at the time and the characters more or less returned to their old selves from Season 1. Notice how the aristocratic Cora keeps a firm distance from the servants’ problems while the middle class social reformer Mrs. Crawley eagerly volunteers to go to Bates’ trial. (Mind you I laughed at remembering how Mrs. Crawley mocked dressing up and shooting parties during the second season yet seemed to be happy to participate in one for the Christmas special).

      I was puzzled that Fellowes brought back Anthony Strallan after a complete absence in name and person during the second season only to break Edith’s heart yet again and all neatly done within the first half hour. So he’d better have a recurring role in Season 3 in rekindling their relationship otherwise the writers are being unnecessarily cruel to Edith. Strallan may be older but of the tree Crawley daughters Edith’s the one who would be most happy as the wife of a country squire with a pleasant house and estate to manage.
      As for the future, Fellowes gave an interview to a Catholic organization in which he said that religion, especially Catholicism, would be a theme in Season 3. Given the near-absence of religion in the first two seasons beyond the superficial, I did wonder how Catholic themes would be incorporated into the presumably low-key Church of England world of Downton Abbey. O’Brien does have an Irish last name and her guilt over the miscarriage could tie in with a growing sense of faith as a form of redemption. But…the other plausible plot line would be Sybil-Branson, who presumably got married in the Catholic Church as Branson would be Catholic. Will the new baby be baptized as a Catholic? Or would a collapse in their marriage cause complications leading to divorce and all that, which Catholic Ireland firmly opposed in the 1920s?

      Who knows?

      The Christmas special actually didn’t wrap up any major plot lines but it did get the show back on track and moved the plot lines speedily to the next level of the story and hinted at new ones to come, so we have something to look forward to.

      • Anonymous

        A mere “collapse” in the Branson marriage would not be enough for divorce–even in England.  Adultery would remain the only possible grounds for divorce until 1937.  

        I do see a future for Anthony Strallan & Edith.  She can do the driving!

      • Anonymous

        Catholicism, would be a theme in Season 3

        Since Fellowes has borrowed so much from Upstairs Downstairs, I guess it’s not surprising that he’s going to borrow from Brideshead Revisited next time around…

        • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

          True that. I went back and watched Upstairs Downstairs all over again on Netflix and Fellowes borrowed heavily from their storylines.

        • BayTampaBay

          Good poets borrow and Great poets steal.

      • Rzldzl122

         Don’t forget that Lady Grantham’s maiden name is Levinson, her father an Isidore  Levinson, Dry Goods Millionaire from Cincinnati.

      • Corsetmaker

        Having an Irish journalist in the family in the 20s makes it pretty inevitable that Ireland is going to feature prominently in some way. My guess is that Sybil will return to Downton to have the baby (and to keep her featured as they won’t move main action to another location) and Branson will return to Ireland to cover the events there. I’m pretty sure that’s where religion will come in. 

        • formerlyAnon

          How will the family cope when/if the baby is baptized Catholic?  If they get married in the Catholic Church (I don’t know if they could be literally married *in* a Catholic church at the time if the bride doesn’t convert, but in some way by a priest) they are certain to have had to formally promise to raise the children Catholic.

    • Anonymous

      As always your reviews are spot on!..I ESPECIALLY LOVED: your comments about the shooting party..for the love of Saville row, why hasn’t some men’s designer cashed in on this show and do a men’s ( women’s) line of English tailored tweeds, tuxes etc???? I’ll be the first in line!!..second loved your comment about Violet batting him around like a bored cat….Brava!

      • BayTampaBay

        See Ralph Lauren Fall 2012 RTW collection on http://www.style.com

        • Puckndc

          I should have known better….I bow my head in disgrace and ignorance..

    • Anonymous

      OH…and Thomas should be the ladies maid..PRICELESS!

    • Anonymous

      That was by far the best episode of the season – possibly the show. And Violet rawcks!

    • Pennymac

      I watched this season with a steadily sinking heart over the absurdity. Last night was a wonderful turn around and a shot of hope for season three!!

      Carlysle: “You won’t be seeing me again” Dowager:” “Do you promise?”     Snort! 

    • Anonymous

      oh sue me…I teared up just like a girly-man when Mathew proposed and the snow was falling around them….it’s a fun soap opera plain and simple..it should be taken as such..besides..I can always find an Italian who’s no too picky…

    • Anonymous

      I’m kind of experiencing Carlisle’s threats to Mary as hollow. In soap opera land, all of England is fixated on the exploits of the Earl of Grantham and his daughters (as are we, in TV land). But in “real life,” nearly a decade has passed since some random Turkish diplomat’s son died in some random earl’s daughter’s bed, and in that time a couple of other things happened – things like the Great War and the Spanish Flu. How many newspapers could he really sell on that story at this point? Now, earl’s valet convicted wife murderer? That might sell a few (and I s’ppose in that context Mary’s story could add extra juice to the story).

    • Anonymous

      LOVED IT! And Lavinia’s ouija board communication was just perfect. Also the “snow proposal scene”. The hunting scene was great and I especially liked the fact the they didn’t have dead birds raining down on them as the hunters in “Gosford Park” did.

      • formerlyAnon

        Though disturbing to the sensibilities, the rain of dead birds was accurate. I like it when they are accurate about minor things that are mildly jarring to the modern viewer.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=558631967 Ivona Foster

      This episode was beyond satisfying, made you forget all the nonsense of the season. With O’Brien: I can’t help but wonder that her guilt always comes a bit too late after she got the ball rolling on the same events she’s feeling sorry about. Glad to see she getting tired of Thomas’ crap though.

      I really hoped they would just kill off Bates and be done with it. There is only so much stoicism and honesty  you can go though before it just becomes utter stupidity, and Bates has crossed the line long ago. I don’t see how this can play out where it turns it’s NOT Bates who killed her. The only thing more stupid than Bates would be if they went to whole -she killed herself to spite them- scenario. Come on, the woman had more vile and selfishness than O’Brien and Thomas put together.

      As usual Maggie Smith ruled it. The only scene that matched hers for sheer laugh-ability is when Mrs. Padmore comes in and ouijas a message to Daisy within 2 minutes, pick up her tea and leaves. LMAO

      • formerlyAnon

        Yes. YAY for Mrs. Padmore.

    • Anonymous

      I thought for sure someone was going to get shot during the hunting party, that’s they way it always ends in Texas.  

      • Zippypie

         Especially when another Dick is handling a shotgun. *rim shot*

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=558631967 Ivona Foster

      just to add: Season 2 DVD does not include this episode. Poo!

      • Anonymous

        Really?  Mine does. I’ve got the Masterpiece Classic/PBS set that includes the all the original UK S2 episodes, plus “Christmas at Downton.”

        • BayTampaBay

          Thanks for the info!  I have not seen the X-mas special and I was worried but I bought the PBS Masterpiece Classic from http://www.shoppbs.com.  This is a load off my mind.

          But at http://www.shoppbs.com and supprt PBS because it worth the extra $10.00.

        • SVLynn

          Do the DVDs have more footage of each episode vs what was aired? I had read that the original bbc version was edited for viewing in the US. I see they’re available on amazon UK, but it says a DVD made in the UK won’t run on US DVD players.

          • LeBarron

            PBS (actually I believe it was the production compay) edited the UK version to air on PBS as part of Masterpiece Classic.  But the DVDs PBS has released, which will play on US players, contain the episodes as they aired on ITV in the UK. 

            For instance, PBS combined the first two episodes into one, long premiere episode.  On the DVD, these appear as two separate episodes just as they appeared in Britain without the cuts PBS/Carnival Film made.

            • SVLynn

              thanks for the info, I’ll have to see if the season 1 I watched on nexflix was that version. I would hate to have missed out on even a minute!

            • LeBarron

              Yeah, the season 1 episodes on Netflix were the original UK versions. PBS aired season 1 as four episodes and cut more out than they did during season 2. What you watched on Netflix was how it aired in Britain.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=558631967 Ivona Foster

      Cannot, cannot, cannot wait for the M.Smith/ S.Maclaine scene! Will watch S3 just for that:)

    • http://twitter.com/jerseyemo Edwina

      Sir Richard looks like Richard Chamberlin so maybe that’s why I can’t entirely hate him. In the end, he was somewhat more sympathetic, his professed love for Mary did seem genuine.

