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Downton Abbey Season 4: ep. 6 recap

Mary

With only two episodes to go, last night’s Downton Abbey  had some fairly predictable plot developments, and one not-so predictable moment that made me wonder briefly if we had fallen into some sort of parallel Downton universe.

Warning: Spoilers below!

This episode opens with Robert leaving on the next boat to America.  Apparently Cora’s brother is in big trouble, and needs his aristocratic brother-in-law to add a bit of clout to his tarnished name.  While Robert expects Bates to travel with him, Mrs. Hughes intervenes and enlists the help of Mary to get him to take Thomas instead, thus allowing Bates to stay by Anna’s side.  Mary bullies Mrs. Hughes into telling her what’s going on with Anna, though she doesn’t tell anyone else.  Anna’s relieved Mary now knows and they can be honest with each other once more, though Anna says that in the same breath that she tells Mary they don’t know who the attacker was.

Mary2

Mary’s list of suitors grows as apparently she’s unable to turn off the charm, even when covered in mud and pig filth.  In the course of a few months Mary’s gotten three men to fall in love with her (well, I suppose Evelyn Napier’s carried a torch for her for a while now, but still).  Charles Blake goes from finding her uppity and aloof to irresistible thanks to some bonding over pigs.  Yes, the much-talked about pigs arrive at Downton at last, only to knock over their water troughs and start to perish from dehydration.  Charles and Mary take a stroll out to visit them after dinner (as one does), and Charles immediately jumps into action and grabs some buckets, and to his surprise, so does Mary.  Afterwards they bond over a good old fashioned mud fight and then Mary shocks us all further by gasp! scrambling an egg for herself and Mr. Blake.  So, let me get this straight.  Mary’s youngest sister, the rebel who married the chauffeur, didn’t know how to boil water, but Mary somehow picked up how to cook an egg?  It doesn’t really matter though, because this sequence with Mary and Charles was by far one of my favorite Downton scenes ever, and the chemistry between the two actors has me excited to see where things go from here.

Mary and Charles

Evelyn informs Mary that he now has more competition thanks to the pig incident, to which Mary, when alone, releases a sigh.  Not a swoony sigh, but a “can’t you guys see I’m still not ready to move on?” sigh.  And then there’s that delightfully awkward moment when Lord Gillingham arrives, doing nothing to hide his continued feelings for Mary, and all three love interests are in the room at the same time.  Turns out Lord Gillingham and Mr. Blake served together during the war.  Sounds like they’re about to fight another battle, and this time they won’t be on the same side.

Branson

Also surprising was an interesting turn in Branson’s love life.  Isobel convinces him to get back into politics and buys tickets to hear a political speaker.  But when Violet falls ill and Isobel volunteers to nurse her (in some pretty hysterical scenes between Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton), Branson must go solo to the meeting.  There he sits next to an as-of-yet unnamed woman, and they seem to hit it off pretty well.  Here’s hoping we’ll see more of her.

Rose and Ross

The rest of the episode’s plots were fairly predictable.  Rose tags along with Edith to London, where she meets up with Jack Ross for a rowboat ride.  Jack has reservations about their romance, but Rose reminds him they should live in the now.  And thus Rose continues to get on my nerves.  Not to mention the hissy fit she throws when they have to leave London early, thus spoiling her plans (even if she didn’t know the reason why, still annoying).

Edith and Rosamund

Edith is in London for a much more sobering reason.  With Gregson still missing, and not wanting to be cast out for having a child out of wedlock, she feels the only way out is to have an abortion.  She finally confesses what’s happened to Aunt Rosamund, who is surprisingly supportive through the whole thing.  Edith is heartbroken, as she loves Gregson and knows she would love their baby, but believes there is no alternative.  However, when they arrive at the doctor’s “office” and Edith hears a woman crying, she rethinks her decision.  Now that she’s not going to terminate her pregnancy, we’re left to wonder if she plans to keep the baby once it’s born, and if Edith will step up her search for the father.  And what her family will say (I can already sense a good eyebrow arching from Mary now).

