Tag Archives: Matthew Crawley

Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 3 recap

There were an awful lot of new plot lines jammed into this episode (in classic Julian Fellowes style, we flitted from one character’s story to the next, hardly giving us enough time to digest what just happened), and while there were no major shocker moments like last week, it looks like the groundwork has been laid for some escalating conflicts that are sure to come in the remaining episodes.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 3 ahead!

Upstairs revolved around two main stories: Tom and Sybil’s escape from Dublin, and Matthew’s increasing involvement in the running of the estate.  The former was the big drama for the night, the latter looks like it will create quite a bit in future episodes.

Branson

Tom shows up on Downton’s doorstep (on a dark and stormy night, of course), on the run from the law after his involvement in burning down an Anglo-Irish estate.  He and Sybil had a plan in place in which they would leave Ireland separately should something like this happen, but that doesn’t save Tom from getting an earful from the Crawley clan.  I can’t say it was undeserved, leaving a pregnant woman in a very volatile situation to fend for herself.  But, fortunately Sybil arrives safely, much to Tom and the family’s relief.  And Tom’s name is cleared with the authorities thanks to Papa, as long as he doesn’t return to Ireland.  It’s understandable that Tom is crushed by this; after all, Irish independence is his passion and to be kept away is a cruel punishment for him. But Sybil becomes the voice of reason, telling her husband the baby’s safety is what’s important, and so at Downton they will stay.  Side note: I wish we could have heard a bit more about Sybil’s experience in Ireland here, and how she feels about Tom burning down an aristocrat’s home, given that she was raised as one herself.

Tom and Sybil

Matthew

Matthew realizing his father-in-law is not the best business manager.

Elsewhere upstairs, Mary encourages Matthew to take a greater role in the estate, now that he’s invested in it.  She’s probably going to regret her prodding.  Matthew uncovers a lot of waste when looking over the accounts, which is not a big surprise given Lord Robert’s penchant for business management (need we be reminded of episode 1’s Canadian railway disaster?).  Matthew brings up the bookkeeping to Mary, who reluctantly tells him to talk to her father about it.  But Papa quickly brushes him off.  When Downton was so quickly saved thanks to Reggie Swire’s money I wondered where else we could go regarding story lines with the estate.  Now I know.  There’s going to be a showdown between Matthew and Robert, and maybe Matthew and Mary.  Change is certainly not their strong suit.

Mary and Matthew

A few other minor things upstairs: an interesting little scene between Matthew and Mary in the former day nursery.  Matthew apparently is looking to start a family, Mary not so much.  Seriously, can we please have a few scenes in which Mary doesn’t seem like an ice queen towards her husband?  It’s like first season Mary all over again.  What happened to dewy eyed love struck second season Mary?  Bring her back!

Edith

And then we’ve got Edith.  Poor Edith who seems a bit lost since her jilt at the altar.  But this episode gave me some hope that she’ll soon be finding her voice.  Her dear Papa is shocked when the newspaper actually prints an article she wrote about the women’s vote.  And Edith is not just becoming more vocal about suffrage, but also about the way her family perceives her.  I want to see Edith gain a little backbone when it comes to her family and the way they treat her.  And maybe move somewhere where she’ll be more appreciated, where she isn’t the overlooked middle child.  Go Edith!

Carson and the toaster

“What in God’s name is it?”

There was a lot of exciting new plot developments downstairs, and I’m not just talking about Carson waging war against a toaster.  Now that Matthew’s money has saved Downton from financial collapse, new staff members can finally be hired (even if Matthew seems reluctant about it…but Robert easily overlooks this), allowing Daisy to get her at-long-last promotion in the kitchen, and Anna to officially become lady’s maid to Lady Mary.

Daisy

Poor Daisy, can this kid ever catch a break?  She’s got her eye on Alfred, and she even goes to visit her father-in-law for a heart to heart about being interested in someone else.  And wouldn’t you know, every single time she’s about to say something to Alfred, Mrs. Patmore interrupts.  Does this woman have some sort of sixth sense for interfering in Daisy’s love life?  I had hoped we’d be rid of Daisy’s scowl and foul moods once she got promoted, but just as she’s about to tell Alfred how she feels, Mrs. Patmore comes in with Ivy, the new kitchen maid, who immediately catches Alfred’s attention.  So Daisy’s promotion came with a simultaneous jilt in the romance department.  I don’t expect that scowl to disappear anytime soon.

