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.


  1. I have never seen this it new? It sound and looks interesting!


  2. Hi Emily!

    This is my latest Brit period drama craze... I'm absolutely addicted to it! It just finished its run in the UK, and will be broadcast on PBS in January. If you want, I can send you the YT links to watch it online!


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