Ivy and Daisy

Downstairs, Mrs. Patmore, Mrs. Hughes, and Mr. Carson go out of their way to prevent Alfred from visiting the house and stirring up more trouble between Ivy and Daisy.  I don’t blame them, and only wish they had succeeded.  Instead we got to see Alfred show up, causing Ivy to light up with happiness and Daisy to scowl at Ivy’s new-found appreciation for the man she loves.  Daisy, I know you can’t hear me through the TV when I’m yelling at you (even if I do keep trying), but please, please move on.  Remember how William loved you and you loved him too, but not in that way?  This is the same thing, just in reverse.  For the sanity of Mrs. Patmore, move on.

In a darker (though no less predictable) turn, when Lord Gillingham arrives, so does his valet.  He jokes and carries on with the staff, but no one can mistake the troubled look on Anna’s face when she sees him.  Mrs. Hughes corners him in the boot room and tells him he better “stick to the shadows” for his life’s sake.  But for whatever reason (contrived plot purposes, I suppose), Mr. Green can’t do that, and says in front of the entire staff how he couldn’t stand Lady Melba’s singing and had escaped downstairs during her performance.  Baxter, who has been skulking around the entire episode gathering information for Thomas while he’s away, immediately picks up on this.  But so does Bates, and the scene cuts away with him giving Green an icy stare, his fork shaking in his hand.

Bates

There’s just two episodes left in season 4.  Any predictions of what might be around the corner?  And what did you think of last night’s episode?

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Downton Abbey: Thoughts about Season 4

season 4 cast image

Warning: There are a few spoilers below for Downton Abbey seasons 1-3.

While the fourth season of Downton Abbey airs in the UK, we in the US must sit around twiddling our thumbs until January, attempting to avoid spoilers (well, some of us, anyway).  So far I’ve been successful, but I had a near miss this morning when Twitter started to discuss last week’s episode (I closed the window just in time).  No doubt I’ll eventually run into something, or my willpower will give out.  We’ll see which one comes first.

But until then, I’d like to share a little bit about what I hope to see (and what I’m concerned about) regarding season 4.

Here’s the trailer, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet:

Kissing, tears, dancing, and Dowager Countess wisdom–all the staples of the show are there.  There was a lot of positive buzz around the first episode, and it appears this season is going to focus on Lady Mary climbing out of her grief.  So here’s the big question for Downton Abbey: is there life after Dan/Matthew?

Lady Mary

And that leads me to one of the things I am really looking forward to this season.  Mary is one of the most dynamic characters on the show.  I want to see how she will move forward after the loss of Matthew, who was always such a huge part of her story.  I know Michelle Dockery will do a fantastic job, I just hope Julian Fellowes doesn’t do one of his classic “Let’s talk about this for one episode, and then bounce back and pretend like it never happened” moves.

Several new characters are coming on board this season who are being labeled as “Lady Mary’s suitors” and I just wonder if they can live up to the Matthew/Mary dynamic.  And how Mary will feel about them after the loss of her beloved husband.  And I can’t help but feel concerned for whoever she might choose, given the fate of all of her former love interests (Note: I still find it suspicious Richard Carlisle is never heard from again, and if any story about Mr. Pamuk made it in the papers, we certainly never heard about it…).

I truly loved Matthew and Mary together, but I do agree that “happily ever after” doesn’t drum up much drama, which leads me to…

season 4 anna and bates

What might be in store for Anna and Bates?  At the end of season 3 they were finally together, finally happy.  And given Mr. Fellowes’s philosophy on happy couples, I can only imagine what he has in store for them.  But judging from the trailer, it will involve some tears.  One guess is that Bates may not be as innocent as we think he is, or he may do something that shakes Anna’s steadfast faith in him.  Because otherwise those two are rock solid (unless Anna becomes pregnant, in which case she’s doomed, because that never marks a happy occasion at Downton).  Dare I say it?  I’d actually like to see a little shake up in their relationship this season, as long as it’s believable (again, I’m counting on you, Julian!).