    • Anonymous

      Thoroughly enjoyed this episode.  However, I must wonder if Violet would have really said, “Do you promise?” to Sir Richard.  As hilarious as the scene was, I can help but think that a Dowager Countess, with all her proper breeding, would not have said something so tacky and rude.  Still, Dame Maggie was top-notch.

      • Sweetbetty

         Even though Violet seems sharp as a tack, maybe she’s getting to the age where her mind doesn’t always edit what comes out of her mouth.  She looked so very sincere when she asked that, not like she was trying to be her sometimes smart-ass self.

        • formerlyAnon

          I wondered about this when she made her remark to Thomas after his remark about dancing the Black Bottom. Either the lack of filters that sometimes come with age or too much too drink were the only ways I could imagine her transgressing her ingrained notions of how one addresses the lower classes.

          • Susan Crawford

            I think the Dowager has always said exactly what was on her mind, and often states things in a very abrupt and unedited way. She was a Victorian-era woman, which might lead you to think she would be excruciatingly careful of how she phrased her thoughts and words, but in reality, there was a saltiness and abruptness in the way many aristocratic Victorians spoke, and in a woman like Violet, who has hinted at a rather – ahem – free-spirited past, she could have taught ALL the Crawley girls a thing or three!

      • http://www.lindamerrill.com Linda Merrill

         I think she knew exactly what she was saying. They all hated Sir Richard and looked down on him as not of their class. No reason to really be polite, plus he was blackmailing Mary to go ahead with the marriage.

    • http://twitter.com/ParrotTalkBack Ana Rocadas

      I thought the prosecution must have been watching the 2nd season right along with us.

      When Lord Grantham, who didn’t recall saying ANYTHING to Bates, then remembered what he said verbatim, testified, he gave Bates a squinty unbelieving look like “what the hell did you tell them THAT for?”

      • Anonymous

        Yup. Bates seems to have a well-developed martyr complex. He might as well have purchased the rope for the noose himself.

        I hope we are not going to get endless scenes of Anna visiting him in jail next year a la Sybil at the auto with Branson.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Amy-Boone/100001591238397 Amy Boone

      TLo, I too had a vision of season 3: Mary and Anna do Prohibition-era America, with Shirley. How great would that ‘ve been?

    • Lilithcat

      Why on earth would he TELL prosecutors  .  .  .

      You’d be astonished at what people say to the police.  They seem to think that they can talk their way out of a situation and all they do is dig the hole deeper.  Happens all the time.

      By the way, the NYT has an interview with Fellowes today that readers might find interesting:  http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/0!)

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542185727 Barb Cooper

      This was such a relief from last week’s turgid and over long episode. And the behind the scenes segment was wonderful as well–history, technology, Dan Stevens’ lovely eyes. My giggle point where I said to my cat, “Uh oh, he’s not going to be able to get back up” was when Matthew wend down on one knee to propose–After all that ‘tingle’ in the previous episode was a pretty quick reversal of what had appeared to be a serious injury.
      My only serious question was how the upstairs and downstairs really became the ‘midstairs’ throughout much of the episode. The concerns for Bates were probably valid but there was an awful lot of fraternizing (the concerned kind) going on.
      Yes the loved the servant’s ball but had to suspend a lot of belief considering that it had been cancelled and then quickly pulled together once Bates’ verdict was changed. And to see the stylized manner in which they all danced together and the protocol as set out by Carson.
      I’m now much more ready for season 3 than I was a week ago and once again invested in Downton Abbey.
      Oh, and I just can’t with Thomas and his deviousness.

      • MRC210

        Much as I loved the proposal I know what you mean about Matthew on his knees.  When he picked up Mary and started twirling her around, I went “You were flat on your back a year ago!  Put her down!”

      • formerlyAnon

        Yeah, Downton Abbey is a place of magical rehabilitation, judging by Matthew. He occasionally seemed to have a slight hesitation in his gait, when he thought about it. Completely uncorrelated to fatigue or the physical demands of the the moment, as far as I can see.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

          We finally saw some winter weather. It’s usually always the sunny summer at DA.

    • https://profiles.google.com/104791269167429064986 Judy S

      Really, I too was hoping for Mary and Anna in America. Perhaps “Mary and Anna visit Boardwalk Empire. ”

      The Ouija Board message from L. S. was truly awful. The ultimate send-up of the whole romance, such as it was.

      • Susan Crawford

        It really was completely unnecessary, considering that I believe Mary’s request to attend the interment of Lavinia’s father’s ashes was really the “final blessing” from the late Lavinia. That was a lovely scene, in terms of cinematography, wasn’t it? The misty, grey day, the black umbrellas and the black costuming – really gorgeous. Seemed clear to me that this was the last duty Matthew had to his fiancee, and there was no need to drag the damned Ouija board into the picture. (Except it did give the wonderful Mrs. Patmore the opportunity to tell Daisy to stop dithering and get over to William’s father’s farm. And then she had herself a nice cuppa once she settled Daisy. Oh, what a nice cuppa does for British drama!)

    • http://twitter.com/veganhellokitty veganhellokitty

      So, an American Mid-Western cowboy is preferred over an Irish driver.  Hmmm.  All I have to say is:

      USA! USA! USA!

      • Susan Crawford

        And don’t you love Lord Grantham’s complete failure to grasp American geography? “a Mid-Western cowboy” – in the Mid-West of that era, there would be a far better chance of Lady Mary meeting the owner of a slaughterhouse/meat-packing enterprise than a buckskin-clad hearty riding the range herding cattle. But it would be too yummy if by chance Lady Mary DID run into some sort of Noble American Primitive type. (Although in her Grandmama’s “cottage” in Newport, I somehow doubt many “primitives” will be found . . . unless Grandmama has a really wild streak. And, oh, I hope she does!)

        • formerlyAnon

          Grandmama IS married to a ‘mere’ industrialist, is she not? Some sort of self-made man with money, at any rate. So Cora’s parents’ social circle may not include ‘primitives’ but it almost certainly includes those who would raise an aristocratic eyebrow, as does Sir Richard.

          • Susan Crawford

            Yes, of course. Those jumped-up American self-made millionaires (and their wives) MUST be kept in their place, even after their daughters bring a dowry big enough to rescue half of Yorkshire . . . (I’m trying to raise an eyebrow, but I don’t seem to have the aristocratic background for it!)

          • BayTampaBay

            not a ‘mere’ industrialist but much worse…a ‘mere’ mercantilist… A SHOP KEEPER…Go Marshal Field

            • formerlyAnon

              Oooh, yes, a shop keeper is worse than ‘mere’!

        • BayTampaBay

          Oh of course she does have a really wide streak….why else would you need Shirley MacLaine

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

          The US is still a colony, in Lord G’s mind.  There are more important things in his life, like…a party, hunts, …

        • Tally Ho

          I had noticed it. Cowboys were from the West, whereas the Middle West referred to the farm belt from Ohio to Minnesota and Nebraska. Not exactly cowboy territory.

          But then again it’s historically accurate that people in England would be ignorant of American geography while at the same time well aware of the great American cowboy myth that was quite popular in fiction and the early movies. I’ve come across books and newspaper articles at the time that described someone from New England as an American cowboy. Even rich New Yorkers were mockingly referred to as cowboys. So Robert’s ignorance isn’t entirely out of the picture although with an American wife you’d think he would know a bit better.

          Given that Grandmama has a house in Newport it’s unlikely she has a wild and conventional streak. But I bet she’s another Alva Vanderbilt – a rich, domineering and bitchy matriarch. Probably the closest to a cowboy Mary would have met would be the son of a fabulously rich rancher from Texas or California who also owns a bunch of oil wells.

