Downton Abbey S2E7: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Posted on February 13, 2012

For the second week in a row a super-serious plot development was greeted with gales of laughter by us.

“Leaped up to save her from the threat of footstools! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!”

“Everyone starts dropping like flies and then gets better! Except –Oh, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!’

That was, without a doubt, two of the most hilariously ridiculous hours of television we’ve been treated to since the final two episodes of V. The only thing that could have made it any better is if the Dowager Countess had unhinged her jaws and ripped Lavinia’s face off in rage.

Julian Fellowes, you hack. Did you get drunk while writing this script? Oh, wait! Was it… A BLOW TO THE HEAD? Did you wake up with a Canadian accent and then bang this out on a typewriter?

But y’know… the problem with this episode wasn’t the insanely cliched plot developments, believe it or not; it was the pacing. We’re pretty sure the audience could have handled Matthew’s miraculous recovery if it hadn’t been presented in such a ludicrously rushed way; ditto to Lavinia’s inevitable exit from the story, not to mention Sybil’s bombshell, the kiss, the other kiss, and everyone in the household collapsing into their soup at the dinner table. Pacing, Julian. It’s a serial drama writer’s best friend. There was no need for all of this crap to be stuffed into roughly one hour ofstory time. We’re not saying everything would have been totally believable and not at all a crusty old cliche if he’d just spaced it out more, but he could have sprinkled the silliness throughout at a confident pace. Having Matthew healed and Lavinia dead within an hour of each other is a bit much for any audience to take, especially when you’ve got scenes in between of Lord Grantham getting a little action while Lady Grantham coughs up blood, or Sybil in a hotel room with the chauffeur. Had these things been doled out in intervals instead of thrown at us all at once, it might have seemed engrossing in a “What’s going to happen next?” sense instead of the, well, “HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAA!!!!!!!” sense we got.

For all the silliness and eye-rolling, we actually enjoyed the hell out of this episode. It was like eating an entire box of Oreos in one sitting. Fun, but you regret that you enjoyed it so much. Part of what makes it so hilarious is that it’s strictly Days of our Lives material, but everyone involved is determined to treat it like Shakespeare. Still, it wasn’t without its merits and there was actually a theme running through this episode; one that was summed up in a line so well and so succinctly, that it could very well serve as the theme for the entire series to date:

“Lady Mary is an uppity minx who’s the author of her own misfortune.”

Okay, no; just kidding. Mrs. Hughes assessment of Mary may have been dead-on, but that’s not the theme for the series (although it could be). No, what we’re talking about is this:

“Aren’t all of us stuck with the choices we make?”

Incredibly bitchy thing for Mary to say? Absolutely; even in an episode where her bitch factor rose by several degrees. But it’s something you could apply to any of the characters and their plotlines. Mary is stuck with Sir Richard after a series of bad choices. Ethel is stuck with a baby and no social support. Anna is stuck with that pain-in-the ass Mr. Bates. Thomas is stuck penniless and homeless after his series of bad choices. And Robert is apparently stuck being a dick to everyone around him because he’s depressed and going through a mid-life crisis.

It’s that last one that’s so frustrating, because it seems to have come out of nowhere. Sure, he spent the entirety of the war moping around, but there wasn’t enough work done on this character to get us to believe or sympathize with his depression. He just complained and barked at everyone around him, which are, in fact, real-life signs of depression, but we tend to think an audience needs it spelled out a little better, especially when it’s in the midst of amnesia-causing blows to the head, miraculous cures, and convenient deaths. Subtlety was not called for here, when all those other explosions were going on.

One of the ways Fellowes chose to ensure that his saintly Lord of the Manor’s decidedly unsaintly actions were palatable to the audience was to foist a suddenly unhappy marriage on him. Cora was always a bit sharp-tongued, but the words coming out of her mouth this episode were so over-the-top cold and cruel that Robert’s even colder and crueler “Do you hear how silly and stupid you sound?” seemed almost just in response. This is a thing with Fellowes. He turns characters inexplicably dark when he needs other characters to look better in comparison. It’s one of the cheapest tricks in his writing and it almost ruined Isobel as a character. Not that we wish to see Cora depicted as saintly as her husband sometimes is, but the nastiness about Matthew was a bit much to take, no matter how much she needs to see Mary married off.

Granted, we think Robert’s reaction to Sybil’s announcement was pretty much dead-on and in that instance, his rage was earned and understandable. Doesn’t mean he didn’t act like a dick, but even the saintliest aristocrat and most loving father would have had a hard time with his daughter running off with a servant. Interesting to note that Violet was the calmest person in the room. At her age, she’s more than likely known one or two aristocratic girls who ran off with commoners, if not servants. This is bad for the family, in her eyes, but not nearly as bad as the Mr. Pamuk situation. This kind of thing has been known to happen and, in her words, “The aristocracy has not survived due to its intransigence.”

As for Sybil and Branson, that was a hell of a lot of buildup for such an unromantic coupling. These two have zero chemistry together and while we don’t think the writing supports it, the actors’ ambiguity toward each other is making their arc look ominous instead of romantic. In other words, since virtually no work was done on this relationship other than to depict the same chaste scene over and over again in the garage, now that they’re together we can’t believe that they’ll stay together over the long term. Say what you will about Matthew and Mary, when they come together, we won’t doubt that they’re meant to be together.

Anna and Bates suffer from a similar problem, but coming at it from an opposite direction. In their case, the buildup was so long and so well-established that the consummation was a huge letdown. The actors have great romantic chemistry but absolutely no physical chemistry, so that scene of them in bed was more than a little awkward. Besides, it’s such an obvious violation of the unrequited love rule in serial drama: once you put them together, all interest on the audience’s part dies. Fellowes seems to think he can pair them up romantically, but keep the audience interest up by putting an insane number of roadblocks in front of their happiness. The problem is, he’s made everything so problematic for the two of them that the audience is largely just annoyed by now; especially with Anna, who went from the sensible maid with her head on her shoulders to a simpering mess who accepts every damn red flag Mr. Bates flies. Their wedding scene was, we’re sure, meant to be seen as a happy moment, but all we could think was, “Oh, girl. No.”

As for Vera’s “suicide,” it’s looking more like she killed herself just to frame her husband, although that’s a level of soap opera evil that’s just a little hard to take. We still think O’Brien had something to do with it, although we don’t know how she got down to London without being noticed.

As for Lady Mary, she really is an uppity minx and we never hated her so much as when she badmouthed Carson to Sir Richard, knowing he would hear her. Sure, she made up for it later on, and we totally understand why she and Carson have such a close bond, but that was a real low moment for a character who’s had more than her share of them. We do feel bad for her, stuck with that horrible man, due to her lousy choices in life, but that’s no reason to take it out on Carson for failing to disregard his egregious character flaws. Incidentally, that whole “Anna, would you mind spying on Lady Mary for me and not telling anyone?” thing came out of left field. He’s devious and jealous, but we didn’t think he was stupid. Even someone as unaccustomed to country manor living as him would know not to try and get between a Lady and her (sometimes) Ladies Maid. Interesting that Anna went to her superiors in the staff rather than to Mary. Despite Mary’s anger with her, Anna acted impeccably. It would have been a huge breach of protocol for her to come directly to Mary about her fiance’s indiscretions.

In other housemaid news, Ethel’s story is boring. Nothing new about the plight of unmarried mothers during this period is being said, and there have been far too many scenes of Mrs. Hughes standing in her shack and wringing her hands over it. In typical Fellowes fashion, after several episodes of wheel-spinning on this front, he blows the entire storyline up in one big altercation. It was a pretty great scene, though, due entirely to the performance of the guy playing Major Bryant’s father. “He’s terrified of his own grief” made a sad and thought-provoking coda to the scene. Still, after all that, and one more scene with the Bryants where we finally get a villain with a mustache worth twirling, even if he does everything but twirl it to show how awful he is, the Ethel story pretty much went nowhere. She’s in exactly the same predicament she’s been in for the last couple of episodes and we suspect this is her exit from the story. Kind of a waste of time, if you ask us.

In even further housemaid news, Jane is creepy and we’re glad to see her go. They sure can’t hold on to second housemaids at Downton Abbey.

And finally, Matthew gets put through the wringer once more, emerging looking like a zombie after Lavinia’s death, wanting nothing to do with Mary and convincing himself Lavinia died of a broken heart. Oh, shut up, Matthew. Her last words were basically, “Go get her, tiger,” for Christ’s sake. In a way, the leaping out of the wheelchair was more believable than that stupid speech he gave at her grave. And could Lavinia have been any more ridiculously saintly? Who goes to their death happy in the knowledge that the man she loves loves someone else? “Isn’t this better?” NO IT ISN’T, you simpering fool. Still, it was sad, her line about being a “little person” in comparison to the grand Lady Mary. Her death would have been far more sad to watch had she had even the slightest hint of a normal human emotion. “Be happy” is one thing, but “I love you and I’m so glad you get to be with the girl you love more than me” is, like everything else in these two hours, a bit hard to take.

But we loved it; we have no shame in admitting. So silly as to be laughable, but we’re salivating for next week’s wrapup. We’re sure to be disappointed, but now we almost can’t wait to see what plot development is going to unintentionally make us laugh out loud next.

As with all of these Downton Abbey posts, we ask that you refrain from any spoilers in the comments section if you’ve seen this season. That includes vague comments like “If you think things are bad for X and Y now, wait till you see what happens!” Just talk about this episode or any episodes that preceded it, thank you.

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

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  • http://twitter.com/AbbottRabbit AbbottRabbit

    I decided 

    • Anonymous

      Matthew’s always up for a self-pity party, isn’t he?    I’m sorry you feel guilty about all that dancing and smooching and sighing with Mary, Matthew, but YOU started it and blaming Mary equally for it is just about the pissiest thing you can do. 

      • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

        very good point….

      • Anonymous

        Personally, I think that Rhett, ahem, I mean Richard is more suited to Mary.  They are both very clever, snobbish, ambitious, ruthless and bitchy and they may as well own it and revel in it.  Mary will always let Matthew down and now, there’s dead Saint Lavinia to be compared with.  Also, how do you think dead brown man in her maidenbed will play for staid, middle class Matthew?  

        • http://michjeff-quiltersparadise.blogspot.com/ Michelle Young

          My husband and I were also seeing the comparison here to wimpy Ashley Wilkes and the strong Rhett Butler!  Too funny!

    • mrspeel2

      I decided last night that I no longer care that the Granthams have such a dearth of heirs male, as all the men in that family are DICKS, and that it’s probably for the good of England that they die out altogether. ROFLMAO!!

    • mrspeel2

      I decided last night that I no longer care that the Granthams have such a dearth of heirs male, as all the men in that family are DICKS, and that it’s probably for the good of England that they die out altogether.

      I nearly spit out my coffee and literally fell off my chair laughing when I read that because it’s absolutely TRUE!

  • Anonymous

    I really thought Ethel would give up the baby to the Bryant’s. Her whole story has been about getting out of service and having a luxe life and when her son had the chance to have all that and more she denied him his chance.

    • http://twitter.com/arodenha Alli

      I saw that as playing right along with her character, in that she thinks she’s so modern and deserves all the opportunities in the world but at the end of the day she’s incredibly selfish and her own worst enemy. It’s like keeping the kid was her cutting off her nose to spite her face.

      • Anonymous

         I agree. It seemed totally in keeping with her short-sighted, self-important character.

      • Andrea Weymouth

         she’ll change her mind……

    • http://twitter.com/_KarenX Karen Miller

      I took it as her having a character redemption, plus with Jane working and a single mother, it’s one example of how she could maybe find opportunities for herself and her child–an example she never had before the war.

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

         I agree. Should she have given her kid up to two loathsome people like them just because they are rich? They certainly didn’t do a good job with their own son.

        • Anonymous

          GIANT BABY!

      • Anonymous

        Jane has in-laws.  Remember the apples.  She may have had help bringing up her child.  Also, look at the hovel Ethel is living in.  Despite the fact that the actor/baby is robust, there is no certainty that he will survive into adulthood.  Look at Dr. Clarkson who ministers to the wealthy.  Eeek!  This is a time to put the welfare of your baby before your own feelings.  This child can go onto great things with his grandparents’ support, or not.  But the chances are better that he will go on.

        • Anonymous

           Right, but when the suggestion for the Spanish Flu is cinnamon, milk and aspirin she might be better off on her own.  Although, he probably would be rather rickety.

    • Lulu Lafurge

       I’m glad she didn’t give up the baby. I have the feeling the Bryant’s will be back because they have NO heir otherwise. If they do return, Ethel will have more leverage…or they will steal the baby and we’ll have a whole other plot line. (None of this will happen unless Ethel becomes re-tied to the Grantham household, though.)

      • Anonymous

        She loves the baby and is genuinely thinking of his best interests, although it’s a hard choice. I had trouble summoning up an image of the lively, obnoxious Ethel from the earlier episodes.  This story line helped me understand a bit better “Stella Dallas,” a Hollywood movie starring Barbara Stanwyck set in a later time period in America.  Basically, the plot is socially unacceptable mom gives up her child to her pedigreed ex-husband for a better life.  I used to think it was so pathetic.  Now it makes more sense.

        I also assume that Ethel and the grandparents will reach a compromise.

        • sweetlilvoice

          Stella Dallas is a great movie….I totally forgot how similar the plot lines are. 

          • Browsery

            I used to find the ending of “Stella Dallas” very painful.  I thought the self-sacrifice was so unfair.  

      • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_MBZQXGWCTBDTAZMEM4S2EJUNUQ Katie

        Agreed. I am guessing the wife will start seeing Ethel secretly somehow and that will be the entree back into their lives. Normally, I would say that Ethel should have given the baby up so he could have a better life, but I don’t know, if I were a mother, if I could give my son over to that man with such finality. I honestly couldn’t blame her, he was so awful.

    • Anonymous

      But she has also shown herself to be very selfish and unable or unwilling to contemplate the consequences of her actions, so her desire to keep the baby–to make herself happy–seemed in character.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jane-Morris/1076502799 Jane Morris

        Boy…are any of you parents?  I can’t imagine giving up one of my children for any reason, even if I had to eat dirt so they could eat.  It’s not selfish to love your child enough to not give him up to a man who refers to the child as a bastard.

        • Tally Ho

          Many of us are parents but we have to remember we’re looking at this from the perspective of the 21st century where we have a generous welfare state that at least ensures poor single mothers aren’t starving to death.

          Hundreds of thousands of women in 19th and early 20th century Britain, Europe and even the United States gave up their babies to orphanages and for adoption not because the babies weren’t loved but because they were absolutely destitute. Take Ethel – she has no job, no money, no family to support her and it seems her only food is being supplied by Mrs. Hughes. There’s no government sending her a weekly welfare check. Many if not most women in her predicament gave up their babies becase it was in the best interest of the child.

          That aside I’m puzzled by the whole Ethel character and how she fits into Downton Abbey. Was it to illustrate her as a “fallen woman” commonplace at the time, ruined by someone from “upstairs.” That itself was fine but they should have followed through with Ethel being seriously and thoroughly ruined, not sending her off to a brave new world on her own, keeping the child despite the odds.

          • Anonymous

            THIS.

            I couldn’t figure out why they were making the grandfather so unlikable until I realized she was going to keep the baby.  At the time, as Tally Ho says, ‘conventional thinking’ came down 100% on the side that a GOOD mother would sacrifice her feelings in order give her child a decent start in life.  Ethel keeping the baby with no family support would be seen [really, truly] as about as ‘good for the child’ as leaving a baby with a drug addicted mom who supported her habit by turning tricks, just because she loves her child. No one would question the love, but the only responsible rational expression of the love would be to give up the child.

            If Ethel had a mother or sister willing and able to provide a home and some practical assistance it might be different, but clearly that’s not the case.

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

           Women gave up children for many reasons- I’m adopted.

    • Anonymous

      I was done with her when she brought the baby to a house having an outbreak of flu. 

    • Anonymous

      Reminds me of the King Solomon story where (paraphrasing) a woman kidnaps a child and when KS is confronted by her and the true mother, says he’ll split the child in half so each can have a share and the real mother screams NO.  Ethel is not a very intelligent person.  Her prospects are few and if she does find a man to marry her, how will he treat her child.  Her son is the child of a gentleman. How will he react to that knowledge, later in life, should he even survive.  She is very short-sighted at this point.  Maybe, just maybe she’ll see the light and do the right thing for her child.  A mother’s love is supposed to be selfless.  Fingers crossed.

      • Anonymous

        Or maybe the horrible grandfather will die & grandma will tell Ethel to come live with her & bring the grandson….

  • Anonymous

    Good Lord, are Sybil and Branson the most boring, unromantic couple ever.  Matthew and Mary may be frustrating, but I never stop rooting for them to be together.  With Sybil and Branson, I can’t even be bothered.

    I’m sure in real life Brendan Coyle is nothing short of a sexy beast, but I could have gone without seeing Bates topless.  Just…no. I felt awkward just watching that scene. I kept looking around for the Pedobear.

    Regarding Lord Grantham and Jane, I have nothing to say but:  ICK. NAST.

    “But we loved it; we have no shame in admitting.”
    Ditto.  Bring on the Christmas Special!

    • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

      Amen re Clarkson

      • Anonymous

        Clarkson is the Dr. Leo Spaceman of Edwardian England.

      • Anonymous

        Clarkson is the Dr. Leo Spaceman of Edwardian England.

        • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.huber1 Michelle Huber

          That’s awesome

        • Anonymous

          Edward had died before the first episode.

        • http://twitter.com/ClairRose483 Clair Ellis

          Bahahaha!!

    • Anonymous

       Well hasn’t their storyline been going on for like 5 years based on the timeline of the show? I was like “Sybil, seriously, shit or get off the pot already!”

    • MilaXX

      I honestly felt lime Sybil was looking for a way to get out and see the world. After playing nurse with the solders, K don’tthink she wanted to go back to a life of sitting around looking  pretty all day. Despite the flirting, I neverreally bought the romance.

      • Anonymous

        Sybil flat out SAID something [probably paraphrased] to that effect, she said ‘and you’re my ticket to the world’ in their big “romantic” scene. I felt like if Branson ever got a red, flashing neon sign to say “This is not going to work well for you” that was it. But of course, he didn’t notice the foreshadowing provided by the dialog writer.

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

           Right? There were no I Love You’s, just “you’re my ticket outta here!”. See, she still sees him as the driver. Doesn’t bode well, but since they are off to Emerald Isle, I guess it will be the “off stage Greek Tragedy” that the DC lamented.