branson

What about the other household member who lost a spouse last season?  I feel like Branson might be ready to move on, more so than Mary.  Maybe that’s because his entire relationship with Sybil revolved around her visiting him in the garage a few times, a botched elopement, and then some time in Ireland that we never saw.  Don’t get me wrong, their relationship was sweet and all, but they’re no Matthew & Mary.  But Branson himself is becoming a very intriguing character, caught between upstairs and down, unsure of what his social position is.  And now that one of his main allies is gone (Matthew), how will his relationship with the Crawleys fare?  Maybe Mary will step in to fill the gap left by her husband.

edith

I’m on the fence about what Edith’s story might be like this season, and whether or not I’m looking forward to it.  Sure, I want to see Edith come into her own at long last, and she deserves some happiness.  But I hope she doesn’t become some sort of walking cliche for the “working, independent girl” of the 1920s.  And speaking of cliches…

lily-james-as-lady-rose

This is the girl I’m really worried about.  Yes, Downton needs some new, young blood walking its halls.  But Rose got on my nerves in season 3, and I’m worried they’ll load her up with “flapper girl” cliches and make her a walking representation of a new decade.  But maybe I can forgive that if they give her character a little more substance.

daisy

I don’t even have any guesses as to what will happen downstairs this season.  From the trailer, it looks like we’ll have more love triangles going on, and some new faces.  What will it be like without O’Brien?  And who will replace her?  What evil business will Thomas get into, and who will be his new partner in crime?  His new buddy Jimmy, perhaps?  And will Daisy ever get her life sorted out?  Here’s hoping she doesn’t stalk around the kitchen with a perpetual scowl on her face this season.

What else?  I’m sure Robert will still walk around with his chest puffed up, spouting out bad advice, and Cora will quietly stand by his side.  I’m sure there’s some great Dowager quips to look forward to, and I’m excited to see Maggie Smith paired up with Harriet Walter (who played Fanny in the 1995 adaptation of Sense & Sensibility).  Let the sparring begin!

What are you looking forward to most about season 4 of Downton Abbey?  What are you most concerned about?  And are you trying to avoid spoilers, or do you feel they don’t impact your viewing enjoyment?

And as a reward for getting all the way through my rambling thoughts about Downton, click here to see the PBS preview of the first episode of season 4.

Photos copyright PBS and ITV.

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Downton Abbey: Series 3 Predictions

Lately I’ve been submerged in the 1920’s as I conduct research for my next novel.  So imagine my giddy excitement when Downton Abbey released its first major promotional image.  Those gowns, the hair!  The third installment of the series takes place from 1920-21, as Europe tries to pull itself from the wreckage of World War I.  And everyone wants to know–how will the family and staff of Downton Abbey manage this enormous task?

The show is set to air in the UK this fall, while we poor Americans must wait until January to find out the answers to the questions that have been nagging us since series 2 ended (well, those of us who are patient and do not look up answers that can easily be found on the web).  So before it airs, I wanted to put out some Downton predictions/questions that I hope will be answered in this latest installment.  Warning: there are a few spoilers in here for those of you who haven’t read any of the teaser material out there about season 3.

1.) How much longer will the Mary & Matthew “will they/won’t they?” be dragged out?

From what I’ve gathered from the limited information that’s been released, it’ll go on for at least a bit longer.  You know, I really had hoped we had finished with this one.  We left Matthew and Mary hugging in the swirling snow after a perfect Mary/Matthew-esque proposal.  But Fellowes isn’t quite ready to let it go.  Apparently a bad investment on Lord Grantham’s part is going to be a major plot device for this season, and the problem is going to weigh more heavily on aristocratic Mary than on Matthew, who is used to earning a living.  My guess is the situation will bring to the forefront the fundamental differences in the way Matthew and Mary see the world.  Do I think love will win the day?  Probably.  But it looks like we’re in for a bumpy ride (but then, what else can we expect from Matthew & Mary?).  And as a side note–if and when they do marry, are we going to get to see some happy honeymoon scenes between them?  After having to see Bates and Anna’s night together, I think it’s the least Fellowes can do for us.