    • Susan Crawford

      Swirls of snow, crisp Yorkshire air, a wood fire crackling in the room beyond, and two star-crossed lovers plight their troth. Gulp. I am afraid my withered old heart leapt a little, and I had to reach for a tissue. In short: even allowing for British reticence, dead Turkish gents, paralysis, blackmail and the pale little ghost of Lavinia . . . IT’S ABOUT DAMN TIME!

      Also much appreciated, dear Violet’s many acid and on-point commentaries and bits of clear-headed advice. Oh, Dame Maggie, your expression as Thomas swept you off in a waltz was priceless – just priceless! Finally Lady Cora came clean to Lord Grantham about the episode of the body snatching. And it was an impeccably timed revelation that seemed to repair those marital woes they were experiencing.

      Is there hope for Edith with her older gentleman? I suspect there will be next season, because Edith has finally started to realize that she actually has a backbone. Sybil presents another interesting plot line for next season: imagine the stir downstairs when she returns to DA with her Irish former-chauffeur. Carson will be challenged as never before to figure out THIS new protocol!

      Welcome back Isobel – I’ve missed your salt-of-the-earth wisdom during your period of Fellows-enforced reverse snobbery and exercise of power. And never have I enjoyed a knuckle sandwich as much as when Matthew’s fist met Sir Richard’s jaw. Will Sir Richard make public all he knows? And if he does, how will that DA magic be worked so that the whole thing backfires on him? (And perhaps my darling Dowager has a few more cards up her capacious sleeve? She seems to know everything about everybody, in true matriarchal fashion.)

      What crucial bit of evidence will save Bates? And does O’Brien have even more secrets? And she was positively sympathetic this episode – even her hair looked tame, and I see she’s cutting down on the ciggies. As for Thomas, once again, he fell in the muck and managed to emerge as a winner, much to Carson’s dismay. Thank goodness Isis was found safely – one can kill off any number of randy diplomats, patriotic young  servants, innocent fiancees and harridan fishwives, but NEVER harm a doggie!

      I loved Daisy’s storyline – and there are interesting times ahead for her, I think, next season. Mrs. Patmore’s Ouija shenanigans paid off! (And following The Great War, there was a HUGE surge in interest in contacting the spirit world: Ouiji Boards, seances, and so on – this was a very nice touch from Fellows.)

      Next season, the costumes should be quite fabulous as the 1920’s dawn, hemlines go up, and all sorts of mischief like nightclubs, jazz, and Lady Cora’s redoubtable Mama make their entrance into the DA world. Wheeee!

      Once again, what a delectable treat this episode was after a season of too many dull or silly moments.

      • formerlyAnon

        You bring up quite the fascinating point. Ohhh, the agitation upstairs will be nothing to the agitation downstairs when Carson comes back as ‘family.’  A chauffeur isn’t even near the top of the tree among the servants. Carson’s not the only one who will look like they’re trying to swallow something the size of a brick, whole.

        • Peri7473

          I think that you mean Branson.  Carson is the butler, Branson was the chauffeur.

          • formerlyAnon

            Right.  will go back & edit!

    • Ellen Fournier

      How could you not comment on all the new frocks? After wearing the same 2 dresses for the entire war,it was wonderful to see Mary in a new outfit every time she was on screen.

      • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

        How can you read a 2000-word review and have your first comment be about what we failed to include?

        Why not just say “How about those dresses?” instead of “Why have you not mentioned the dresses?”

        • Toto Maya

          Why didn’t you mention the NO TOUCHING scene? OMG! Fail.

        • Jessica Goldstein

          For what it’s worth, my first thought this morning was “Do they sleep?” Don’t know how you get these written so fast and so well, but I thank you for it. It’s my Monday morning treat, and I’ll miss it now that Season 2 is over.

          • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

            I was surprised that the post went up as quickly as it did. I was expecting it a few days later.

            Clothes analysis will come later, when TLo are ready. And if it doesn’t come up, well, it’s their blog.

            • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

              “Clothes analysis will come later, when TLo are ready.”

              Not to be rude, but y’all are in for a long wait. Despite some people treating it like an inevitability, we have never once claimed to have any plans to examine the costuming on the show.

            • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

              OK by me. You write about what you want to write about.
              You are your own bosses. Lucky ya’ll, not having an editor.

    • mrspeel2

      I loved this final episode and was SO happy they (maybe) tied up the Mary & Matthew arc. It actually made me cry when they finally kissed! Lovely way to end it.

      My biggest laugh came when Sir Richard told Violet that he probably wouldn’t be seeing her again and she asked “Promise?”!!

      Can’t wait for Season 3 but has there been any word as to when that will be?

      • BayTampaBay

        January of 2013!

    • BigShamu

      Can I say how wonderful it is to see female actresses of ALL ages playing their age and having great roles to play.  To actually see emotions play out on un-botoxed faces.  I just wish I could plop Maggie Smith down in the Walking Dead and have her start cleaning house of “The Stupid”.

      I have a question of the TLo Nation (because you are all smart and pretty via the Internets…) and because I’m a production geek.  The Snow Globe scene (credit TLo), real snow, prop snow or CGI snow?  I ask this because whatever it was it was flawless.  Real snow, kudos to the actors and crew shooting in real snow but since I didn’t see any breath I’m thinking not.  If it was prop snow it was the best prop snow I’ve seen.  And if it was CGI, you bastards nailed it.  Soft, romantic, dreamy snow.  Yeah it’s easy to shoot in a ready made mansion (seriously, ever prop a manor house library?  Bloody hell) but to decide to have Matthew propose to Mary at night, outside in softly falling snow.  Just gorgeous.

      • formerlyAnon

        Yes, the proposal in the snow was beautiful.

    • Zaftiguana

      As much as I was looking forward to the scene where Shirley Maclaine and Maggie Smith wrestle in pantsuits in a fountain that I was beginning to fully expect given the change of thematic tenor in the past few episodes, I was really relieved to see the return to better form this week. 

      I’m still unfortunately over the whole Bates storyline and found the developments there in this episode to be the ones furthest beyond belief (all of these people not only remember every word of these now fairly distant conversations verbatim, they say so? And Bates, with the assistance of a quality lawyer, just gave all of this elf-incriminating shit to the prosecution?). It’s terrible, but while I used to really love his character, there was a shady little part of me that kind of hoped he’d be executed and we’d see Anna go off to America and re-find herself before returning to the Downton neighborhood and marrying a yet-to-be-introduced hot farmer or something. I’ve just become tired of the whole thing.

      Everything else felt like a spot-on return to just the right level of nighttime historical drama. I wonder if the war was just too much for Fellowes to handle while still managing successful storytelling and pacing. 

    • formerlyAnon

      Forgive the inevitable redundancy, I am typing my reactions without reading the 160 or so previous comments.

      Mrs. Patmore rules! Talk about no nonsense. After the Dowager, she’s probably my favorite from this episode. Daisy was perhaps the most satisfying resolution of the episode.

      Dowager handling questions about the ‘political’ son-in-law was perfect, as was her role per her daughter. Loved that she felt she had to ask her son his opinion about allowing a late-middle-aged daughter to marry a fortune hunter (she retains some traditional notions of what decisions are for men and which for women) and their mutual agreement that of course the thing to do was to “tie up the money [so the husband could not control it]!”

      I am clearly in the minority, but I thought Mary & Matthew’s reconciliation was too pat and therefore unsatisfying. Loved Isobel speaking her mind to her son, though.

      I am terribly impressed that Matthew seems to only have a bit of weakness, or a slight hitch to his gait, when he thinks about it, unrelated to strain or fatigue (e.g. after a long day shooting). Downton Abbey is apparently a miracle palace of rehabilitation.

      Perhaps because he reminds me of so many real people I know, with personality traits that get in the way of their own goals/happiness, I felt far more sympathy with Sir Richard than I probably should. If his own insecurities had not fueled his controlling nature, he’d have done better with Mary. She might not have loved him, but I still think she could have built a working marriage with him.  I think she and Matthew have hard times ahead, unless life not only does not try Lady Mary too badly but she and Matthew can also agree on some life’s work/projects that she can invest her energy in.  When she is not happy she is cold and nasty and I don’t think Matthew is the man to manage that successfully.

