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Recap: Downton Abbey, Season 2, Episode 1, Part 2

Or, I suppose, Episode 2, if we’re going to be British about it, which we certainly should be. Previously, all of this happened–it’s too much to try and sum up in a mere paragraph or two. Just go read yesterday’s part 1 recap and come back.

You’re back? Fantastic.

It’s April of 1917, and William’s gotten his letter–he’s off to join the Army! Carson is still working too hard. Lord Grantham’s gotten a new valet, a man named Lang, who’s been in the trenches and invalided out, though there’s no clear reason why. Mrs. Patmore has gotten a letter that makes her sad. William’s quite happy to be called up, and asks Daisy for a photo that he can bring with him to the trenches. O’Brien, crafty as she is, is trying to get Thomas to get transferred to the hospital in the village.

TRENCHES! Matthew’s going to be doing a promotional tour, drumming up support for the war, which will conveniently allow him to be around Downton for a few months. Did things like this actually happen during World War One? “You there! You, healthy, fit officer! Stop mucking around in the trenches and take a few months off to go home!” It doesn’t seem totally believeable, is all I’m saying, but I’m not entirely familiar with such things.

Mrs. O’Brien is being her usual bitchy self, chiding Lang for polishing something in the servants hall. She notices Lang’s hands shaking and softens, though not quite enough to seem human. Mr. Moslesley has shown up, jealous of Lang’s position as Lord Grantham’s valet, and bearing a book to give to Anna. Basically, Mr. Moslesley would like to become the new Mistah Bates, both in terms of job and love life.

Lady Cora goes to Dr. Clarkson to request Thomas’ transfer to the village hospital, but Dr. Clarkson says it’s not up to him.

Carson is working too hard. He realizes that he’s going to have even more work when, over dinner, the Granthams planner a proper dinner, with Matthew, Cousin Rosamund, and Sir Richard Carlisle as guests. Meanwhile, Edith has found a use for her new driving skills, driving a tractor at one of the nearby farms. Granny protests ““ Edith is “a lady, not Toad of Toad Hall!” Perfection.

Edith stands her ground, and heads over to Drake farm, ready to drive the tractor.

We now find out what was in Mrs. Padmore’s letter. Her nephew, serving in the Army, has been reported missing, presumed dead. Anna suggests that Mrs. Padmore turn to Lord Grantham for help.

One room over, Ethel is hitting on Lang, until O’Brien puts a stop to all that, and, completely out of character, compliments Lang. Carson comes in and tells Lang that he’s to serve at the formal dinner. Lang seems freaked out by this.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Padmore does go to Lord Grantham to ask him to find out more about her nephew, named Archibald Filpotts. (GREAT NAME.)

Anna runs into Mr. Moslesley, who doesn’t even work here! He’s flirting, awkwardly, and badly, which Anna parries quite well. She’s not interested, Mosley. Go away.

Lord Grantham puts a word in towards Thomas’ transfer to the local hospital, which ought to take care of things. It sure is nice, being a Lord.

And now, Edith and a tractor! She’s quite good at it, as well as the attention from Mr. Drake.

Hey, Evil Thomas is back! Downton apparently has a fantastic makeup department, because Thomas’ hand looks NASTY. He wastes no time in going into the sevant’s room and insulting, oh, everyone. And hitting on Ethel, just for good measure.

The guests are arriving for dinner! Everyone, meet Sir Richard Carlisle/Ser Jorah Mormont/Etc! Also, Rosamund, bitchy as ever.

Branson tries to defend Sybil’s devotion to her work to Cora, this goes badly. Sybil really doesn’t want to leave the hospital.

And now, for a former, pre-war-style dinner! Richard Carlisle needs a drink, Matthew and Lavinia are here, Lord Grantham never stops touching wood (what, I giggled) and we find out that Lavinia and Richard Carlisle know each other ““ Lavinia doesn’t seem pleased that he’s here.

Granny and Richard Carlisle trade barbs, Granny wins. Because Maggie Smith always wins.

It’s time to serve dinner ““ Carson’s working too hard, and Lang’s very nervous. Lang bungles serving, and spills sauce all over Edith’s dress, which quite literally gives Carson a heart attack, or something damn near it. Cousin Isobel sends Edith to drive to the hospital and fetch Dr. Clarkson, but Edith is more worried about her dress than about Carson. BECAUSE EDITH IS THE WORST.

Mr. Lang is back in his room, and hearing the sounds of battle. O’Brien comes in, and suddenly goes from being an evil caricature to a whole, real person. Her favorite brother, it turns out, had shellshock, and was sent back to the front and killed. Her sympathy towards and protection of Lang is touching.

Meanwhile, Lady Mary goes in to visit Carson, in need of advice. Carson questions Mary as to Sir Richard and Matthew, and advises her to tell Matthew she loves him.

At the hospital, Thomas speaks with a soldier who’s been blinded by mustard gas, and is uncharacteristally nice to him. I suppose, in honor of the second season, we’re fleshing out all of the characters? Where’s all of this compassion coming from, on the parts of O’Brien and Thomas?

Meanwhile, Lord and Lady Grantham, Mary, and Sir Richard Carlisle go for a walk, as everyone considers Sir Richard as a potential suitor for Lady Mary. Sir Richard asks Lady Mary if she’s shocked by his “bold and modern values,” to which all I can say is “bitch, please.” Lady Rosamund is now trying to convince the Dowager Countess (who is, lest we forget, her mother) that Richard Carlisle is a good match for Mary. Clearly, Granny ships Matthew/Mary.

