Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Upstairs/Downstairs 2010 Review

Upstairs/Downstairs, I thought I was going to have to settle for a tepid like, when you started doing awesome things with history and politics ( LOL at Oswald Mosley's Hitleresque parades) and the characters suddenly became REAL. You made me scream, cry, laugh all in the dizzying space of five minutes. And that mention of MI5? Gold. Of course there were some operatic moments that had me rolling my eyes, but I admit that I was weeping like a baby towards the end. I hate you BBC, just when I'd climbed safely out of the quicksand of my Downton Abbey addiction, gasping but breathing, you plunged me back in.
USDS is far more racier than Downton Abbey (tsk, tsk), but apart from some uncomfortable similarities, they both have their own merits and demerits. All I say is, all the MOAR for me!

What with Downton ending just as war is declared and USDS ending at pretty much the same period ( Edward's abdication), I'm rubbing my hands in anticipation for the imminent fireworks. I'm very much interested in seeing how each series deals with WWII, and with different writers at the helm, I'm expecting great things.

To be honest, I was ready to swear undying allegiance to Downton, when Episode 2 of USDS burst in on me, and I began to awaken from my lethargy. The first episode was practically a snorefest, but when they got down to the political and historical aspects, things began to get addicting- er- I meant interesting. While Downton had its theme and tone all figured out from the get-go, I felt that USDS didn't: it had a little trouble segueing from the cozy circle of domesticity to the savagery of the outside world. The episodes gradually improved however, as if the show was finally finding its legs. I don't know if I love the Holland family with the same devotion as the Granthams, but they are growing on me. I adore Hallam, even though I feel he's a little weak, worry constantly over excitable Lady Persie, and am ready to hire Pritchard as my own butler if only he were real and I had oodles of greenbacks.

That doesn't mean that both USDS and Downton Abbey are perfect because they're not. They're riddled with improbable happenings, sometimes meandering plots, and rumours of historical inaccuracies have dogged both shows ( no one's going to forget the damning televsion aerials in Downton in a hurry).

But they are still period dramas, and high quality period dramas, I might add. In an age where reality garbage is sadly reigning supreme, it's nice to know that there is something I can still watch, some shows that have real stories and real characters with real comedy.

And what the HECK, BBC, three episodes? Three episodes? Stop being such a stick-in-the-mud and give us MOAR!!

Ahem. I shall be calm; I shall be composed.

VIVA period dramas!!!!!!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Witnessing is Natural: Tips on Reaching Out

No, really it is. And if you're a Christian, it's essential. I know this is an uncomfortable topic. Most people do not want to witness about God's love and grace to others. Do ask me, I know why. Heck I'm one of those people. Though my family is Christian, I accepted Jesus into my life only four years ago. Frankly it's the best decision I have ever made and will ever make. I don't care if the world and everything around me dissolves into a lake of molten lava, as long as my hand is safely locked in my Saviour's;I have not a care in the world.

So why did I ( and sometimes still do) find it hard to open up about my faith. The truth is sadly simple.

I was afraid of what others would think.

Awful, isn't it? Thankfully God is teaching me how to get over myself and get more into Him. And the truth is, the more time I spend basking in the glow of His presence, the more I want to grab the first person I see and squeal about how awesome God is.

The fact is, the more  your relationship with God develops, the more He becomes a part of your life, a part so vital that you cannot contemplate life without it any less than you can contemplate breathing without air.

So here are a few tips that I've learned so far regarding the discomforting, downright dangerous, wonderful profession of witnessing.

1. Be natural. And by be natural, I mean let whoever you're with know you're a Christian as soon as possible. And by ASAP I don't mean immediately, like " Hello! My name is X and I'm a Christian!" That will probably scare anyone all the way to the Himalayas.  If you are tightly linked with God though, the fact of your relationship to Him will be made known soon. Either you talk of your weekly Bible study or you mention how God hates it when children are mistreated while discussing the slave trade today ( yes, it DOES still exist sadly), and people will be able to put two and two together.

2. DON'T judge. I find this very, very hard to do. It's very natural and right to experience horror and anger at the horrendous crimes committed these days, but try not to be too judgmental over the behaviour of others. I personally made a vow to stay a virgin till marriage, but I know for a fact that many of my peers don't make such vows anymore. In fact such vows are now seen as either quaint or ridiculous or so nineteenth-century. I attend a state university so I know. However, I try not to judge those of my non-believing friends who do not think with me on this. I know that they are not operating on the same viewpoint that I am, so I have no right to judge them. Besides, remember what Jesus said about the plank in our own eyes.