Anna

This week’s edition of the “Anna & Bates saga” was a little more interesting.  All communication was cut off between the two for the majority of the episode, causing some temporary anguish as Bates feels Anna has given up on him, and Anna worries that Bates wants her to move on and forget about him.  But thanks to a helpful fellow prisoner and a set up of Bates’s cellmate, his good favor is restored in the prison, and a backlog of letters finally gets delivered to them both.  It was nice to see at least one happy couple in this episode.Bates Anna with letter

Jimmy Kent

The new addition downstairs that causes the biggest stir is handsome footman Jimmy Kent.  His arrival turns all the maids’ heads, gives Mrs. Hughes pause (did anyone else notice her look him up and down?), and catches the attention of Thomas.  That attention does not go unnoticed by O’Brien, and I could see the cogs of evil working in her head.  I have a feeling she’s figured out what her next move is going to be, and I fear it is going to be exceedingly low.  Because now she not only needs to get back at Thomas, but she has to keep this headstrong new footman from taking away Alfred’s chances for advancement.

O'Brien

O’Brien forming a new scheme

Ethel

Finally, we have Ethel, who is still hanging around.  I actually felt some sympathy for her this week when she made the extremely difficult decision to give up her darling boy Charlie to his paternal grandparents.  I thought that might be the end of her story.  But now it appears that in next week’s episode Cousin Isobel is indeed going to make her her new project, and hire her on as a maid in her house.  Good luck with that, Isobel, we know how well that went last time.

I’ll be interested to see how all of these new developments play out in the remaining episodes.

All right, your turn!  What did you think of episode 3?

Missed an episode?  Read my episode 1 and episode 2 recaps.

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Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 2 recap

Well, that was interesting.  I’ve got some mixed emotions about last night’s episode–some parts were excellent, other parts contrived and eye-roll-able.  Let’s just get right to it, shall we?

Warning: Spoilers for episode 2 ahead!

Preparing for wedding

Upstairs the house is preparing for another wedding, this time for neglected middle child Lady Edith.  But everyone seems more concerned with the inevitable selling of Downton Abbey and the move to what Cora has termed “Downton Place” (which sounds like a great name for a soap opera, which this episode took plot cues from at points).  Matthew is still being badgered by Mary to accept Reggie Swire’s money and save the estate so the family is not forced to move into….a gorgeous country home with accompanying village that they own…?

Downton Place

Certainly it is no Downton Abbey.  And I can understand Mary not wanting to leave the home she grew up in, one that’s been in her family for generations.  But is it really worth putting your newly wed husband in guilt-ridden agony for months on end by constantly harping about the money?

Matthew

Yes, please, let’s talk about Reggie Swire and my guilt over Lavinia’s death. AGAIN.

On the day of the picnic at “Downton Place” Matthew receives a letter from the deceased Reggie Swire, which he refuses to read, much to flabbergasted Mary’s irritation.

Side note: This was my favorite "Mary outfit" this episode.

Side note: This was my favorite “Mary outfit” this episode.

So Mary takes it upon herself to read the letter, much to flabbergasted Matthew’s irritation.  And this is where my eye-rolling commenced–Reggie Swire’s letter reveals that Lavinia, on her deathbed (though I suppose she didn’t know it at the time) wrote her father a letter about calling off the wedding and Matthew’s chivalrous “I’m going to marry you anyway” attitude.  But wait, no one saw Lavinia write such a letter, or saw it leave the house (and for that matter–where did Lavinia get the paper and pen to write it if she was lying in bed the whole time?).  So Matthew accuses his wife of forgery–which to be honest, I wouldn’t put past Mary at this point in her desperation to stay at Downton.  He takes back his accusation, but doesn’t believe the letter’s legitimate.  But if it is real, it relieves Matthew of all guilt, regret, etc. in one tidy little note.  Why, what a handy, convenient little plot device!  First thing next morning Mary goes downstairs, her hair undone in her haste, to learn that Daisy was the one who posted the letter.  And in one fell swoop guilt is swept away and Downton Abbey is saved!  Good thing Daisy’s own moral dilemma over marrying William didn’t cause her to forget to post the letter.

Daisy saves the day.

Daisy saves the day.

So now that’s settled, it’s time for Edith’s wedding.  At least Matthew is kind enough to ask Mary to wait until after the wedding to inform dear Papa that he doesn’t have to move, so as not to steal Edith’s thunder.  Because you know Mary would have.