Back in the hospital, Thomas is reading letters to his new friend. Thomas is sweet and encouraging, and opens up about being “different.” This is a scene straight out of Brideshead, where I can’t tell if both of the characters are supposed to be aware of the gay sub-text, or if the attractive blind patient is merely being friendly. I think it’s the former, though? I certainly hope it is, for Thomas’ sake. As much as Thomas is horrible, being gay 100 years ago must have been rough, and deserves some sympathy.

Oooh, Sir Richard is threatening Lavinia! And Lady Rosamund overhears! AWKWARD.

Speaking of awkward, Edith and Mr. Drake are having a break from the farmwork, and Mr. Drake’s hitting on Edith pretty badly. His wife is clearly jealous.

Our blinded soldier, whose last name seems to be Courtenay, is now up and walking around, which, according to Dr. Clarkson, means it’s time for him to be transferred. Sybil and Thomas both protest, but Dr. Clarkson’s word is final, and Sybil is put firmly in her place, possibly for the first time in her life. Courtenay will leave in the morning.

Rosamund informs Mary that Sir Richard knows Lavinia, which disturbs Mary.

Oh, damn, I forgot this part. Courtenay has killed himself. Thomas sobs hysterically, and as much as I seriously dislike Thomas, I can’t quite hate him anymore.

Dr. Clarckson, Sybil, and Cousin Isobel, queen of DOING THINGS, decide that the proper action in response to the soldier’s death is to turn Downton Abbey into a convalescent home. Wait, what? No, really. There’s no room at the hospital for men to recover ““ as soon as they can walk, they’re sent far away to convalesce (the last phase of recovery, which is less about constant doctor’s supervision and more about, oh, physical therapy and ping-pong games.) If there had been somewhere nearby where Officer Courtenay could have recovered, hopefully within knee-patting-distance of Thomas, perhaps he wouldn’t have killed himself. That’s certainly what Sybil and Isobel are thinking when they decide to convince everyone else to turn Downton into a convalescence home.

Mary goes to see Sir Richard off at the train, and he proposes marriage. It is a remarkably emotionless proposal. Mary will think about it, properly.

Branson brings Sybil some lunch, and Sybil feels useful for the first time in her life, declaring she’d never go back to her life before the war. Branson likes this.

After being proposed to, Mary goes to see Matthew, but stumbles upon Lavinia instead. Lavinia’s crying, because Matthew will eventually have to go back to France. Mary seems to realize for the first time that Lavinia is 1) a real person 2) a real person with feelings and 3) truly, deeply in love with Matthew. While she clearly came with the intent of telling Matthew that she loves him, she’s changed her mind upon seeing Lavinia. Well done, Mary.

Moslesley still doesn’t get that Anna’s not into him, so she explains it to him, in no uncertain terms. Because Anna is the best.

And Edith is still the worst! She and Mr. Drake get quite flirty, and then he kisses her! And Mrs. Drake overhears! Edith, you ruin everything.

Lord Grantham has found out what happened to Mrs. Padmore’s nephew ““ he was shot for cowardice. LORD GRANTHAM, WHY WOULD YOU TELL HER THAT?! WHY?! Just tell her it’s confirmed her nephew’s dead and leave it at that! It means nothing to you, knowing that, but it’s horrible for her. Lord Grantham brings in Mrs. Hughes, tells Mrs. Padmore to not tell her sister, or anyone else, what really happened and then leaves.

Meanwhile, Sybil and Isobel are trying to convince everyone else to turn Downton into a hospital annex. Violet and Cora get into quite the spat ““ this is Cora’s house now, and Violet’s forbidding things doesn’t mean a thing.

And then William shows up! In uniform! And utters the line “Won’t you let a Tommy kiss his sweetheart, when he’s off to fight the Hun?” which is adorable. Mrs. Padmore forbids said kiss. William and Mr. Lang have an awkward conversation, which concludes in William eloquently explaining his commitment to king and country. Oh, William.

Oh, look, here’s Daisy’s plotline! She doesn’t reckon that she and William are properly sweethearts, but Mrs. Padmore tells Daisy that she can’t send William off to war with a broken heart, so hush.

Upstairs, Mary tells Anna that she’s going to accept Sir Richard. Anna manages to respectfully convey the fact that that’s a bad idea, while simultaneously talking about how much she loves Mistah Bates.

Carson’s up and about again! Fantastic! Edith gets a message from Mrs. Drake, her help is no longer needed. Poor Edith. Except, not really, because I have no sympathy for Edith whatsoever.

The way Robert’s talking, it certainly sounds like Downton is indeed going to become a convalescence home. We shall find out next week, though, for that’s the end of the episode. Much better than a shot in the hand, eh?

Key points:

  • Literally, every one of the Dowager Countess’s lines. Perhaps my next recap will simply be a transcript of them.
  • Both O’Brien and Thomas have hearts! Who knew?!
  • This was a Bates-free episode. This saddens me.

One reply on “Recap: Downton Abbey, Season 2, Episode 1, Part 2”

Ugh, Edith. I was prepared to half-heartedly defend you in Season 1. It’s implied that Mary has always picked on you and your parents have written you off as a lost cause since you’re not hot enough to hack it in Society. But between the farmer, caring more about your dress than freaking CARSON and possessing nary a SHRED of guilt over the Turkish Embassy debacle…girl, I’m done. CherriSpryte tells the truth, you are THE WORST.

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