Just in time for le jour d’amour (forgive my bad French), we have Tasha’s recap of Sunday night’s episode of Downton Abbey. As always, thank you to Downton Online for the screencaps!
Holy cannoli, Downton Abbey is going to go on forever tonight. Anywho… what would I like to see this week? It would be ever so nice if Branson and Sybil ran away together, Bates and Anna consummated their love, and Mr. Matthew Crawley finally GOT A CLUE. I’d also like to know who killed Vera. Shall we?
It’s still 1919! Edith is watching the last of the hospital equipment leave Downton. Sounds like life is finally returning to normal. Everyone thinks Vampy Vera committed suicide, Lady Grantham wants to throw Matthew out, and Carson hopes the end of the war means the return of the footmen. I think he’s destined to be bitterly disappointed. Speaking of servants, Thomas needs a job now that the war is over. He’s going to be wheelin’ and dealin’ with his new black market “business.” He’s going to be a gangster!
Lord Grantham, meanwhile, is not so happy. Lady Grantham’s efforts to separate Mary and Matthew seem to infuriate him, so he has to take a stroll to calm his nerves (why doesn’t he just talk to Mary about Sir Richard?). Anyway, he’s walking along, minding his own, when whom should he happen to meet in a meadow but the new maid, picking flowers. Awfully suspicious if you ask me. Grantham waxes philosophical about what the war all means (obviously he hasn’t read Nietzsche, or he’d know there is no meaning), and Jane the Maid blinks sympathetically. He says, “Before the war I feel like my life had value.” Er, I don’t see an appreciable before- and after-the-war difference here, Lord G.
While Robert’s teasing Jane the Maid, Sybil’s teasing Branson. She shows up randomly in the garage, in her dinner gown, and wants to know what he’s up to all day. Yeah, it’s called working…? Then she starts whining about how bored she is. But she isn’t ready to get married yet!
This is Bates: “Hey, Bates, terrible about your wife! Does anyone know why she killed herself?” “Ermph, well, no…” *twitch twitch twitch*
Meanwhile, Sir Richard le Slimeball is staking his claim on ALL of Mary. He asks Anna a favor–IN HIS ROOM, gross–to spy on Mary for him. HE IS THE MOST HILARIOUSLY AWFUL PERSON EVER. Anna’s “too busy” to be his snoop, though, and immediately gives Carson and Hughes the 411 on his behavior. One would think this would inspire Carson to go with Lady Mary and protect her, but actually the opposite happens: he says he can’t leave Dowton for Mary and Richard’s new home because he won’t be employed by someone he can’t respect. Mary: CARSON FINDS SIR RICHARD SO LOATHSOME HE REFUSES TO BE EMPLOYED BY HIM. And you’re going to sleep with him? Excellent choice. /sarcasm When Mary hears about Carson’s decision, she’s so pissed she goes into Ice Queen Mode and tells Sir Richard, “Butlers will be two a penny now they’re all back from the war.” Girl, your bitch is showing.
Lord Grantham with the maid again! In some sort of closet space. “I’m a foolish man who’s lost his way.” GIVE ME A BREAK. Then he tongues the her, what a tool. Buy a sports car or something, sheesh.
More important news: MATTHEW CAN WALK! Lavinia drops the tray and he reflexively stands up to catch her. It’s a miracle, he can do the horizontal dance now! They send for Dr. Clarkson–I don’t know why, since he didn’t have anything to do with it. Clarkson gives the excuses of why he’s a terrible doctor. Matthew asks him, “But I will… HAVE a life?” If by life you mean sex, then yes. Lady Violet, meanwhile, seems oddly disturbed. The next day, Matthew announces that he and Lavinia are getting married. Most boring news ever. Matthew says he wants to marry at Downton Abbey to bury the darkest period of his life. Oho buddy, you’re in for it now.
One would think Lady Grantham would be happy about Matthew’s marriage, but Cora is upset Lord Grantham agreed to the wedding without asking her, since it will delay Mary’s wedding. Lord G is like, Shut your face bitch and speak when I tell you! Someone’s channeling Chris Brown this week. Lady Grantham should probably start throwing things at him, but she doesn’t. I bet in his head he’s thinking, “Jane would never question my authority.” AND HE’S RIGHT.