2.) And speaking of Bates and Anna…

Will Bates ever get out of jail?  My theory: yes, and it may be thanks to Richard Carlisle.  He was the one who heard Mrs. Bates’s rather blatant threat against her husband, after all.  But I can’t imagine that Richard would provide a favor for the Crawley family so easily after being jilted by Mary (and I’m still wondering if the Pamuk scandal is going to resurface yet again).  And what will Anna’s story line look like, with her husband in the clink?  This is just a guess, but based on the picture that was released of the entire cast, it looks like Anna may become a ladies’ maid.  She seems to be dressed the same as O’Brien.  And of course that makes me think that Mary and Matthew do indeed get married, and Mary’s new marital status allows for a promotion for Anna.

3.) And speaking of promotions…

At the end of last season we finally saw Daisy grow a spine and confront Mrs. Patmore, asking for a promotion to assistant cook.  Wonder how that’s going to work out?  And who will replace Daisy as scullery maid?  According to this article, she’ll be replaced by a doe-eyed girl named Ivy.  You know, I hope Daisy finds a man this season, one she actually loves and isn’t guilted into marrying only to become a widow hours later.  I’m pulling for you, Daisy.

4.) What will the downstairs dynamic be like?

So many changes!  We’ll need a replacement footman for the deceased William, and a new scullery maid to fill Daisy’s vacant position.  Plus, if the estate is in financial trouble, what will it mean for the hardworking folks downstairs?  Job security will surely be on everyone’s minds.  And will O’Brien and Thomas continue their conniving ways?  Who am I kidding, of course they will.

5.) What does the future look like for Sybil and Branson?

The relationship between Sybil and Branson was boring in season 2, in my opinion.  But now that they’re married, and Sybil’s pregnant, and Cora’s insisting they be allowed to come back to Downton, my interest has perked up.  How on earth are these two “rebels” going to fit in around the dinner table?  Branson, the former chauffeur, dining alongside his former employer?  Should be interesting.  And what will Granny have to say about the whole thing?

I’m concerned about Branson’s safety, and not just because of Granny’s barbed one-liners.  He’ll most likely be involved in the Irish political movement, which was at times violent (though the civil war did not begin until 1922, which will be after the time period of the upcoming series).  Speaking from a story/plot perspective, it makes sense in some ways for Branson to leave Sybil behind at Downton, and she and her “crazy” progressive notions will have to fend for themselves in a house full of traditionalists.  Now, whether this “leaving” is in the form of taking off to fight in Ireland, or perhaps a more…permanent exit, I don’t know.  One thing’s for certain, there’s going to be a lot of head-butting when these two re-enter the scene.

6.) Will Edith finally find her place?

Poor Edith.  I hated her the first season, but mostly just pitied her the second.  However, the war seemed to help her realize she had more valuable contributions to make to society besides sending off letters about her sister’s improper behavior in the bedroom.  At the end of season 2 she went to see Sir Anthony Strallan, the man who almost proposed in season 1 until Mary intervened.  He didn’t want to court her due to his crippled condition, but Edith didn’t seem inclined to take no for an answer.  My prediction–she’s going to wear him down at some point and the two will be married (unless long-lost cousin Patrick Crawley somehow makes his way back into the picture–and boy I hope not, as that was one of the more soap-opera-ish plots in season 2 I could have done without).

Finally, an overall thought about the upcoming season.  I think that the money issue will divide the house between the aristocrats (Lord Grantham, Mary, Lady Violet) and those who don’t quite “get” the English obsession with tradition (Cora, Sybil, Matthew, Cora’s mother, who will be played by Shirley Maclaine and who I can’t wait to see).  I think this is where the main conflict is going to stem from.  And I think (hope) it will reflect what was going on throughout England during this period of enormous change after the First World War.

So now it’s your turn–what are your Downton predictions for season 3?  And what do you hope will happen?