          • Anonymous

            Downton Abbey is about Downton Abbey.  This series, the show was forced to give us a hint of the Western Front.  But we’ve never seen the family at their London home.  And I doubt we’ll see Sybil in Dublin.  

            All off stage….

          • Anonymous

            That’s partially plot-driven, and partially budget-driven: I bet these grand homes aren’t cheap to film in.

        • Anonymous

          Yep, I don’t think an old Tory like Fellowes really cares much for a radical like Branson.  We’ve heard Sybil express over and over ambiguity about Branson.  She wants to be doing something, but Branson’s been shown to be a bit of a jerk politically–can’t believe that that won’t add up to trouble.

        • Anonymous

          I think there will be a good bit more to come in Season III.  Branson is Sybil’s ticket out of Downton Abbey.  I hope this is played up in the next season with Sybil becoming even more radical or should I say more “modern’ than Branson whom I suspect is quite a male chauvinist.  But DAMN he does look good. LOL! LOL!

          • Anonymous

            Right. Branson is a political radical – a class radical – but not, I think, a feminist.  And her upper class privileges have given Sybil freedoms, even in a traditional household, that a working or middle class wife doesn’t have. TIME, for one. Even if she has a servant, or even two, it takes time to run even a small household. One servant cannot do all the cooking, cleaning, errands, and washing, especially if one is expected to entertain one’s husband’s political cronies.

          • Tally Ho

            Yep. It was Violet using her aristocratic connections who got things done – moving William to Downton Abbey against army procedures. A working class druge and wife of a working class socialist had absolutely no time or influence to change anything other than someone’s bandaid.

      • Anonymous

        Agreed she wanted out but what i found frustrating is she had so many other options to get ‘out’ – she could have gone off to America for one! Sybil could have enjoyed freedom with her privileges and family intact. Universities by this point were accepting women (not all granted but even Oxford had women collages by this point and in 1920 allowed women to earn full degrees)
        Anyway ugh – the are both very pretty but zero chemistry!

    • http://twitter.com/VicksieDo VicksieDo

      Dr. Clarkson is a HACK!  

      Sybil is such a gorgeous girl, it kills me she’s with that chauffeur dude.  She deserves better.

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

        Psh. Chauffeur dude deserves better. ( Allen Leech, Call me! Character’s insufferable, but that man is gorgeous.)

      • Anonymous

         On the gorgeousness front? Nah, they are pretty evenly matched. Their children would be GORGE.

        • http://twitter.com/VicksieDo VicksieDo

          He repulses me.

        • http://twitter.com/sumiresugihara Sumire Sugihara

          Their (grand)children would be JONATHAN RHYS-MEYERS. (That’s all I can think of when Sibyl gets a lingering close-up while Branson talks about Ireland.)

    • Anonymous

      Agree with the Dr. Clarkson opinion.  He just needs to keep speaking with that mellifluous voice, just don’t listen to the meaning because you may end up dead.

      Matthew’s makeup.  I thought he looked kind of hot with Addams family makeup.  He just needs to shut up though.

      • Anonymous

         He has a sexy voice, I’ll give him that.

        • Anonymous

          Oh, the accent!  Gotta love the Scots.

    • Anonymous

      “Does grief = undead now?”    <3

    • Anonymous

      I keep feeling guilty about not finding the actor who plays Branson more attractive. The actor plays Sybil is still adorable. I liked that the story avoided the usual sworn-enemies result and allowed Lord Grantham, daughter and fiance to patch things up.

      • Anonymous

         I feel guilty about that too and even more guilty about finding Thomas to be the hottest guy at the abbey.

    • http://www.facebook.com/michelle.huber1 Michelle Huber

      I thought I was the only one who thought that the Anna/Bates sex scene was gross.  Glad to see I was wrong

    • Anonymous

      You are so spot on about the make-up for Dan Stevens.  They made him look like a zombie.  He’s a good actor and good actors don’t need that kind of assistance.  Badly done JF.

    • http://twitter.com/ClairRose483 Clair Ellis

      I agree.

  • http://twitter.com/jomortonsalt Joanna Underhill

    Where do you think the Daisy storyline is going? It seems that she’s been stuck in the same story purgatory as Ethel.

    • Anonymous

       I was telling my roomie last night…it’s been almost 7 years since the start of the series, and Daisy still has the same dress and is in the same position and still seems nearly as bumbling as she was at the start. I don’t really know anything about the promotional prospects of servitude, but maybe she could have been promoted to a higher level of cookstaff, or something? Or at least *look* like she’s matured in some way?

      • Anonymous

        A house the size of Downton would actually require a larger staff.  For budget & plot reasons, we’re only seeing a skeleton crew.  (A few others scurry by in the background.)  

        Anna would NOT be head housemaid & also ladies’ maid for the girls. But Rose in Upstairs/Downstairs was head housemaid in the Bellamys’ smaller townhouse–as well as ladies maid & friend to the one Bellamy daughter. Lord Julian loves to copy from the best. (Like D H Lawrence.)

        The kitchen would have had a larger staff & Daisy might have advanced a bit. (We did see more hands around to help feed the officers.)  As it is, she’s stuck as the cook’s one assistant.  But they could let her look as though she’d passed through puberty!

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

           A house that size could even require an under-butler to fit in between Clarkson and the footmen. I get the feeling that the Grantham money is not limitless- he did the usual thing and married a rich American wife.

          • http://twitter.com/maschultz Margaret Schultz

            didn’t the first season clarify this? The estate was in financial trouble, and that is why Lord G. married a rich american~ an infusion of cash.

      • Anonymous

         I think she has matured, some. She’s not scurrying around near tears with Mrs. Patmore; she’s taking on more responsibility and learning more difficult culinary skills, which I imagine might someday pave her way to taking on a head cook position in a smaller household as the next step in her career (“career”). The whole crush on Thomas thing was a big maturing moment for her, too.

        And I know a lot of people think she’s being bratty or selfish or something about the whole William fiasco, but I thought her attitude from the start was pretty mature. Her instinct was to be emotionally honest and respectful to him and just kept getting railroaded (by, I should point out, the people she’s been trained to obey for probably half her life) into something else; and the longer it went on, the harder it was to get out. By the time it came down to the wedding, she really had no choice without being exactly as awful as they all said she would be.

        But I sort of like that this thing is dragging on. I’ve been horrified from the start of the fake sweetheart thing at the way everybody just said, “it’ll be fine, obviously YOUR life, and your feelings and desires, aren’t nearly as important as his. Go on, then! It won’t be a big deal!” But we’re seeing, with it ending up in a deathbed marriage and the denouement with William’s father, that it IS  big deal, there ARE repercussions.

        • Anonymous

          I also like the “dragging on,” I think the whole series could use more of it. Real personalities and events with depth and, as you say, repercussions, play out over time.

    • Anonymous

      And William’s dad is every bit as clueless as William was.

      • Anonymous

        I know; I really wish he had said something to Daisy like “I’m so glad to have a daughter now,” rather than just repeating the same kind of unintentionally-guilt-tripping dialogue as Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes.

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

         William was nice, but Daisy had a narrow escape. If he’d lived you just know that when his father died he would have left his comparatively comfortable post at Downton and dragged Daisy to the farm. The limits of his ambition would be owning a motorcar and vacationing at Brighton.

  • Mariah J

    The whole Lavinia/Matthew/Mary triangle felt a little bit too Melanie/Ashley/Scarlett for my tastes. Nobody is that saintly. Even though the events were laughable and characters did things that made no sense I still enjoyed it. It’s like a crappy soap opera with incredible actors, sets, costumes etc. Not worthy of the highest praise, but enjoyable regardless.

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

       That would be pretty much my assessment as well. When I began touting this series last year my first words were often, “I generally hate soap operas but I can’t get enough of this one.” I definitely may be as another poster said–a very bad story with an excellent cast, costumes and sets.

      • Anonymous

         Every once in a while I wonder, as the plot devolves, whether Maggie Smith will someday say, “I’m sorry, I’m above this” and walk out.

    • Anonymous

      At one point I thought “Margaret Mitchell must be rolling over in her grave!” 

  • Anonymous

    Agreed with all of this. 2 straight hours is literally a feature film. it is a lot to take in. and the huge leaps in time don’t help. i don’t think that the branson-sybil lack of chemistry is the actor’s fault…more her fault. sometimes i think he is one of the best on the show. they needed to take them out of the garage more and they didn’t. they aren’t just going to disappear into post war bliss. one of julian fellowes’ major flaws seems to be creating side stories that do NOTHING. last week’s Titanic revisted, this week Robert and Jane (so creepy). at this point, all i care about is that by 10:50 next week Matthew and Mary are together or it will be a lot of wasted energy. I can’t even imagine how they are going to carry a third season. What drama?!

    • Anonymous

      I think the Christmas Special is about an hour and a half.  So maybe by 11:30 pm?  Heaven forbid the inevitable happen a minute too soon!  Must wring every last drop of drama.

    • Anonymous

       Apparently the third season is only going to cover one year – 1920-21 — instead of half a decade, a war and a pandemic, so presumably the pace will slow down.

      • Anonymous

        that is fascinating! I love historical fiction, so DA is a nice way to be carried away on a Sunday night. Wondering if the Sherlock show they have been promoting on Masterpiece starting in April will be any good…

        • Anonymous

          The Sherlock show is GREAT!!!!  You can watch the first season on PBS.org. But this one is not historical–it is a modern retelling.

          • Anonymous

            And the modern setting lets them slide in all KINDS of little jokes & plays on the settings & incidents of the original stories. It’s delicious.

          • Toto Maya

             Thanks for letting me know about it on PBS, I’ve been meaning to watch it for a while and am happy to find it there!

          • Anonymous

            its amazing, and it’s on Netflix too!

          • Anonymous

            its amazing, and it’s on Netflix too!

          • Anonymous

            Ha! My friend and I are going to spend Valentine’s Day playing a Sherlock drinking game she made up. It’s going to be delightful.

        • Elizabeth Silverstein

          They are promoting the second season of Sherlock. The first season was very good.

        • Anonymous

          The first series of Sherlock (3 episodes, each 90 minutes long) is streaming on Netflix. PBS re-ran the shows after Downton in most markets. Not in mine, alas.  I want as many people as possible to know about this excellent show!

          The second series (also 3 episodes) began in the UK on New Years Day; I already have my DVD’s from the UK.  It’s excellent, too.  Set in modern times but made by great fans of the original Sherlock Holmes…

        • Anonymous

          Sherlock is wonderful. the first three episodes are on Netflix. 

          …which I now see someone else already said below. Oopsy!

      • http://www.deborahwiles.com/ Deborah Wiles

         hahaha! “half a decade, a war, and a pandemic.”

        I was breathless last night. Breakneck pacing.

  • http://joyouslifesf.wordpress.com Kiltdntiltd

    I’m beginning to think “Second Housemaid” is the Downton Abbey equivalent of the Star Trek, “Red Shirt Ensign”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-Stone/100001328135240 Mary Stone

      This This THIS.  Can’t wait to see who gets ‘red-shirt’ed in the Christmas ep.

    • Anonymous

      Heee. My teenage son has a red ensign shirt that says “Expendable” on it in the Star Trek font.

  • Gail Lucas

    Wasn’t it a little late for everyone to be dying of the Spanish Flu?  I thought that mainly struck mid war? 

    • Anonymous

      i think most medical historians mark it til 1920. first of the h1ni pandemics.

    • Anonymous

      1918-1919. So cruel… people who’d survived the war then got hit with that.

      • http://www.deborahwiles.com/ Deborah Wiles

         I found it interesting that no one seemed particularly worried about catching the flu from those who were down with it. Did they not understand about germ theory then? I just read Destiny of the Republic, about the assassination of Pres. Garfield, and it begins with the story of Lister’s discoveries surrounding germ theory in the late 1800s… not early enough to save doctors from probing and prodding Garfield and infecting his gunshot wounds with their germs, but I thought by 1919 people would maybe know about and understand contagion…

        • Anonymous

          Loved Destiny of the Republic and the whole expose of the medical arrogance of the time.

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

       As a girl I loved to go to the cemetery here in my town (in the US) and read the grave stones. I remember clearly the great number of gravestones marked 1918, 19, and 20 for otherwise presumably healthy children and adults. I was told the deaths were due to “the flu” (I am assuming it was the Spanish Flu).

      • lilibetp

        Entire towns practically disappeared because of the Spanish flu.

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

         My grandmother’s sister and a cousin had it here in Massachusetts. Luckily they survived.

  • Anonymous

    My head is still reeling from last night’s ride on the Melodrama Express. Speaking of speed, that Lord Grantham is a regular little BMW, going from 0 to 60 in 2.5 seconds with Jane. I must say he makes for a most awkward lover and she, a rather lackluster object of passion. Oh that cheeky Fellowes, writing the scene of Lord Grantham picking up the spilled apples of temptation from his Eve-in-the-making; nothing like a little fruit to signal trouble ahead.

    Speaking of things carnal, the Crawley penis lives!!! I’m only disappointed that Dr. Clarkson  didn’t do a little wink-wink, nudge-nudge when he delivered the news in front of the ENTIRE household that Matthew would have a FULL AND COMPLETELY NORMAL life. I almost expected him to call for a demonstration. How lovely that Matthew’s little soldier will stand up and salute once more. 

    Speaking of penii, in the be-careful-what-you-wish-for category: Anna and Bates post-coitus. I’m afraid they were more than unconvincing…icky?. She looked like she’d been serviced by the Pillsbury Doughboy and he looked like he’d just given her a nice, big – cup of tea. It was kind of like seeing your parents in bed – and just about as appealing. 

    Speaking of giant babies, I don’t know what Mrs. Hughes is supplying her in that basket, but Ethel-the-heifer seems to be producing enough milk to feed the entire estate. That is one well-fed infant. Ethel should try to sneak into the butler’s pantry and get Lord Grantham to kiss her because then he will write her an enormous check to take care of the big baby.

    Speaking of autos, after Sybil’s odd declaration of love: “I’m ready to travel, and you’re my ticket,” I’d be just a tad concerned about going through with it, if I were Branson. Branson seems quite a resourceful fellow, though, since he’s gone from chauffeur with no apparent writing skills to full-fledged journalist in the blink of an eye. He must have been hired by Fox news ca. 1918.

    Speaking of dead loves, after Matthew’s graveside speech about Lavinia dying of a broken heart and he and “uppity minx” Mary being cursed, I’m hoping Lavinia comes back to haunt them, literally. Now that would be fun hijinks. 

    It was an embarrassment of riches, last night. Sometimes even just an embarrassment. But we sure had fun laughing and it certainly wasn’t boring!

    • Anonymous

      When Branson was hired he showed quite an interest in the library and LG said he was free to borrow books. So I didn’t see that as much of a leap. I’m quite looking forward to seeing where his character is taken. He’s one of the few that has the possibility of real movement.

      • Anonymous

        True. But, the fact that I have an interest in geraniums, doesn’t make me a horticulturist… If he comes to the Christmas party spouting dueling editorials with Sir Richard/Murdoch, I may just have a little fit!

        • Anonymous

          No, but it would make it possible to anyone who didn’t know much about you. Whereas if you had raging hay-fever it would be a more conclusive no :)
          My point is we know he has some literary interest combined with an interest in politics and is educated, plus we don’t know a great deal about his background so the possibility is there. Especially in times when you didn’t need a degree to tie a shoelace :)

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

          In addition to the interest in the library, he’s also seen reading a newspaper in nearly every scene and keeps up with politics. Why shouldn’t he be capable of doing more than being a driver? And degrees weren’t necessary for advancement in those days. My grandfather, would fought in WW1, became VP at the First Nat’l Bank of Boston without a college degree.

          • Anonymous

            Changed days indeed. My grandfather worked his way up in the Railway and got an honour from the Queen without qualifications, let alone an engineering degree. 
            For all we know he’s already been submitting articles, pure speculation but perfectly possible.

          • Anonymous

            Isn’t that how one would get a journalist’s job, at the time (barring connections, which he might have, in a minor way)? Submitting pieces and gradually working up to the point that you had a body of work to point to.  There were plenty of small, special interest and/or local periodicals and I doubt the paper & manpower shortages of the war killed them all.

          • Anonymous

            Yes, or apprenticeship as a boy. I meant to say ‘submitting articles for some time’…. trying to do too much at the same time tonight :D 

    • http://twitter.com/VicksieDo VicksieDo

      omg, I just laughed so hard at your post!  Bravo/a!

    • Anonymous

      You are on fire today!

    • Anonymous

      Sybil’s odd declaration of love: “I’m ready to travel, and you’re my ticket,”

      Thank-you for getting the phrase right, I couldn’t recall it exactly. But it was one of those clunkily prescient pieces of foreshadowing dialog, in my opinion. He should have seen the flashing warning light, but, of course, did not.

      • Anonymous

        Well, but isn’t that how he’s sold himself to her?

      • Anonymous

        Well, but isn’t that how he’s sold himself to her?

        • Anonymous

          Absolutely. But I think he has expectations of wifely devotion and housewifely household management that are doomed.

    • Anonymous

      GIANT BABY! I am obsessed with it!

  • http://twitter.com/TheRealSandraOh Sandra Oh

    This is where the show lost me for the second season but the soon to come Christmas episode somewhat redeems everything.  Still a faithful Downton viewer :-)

    • Toto Maya

       Agreed, that one episode makes up for everything wrong with season 2 IMO.

  • Anonymous

    What a rollercoaster ride this epi was.  Fellowes should have been ticketed for speeding.  When Lord Grantham moved in to kiss Jane, I actually yelled “No!” out loud.  And as soon as Lavinia got up from the table, I knew she was a goner.  But I do agree with everything you said, T Lo.  Breakneck pace, flip-flopping characters, eye-rolling moments, Matthew turned into a zombie, Sybil lost to the most boring romance ever, Anna in bed with a husband who looked old enough to be her father, and I enjoyed every damn minute of it.  A few high points – Isobel with Matthew when they found out he could stand, O’Brien at Lady Grantham’s sickbed, and watching Thomas destroy all of his worthless black market goods.  Good times. 

    • http://asskickingadviser.com/ Ass Kicking Adviser

      Yes, how could we have forgotten Thomas’ comeuppance. Good times indeed! Even if he did spend the next week praying in vain that Carson would die and proving that he was the most obvious successor.

    • http://twitter.com/ClairRose483 Clair Ellis

      I shouted “NO!” out loud every time he went near her. Thomas destroying his stuff was priceless and I laughed b/c I can’t stand him.

  • http://twitter.com/parissab Parissa Behnia

    When I saw the scene with Bates and Anna in bed, all I kept saying was, “Ew, I don’t need to see Bates’ sexy times.” It was awful but hilarious.

