‘Downton Abbey’ s2/ep2

22 Jan

The Crawley family prepares for another invasion — Downton Abbey becomes a convalescent dormitory for wounded soldiers.  O’Brien’s influence over Lady Grantham continues as she persuades her to lobby for Thomas to skip over a good few promotions into the ranks of the officers so that Thomas can take the reins of management over his old employer.  I’m still not sure what made Thomas’ character change so entirely in episode 1 that he would take on the role of nursing another human being and grieving at his loss.  He is a bully, plain and simple, and I wouldn’t be surprised if even a clash between he and O’Brien could be in the future, now that she has taken a more “protective” role of Lady Grantham.

The territorial skirmish heats up between Lady Cora and cousin Isobell.  I admire Cora’s firmness to confront Isobell giving orders to her servants and her grace to insist that they address the conflict up-stairs.  Season 1’s Isobell was calm and rational while Season 2’s Isobell is a control freak.  Not sure what’s happening there.  Is it a feeling of loss of control over the world in general that pushes her to grasp at control of the world around her?  But this change at the Abbey is a good one for Lady Edith.  It pulls her away from mischief and gives her a useful occupation serving someone besides herself.  But by far my favorite Downton Abbey transformation moment is the long shot where the Lord and Lady, without a word spoken, walk shoulder to shoulder out their front door to welcome the arrival of their new tennants.  Powerful and beautiful storytelling.

Sybil keeps a stiff upper lip in the face of Branson’s meanness and twisted logic.  Her continued devotion to her post (she still wears a uniform even while in her family home) reminds me of the younger generations in America these days who care about the world and expect themselves to do something about it rather than someone else.  Bravo.

Anna and Bates find each other again, briefly.  I admire Anna’s courage, but am concerned that her desperation is driving her to throw her logic away along with everything else in order to be with him.  What if Mrs. Bates gets her way again or finds another way of getting out of the divorce?  She’d be out of a job and separated from Bates again.  Fortunately for her, Bates is looking out for her honor and is keeping a level head on his shoulders.  Bates has more noble blood than any other person in England.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions,” and the cook is on it.  In her own personal grief over her nephew’s fate she seems determined to make the war better for other soldiers, like it or not.  Where Carson and Anna advise Lady Mary to be honest, Ms. Patmore practically forces Daisy to accept William’s hand.  I’m concerned that her hurting and well-intentions are only going to bring about more grief.  Unless Daisy can find the courage to do what’s right.  Or just fall in love with William…who’s a real gem.  Someone really should have a set-down with Cook, though I doubt it would do much good.  She is what she is.

The Dowager Lady Grantham summed up my current outlook on Downton Abbey best: “With your permission, dear, I’ll take my fences one at a time.”

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Due to scheduling conflicts, episode 2 of “Picture Shows & Petticoats” is a little delayed this week.  I’ll keep you posted when it airs.

Happy watching!

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(UPDATE 1/29:  Watch at your own peril.  “Picture Shows & Petticoats” has been posted.)

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