      Thomas’ slimy nature is not ameliorated in my mind by his bumbling execution.

      No comments on Bates because he’s either a naive idiot or he was not well served by his lawyer. I lean toward the former.  I approve of Anna, on the whole. She could be quite the team with Lady Mary, running a great house with tactful manipulation and clear sighted energy, one upstairs & the other down.

      And completely agree that O’Brien’s not told all she knows, yet.

      • Toto Maya

        I think it would be great if O’Brien came out with a final piece of evidence that exonerated Bates.

        • formerlyAnon

          And she’s been holding it back, why? Because it somehow reflects badly on Thomas? That would be delicious, were Bates to be exonerated and Thomas torpedoed in the same plot twist. But I can’t think what it would be.
          Edited to add: I lean to the idea that she knows something, but doesn’t understand the significance it would have to Bates’ case.

          • Toto Maya

            I’m hoping the answer isn’t that she’s the one who killed her. Not gonna lie, I love O’Brien and I would rather have Bates hung and dead than her be removed from the show.

            • formerlyAnon

              I kind of agree. Now that O’Brien’s getting a bit fed up with Thomas, and showing it, I’m developing a fondness for her.

            • BigShamu

              Me too.  Although she did look a little “witch-like” in her black uniform and pale face hovering over the Ouija board

      • Sweetbetty

         “She could be quite the team with Lady Mary, running a great house with
        tactful manipulation and clear sighted energy, one upstairs & the
        other down.”

        I assume you mean in the distant future when Lady Cora and Earl Grantham have passed away.  But it raises the question in my mind of where Mary and Matthew will live after their marriage.  Of course there’s plenty of room at the manor house for them and any children that may come along, but does it go without saying that that’s where they will live or will they buy a house of their own?  Right now I assume Matthew doesn’t have a huge amount of money but I assume Mary will bring a large dowry to the pairing and then again Papa may gift them with a house of their own.  Does anyone know if there is a protocol they must follow, or would have had to follow before the war and all the changes it brought?

        • BayTampaBay

          Protocol would say that Lord Grantham would “gift” them a “cottage” on the “estate” and if there is not a “proper cottage” available to “gift” he (actually the estate) will buy or build a “proper cottage” and incorporate said “proper cottage” into the estate…aka Cora’s money will take care of the housing situtation.

        • http://www.lindamerrill.com Linda Merrill

          I’m not sure if there would be a dowry when Mary marries Matthew since he’s the heir to the estate. Wouldn’t it be like he’s paying himself to marry Mary? But I agree with BayTampaBay – they’d likely be given a large home of their own somewhere. The estate owns the house Matthew and Mrs. Crawley live in, called Crawley House; and it owns the Dower House where the DC lives. The Dower house is significantly nicer than Crawley House, but I recall when the DC first visited Isobel Crawley, she made a comment about how dark it was when her mother-in-law lived there. So, they pass these smaller houses around. Perhaps there are others available. Or, with 50 bedrooms on hand, they could carve out their own set of apartments in Downton Abbey itself, much like Bill & Cathy Cambridge have done in Kensington Palace.

          • Tally Ho

            Robert mentioned in the first episode of Season 1 that the girls’ dowries wouldn’t be ungenerous, so there’s clearly still money available even though the bulk of the fortune is tied with the estate.

            There’s no guarantees that Matthew and Mary will remain at Downton Abbey after they got married. Given their characters it’s probably more likely that they would want to settle in London for a time being, in a townhouse in Kensington or Belgravia. Matthew would do something law related until the time came for him to inherit the estate. Then again for plotting purposes they may remain at DA forever, although in a “cottage” somewhere. Heirs, as a rule, did not live in the same house no matter how large it was, but always in a secondary seat or a dower house.

            • MRC210

               I don’t recall — was it ever mentioned how much the girls would inherit from Cora’s family?   Mary said in this episode that her maternal grandmother had houses in New York and Newport so it sounds as though Mrs. Levinson is loaded.   There may be cousins who will share the inheritance but still … if Grandmamma entertains in Newport, she’s got money to burn.

    • Marisa Gilman

      Any chance you boys might do a “Costumes of Downton Abbey: Season 2″ post?

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WKSM57KFWUGRMKPDUW4SPL3GDM Kathryn

      It was pretty good.  It may have redeemed itself.

    • nosniveling

      I’m probably the last person to realize this, but Fellowes=Kilwillie!
      Didn’t dawn on me until the “making of” feature came on after the special.
      I thought the snow scene looked *quite* CG…and to have Lady Mary just hanging around outside in it in her ball gown seemed bogus.  This was an era when just getting your hair wet was cause to die of pneumonia the next day.
      Concur with BigShamu about the ageless actresses, and despite the corn factor, enjoyed the heck out of this season.
      Oh, and the Isis thing?  When WILL that a*hole get found out!!

    • sweetlilvoice

      So glad this episode has finally aired, it was a true treat and much deserved after the crap of this season. I loved that Edith’s neighbor love interest was re-introduced, that was a big plot hole this season. I hope they get together. I loved Mary’s conversation with her Dad and that she finally told Matthew the truth! Finally!!

    • formerlyAnon

      God forbid I should have an unuttered thought about D.A., so I’m back to say:

      Am I the only one who thinks the flu has aged Cora more than half a decade in a few months?  Don’t get me wrong, I LIKE that the actresses are allowed to look their ages, but she seemed dramatically aged to me in this episode from her appearances before the influenza.

      I also liked that the partnership between the Earl and Cora seems to be intact.

      And, unequivocably: GO EDITH. They made so much of the fact that she’d be a nurse to her intended that I wonder if he might be the vehicle for introducing the long term and crippling damage that gas did to the lungs during the war – though I didn’t notice any foreshadowing coughing. But several characters (the dowager included, if I remember correctly & she’s no fool) mentioned it, and it makes no sense if the only damage is loss of function in one arm. Not when you’re rich enough to have hot & cold running servants to drive, lift, fetch and carry.  And in an era where the population of men under 40 were more than decimated, the age difference as a barrier makes no sense – though it is believable that in individual cases, people may not be thinking about general population trends.

      • Adriana_Paula

        Non-functioning arm-wise, I wondered whether it was the fact that it was his RIGHT arm that was hurt that made him feel like a cripple who would be a burden to a young wife.  People have gotten a lot more relaxed about right/left handedness since that time, when children would often be forced to switch hands if they were natural southpaws.  Maybe that’s farfetched; but I noted that Thomas made sure it was his left hand that got shot.

    • Caaro3

      Splendid recap, Tom and Lorenzo!  I boo-hoo’d all over again.  Thank you!

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1129137319 Paula Pertile

      It was a kind of wonderful relief, this episode. Rather than thinking Mr. Fellowes had finally sobered up, I wondered if he’d finally re-taken the writing reigns from the intern or assistant he’d allowed to pen the last few shows! But “drunk” works too. 

      OK. When did they prove that Vera didn’t actually commit suicide? Did I miss that? What was the actual incriminating piece of evidence that implicated Bates in the first place? I realize that forensics then weren’t what they are now with regard to fingerprints and all, and of course we wouldn’t have much of a storyline if it had all been wrapped up so easily, but I still wonder. And who knew that Mrs. Hughes had eavesdropped? (Carson, yes, but why would he have volunteered that information?) I know this isn’t a ‘trial movie’ and we can’t have all the facts and testimony, but it does seem a little too convenient.

      Loved Violet’s sniffy dismissal of one of the greeting cards on the table at the very beginning. :~)

      I didn’t even get that that was Lavinia speaking from beyond the grave at the end. I don’t know who I thought it was.

      I couldn’t get past “Inspector Lynley’s Havers” with Rosamund’s maid. She seemed far too worldly for the position (and I guess she was).

      When Matthew punched Sir Richard, there was no ‘smack’ sound effect. (The things I notice.)

      I wish Isis had snarled at Thomas when she saw him after being rescued. What did she think when he locked her in that shed? Doesn’t she know he’s a bad man? Dogs know. 