Edith's wedding gown

Despite countless efforts to convince her otherwise, Edith is prepared to walk down the aisle and give her life to taking care of an older man with a lame arm.  And boy does that get hammered home about a thousand times in this episode.  It’s featured in every discussion between Lady Violet and Lord Robert, and every conversation between Sir Anthony and Edith.  So I guess we should have been prepared for what would happen next.

Edith & Sir Anthony

Poor Edith!  Her very happy day, the one that was supposed to be all about her, turns into a train wreck as soon as she arrives at the altar and Sir Anthony stops the proceedings by announcing he cannot marry her.  In front of everyone.  And to make matters worse, Edith drags the scene out by begging him not to leave her.  Granny has to step in and tell her to let him go, which he promptly does.  I know Sir Anthony did it because he loves Edith and did not want her to end up spending her life with a man she’d have to take care of, but he really picked a bad time to finally make his mind up about it.

Edith

But, I will say that while I wanted Edith to win the day and get her man despite what everyone else said, this gives us a chance to see a potentially more fleshed out character.  Laura Carmichael’s performance as the jilted bride was fantastic.  And now, instead of having all three Crawley sisters settled down into married life, we have one whose character arc could go in any number of directions.  So here’s hoping Edith picks herself up and finds a less traditional path for her life.

Matthew delivers the good news to Robert.

Matthew delivers the good news to Robert.

And just in case we weren’t positive that Edith doesn’t matter that much, we’ve got a scene where Lord Robert quickly dismisses Edith’s broken heart with a “she’ll get over it” and then is overjoyed to learn his son-in-law, thanks to his newly unburdened conscience, has saved the day, and in his thanks makes him a partner in the estate.

Mrs. Hughes smiling at Mr. Carson's serenade to the silver.

Mrs. Hughes smiling at Mr. Carson’s serenade to the silver.

The downstairs stories felt a bit weak to me this episode compared to the altar jilting happening upstairs.  We continued to bite our nails over the diagnosis of Mrs. Hughes.  Lady Cora (who finds out from Carson, who finds out from Mrs. Patmore, who apparently can’t keep a secret for a gold clock) tells Mrs. Hughes she knows about her health, and wants her to know she’ll always have a home at Downton.  A very touching moment, and it seemed to make Mrs. Hughes feel a bit closer to the family, as illustrated when she allows Alfred to talk badly about Sir Anthony for leaving Lady Edith at the altar.  In the end, it looks like the scare was for nothing, as the results indicate a benign tumor.  As Mrs. Patmore tells Carson everything is okay, I kept waiting for Mrs. Hughes’s relieved face to droop as if she were putting on a brave face and not telling the truth about her diagnosis.  But it never happened, so perhaps the health scare was just another minor plot point to pull us along for a few episodes before wrapping up neatly.

Cora & O'Brien

Cora under the misimpression that O’Brien will be leaving her.

Elsewhere we’ve got O’Brien and Thomas playing a slow, vindictive game of tennis.  Last week Thomas made trouble for Alfred (and therefore O’Brien), and then O’Brien retaliated by taking Lord Robert’s shirts.  In this episode Thomas starts a rumor that O’Brien is leaving, catching poor Molesley in the middle.  And now the ball is in O’Brien’s court–so what’s she going to serve Thomas with next week?

Bates finding the contraband his cell mate planted.

Bates finding the contraband his cell mate planted.

And then we’ve got the ongoing Anna & Bates saga.  Bates’s cell mate is out to get him for unexplained reasons, but Bates receives a tip off from someone on his side, which allows him to hide some contraband the cell mate has planted before the jail wardens raid the room.  Anna continues to devote every spare moment to freeing her husband, this time interviewing a friend of Vera’s who lived nearby.  If you’re playing “collect the clues,” we know that Vera ate an arsenic-laced pie.  The neighbor indicated that Vera made the pie the afternoon before she was found dead, and when she came to visit her she noticed that Vera was scrubbing under her fingernails like mad–my guess would be to make sure there were no traces of arsenic that would lead anyone to suspect she had put it in the pie.