    • Anonymous

       But it wasn’t sexy. That was the problem.  Just immensely awkward.  There was an ocean of bed linens wedged between them and they were like teenagers at a slumber party.  Yuck.

    • Anonymous

      The real problem,  IMO, with Bates & Anna in bed is that they looked too much like the rest of us probably look in our Big Romantic Moments & not enough like Sexy Actors.  Granted, their dialog wasn’t exactly red hot, but on my wedding night I fell asleep on top of the covers in my sexy nightgown with the alarm clock I was setting sitting on my stomach. My husband woke me up laughing at me.

  • Anonymous

    I love that we know MATTHEW IS SAD when he has bronze face paint smudged under his eyes.  Seriously, did the producers blow their wad on costumes and then realize that they forgot to hire a makeup artist?  It is beyond distracting at this point.

    • Anonymous

      Honestly, he looked like another member of the Cullen family. 

      • Anonymous

         I expected him to start sparkling at any minute…

    • Anonymous

      I just replied to someone else that while he looked a little Uncle Fester-ish, I also thought he looked hot.  That shade would be called “Consumptive Bronze”. 

      P.S. I don’t watch the Twilight movies, so I don’t why I have that opinion.

  • Anonymous

    This one had me shaking my head in bemusement. There was an interesting article in the Boston Globe last Sunday about the inaccuracies in some of the figures of speech they use in DA. The one they pointed out was the “uppity minx” comment. Apparently, “uppity” was coined in the US sometime in the 1930s. It was a fun article.

    Regards this episode. Hahahahahahahahahaha! Snort! The saintly death scene and the funeral (excuse me, why was Lavinia buried at Downton and not at home in London in her family’s plot?) had me rolling my eyes like my 16 year old son. I do hope they clean it up a bit for the next episode.

    • Anonymous

      and why wasn’t her father there!

      • Anonymous

        Yes, I kept looking for him in the graveside group.

      • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

        I think he was there

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

        He has a weak chest, remember?

      • Anonymous

        He was standing beside Matthew.

        • Anonymous

          ok totally paying more attention next week. was distracted by zombie Matthew! : )

        • Anonymous

          See, at first I thought it was him, but when there was no sign of anyone speaking to him, I figured I was wrong. Guess I wasn’t allowing for the Cliff Notes Plot Points approach of this episode, they had to rush on to give Drama Queen Matthew time to declaim to Mary over the gravesite.

      • Natalie Marshall

        Pretty sure he was standing just to the left of Matthew, but the character looked exactly like drunk Mosely the butler, so it was hard to tell.

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

      Thank you, my though exactly regarding where she is buried. For the rick of sounding as bitchy as Mary, the girl was cute but she is at this point no more than a dead fiance of a future heir/ not even a wife

    • Anonymous

       I thought the burial at Downton made sense.  It was a pandemic, people were dropping like flies and they had to be buried as soon as possibel.  I don’t think anyone was shipping bodies to London. 

    • http://twitter.com/_KarenX Karen Miller

       It seems silly, and I know nothing about, but let’s play let’s pretend. Should we pretend there was a city ordinance preventing plague/flu victims from being brought back to London city limits as a disease containment strategy that the writers never filled us in on?

      • Anonymous

        How’s this for an idea?  Lavinia, who was living in London, comes to Downton Abbey to be with Matthew despite being told not to by him, and brings the flu with her.  City folk, due to the congestion and proximity to foreigners, were probably hit hardest.  Country estates should have been relatively safe.  

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabeau-Mochrie/1580631451 Isabeau Mochrie

      Modern comments have permeated the script since the first episode of season 1 when Cora uses the term “swag” when she’s discussing with Violet how her money became tied to the estate.

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

        According to Etymology Online:
        uppity 1880, from up + -ity;
        originally used by blacks of other blacks felt to be too self-assertive
        (first recorded use is in “Uncle Remus”). The parallel British variant uppish (1670s) originally meant “lavish;” the sense of “conceited, arrogant” being first recorded 1734.

        • Anonymous

           Thanks for that, Linda. I was reading the article before coffee, so I mixed up some of the information. They made the same point Adriana_Paula did about it being on the wrong side of the Atlantic, and not likely to be adopted by inhabitants of DA. I thought it was a really interesting article, and now I’ll have my radar up for modern turns of phrases. :)

      • Anonymous

        Why wouldn’t she?  According to my OED, it’s been in use in England since 1812 to mean “booty” or “loot”, and was used in that sense by both Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens.

    • lilibetp

      I think uppity was a bit before the 1930s – it was used in the South before 1900 to refer to former slaves and their children who were able to make it into the professions and decent neighborhoods.

      • Anonymous

        But it’s hard to imagine the term trickling “up” to a Scottish servant in an English house in an era before radio helped slang become widespread outside its originating region…

    • Anonymous

      Though most of the references from the early 1900′s are from American writings, I do find the word “uppity” in a 1904 issue of the English journal Temple Bar.

  • Anonymous

    My biggest laugh moment last night came when Jane appeared from behind a corner in the drawing room. We had to pause the TV and re-enact it several times, and then fall on the floor giggling.

    • http://asskickingadviser.com/ Ass Kicking Adviser

      Yes! Agreed – high-sterical!

    • http://twitter.com/ms_smartiepants Beth M.

      I know! She walked out from behind that door so slowly…dun, dun, DUN!

      So OTT hilarious.

  • Anonymous

    EXACTLY! It was the PACING! I kept muttering to myself, it was as if they had to cram three – no four! – no FIVE!!! episodes worth of incident into this episode.

    There’s no way to even hit the high points.  The Everest Peaks:

    Violet, the Dowager Duchess. She had SO MANY awesome lines she started to set up camp over the line, moving from my favorite character to ridiculous cartoon bon mot-generating machine & wacky meddler. But I have faith, she’ll be back to normal next season?

    The Earl-in-a-Whirl – first they establish him as whiny and unlikable, then they whip right through his mid-life crisis in a handful of scenes, so that the end result – he softens to Sybil and bestows largess on the housemaid who’s losing her job (voluntarily, and wisely) due to his own silly behavior just feels UNBELIEVABLE.

    And WHAM! BANG! Bring on the Spanish Influenza like a hyperactive deus ex machina!

    Whomever did Matthew’s ghoulish, heavy handed makeup for his pre-funeral visit to Downton obviously was feeling the melodrama of his & what’s-her-name’s plot line – perfect for the silent film pot boiler of the plot.

    I admit it. I loved it. But I could have loved it soo much more.

    • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

      They are probably having to share the make-up artist with the production team for Pride Prejudice and Zombies

  • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

    Strange that Branson finally seemed to have some appeal once he got what he wanted, but his political inclinations seem to have completely disappeared in a major character inconsistency. Seems more likely that he would have been brimming with hateful things to say about Lord Grantham and much more likely to try to get Sybil to turn against him than somewhat patiently wait for her to turn him around. Silly. But I do think I might be convinced that her only interest in him is as escape mechanism.

    Yeah…. Matthew/Lavinia/Mary/Richard. For the stiff upper lip crowd, they sure do have their melodramatic overreactions. That Matthew reaction at the grave was crazy. 

    I couldn’t even watch the Jane/Lord Grantham scene. Yeah, it seemed completely out of character and unwarranted. I think she’s also a liar. When I saw her looking at Ethel and her baby, it made me think that she is actually as much a fraud as she was. Have we actually seen her son? Is she actually an unwed mother too? There’s something fraudulent about her. Also, the non-reaction on the part of the staff, while understandable in regards to not confronting Lord Grantham, seems unlikely in regards to Jane…

    • Anonymous

      Cannot wait until Season III.  My favorite characters are Branson, Sir Richard, Cora Violet and sure to be Martha (Shirley MacLaine).  If fellow can cough up some better writing, there are plenty good story lines…Sybil and Branson in 1920′s Ireland kick butt, win the Irish Sweepstakes, buy a seat in Parliament  and do great….Sir Richard goes virile because he really loves Mary…Cora’a Americanism really comes to the fore front in a brave new world…and finally Violet & Martha go at it after Edith marries a rich American in order to pay the taxes on Tara…I mean Downton Abbey. LOL! LOL! 

      I cannot wait.

      • Anonymous

        At that time, the Irish were expressing their disdain for seats in Parliament.  The ones near Dublin (rather than Belfast), that is….

      • Anonymous

        I also can. not. wait. Cora’s American mama would be delicious in itself, but played by Shirley MacLaine! And there were rumors than Joan Collins would have a cameo as a relative on the Earl’s side, but that may be too much for which to hope.

      • Tally Ho

        I never got the impression the Granthams were struggling financially, especially since Cora’s money was infused to bolster up the estate. In Episode 1 of Season 1 Robert points out to the Duke of Crow. that even though the bulk of the money was tied up in the estate, the girls’ dowries wouldn’t be ungenerous.

        But the mention of the American grandmother does raise an interesting question – presumably she’s absolutely loaded with houses in Newport and New York. There’s no mention of Cora having brothers or sisters, so Martha could be a source of future wealth for the girls. Perhaps she’ll die at the end of Season 3 and leave a fortune to Edith? Would be a nice twist!

    • Anonymous

      Yes, I hurled the epithet ‘drama queen’ at the t.v. set when Matthew began declaiming to Mary. Over the frigging gravesite, no less.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NOWQRXMYKVEJBF2FRWGEYQLPUM K

      I kept thinking that they were going to go with that somehow, and either she wasn’t really a widow, or actually didn’t have a son…. It would have been better if she was more sneaky and TRYING to get Lord Granthuam under her thumb…. 

  • Toto Maya

    I actually laughed when Lavinia died, as the camera zoomed out on her splayed on the bed covered in white sheets. The angel imagery couldn’t be any more obviously. LAVINIA IS A SAINT WHO DIED FOR MATTHEW’S HAPPINESS ANGEL ANGEL ANGEL ANGEL. When she told Matthew she wanted him to be with Mary, I thought, “Whew, she’s going to live.” I wanted her to get out of there and find a guy who loved her. But no, they killed her off anyway, for no reason whatsoever. What. And Matthew’s speech made me roll my eyes.

    Jane the maid creeped me the hell out. I don’t even know what was going on there. She was kind of seducing him, but maybe not really, I don’t know? It was just stupid.

    And when they carted Mr. Bates off to jail I cheered. LESS BATES. There, I said it. If they can’t do anything with Bates that isn’t, “PITY HIM DAMNIT, PITY HIM,” I don’t want to see him, because that shit got stale by episode 2. I honestly hope he killed Mrs. Bates. Actually, I think it would be better if Anna killed her somehow.

    Oh, and that baby? GIANT. Giant HUGE baby. I couldn’t get over it.

    I don’t think you’ll be disappointed in the Christmas special. It’s my favorite of all the episodes. Not giving anything away, it’s just really enjoyable.

  • http://twitter.com/Goldielox73 Goldie

    I think the problem with the pacing is in part due to the shortened seasons (or series as they say) that British shows have.  They have a place the story needs to go and only a handful of episodes to do it in.  This plus the fact that DA covers a lot of time in the course of one season leaves a lot that happens offscreen.

    I’m almost positive that the mustache-twirling Mr. Bryant was played by Kevin McNally from Pirates of the Caribbean.  This character is so much different from Gibbs that it took me a while to place him.

    • Toto Maya

      I looked it up, and you’re right, Kevin McNally is Mr. Bryant. I thought he looked familiar.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, but what about those episodes where nothing much happened?  

      Rather than too short, I think Downton was too long. Lord Julian did OK with Gosford Park–one rather long movie.  Of course, Robert Altman had the original idea, directed & probably changed the script as he wished….

  • http://smalldog.wordpress.com/ C.

    I think it’s interesting.  Of all the sisters, I think Sybil made the most calculated marriage of all, she marrying him for a very specific agenda.  Of course the tiny romantic spot in me hopes it turns out well, but Fellowes does have a tendency to put his characters through the wringer.  Even when he wraps up their plots in 60 minutes or less.

  • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

    Also, nothing about the dramatic scene with O Brien reacting to Lady Grantham nearly dying – I thought it was one of the best things about the episode, but unfortunately overshadowed by all the other drama in the episode. 

    And Thomas – #crymeariver, buddy. Good to see him get what he deserved….

    • Anonymous

      I  actually thought the best acting job last night was Mrs. Hughes face as The Giant Bastard Baby’s grandfather was describing GBB’s mother as a DRUDGE.  The servants of Downton have it pretty good compared to what was probably the reality of other manor houses.

      • Anonymous

        His attitude and demeanor just brought me a Dickensian flashback.  People so mean, greedy and nasty no one could possibly wish to sit at dinner with them.  Here is an opportunity for this couple, who lost their only child to have at least a nice loving woman and her child, their grandchild in their lives.   Nevermind his son seemed a chip off the old block.  They deserve to be lonely and die forgotten.

  • Tiffany Hindman

    I’m one of those that has already seen the full season, but on the British schedule and am rewatching them all again with friends. The past few episodes ARE ridiculous, but also keep in mind that when these originally aired, there was a week apart. That weird, “Three months later” was what PBS had to use because otherwise, all of the sudden, the characters are acting like the wedding was next week. Again, not saying that it really made the ridiculous plot lines that much easier to take, but there was a gap so you didn’t feel like him walking/Lavinia’s exit happened in a boom, boom, boom succession of events. Also, the wait between the finale and the Christmas special (which is airing next week) was over a month. Obviously any show shouldn’t have to take into account how you view it, but in this sense, how it was aired was a little bit of a lot of stuff.

  • Anonymous

    Matthew leaping out of his chair to save Lavinia from tripping was ridiculous and the look on Dan Stevens’ face is what made me laugh so hard, like he was trying not to burst into hysterical giggling.  It was kind of the same expression Edith had on her face while listening to Violet shout on the telephone to Shrimpy. “I will not laugh. I will not laugh.  Just need to get this take….”

    The entire Lavinia death/pre-death was just abysmal.  No one is that selfless, certainly not on their very sudden deathbed.  So I wasn’t sad she was dead, even if it means Matthew ends up with bitchy Mary.  Whatever.

    I finally cheered, though, for Anna, who upon learning Bates, as Evil Vera’s widower, would get his money back, demanded that he finally marry her, no fucking excuses, so at least if he goes to prison, she is taken care of.  Little reward for waiting for his sorry ass to get his act together for the past almost 5 years since Vera turned up.

    I’m angry, actually, at what Fellowes did to Bates.  In Season One, he made Bates a very honorable yet secretive man, which was interesting.  Bates did things from a sense of self that had a backbone.  In this season, Bates immediately became ball-less when Vera showed up and stayed weak and wimpy.  Now I have no interest in whether he hangs for Vera’s murder or not.  In fact, I hope he did kill her.

    As for Vera really committing suicide, I doubt it.  People that cruel and self-absorbed don’t commit suicide – they set up other people to commit suicide.  Besides, the shot of her on the floor, her face looked surprised in death.  I realize arsenic must induce pain at death, but it’s too convenient to have her kill herself.  No, I think too that O’Brien was involved somehow – or Sir Dick – and I’m interested to see how that pans out.

    I’m very disappointed in the Sybil-Branson storyline and have been all season.  It started off good and then has been stuck in endless boring, uneventful garage scenes.  Then suddenly, she’s in love.  Seriously?  What I take from it was she had enough of superficial dinners and said “I’m outta here”. She doesn’t tell Tom she loves him, just “you’re my ticket away from here.” WTF?  She came off as a spoiled child.  If the story wasn’t juggling unimportant characters like Ethel (really? nothing happened!) and Mr. Muppet, among others, there would be plenty of time to flesh out the characters the audience does care about.

    And speaking of idiots, Robert is an asshole.  His wife could be dying IN THE NEXT ROOM and he’s ready to bang the housemaid.  All because Cora doesn’t have lunch with him anymore.  ASSHOLE.  I realize he was a little too good to be true in Season One, but give me a break!

    And yes, Jane was CREEPY.  Seriously creepy.  Like “Single White Female” creepy.

    All in all, I did love this ep, especially in comparison to last week’s melodramatic monstrosity.  Looking forward to the Christmas special!!!

    • Anonymous

      “The entire Lavinia death/pre-death was just abysmal.  No one is that selfless, certainly not on their very sudden deathbed.”

      Right?  Even before then when she was talking about seeing Matthew and Mary dance/kiss, she said something to the effect of, “It’s not that I’m in a rage…”

      Well, of course not.  She has (had?) no discernable personality traits other than BORING.  She’s too boring to fly into a rage when her FIANCE macks on another woman!

      • Anonymous

        Word.  While Matthew has an Ashley Wilkes air about him, Lavinia is as boring as his cousin Melanie–even up to the deathbed permission.  Gone with the Wind in the Shire indeed.

    • http://twitter.com/VicksieDo VicksieDo

      Hey, Jane got her son into a great school, paid for by Robert, she’s no fool.  I think she was a single mom like Ethel, not a war-widow.  Puleeze.  

      • Anonymous

         I absolutely think she was a single mom.  Playing the boss.

        • Anonymous

          If she did that, good for her.  

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

         I don’t think she was a single-Mom. She went to the war office and signed up for her widow’s pension. She’d have had to bring proof of marriage to a proven dead soldier to pull that off. Plus, her kid is 12 years old. Long time to go as a single parent and then suddenly come up with a dead husband. She also tried to get Daisy to come with her, so she wasn’t doing anything secretive.

        • http://twitter.com/VicksieDo VicksieDo

          Have we ever seen said child? No.  You have a point where Daisy is concerned, but that could be Fellowes bad writing to show Daisy STILL uncomfortable about her war-widowhood.  There was something off about Jane, but it looks like we won’t find out what it may have been.

        • http://twitter.com/VicksieDo VicksieDo

          Have we ever seen said child? No.  You have a point where Daisy is concerned, but that could be Fellowes bad writing to show Daisy STILL uncomfortable about her war-widowhood.  There was something off about Jane, but it looks like we won’t find out what it may have been.

          • Anonymous

            I think that either she had a bigger plot line that was badly cut, or she’s just badly written. She got too much camera time for the supporting exposition provided.

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

            Or, she was merely a plot device to show how far the Earl was falling off his perch of goodness, hence the screen time?

        • Anonymous

           I don’t know how many more seasons this show will go on, but if it gets to “DA, The Next Generation” I look for Jane’s son to show up as a rich successful businessman who feels he owes it all to the start the Earl gave him by getting him into a good school and the money that was in the envelope given to his mom as she said goodby to Robert.  He’ll fall in love with and marry one of the Grantham girls’ daughters and while the others may be dismayed about the marriage of an aristocrat girl to the son of a maid the Earl will be tickled to death about it, to the bewilderment of all.