      I can’t get over how different Mrs. Hughes looks in real life!!!!! Wow.

      I never knew about women standing with the men while they did the shooting. Obviously I’m not British. What an oddly formal and staged affair it all is. Love it for that though. And yes, the clothes. Sigh.

      Going into DA withdrawal now …

      • Puckndc

        well, I think you can’t over analyze..take it all for what it’s worth…Isis is apparently a method actress…

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1582777135 Melanie K. Morgan

      You two are perfect.  Never change.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Linda-Harris/1358701372 Linda Harris

      I always thought Thomas killed the ex Mrs Bates for the money to get his black market food

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1542185727 Barb Cooper

         Ohhh, that’s an interesting idea. But how? Obviously off camera but did he even have any dealings with her that would give us a clue? But I HAVE wondered where Thomas got the money for the black market goods.

    • baxterbaby

      And remember, Cora’s maiden name is Levinson.  Daughter if Isadore Levinson.  Most likely assimilated and all, but is Fellowes goes there, it could be an oh snap! field day for Smith and MacLaine.

      • formerlyAnon

        Really doesn’t matter WHAT the topic/motivation/plot points are, it’s going to be an “oh snap! field day for Smith & MacLaine.” Fellowes has shown NO ability to resist an audience-pandering cliche, and the clash of the equally alpha and otherwise dissimilar grandmothers is one he’d have to be mentally deficient to forgo. Why spend the money on MacLaine, else?

        I’m waiting breathlessly to see if it is staged as actual conflict, or as two very similar women at their cores with entirely different styles and backgrounds who *appear* to be in conflict but come to realize that they actually agree on [most] things.

    • lee66132000

      ["Agree. When you're already filming conservative characters in a conservative era, you don't have to layer backwards social concepts overtop of anachronistic expressions and behaviour. Excessive and jarring at once."]

      Fellowes managed to do this in “GOSFORD PARK”.  Yet, he seemed incapable of doing this in “DOWNTON ABBEY”, especially during Season 2.  Most of the aristocratic characters are portrayed in an ambiguous light.

      Yet, I cannot say the same for the other characters.  Granted, Isobel Crawley was portrayed with some complexity in Season 1.  But in Season 2, Fellowes turned her into a meddlesome personality that are usually associated with the middle-class.  I thought Thomas was going to be portrayed with some complexity . . . which he was in the first two episodes.  After that, he spent most of the season standing around or sitting around, smoking a cigarette and smirking.  Or making negative comments about being a servant.  How did Fellowes resolve this?  By forcing Thomas to lose his money, eat humble pie and try to resume being a loyal servant of the Crawleys, again.

      As someone else had once pointed out . . . a good servant in “DOWNTON ABBEY” was one who was either loyal to the Crawleys or received help from the Crawleys in acquiring a better job (see Gwen in S1).  The more unlikeable servants were those who complained about serving the Crawleys or tried to better their lives on their own . . . before being hoisted on their own petards.

      • BayTampaBay

        Per lee66132000, “Fellowes managed to do this in “GOSFORD PARK.”

        True but Robert Altaman was running the show for Gosford Park not Sir Jullian what-his-name.  Have you seen The Player or McCabe & Mrs. Miller or Prarie Home Companion.  DA would have benn better in the hands of Robert Altman.

        • Maggie_Mae

          Yup.  Altman & Bob Balaban (who appeared in the film as the American filmmaker) had the idea for Gosford Park.  They hired Fellowes as writer & technical advisor, since he knew about that Olde Time Brit Stuff.  But Altman always had final say on what was filmed–& the excellent cast apparently did quite a bit of improvisation. 

      • BayTampaBay

        Per lee66132000, “Fellowes managed to do this in “GOSFORD PARK.”

        True but Robert Altaman was running the show for Gosford Park not Sir Jullian what-his-name.  Have you seen The Player or McCabe & Mrs. Miller or Prarie Home Companion.  DA would have benn better in the hands of Robert Altman.

    • baxterbaby

      HELP!  Can anyone translate what Lady Violet said in French about Hepworth (or his Father)?  It wasn’t up on my CC long enough for me to jot it down.

      • Mariana Newman

        Check out the recap on Vulture– there’s a translation and a link to the poem it’s from.

        • baxterbaby

          Thanks!  “Where are the snows of yesteryear?”

      • https://profiles.google.com/104791269167429064986/ Judy S

         She is probably quoting from D. G. Rosetti’s translation of Francois Villon’s “Ballad of Dead Ladies,” but with the twist of applying it to men. http://www.bartleby.com/246/735.html

    • MsMajestyk

      “…we had to watch these two idiots stumble through almost 2 hours of
      delaying; an extended foreplay that lasted throughout the entire twelve
      days of the Christmas.”

      Okay, we need a 12 Days of Christmas, Downton Abbey style.  I’ll start: On the 1st day of Christmas my true love gave to me, a stuffed doggy-rabbit thingy. 

      A good show that I hope carries over to Series 3.  Loved having S1 Isobel back.  I thought Sir Anthony Strallan looked quite svelte compared to S1.  The war was good to him, save for that lame arm business.  Agree with others on why he could fight at his age and not Sir Robert.  Whatever. 

      Matthew and Mary BETTER BE MARRIED by the time S3 starts.

      I had hopes for Thomas, but no, he’s still a dick.  He needs another love interest or something.  Don’t mess with Isis!

      Yay, Sharon Small!  Sergeant Havers looked good in period costume.

      Excellent recaps TLo!  Love you guys.

      • CarolinLA

        NO!  I don’t want them to be married off-screen – I want to see the wedding!

        • Lilithcat

           Personally, I hope that Matthew comes to his senses and figures out a way to dump her.

          • formerlyAnon

            I fear you hope in vain.

            Cogent character analysis NEVER triumphs over sexual attraction/lust, at least not before the latter has been slaked, repeatedly.  She may make him miserable (he’s too ruled by his emotions & too emotionally vulnerable for her) but he’s not going to realize that they’re not emotionally well suited till well after the wedding day.

    • Puckndc

      am I the only one who got a woody over the Christmas tree????????????????????????????????????????//

      • MRC210

         I couldn’t help wondering how they decorated it!  I don’t mean the set decorators of course, since they probably had the right equipment.  But how were the Crawleys supposed to reach the top?  Lady Edith is on a stepladder and she only reaches a few branches from the bottom.  Maybe they stood on the second-floor balcony and threw the decorations down.

        • trimellone

           Not only that, but were electric lights like that really available then? I remember my dad (an electrical engineer) creating our own miniature, all white strands from scratch (parts) even in 1950!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_F73LIJ3SJGI5AJQMXMWXCKILHI Pamela

      I howled at the “guilty” verdict for Bates.  The burden of proof is on the prosecution and there was absolutely no proof that Bates killed his wife.  You can’t convict someone of murder just for trash-talking.  I’m surprised they didn’t pronounce him a witch and stone him to death.  Seriously?

    • mrspeel2

       I’ve been trying to reply to BayTampaBay Thank you for the Season 3 date. It’ll be a long slog, won’t it?! and Browsery I had no idea Gosford Park was based somewhat on an Agatha Christie story. but I keep getting weird screens. Hopefully this will suffice in the meantime.

      • Ally08

        Gosford Park lifts mainly from two Agatha Christie novels: Dead Man’s Mirror for the set-up, and Hercule Poirot’s Christmas for the solution. However, so much of Gosford Park’s charm is in the witty, revealing dialogue; the subtle venality of the characters; the fin-d’empire sense of place; and unique details (Ivor Novello!).

        • mrspeel2

          I try to learn one new thing every day but Ally08,  you’ve helped me learn 3 today. The 2 Christie novels Gosford Park was based upon, Ivor Novello, (what an interesting man!) & finally fin-d’empire – Thank you!

          • Ally08

            Aw, thanks! T&Lo attract smart viewers/readers!

            • mrspeel2

              LOL; you betcha!