3. Ask questions. Jesus does this a lot. In fact, he asks more questions than he gives answers. Too often we jump in with pages long sermons ( guilty as charged!), and too often we pay very little attention to what our friends think. Asking good questions like what they think of fair trade, or what would they do if they switched places with a person living in the slums of Bombay is a good way to get their brains working over moral and spiritual issues. Don't be afraid to discuss spirituality. I recently had a great discussion with a Chinese guy over Taoism, where he explained how it worked ( I had only a dim perception of it before), and how many Chinese people believed in nature if they believed in anything at all. During the course of the discussion, I asked him how Taoism is able to explain morality, and got him to think about issues of right and wrong. Not only was I able to understand the workings of Taoism because I listened to his discussion, but by asking him questions, I was able to get him to think about morality, which was a grey area in Taoism.

4. Act. Merely talking isn't going to impress anyone. Let's do what we're supposed to do as Christians: feed the poor, clothe the needy, visit the sick.  I am making it a New Year's Resolution to be  as much of a servant as I can, and to help out wherever God needs me. Living out what Jesus commands is a powerful way of witnessing in itself, and even more effective than words.

5. Love. Even if our friends seem completely unresponsive, we are to love them just as Christ loves them. We are no better than them. In fact, in learning to love my friends, I learn much more of what love is and how wonderful and delightful it is. And remember, God is love ;)

6. PRAY. I cannot stress how important this is. Prayer is a way of communicating with God, and it is only through prayer that we can listen to Him, grow in Him, and lay our burdens on Him. Some of my sweetest hours with God have been hours I've spent in prayer.

These short guidelines can be summed up in one Golden Rule: Do as Jesus Did. That's all. It's so beautifully simple, but so hard to practise in reality. But let's never give up. Remember: Perseverance produces character, and character, hope. And without hope,we have nothing.

In the final analysis it's not whether we succeed or whether we fail; it's whether we strive daily to uplift God and to glorify His splendid Name.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Voyage of the Dawn Treader: A Rambing And Sadly Incoherent Movie Review

I am facing a problem of epic proportions. That's a tad exaggerated I know, but considering I'm fresh from watching The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader, expect my language to be all high-flown and airy and transcendent.

I kid, I kid.

Well, I only half- kid. In all seriousness though, how do I describe my sensations, explore my emotions and extricate my exclamations without... letting spoilers loose?

I shall have to clench my teeth, pray, and dive right in.

Technically, it's the other way around for Edmund and Lucy Pevensie and Eustace Clarence Scrubb, who almost deserves to be called that. Edmund and Lucy are stuck with their rotter of a cousin Eustace in boring old England during a war while Peter and Susan are jazzing in adventurous America. Oh, did I mention Eustace was a rotter? He is a rotter, and such a lovely rotter that he nearly split my sides. Eustace is one of my favourite characters in the book, and I am so thrilled and relieved that they cast Will Poulter to play him, because Will does an even more fantastic job than I’d hoped he’d do, and I’d hoped a lot ( have you seen The Son of Rambow trailer??). So in case any fan of the book is fluttering about in apprehension, rest easy, the wonderfully comic character of Eustace is in just as wonderful hands.

So where were we? Ah, yes. A horrified Eustace finds himself on a strange and beautiful ship in a strange and beautiful land his fairy-tale believing cousins refer to as Narnia, and wants nothing more than to get out of here. How dare they abduct him? HIM? Wait till he gets to tell his mother!

As an ardent admirer of the Narnia series, I was worried about how the dread producers would transfer Voyage of the Dawn Treader to the big screen. When reviewing the book earlier, I'd noted its similarities to Pilgrim’s Progress, and how in each of the episodic adventures sprinkled throughout the book, each of the characters are tested, learn and grow. Dawn Treader has always struck me as the most pastoral of the Narnia series, and while the gentle pace was perfectly fine in the book, it would not suit the format of a Hollywood blockbuster where there MUST be danger or else all is lost. So yes, dear ones, they did change the plot, but weep not, they preserve many of the central themes and spiritual imagery present in the book. In fact, compared with the dubious conundrum that was Prince Caspian, this film had much more of the actual book in it in spite of the myriad changes.