  • http://twitter.com/RozSeven Roz

    And what about Dr. Clarkson diagnosing Mosely by SNIFFING? What if Mosely had been drunk AND flu-ridden? Hahahahaha

    • Anonymous

      Maybe if we’ll get lucky, Clarkson will catch the flu also. He’s turned into a bit of a pill.

      • Anonymous

         The only thing I liked about Clarkson in this episode is his reaction when Isobel said she would go with him to check on the patients. I laughed out loud.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380079551 Marie Dees

    I’ve always love British comedy. 

    Okay, pure speculation here. But Bates has been arrested for his wife’s murder. Now he’ll be dragged into court where question will come up as to what Wifey was blackmailing him with. So will he be forced to reveal the family scandal? Which just happens to point out that Sir Richard also had a motive for murdering his wife – to protect Mary. So, the easy wrap up would be Sir Richard murdered Bates evil wife and will be sentenced to hang. But she’ll be free to marry Matthew, who will still be dealing with dead Lavina grief. Bates will be restored to Anna. Mary will marry Matthew. Violet will plan to get the Irish chauffeur into politics. And Edith will take a good long look at the mess and run off to join a sensible Lesbian colony. 

    • http://joyouslifesf.wordpress.com Kiltdntiltd

       Actually, I love the idea of Edith decamping to London, becoming one of the Bright Young Things, and getting into a steamy lesbian relationship with another aristo.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380079551 Marie Dees

        Early on in Season 1 I thought that might be where they were taking her character. It would have given her some personality instead of leaving her the wet dishrag single sister. 

        • http://joyouslifesf.wordpress.com Kiltdntiltd

           And it was something beginning to happen to an increasing number of families.  It would have made great drama to watch, as the Granthams struggle to come to terms with it.  And it would have been interesting seeing that as being the thing that draws Mary and Edith closer as sisters, and that Sybil is the one who has issues with it.

        • Anonymous

          Chances are she’ll be the one left at home to nurse her parents…..

          • Anonymous

             I think Edith herself sadly predicted that way back in one of the early episodes.

          • Anonymous

            Oh, Edith may one day *return* home to nurse the parents, but I’m betting she sashays out into the bigger world and quietly or splashily lives a slice of an unconventional life more successfully and authentically than her sisters, because it will be within the bounds of what ‘advanced’ women of her class are doing. Whether it will be social work in the slums, or setting up as a bohemian writer (I don’t think there’s been any clue that she has any artistic talents, has there?), or as an increasingly independent secretary to a politician who becomes an activist herself, I don’t know. 

            It would be a fantastic subplot if she acquired a ‘dear friend’ who in our times would be recognizable as a lesbian partner but which I’m betting her Papa would not see as such unless it’s announced to him with drums and a brass band.

            If Downton goes on [probably too long], she’d be positioned to be in the thick of things – the NEXT war, the one that cements all the changes and sweeps away the old ways, is less than 20 years away.

    • http://twitter.com/VicksieDo VicksieDo

      I bet you’re right about Sir Richard offing Mrs. Bates!  Easy wrap up, but that’s how Fellowes rolls.

    • http://twitter.com/ms_smartiepants Beth M.

      och, no! I’m thinking it was Anna who killed the evil Vera…haven’t we all seen Gosford Park? Anna is so the Mrs. Wilson of Downton Abbey.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380079551 Marie Dees

        Well, looking the twists the series has taken so far, it could turn out to be the mysterious missing heir with amnesia and a Canadian accent who did it because he suddenly remembered that once in Canada she kicked his puppy. 

    • Anonymous

      “But she’ll be free to marry Matthew, who will still be dealing with dead Lavina grief”

      This I must quibble with. I think Matthew will get over Lavinia quick as quick can be – all he needs is something new to be dramatic about. He may be a Drama Queen, but he’s a shallow one.

  • http://twitter.com/maggie162 Maggie

    I thought this portion of the story was much better when aired as two 1-hour episodes, as it was in the UK.  Having a break between Matthew’s miracle legs and Lavinia’s convenient death made it seem much less ridiculous and rushed.  Wonder why they screwed with the episode structure so much this time; it’s been pretty consistent earlier in the season.

    • Anonymous

      I’m watching on PBS but thoroughly spoiled myself on UK sites when it ran over there.  There were many, many complaints….

  • Anonymous

    Days of our Lives delivered Shakespeare style!  Yes, that is exactly why this show has become so hilarious.  At least with a daytime soap there are no delusions about what you get.

    I think Lavinia suddenly dropping dead once she’d served her purpose in the storyline may be the funniest thing that’s happened yet — and I doubt that was the desired effect.  I fully expect at least one person to spontaneously combust in the finale — my guess is Mary’s dastardly fiance, so they can clear the deck for Luke and Laura… er, I mean Mary and Matthew.

    I always find it funny when someone who’s been confined to bed or a wheelchair springs up and starts running about right away.  Anyone who’s broken a leg would laugh at Matthew’s atrophied ass springing up from that chair and standing on his own with perfect balance (let alone supporting another person!).  I realize that months of physical therapy wouldn’t make for a thrilling episode, but sheesh.  These are the touches that keep resurrecting the ghost of daytime TV.

    Also, LOL at the whole “marrying the help” plot.  The only way it would work is if we felt Sybil was madly, irrationally in love with the chap — and they have gone out of their way to present it as a completely passionless decision.  Almost as if she were deciding whether or not to acquire a startup to add to her investment portfolio.

    Silliness abounds!  I’m still laughing, but won’t be for long.

    • Anonymous

      “I fully expect at least one person to spontaneously combust in the finale — my guess is Mary’s dastardly fiance, so they can clear the deck for Luke and Laura… er, I mean Mary and Matthew.”

      OMG, Sir Richard Carlisle is TOTALLY Scott Baldwin.

    • Anonymous

      Lavinia suddenly got to switch from dull and doomed to Saintly Victorian-esque Virgin Sacrifice for Love. On beautiful, pristine bed linens, no less. I kept half-expecting some emotional scene where her phantom father hands out mourning jewelry  made from her gleaming locks.

  • http://masquedbunny.tumblr.com masquedbunny

    Major Bryant’s father … while I’m glad to see “Gibbs” doing something else, yeah, this character is flat and not very fun.

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

    I’ve been thinking that Lady Violet herself had a crush / flirtation / affair with a servant or a soldier when she was younger. She seems uncharacteristically sympathetic to Sibyl and Branson, and very acute in picking up on their relationship before anyone else in the house.

    • Toto Maya

       Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that too. It’s sweet to think about, really.

    • Anonymous

       I’ll bet Lady Vi was a hellion when she was a young woman with lots of stories to tell if she was so inclined but keeps them under her hat since she eventually took on the role of countess.

  • Anonymous

    I know! There was so much plot last night that I really didn’t care about anyone. What’s with all that wasted drama? And good point about the same scene over and over again with Sybil and the driver. Do they have a relationship? Haven’t seen it. The evil Thomas story is an interesting arc. Why not more of that. He’s a compelling actor. 

    Still enjoying it though. Don’t know what the hurry is. Maid in, maid out. Lavinia in, lavinia dispatched. Cora almost dead and bleeding from the nose, Cora completely well! 

  • Anonymous

    There were so many “OMG!”, “Shut up!”, and “Come on!!!!” during last night episode that I lost track of it….  Still, I loved it…
    And my favorite Maggie Smith line: “Don’t be defeatist,
    dear. It’s very middle-class.”

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

    “But we loved it; we have no shame in admitting.” word.

    They should have played this in two separate hours to make it easier to take. But I loved it too. Sad for Lavinia, especially after she got up the gumption to refuse to leave his side. But wished she’d put up more of a fight. Having known about LC’s dalliance with a maid since the beginning of the series (spoiled for me by a single image seen in a google image search) I wondered how far it would go. Happily, not too far, but far enough for Jane to leave. Not sure I think she was creepy, I think the actress simply couldn’t convey a growing love/lust for LC properly.  I think the actress who plays Lady Sybil is limited in her acting range and Allen Leech, who plays Branson, has more chops.  I liked how he stood up to the LC and the line about how aristocrats believe themselves to be the only one’s who can do the moral thing. Meanwhile, the LC is diddling the housemaid while the driver and the Lady sleep separately, and fully clothed, while alone in a hotel. 

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

    Ridiculous yes, but I will continue watching for Maggie Smith alone. They cast Shirley MacLaine as Cora’s mother for season 3 and I can.NOT wait for her and Violet to go head to head. Cora’s mother would not have the feelings of inadequacy Isobel has, especially as she’s well aware Cora’s money saved Downton. Gleefully clapping my hand together for that one. 

    Could Mathew be more of an idiot? That graveyard speech, oh boy. How is he the biggest drama queen out of all the women in this show? Branson is an insolent little brat, you don’t talk like that to your future father in law in any century, no matter how much of a dick the said father in law is being. That said, Lord Grantham had a point- he cannot exactly support the two of them plus any family they mean to have on a chauffeur salary. As usual, the Duchess said it best “Sybil dear, this sort of thing is all very well in novels, but in reality, it can prove very uncomfortable…”

    • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

      Well I thought that was the only in character point. He IS an insolent little brat and that’s EXACTLY how he talks to people. 

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

        True, but did he really seem THAT much of an insolent brat in the beginning or is it Sybil’s approval that give him wings? I honestly can’t say, those two are boring as hell. 

        And while I realize writing isn’t much for realism on this show, if the two of them have anything but a complete breakdown I will be mightily pissed off. Branson already said that he wants her to stay home (and birth babies), how is that different than Downton except lack of riches? She’s going to live with his mommy while he goes out to make a living for the two of them, oh brother! As for Sybil, life of a common nurse who doesn’t change into a gown for dinner served by a servant army once she’s done at the hospital is VERY different, as she is bound to find out. (or maybe not since Daddy is pitching in)

        • Anonymous

          “Branson already said that he wants her to stay home (and birth babies)”.

          Did he really say that?  I must re-watch the DVDs to find this.  Definitely changes my perspective on the Branson character.

          • Anonymous

            He didn’t say that last night on PBS….

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

            A few episodes ago, he scoffed at her job as a nurse – serving hot tea to randy soldiers – or something along those lines. Off-putting, but in-keeping with the sentiments of the early 20th century.

        • Anonymous

          She’s going to live with his mommy while he goes out to make a living for the two of them, oh brother!

          No, only until the banns are read and the wedding can take place.  It’s a matter of respectability.

    • Amy Fee Garner

      And he DID get a job as a journalist at a Dublin newspaper, so perhaps his salary is better, and it’s not an upstairs-downstairs position like chauffeur.  Sybil may end up better off than her big sisters.

  • Anonymous

    Re Mary and Matthew:  that overwrought situation brought a favorite S.J. Perelman piece to mind.  In satirizing a popular book from his youth he wrote about the self-thwarted lovers (inserts my own):
    “By all the ordinary rules of physiology and pulp fiction, (Matthew and Mary) should have been allowed at this juncture to retire tranquilly to the Fruit of the Loom without let or hindrance and frisk as they pleased.  But (Fellowes), in inverse ratio to the (viewer), is just getting interested in his characters and figuring out new ways to frustrate them.  They keep everlastingly melting into scorching embraces and springing apart the moment a rapprochement impends between them.  She wants, he don’t want; he wants, she don’t want – your exasperation eventually reaches such a pitch that you would like to knock their heads together and lock them up in a motel room with a copy of van der Veldes ‘Ideal Marriage’.”

    Yep.

  • Anonymous

    LOL! You guys are getting differently formatted episodes aren’t you? It was a little less overwhelming over two seperate weeks, but still pretty ludicrous. Through all the talk of the last series and the first couple of this I’ve been sitting on my hands, bursting for you to get to these events. It’s been tough going I tell you! :)

    It’s silly. The viewers know it, the cast know it (don’t tell me Maggie Smith doesn’t fall over laughing when she gets her script), I’m pretty sure Fellowes knows it. But it’s still irresistable :)

    • Anonymous

      I distinctly felt Maggie Smith holding herself back from going into a full-fledged mugging-at-the-camera burlesque of the dowager.

  • Anonymous

    As always I completely agree with Mrs. Hughes assessment of Lady Mary. “Aren’t all of us stuck with the choices we make?” sure Mary, you’re situation is so similar to Ethel’s .
    Lavinia kicked the bucket just to get away from all these assholes.

    Branson and Lady Sybil. She more or less told him she’s running away, or walking more like it walking very very slowly, just to get away from her family and or social position.. Worst reason in the world to marry. And he took it to mean she loves him.

    • http://twitter.com/VicksieDo VicksieDo


      Lavinia kicked the bucket just to get away from all these assholes.” HAHAHAHAHAA!!!!

    • Anonymous

      Mary does become an unlikable beast when she’s unhappy, doesn’t she?

      Matthew should be taking note.

    • Tally Ho

      The odd thing about Sybil running away from her family and social position is that it just doesn’t ring true. She may say whatever she says, but it’s clear she loves her parents and they love her and treat her well, so what exactly is she running away from? Dinner parties?

      If she was genuinely concerned about social justice and welfare it would have been more plausible for her to move to London, pursue academic degrees, raise awareness for various East End charities, marry an educated intellectual or even become a missionary. Running off with an unremarkable chauffer after a completely lackluster ”courtship” means she’s both the most naive and most unappreciative of the three Grantham daughters.

      One of the big plot lines of the third season could be the slow collapse of the Sybil-Branson marriage? Perhaps this is what the whole Branson-Sybil plot in Season 2 was set up for.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380079551 Marie Dees

    “We’ve always used Upper Crust Burials. We have a little card they stamp. Bury 5 and the 6th is free. God knows by the end of this series, we’ll need it.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabeau-Mochrie/1580631451 Isabeau Mochrie

      Thank you for the laugh.

  • Noelle Haland

    What’s with all the pitiful Stepford women last night!?  Lavinia (barf), Jane (barf), Anna (for god’s sake, woman), even Cora (post-near-death) — all of them were all about how put-upon their poor, stressed out men are and how they are there to lighten their lovers’ loads because, after all, those men-folk have a lot on their plate. It seriously pissed me off!

    • Anonymous

      Actually, I thought Anna finally stepped up.  Bates has been dragging her along in the wake of his varied-but-always-overcomplicated travails for a while now.  For whatever reason, she loves him (and, unlike Sybil, I believe her) and she finally quit being ‘feminine’ and told him point blank that he was going to give her some legal status in the situation, and do it NOW.

  • http://www.facebook.com/luli.km Lucia Kmaid

    I’ve aleady seen the whole season and the Christmas special and I hadn’t really realized how fast everything went and the insane amount of things that happened in one episode until I read your recaps!

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

      I’m looking forward to finally getting the season 2 dvd (hurry up Amazon!) so I can pace it a bit. It will probably be a less insane tempo then.

  • Jessica Rowe

    I agree with all of your comments, actually.  It is rather annoying that this is getting a bit like East Enders.  Next thing you know, a Mitchell or a Banning will come flying through the door, barking about how there’s been a scuffle at the Old Vic.  Still, I’ve heard great things about “The Christmas Special” coming up next week…

  • Anonymous

    Laughed out loud (in disbelief) at the soapiest moments, and those that had been so baldly telegraphed I saw them coming a mile away.

    But loved it? Nope. 

    I can only hope Fellowes doesn’t have a hand in — or some other idiot hasn’t screwed — the Upstairs, Downstairs remake.

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

       What U/D remake? The one aired on PBS last season was awful.

      • Anonymous

        Next series to that one is due very soon (as in a week or two here in the UK). It’s set just prior to WWII breaking out I think. No Eileen Atkins (who pulled out because she wasn’t happy with it I think) or Rose (due to ill health).

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

           Ah, hadn’t heard that, thanks! Doesn’t sound like it will be much of an improvement, however…

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

    It’s like Glee now, the characters are all over the place.  You can’t be sure of what they are going to do next, because the plot is so illogical.  And next week, a TRIAL?  PLEASE!
    I want to stop watching but I think I’m in it for the house.  But I can look at pictures of it on the internet.  I’m bored with it all now.  Simple life dramas that are believable are more interesting than all this contrived tripe.

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

      Oh, yeah, and Dr. Clarkson, “I was wrong.”, ok, well then, let’s all go into dinner.  Gimme a break.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabeau-Mochrie/1580631451 Isabeau Mochrie

        But, don’t forget . . . Dr. Clarkson wasn’t dressed for dinner!  The shock, the horror of it all.

        • Anonymous

          And the look on Carson’s face when LG invited all those extra people to dinner was PRICELESS.  Poor Mrs. Patmore.

          • Anonymous

            Fortunately, they were all dropping like flies, so I’m sure Mrs. P did not run out of food.

      • Anonymous

        Well, they didn’t have TIME to go into the finer feelings! There were characters to kill, marry, and otherwise give short shrift to.

        And, to be fair, medicine was an even less exact science 100 years ago.

    • Amy Fee Garner

      I’m in it for the house and the clothes — don’t feel bad!

  • http://asskickingadviser.com/ Ass Kicking Adviser

    With you on all counts. Ridiculous fun. Like eating a whole bag of Oreos indeed. MY kids asked me this mornig, ‘how was Downton Abbey? What happened?’ I laughed and said, ‘you name it, it happened.’ Funerals, weddings, the diabled were healed and the grandparents were confronted. Sheesh!

    And you are so right about the lack of chemistry between Sybil and Branson and oh, I did NOT need to see Bates and Anna in bed together. Just need to erase that from my mind. It’s only made worse becasue Matthew and Mary dancing was so hot you had to fan yourself. But kudos to TLo who noticed that first look between Lord G. and Jane. I thought she was hiding the fact that her ‘deceased husband’ was an illusion. But you nailed it when you saw his wandering eye a few episodes ago. Great fun. Can’t wait till next week but whatever shall one do after that? sigh…I need my chaise longue.

  • http://twitter.com/VicksieDo VicksieDo

    Even for two hours, it was too much plot in one episode.  Sure, the flu could have sickened many, but shouldn’t it have been Cora who succumbed, based on her level of illness?  I’m so glad she didn’t, but having Lavinia get worse and pass away in around an hour or less was yes, laughable.  And no, it didn’t read true that she wished Matthew well with Mary, come on.

    Did NOT need to see the Bates’ pillow talk, yuck.  

    Robert was so obnoxious, I thought for sure it would be Carson who walked in on he and Jane, and found he couldn’t work for any of these people anymore, if classy behavior was necessary to him… Mary’s horrible comment about butlers being a dime a dozen was so unnecessary, and she actually understood why he declined the position.  She and Richard are indeed rather suited to each other if you think about it. 