    • Ally08

      I thought of Dug from the Pixar movie Up: “You locked me in the shed, but I love you!”  Silly dog.

    • Ally08

      And Bob Balaban was involved, too.

    • OneTwoThreeFashion
    • SingingSkies

      I was really impressed by the scene of Mary saying goodbye to Sir Richard. She could have taken the easy way out, but instead she courageously got up and faced the guy who threatened to destroy her and her family. I think it was a difficult situation handled with grace.

    • http://twitter.com/SparklyCasanova UglyCasanova

      Well I remember watching this episode and I remember just crying like a baby.  

    • Carla_Charlton

      Every time I saw Bates I had to roll my eyes — so tedious!  My husband thinks it would be interesting if Bates really DID kill his wife. And I was glad not to have to see Sybil and Branson anymore because they had no chemistry and I could never believe they would be a couple.

      Agree that Maggie Smith gets all the best lines– she adds so much real fun to the show.

      Thought the scene where Mary said goodbye to Sir Richard was very well done and made me like both characters a bit more.  I always hoped they might actually end up together because they seemed suited to each other.  

      How does everyone know so much about Cora’s background — did I miss that in an episode?

      And a general comment – the series was entertaining, but laughable a lot of the time.  After an earlier suggestion from T and L about the PBS series “Manor House” I watched that again and it really drove home how unrealistic DA is in terms of the care and concern of the upstairs for the downstairs.  “Manor House” showed how strict the rules of society were back then.  But for a soap opera with beautiful clothes, sets, etc., you can’t beat it.

    • BrightsideSusan

      I enjoyed the wrap up but I sense the return of Patrick coming next season.

    • BrightsideSusan

      I enjoyed the wrap up but I sense the return of Patrick coming next season.

    • k op

      Here’s a question for anyone knowing anything about British Peerage –

      Suppose Matthew and Mary didn’t get married.  Would Sibyl’s child interfere with Matthew’s entitlement?  I suppose not, since the child wouldn’t follow a male line, but since Matthew’s name is Crowley I assume neither did his claim for Downton.

      Simply, does Sibyl’s child have greater rights to Downton than Matthew?

      • draghnfly

        Actually Crawley is the family name. Grantham is the title. I wondered the same thing and was told lineage has to be through the male. But in Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Collins is the heir to the Bennett’s home. I guess it depends on how the entail is written.

        • k op

           Ah, Crawley/Grantham, I should have known that.

          So every entail is different?  

          • Tally Ho

            Yes. Entails have different terms and conditions depending on how it was originally written. The male to male only clause was usually in place to ensure that the estate remained with the person who had the title, as splitting titles from estates was considered a poor form (remember what Robert said in Season 1 about not wanting to see Matthew a landless peer, so the prospect of an Earl of Grantham without Downton Abbey did bother him – more than his daughter not inheriting DA).

            Even among the great untitled masses entails were common to ensure that estates passed within the same family as defined by having the same last name. Entails were also viewed as valuable legal instruments in protecting the estate by ensuring that a wastrel generation couldn’t mortgage it or sell off lands or houses or any assets that belonged to the entail (quite often the main house and its most important furniture, paintings, silver and artwork would be part of the entail), thus helping preserving not only the estate but the long term wealth and position the family. I once heard a saying that an estate could survive one wastrel generation, but not two successive wastrel generations, so entails were used to help prevent this from happening.

            Now, not every estate was entailed (many weren’t, in fact), and plenty of women inherited estates.

            • k op

               Thank you so much for explaining all this.  Depending on Dickens and Masterpiece for understanding British entitlement law makes for lots of confusion.

            • Adriana_Paula

              It’s true; I think to avoid long legal conversations the writers often have a character (like O’Brien in this case) say “Girls can’t inherit” or some other blanket statement that completely oversimplifies things and makes for more head-scratching in the long run.

      • Ally08

        No, because I think the idea is that it has to go directly to the next-generation male, which is Matthew — someone who will be able to take care of the property immediately upon the lord’s death.

      • Tally Ho

        No impact whatsoever. The estate is entailed from male – male. It cannot go via a woman even from a grandfather to a grandson if the intermediary is a daughter.

        Even without an entail Sybil is still the youngest daughter. At this point Robert is highly unlikely to leave Downton to the offspring of an Irish Fenian chauffer over Mary or Edith, who would both make much more respectable marriages to suitable men.

        • Maggie_Mae

          I think that Downton Abbey goes with the Title; I doubt that Robert can leave it to whomever he chooses.  Due to the Entail, Cora’s money is bundled in with the Abbey & the Title–so no future heir will be left penniless with a giant house. (But–will that money last indefinitely? How is the whole Estate–not just the house–faring? Alas that we never saw Grantham meeting with his steward or agent–just pouting in uniform.)  Lots of information on entails here: 
          http://janeaustensworld.wordpress.com/2011/01/12/everything-you-wanted-to-know-about-the-entail-in-downton-abbey-and-more/

          Early in the show, we never heard Mary fearing that she would lose her beloved Downton, now that Patrick was dead & that weirdo lawyer was destined to be Earl.  Her wish was to live like Aunt Rosamund–with enough money to live well in London & no man to tell her what to do.  Of course, it was assumed that she would inherit most of the money if the entail was broken….

    • http://www.facebook.com/ehormell Eric Hormell

      OMG, wasn’t Sir Anthony’s house fabulous?! I’m hoping Edith marries him just so we’ll get to see more of it.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WKSM57KFWUGRMKPDUW4SPL3GDM Kathryn
    • SapphoPoet

      I love this silly, silly show SO MUCH. I loved every bit of this episode, planchette and all. I was cheering for Lord Grantham when he stood up for Mary–that is exactly the sort of support a father should offer his daughter. 
      The pacing of this episode seemed much better than the last one. I don’t mind all the plot contrivances (I’m not watching this for realism), but this show has the oddest way of being very fast and very slow at the same time. 

      And as I was just diagnosed with breast cancer, I really thank Julian Fellowes for taking my mind off it for an hour or so. For that, he gets his star in heaven. 

      • formerlyAnon

        Well, as a complete stranger, still have to say that I’m bummed to hear you got bad news. Wishing you well: a clear path among the decisions, lots of support during treatment & recovery and a successful outcome!

    • http://twitter.com/lazyiggy Lazy Iguana

      i want a Dowager Countess nutcracker for next christmas!

    • SVLynn

      Wonderful recap. Jealous of the Brits who i would imagine saw this episode at Christmas time, the tree was so beautiful and the proposal with the snow falling…perfection. Did they really have small white Xmas tree lights then.
      So who killed Mrs Bates? I wonder if Richard did it as “he loved her more than she will ever know” but then again, O’Brien is doing a lot of squirming, so she knows something also.

      • BayTampaBay

        I hope we have not seen the last of Sir Richard.  The actor playing him is great.

        • formerlyAnon

          And when he’s not all slicked down for his ‘cold of glance & black of heart’ persona, darn good looking!

      • Corsetmaker

        Yes it was shown on Christmas night. Perfect for collapsing on the sofa to after a long day with chocolates and the rest of the wine ;)

      • trimellone

         The lights . . . exactly my question (but I mentioned it in reply to someone else’s response, above).

    • http://twitter.com/MFMblog MusingsFromManhattan

      Lavinia speaking through the Oija board was the one moment where I wanted to throw something at the TV. Come ON!

      • k op

         Was it Lavinia?  Was the message necessarily for Matthew and Mary?  I didn’t get that impression while watching it, twice.

        It was definitely a “God bless us everyone” quote, which is a little over sweet. 

        Still, it could have referred to any of the couples brought together by love in this episode, my favorite being Daisy and William’s father.   It was a confirmation of Bate’s wish for Anna to be happy as well.  

        To me, it felt like a warm Xmas message extended to all of Downton.  I didn’t even think of the Lavinia angle till I read TLo’s review.