What I especially liked and related to was how each character had personal temptations that had lain simmering in their minds; and when these temptations were unleashed in their spectacular glory, how each of the characters had to struggle in near blood and tears to free themselves from them.  The popular jingle nowadays is to give in to your temptations because it’s much easier that way or some other such inane justification, but I don’t bother bothering with such ideology. As a follower of Christ I’d rather walk the hard, narrow, and terribly thorny way than squander my fading days in Vanity Fair, sickening myself on cotton-candied air and painting myself with tinsel sheen. And yes, those thorns pricked me hard as I sat in the movie theatre and I uncomfortably recalled all the temptations I was undergoing. Was I even trying to resist them? You know a movie’s good when it acts as a mirror resolutely standing in front of you and showing you those internal flaws.

Oh hello, what am I doing? This is supposed to be a movie review. Should I not be making seasoned comments about the acting, directing, writing, appreciating the costumes, evaluating the special effects, critiquing the soundtrack? I mean, that’s what I normally do.

But those last ten minutes of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader banished criticism from my brain. Those last ten minutes sent tears to my eyes and down my cheeks. I wanted to brand myself to the chair and rewind those last ten minutes so I could watch them again. And again. And again.

I told my friend that I didn’t care how much they messed up if they got Aslan right. And they did and I cried; tears of happiness and relief and longing. And I promised I wouldn’t spoil the end and I won’t (although it hurts). All I can say is that the ending cements an already deep-rooted truth: human beings will always be searching for something and Someone beyond them. We were created to love and to be loved, to share a relationship boundless and thrilling, a relationship of amaranthine enchantment and ever-soaring joy. We reach for that place of infinite beauty, of everlasting peace, every fibre of our being yearns for it.

To me, Heaven is encapsulated in two things. The first is that there will be absolutely no sorrow, no pain. What bliss, how sweetly musical those words ring in my ear! And not only the girl who has led such a charmed life such as myself yet has experienced sorrow and piercing griefs, but for the silent and the enslaved, for the quietly faithful and the toiling servants, how those words hold soul-strengthening hope!
In one of his books novelist Ted Dekker wrote of heaven echoing with the sound of children’s laughter. I love that, for that represents the lack of sorrow and pain: a child's carefree, jubilant laugh. I also believe that the music of heaven will sound so beautiful that the music in this world will seem like nothing but discordant noise, and that as we hear those violet paeans, we will realise that all the music ever produced merely strived to sound similar to this. And the ending of the Dawn Treader reminded me how much I long for Heaven, how much I wait for the beauty and sweetness of that world which turns the colours of this world to grey ash. Yet as I pen these words I am reminded of how Heaven is much nearer than I think; every minute spent in the presence of God is akin to spending a minute in Heaven. Heaven is only Heaven when God dwells there. He makes Heaven; he is Heaven.
And I pray that I remain rooted and established in Him until the day comes when I finally set sail for the most thrilling adventure of my life: the journey Home.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Prayers needed!

Every day Christians are being martyred for their faith. My father just told me of this story and I went to CNN to read up on it. It seems that a Christian woman in Pakistan has been sentenced to death for blasphemy against Islam. Whether she made derogatory remarks about Islam or not, I don't know, as she says that she was framed, which is pretty possible. Pakistan's Christian population is tiny, and they are usually the poorer and more marginalised of the people. Please let's pray for this lady! They can kill the body but they cannot kill the soul.

Link to CNN news article:

Aslan's Country: VODT Extravaganza! Day 1

Yay, Day One! And I just realised that this whole Narnia Extravaganza is pushing my Narnia hysteria closer and closer to the edge. Can't wait for the fall!!!

*slaps self back to reality*

Okay, first let me get some housekeeping out of the way.

Schedule for the Voyage of the Dawn Treader Extravaganza:

24 November: Introduction
27 November: A Scene in the life of...
1 December: Favourite Scene/s in the VODT
4 December: Favourite Character in the VODT
8 December: Mad Movie Expectations
10 December: Wrap-up + possible surprise!

I'm so excited about this because it gives me an excuse to loudly and truly fangirl. But I think Narnia's worth fangirling (or boying) over, don't you?

And without further (or much ;) ado, let's get started!


The Voyage of the Dawn Treader has always been one of my favourite Narnia books. Okay, who am I kidding? Every Narnia books is my favourite Narnia book. But that in no way degrades my ardour. Each book appeals to me on a different level. While I love LWW for the sense of wonder and adventure, and Caspian for its danger and urgency, I love VODT because it takes a step back from the frenetic atmosphere of Caspian, and indulges in a sweet, pure-hearted tone, with merry jokes and solemn life lessons making a satisfying repast.