I bet you want to know more about Ethel, the other maid no one likes. Mrs. Hughes should have cut that one loose, but she didn’t. Ethel’s kid’s name is Charlie! I’m glad it has a name. Some people named Bryant have shown up at Downton to have lunch with the Granthams. They’re the parents of Major Dickish, and the housekeeper was going to arrange for them to see Charlie, but it didn’t work out. So instead Ethel takes matters into her own tentacles and dashes into the dining room with the baby.
The Major’s father demands proof that Charlie’s his grandson. Yeah, because who wouldn’t want to be related to the Edwardian version of Vernon Dursley? Uhg, no wonder the major was such a dick with a dad like that. The Bryants storm out (well, one of them does), while Ethel just stammers uselessly.
Carson is all aflutter that lunch went badly and things aren’t in order. Back in the dining room, Mary and Richard are being snobby and self-righteous. “Ethel got what she deserved,” blah blah blah. Really, Mary? REALLY?! They are going to be a great couple. Two unhappy people, stuck together forever. Someone slap her.
After lunch, Lady Violet decides Matthew needs a talking to. I agree, he does. She tells Matthew that Mary is still in love with him, and he can’t love Mary once more? But he’s like, “Hee haw, Lavinia, hee haw.” So now we know why Violet was so upset when he could walk–it meant he could fulfill ALL of Lady Mary’s needs AT LAST. Now if only Matthew would get back his metaphorical as well as his literal virility.
Meanwhile, Richard and Mary are discussing their wedding, as well. I’ve never seen Mary look so consummately bored. She’s the perfect deathly pale bride. Richard asks if she still loves Matthew and she’s like, “I would never love a man who loves someone else over me.” First of all, that doesn’t answer the question. And second of all, if you’re riding the pride train to lonely town, Mary, have a nice trip. I don’t think I’ve been so annoyed with her since season one.
So while ALL THIS has been going on, no one noticed that Sybil’s been missing. You didn’t notice because she’s not much of a character. She went to Branson’s garage after dinner, all dressed up again, and told him it’s time to move forward. Branson’s her ticket to paradiiiise, we can pack our bags and leeeavvve toniiight! And that’s exactly what they do. But Mary finally goes looking for her and discovers Sybil isn’t in her room. Instead, there’s a letter saying she’s eloped with Branson to Gretna Green–what is this, a Regency romance novel? Who knew Sybil was a Barbara Cartland fan. Edith and Mary go haring off in another car to stop her. How many cars does Lord Grantham own? In a hotel on the way to Gretna Green, they find Sybil in bed… and Tom (Branson) in a chair. Both fully-clothed. These two are so unimaginative! Mary actually manages to sound reasonable and logical when she argues that Sybil should marry Tom openly instead of sneaking off in the dark, and I agree with her. So does Sybil, who decides to return to Downton with her sisters. Tom gets all pouty. I swear to god every single man in this series is emasculated, except possibly Carson.
What’s up with Bates, I can hear you asking. Good question! Bates is very paranoid because he bought the poison for Vera that ended up killing her. Big deal? Anna wants him to say so to the police, which sounds like a really dumb idea. Bates is like Eeyore, always thinking of the bad things that are going to come his way.
And Thomas seriously looks like a gangster and has collected quite the horde of goods, which he bought from someone on the black market and is planning to sell to Mrs. Patmore. She’s happy to have ingredients for Matthew and Lavinia’s wedding cake, but it soon turns out they’re all fake. Roh-roh. I guess Thomas is a bit upset that his stolen goods weren’t kosher, because he tears up his shed and looks generally pathetic. He spent his entire savings on the goods. O’Brien tries to help, but it doesn’t seem as if there’s anything she can do. Meanwhile, Carson and Mrs. Hughes are both pretty adamant it’s time for him to leave Downton. How will Thomas get out of this one?
In the intervening minutes, Branson has gotten a job as journalist, so Sybil thinks it’s a good time to bring him back to the house and tell Lord Grantham of their plans. Mary of course is being unsupportive, but Sybil asks him to come for her anyway.
Now it’s time for the announcement, wheee! I’ve waited ALL WEEK. Branson shows up wearing a horrible suit (especially when compared to Lord Grantham), and like Lady Mary he seems to have aged a lot in the past season. They tell the whole family they plan to marry–in fact, that they ran off together, but Mary and Edith convinced Sybil to return. Lord Grantham is like, “Wonderful news! I’ve always wanted an mechanic in the family!” KIDDING. He makes the frowny face. The words “bowing and scraping to me while plotting to marry my daughter” may have been used. Just so we’re clear, Tom doesn’t bow and scrape to anyone, and especially not a tosser like YOU, Lord G.