        • http://www.tomandlorenzo.com/ Tom and Lorenzo

          “May they be happy, with my love” is too specific to be a general “God bless us everyone” sentiment. Even Anna and Daisy figured out that it was a message from someone who wanted a couple to be happy. Since the number one thing keeping Matthew from fighting for Mary was the idea that they deserved to be unhappy for breaking Lavinia’s heart, it was pretty clear that’s who the message was from.

        • Corsetmaker

          Mathew even said in the proposal scene straight after that he thought Lavinia would want them to be happy.

    • Lulu Lafurge

      I really tried to like this series, but, except for the costumes, I find it has no redeeming features.

      “She’s crossed the Rubicon,” says the Earl of Sybil. Then, in case we
      didn’t get it, he adds something along the lines of, “She can’t return.”
      Agh! It’s lines like these, and the Dowager Countess’ wisecracks (They
      may be considered “the best lines,” but they’re just jokes.) that drive
      me up the wall.

      The writing is very lazy and heavy-handed. Lame plots, dropped plots, lack of motivation, only a couple of interesting characters (Edith, for one), and, except for Matthew, no really attractive boys.

      Key scenes take place off screen while others are virtually repeated over and over. The family and the help consistently commingle like they’re best buds. No. No. No.

      “Upstairs, Downstairs” may have had some not-so-hot performances, but it was in every way superior to DA.

      I love TLo’s recaps, but even those are not reason enough to waste any more time on this sorry soap.

      I realize this is just a big negative comment. Maybe I should just keep it to myself. Let me know if you think so. I don’t want to spoil the party, and I would like to know if anyone agrees with me.

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

        Many people don’t have the classical education anymore. They wouldn’t know what Rubicon refers to. 

        Greek and Roman myths – they went out of style for awhile but seem to be coming back again, at least in TX schools. Don’t know about other states.

        This might not be your show. I don’t watch Glee, so I don’t read any of the TLo posts about it.

      • k op

         “The family and the help consistently commingle like they’re best buds. No. No. No.”

        That irritates me, too.  No way in hell that family and servants were so chummy in empire Britain and indulged in modern style Oprah confessionals with each other. 

        The only believable scene of family/servant intimacy, for me, was from the last episode – the Dowager and Daisy.  Surely, it would be the only conversation they would ever have.  Also, they weren’t communicating as equals at all, nor even sharing a compatible world view.  Somehow, a smidgeon of communication was shared, just a slight bit crossed their divergent vocabularies and positions (probably because the Dowager is old and losing friends, and Daisy was at a personal low point.)  I really liked that.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

      Everyone, 
      someone has been reading this blog and the comments.
      http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2012/mar/08/abbey-jumped-shark/

    • kckris

      Ok..call it intuition, animal instinct or what have you – but as soon as the show started and we weren’t greeted with Isis’ cute little rump wagging up to Downton, I had a sick feeling.  I stopped watching when Thomas looked at her down in the servants quarters because I don’t trust him.  Can someone tell me if anything bad happens to Isis?  I just need to know if I need to fast forward through certain parts, mute, or what.  I can’t even watch Bambi all the way through, and forget the beginning of Finding Nemo.  Pitiful for a grown woman, yes, but I just have a super soft spot for animals..especially dogs.  Am I safe to watch???  Someone, anyone, a little help? 

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

        watch it. Don’t close your eyes.

        • kckris

          Thank you!!!  Watched, heart raced the entire time.  Thomas is such a snake!

    • DEE RUSH

      ["Mrs. Patmore rules! Talk about no nonsense. After the Dowager, she's probably my favorite from this episode. Daisy was perhaps the most satisfying resolution of the episode."]

      It disgusted me.  It was bad enough that Mrs. Patmore bullied and cajoled Daisy into a deception by becoming William’s beau and later, his wife.  Now Fellowes decided to condone her bullying by allowing Daisy to form some kind of relationship with William’s dad.  It was sickening to watch and I cannot believe that Fellowes would actually finish a story line on this note, because many of the fans wanted Daisy to be in love with William.

      • k op

         It was an entirely natural resolution.  Daisy never had loving parents or family.  She had probably worked at the lowest job in Downton since she was a child. Her confusion about Love was completely understandable as her only value had always been in grungy work.

        The viewer was reticent about the visit to William’s father, too.  Yes, it was manipulative but it was also sort of genius for Daisy to end up with the exact kind of Love she needed.  No one expected it, just like Daisy didn’t expect it, and it was one piece of the Fellowes machinations that felt totally satisfying.

        Daisy has one of the best story lines, so far.  Lord Grantham hasn’t had fix her life.  Her back story isn’t talked about but it’s always apparent.  She’s had ethical quandaries just as profound as Mary’s, though completely different. 

        I love her relationship with Patmore, too. 

        • DEE RUSH

          I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with your assessment about the resolution of Daisy’s storyline.  I saw nothing natural in her being bullied into a relationship with a man she didn’t love . . . or Fellowes condoning Mrs. Patmore’s bullying tactics by allowing Daisy to establish a familial relationship with William’s father.  The message I got from Fellowes is that it is okay to inflict your will upon an individual, because you believe he or she should be in a relationship with someone you approve . . . even if that individual does not love that person.  I realize that many fans wanted Daisy to love William and were satisfied with her becoming close with his father.  But I found the whole situation and its resolution rather abhorrent and unnatural.

          • Tally Ho

            See K op’s post below. Back in those days many more marriages at all social levels were conducted on a pragmatic basis – for security and prosperity – rather than love. Many if not most aristocratic marriages were not based on love, and many working class marriages were made because the groom offered some level of economic security if he had a steady job. Life was very hard in those days without the safety of the welfare state, especially so for women, and plenty of women were pushed and goaded into marriage to men they didn’t love by well-meaning parents and guardians. I didn’t care for Mrs. Patmore pushing Daisy against her wishes, but at the same time I completely understood why she did so.

      • Maggie_Mae

        I also disliked Mrs Patmore forcing Daisy to pretend she cared more for William than she did.  If he had come home safely from the War, I think Daisy would have stuck to her guns & explained that she loved him–but only as a brother–& couldn’t marry him.  I didn’t much care for the hurried marriage, either.

        But I don’t see anything wrong with Daisy forming a relationship with the old man. He’s quite alone in the world; except for her co-workers, so is Daisy.  She’s accepted that William was in love with her; she did care for him as a friend & at this point, that is enough. 

        I wish that Fellowes would pay more attention to what the fans wanted…

        • k op

           See, I just want coherent stories.  Writers would be pulled in too many directions if fans dictated the stories.

          Daisy had been dominated her whole life by superiors.  Naturally, she would feel compelled to follow Patmore’s orders.  Voicing her inner conflicts would sound like crazy-talk around the Abbey.  I found it very realistic to the times and situation that the inner desires of a scullery maid would be totally ignored.

          We of the 21st century might not like it, but for most of the world’s history Love took a distant position to Survival as a prime motivator.   Many women of the 1800s-early 1900s would have jumped at marrying a dying warrior for his pension.  That 10 pounds a year could be the difference between life and death.

          What Fellowes has done with Daisy is shown some small glimmer of the rise of individual voice even at the lowest level…but the world at Downton still wasn’t paying attention.

          Patmore’s generation worshiped the dying hero.  She probably hadn’t read A Shropshire Lad or The Charge of the Light Brigade, but the social sentiment was far and wide.  Her utter disbelief that Daisy wouldn’t automatically marry dying William was entirely realistic.

           I absolutely LOVE the shift in attitude that the Patmore/Daisy relationship represents.  Yes, the melodrama of of Daisy’s new role as a real child of someone makes me happy, too.  My MIL, as a child, survived the Blitz in the cottage of an old farming couple who were complete strangers.  Maybe her warm stories of them have effected my judgement.  The fact is, war destroys so much that we cobble together strange new relationships out of the scraps left behind.

          • Adriana_Paula

            I just wanted to say, I think your comment is fantastic, and very well stated.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_3JSTXMWWVZN2QNP2UEKJMTWD7U Isabel

      If this topic has been covered, let me know which page on the comments it is discussed.

      Why didn’t Matthew represent Bates? Is Yorkshire out of his jurisdiction? Is Matthew even working as a lawyer? Is it unbecoming of him to represent Bates, as the future Earl of G?