I've always likened VODT to the Narnia version of Pilgrim's Progress, where we see characters encountering tough and tempting situations, and see how they extricate themselves from these situations with the help of God or God's own helpers. Reepicheep the mouse is perhaps the most obvious pilgrim, as he reaches that " world that is yet to come" or "Aslan's Country" or " The Celestial City" or "Heaven". Choose which name you like! Or choose all of them ;)
Yet every character faces tough situations that expose their faults and that make them realise that they need to correct these faults. Eustace is a glaring example, but even Lucy, everyone's sweetheart, faces a problem that girls all over will understand, how outward beauty in this world is almost everything, and how tempting it is to want that beauty.

I honestly don't know how the story in the upcoming movie has changed. But from what I watched of the trailers, I think they're going to keep the Pilgrim's Progress undertone intact. I recently read an interview with Douglas Gresham ( didn't know he was Christian!!!) and was so touched by what he said about the movie that I almost flowed into tears. Okay, what is wrong with me, it's just a movie, just a movie, just a movie...

Anyway, here's the link to the interview. I highly recommend reading it: it's inspiring to see that there are Christian people making popular movies.

And now... a few questions for you!

What struck you when you first read VODT?

Whose struggle did you identify with the most? Eustace's greed for material wealth? Lucy's wish for astonishing beauty? Caspian's attempt to have ultimate control, even to the point of defying Aslan?

Have you ever:

Written Narnia fanfic?
Thought of writing Narnia fanfic?
Wished Peter/Edmund/Caspian/Trinian, etc were real so you could marry them?
Wished Narnia were real? (ditto)
Hated your own wardrobe for not leading to an exciting magical land?
Wanted to see Aslan's country?
Worn a Narnia costume to a party/masquerade/ around the house?

Fun art from Deviantart:

Isn't this just lovely? I think it captures the beautiful pastoral feel of VODT just perfectly. Credit to forgedirony for such wonderful art!

I really like the mirror effect in this one; credit to picklelova for such a fantastic idea!

These artists on Polyvore have made some beautiful VODT sets. I suggest visiting their polyvore pages linked below and Polyvore in general for more Narnia stuff!

And that's it for the intro! Hope you had fun! Remember that the next event is on Saturday!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Aslan's Country: Voyage of the Dawn Treader Extravaganza!!!

Narnia makes me squeal. Narnia makes me do crazy things, like hosting a blog celebration in anticipation for the upcoming Voyage of the Dawn Treader movie.
"Wazzat?" You ask, rubbing your eyes sleepily. " Whas a Voyage thing-a-what?" I stand back and glance at the large, moss-speckled rock you've emerged out of.

" Let me enlighten you," I say kindly, holding out my hand.

Okay, okay, back to reality.

Well yes, I am hosting a VODT celebration party here on my blog. And even if no one participates, I'm dying to do one anyway. Something tells me I shall be having a lot of fun ;)

Particulars Regarding this Celebration:

Title: Alsan's Country: Voyage of the Dawn Treader Extravaganza!

Dates: 24 November- 10 December

* A note regarding the dates. As I am a busy university student with exams looming round the corner, Extravaganza events will take place on Wednesdays and Saturdays, not every single day. I am only human after all.


A Scene in the Life of.... : On this day anyone who wants to can post a short piece taken from any scene in the book of VODT and write a first-person account from a principal character in that scene. For example, I can write the scene where Eustace gets turned into a dragon from Eustace's point of view. Have fun with it. My mind is already brimming with delicious ideas.

Fashion Aboard the Dawn Treader:

You know me... I love anything fashion-ie. After all, costumes are one of the principal reason as to why I watch period dramas. For this event, I am going to post pictures of outfits from my own wardrobe that could serve me well aboard the Dawn Treader if I was ever so lucky as to actually win a cruise with Caspian  action-laced adventure with captain and crew. You are all welcome to do the same.

Discussion about the Book I : Favourite Scenes

What's your favourite scene in VODT? Why? Now is the time to come out of the closet and confess that you just love the scene where Lucy waves at the mer-girl or where they almost get turned to gold or where Eustace swings Reepicheep round by his tail. Remember: no scene is safe!

Discussion about the Book II: Favourite Characters

Who's your favourite character, the one that made the book for you? Eustace? Grumpas? Lord Bern? Chief Monopod? Sea Serpent? Remember: no character is safe!

Mad Movie Anticipations:

What exactly are you anticipating from the soon-to-be released movie? Hysteria? (from yourself that is) Lots of water? Hot Caspian? Cheeky Eustace? Abnormal plot-twisting? Soul-stirring music? Feel free to wax lyrical or hysterical over all your fears, hopes, wishes and dreams concerning the movie.