    Matthew did look like a zombie after Lavinia’s death, really really bad makeup job.  He and Mary positively glow in their paleness!

    I loved Violet’s many lines last night, and especially her scenes with Edith and Matthew, her wisdom being shared was so fun to watch.

    All in all, I loved this episode, even while resenting the writer for such easy plotting, lazy character development, and convenient developments in general. I’m one of those people who likes soap opera style AND RomComs, so there’s that!  As long as they’re in that fabulous house, wearing the fabulous clothing, I make allowances. ;-)

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Isabeau-Mochrie/1580631451 Isabeau Mochrie

      People with strong immune systems were impacted the most by the Spanish ‘flu pandemic because the virus killed by creating an overreaction of the body’s immune system through a cytokine storm. The strong immune system reactions of young adults ravaged the body, whereas the weaker immune systems of children and middle-aged adults resulted in fewer deaths . . . so it’s not inconsistent that Lavinia died as the youngest person at DA to contract the disease.

    • Toto Maya

       The death within an hour due to the flu is actually not completely inaccurate based on accounts from the epidemic. There was one story of a woman who called for an ambulance, claiming that one of her four roomates had the flu and was dying while the rest of them were perfectly healthy, and by the time the ambulance arrived all four were dead. Obviously it’s still silly and convenient for the plot of this show, but it has a basis in reality I think. It doesn’t mean he should have done it though.

      • http://twitter.com/VicksieDo VicksieDo

        Ah, ok then :)

      • Anonymous

        My problem with Flu at Downton: Why didn’t more people get sick? The quack doctor should not have allowed every member of the family to crowd into the sick rooms.  The stuff was dreadfully contagious. 

        As to the rapid onset & the “healthiest” demographic being the most likely to die–that seemed pretty accurate. 

        • Toto Maya

           I agree with you there, I kept thinking, “GET AWAY, YOU’RE ALL GONNA DIE.”

  • Anonymous

    My husband and I spent the whole two hours screaming, “But he would never do that?!” “She would NEVER say that.” “But his beloved wife is dying?!” They just threw character to the wind and advanced plots faster than Cliffs Notes. We were left saying, “What just happened back there?!?!” Absurd…and NOT in a good way. 

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

    I really expected that some of Thomas’s black market stores had caused poisoning among the Grantham guests. And, as soon as Sybil(?), Ethel(?) began laying out the wedding gifts (and jewelry) I expected that Thomas would steal some or all of the best pieces. I guess this is to say that even as turgid as the whole episode was there was still room for suspense.
    And what was with Matthew’s eyes? It seems to me that earlier in the series he had the most gorgeous blue eyes but in this episode they were for the most part a very cold dull green. Yes, too long and when I tacked on at least half of the previous episode just get back into it it did make for a very draggy night.
    Won’t even go there with the Saint Lavinia, icky Bates (yes, he was a divine, gentle (if opinionated) husband and father in Lark Rise to Candleford) marriage bed, and Robert and Jane. Others have done an excellent job of dissection in these areas.

  • Jen Fishovitz

    I think at one point last night, I actually called Lord Grantham a “filthy whore”. Out loud. Alone in my living room. His issues with Cora were so contrived and quick that I didn’t even notice them! I still don’t have any idea what he saw in Jane. 

    Matthew and Mary totally won me over last night with their dance. I’ve always liked them and rooted for them, but that dance…yowza.

    So is Thomas being genuine in his helping out around the house? He’s lost everything, is he just trying to get back into their good graces so he has a roof over his head and food to eat? Undoubtedly his goal is Carson’s job, but it seems like if he doesn’t want to stay a footman, he’d be best to take his experience to a household that doesn’t know about all the terrible things he’s done. He’d probably get a good letter out of Grantham just to get rid of him. 

    • Anonymous

      “Matthew and Mary totally won me over last night with their dance. I’ve always liked them and rooted for them, but that dance…yowza.”
      I thought it was a beautiful, well done scene (you know, apart from the cheating).  It was the first time since Matthew’s proposal back in S1 that both were aware of the other’s feelings.It was hot and romantic, so the polar opposite of Sybil and Branson.

    • Anonymous

      Thomas would be perfect to work for Sir Richard.

      • Anonymous

        And I’ve been expecting Sir Richard to glom onto him for two episodes now. Though, realistically, how he’d have enough contact with him to realize that Thomas is an ideal minion is a problem. Maybe now that he’s clawing his way back into some kind of status as an upper servant.

        • Anonymous

          That exactly what I thought.  Since Richard offered Anna money to spy on Mary, wouldn’t Thomas be perfect as he’s desperate for money and unscrupulous?   Though I am hoping that the writers are turning Thomas around and will let him develop into something more than the dick he is.  His helping out did seem genuine after he was duped by the black market fiasco.  I don’t need him to do a 180, but the villainy is getting old.

          • Anonymous

            Since Richard offered Anna money to spy on Mary, wouldn’t Thomas be perfect as he’s desperate for money and unscrupulous?  

            But he hasn’t the same access that Anna has, nor is Mary likely to confide in Thomas, as she might in Anna.  Sir Richard doesn’t seem the type to pay someone for information unless that person is actually in a position to get the information.

          • Anonymous

            True, true, but I meant in some other capacity because Thomas will stoop to any level to get some money because he’s desperate.  I should have clarified.  I see Sir Dick and Thomas being drawn to each other’s nefarious ways.  Mary sees Thomas as the backstabber that he is that’s fo sure.  Or he could become Mary’s GBFF next week what with Fellowes’ love of breakneck character changes.  I would watch that!

    • Anonymous

      Don’t you think Thomas is going to end up in the employ of Sir Richard???   A match made in heaven, I would say.

  • Anonymous

    “It was like eating an entire box of Oreos in one sitting. Fun, but you regret that you enjoyed it so much”…
    and then you spend two days on the can!!
    The whole thing was ridiculous, and yet I watched it all… every silly, unbelievable drop!!

    • Pennymac

      Me too. And relished all of it, like going on one of those cupboard grazing sweet/salty binges. Now I have a Downton Abbey tummyache!

      • Anonymous

        I followed the surfeit with a dose of the new Absolutely Fabulous on BBCamerica.  Like a stiff gin & tonic!

  • Anonymous

    I think Fellowes may have surpassed George Lucas in dialog and character development prowess. But heaven help me, I hung on every leaden word.

  • k op

     Yes, my brother had a spine injury.  It took 6 months of rehab before he could walk with canes, and 6 more months before he could walk without them.  Mathew’s sudden jump up with perfect balance was hilarious in that perspective.

    Dr. Clarkson’s misdiagnosis wasn’t wrong.  The only way to tell if a spinal injury is permanent is to wait…and wait, especially in the days before neurosurgery was safe.  There would have been speculation over whether the spine was completely or partially severed, and if sensation or motor skills would likely return.  Giving the patient the worst possible outcome is considered humane on some level.

    • Amy Fee Garner

      Makes one think tiny fiancees should be stationed at rehab centers, tripping over ottomans and speeding up spinal rehabilitation for one and all.

  • Anonymous

    Good or bad, I love this show. Last night while watching all I could think was I want to be in the same room as TLo getting their reactions live!

    • Anonymous

      You could check out their Twitter feed.  It’s the next best thing!

  • Anonymous

    I was waiting and waiting for the influenza pandemic–not looking forward to it exact.y, but really interested to see how it would be a part of the storylines.  I was so disappointed that they are using it as a one hour deus ex machina for the plot!

    • Anonymous

      THIS.

      But, really, it wasn’t alone. There were any number of plot points that could have been (and would have been more enjoyable as) extended little story arcs taking place over 3 or 4 episodes.  Back a couple of episodes when things were a little slow, it’s too bad things weren’t tightened up to have more time to maneuver on this end.

      • Anonymous

        And what it would be like to live through a pandemic–the fear of going out, of being near sick people, what they thought were good preventive behaviors… It would have been a great opportunity to really showcase the effects of a pandemic (especially after we have just lived through the H1N1 scare) on day to day life. Did children stop going to school, did the staff shop less often in the market?

  • Beth G

    I don’t think Mary meant what she said about butlers being a dime-a-dozen.  I think she was trying to cover the hurt and not let Richard know what was going on.

    • Toto Maya

       I agree, she was obviously trying to save face and was hurt and angry.

      • Anonymous

        I was surprised at Carson for refusing to go.  Her husband-to-be was already trying to bribe the servants to spy on her, imagine the hostile environment she would be walking into.  Carson could have been her ally.  She may have taken his support too much for granted but I can understand her hurt.  I have to disagree with TLO, it doesn’t seem unconvincing to me that Sir Richard wouldn’t get Anna’s loyalty to Mary.  I’m sure he thinks they can all be bought and sold.

      • Anonymous

         But she knew Carson would hear it and be hurt too.  Selfishness is still a very strong trait in Lady Mary.

    • Anonymous

      I agree… I thought it was a very nice and rare-for-Season-2 nuanced bit of writing. She knew it would hurt Carson deeply, which was exactly what she intended because she felt betrayed and hurt herself. 

    • Anonymous

      Yes, but that’s consistent with Mary. When she’s hurt or unhappy she clamps down and gets cold, nasty and bitter. And it comes out sounding very spiteful.

      As I said in another comment, Matthew should be taking note.

  • k op

    Pacing!  Exactly.  I wanted so much more from every single plot line, though some could have been eliminated all together.

    Two bright lights in last night’s episode – Thomas and O’Brien.   They might be the best actors in the series, as they have made me believe every hair pinned turn that Fellowes throws at them.  Is O’Brien a bit in love with Cora?  Her devotion and her meanness are so well integrated by this actress.  Thomas, too, is so sleazy and pathetic by turns.  The scene of him destroying his stockpile was more wrenching than Lavinia’s death by yards.

     I’m beginning to disbelieve in the Lord Grantham character.  Who thanks the servants at every turn and gets so deeply embedded in their private lives?  Who tells the entire room of dinner guests that he will be sleeping in his dressing room while his wife is sick?  What Lord wouldn’t have his chauffeur arrested for seducing his daughter and taking her to a hotel?  At least he would have the chauffeur deported back to Ireland.  Fellowes is straining credulity of this Sensitive New Aged Lord of the Manor.
    Mary is beginning to sound more and more like her Violet.  Is that her inevitable outcome? 

    • Anonymous

      I wonder with O’Brien. I’m not sure about in love with Cora as such, although I wouldn’t rule it out, but it could be that’s where her preferences are. Everyone questions what bond she could have with Thomas, but could it be that?

      • Anonymous

        She is Mrs. O’Brien, right?  Has it been mentioned what happened to her husband?

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

          Never mind! Linda Merrill beat me to it, and with better info.

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

           The terms Mrs. and Miss were not meant for married or unmarried women. Mrs. Hughes is a never married woman, but her status as the highest ranking female staff member accorded her the title Mrs. Meanwhile, O’Brien is actually called Miss O’Brien, because she has rank as Ladies Maid to the Countess, but is simply called O’Brien for short by her boss and Miss O’Brien by those lower than her. Likewise, Mr. Bates as valet to the Earl. The maids and all other valets and servants are all called by their first names. Almost all were single – having nothing to do with sexual orientation but the expectation that servants lived-in and had no time for a personal life.

          • Anonymous

            Yes, all cooks and housekeepers were called by the honorific “Mrs.”

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

             Oops, forgot about Mrs. Patmore!

    • Anonymous

      Did Grantham know that Branson had taken Sybil to the inn?  He behaved himself, but it looked bad.  The other girls told their father that they’d dissuaded her from eloping–not that they’d gone after the couple in the night.  

      The womenfolk know the old boy needs to be spared the details.  Remember him hoping the Turk’s sudden death was not too hard on the sensitive ladies–when he had no idea they’d hauled his body through the darkened house…

      • k op

         Maggie, good point.  Richard may not have known about the hotel.   Still, I feel like he would have used the local constabulary to hound the chauffeur out of town and sent Sybil on a long tour of the continent before ever allowing his daughter to marry a servant. 

        Maybe Sybil simply wasn’t believable, to me, in her arguments.  She didn’t seem forceful enough nor appropriately determined (and dismissive of her father) to make a case for the marriage.  Nothing that transpired between father and daughter convinced me Sybil really wanted to marry to an extent that Richard would relent.

        • Anonymous

          What did Sir Richard have to do with the hotel?  I must be “Lost in Sopce”.

          • Anonymous

            Pretty sure “Richard” is meant to read “Robert”.

          • k op

            Ack!  Thank-you Lilithcat!  Yes, off to edit out the confusion.

    • Anonymous

      Yes! Yes! Yes!  Thomas and O’Brien were amazing this episode.  The only two characters, at this point, that seem more than one-dimensional to me.

    • Tally Ho

      O’Brien has developed a form of devotion for Cora. Not love, certainly not in the romantic sense. But if you read 19th century books you did find lady’s maids or companions who have a psychological devotion to their mistress. Cora is rich, privileged and glamorous with fine clothes and jewelry. In Season 1 O’Brien always veered between resentment and envy of Cora and wanting to hurt her as a punishment for her privileges, and when she did hurt Cora, that turned into tremendous guilt and thus intensely loyal devotion.

      O’Brien is one of the best and finely tuned characters on the show, possibly second after Mary. Methinks Cora is stuck with O’Brien for the rest of her life.  

      • http://annequichante.wordpress.com/ Anne

        “Look at poor old Lewis.  If her own mother had a heart attack she’d think it was less important than one of Lady Sylvia’s farts.”  -Gosford Park

      • Anonymous

         I believe O’Brien’s desire to hurt Cora stemmed from her mistaken notion that Cora was looking for a replacement for her when she was actually helping find a new Lady’s Maid for Lady Violet.

        • Anonymous

          Yes.

  • Anonymous

    Did anyone else see the SNL skit 2 weeks ago of a  SpikeTV “commercial” for Downton Abby?  It was hilarious!!  I don’t know if it’s on nbc’s website yet, but it’s probably on youtube.

  • Anonymous

    Just want to say that O’Brien wouldn’t necessarily have had to leave Downton to kill Vera Bates.  A little bit of Lord Grantham’s special blend of tainted tea could easily have been posted through the mail.  It’s obviously that O’Brien has been writing letters to Vera to inform her of Bates activities so they’ve developed some trust and “bond” with each other. It’s not beyond a possibility.  I think it makes more sense than Vera hating her Bates so much that she killed herself to spite him.  That woman loved herself far to much for that. Plus, she wouldn’t have been around to enjoy the aftermath of her actions, watching her husband hanged for murder. 

    My love of Lady Mary remains steadfast no matter what she does.  Yes, she does tend to be every so slightly bitchy when she feels corned or trapped. I do feel bad that Carson was at the receiving end of her ” butlers are a dime a dozen” barb. Can we agree that Carson is much more than a butler to Mary? He wasn’t going to Haxby to be Mary’s butler, he was going to be her “stick”. (hahaha) Someone to lean on.  She felt like her stick had been pulled out from under her. Of course, it’s not an good excuse for bad behavior.  Mary will redeem herself.  She always does when she is in the wrong.

    The scene at the cemetery between Matthew and Mary burned me up to no end when Matthew included Mary into his own private pity party. He’s the one who initiated the dance and the kiss. I wanted to push him into Lavinia’s open grave and shovel dirt upon him myself.
    Mary turning to Carlisle for support was over the top depressing. Mary is having an emotionally bad time right now. I hope she doesn’t do something stupid like marry Carlisle in July as planned because she’s feeling hopeless about Matthew. The thought of Carlisle breathing hot and heavy down Mary’s neck makes my skin crawl. I don’t know how she’ll ever be able to stand it. Ugghhhh!  Poor Mary!

    Robert and the stalking maid Jane made my stomach turn.  Get a grip Robert!  This little tryst will come back to haunt you, Robert, because you stupidly paid her off like she was some kind of a hooker.  Someday, someone is going to wonder why you were so eager to pay for Freddie’s education and then what will your explanation be?  Follow the MONEY!

    Looking forward to next week and the Christmas Special. Hoping that Matthew is finally over his never ending pity party. Matthew, You weren’t really “in” love with Lavinia and she knew it, accept it and move on!

    Thanks for the recaps that you’ve been posting every week.  They’ve been as entertaining as the show. I will miss them when the season ends :(

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1380079551 Marie Dees

      Ah ha! I was trying to come up with a way O’Brien could have done it. That would work. 

    • Anonymous

      “The thought of Carlisle breathing hot and heavy down Mary’s neck makes my skin crawl.”

      She may not love him (clearly doesn’t), but I rather think that if she isn’t all bollixed up over Matthew, she’d find Sir Richard quite sexy because he’s powerful and doesn’t mind showing it. Mary likes to see the situation in front of her like a game, with pieces she can play. Her motives may be good, or selfish, but either way she thinks like someone who would find power very appealing.

    • Tally Ho

      The problem is that O’Brien has no motive for killing Vera Bates…

      She may not like Bates but she wouldn’t go so far as murdering a woman she doesn’t know simply in the hopes it would get Bates in more trouble.

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

    I couldn’t stop rolling my eyes about the chauffer plotline and the housemaid plotline. They should have gone full-throttle and have Lord Grantham just use the woman and be a total jerk instead of this mooney eyes thing they kept doing. That would have been more believable.
    The Sybil/chauffer love affair also seems so slapped together. I can understand that Sybil wants adventure or purpose or whatever, but you’d think a wealthy travelling sort outcamped in India or something would be more her speed.

  • Anonymous

    The actor playing Major Bryant’s mustachioed Pop is Kevin McNally and his real-life wife is Phyllis Logan, who plays Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper. I imagine him at home, jealous that she gets to be in this crackling show, so they get him a role, too, and he makes the most of it. No, really, he’s another of those great British character actors. Like Jim Carter, who plays Mr. Carson. In real life, he’s married to the awesome and fabulous Imelda Staunton. They were both in “Shakespeare in Love,” with her as Viola’s nurse and him as the actor playing Juliet’s nurse in the “Romeo and Juliet” they’re putting on. Nurse + Nurse. Cute.

    In other news, the storyline was absolutely ridiculous in this jam-packed two-hour episode. With He Walks! and Who’s the Daddy? and Elopement! and Plague! and Dropping Likes Flies at the Dinner Table! and Murder! and Evil Sir Dick Spying! and O’Brien’s Remorse! and Where Will the Butler Go? and Where Are Lord Grantham’s Lips? and Somebody Sees Them Dancing! and Black Market Snafu! and Honeymoon Suite Above Stairs! and Arrested!, the only soap opera tropes we were missing were amnesia (and we got that last time) and the Evil Twin. Maybe the abnormally large baby has a twin we haven’t seen yet. “Thomas” means twin, and he’s totes evil, so I guess he can fit the bill.