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Downton Abbey Season 2, ep. 4 recap

Warning: Spoilers ahead

Last night Downton Abbey did not end with a cheery song and the return of an unscathed missing man.  Instead viewers were hit with one piece of depressing news after another.  This was the darkest episode yet (except for a few light spots with the Dowager Countess, such as when she calls the telephone an instrument of torture.  Oh Granny).

Two of my Downton Predictions proved accurate in this episode.  During the battle of Amiens (which was the beginning of the end of the war and was a major success for the Allied forces), Matthew and William are wounded by a nearby shell explosion.  William sustains a serious lung injury that will slowly kill him, while Matthew’s injury leads the doctor to suggest that he will never walk again, and will never have a “proper marriage.”  Now the future of the entail is called into question again, as well as Matthew’s engagement to Lavinia.  He tells her to leave, refusing to tie her down to a cripple who won’t be able to give her any children.

Lavinia pours her heart out to Lady Mary, then promptly departs for London, leaving Mary to care for Matthew.  Given Lavinia’s meek and mild nature, someone with Mary’s strong resolve is probably what Matthew needs (and of course I’m rooting for them to reunite).  Mary devotes herself to Matthew’s care, and seems to finally have found her place among all the change occurring around her from the war.

But Mary has other problems to tend to.  Vera Bates returns (thanks to O’Brien) and has every intention of revealing Mary’s secret, and plans to bring Anna down along with the Crawley name.  Anna tells Mary, who goes to see Sir Richard about the matter.  You know you’ve made a mistake in your choice of fiancee when he says he’s happy to help, but it also pleases him to know that he’ll have something on you and you’ll be in his debt.  As we can see from next week’s preview, it looks like Sir Richard plans to play the “Pamuk card” to get what he wants.

Mrs. Bates is paid off by Sir Richard, who then promptly announces his engagement to Mary (again, not a good sign, given that Mary had no knowledge that he would do so).  This news infuriates Vera, and she swears that she will get Bates back another way.  This woman is on an entirely different level than O’Brien and Thomas in her one-dimensional vendetta against Bates and Anna.  O’Brien and Thomas can be nasty, but who knows to what lengths Vera will go to get back at Bates.

Meanwhile William is dying at Downton (after a few strings are pulled by Lady Violet to get him there) in the largest bedroom he’s ever slept in.  Daisy is basically peer-pressured into marrying William in order to receive a widow’s pension.  You can’t help but feel badly for her, and I know the guilt is going to eat away at her as that pension starts coming in.  The marriage, quickly followed by the death of William, left us reaching for the tissues (if Lady Violet is allowed to shed a tear, so are we!).

There were a few odds and ends tucked in throughout the episode.  Lady Edith quietly nurses William, keeping him comfortable during the final days of his life.  A  few short scenes between Lady Sybil and Branson show that he seems to be chipping away at the barrier she’s put between them (really, this relationship grows creepier each week, like Sybil is some sort of trophy that Branson’s trying to win).

Lord Grantham is being ignored by Lady Grantham, who is busy running the convalescent home, and like some sort of spoiled child he pouts with his newspaper, and then takes an all-too keen interest in the new maid (did anyone else notice that lingering look he gave after she left the room?).  Mrs. Hughes has been looking out for Ethel and her illegitimate child, who the father wants nothing to do with (is it just me or does this thread fall somewhat flat–I didn’t have enough time with Ethel to become emotionally invested in her).  And Isobel Crawley returns at last, and the look Matthew gives her before breaking down when he sees her was enough to make me bring out the tissues again.

So what next?  Nothing was resolved in this episode, and it looks like several story arcs are getting ready to hit their critical peaks.

What did you think of this week’s episode?

Miss any of the other episodes?  See my episode 1, episode 2, and episode 3 recaps.

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Downton Abbey Season 2, ep. 3 recap

Bates is back, and all is right with the world.