Ethel and Isobel
Ethel appears again in this episode to say the same line over and over: “I shouldn’t have come.”  I couldn’t agree more.  I was done with Ethel last season, so why do we have to keep picking at this thread?  Yes, I get that we’re trying to show the gritty, not so pretty side of life after the war, and Ethel represents that.  But I’ve just never cared much about Ethel for some reason.  However, Cousin Isobel seems dead set on helping her, and my guess is she’s going to wriggle her way into Ethel’s life whether she wants it or not.

Daisy, besides informing Lady Mary that she posted the letter for Miss Swire, didn’t have much of a role this week, except to ask Anna if perhaps she should speak her mind more like the American girls.  She also seems to have her eye on Alfred.  I’d like to see an outspoken Daisy, maybe it’ll spice things up downstairs a little bit.  Because, for me at least, this back and forth between O’Brien and Thomas just isn’t cutting it.

Sybil and Edith

Just a few final thoughts–give me more Sybil and Tom!  They were barely in this episode, but I loved Sybil’s saucy little comment to Edith about not sleeping on her wedding night.  And Tom was in black tie!  But I thought he’d never buy such frivolous clothes–what made him change his mind?  And why wasn’t he more outspoken about the family having to potentially downsize to a house that has its own village attached to it?  Maybe he’s trying to play nice for his wife’s sake?  It looks like next week’s episode is going to feature the couple more prominently (and Tom leaves his pregnant wife behind in Dublin because he’s on the run?  What on earth will Granny have to say about that?).

I hope now that the ghost of Lavinia has been laid to rest we can see more cheerful moments between Matthew and Mary.  Yes, I know they’re going to bicker and squabble, but they’re newlyweds.  Surely the honeymoon period hasn’t ended already.  Give us some more light-hearted “proposal in the snow” type moments!

And even though the day ended in heartbreak, Lady Edith’s dress was stunning and in my opinion trumped Lady Mary’s.  I think the very simple gown Lady Mary wore fit her pragmatic personality, but Lady Edith’s dress with the detail work on it was just gorgeous.  So even though she didn’t actually get a husband on her wedding day, maybe Edith can take solace in knowing that her dress was prettier than Mary’s?  Maybe?

Finally, I know that Downton Abbey has soap opera tendencies (like last season’s misdiagnosis that allowed for Matthew’s miraculous spinal recovery), but I really hope we don’t have too many more all-too-convenient plot devices that allow for difficult situations to be easily fixed.  That letter from Reggie Swire still bugs me.

All right everyone, now it’s your turn!  What were your thought’s about episode 2?

Miss the premiere of season 3?  Read my recap.

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Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 1 recap

Well, it’s been a long year of anticipation, Downtonites, but boy did it pay off!  The premiere of the third season of Downton Abbey was well worth the wait.  If the first episode is any indication of the focus of this season, we’re in for a more “estate-centered” story that puts priority on the people living and working at Downton Abbey, as well as on the house itself, something I felt we got away from in season 2.  Not that I disliked the second season, it just felt all over the place at times and I’m glad to see we’re getting back to a central focus.  Now, onto the episode recap.

Warning: Episode 1 spoilers ahead!

Last night’s episode had Fellowes’s fast-paced story-telling style going at full speed, with plots piling up one after another.  There was a lot going on, so I am going to hit the highlights.

Upstairs it was all about wedding bells and money woes.  Finally (finally!) Matthew and Lady Mary are about to tie the knot, and it is so nice to see the two of them as a couple, swapping flirtations.  And Mary smiling!  Such a nice change from last season.  Of course, their impending nuptials are overshadowed by the fact that Lord Grantham, who apparently does not understand what “diversify” means, has lost the “lion’s share” of Lady Cora’s fortune in a really bad business deal.  I like how Lady Cora points out that what he did was stupid, but stands by her man.  Further proof that the woman is a saint.

Robert & Cora

The money troubles put a damper on the wedding, especially when Mary wants Matthew to use the potential money he’s inherited from Lavinia’s father to save Downton.  But Matthew, being the morally upright man that he is, just can’t bring himself to use money that reminds him of his betrayal to Lavinia.  Thus we have THE argument that leads to Mary storming off and possibly calling off the wedding.  Good thing Anna is there to remind Mary that good men aren’t like buses (“there won’t be another one along in ten minutes’ time”), and Branson, er, Tom, points out to Matthew that he’ll never be happy with anyone else.  So they kiss and make up.  I like how the two (well, mostly Matthew) realize that there are going to be some bumps in the road in their marriage, but they are just going to have to work through them because they love each other and want to be together.  We already knew it wouldn’t be smooth sailing for them, but at least the characters acknowledge it as well.