I know I said that the start date is November 24, but the actual Events will begin on November 27, to give you time enough to prepare.

* There is NO word limit for any piece of writing that you want to submit. Say you want to do the rewrite of the scene, you can do it in as few or as many words as you wish. How to submit: publish the piece on a post in your blog and email the link to me. I will then publish the link on my blog. So if you are submitting something for the 27th, please send me the link on the 26rd, so it gets published in time. However, since I'm in a happily lenient mood, I shall be expecting and adding submissions until the next blog event.

* The same rules as above for photo submissions. I'm too lazy to reiterate them.

IMPORTANT: Could you please comment below and tell me whether you are participating? That would be so helpful to me! You don't have to tell me what exactly you are doing ( though if you did that would be nice too), but just a little comment to say you are interested would give me an idea as to how many participants I'll have. I'm not expecting too much, but I would be happy to have as many as possible. And if you think other people would love to have some Narnia fun, I am not barring you from mentioning this event on your blog!

Any questions? I'll be only too happy to answer them :)

For Narnia! And for Aslan!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Downton Abbey: Episode 2 Recap

Episode 2: The Intruders Enter Downton Abbey.

My love for this series rages on, and we're only on Episode 2. Wooyah, let's get to the good stuff!

Sweet-looking Matthew Crawley and his even sweeter-looking mother Mrs. Crawley, descend from the car into the house I presume they will be staying from now on. It's close to Downton Abbey, and Moseley, the butler welcomes them in. A bit of hilarity when Matthew tries to do everything for himself like he's used to, and Mrs. Crawley stops him, seeing the look on Moseley's face. Seriously, I don't know who the greater snobs are: the aristos or the servants. P'raps the aristos. But not by a terribly wide margin.

Matthew starts complaining to his mother about how now that he's the heir presumptive, the Granthams will probably push one of their daughters at him. At this precise moment, Lady Mary walks in.

Matthew's face is so priceless, I'll refrain from commenting, and merely let you enjoy the screencap below.

Unfortunately, Matthew seems smitten by Mary. HOW is this possible??? I really, really do not like Mary. I'm hoping she redeems herself later on in the series, because she's one of my least favourite characters now. And I was secretly desiring Matthew and Sybil to fall in love. They'd be so perfect for one another! Both of them are nice and sweet and genuine. Sighs... it doesn't look like Fellowes and I are thinking on the same page with this.

More servant snobbery. O'Brien is sniffing at the Crawleys, condemning them for not having a lady's maid, merely possessing a housemaid. Her not-so-hard-to-miss implication simmers in the air: Mrs. Crawley is no lady.

Mary meanwhile, informs her mother that she thinks Matthew's too full of himself. Lol, what? Another case of the pot calling the kettle black, I assume.  Cora tells her that she and the Dowager (Mary's grandmother) are working to reverse the entail, but for now Mary must be patient.

The Crawleys are invited to dinner, and the servants stand in a line and welcome them. Matthew's quite staggered, and remarks naively, " What a reception committee!" Mary looks outraged, Edith simpers, and Sybil glances away, grinning.

Mrs. Crawley, ever the sweetheart, goes right up to Lady Grantham and says with her winning smile, " What should we call each other?" holding out her hand.
Without even looking at the outstretched hand, Lady Grantham replies frostily, " Well we could start with Mrs. Crawley and Lady Grantham." Ouch. I would really hate to face her in a world war.

At the dinner table, the aristos are even more shocked to hear that Matthew's landed a post in a partnership that deals with industrial law. I love Robert's scandalised face when he repeats " A Job??"

Turns out, Robert wants Matthew to learn about the running of the estate. But Matthew replies that he'll have plenty of time: there are a lot  of hours in a day, and there's always the weekend.

Surprised, Lady Grantham inquires innocently, " What is a weekend?" HAHAHAHA. I love her.

Meanwhile, mysteries are abounding downstairs. Carson receives a letter and looks oddly disturbed. Care to enlighten us Carson?
Mrs. Crawley pays a visit to the local hospital ( of which Lady Grantham is the chairman!) and is distressed  when she sees a severely sick man, the only breadwinner of his family. She tells the resident doctor that she wants to help, as she needs to find something to occupy herself with.

Moseley is sick of being useless and he complains to Mr. Bates of how pathetic he feels, since it's quite clear that Matthew doesn't need his help.

