First of all, thank you for bearing with me while I missed a week of Downtoning. I appreciate your kind tweets asking where the recap was and I apologize for making you wait for it forever, like poor Branson, alone in the garage polishing the motor for the 918739193th time.
You see, thanks to Lady Sybil and all the other suffragettes of her time who fought for our right to earn the big bucks in the workforce, t’was my job (and taking care of my baby girl and a trip to NYC and the refusal of every electronic gadget I own to properly download Downton episodes) that got in the way of me, you and this here recap. But never fear! I am on the couch, my computer is in my lap and roasting my thighs, I am surrounded by a pile of Dove dark chocolate wrappers and Jane the scandalous house maid’s face is frozen on my TV screen as I type this! In other words, I am back and ready to write about four hours worth of Granthaming and Crawleying.
But before I do let me offer up this disclaimer: I normally watch each episode of Downton at least twice, during which I take copious notes which then spawn these recaps. But tonight I am throwing caution to the wind and going noteless, because if I do not I will be here until Sunday watching and writing and quoting and crying and cringing and I just can’t live my life that way! It’s not what Lavinia would have wanted. So chances are good that I may miss some important moments, like the color of William’s father’s eyes, for example. And in those times of darkness and shame, I look to you, fellow residents of Downton Nerd-y, to shine your gaslight on my mistakes and omissions.
First, I need to start with this because I am almost positive I missed some backstory surrounding the Lord Grantham/Jane the house maid’s husky makeout sessions. Is there some lengthy history there? Is he possibly the father of Freddie, her mysterious son? Or is it something more innocent, along the lines of: “Oh, this new housemaid showed up right when Cora starting being a MEGA a-hole and she looks like a mix of my wife and Claire Danes, actress from the future, and so I’ll make out with her and help her fatherless son get into a school where he’ll be mocked for being the poor kid with a maid for a mother and a grandmother who runs an apple store?”
I’m genuinely confused by the origin of their love affair and I loathe that his indiscretion is being pinned on Cora being an insensitive hag. First of all, hasn’t she always kinda been an insensitive hag? And didn’t he spend all of Season 1 talking about how he married her for her money and then genuinely fell in love with her?
And then suddenly WW1 squashes his self-worth and suddenly he’s stepping out on his wife like it ain’t no thing but a chicken wing!? Sorry Lord Grantham, but I have no patience for your midlife crisis when EVERYONE ELSE HAS IT WORSE THAN YOU. (Ahem…Like Jane, who had to quit her crappy job cleaning your chamber pot because you shoved your whiskey-soaked tongue down her throat.)
And here’s the thing that really drives me crazy about Lord G – aside from this one gross misstep, he remains a pretty solid dude. He’s always doing nice things for the poors and gave Sybil and Branson his blessing and encouraged Mary to ditch Sir Richard even after finding out about her getting Pamuked. I get that the whole point of this show is to highlight the flaws of the human condition, despite being a have or a have not, but still. Lord G, keep it in your pants!
Bravo to Branson, who asked “So you’ve made your decision?” for the one millionth time and finally got his answer from Sybil. Like a determined contestant on The Bachelor refusing to accept that she will not be getting the rose on the group date, Branson never once wavered while Sybil took her sweet-ass time deciding whether or not to destroy his bleeding heart. But all that waiting paid off, and he and Sybil then began the arduous task of threatening to run away and then not really doing so. Also, his name is Tom. Who knew?
Eventually the couple weds in Dublin and we later discover that Sybil and Branson made a baby, which is a scene I’d pay my child’s entire college fund to see. Picture it: Branson, with the intense veins below his intense combover popping as he intensely hovers above Sybil’s quivering body and utters intense words as he stares at her with intense eyes.
(If you’re interested, someone’s made a F**k Yeah Tumblr for Allen Leech, the actor who plays Branson.)
These two final episodes marked my complete transformation into the leader of Team Edith. How can you not love this formerly horrible woman? If there’s anyone who’s changed due to the war, it’s Lady Sad Face. Not only did she become Volunteer Caregiver Extraordinaire, but she learned to drive AND went and fought for her man. While Mary hm’ed and haw’ed over Matthew, Lady Edith drove her fancy lil’ motor over to Anthony Strallan’s house and was like, “Sir, it’s time you and your now-gimp hand put out or get out.” And you know he’s totally gonna get to puttin’ out (an engagement ring) next season! Well done, Edith.
Cousin Isobel’s transformation into THE WORST is finally complete. She’s off to help refugees somewhere, but who can focus on her do-goodery when she’s just so painfully awful? If only she expended some energy helping Ethel, who once wanted to see the world and now spends most of her time staring at the inside of the most depressing shack ever constructed in an English village. *Golf claps* to the former maid, who boldly forced her baby daddy’s parents to acknowledge her and then rejected their terrible offer of raising wee Charlie as their own – without her involvement. Ethel’s decision to keep Chaaaaa-lee was my personal ugly cry moment of these last two episodes. Nothing can beat a mother’s love, you guys! Mrs. Hughes knows.
Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the un-sexual tension between Mrs. Patmore and Daisy blew up like Branson in a political conversation with an aristocrat. The two bickered and sparred in the murky corners of the kitchen as Thomas creepily lurked nearby in a cloud of cigarette smoke. Daisy – who very sweetly made peace with William’s dad, finally got up enough courage to ask Mrs. P for a promotion, who begrudgingly agreed to the raise at the Servants Ball. If reality television existed in 1921, these two would be the stars of some sort of Kitchen Wars show on TLC. They’re like the Siskel and Ebert of souffle cooking – in both shape and sass.
Say what you will about his terrible business skills and taste in friends, but I still think Thomas is the sexiest dude on the show (though Matthew’s soulful gaze does gut me). And though it was oh-so satisfying watching him self-destruct over the fake food stash, he still came out on top at the end, “finding” Isis the dog and emerging as a frontrunner for Bates’ abandoned valet position. O’Brien knows the truth: Thomas always wins.
Thomas is also probably a sociopath.
Dear Julian Fellowes: In season 3, can O’Brien please find love in a hopeless place? She’s already so filled with remorse over murdering Cora’s unborn child and tended so dearly to her ladyship during that whole Spanish flu situation – doesn’t she deserve a little intimate touching with a fellow human? Can’t you just imagine how relaxed she’d be after undoing that tightly wound bun from atop her head and shaking out her hair as she slips into something a bit more comfortable? Yes, even O’Brien deserves her own Mr. Bates.
I am sick of the Mr. Bates storyline, you guys. This probably makes me the worst Downton-ite on the planet and thus you are welcome to banish me to a shack in Ripon. But this whole “Is he a murderer or a martyr or both?!” storyline has just been going on for way.too.long. Anna remains the quiet queen of the entire show and I am glad she finally got a bootycall (and a wedding) in before Bates was hauled off to prison. I may be a little burnt out on Bates, but even I can appreciate how magical a candlelit night spent wrapped in his pasty white arms would be.
Now, before I discuss the reunion of Mary and Matthew, I want to run down some other things very, very quickly: Ugh, Sir Richard is such a creeper. That being said, he and Rosamund should totally date. Can’t you see that one happening? Boy, did anyone else feel bad for Rosamund when she discovered that her maid and her boyfriend where scamming her? But maybe it’s karma for her telling Mary to hold out on Matthew years ago. And gosh darn it, the Dowager Countess deserves props for being right about everything. How sweet was her scene with Daisy? And who else kinda got shipper-y for a Dowager-Thomas romance when they danced together at the Servants Ball, even though it’s virtually impossible that they’d ever get it on? And most importantly…
WHY HAS EVERYONE FORGOTTEN ABOUT THE BURNED GUY WHO CLAIMED TO BE THEIR DEAD COUSIN?!
Okay, okay – Mary and Matthew time. First we must pay respects to Lavinia – who was a class act in life and death. After witnessing Mary and Matthew’s very erotic lip lock while dancing in the foyer, she later insists that Matthew act upon every urge and thought and cell in his body and get back together with Mary. She even tries to send a message from the afterlife via Ouija Board wishing her happiness for the future couple. And even though he initially refuses and does this big song and dance about how they’re cursed, he finally, FINALLY grows a pair and makes it happen with Mary, who was thisclose to heading to America to escape the wrath of Sir Richard and her Pamuk scandal.
Oh, Downton, how you torment us so.
And while this season meandered and followed boring story lines and introduced a lot of random people and unresolved situations which straight up left me confused (Edith and the farmer kissing, Lord G being a playa, the footman with the PTSD), it was all worth it to watch Mary and Matthew get engaged in the snow.
You guys, Mary and Matthew GOT ENGAGED IN THE SNOW! It was beautiful and romantic and holy mother of god, how good does that Matthew Crawley look all buttoned up in his tuxedo? Please someone wrap him up and put him in a to-go container for me to bring home and devour at 2 in the morning.
So what if Mary was inexplicably outside without a coat on and never once acted cold. I’m happy to just assume it was love keeping her warm. The only thing that could have made Matthew’s proposal better would have been if he got down on one knee and whipped out that stupid good luck dog charm in place of a ring.
And so this is where I must leave you. Season 2 has ended, season 3 is in the works and I shall feel empty inside until I’m once again parked in front of the television watching Carson sniff decanters with delicate ease. Thank you for joining me along the way. I’m sure I’ve missed 123456789 important things about the final four hours of Season 2, so please do call me out in the comments. I’ll meet you there.
Until then, I await the next season of Downton Abbey with ridiculous excitement, looking exactly like this:
Laura Linney (JK you guys, it’s still me, Kate Spencer)