After making all that fuss about it being bad luck to see each other, why did traditionalist Mary open her eyes?

After making all that fuss about it being bad luck to see each other the night before the wedding, why did traditionalist Mary open her eyes?

One of my favorite portions of the upstairs drama was the interaction between the rest of the family with Sybil and Tom.  The two have obviously been living “a very different sort of life” and they both feel a bit out of place at the dinner table (of course, the constant questioning isn’t exactly helpful).  The scene in which Tom basically gets “roofied” by Sybil’s old suitor and Matthew steps up and asks him to become his best man was one of the best of the night.  The future earl is welcoming him into the family (after all, they’ve got to take on the “Crawley girls” together), setting the example for the others to follow. (Side note: I wonder if Mary would be quite as willing to welcome Tom into the family if he had married Edith instead of Sybil?  I didn’t think s0.)

Tom & Matthew

Matthew saves the day

Of course, we also have the introduction of Martha Levinson, Lady Cora’s mother, who travels from the States for the wedding.  She was a breath of fresh air, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by her presence.  It was a bit predictable, and so much hype surrounded Shirley MacLaine’s performance that my expectations were pretty high.  Still, the scene where she serenades Lady Violet was pretty classic.

The wedding goes off without a hitch.  Well, I assume it did, given we didn’t see the actual ceremony (which I was okay with–it was enough to have that little exchange between Matthew and Mary at the front of the church), and we cut straight to Mary and Matthew returning from the honeymoon (which again, we didn’t get to see–I would have liked a “first night together” scene, just because I’d like to know if Mary was afraid for her new husband’s life, given what happened the last time she took a man to bed–or if perhaps Matthew teased her about it.  But something tells me the Pamuk scandal is a sensitive subject).

Mary & Matthew in bed

Oh good. I’m glad to see you’re still alive.

In other upstairs news, we’ve got Edith flinging herself at Sir Anthony Strallan again.  I want Edith to be happy and I’m all for her take charge attitude, but she just comes off as a little bit desperate to me.  Does she really love Sir Anthony, or is he her “only hope” in her mind, given that so many British men were killed during the war?  By the end of the episode, despite her father and grandmother’s attempted intervention, it seems that Edith has secured her man.

Edith & Sir Anthony

While all the family drama and money issues are taking place upstairs, we’ve got health scares, workwoman’s strikes, and a new footman downstairs.  O’Brien manages to get her nephew Alfred Nugent a position as footman, and soon sets her sights on getting him promoted to Matthew’s valet.  For once I actually felt sorry Thomas, who worked for years to earn such a promotion.  I don’t blame him for disliking Alfred.  He’s not only being groomed for a position Thomas doesn’t feel he’s qualified for (rightfully so), but he’s put a wedge between Thomas and O’Brien, his only “friend” downstairs.  So naturally, Thomas and O’Brien turn on each other, and something tells me it’s going to get a bit nastier than coat-tail torching and shirt-stealing.  Each knows the other’s weaknesses and they’re going to use them to their advantage.

Thomas isn't about to help O'Brien's nephew learn the ropes.

Thomas isn’t about to help O’Brien’s nephew learn the ropes.

Elsewhere we’ve got Daisy, who STILL, three seasons later (that’s 8 years in Downton time) hasn’t learned to ignore Thomas.  She goes on strike, much to Mrs. Patmore’s amusement, and Mrs. Patmore, treating Daisy like the child she is being, ignores her until she finally comes around.  Most pointless and ineffective strike ever.

Daisy's protest of 1920.

Daisy’s protest

One of the more intriguing plot-lines was Mrs. Hughes’s cancer scare.  Given her status downstairs, the only person she has to turn to is Mrs. Patmore, whose bedside manner leaves something to be desired (but also led to some of the funnier downstairs scenes of the night).  How frightening it must be for a woman in a position such as Mrs. Hughes, who has no family to turn to in the event her health does decline.  How long can she stay on as Downton Abbey’s housekeeper?  And how long until she lets poor Mr. Carson know?

Mrs. Patmore & Mrs. Hughes

“If you must pay money, better to a doctor than an undertaker.”