      • Maggie_Mae

        I believe Matthew specialized in property law.  Early on, Violet had the gall to consult with him to see if the entail could be broken.  Because that was his area….

        Criminal law is quite different.  But I was not impressed by Bates’ representation; Matthew might know somebody good. 

      • Tally Ho

        Matthew is not a barrister, he is a solicitor. Only barristers can defend/prosecute in an English courtroom.

        Way back early in Season 1 when Mary mocks Matthew’s profession as a solicitor, Edith mentions a cousin Freddie who’s studying at the “Bar.” That’s someone studying to be a barrister, which was an acceptable role for the younger sons of the upper classes, as opposed to a mere solicitor – very much a middle class profession. I imagine this distinction went right above most people’s head but it was a telling clue in the divide between upper class Crawleys and their upper middle class cousins.

        • Maggie_Mae

          Thank you for using the correct British legal terms.  Essentially, Matthew did not do the right kind of law to defend Bates. 

          But he knows enough that he might have some ideas on how to find a better barrister. After seeing Bates’ “defense” & the ongoing level of medical care Dr Clarkson provides, I think Downton is where the mediocre professionals go….

    • slocol

      Can someone please tell me who hired Thomas and O’Brien in the first place?  Would that have been the responsibility of Mrs. Hughes?  And if Thomas does in fact become valet to His Lordship, will Thomas make a pass at him?  Why didn’t Carson fire him when he had the chance?  I thought he was going to hand him his wages and bid him goodbye.  And will O’Brien ever reveal that she caused Cora to miscarry?  And why on earth did Cora (in her delicate condition) even attempt to get out of the bath without O’Brien’s assistance? Slocol

      • Maggie_Mae

        We don’t know where Thomas & O’Brien came from; apparently we’lll meet her nephew next series.  When O’Brien thought she was being replaced, she complained about “10 years of service”–so she hasn’t been with Cora from the beginning.  I’m sure Thomas has enough gaydar to restrain himself; his advances towards Pamuk did not end well.  

        Why is Thomas still at Downton after all his misdeeds?  They need a villain; I’d have fired his ass long ago. 

        It’s really not that easy to end a healthy pregnancy; the Fatal Bar of Soap was a dramatic touch to remind us that Downton is a posh soap opera.  If O’Brien wants to confess, she needs to find a priest; telling Cora would only cause more pain.  

      • http://profile.yahoo.com/M476USE6GD6VEE4RO6JA22VRLI Kriesa

        Do we know how long Mrs. Hughes has been at Downton? In an earlier episode, Carson talks about how Mrs. Hughes would feel differently about Mary if she’d known her as a child, so Mrs. Hughes can’t have been around more than 10 years or so. I’d guess that O’Brien predates Mrs. Hughes.

    • slocol

      I think I’m burned out even while admitting that I will be happy to see re-runs throughout the summer.  Am I right believing Series 3 will debut in September?  Final episode on Sunday Feb. 19 was satisfying in many ways:  Lord Grantham easily forgives Lady Mary for her Turkish delight, Daisy has a father of her own, Sybil pregnant, house maid Jane on her way, Matthew pokes Sir Richard in the nose, Rosamund finds hates to admit her mother is right and Matthew on his knee while Lary Mary freezes in a blinding snow storm.  I say!

      • BayTampaBay

        In The USA on PBS the thrid season will begin in January 2013.

    • MRC210

      Matthew is a solicitor and wouldn’t appear in court.  In England there are barristers like Mr. Murray who argue cases in court and solictors such as Matthew who give legal advice, draw up wills etc..   Usually a solicitor will brief a barrister, helping him or her prepare for the court case.    It could be that Matthew isn’t acting as solicitor in this case because he is the future Earl.

      • MRC210

         Sorry, this was meant to be a reply to the question from Isabel as to why Matthew didn’t represent Bates.

    • k op

      One last comment on this episode before I STFU.

      Fellowes may be very silly man with lots of reactionary tendencies.  Once in a while, he hits the mark though and creates a brilliant scene.

      To wit, Daisy’s sit down with the Dowager, I’ve been obsessed with that little scene for days.  Finally, I might have it figured out what makes it a stroke of genius.  

      Violet tries to tease out Daisy’s muddle of emotional confusion.  To paraphrase, Violet says something like “So you married him to make him happy before he died?  Well, if that isn’t Love I don’t know what is!”  That line is so sweet and imperious, I simply died on the spot.  But here’s the rub, it says everything about the broad chasm which divides The Dowager from Daisy.

      Violet sees Love as a type of kindness.  She has the choice to extend herself for the desires of another out of selflessness.  It doesn’t happen often, which makes it very special and one of the choice acts of Love enjoyed by people of Violet’s caste.  When they choose to serve another person’s interests and desires, as sweetly as Daisy did, that is a precious moment of chosen love.

      The problem for Daisy is that she has been serving the desires of others all her damn life.  Submerging her own wants and needs is part of her employment, her survival, her ultimate purpose.  So how can she possibly see her forced attachment to William as anything other than just another act of duty in a whole life of service?  What she is experiencing with her small, inarticulate, protests is the need for Love to be something other than service to another…to be something different than lighting fires for others and scrubbing their pots. 

      That confusion is totally outside Violet’s reality.  She can’t imagine what ails Daisy and why Daisy can’t take comfort (pride?) in a selfless action and define it as Love.   Daisy really doesn’t understand herself why it feels wrong to her.  What I appreciate most of all is Fellowes hasn’t belabored this point but let it stand on it’s own in a very clever small scene.

      When Daisy realizes that William thought she was special and provided his father with a daughter, an inner light pops on.  No matter how badly she expresses herself, someone will now listen to the problems of the little scullery maid.  No more bad advise or brush offs for Daisy!   Patmore’s in trouble.

    • yovat

      Did anyone notice the continuity issue/mistake in that last episode? Just for fun, when Thomas meets up with Lord Grantham the next morning, his white collar is all over the place and hanging loose. The next scene, he looks less messy and the collar is in it’s place! I re-wound several times to watch it.
      Maggie Smith is priceless, no one else could deliver those lines as well as she does.
      Can’t wait for season 3.

    • slocol

      During Season 3, I think Daisy’s self-confidence will grow with the loving father she’s never had; Patrick will return claiming proof of his right to the title; an autopsy will reveal Vera Bates did not take poison but slipped and fell during a struggle; Edith will prevail upon Sir Anthony Strallan and might even marry him; Sibyl and Branson will become incompatible; we will finally find out why O’Brien is so bitter; Cora’s mother and Violet will become fast friends but it won’t happen over-night; Isobel will become a devoted grandmama to Mary and Matthew’s first born; Thomas and Patrick Crawley will find true love. 

    • slocol

      During Season 3, I think Daisy’s self-confidence will grow with the loving father she’s never had; Patrick will return claiming proof of his right to the title; an autopsy will reveal Vera Bates did not take poison but slipped and fell during a struggle; Edith will prevail upon Sir Anthony Strallan and might even marry him; Sibyl and Branson will become incompatible; we will finally find out why O’Brien is so bitter; Cora’s mother and Violet will become fast friends but it won’t happen over-night; Isobel will become a devoted grandmama to Mary and Matthew’s first born; Thomas and Patrick Crawley will find true love. 

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=649432476 Abby J. Molen

      I was so looking forward to you guys covering the DELICIOUS moment of Sir Richard apologizing to the Dowager Countess that they may not meet again, and Maggie Smith uttering the best line of the night…. “Promise?”

    • trimellone

      I was absolutely dreading watching this double episode, in spite of how many comments I’d read about it redeeming pretty much the entire season.

      I’m glad I persevered and watched it. I enjoyed it thoroughly . . . not perfect, but so “right,” as to wash away the horrible taste left in my mouth, especially from eps 6 and 7.

      TLo, I’m sorry you were vexed by those asking for costume reviews. While this blog is yours and yours alone, I confess that I too had hoped for costume discussion to ensue at some time in the near-ish future.