Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Downton Abbey Recap-Season 2, Episode 1

Welcome to the first installment of Sarah and Melanie's recaps/reviews of Downton Abbey Season 2! We're both excited to jump back into this show and we thought it would be great to share it with other fans. Share your thoughts! There are some spoilers from the episode, so read at your own risk. Also, please no spoilers for future episodes if you've watched ahead!

Sarah: The episode starts off and we're at war and a time jump from the last episode. Two years have passed. Matthew is still alive and fighting in the war and slyly mentions that there's a girl he wants to see on leave. Will it be Mary?? I know it won't be, yet I also secretly wish it will.

Melanie: The time jump really threw me off. There's so much I feel like I missed- I was really looking forward to seeing how the Countess dealt with her miscarriage.  I was kind of surprised to see Matthew actually on the battlefield. I thought that as an heir, his blood would be too precious.

Sarah: The time jump threw me off a bit too. I had the same feeling of missing things I wanted to know where people had been, what they'd been up to, etc. Two years is a long time!

Sarah: Back at Downton the house is getting ready for a charity concert.  Bates is out at his mother's funeral and William is filling in. He's helping Grantham who has been named "Colonel of the North Riding Volunteers" William's father will not allow him to enlist even though he wants to. Grantham thinks he's going to be able to fight, only to  discover his new role isn't an active one. I felt bad for Lord Grantham as he wants so badly to help with the war effort but can't in the way
he would like. I like his heart and his good character, so seeing him realize he's getting older is a bit sad.

Melanie: Grantham really does have a hard time with this. I wish he could realize how important a strong home front is. Even his wife isn't able to console him.

Sarah: I also think this makes him more endearing-he has lots of moments like this in this episode where I just love him.

Cousin Isobel suggests to a sad Sybil that she become a nurse. I love this idea and I love Sybil's spunk. I also love Isobel for suggesting it! Now, remember that girl Matthew said he wanted to visit? Isobel has come with news that Matthew is engaged! What? Matthew can't be engaged! Now I can't wait to  see this girl...

Melanie: I completely agree. Matthew cannot be engaged. What is he thinking? I kind of hope Mary meets his fiancee and flies into a fit of jealous rage...

Sarah: Yes! A fit of rage from Mary would be awesome! We know she has a mean streak in her-I'm waiting to see what she'll do to this poor girl.

 (Naive Ethel)

Sarah: There's a new housemaid, Ethel. She's kind of annoying and I'm not impressed. Even though I'm not an O'Brien fan, I have to admit that her pranks on Ethel were pretty awesome.

Melanie: I'm kind of sad that we didn't get to see O'Brien cackling in glee over the pranks she pulled. They were pure genius.

Sarah: They were and I have to give O'Brien props for them. I think that's the one time I wouldn't mind her cackling!

Bates returns and YAY!-he proposes to Anna. Problem is he's still a married man. Oops! Bad move Bates. I wonder how he thinks that's going to work. I see drama in the future. 

 (See, it's frumpy!)

Matthew arrives with Lavinia, his fiance, in tow. She's cute enough, but we don't really see much of her and I'm convinced that now Mary and Matthew must be together! They can match wits! Lavinia just doesn't look as smart. Also, her green dress is kind of frumpy. Mary and Matthew sit next to each at dinner (oh how sly you are with the seating arrangement) and it's clear Mary is still in love with Matthew. Matthew is daft and doesn't appear to notice, although I think he does. Mary arrives at the train to give Matthew her good luck charm. I mean, come on Matthew! Can't you see how she's changed?? I can!

 (See the way they look at each other-so cute!)

Seriously, in episode one, I've had a change of heart about Mary. She's much less annoying and I like her. I feel like she's finally grown up. Matthew in turn is just happy they're friends because he's dumb. 

Melanie: Haha, I agree Matthew is not using all of his wits. I think he's kind of ignoring her on purpose. I've been a Mary fan from the beginning, so I kind of want to smack Matthew upside the head. Lavinia's too good. I think she's hiding something. And who wears frumpy green dresses? Yet another reason to dislike her.

Sarah: Excatly. She does seem too good. I'll be watching her with a suspicious eye. And I really am a Matthew/Mary fan more this season.

 (Boo! Blackmailing Vera!!)

Sarah: Bates's evil wife Vera shows up and turns out she's not going to give him a divorce. Instead, she demands he come with her, or else she reveals Mary's scandal (or as Aunt Rosamund says later-the blot on her copybook). She blackmails Bates and Bates is a good guy and doesn't want to hurt Anna. This makes me like him even more. I mean, he's going off with the evil blackmailer just to keep Anna in good standing! Man, I want them together!! Good news is, Mrs. Hughes has awesome spying abilities thanks to the vent in the kitchen and she overheard the real reason Bates is leaving. Here's hoping Mrs. Hughes will save the day later!!