Finally we have Anna and Bates.  Their storyline feels so out of place to me this season.  Everything else is revolving around the house, and here we have Bates stuck in prison, with his wife playing detective and trying to find the piece of evidence that will finally set him free.  I’m still interested, yes, but it does feel a bit out in left field to me.  Good to know that Anna bought a garter while in France, though.

Bates contemplating Anna's wardrobe addition.

Bates contemplating Anna’s wardrobe addition.

So, looks like we’ve got quite a few questions raised in the first episode to keep us tuning in.  Will the Crawleys be downsizing from Downton?  How tumultuous will Mary and Matthew’s marriage be?  What will Matthew do with his unwanted inheritance?  Will Edith and Sir Anthony marry?  When do we get to see more of Sybil and Tom (they left so soon!)?  Will Anna ever exonerate Mr. Bates?  How out of control will O’Brien and Thomas’s one-up-manship become?  What will happen to Mrs. Hughes?  So many questions, so much more Downton  to come that will hopefully answer them!

What did you think of last night’s episode?  And for those of you who have seen spoilers, please don’t mention them here!

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First ten minutes of Downton!

Mary and Matthew discuss their future home.

Mary and Matthew discuss their future home.

So PBS & Masterpiece gave a wonderful late Christmas present yesterday by presenting the first ten minutes of Downton Abbey season 3.  It had some trouble loading for a lot of people, but I’ve had better luck getting it off the PBS Facebook page than Masterpiece’s.  Here’s the link: Downton Abbey Season 3 Sneak Peek

Warning: spoilers ahead if you don’t want to watch the first ten minutes and be completely surprised when the season premieres Jan. 6.

Anna gives Bates a list of names she found while cleaning out his and Vera's apartment.

Anna gives Bates a list of names she found while cleaning out his and Vera’s apartment.

The first ten minutes are chock full of drama both upstairs and down, and if it’s any indication as to how season 3 is going to go, it seems very promising.  The focus appears to return to the house and the people who live in it and the people who help run it.  We’ve got a debate about lending Lady Sybil and Branson money to attend Lady Mary’s wedding, something Lord Robert staunchly protests (unlike other family members, he feels town gossip will be less if they stay away).  We’ve got Lady Mary and Matthew debating where to live after the honeymoon (with talk of taking Mary to bed, oh my! Scandalous).  We’ve got Lord Robert losing Lady Cora’s fortune in a very bad deal with a Canadian railway (apparently he was never taught to diversify his portfolio), thus threatening the entire future of the estate.  We’ve got O’Brien bypassing Carson and using her influence over her ladyship to bring on her nephew as a new footman.  And we’ve got Anna discovering some new evidence that might help clear her husband’s good name.  All in the first ten minutes!  A fantastic set up to the conflicts that will play out in the third season.

Carson, upset O'Brien bypassed him to get her nephew hired as footman, declares Alfred is too tall for the position.

Carson, upset O’Brien bypassed him to get her nephew hired as footman, declares Alfred is too tall for the position.

Has anyone else watched the preview?  What do you think?  Are we in for a great season of Downton?

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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, finale recap

Season 2 of Downton Abbey drew to a close as the household ushered in a new decade with hunting, dancing and a Ouija board.  Wait, what?  Yes, the parlor game panchettes (or in the US, “Ouija board”) was popular by the 1920’s, but made for an odd plot device in this otherwise excellent finale.

Warning: spoilers ahead

Where to begin?  Episode 6 left us in the spring of 1919, so approximately eight months or so have passed in “Downton time.”  Lady Sybil is married to Branson and living in Ireland, and gasp! is already pregnant, and it sounds like Robert is going to cave to Cora’s demand that she not be kept from her grandchild, so we’ll likely see Sybil again next season (I really missed her during the Christmas episode).  Lady Mary is becoming increasingly agitated by Sir Richard and his constant “when can we set a date, already?” question.  Mr. Bates is on trial for his life, casting a gloomy shadow over Anna’s world.  Thomas and O’Brien are up to their scheming once again.  And Aunt Rosamund comes to visit, bringing her lady’s maid with her and another Ethel-like sub-plot that seemed almost entirely unnecessary (other than to highlight how many of the British aristocracy had serious financial troubles after the war–but wasn’t that point already hammered home when Richard and Mary were searching for an estate?).