Lady Violet is the one who saves the day by asking Sybil what her plan is. Of course Sybil has a plan; there’s hope for the future yet. She’s going to live with Tom’s mum in Dublin until they can get married, then get a job as a nurse. As plans go, it’s not THAT bad. Lord Grantham’s like, “I won’t allow it, blah blah blah,” but he and everyone else knows his opinion is irrelevant at this point. There was not enough shouting in this scene.
The reaction in the servant’s quarters when Tom announces he’s marring Lady Sybil, meanwhile, isn’t any better. Carson’s like, “HAVE YOU NO SHAME?!” Tom’s like, “Nope! I’m shameless, shameless as a man can beeeee…”
No one wants Sybil to marry Branson. Sybil’s being pretty reasonable, offering to stay until after Matthew’s wedding, but Lord G replies by saying he’s going to cut her off. That’s not an effective threat to someone who’s never been poor, duh. Lady Grantham, weirdly, is supportive of Sybil marrying Branson. But not of Mary marrying Matthew? I’m so tired of typing marry/Mary right now.
The wedding of Lavinia and Matthew approaches, like a dirge. Lavinia got a gramophone and a bunch of other presents Edith has to organize. She’s spiraling and feeling like she’s always going to be the bridesmaid and never the bride; except she’s not even the bridesmaid, just the gopher. All because she’s the plain sister. Honestly, Edith, one would think you have no powers of observation; men don’t care that much about what you look like. Violet rallies by telling her, “Don’t be defeatist, dear, it’s very middle-class.” That’s true.
Oh no! Carson’s sick. Lady G looks sick, too. Moseley has to step in for Carson and he’s horribly confused. Thomas is pouty because no one asked him. Oh dear, Moseley is hitting the wine pretty hard. Maybe Thomas might have been the better choice this time around. Moseley looks as pale as Lady Grantham and Carson. Jesus, everyone’s sick. Lavinia’s ill, too. After nearly everyone has left the dinner table, Lady Violet warbles, “Wasn’t there a masque ball in Paris where cholera broke out? Half the guests were dead before the night was over!” “Thank you, mama, that has cheered us up immensely,” Lord Grantham bites out. Can you imagine having Lady Violet for a mother? I don’t know how Robert turned out so normal. In any case, they go back to eating.
Meanwhile, Anna’s been thinking. She and Bates are getting married. Bates is like, “hee haw, but what about Vera, hee haw.” Starting to get annoyed over here, Bates! The man doesn’t recognize a determined woman when he sees one. OH, YOU’RE GETTING MARRIED.
While most of the women are sick with the Spanish flu, the guys are getting up to no good. Item the first: Matthew’s playing the gramophone after dinner and Mary’s observing, overcome by his manly beauty. It’s like watching lions in the wild. I sense a romantic scene approaching! Matthew invites Mary to dance with him. Let’s listen in, just like Lavinia, who’s hovering on the stairs:
MARY: You manage without your stick. (Is that a double-entendre? I hope so!)
MATTHEW: You are my stick. (Yep, it definitely was.)
MARY: We were a show that flopped. (It was that bad, huh?)
MATTHEW: God, Mary, I am so so sorry. You know how sorry I am.
Finally some emotion from him! But not from Mary, who says coolly, “Don’t be. It wasn’t anyone’s fault. And if it was, it was mine.”
MATTHEW: (paraphrasing) I can’t dump Lavinia after she bathed my lame self for half an episode, can I? …No matter how much I want to.
THEY’RE KISSING, FINALLY! Only to be interrupted by Lavinia. ::SIGH:: Lavinia has clearly seen the whole thing. If Matthew had any sense, he would apologize immediately, but methinks he doesn’t want to.
Item the second: Lord Grantham. That maid, Jane, is way overly familiar with him. She offers to help him overcome his sadness or something else that made my gorge rise. GAH I HATE HER SO MUCH. Bates interrupts them, though he doesn’t know it. Poor Bates. Even Lord Gingrich–I mean Grantham–is getting nooky, and he has a seriously ill wife down the hall! Bates saved the day, though; Lord G comes to his senses sends Jane off without too much bodily fluid being exchanged.
The next day, Lord Grantham pays a visit to Branson. He wants to know how Tom’s going to provide for Sybil, and Branson replies with the gentle version of mind your own business. So Lord G resolves to bribe him. Lord G’s like, “I want you to leave,” and Branson’s like, “If I leave she’s coming with me. She’ll come to me the moment I call.” Yeah, don’t make your daughter chose between you and the man she’s obviously going to marry. That’s Parenting Grown-Ups rule #12.