Melanie: This is the one time in my life I will ever condone eavesdropping. In this case alone, rock on Mrs. Hughes!

Sarah: She shares with Carson, but I'm interested to see what she'll do, if anything, with this information. Rock on indeed!

Sybil goes off to be a nurse and swoon, Branson declares his love for her. Sybil is dumb and doesn't say anything. What's with all these Grantham girls being so dumb when it comes to love? (Edith is not exempt from this either-oh, just wait!) Sybil is worried that Branson will get fired for saying he's in love with her, so I think she really does care for him. There's got to be something there...

Melanie: Poor Sybil. She's so confused. But would she really be willing to live the life of a chauffeur's wife after growing up as aristocracy? She may be more like Mary than we'd like to think. 

Sarah: Oh no! Don't say that! Sybil is my favorite!:) But you make a good point. I wonder if working as a nurse will change her.

More romance! William is feeling down and Daisy kisses him. Oh Daisy, you're so naive. If you don't want a boy to like you, don't go kissing him. Of course he's going to think you're his girl! Daisy later confides that she doesn't like William. He's finally be able to enlist and is being sent off to war. Mrs. Patmore tells Daisy she can't send him off with a broken heart. I agree and I think there's something wrong with Daisy. She's led him on for a long time-that's just mean. Daisy, I still don't like you.

Melanie: I'm sort of on the fence about Daisy and William. They're both so immature and young. Out of all the characters at Downton Abbey, I think these two act their age the most.

Sarah: Agree! They are immature and I really don't like that she's been leading him on for so long.

Thomas is still annoying. He's been fighting in the war, but he holds his hand up with a light so he would be shot at, therefore becoming injured and being sent home. It's a tough moment to watch, but I'm not sure I like him.

Melanie: He had tea with Matthew right before doing that where they talked about the old times. Thomas' courage comes out in odd ways, while sticking his hand in the air must've taken guts, it also shows how much of a coward, ultimately, he is.

Sarah: Good point. His courage does come out in strange ways, and in some ways I feel a bit bad for him.

Time jump again. It's now 1917. There's a new footman, Lang, who is suffering from shellshock. O'Brien, in a moment of compassion, recognizes this and is kind to him. There are moments when O'Brien is very human and shows heart and I think that's what makes her character so rich.

Melanie: Absolutely. O'Brien's brother suffered from shellshock as well, making her aware of an all too common, yet at the time misunderstood, ailment.

Sarah: Thomas has returned and he's back to looking swarmy as only Thomas can. He's helping Sybil out in the hospital, helping a young soldier who was blinded in the war. Thomas and Sybil are working to help him recover, only to find out that the head Doctor is sending him away to make room for the newly injured soldiers. The young man kills himself. This leads to another moment of caring for Thomas as he shows emotion at the loss of the soldier. This show is so good at tugging at your heart strings and making you rethink what you originally thought about characters. Isobel suggests that Downton Abbey becomes a convalescent home. Violet isn't for it, but she gets voted down and I can't wait to see how this changes things at Downton. Again, this shows Lord Grantham's compassion and I think it's what makes him a great character. I always want to think that aristocracy has a  heart and showed kindess to their serving staff. Lord Grantham does this and it makes me really care about him.

Melanie: That scene where Thomas tells the blind man he can't give up give up and has to fight back gives a lot of clues into Thomas' past. It reminded me of all the strife Thomas must have put up with for being homosexual Being gay in this time period must have been hell.

Sarah: And then when he cries because the soldier has killed himself? Heartbreaking. I think we're getting to see antoher side of the conniving Thomas, again proving how rich in development these characters are.

 (Not nearly as cute as Matthew and Mary)

Sarah: Mary has made a friend in newspaper man, Sir Richard. He visits Downton Abbey along with Aunt Rosamund. Mary, feeling conflicted, seeks the advice of Carson, which is probably my favorite scene in episode one. After working himself too hard, Carson has been put on bedrest. His talk with Mary is sweet and you can see that he really cares about her. Mary also seeks the advice of Anna, who, along with Carson, encourages Mary to tell the truth about her feelings to Matthew. Mary tries to tell Matthew, but finds Lavinia crying because Matthew is to leave early. She ends up backing down and not saying anything, which is a really bad decision. Just tell him already! Mary instead gets a proposal from yucky Sir Richard. UGH! I don't like Sir Richard. He looks old and like he's wrinkly and leathery like he tans too much. I also don't trust him. Mary's not excited by the proposal, but says she'll consider his offer. I hope she turns him down!

Melanie: Carson's scene with Mary is my favorite of this entire episode too! He's almost like a grandfather to her, and it's so sweet to see. She let's him close to her. It kind of makes me wonder what Mary would be like with a man romantically if she let him close to her. She's got a lot more heart than she's showing.I'm afraid I'm not as against Sir Richard. Maybe Matthew seeing Mary with someone else would knock some sense into him. I like seeing Mary's emotional side warring with her rational brain. She definitely has a heart, no matter what Mrs. Hughes says.

