'Downton Abbey' Season 2, Episode 2 Recap
PBS aired the first two episodes of “Downton Abbey”’s deliciously soapy second season back to back. Part one of the recap is already up, but pop on your fanciest hat and let’s get down to sitting-room business in part two.
So much happened in the second episode, both upstairs and downstairs. For the Crawley sisters, this episode was about finding a place in the world. Edith embraced driving, maybe a little too well. Sybil found she liked the usefulness of being a nurse. And Mary considered whether to be open with her feelings or hitch her damaged wagon to a super-rich newspaper baron. Meanwhile, the war finally came home to Downton Abbey, this time in a much more literal way.
Things were hopping downstairs in this outing. It’s 1917 and there’s a new footman to replace Mr. Bates. However, he has none of Mr. Bates’ adorable, pasty charm. Instead Mr. Lang is jumpy and scared, due to shell shock. He also bonds with O’Brien, who is a pretty good person to have on your side considering how insane she is when she doesn’t like you. It turns out her favorite brother was also shell shocked, which is why she feels some empathy for Lang in her cold heart.
O’Brien is having a pretty good time though, because besides making a new friend she has her old bestie back again. Thomas has returned from the war and is back working in the hospital after some pulled strings. I wish Thomas was less of a little sneak and more of a sassy gay friend. What is the use of having a gay BFF if he doesn’t tell you when your hair looks completely stupid? Thomas is not all that good a friend to O’Brien if he’s still allowing that mess on top of her head to continue.
But Thomas has more on his plate than O’Brien’s unfortunate sideburns. Back at the hospital, he bonds with a solider suffering from gas blindness. In case you were wondering if this ends well, there’s suicide involved so the answer to that is no. But it does become the impetus for Downton Abbey becoming an convalescent home.
While Anna mopes over Bates, Molesley decides to move in like a creeper. He hopes that starting a book club with Anna will turn into romantic magic. Clearly, Molesley does not have game. If only "Twilight" existed back then, they could have bonded over the age-old Edward versus Jacob debate. Anna turns him down in one of the sweetest ways possible though.
Turning someone down is much harder for Daisy, however. William is all suited up and ready to go off to war. Now he just wants a picture of his sweetheart and to be with Daisy all the time. This is about the point Daisy starts to wonder if she should have kissed him that one time. I mean, it wasn’t even a very passionate kiss, it was just a peck. Now she’s stuck with him, because as Mrs. Patmore says you can’t turn down a man about to go off to war.
Things are toughest for Mrs. Patmore and Carson. Mrs. Patmore learns that her sister’s son is not only dead, but shot for cowardice. Meanwhile, all the stress of not having everything perfect has caused a physical reaction in Carson. He’s taken ill, which gives him some time to tell Mary she’s the number one boss of Downton. She smiles wisely and nods because obviously she already knew that.
Upstairs, things are just as complicated. Sybil is dedicated to her new job as a nurse and ignoring poor puppy-dog faced Branson. He even brought you dinner Sybil! That’s cold girl. Along with Cousin Isobel, Sybil is one of the strongest votes for turning Downton into a convalescent home.
Meanwhile Edith is also spreading her wings and learning a trade. The trade in question being driving and also making out with married gap-toothed farmers. Not sure I ever thought I’d say this but Edith, girl, you can do better.
Mary finally brings around Sir Richard Caryle, who is way old and sort of mean-looking. Unsurprisingly, everyone immediately hates him. Not only is he old but he also made all his money through working instead of just inheriting it the way God intended. The horror!
Sir Richard finally proposes to Mary on the same train platform she waited for Matthew in the first episode. You know how some women dream of their perfect proposals and how romantic it will be? Well no one has ever dreamed of a proposal like Sir Richard's. He’s basically like “Mary, you’re cold as ice just like me, plus you’ve got a great title and together we could rule the world. Also maybe I love you, whatever, that part’s not important.”
The Mary and Matthew of it All
Carson gives Mary some great advice from his sickbed. He advises Mary to tell Matthew her true feelings for him, or else she’ll regret it for the rest of her life. Anna agrees that Mary should be honest and that love is a fairly to medium-sized important thing for a marriage. Mary shrugs like “eh, maybe” but takes the message to heart.
Later, Mary goes over to talk to Matthew. “Yes!” the audience cheers. “Tell him how you feel!” Except Mary sees Lavinia crying about Matthew going off to war and how she can’t imagine living without him. “No!” The audience cries. “This is no time to start caring about other people's feelings!”
When Matthew comes out Mary admits she was there to see him but then chickens out of telling him she still loves him. Instead, she just invites him again to dinner. He explains he was already coming and wonders if maybe she doesn’t want him there. “Of course I want you. Very much,” Mary replies. Mary, lady, it doesn’t count as telling your feelings if you’re that VAGUE about it!
Best Maggie Smith Line
Watch even a few seconds of “Downton Abbey”, and it’s pretty clear that Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess gets all the best lines. Here’s her best gem from episode two:
- “You find there’s never a dull moment in this house.” – said after Carson collapses at dinner.
What did you think of the second part of "Downton Abbey"'s second season? What does Sir Richard know about Lavinia? Will Matthew and Mary ever make it work? Sound off in the comments!