Preparations for Lavinia and Matthew’s wedding continue because it hasn’t been canceled. No other reason. Meanwhile, in a fevered haze, Lavinia has a revelation. She thinks maybe it’s a good time to call off her and Matthew’s engagement. This is the first time I’ve liked her since she showed up! Lavinia doesn’t seem that seriously ill, unlike Lady Grantham, who is throwing up and hemorrhaging blood out of her nose! This sucks! Now Lavinia’s in a bad way, too. With her dying words, Lavinia gives Matthew permission to marry Mary. Everyone knows that’s what she’s doing, even boneheaded Matthew. Annnnd… she dies.
On better news, Lady Grantham is getting better, yay! She apologizes for not paying more attention to Robert, as if he’s three years old and needs to be constantly entertained. But no matter–the point is, they make-up, and Lord Grantham decides not to chase after Jane the maid anymore. Jane has a similar thought; she’s given her notice and she’s leaving. GOOD IDEA, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Buh-bye now.
While Carson’s been sick, Thomas has moved into position of butler. At first I think he genuinely wanted to help, but he’s not one to let an opportunity pass him by. He is way too cheerful, and it’s very suspicious. Carson finds it very suspect, as well. You can never get rid of him! At least this will motivate Carson to get better quickly so he can check the silver. You never know, maybe Thomas has turned over a new leaf! (Nah…)
In other below-stairs news, the Bryants changed their mind and wanted to meet with Ethel to discuss Charlie. They would love to have Charlie in their lives; their only term was that Ethel had to give the baby up and never see or hear from him again, and he’d be told she died. I thought she’d give Charlie up, but no, she’s decided to keep him. Wow, respect girl, respect. Even Ethel knows Charlie shouldn’t be raised by that mustachioed asshole.
Annnnnd… ANNA AND BATES ARE GETTING MARRIED! Yay, so happy! They are so cute together. Ooooh la la, Mary’s helping Anna and Bates spend the night together! Let’s spend the night togethhhher, now I need you more than evarrrr. Bates has a serious farmer’s tan going on. Sexay sexay farmer’s tan.
Despite all these developments, however, everyone at Downton is so depressed, the camera filter has gotten noticeably cooler- and darker-toned. Now instead of a wedding, they’re having a funeral. Matthew is refusing to speak to Mary, or even hear her name.
FUNERAL. Matthew has a severe frowny face. It’s worse than it was when he couldn’t walk or have sex–that’s pretty bad. He blames himself for Lavinia’s death because he thinks she died of a broken heart after seeing him and Mary together. FULL OF YOURSELF MUCH, THERE, buddy? “We’re cursed, you and I,” he tells Mary. Well, maybe you should marry each other and keep your misery in-house, then. I don’t think you’re honoring Lavinia’s dying wishes very well, either, Matthew. Mary is showing a tiiiiny little sliver of emotion, but practically throws herself at Sir Slimey when he pulls her away.
Perhaps because of all the things that’ve happened at Downton, Lord Grantham has reconsidered his position on Sybil and Branson, and gives them his blessing. Sybil looks so happy! Even Branson doesn’t look as militant as he usually does in Lord G’s presence. Plus, Lady Violet is coming to the rescue ONCE AGAIN! What is this, the Lady Violet: Superhero show? She’s already plotting how to give Branson an aristocratic pedigree to save the family’s social reputation.
Everyone returns to the Abbey after the funeral, where two coppers are waiting to arrest Bates. He gives himself up AWFULLY easily. Man, I think he really might have killed Vera. Either that or he knows who did and he’s protecting them.
Thus ends season two of Downton Abbey. Although I enjoyed it, I do think the first season was a lot better. There were a lot of plotlines that didn’t seem fleshed-out and would suddenly appear, then disappear, without any lasting affect to the plot or characters. Such as “Patrick Gordon” or Grantham and the maid. Plus, a lot of the characters I loved in the first season seem kind of cartoonish and stereotypical right now, like Lady Violet. As for Matthew and Mary, I am MONUMENTALLY annoyed with that storyline. They are thisclose to being the Pierre and Natasha of 20th-century England. I’m pretty sure Dan Stevens can handle a wide variety of emotions between smug and woe-is-me, you should give him a chance to show it maybe?
Anyway. Maybe after watching the Christmas special I’ll be less annoyed.