Bates listening to Mrs. Hughes's testimony

Let’s start with the dominating plots of the show.  First, Mr. Bates’s trial.  For a man who uses his words sparingly, Bates certainly managed to utter some choice phrases that did not come off well in the courtroom when O’Brien, Mrs. Hughes, and Lord Grantham were forced to repeat them.  Anna’s strangled scream after the guilty verdict is pronounced was heartbreaking, as was Bates’s haggard face as he’s dragged off to meet his maker.   But news later comes that is in Mr. Bates’s favor–some of the details call into question the case for a premeditated murder, reducing his sentence to life imprisonment rather than hanging.  Now there is a chance of proving his innocence–which means this plot will be spilling over into the third season.  Makes me wonder if perhaps Sir Richard may have to testify, as he heard Mrs. Bates make a very clear threat against her husband after she learned she had been paid off for the Pamuk story.

Anna and Mr. Bates discuss the future.

The other main plot had a (thankfully) much happier ending.  The Matthew & Mary “will they/won’t they?” dance seems to have come to an end.  At least, I hope so.  I won’t feel at ease until I see those two at the altar, exchanging vows and pronounced husband and wife.  Matthew and Mary are miserable for most of the episode, Matthew due to his insistence on honoring Lavinia’s memory (even though that’s not how she wanted it honored), and Mary dealing with her abrasive, controlling fiancee.  The only time the two do seem happy (shockingly enough), is when they are together.

A rare smile from Lady Mary

Finally, finally, they begin to listen to outside advice.  After learning of the Pamuk scandal, Lord Robert tells his daughter to break with Carlisle, as a month’s worth of scandal is not worth a lifetime of unhappiness.  Mary then receives similar advice from Matthew (I bet that was an awkward confession–too bad they cut away and only came back to show Matthew’s reaction).  Now that Mary’s decided to give Sir Richard the boot (good riddance–though I’m sure we’ll see him again next season), the only thing standing in the way is Matthew, who is still unconvinced that the Spanish flu killed Lavinia rather than the kiss he shared with Mary.  Cousin Isobel at last makes herself truly useful by telling her son that no one his age should be unhappy, and if he believes there is a way to change that, and doesn’t do it, well, the war has simply taught him nothing.

Matthew receiving some motherly advice

Lord Robert seems to give Matthew the final push by telling him he did nothing dishonorable and was a man of his word as he had every intention of marrying Lavinia.  Robert adds that Matthew should not blame himself for feelings he cannot control (I suppose he speaks from experience after the “Jane affair”).  Lavinia makes a final appearance from beyond the grave, sending her blessing through the Ouija board, to Anna and Daisy’s surprise (does this mean Lavinia’s spirit now haunts the halls of Downton?)

"May they be happy. With my love."

So, after waiting for two agonizing seasons, we finally get the fairytale scene we’ve been waiting for: Matthew down on one knee, asking Mary to be his wife, who very happily accepts.  A perfect ending to the second season (now please, Julian Fellowes, please let them get married and have lots of babies and live happily ever after…please?)

There were several other great sub-plots featured in this episode.  Lady Edith goes after her love interest from the first series, Sir Anthony Strallen.  It was awfully nice of Lady Violet to set up a reunion between the two (which she then quickly discouraged after realizing his arm was lame–really Granny?  Almost all of the eligible bachelors are dead from the war or maimed in some way or another.  Let Edith have her happiness where she can find it).

Edith pays a call on Sir Anthony

Thanks to the Ouija board’s urging, Daisy pays a long overdue call to her father-in-law on the farm.  In a poignant scene Daisy finally wraps her mind around the fact that William thought she was special, and that he wanted his father to have someone to call family after he passed away.  And now Daisy has a rational guiding voice to listen to, which prompts her to ask for a promotion in the kitchen.

"I've never been special to anyone."

It was nice to see some of the old-school plotting and scheming by Thomas this episode.  But stealing a man’s dog?  That’s just wrong.  And then to be rewarded for it with a trial run as his valet?  What sort of lesson is that to teach?  At least we see Thomas showing some concern for the dog’s absence when he finds her missing from the shed he locked her in.  Still, you know a scheme is particularly underhanded when it garners O’Brien’s disapproval (even though it hatched from her own advice).

Searching for Isis

So that’s a wrap for season 2!  I really found this to be one of the best episodes of the season, with more focus on the principal characters.  I also liked the “lighter” parts thrown in, such as “the game” (aka charades) and the servants dancing with the family members (Mrs. Patmore’s face was priceless while dancing with Matthew).  What did you think?  Did the finale live up to all the Downton hype?  Any predictions for next season?