    • Anonymous

      Mr. Carson is married to Dolores Umbridge.  :-)

  • http://twitter.com/marydoesnttweet Mary D

    I’ve watched the DVDs already and I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  And QUIT pronouncing storylines pointless and over until you’ve seen the end!!!!  There is still a season 3, too.  SHEESH!!  

    • Anonymous

      UK sources mostly liked the Christmas episode.  But there was much snarking about preceded it….

    • Anonymous

      PLEASE, PLEASE DON’T POST SPOILERS OF ANY KIND.  You’re giving stuff away and it’s not fair to the rest of us who want it to play out in realtime.  TLo, in the hubbub of the week, did not post their usual paragraph at the end to dissuade posts like this.  

      • Anonymous

        ? Saying an episode is good isn’t a spoiler, is it? And mentioning series 3?… nobody has seen series 3 or knows what will happen in it. But it’s pretty logical to say the storylines will continue through it in some shape or form.

  • Anonymous

    I was hoping for a Whitney Houston tribute on Downton Abbey, it would have made as much sense. 

    “I will always love you? Really? Are we Italians now?” – Countess Violet

    • Anonymous

      “I will always love you? Really? Are we Italians now?” – Countess Violet   

      LOL! ROFLMFAO!

  • Anonymous

    And no one mentioned Thomas’ downfall. That over the top tearing up of all the worthless black market goods was hilarious. So was his ingratiating himself back into the Downton household. That dude gets away with everything.

    • bdoody11

      I was thinking that Thomas would somehow weasel his way into running Mary and Sir Richard’s household. Thomas surely doesn’t have any ethical issues that would get in the way of working for Sir Richard!

      • Anonymous

        Yes. I’ve been thinking of him as the perfect minion of Sir Richard for a couple of episodes now. I thought he might get taken on when he had non-servant status as a soldier & the war ended, but it didn’t happen. But now, as he gets at least a temporary berth as an upper servant at Downton, he &  Sir Richard will at least *see* each other, if not really be in the same orbit, so I’m back to expecting it.

      • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

        yes, had the same thought….

    • k op

       Even if credulity is strained in Thomas’ story, I’m glad he’s around still.  I didn’t find his move back into the household that implausible, this time.  Yeah, he gets away with murder, but this time it made sense (for once.)  The house was full of the dead and dying.  Servants were hiking it to marry, feed unwed mothers, or run away completely.   Thomas simply slipped in where he was needed.

      I just hope the character goes through a significant change at some point, that’s irreversible.  If he continues to hang out at the servant’s table, cracking wise and being cynical, Fellowes has missed (yet another) opportunity.

      • Anonymous

        The implausibility for me was that he was there 3 month later, living for free.  

        • Anonymous

          But he was a wounded WWI veteran as far as anyone but O’Brien knows.

  • Anonymous

    It just occurred to me that with the next episode set in December (we did see snow falling in the preview) that Mary and Sir Richard _should_ be married by then.  (and I haven’t seen or read anything, i am just speculating)  OH NO!!!  Or, alternatively, could Julian Fellowes somehow delay it again???  I admit, i am an incurable romantic and just want Mary and Matthew to get together already.  I am sure that the writers could find other things to interest us.  at least I would hope so.

  • Sara__B

    In between the bouts of hysterical laughter I cried at least four times. I love this stupid show.

  • Anonymous

    NO SPOILERS PLEASE!!!!!!!  TLo did not post their usual warning about spoilers and/or hints at spoilers probably due to sleep deprivation.  Even if you think you’re not giving something away, you probably are, especially if you’ve already seen all of S2 and the Christmas episode.

  • Jessica Goldstein

    Thank you, gentlemen, for summing up so well and so wittily. The pacing was horrible the entire season. For example:

    1. In season 1, we begin to see how the chauffeur and the youngest daughter might be sweet on each other. In season 2, instead of his admiring her nursing and her learning more about his causes as part of a general awakening, we instead get the SAME DAMN conversation in the garage a dozen times.
    2. At the beginning of season 2, we see Robert struggle with finding a place in the War. It would have been a great character arc to show him proud of his wife and daughters, even as he felt increasingly useless and at sea. Instead of showing us his struggle with being useful and the impossibility of just carrying on with estate work as he did pre-war—great fodder for a mid-life crisis—we get Cora blowing him off, him being a jerk, and a woefully undeveloped crush on the maid.
    3. In season 1, Bates and Anna were two decent people who quietly but intensely fell for each other. In season 2, as others have said, Anna had very little to do other than pine for Bates, support Bates, and bring on certain doom by talking of a happy ending. Couldn’t she have still done other things? As a veteran, wasn’t there a chance to show him helping a soldier or revealing more of his own war trauma in that context? Would not a war, injured family and staff members, and a flu epidemic have presented sufficient obstacles to marriage without a comic-book villain of an ex?
    4. And finally, for all that’s holy, Matthew’s recovery made me laugh out loud. Shouldn’t he have had some twinges? A foot tilt? Couldn’t they show him in his room trying to lift himself or move his legs? It would have been just as dramatic and a heck of a lot more believable if he had been in the drawing room, gotten to a stand, and then collapsed. No one goes from 0 to 100 that fast. NO ONE.

    I’ll quit yelling now. It really was highly enjoyable. But it started out as the TV equivalent of dark chocolate (not Belgian, but something decent), and ended up being a pack of sweet tarts. And it just didn’t have to be that way.

    • Anonymous

      All so true what you said. And the super frustrating thing is, is that these relationships and struggles could have all been written so much better and been shown on the screen in the same amount of TV time, so I would add sloppy writing to the poor pacing.

      • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

        I think there are too many plot lines going, which means none can be done justice. Get rid of the Ethel story and it’s a start. She doesn’t live there any more.  Who needs it? 

    • Pennymac

      I love your Sweet Tarts analogy!

    • Anonymous

       I thought, too, that Bates tending to Matthew could have included some basic physical therapy.  I don’t know the history of PT but it’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to believe that even in 1918 the benefits of working a paralyzed person’s legs would have been known; simple bending and stretching is all I’m suggesting.  Bates could have easily done that when he put Matthew to bed and got him up each day and would be the perfect person to do it given his own war injury, upper body strength, and saintliness.  That would have made Matthew’s sudden return to normalcy a bit easier to swallow.

  • Anonymous

    What TLo said.

    Everything. Except, I no longer love DA.

    Plus ,I can predict too many of the baldly telegraphed soap twists.

  • Anonymous

    I love this show, but the pacing is exactly what’s wrong with it.   Fellowes seems to vacillate between dragging things out ad nauseum, ad infinitum (“there have been far too many scenes of  .  .  . “), or rushingthroughplotdevelopmentssofastthatyoucanbarelyrememberwhatyousaw.

    As for Vera’s “suicide,” it’s looking more like she killed herself just to frame her husband, although that’s a level of soap opera evil that’s just a little hard to take

    As I noted in my comment to an earlier post, it has been known to happen:  http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11043/1124999-56.stm

  • k op

    One last thing – Burn Bates!  It’s the only possible way to restore that plot.  Hopefully, he did murder Vera.  Maybe he plays innocent to the very end but confesses to Anna.  Anything!  Please give that storyline something interesting!

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

    I was quite ready for it to end after an hour, and surprised that it continued. I kept checking the clock… surely it’s not going to be a whole nother hour of this? Maybe if there had been that week-long break it would have helped. But still, the thought, “Oh, yeah, the flu epidemic! Just what we need to get rid of Lavinia!” should not have been quite so easy.
    You (TLo) are so right about the pacing. One imagines them shooting 20 scenes of Mrs. H. and Ethel on the hovel set and then trying to plug in as many as possible of them between other scenes… it’s just nuts.

  • Anonymous

    Help me with this: if there’s a @#$%&*!! FLU EPIDEMIC, why in the hell do you bring a vulnerable baby to a house you know is infected?  Why on earth did Mrs. Hughes allow it?  No one even said anything, like “it’s not safe to have that baby here.”  People were sending children to stay with distant relatives to keep them safe at this time, so WTF?

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

    Wouldn’t everyone be happier if I just died? Oh, my god, that was so bad! Ha ha! But, I was totally moved by her second-to-last speech about not being up to becoming queen of the county. I think it was her best acting all season.

  • http://twitter.com/LauraF775 Laura F.

    Mrs. Hughes is right that Mary is an uppity minx who authored her own misfortune, but so is Ethel, but Mrs. Hughes is all about helping out Ethel.  Does not compute.

    • Anonymous

      I think if Mrs Hughes had it in her power to help Mary with something equally serious she would. She’d still think she was an uppity minx, and that Ethel is a foolish girl, but she’s a good person who’d do what she could.

  • Anonymous

    Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Thomas had his epiphany this episode? Like Richard Gere in “An Officer and a Gentleman” his spirit broken by the strict drill sergeant “I want your DOR!,” and his character finally breaking down and admitting, “I got no where else to go!”. It would be awesome for Thomas and Cason to now have a bond of respect.

  • Jessie Bielicki

    okay, there was a cut scene in last night’s episode, and I wanted to cry because it was my favorite scene from the whole second season, and it was gone. When Mrs. Hughes and Carson are sitting there talking about how Mrs. Hughes doesn’t understand Carson’s loyalty to Lady Mary, and he tells her she didn’t know Mary as a child, that conversation turned into a really touching anecdote about Mary as a little girl and really gets across how much Carson loves her.

    Carson: She was a guinea a minute then. I remember once, she came in here- she can’t have been more than 4 or 5 years old- she said, “Mr. Carson, I’ve decided to run away, and I wonder if I might take some of the silver to sell?
    Mrs. Hughes laughes
    Carson: “Well”, I said, “that might be awkward for His Lordship. I suppose I’ll give you sixpence to spend in the village instead” “Very well”, says she, “but you must be sure to charge me interest.”
    Mrs. Hughes: And did you?
    Carson: She gave me a kiss in full payment.
    Mrs. Hughes: Then she had the better bargain.
    Carson: I wouldn’t say that.

    And then Anna came in to tell them about Sir Richard. God, a transcript doesn’t even adequately get across how wonderful this little scene was. Jim Carter and Phyillis Logan just knocked it out of the park. And the music was so lovely too, which annoyed me about the cut, because you could hear it start up when Carson was talking about how he had to help Mary, but then it just cut off when Anna came in.

    • Anonymous

      Oh! Why would they cut that :( I loved that little scene and it really adds to the relationship between her and Carson and to Mary’s character.

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

       Thanks for sharing this. It is unfortunate that these little moments so often get cut for time. It’s likely on the DVD, but still…

    • Anonymous

      There was about minutes  cut out of the UK version for broadcast on PBS Materpiece.  If you buy the DVD via http://www.shoppbs.com you can get the unedited UK version. 

       Several references to Cora’s mother, the American Granny, were also cut.

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

      I was very surprised when I watched the BBC Sherlock episodes on Masterpiece Mystery (some online, one broadcast) and then viewed them with my husband via Netflix. There were always some scenes cut, often scenes which helped clarify the action.

  • mrspeel2

    The only thing that could have made it any better is if the Dowager Countess had unhinged her jaws and ripped Lavinia’s face off in rage. I’ll second that!

    I sort of forgave the plot line last week, but this week, the proverbial shark has been jumped! Trying to tie up too many stories in the space of 2 hours was more than I could handle and, as you said TLo, they were dragged out to the point of exasperation!

    That being said, I’ll continue to watch despite the sorry turn of events. Call me a glutton for punishment, but I do so love everything else about it.

  • Anonymous

    I gave up the idea of Downton Abbey as anything serious early in the season–and as the plot points came tripping by fast and thick I had to say I enjoyed myself.  I can’t believe that it’s not done without some self-awareness and a sense of irony.  Actually, I’ve thought that since last season when the classic seduction of Lady Mary by the roue ended up with him dying en flagrante delicto.  I cracked up then, but with delight, and I’ve been cracking up ever since.

    Of *course* Lavinia dyed of the flu after seeing Matthew getting it on with Mary.  Of course Matthew feels guilty, he knows the rules of the melodrama in which he exists.  No wonder he told Lady Mary they were cursed–that’s what happens when you’re the central couple in a melodrama.  

    Then you had Edith wondering about *her* role as the future spinster aunt.  Fortunately, Lady Violet was around to remind her she couldn’t give up as it was too middle class.  

    Lady Violet may be saving the day/series–her figuring out how to make Branson semi-acceptable was wonderful.  

    I actually didn’t think Cora was that bad–she knows Mary’s reputation is touch-and-go.  Also, she was willing to marry for status–I think she’s meant to have a pragmatic American streak.  She knows Richard could ruin Mary, I suspect, whereas Robert doesn’t.  Seems to me this is why she’s more open to Sybil marrying Branson–she’s less sensitive than the Earl, but more open to the idea that a man from a lower class can make something of himself.  

    In general, the women, even Lady Violet, seem to be more able to deal with change more than the men.  You see it all over the episode.  

    As for Sir Richard’s evil spymongering–he’s a stand in for the evils of Rupert Murdoch–given how front and center the wiretapping scandal is in Britain there’s no way a press baron is going to get the time of day in a British soap.

    • Anonymous

       She knows Richard could ruin Mary, I suspect, whereas Robert doesn’t. 

      Yes, let’s not forget that Richard is oddly ignorant of the Pamuk situation.  

      • Anonymous

        Don’t you mean that Robert is ignorant of the Pamuk situation?

        • Anonymous

          I do, indeed.  There seems to be a lot of that around here today (richard/robert confusion, that is).

          • Anonymous

            Most of the time I can’t remember Richard’s name and have to say to myself, that newspaper guy Mary is engaged to.

            Which brings up the (soapy) point, Will Robert Ever Learn The Truth About Pamuk? It’s been, what?, seven years?

          • Anonymous

            Downton years are like dog years though, but backwards. Maybe we’re seeing it through Isis’ eyes! 

            I’m confusing myself now.. it’s late!

    • Anonymous

      Glammie, never understood the Cora hate either.  She is an American and Fellowes screwed up royally by not bringing this out more in the script.  I am sure Ms. MacLaine, as Martha, will be shoving this in everyone’s face with Joan Collins making Alexis Morrell Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan type one liner comments.

  • mrspeel2

    You know, the more I think about it, I find myself wondering if the following scenario may have had something to do with the erratic story lines of late. Could it be that after the 1st season, the producers sent Julian an email saying something like:

    “Good grief Julian! Much to our amazement, the show is a massive hit across the globe! The public is clamoring for more, more, more, so we’ll need 8 more episodes in 3 weeks so we can get it back on the air before they all forget about us. Whaddaya say Jules? Can you do it??”

    • Anonymous

      That is exactly what happened!  Fellowes had to go into production immediately in order to have all the cast due to other commitments of the cast.

  • Anonymous

    I think the pacing problem is due to adding not one but two seasons to a show that should have ended last year. They need to fill time. I’m glad Sybil finally  made up her mind. Every time her form loomed in the doorway of the garage I cringed. “Have you made up your mind yet?” “Well, almost. In a minute. Any second now. Just two shakes of a lamb’s tail. In a jiffy. Well, my life is boring without the war so yes I will run away with you.” Bitch, please. The character that has become the most interesting for me is Thomas. He is such an arrogant schmuck, but when he realized that all his hope was gone his performance was heartbreaking, and if they’re smart they will find a lot more to do with him.

  • Anonymous

    I love the GIANT BABY!

    • Anonymous

       In this week’s episode Ethel mentioned that he was about one year old so he’s just about the right size.  I think he appears to be a giant baby because of the way they dressed babies back then with no differentiation between the sexes until they were about five years old.  But he seems to be the same size at one year as he was when we first saw him at a few months of age where he really was a Giant Baby.

  • Anonymous

    I can roll along with this nonsensical show for another season …. just please, dear God, NO MORE AWARDS for Fellowes & co.!  
    I swear, If CBS had thought to put ‘As the World Turns’ on Sundays at 9 and tarted up the art direction, it would be alive today (Elizabeth Hubbard as a Dowager Countess type – divine).

    The perfunctory string of plot-point beads every week is killing me (can’t even say ‘connect-the-dots’ since that would imply some eventual big picture – hah).  
    The biggest crime of all?  At about 30 seconds each scene, Fellowes has reduced some mighty fine actors to a repertoire of 2 or 3 facial expressions each … shameful.  

    I can accommodate all kinds of stuff from the soap opera playbook (incl. daytime), but once writers create ‘drama’ merely by drawing characters who were born yesterday (have they learned nothing in their long lives or even last week?) or just plain stupid — the E-Z way to Consequences and Conflict — well, that’s completely infuriating.

    Thank goodness there’s Michelle Dockery, who pretty much conjures up a silk purse every week.  
     

  • Anonymous

    Since the writing on this show has become more and more an imitation of classic daytime drama format, I’ll assume Lavinia isn’t really dead, it was her identical evil twin sister, Villinia, who kidnapped her and assumed her identity, and was the one that died.  Lavinia is trapped in a cave, will escape, and burst into the chapel just in the nick of time to object to Mary and Matthew’s wedding ceremony.  Or something similar, I’m sure. (rolleyes)

    oh yeah…sorry if this is a spoiler. ;)

    • Toto Maya

       Omg, way to go, spoiled the Christmas special. You forgot the part where Lavinia completes her transformation into an angel, sprouts wings, and flies out of the cave.

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

    I loved this episode too. It was like a really good roller coaster ride. When you get off, you feel a little queasy, but you want to go again!
    I’m a little disappointed in what they’ve done with Molesley. He was a sympathetic character when we first met him, and now he’s this tragi-comic figure. Every time we see him I expect to hear that “Wah-Wah” Debbie Downer music. *Carson’s pajamas* Love Lady Mary’s outfit at the funeral. That black and purple with the buttons on the shoulders.Jane should have died of the flu. Did anyone else wonder about how she explained her resignation? Because when she was with Mrs. Hughes, and said something like “this is for the best, under the circumstances” (can’t remember the exact line), and Mrs. Hughes nodded in understanding – what did she mean? She couldn’t possibly have confessed to the little fling with the Lord. I didn’t think anyone knew about it. There was the one scene where Carson strained to see who had just gone out the door in the dining room, and even if he’d figured out it was her, how would he know anything untoward had happened? Maybe I read too much into it.I sure had Ethel wrong. I figured she’d give that baby up one way or another at some point, and last night she had her chance. You never know about people. Has Thomas found Jesus? He has become too nice for his own good. I’m waiting for him to snap back to his old self. I did like him in that fedora, and had a vision of him with a machine gun, running bootleg gin and owning a speak-easy one day.Who killed Vera Bates? Maybe it was Mrs. Hughes. She hasn’t done anything ‘bad’ yet, has she?And why did no one test the ingredients before they baked that cake? Or at least taste the batter? And how does a cake made with plaster rise properly, anyway? OK, I’m done. I have things to do …

    • Anonymous

      Yeah, I spent waaay too much time pondering the ratio of plaster you could have in a cake before it was obvious to the eye that something was wrong. And thinking that if Daisy doesn’t taste the batter as she works, she’s got NO future as a cook, whatever her aspirations.