Gwen, the other maid is reading a letter ( what's with the abundance of letters in this episode?) and Anna teases her saying it must be from an admirer. O'Brien grumbles at the servants' table about how Matthew isn't a gentleman and blah blah, and Lady Cora walks in at this statement. She is shocked and angry to hear her relatives being discussed by a lowly servant ( why? isn't that what servants are popularly supposed to do?) and sternly reproves O'Brien, treating her as a parent would treat a recalcitrant child. I don't like O'Brien, but I must confess I did squirm for her here. O'Brien is red-faced and sorely embarrassed, but she'll bounce back eventually. The evil ones always do.

Meanwhile Mary is carping about how Matthew isn't " one of us." Edith throws out some sour-faced remarks, and Sybil throws in some nice ones, but Mary is too preoccupied with herself and her ideas to care. Lady Cora walks in at the heels of these remarks ( she's getting better and better at it), and adroitly gets ride of Edith and Sybil to have a chat with Mary. She tells Mary there's nothing they can do about the entail, Lady Grantham's schemes notwithstanding), and Mary is furious that her mother is trying to get her to marry Matthew. What?! Marry someone who couldn't hold his fork like a proper gentleman? How does a gentleman hold his fork anyway? At dinner, she directs her sharp jabs at Matthew, who's more than a match for her (dubious) wit, and leaves her speechless.

The servants are having a much jollier time downstairs, and with William playing the piano, Daisy and Thomas start to dance. Daisy's fallen hard for Thomas, whose smooth ways and looks are turning her wee head. William does not look happy at this.

Meanwhile the doctor of the hospital informs Lady Grantham of Mrs. Crawley's generosity and suggestions in caring for the sick. Lady Grantham is annoyed at what she sees as Mrs. Crawley's interference and thinks it amazing that Mrs. Crawley dares instruct the doctor in his own practice.
Meanwhile, Matthew and Robert are having a bonding session. Here is where we get a glimpse of Robert's feelings: he tells Matthew that Downton is his life's work, and that it is in danger many times.

Carson and Mrs. Hughes are out, leaving Anna and Bates to enjoy a nice little moment together. But the front door bell rings ( blast!) and Bates decides to answer it, as Anna is afraid she'll get scolded for doing such a thing. A presumptuous little man bounces in and announces that he knows Carson very well. Sybil and Robert are amazed at the man's bad manners, and Bates tries to get him to leave. Anna runs off to fetch Carson, and when he arrives he is horrified to see the man. Robert demands an explanation, and Carson shamefacedly explains that before he became a butler, he was part of
a dance troupe called the Cheerful Charlies (hee). Carson is ashamed so such a past, and explains that he was sheltering his former friend who is wanted to petty crime. Said friend was also blackmailing him, threatening to expose his secret to Downton. Carson says resignedly that he will resign.
" Oh don't be so melodramatic Carson!" Robert exclaims. He quickly disposes of Little Blackmailer, giving him some money and telling him never to show his face there again. You are my aristocratic hero Robert.
And so, some aspect of Carson's former life is revealed. I love that he has such a quirky little backstory, and I love how he comes to realise that his pride isn't everything. When Robert asks him curiously whether he misses all that singing and dancing, he replies decidedly, " Not in the least, my lord." He has built a life for himself at Downton, and it is his home.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Crawley convinces the doctor to let her try her "dangerous" experiment on the dying man she has met at the hospital. After a few graphic shots of said sick man and fits of bloody coughing, the experiment works! Round 1: Mrs. Crawley.
Carson thanks Bates for not revealing his secret, and I feel the beginnings of a respect developing between the two men. Yippee. :)
Mrs. Crawley has been invested as Chairwoman of the Board of Directors of the Hospital, and it is decided that she will share the responsibilities of the President. Who is the President? Why Lady Grantham of course. Her sour face is a source of amusement to both us and all the members of Downton Abbey, and they hide secret smiles at her irritation at sharing the floor with her arch-nemesis. And the second episode of Downton Abbey ends in applause.

Character Study: Carson

When the series first started, Carson showed himself to be the best of butlers: impeccable timing, rigourous sense of duty, penchant for an odd glass of port, etc. He is almost revered and definitely feared by the servants, an even the Granthams defer to him in many cases. Yet this episode shows a crack in Carson's previously spotless armour, and the fact that he has a past he's rather ashamed of suddenly made me characterise him as "endearing." I especially loved the humility and respect on his face as he thanks Bates, because this shows his moral growth (always good for character ;) in this episode.