Or at least, downstairs at Downton Abbey.  There’s something about Bates’s presence that makes the other staff feel that they’ve got someone looking out for them (which perturbs O’Brien and Thomas to no end, and refreshes their need to scheme).  Even the Earl of Grantham needs Bates, prompting a surprise visit to the pub where Bates works to ask for forgiveness and for him to come back to help the Earl “through the veil of shadow.”

Bates turns to find a surprise visitor

That shadow, of course, is the news that Matthew (as well as William) has gone missing.  As the news slowly spreads upstairs, it somehow makes the war a little more real, a little “closer to home.”  Sure, there are convalescents all over the place and Sybil is in her nurse’s garb, and yes, Matthew’s been to the front (always returning home without a scratch), but so far the house has seemed one step removed from it all.  The war’s been used as an abstract backdrop for the series, but now the Crawleys (and the viewers) are face to face with its sober realities.

This to me was the best episode of season 2 so far, for that very reason.  The family is putting on a performance for the convalescents, trying to keep things bright and cheery, while internally they are all concerned about Matthew.  Downstairs, everyone keeps on with their work, but William is never far from their minds.  The two missing men reappear during Mary and Edith’s performance, when the family and staff (along with the viewers) are temporarily distracted.   Real joy replaces the fake smiles the inhabitants of Downton Abbey have been wearing, knowing that their men are safe, for now.

Matthew and William return

There are several other mini-plots going on throughout the episode.  Scandal erupts when Mrs. Hughes finds one of the convalescents in bed with Ethel, who is immediately dismissed and later shows up pregnant.  Another potential scandal is brewing between Lady Sybil and Branson the chauffeur.  Sybil’s always been one to shirk tradition, but her rebellious nature revs up in this episode, no doubt stoked by Branson’s prodding.  It’s just a matter of time before she is willing to acknowledge what she already knows.  I can only imagine what the ramifications would be of such a match (and what Lady Violet will have to say about it!).

Sybil contemplating the choice she has to make

Mary decides to accept Richard Carlisle’s proposal (a decision she’ll regret, no doubt), and writes Matthew to let him know (he then promptly goes out on patrol, but takes Mary’s good luck charm, so he’s okay!).

Isobel Crawley, feeling she is no longer wanted at Downton (and rightfully so) leaves for France to work for the wounded and missing inquiry department detachment set up by the Red Cross (can’t say I was sorry to see her go, she’s been a real pain this season).  Her maid and Mr. Mosley decide to set up a soup kitchen of sorts for the wounded veterans of the village, and Mrs. Patmore steps in to help.  O’Brien catches wind of it and promptly informs “her ladyship,” who goes to investigate.  Fortunately Cora does not disapprove and actually pitches in to help.

This episode took place in 1918, so the war will be drawing to a close soon.  Looks like next week Matthew and William will be put in more danger, and Mary’s past comes back to haunt her.

Miss either of the other two episodes?  Read my episode 1 and episode 2 recaps.

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Downton Abbey Season 2, episode 2 recap

Tensions ran high on Downton Abbey this week (but then, when do they not?).  The house is turned upside down as it is prepared as an officers’ convalescence home, leading to all sorts of trouble.

Mrs. Crawley overstepping her bounds.

Mrs. Crawley and Lady Cora butt heads over the running of the household and which rooms should be sectioned off for the convalescents.  We already knew Mrs. Crawley could be assertive, but she seems to forget her place here and the family has to remind her with some force.  O’Brien, who has become Cora’s protector after the bath tub debacle of last season, conspires with Thomas to make sure that Cora is put in charge of the household alongside Mrs. Crawley, much to the latter’s chagrin.  O’Brien also uses her pull over Cora to get Thomas assigned as the household manager, which Carson is none too happy about.

Sybil busies herself with setting up beds in the various grand rooms of the house, with Edith watching on, feeling she has no purpose and is only in the way.  Sybil gives her some kind advice which Edith takes to heart, telling her everyone has a purpose, she just needs to find hers.  Edith does so by making the newly arrived officers feel at home, getting to know them, and helping them write letters to loved ones.  She shows compassion (something I wasn’t sure Edith possessed), and many of the soldiers note this to General Stratt when comes to visit the house, garnering her recognition at the dinner given for the general that evening.  Mary’s face was priceless in this scene, though I’m not sure if it was envy that I saw, or once again that sensation of feeling somewhat out of place, not knowing what her role is exactly now that the war is here.

