‘Downton Abbey’ s2/ep3

29 Jan

Storm clouds are brewing between the mums.  Lady Cora and Cousin Isobell collide in a battle of their own.  Cora makes her move as the lady of the house, and Isobell arrives to find herself superfluous.  Exit Isobell…for France.  I’m still don’t know why she couldn’t have returned to her very important post at the village hospital.  But France is always a good idea.

Did you see the terrible look on Cora’s face in their final confrontation?  It gave me chills.  I’ve seen that look before…and I’ll bet you have, too.  We women can be so wretched to each other.  How hard is it to just communicate?  Somewhere we decided the Golden Rule doesn’t apply to us.  Cora wins the turf war, but they both lose in the relationship.

The person I really feel sorry for is Dr. Clarkson.  He’s stuck between a rock and a harder rock while all around him more rocks are whizzing overhead.  About this time he may be wondering if life on the front line would be easier.  If he applies for a discharge on the grounds of PTSD, I’d give it to him in a heartbeat.

Mary also stumbles across an open-air rendezvous between Sybil and the chauffeur.  Oops.  The fact that Sybil goes to no lengths to conceal the encounter tells me she’s in no danger of being swept off her feet by Branson.  But he gets delusions of grandeur when she uses the word “us,” and her family’s traditional view of social position pushes her toward her first real temptation to take him up on his offer.  Think twice, Sybil.  Think of tea time without your sisters.  Or cakes.  Just say no.

Branson really gets under my skin, and when I asked myself why, the answer was Bates.  Branson always asks Sybil to give up everything — her privileged life, her family relationships, her friends — to be the wife of a man who will likely spend more time living in jail than with her.  But Bates always refuses to allow Anna to compromise her own future and insists on being the one who sacrifices the most in the relationship.  Night and day.  Branson and Bates.

Moseley’s stock just went up about 100% in my book — feeding a hungry veteran on his doorstep.  I take back everything I said about him before.  He wins the “most improved character” award for this episode.

One of my favorite moments is the small, simple scene where Moseley walks up the drive to the manor.  You’ve gotta love the kind of life where you get to walk everywhere — especially in a place like Downton Abbey.

“Be careful what you wish for,” O’Brien warns Ethel, and for once she nails that on the head.  Ethel gives the Major the green light to “get to know her better,” and she pays for it — but he does not.  Ethel’s lost her place and her dreams and gained a serious reality check.  The Major, of course, gets to continue on upstairs like he’s Prince Charming…from Shrek.  I would have been just as mad as Mrs. Hughes at Ethel, but I think I’d also be putting some “homeopathic aversion therapy” in the Major’s soup for a while.

Speaking of carrying on, but in a slightly different sense, the two oldest Crawley sisters are learning how to treat each other in the midst of learning how to make use of themselves for the war effort.  The concert is big fun — Michelle Dockery has a beautiful voice, Carson sings, and what an entrance!  Our MIA boys stopped the show and my heart dead in its tracks.  What a lovely little duet with Lady Mary and Matthew.  I’m not missing Lavinia a bit.  And I’m thinking after all this drama there’s no way her feet can fill the shoes of the Countess of Grantham.

Lord Grantham treats us to another measure of his noble nature.  Not only does he publicly admit, both upstairs and down, that he wronged Bates, he also goes to find him, apologizes, and restores Bates to his position at the manor.  In this female-dominated story, it’s a nice break to sit with the gents at a table in the pub and get things all squared away over a pint without hysterics or needing a passport.  Let it be known Downton Abbey isn’t just a chick flick.

Which means, of course, that BATES IS BACK!  (I’m very excited about this.)

Unfortunately, so is the old O’Brien.  When Lang left, the romantic and “protective” O’Brien went out the door, and she’s cookin’ up trouble for everyone all over again.  Even after she finds out what the adorable soup kitchen crew have really been up to, she still wants them punished.  That woman has shut all forms of love out of her life, and she won’t stop at much to shut it out of Bates and Anna’s lives either.  I found myself getting all afraid listening to her reigniting the grudge in Thomas’ heart over Bates, knowing they would find a way to separate the two for good.  But then a little voice inside me reminded me that love is greater than evil.  And no matter what happens in the screenplay, Bates’ integrity and love will overcome any nasty schemes.  So let O’Brien and Thomas stew.  I’m trusting they’ll just boil themselves in it, and that love will triumph in the end.

My favorite quotes from this episode:

“Is there a right side?” – Bates, referring to getting on Thomas’ wrong side

“You’ve been taking those logic pills again.  It’s the army, Mason.  We’re going on patrol because we’re going on patrol.” – Matthew

“With your permission, dear, I’ll take my fences one at a time.” – the Dowager Countess

“Now hold it right there.  If we can’t feed a few soldiers in our own village — them that’s have taken a bullet or worse for King and country — then I don’t know what.” – Mrs. Patmore

“I may not be a woman of the world, but I don’t live in a sack!” – Mrs. Hughes

For more Downton Abbey fun, check out this week’s episode of “Picture Shows & Petticoats,” and don’t forget the fun #DowntonAbbey links I retweeted last week on Twitter.  See you next week!

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