      ETA: and Thomas is just scrambling to keep a roof over his head and hopefully soon collect a salary again. I don’t believe for a minute he’s changed.

      The things we fixate on, amidst the general chaos!

    • Presumptuous Insect

      Mrs. Hughes figured out the Jane and Lord G thing because of Lord G asking specifically about Jane–can’t remember exact scene–and Mrs. H’s eyebrows went up.

      • Anonymous

        When she told him that two more of the maids were sick.

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

        I think Carson did see and hear what went on between Jane and Robert in the dining room. He made a loud banging noise with the soup tourine (or something) to let them know he was coming into the room – very uncharacteristic for him to be banging the pottery. Jane scurried out, but I think he heard and surmised there was something untoward going on and then told Mrs. Hughes to keep a weather eye on the situation.

    • Anonymous

       Yes, I was wondering about Mrs. Hughes’ unquestioning acceptance of Jane’s resignation.  I remember one scene in the episode where Mrs. Hughes is given an order to do something and as she is leaving the room something is said or done that makes her hesitate a moment and give a sideways glance, as if she caught the significance of something that seemed insignificant at the time.  I can’t remember what it was but if it was something that didn’t seem quite right about Jane and the Earl Mrs. Hughes could have put two and two together when Jane made her comment about “under the circumstances”.

      I was trying to decide if Thomas was genuinely trying to be helpful and compensate the house for allowing him to freeload there for so long or if he just saw it as a way to get his foot in the door should Carson succumb to the flu.  Even if Carson made a full recovery perhaps he hoped that his value would be seen and he would be kept on.  Remember, they still haven’t replaced William or Thomas as far as I can see.

      I was surprised that Mrs. Patmore allowed Daisy to attempt baking a cake given the scarcity of, and probable expense of, ingredients.  If she had screwed it up, perhaps by using salt instead or sugar or some other ditsy Daisy thing, with genuine hard-to-get ingredients it would have been a major blow to the pantry.

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

        Yes, baking a ‘test’ cake seemed extravagant to me too. Also, I don’t think Mrs. Patmore would ever trust Daisy with something so important as a wedding cake. C’mon. A regular everyday cake, maybe, yes. But the wedding cake? That would have been something that she, herself, would have looking forward to making her whole career!

        I get that Mrs. Hughes (and Carson) may have been onto Jane and LG (after all they don’t miss much), but it still felt kind of incomplete the way they played it out. Also, Mrs. Hughes said “We’ll be sad (or sorry) to see you go, you’re a good worker”, which made it seem like it was all Jane’s decision to leave. And given how outraged Mrs. Hughes was at Ethel’s indiscretion (although that was way worse) one would think there’d be a hint of “get thee gone, you hussy” in her tone, but I didn’t detect any. Why do these things bother me so much?

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

          Plus they would have tested the ingredients before baking the cake.

  • Anonymous

    my son kept flipping it over to The Walking Dead and Matthew and his makeup fit right in!, i also broke a personal record for most “you have got to be kidding me’s” yelled at a TV screen over a two hour time period..

    • Anonymous

      LOL, I even tweeted when Matthew jumped to his feet.  Couldn’t they at least have had him save her from falling off a balcony or off a cliff?  

  • Anonymous

    my son kept flipping it over to The Walking Dead and Matthew and his makeup fit right in!, i also broke a personal record for most “you have got to be kidding me’s” yelled at a TV screen over a two hour time period..

  • Cali Sherwood

    When Branson was first introduced and he looked at Sybil through the window, I knew (or at least hoped) there would be some kind of romance between them. After seeing it played out, I’m really sad at how poorly written their eventual come together is. I was so ready for some serious servant-mistress romance and drama!

  • Cali Sherwood

    When Branson was first introduced and he looked at Sybil through the window, I knew (or at least hoped) there would be some kind of romance between them. After seeing it played out, I’m really sad at how poorly written their eventual come together is. I was so ready for some serious servant-mistress romance and drama!

  • Presumptuous Insect

    When Lavinia croaked, how many of you were thinking exactly this? –http://tinyurl.com/74wbmuz
    Mary was a total bitch to both Carson and Anna. Another example of bad bad writing. There is only so much we can put up with before a character becomes simply irredeemable. Mary is long past that, no matter how much she emotes over Matthew.

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

       Heeee. Don’t you just love having the church lady at the ready?

    • Anonymous

       When Lavinia croaked, I thought of Hazel Bellamy in Upstairs Downstairs dying of the flu in exactly the same way (well, not exactly, her useless husband was out on a date while she died alone in her room) and for the same reason — to get rid of her character.   It’s amazing how many DA characters and plot points seem to have had their parallels in UD, but I suppose in any two series about an upper-class family from the Edwardian era to the 20s you’re bound to have a fatherly butler, a sneaky blackmailing manservant who steals compromising letters and a pampered daughter of the house who likes to play at being a radical.   I just hope Mrs. Hughes doesn’t kidnap a baby.

      I can’t bring myself to see Mary as irredeemable, no matter how mean she’s been.  Although she may well turn out to be irredemable if she marries Sir Richard.  I don’t see that marriage bringing out the best in her.

    • Anonymous

      I feel sorry for Mary, which doesn’t mean I condone the damage she has done and will do to others. She is one of the unfortunates who becomes colder and nastier the more unhappy or threatened she feels. If life is good and she feels safe she may blossom, if she feels betrayed she will lash out hoping to hide her weakness.

      I think she’s motivated by a fear of being vulnerable or at a disadvantage.  And whether she marries Richard or Matthew, she needs to do it soon while her grandmother (whom I believe understands her) is around to give her a little guidance.

      I think she’d screw up a marriage with Matthew without meaning to – he’s too emotional and easily hurt to cope when she goes into ice bitch mode – and she will whenever she’s hurting emotionally.  Sir Richard is probably a better bet.

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

      If he did kill Mrs. Bates, then there are definite legal issues with “Upstairs, Downstairs”, because, in DA, as in UD, the gay footman was evil and a murderer.  Anyone question why the gay person has to be bad and a murderer?

      • Anonymous

         I completely forgot about the evil gay murderer footman in Upstairs Downstairs.  He was only in a couple of episodes, is that right?   I was thinking of the sneaky chauffeur who stole Lady Marjorie’s letters to her lover, although now I can’t remember if he stole them or just got them back for her.

        I wasn’t a big fan of UD, especially after half the cast left at the end of the second season and we were stuck with Lesley-Anne Down.  It never really recovered from that.  Daft as it is, I’d rather watch DA.  UD didn’t have the budget or the clothes or the house.

        Funnily enough, UD might have been a portrayal of Lady Mary’s life if she married Matthew.  In UD, Lady Marjorie was an Earl’s daughter and Sir Richard was the middle-class upstart she married, who only had a knighthood because of his political role.   But I would hope that Mary wouldn’t get so bored with Matthew that she’d have a love affair with her son’s friend.

  • Anonymous

    When I started watching last night I didn’t know it was a 2-hour episode.  Not sure why they’re condensing everything.  I think it would have worked much better as two separate episodes.  It’s stupid programming on the part of PBS.  You’d think they’d want to string it out as long as possible to keep people tuning in every Sunday night. 
     
    It was ludicrous but I enjoyed every second of it.  The time flew by.  Even with all the ridiculous plot points (the flu as deus ex machina leading to Lavinia’s convenient death, the bastard baby, the cheating Lord Grantham, the see-it-coming-from-a-mile-away arrest of Bates, Matthew’s miraculous recovery, etc) there were still some great moments.  Thomas’ destruction of his black market storehouse was powerful.  His whole character arc has been one of the best this season.  O’Brien with Lady G was likewise powerful.  I actually enjoyed Mary returning to bitch mode.  Loved it when she summarily shut Branson up.  Moseley finally getting his big chance and he blows it by getting drunk.  Edith’s little scene with Violet was poignant.  It’s moments like that that keep me hooked.
     
    If it wasn’t clear before, Sybil flat out tells Branson that he’s her ticket out of the DA sort of life.  And she is symbolic to him – the lord’s daughter that the socialist can bed and wed.  He’s oddly dismissive of her career aspirations and her desire to maintain contact with her family.  I doubt that this is going to be a very happy marriage. 
     
    Can’t wait for next week’s finale.  And I’m so looking forward to Shirley McLaine and Maggie Smith going head-to-head next season.  I suspect that a rich American or a lesbian dalliance in London is looming in Edith’s future.  

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

       I may be wrong, but I don’t think this two hour episode has to do with PBS programming. I think it was explained earlier today as BBC’s programming–they have shorter scheduling periods for their programming. That being said, while I was involved with the episode, I agree–it was way too involved and did feel like a lot of stuff was being wrapped up just to get to the finale and begin work on season 3.
      I hope that the writer gets back on track with season 3 and gives us better plotting again.

      • Anonymous

        You’ve definitely covered two episodes with that one. We had it as each episode being about 1 hour 10 minutes, but as it was on ITV (not BBC) that included ad breaks. Eight episodes in the series I think.

    • Anonymous

      “Loved it when she summarily shut Branson up.”

      And I love the way he shut her up, “I can pay my own way”.  I think Branson may turn out to  be an upper middle class lad in Season III.  Potential Story Line – Branson is an upper middle class dude who left Ireland because his politics differed from his consevative parents.  Remember, Branson stated that his mother thought he and Sybil were being foolish.  Fellowes knows how to drop non-hints, pick them up later and make us wonder how we did not see a particular plot line coming.

      • Anonymous

        Yeah, since when does a chauffeur instantly get hired as a journalist?

        Along with the rest of the silly, that struck me funny. Love to be on that interview: Newspaper editor, “And your experience is…?”

        Branson, “I drove cars.”

        Editor, “Super. You’re hired as a journalist!”

        • Anonymous

          But he’s been shown to be literate & a reader – he might have been writing and submitting pieces for publication for years, by now. There weren’t university programs for journalists back then, and there were many more small papers and even short-lived political ‘journals’ – more like a series of pamphlets.

          • Anonymous

            True, and reporting was never considered to be a particularly middle-class profession that required any training, especially in Ireland where most reporters were working-class.   An  Irish radical named Jeremiah Donovan O’Rossa ran a newspaper although he started out as a shopkeeper.  And there was a famous trades union organizer in England, Tom Mann, who started his own journal although he was a quarry worker.  So if you could write, you could get a job writing.

            This is a basic problem with the series.  When someone leaps to their feet after spending months in a wheelchair or speaks without a trace of a British accent after living in Montreal for a few years, we feel skeptical about everything that occurs.  So we doubt even the events that might be plausible, like people dying from the flu overnight or a chauffeur getting work as a journalist.

      • Tally Ho

        It does beggar the question of why would an upper middle class Irish lad want to work as a chauffer? Why not move straight to London or Dublin and start working as a journalist from the get go? There were plenty of routes for young, idealist upper middle class socialists but working as a servant wasn’t one of them.

        • Anonymous

          For the same reason my upper middle class nephew took two years off in the middle of college to work at a ski resort in Colorado.  Go figure!

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

          An Irish lad. Exactly. Don’t know if we missed this on the show or anything, but there was this Easter Rising in 1916–maybe you’ve heard the songs alluding to it? “Sunday Bloody Sunday” is a direct reference, and there’s a lyric in the Cranberries’ “Zombie”. Even had Branson started a cushy journalist job in England, he’d likely have been forced to leave it or had his material censored, both for his Communist sympathies (come on, the Russian aristocracy had friends in the UK) and for his position on the Irish Question. He could make a stand, or he could make a living.

          Contrast Branson and his political/journalistic aspirations with the Murdoch-esque Richard Carlisle. Carlisle’s a scandalmonger, no question, but he’s not expressing opinions that blow the established order out of the water. Branson is. Carlisle is also not a member of a marginalised population to begin with. The Irish were pretty much shat on by the English for ages, very much second-class citizens.

  • Anonymous

    Everything about DA is so top-notch (acting, costumes, cinematography) which makes the lazy, sloppy writing all the more egregious…imagine how magnificent it would be if the writing was up to the standards of everything else! Still, I kind of love the unintended humor of it all.

  • http://profiles.google.com/misslauraschultz Laura Schultz

    Am I the only one who thinks that Bates actually DID kill his wife?

    • Toto Maya

       I hope he did, but I doubt that Fellows has the guts to go there. Would make things so much more interesting though. I’m sick of poor innocent Bates who gets framed for EVERYTHING when he’s just an ANGEL who doesn’t want to inconvenience anybody with his innocence so he just sits in his room and cries instead of doing anything about his sad, pathetic life.

  • Anonymous

    I agree Lavinia made no sense, but I actually kind of bought Matthew’s reaction to her death. Not so much the “we killed her” (I mean COME ON, there is an INFLUENZA EPIDEMIC), but the thought that basically the last thing he did to her was cheat on her, to her face, has got to be pretty torturing. I also liked that Mary seemed to really buy/agree with his reaction, and even though they’ve reached a point where they’ve acknowledged what the hell is going on between them, they seem to take The End (I’m so sure) very seriously. This is something that actually happens in stormy relationships!  And I’m interested to see how this affects her relationship with Sir Richard in the near term, as I always have believed they really would be a formidable pair if they decided to be (before he turned out to be a rapey creepatron).

    Also, my biggest HAHAHAHAHA moment was when Isobel LITERALLY went, “My! Is that the time? Must be going!” and took Lavinia with her, thus freeing up some Real Drama.

  • Anonymous

    It wasn’t just one shark I saw jumping around in this episode, it was a Radio City Music Hall Rockette kick-line of sharks dancing through almost every scene.  I thought the show reached it’s nadir when, in the cemetery, Matthew was mewling “we killed her” to Mary. I was hoping she’d punch the daylights out of him.  Simpering whiney putz.

    All I can say is, Thank GOD for Dame Maggie Smith or I’d have stopped watching 2 episodes ago. How sad that this show, one so entertaining and delightful, has gone the way of Daisy’s practice wedding cake.  

  • Anonymous

    Sybil is using Branson.  She is bored.  God help us, a bored rich girl.  Thing is, she thinks she is being a young independent woman. If she truly was, she wouldn’t need Branson.  There is no chemistry there.  No wonder no one can believe it.

  • Anonymous

    Ok Diskus is buggy tonight  so I’ll just post this here:  I wonder if it isn’t the height of passive aggressivism to beg your fiance to be happy and marry the other girl as you gasp your last breath…. ensuring the fiance suffers pangs of guilt whenever he allows himself to be happy….. Martyrdom never dies.

  • Anonymous

    Last season, I about fell over, yelling “THE COOK IS GOING BLIND!” while gagging with laughter.  I decided that was enough for one series.  Your recaps are to treasure.

  • Anonymous

    This was just not good.

    I was prepared for it to turn out that Matthew’s spine was permanently damaged though not totally severed, allowing him some function, sexual and otherwise, as that kind of misdiagnosis happened a lot then prior to modern medical imaging. Having him make a full recovery was bullshit.

    I was prepared for Sybil to have some sort of indiscretion with the chauffer. Having her suddenly decide, despite being protrayed as a rational character who never expressed anything but fondness and doubt toward him, to run off and marry the dude was bullshit.

    I was prepared for Lavinia to make some sort of convenient exit, and even thought that it might turn out to be via Spanish Flu (once she paled at the dinner table, you knew she was a goner). Having her say that maybe it was just better for her to die was the absolute ultimate in bullshit. Who. The fuck. Says that. Someone who would have had to have been long portrayed as a deeply self-hating, insecure, depressed human being before now, if anyone. 

    I can’t tell if Lord Grantham’s midlife crisis was supposed to read as sympathetic or if we were supposed to see that him running a widowed mother out of a job so he could snog her in the guest room while his wife is apparently dying because his she made him eat lunch alone a lot during a war effort is appalling behavior. 

    • Anonymous

      “him running a widowed mother out of a job so he could snog her in the
      guest room while his wife is apparently dying because his she made him
      eat lunch alone a lot during a war effort is appalling behavior.”

      MASTERFUL summary!

  • Anonymous

    Forgive me if someone already raised this, but what about when Sir Richard met Lavinia and said “Oh, your father and I are friends.” and she replied ‘Well, acquaintances.”  ???  I thought that was foreshadowing some dark secret in one of their pasts, and now simpering Lavinia is dead?  She couldn’t have been being snotty, since her father was a barrister or lawyer (although I will take umbrage to their down-the-nose attitude toward lawyers!), so what happens to this juicy-sounding connection now?

  • Anonymous

    This is what it was like last night: 
    Matthew: I wish I could be with you, Mary, instead of Lavinia. I’m way more of a Veronica guy than a Betty guy. 
    Mary: I’m going to pretend I don’t know what you’re trying to tell me, even though I know exactly what you’re trying to tell me. Also, every time I’m near you I feel dizzy. 
    Matthew: I think that’s just because the camera’s circling around us very quickly. But hey, maybe it’s because we’re meant to be together. So even though I’m a total stick in the mud about behaving honourably, let’s make out while my fiancé is upstairs battling the Spanish Influenza. 
    Lavinia: Oh dear, I’m terribly sorry to’ve gotten in everybody’s way. Perhaps it would be best if I just snuffed it. 
    Matthew: You see, Mary? Now that there are no obstacles in our path, you and I can never be together!

  • rosiepowell2000

    What has Thomas done in Season 2 to deserve punishment?  Getting his hand shot in order to leave the war front?  Hell, I would have done that.  He has shown no interest in getting rid of Bates (only O’Brien).  And he spent most of the season, hanging around in doorways smoking or at the servants’ table . . . smoking.  That’s it.

    • Anonymous

       I think it’s just his overall weaselly, entitled attitude and the way he lorded it all over the other servants when he was “in charge of the house”.

      • rosiepowell2000

        That’s it?  That’s why he deserved to be punished for his actions in S2?

  • Anonymous

    Here’s a link to all deleted scenes of Season 2 – don’t worry – none from the “christmas special” are in this.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-ZxB7MioII&feature=player_embedded#!