Sarah: Yes, she is showing more heart this season. And good point about her opening up romantically. I think the war has made her see that she can't be a snobby aristocrat, things are changing and it is effecting her. I like seeing her emotions and her rationality at war as well.

Mosley begins to seek out Anna, lending her a book, and suggests they spend more time together. This is heartbreaking to watch, because you can see Anna loves and misses Bates.

Melanie: When Mosley hits on Anna, I kind of feel sorry for him.  Their social circle is so small, it's not like there's a bunch of available women around.  Yet it also shows a profound lack of perception on his part.  One look at Anna, and one can tell she's not nearly ready to move on.
Sarah: Edith has been learning to drive and visits a local farm to help out and drive the tractor. She begins a flirtation with Mr. Drake and they kiss one night. But silly Edith, his wife was watching and writes Edith a note that they've hired a boy and she won't be needed anymore. What's with Edith getting all the bad romances? And why does she always go for awkward old men??

 (No Edith No!)

Melanie: I know! I don't like Edith at all. Kissing a married man? She doesn't seem to be using her brain. She's my least favorite of the three sisters. I have to admit, watching her drive the tractor was kind of funny.

Sarah: It was! I was cheering her on and hoping her character would change a bit as well, but I she's still my least favorite of the sisters. I also don't think her mean streak has left her. I hope she doesn't take it out on Mrs. Drake!

Aunt Rosamond overhears a conversation between Sir Richard and Lavinia and apparently there are some secrets between them. We already know that Sir Richard was an  acquaintance of Lavinia's father. It appears that there may be some scandal in Lavinia's past and I'm eager to find out what! Maybe this will break up Lavinia and Matthew? I really hate love triangles, so I don't want this one to be drawn out forever!!

Melanie: I'm ready for some Mary/Matthew time! Lavinia's got some dark, terrible secret, I think. I want her far, far away from Matthew. I'm thinking that Richard and Lavinia may have been involved with each other at some point. I could be wrong, though. It's just a theory.

Sarah: Oooh..I wondered the same thing! I wonder how Matthew will react. I also wonder if he'll ever find out about Mary's scandal and what he would think of that!

So that's Episode 1! There is lots going on and I can't wait to see how it all plays out. So much drama, intrigue and romance! No wonder we're hooked on this show!!


  1. Great recap, ladies! This was a fantastic episode (Two whole hours!!), and I'm on pins and needles for next week.
    I agree that Mary has changed, and you can SEE the heartbreak in her eyes over Matthew. It will be interesting watching how their story plays out.
    And I was glad to see Branson profess his love for Sybil... hopefully she'll wake up soon and kiss him LOL. They're too cute, and you're right, she's SPUNKY.
    Thomas still drives me NUTSO, but I was happy to see O'Brien's pranks on the new horrible maid. My gosh. Hilarious.
    This whole series is golden. Can't wait for more!

  2. I loved this episode! I so want to see Matthew and Mary together. I love her more and more every episode. I'll be curious if they show some of Thomas's non-evil side. I like seeing some depth to O'Brien.

  3. I was SO GLAD that Lord Grantham wasn't on the front lines! And was not at all surprised to see Matthew there.

    I have no idea what happens in the show (promise!) so this is just some historical fact (coming from the book To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild)-- WWI causalities disproportionately affected the upper class in England (one of the reasons it caused such huge social change.) 12% of British soldiers died, but if the soldier was a peer or the son of a peer, that number goes to 19%. 31% of Oxford's 1913 graduates were killed.

    Rich and/or titled = officer and officers were more likely to be killed because they were the ones leading the charges over the top.

    So, if both Grantham AND Matthew were on the front line, then one would be sure to die, AND I WOULDN'T BE ABLE TO HANDLE IT!

    OH! And if you haven't seen it yet, check out Downton Abbeyonce, which sets certain scenes to Beyonce lyrics. (Although it looks like there's some season 2 stuff we haven't seen yet.)

    Also, Arrested Downton

    Those have entertained me ALL DAY.

  4. I love your Blog's mission. Oh and that is some title, love it! "GreenBeanTeenQueen"
    I enjoyed it too. You are an excellent & gifted writer ( I, on the other hand, am not). Cheers to the New Year!

  5. What channel is this on? I've been hearing about it everywhere! mpflory.blogspot.com

  6. Great review of Downton Abbey. I missed a little of it, so was grateful to find a good recap. Stopping by on the challenge.

  7. I must be one of the few people in the UK not to have been seduced by Downton abbey! It's amazing what a following it has.

  8. I love the caption for the picture of Edith and the farmer guy. I think that's what we often yell at Edith while watching this show.


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