Sybil bears the brunt of Branson’s anger when the army rejects him due to a heart murmur and he cannot make the public protest he hoped for when he is called up.  Sybil does not understand the source of his anger and tells him as much.  Branson informs her his cousin was gunned down by an English soldier during the Easter Rising in Ireland (which took place in 1916).  Branson later comes up with a new way to make his voice heard, concocting a special “soup” for the general.  Carson, Mrs. Hughes and Anna stop him before he has a chance to spill the disgusting concoction over the top of the general’s head.  With such anger and conviction, this won’t likely be the last of Branson’s attempts to make his views known.

Anna has a glimmer of hope when she believes she sees Bates in the village.  Mary offers to help her find out about him using the services of Sir Richard.  As she explains to Anna, “he works in newspapers, a world of spies, tip offs, and private investigators.  I promise you he can find out whatever he likes.”  I’d say this offers some fairly significant foreshadowing as to what’s going to happen to Mary.  No doubt Sir Richard is going to find out about the Mr. Pamuk scandal and use it against her so that he does not lose her.  We see his power over Lavinia Swire; no doubt he could do the same to Mary.

Sir Richard does indeed find Mr. Bates’s whereabouts, and Anna goes to visit him.  Bates left his wife so the divorce proceedings can take place soon, and is confident he will be able to pay his wife more than any newspaper would for the story she has on Mary.  Why do I get the feeling it isn’t going to be as easy as it sounds?

Granny and Lady Mary have a chat about Matthew.

In the meantime Mary learns another interesting tidbit, this time about Lavinia Swire.  Her aunt learns that Lavinia gave information to Sir Richard which led to the Marconi scandal of 1912, and that the two were lovers.  Lavinia soon confesses the former to Mary, but insists that the two were never romantically attached and she only did it to save her father from financial ruin.  Mary tells her she believes her, and Lavinia informs her that Sir Richard “threatened to tell you all about it, but now I’ve done it anyway.”  I have two theories on this one: either Lavinia hasn’t told Mary the whole story and wanted to beat Richard to the punch so Mary would believe her over him, or this is an example of how Sir Richard uses the vast amount of gossip he can dredge up to control people.  But regardless, Mary does not say anything to Matthew about Lavinia’s secret, though she certainly could have used the story that her aunt had procured.  Again, we see that Mary’s former pettiness has been replaced with actual compassion, even towards a woman she could consider her rival.

Lavinia reveals her secret to Lady Mary.

Downstairs, Daisy’s in over her head, no thanks to Mrs. Patmore, who insists that she must accept William’s proposal before he goes overseas.  She tells Daisy she can go back on it when he returns home, and Daisy accepts against her better judgment.  Mrs. Patmore isn’t the only one who is trying to look out for William.  Lord Grantham asks Matthew if he will take William on as his servant, to which he agrees, but says he cannot guarantee his safety.

This episode also saw Lang’s mental state deteriorate further due to shell-shock.  He wakens the entire servants’ quarters with his screams during a vivid nightmare, and begins to break down when the general and the other officers leave Downton, afraid that they might send him back to the front.  Carson and Mrs. Hughes agree that he is not ready to come back to work, and Lang agrees.

The episode closes with Lord and Lady Grantham, who are still adjusting to the new role their house is playing.  Lord Grantham states one of my favorite lines so far: “The world was in a dream before the war.  But now it’s woken up and said goodbye to it, and so must we.”  He realizes that change is inevitable, and to continue fighting against it will do them nothing but harm.

It looks like the action heats up next week with a scandal involving Ethel, Branson asking Sybil to run away with him, and the news that Matthew is reported as missing after he returns to the front.

Missed the first episode?  Read my recap here.

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