A gratuitous photo of the happy couple, just because you know you want to see them again.

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Downton Abbey Season 2, ep. 6 recap

This episode opens in 1919, as Edith watches the last medical vehicle leave the property of Downton, signalling that the home can finally return to normal.  Downton Abbey’s definition of “normal,” that is: this two-hour episode was packed with drama, culminating in a wedding and a funeral.

Warning: Spoilers ahead

Now that the war is over, the inhabitants of Downton are ready to move on, or rather, move back to the way things used to be (much to Lady Sybil’s dismay).  As Cora goes about looking for new work to put her energy into, her husband continues to mope about, feeling his life no longer has purpose.  He apparently finds that purpose in one of THE oddest hookups in Downton Abbey history with the housemaid Jane.  Honestly, I know the man’s lost, but this seems so far out of character for Robert that I just couldn’t buy into it.  And his wife is in the other room battling for her life no less!  Who is this man and what has he done with the Earl of Grantham, caring husband/father/lord of the estate?  Fortunately, Jane decides it best for both of them if she turns in her notice, but not without giving Robert a goodbye kiss to remember her by first (in the library, really?).

Of course, that’s not the only social-barrier-crossing romance that reaches its conclusion in this episode.  After much deliberation (and a great deal of patience on Branson’s part), Lady Sybil finally decides that she cannot go back to her life before the war.  We see her sitting in the grand drawing room, staring off into space while others chat around her.  The wheels in her mind are turning, and she goes to Branson, telling him she’s made her decision, and he’s her ticket out of her old life.  Her statement left me feeling that Sybil is using Branson just as much as Branson seemed to be using Sybil in previous episodes.  But I had to respect the resolve of the couple, which never wavered despite a botched elopement and retrieval by Edith and Mary, and a large amount of blustering by Papa (who apparently is okay with double standards).  So maybe there’s love there, after all.

But of course the big news of the episode (besides the fact that Dr. Clarkson made a mistake in his diagnosis of Matthew’s spinal injury) is the development in the driving “will they/won’t they” plot between Matthew and Mary.  The dance scene between the two of them (the one that Lavinia unfortunately witnesses) is one fans have no doubt been waiting for all season.  Thanks to Granny’s advice, Matthew has been left to mull over the unsettling thought that he is marrying the wrong woman, but out of obligation and duty he feels he must marry Lavinia, who sacrificed everything to be with him.  Even though he doesn’t really want to.

And what of poor Lavinia?  It is somewhat disheartening to see your fiancee embracing his former fiancee just days before your own wedding.  She takes to bed with a case of the Spanish flu (of which Cora and Carson are also afflicted), and has a heart-to-heart with Matthew, and even she has to admit that Matthew and Mary are a better match than the two of them. She takes a sudden turn for the worse, and lives up to her predictions from previous episodes that she will not be able to live without Matthew.  On her deathbed she informs him that it is better this way, and she wants him to be happy.  I’m sure her intentions were good, but her words left Matthew wandering around the estate, wracked with guilt.

Matthew and Lord Robert discuss funeral arrangements

After the funeral Matthew informs Mary he feels certain that Lavinia died of a broken heart (while I yelled at the TV “NO!  It was the Spanish flu!”).  Because of her parting words he knows he and Mary can never be happy together.  A devastated Mary leaves the graveside on the arm of skeeze ball Sir Richard (you know, the one who tried to bribe Anna to spy on Mary for him).

"We are cursed, you and I."

Amidst all this, Bates and Anna’s relationship is taken to the next level when evidence surfaces of Bates’s possible involvement in his wife’s death.  Anna refuses to let him go through it alone, and basically orders him to go ahead and marry her, which he does.

The two get one night of happiness together before he’s carted off to prison on the charge of willful murder.  I’m still of the opinion that Mrs. Bates’s demise was self-inflicted, and she set up the letter and other evidence in order to frame her husband, but I suppose the upcoming trial will shed some light on what really happened.  Poor Bates and Anna, will these two kids ever catch a break?

Bates being handcuffed, with a helpless Anna watching on

Hard to believe it, but next week wraps up season 2 with Christmas at Downton.

Interested in learning more about the Spanish influenza pandemic of 1918-19 featured prominently in this episode?  You can read my post about it here.

Miss any of the other episodes?  Read my recaps here:

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

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