    One in particular pisses me off – the one scene that Lavinia actually shows some personality.  It’s near the end and is a comment she snaps out about Sir Dick to Mary – priceless!

    Otherwise, many of the scenes cut are between Robert and Cora and would have given a little more substance to their growing distance from one another.

    I think these are off the DVD (which is the UK version), so of course the hour and whatever that was cut from the US version of Season 2 is not in here.

  • Anonymous

    “It was like eating an entire box of Oreos in one sitting.”  LOL, but SO TRUE!!!

  • rosiepowell2000

    [" So, yeah, I can't exactly be too sad that she's gone when, apparently, her ENTIRE EXISTENCE was to keep Matthew and Mary apart."]

    I feel sorry for Lavinia.  She was obviously created by Fellowes to be compared infavorably to bitchy Mary.  Look at her.  She is bland, ridiculously selfless and middle-class.  Naturally, fans are going to wish her gone so that Matthew and Mary can have their happy ending . . . if they get it.  As for those two, I am soooo over them.  Fellowes has transformed their interesting romance from Season 1 into a big angst fest, straight out of a badly written romance novel.  It’s too bad that the boring Lavinia is dead.  Hell, I still liked her more than bitchy Mary and Matthew, who only used Lavinia for rebound.

    • Anonymous

      She was obviously created by Fellowes to be compared infavorably to bitchy Mary.  

      If that was his intent, he failed miserably, at least with this viewer.  I think Mary is vile and would make Matthew’s life miserable.  I thought he was well rid of her.

      • Anonymous

        I don’t think Mary’s as bad as vile – just that she manipulates, thinking she knows better, and that she is unfortunate in that when she’s unhappy or threatened she clamps down into a cold defensiveness that comes out as bitchy or worse. She’s also self-centered in that she forgets that her point of view is not always correct and sufficient.

        I totally agree that she would make Matthew miserable – she can’t be happy all the time and when she goes into icy bitch mode he won’t be able to cope.  I still want to see her marry Sir Richard. They’re much better suited.

  • http://twitter.com/jmurph3 Jaclyn Murphy

    In fairness regarding the pacing issue, these were originally two separate episodes when they aired in the UK. Which doesn’t necessarily make it that much better, but it does need to be said that originally Matthew’s miraculous recovery and Lavinia’s tragic-ish demise didn’t fall within the same hour.

  • Anonymous

    Talk about wow!

    They sure did pile on every soap opera cliche known to man in this entire second season didn’t they? 

    I bet the Bates trial will reach epic Dynasty level porportions with Alexis Carrington-Cobly bursting through the court doors at the last minute shouting: “I’m the real Mrs. Bates! The other was an imposter!”

    Or at the very least someone will come through at the zero hour and either admit they murdered Mrs. Bates or provide some sort of evidence to prove Bates innocence.

    TLo I think you guys are being too kind.  This isn’t Days of Our Lives material.  This is Soap material – only the comedy is unintentional.

    One thing I wish Fellowes would do is revisit Thomas’ sexuality as a part of his character and a plot point. I was really excited to see where they would go with that but it got nipped in the bud in the first episode of season one and briefly revisited during the Pamuk episode.

    All griping aside it’s still a delicious hour of drama and I’m hooked for at least another season if only to see what Shirley Maclaine will add.

  • Anonymous

    I’ve decided it’s far more fun to watch with the TV off, and make up new dialog with the help of friends.

  • Anonymous

    Oh, goody. Now I don’t feel guilty about barking out “Mein Fueher! I can walk!”

    sheesh. You’re right on it all pur usual, TLo.

    just on the Lord Grantham front: Does the dude actually do any work re his estate? Where’s the talks with an estate manager (or even just talk OF an estate manager) Surely there were a few post-war things to sort out? like the fact that many young men working on the estate must’ve been killed off. Food shortages increasing farming, etc, etc.

    sheesh. Fellowes is so enamoured of the damned house… Snob. An estate manager would’ve been a great character.

    • Anonymous

      I’ve been complaining about this all along. No, running an estate is not sexy or dramatic.  But the estate’s continuing existence is due to the money Cora brought to the marriage–& the entail was a major subject during the first series.  

      Lord Grantham should have been spending some time, all along, seeing to his estate.  With the help of a steward or estate manager–whom we’ve never met.  And the War would have affected things.  Nope, we saw him moping around the library in uniform.  Now that there’s no excuse for the uniform, he uses the fact that Cora has discovered she enjoys a bit of work as an excuse to go after the maid….

      The estate is more than that giant house but Fellowes doesn’t seem to notice. (Well, he is only a life peer, after all.)  

      Perhaps Shirley MacLaine’s character will ask to go through the books & get on Grantham’s back for frittering away her family’s contribution….

      • Anonymous

        To add to that… I don’t know if you got it over there, but Fellowes played one of the main characters in Monarch of the Glen, which although a similarly soapy cosy Sunday night show (but with more lightly comedy), revolved around the survival of an estate through changing times. Just modern day instead of period. So it isn’t like he’s unaware of the concept. 
        I do think he should’ve brought the estate into it much more. I wonder if he will now that the pace is slowing.

        • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OQAEI5VIBLXN6YAONCDMUQVRBI Sydney Rose

          I adore Monarch of the Glen but had no idea Fellowes was in it. And yes, given that, you would think he would have included at least a bit of estate management somewhere in this series.

          • Anonymous

            He’s Kilwillie :)

    • Anonymous

      Re: Grantham & the estate: EXACTLY. If he cared about the estate as much as has been made out, he should have been busier than a one-armed paper hanger. I wondered about that as well. They had women and boys of school age helping with the harvests during the war years because of the labor shortage, changed breeding programs for large animals to support the war effort and to supplement local food supply, his estate manager (if not fighting) would be finding/training/supervising all sorts of substitutes for the human and animal labor sucked into the war effort. After the war, how do you integrate the maimed back into your estate? And he IS shown as lamenting the large number of men the estate has lost – so, how is he compensating for the loss?  Pre-war, a big estate would have had carpenters, a metal worker, a gamekeeper, possibly a forester/arborist, all sorts of skilled workers other than farm laborers & gardeners.

      And I don’t know if it was as pronounced in WW I as it was in WW II, but large landowners also were subject to new kinds of paperwork & bureaucracy they’d never had to deal with before.

      • k op

         What a great situation wasted!  Edith in particular could have been used in a Running the Estate plot, surprising Lord Granth with her acumen for that sort of thing – tractors, yield, animal husbandry.

        Gosh, Fellowes could have at least alluded to something like this, getting the poor veterans involved in some gardening with Edith.

        Yet another missed opportunity.  Hopefully, S3 will grab more historical substance with it’s storyline.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1058849645 Johanna Virtanen

    It’s a bit unfair to complain about the pacing when the episode you saw is not the same as the original UK broadcast. You got two episodes worth of stuff combined into one. There may be pacing problems, but they aren’t entirely Fellowes’s fault. 

    • Anonymous

      I’m watching the show on PBS for the first time but am spoiled because I read UK sources at it aired originally.  Believe me, there were very many complaints–specifically about pacing & writing.  Those Brits are good at invective!

  • Tally Ho

    I rewatched the first season in a marathon over the weekend (I like to have a long brit-style historic drama on tv while doing a lot of baking because in general you only need to look at the tv once every five minutes and you won’t miss a single thing). Well, this weekend I burnt half the food I baked and that tells you how compelling the first season was. Why was it compelling and why did it convert so many of us into its loyal audience that we’ve stuck with the program through thick and thin despite the ridiculousness of the second season?
    And the answer is this: the first season, especially the first 4-5 episodes, was a careful study of a world that has long disappeared. It was about the subtle and not so subtle differences between the classes – the aristocracy, the middle class and the servants, heck even between the sole American and rest of the Brits. It was about how everyone was treated differently because of their social backgrounds. You were talked to differently, you were expected to behave differently and there were consequences – severe consequences quite often, if you stepped beyond the boundaries placed upon you by the class system. The Granthams discriminated against the servants, the servants discriminated against each other, the Granthams discriminated against the better educated but still merely upper middle class cousins from Manchester, and the cousins discriminated right back at the Granthams. As a result Downton Abbey was a near brilliant performance on the social mores and behaviours of the time. That’s why I loved the show, more so than the house and the costumes.
    Probably the very peak of Downton Abbey’s brilliance was in Season 1 when Cora comes down to the servants’ hall to find O’Brien and give her a missing button and overhears her badmouthing Matthew Crawley. O’Brien is thoroughly smacked down by Cora in front of the other servants, and after Cora leaves a bitter O’Brien snaps back by saying a real lady wouldn’t have come downstairs, she’d simply have rung one of the servants’ bells. She further says: “we’re not friends. Nor are you friends with the girls, Anna. We work for them. That’s all there is to it.’
    In this one little scene we get several powerful lessons:
    1. Cora may be a countess and well behaved, but she’s not a “real” lady. She transgressed a law – she went downstairs!
    2. No matter how the upstairs people badmouth new cousins from Manchester, it’s not a servant’s place to do the same as the cousins are still their social superior.
    3. Servants have no lives or independence. They work very closely with their employers but at the end of the day they’re not friends but mere employees at their employers’ beck and call.
    The plot lines through most of the first season revolved around the respective manners of upstairs and downstairs. It was when the plot started allowing characters to step beyond their social boundaries – without any immediate repercussions (which started to happen in the last episode of Season 1 when Sybil is dancing with Gwen and Branson in front of the family and their guests) that Downton Abbey shifted course and while it’s still fun entertainment, it simply hasn’t been brilliant, realistic and magical entertainment.
    Downton Abbey’s Season 2 completely failed to emphasize the enormous gulf between the social classes, which is why the more historically knowledgeable of us are both amused and frustrated with the season. I have a book called “Not in Front of the Servants,” which is a short history of service in Britain in the 19th and 20th century and it’s filled with fascinating information. How many viewers of DA know that at the time of the show an experienced head housemaid like Anna would make about 30 pounds a year? A footman 40 pounds. Housekeepers got between 60 to 70 pounds a year. The butler received close to 100 pounds. Poor Daisy would have been lucky to get a salary of 12 pounds a year (all with room and board). So the servants had pretty significant income gaps among themselves, but those are still numbers. What do they really mean relative to “upstairs?”
    An aristocratic woman like Cora Grantham or Rosamund Painswick in Edwardian Britain would have easily spent over 200 pounds a year on their clothes alone! A typical upper class dinner party for twenty people, featuring fine wines, cheese, truffles and multiple courses could easily cost anywhere between 30-60 pounds! Think about this carefully: Anna and O’Brien would help the ladies dress in clothes that cost more than what they made in several months. Thomas would have waited at dinner parties that cost as much as he made in a year.
    The gulf was still pretty bad between the mere middle class and the servants. A typical middle class household with 2-3 servants still spent as much money on their annual butcher’s bill as the total combined annual wages of the 2-3 servants. Matthew and Isobel Crawley probably had an income of around 1,000 pounds a year back in their Manchester days – a standard upper middle class income –and more than ten times as much as Carson’s income as the highest paid servant at Downton.
    As the socio-economic gulf was so extreme it had significant implications on just about everything. That’s why Sybil running off with Branson was so implausible. And not only that, it’s also implausible that Mrs. Hughes never had a quiet word with his lordship after the garden party in Season 1 and tell him that the chauffer was a bit too interested in Lady Sybil, at which point Branson would have been instantly dismissed before things got out of hand. Instead of great plotting based on the social rules and economic gulf of the time – and how they may or may not have weakened during WWI, we get these insipid soap opera plots. DA is now good soap opera, but it’s simply not a brilliant show it once was.
    As it is, I’m looking forward to the third season for it’s Fellowes’ chance to redeem himself. The American mother in law could be a wonderful addition – an Alva Vanderbilt counterpart to Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess– as long as she’s handled correctly.

    • Anonymous

      I could have possibly accepted the Sybil/Branson romance if we had seen any romance.  Or even growing intellectual companionship.  Thanks to the writing & the “acting” of Sybil, the whole thing was a dud. 

      Things did change during the War, but that great event was shortchanged.  We missed the first two years.  I can excuse the lack of new sets, locations or characters because of budget constraints. But there’s no excuse for bad writing. 

      I agree that time spent on unexciting subjects–history & socioeconomics or even just the background of our characters–help us enjoy a show.  But this series was just a bunch of nothing, nothing, nothing, OMG EVERYTHING ALL AT ONCE.

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

       What a great post!  Although I do think the war (and especially the fact that the house was used as a recovery unit) would have realistically changed some of the class structure–the daughters were working right alongside the servants so often. But yes, we, with our (particularly American) late 20th century sensibilities can in no way fathom (and very likely would strongly reject) such living arrangements if they weren’t gussied up with a good dose of unreality.

    • Anonymous

      You have absolutely gotten to the crux of why the show has not been as satisfying this season. Gosford Park was delicious in its depiction of the class differences and such a wonderful joy to watch over and over again. I, too, think Fellowes let us down with blurring the class lines–during the first season Ms Linney gave a bit of a period lesson at the beginning of each episode and this season the shows unfortunately need no such introduction.

      Here’s hoping season two was a surprise and season three will be very tasty and hearty dose of British life.

  • Anonymous

    The plot is looking more like General Hospital pure soap than a drama, He walks, she sees the kiss, she dies, he marries and goes to prison in one episode, an affair almost starts and ends in one episode, the baby business is all wrapped up, she elopes, she comes back, and gets acceptance from dear old dad in one episode, etc. But you know what, I was riveted in front of my TV and it was two hours of pure fun and entertainment, so I can’t wait to see next week’s wrap up. Love it, crazy plots and all.

  • http://michjeff-quiltersparadise.blogspot.com/ Michelle Young

    It was a definite laugh out loud episode!  But I do see some serious machinations going on in Sir Richards mind.  Like all controlling men I think he knew exactly what he was doing when he went to Anna.  He wanted Carson to change his mind because he can then isolate Mary even more and he even mentioned that they might not like or stay in the house after it is built.  He will spirit her away from her family and friends and have her all to himself.

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

       Oooh, that is very perceptive. I hadn’t thought about it but yes, he does seem the type to be very controlling–and we already know he is threatening. I can see real tragedy for Mary.

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

       But Sir Richard asked Carson to come work for him, offering a large raise. What would have made him change his mind?

      • http://michjeff-quiltersparadise.blogspot.com/ Michelle Young

        I think he is that devious and probably had planned to get Carson to change his mind from the beginning. 

  • sweetlilvoice

    I hope, hope, hope they show the Christmas at Downtown espidoe….it is amazing! 

  • Mende Mendelius

    Oh Don’t worry. Christmas episode is wonderfull. 

  • rosiepowell2000

    Lord Grantham is a dick.  I really got sick and tired of him ranting on Cora every time she said something practical about Mary and Matthew.  What a dick.

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

    Why was Lavinia buried in the village?  Shouldn’t she have been buried near her family in London?  She wasn’t related at all to the Crawleys, yet.

    • k op

       Epidemic.  Rotting bodies piling up.  Quick burial.

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

        This was the situation in Manchester. Probably ten times worse in London:
        http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/1918/nov/30/health.lifeandhealth

        • Anonymous

           ”All the mortuaries are full.”  If anything can conjure up the sadness and horror of this period, that sentence can.

          • Anonymous

            But we’re not allowed to hear such a dramatic statement on Downton Abbey.  The funeral is just a backdrop for the continuing Will They Or Won’t They between Matthew & Mary.  

            And we heard Grantham complaining about feeling worthless after the war.  Well, he still has an estate to run–which would have been affected by the War–but Lord Fellowes finds this day-to-day stuff rather boring.  Now that Grantham can’t sit bored in his library wearing a uniform, he’s free to make time with the maid.  After almost dying, Cora feels she must apologize to the big baby for deciding she’d rather spend a bit of time doing more than having lunch with him. 

            Sets & locations cost money–but we could have learned about the War if the wounded officers had been allowed to speak out.  Nope, except for “Patrick” & the lecherous Major, they were just set decoration…..

  • Anonymous

    I always find that series events tend to multiply as they reach the end of the season.  Here is my bet on how the murder of Mrs. Bates was accomplished:  by Richard.  Once they uncover that Mary will use it to keep her name out of the papers and end her engagement.  Just sayin’.

  • http://twitter.com/luciac Lucy Choi Pullara

    Am I the only one who had been rooting for Matthew/Lavinia? I can’t get over that he and Mary are 3RD COUSINS. Gross.
    And Mr. Bryant is totally reminding me of Dr. Bombay from Bewitched. I keep thinking his meanness is meant to be absurd.

    • Anonymous

      Mary and Mathew are third cousins twice re-moved.

      Lord G and Matthew are third cousins once re-moved.

    • madamovary

      OMG, yes Dr. Bombay, calling Dr. Bombay!!!

  • http://twitter.com/maschultz Margaret Schultz

    Great post. I’m left with pretty much the same thing: the first season was outstanding, and the second season went into ridiculous pretty fast. That’s too bad, because I think the story could have continued to be more in depth, and more realistic and it would have been fabulous, heartbreaking, hopeful & romantic all at once. 

  • lee66132000

    While watching my “DOWNTON ABBEY” Season 2 discs, I decided to go ahead and watch the Christmas Special.  I suspect that many of you will love it.  On the other hand, I hated it.  But I guess it’s just me.

  • Merle Minda

    Well, you are right about it all, but I love it anyway — these characters, no matter how flawed and often ridiculous, are mezmerizing. Is it the clothes, the house? Whatever — who cares. And I am sure you do know that about 15-20 minutes have been cut out of every episode for the American run, because Americans aren’t considered to have the same staying/watching power as the Brits. So that may account for some of these very abrupt developments. I think in the end, it is the house that is the star, as it colors every behavior in and around it. Thanks for your wonderful wrap-up.

  • http://www.facebook.com/megan.winen Megan Winen
  • madamovary

    Please forgive if it’s already been said – but that Lavinia is Melly from Gone with the Wind.  Blech.  Strap em on girl, you’re dying for chrissake.

  • trimellone

    RE: Sir Richard’s attempt to get reports of Mary’s comings and goings by bribing Anna to snitch:

    I was just waiting for Mary to turn the tables by asking Anna to be a “double agent.” After all, it’s much more effective for you to convince your “enemy” that you know nothing of their tools, rather than see them exposed, right? Mary, Anna, and Carson could have presented a united front in the face of his tactics.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sondra.nicholas Sondra Nicholas

    I just hope that when you turn on your TV at the beginning of the next season, your TV blows up and your PBS station is not carrying the series.