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Monday, January 16, 2012

Downton Abbey Recap: Season 2, Episode 2

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2012 at 7:59 AM

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Welcome back to Downton Abbey! (Hello to you too, simultaneously dead-eyed and crazy-eyed Laura Linney.) This week, we saw Downton turned into an officers' convalescent home, the departure of William, the return of Bates, and our end of patience with the woe-mance between Anna and Bates. Anna, girl. You can curl your hair now, dump the chump.

Having trouble keeping the cast in order? Watch the show 15 times like we do! Or study this helpful-ish chart from PBS.

Let's get down(ton?) to it.

Upstairs

Lord Grantham leads the resistance to having the estate completely turned into a convalescent home, and is all pissed off because ping pong balls keep landing in his cup o' tea and no one notices or cares except Isis.

Lady Grantham thinks she's the boss and mostly hell of is. Only concerned about her daughters in regard to EVERYONE being like, "But Mary ... what about MATTHEW??" Makes scary faces at Cousin Isobel, and rightly so.

Lady Mary is still getting her hair did even though the house is crumbling around her. Doesn't reveal Miss Swire's disappointingly unscandalous secret (she exposed the Marconi Scandal, ooh) because she has grown a conscience or whatever. Talks up Sir Richard Carlisle to everyone who will listen, ignores the way everyone involuntarily blanches at the mention of his name.

Lady Edith is all "I wish I could help out, ho-hum" and Lady Sybil is all, "I'm sure you're good at... something?" Mean! Turns out Sybil is right when Edith finds her niche reading books to bros without hands and eyes and what not. All the soldiers have platonic (?) crushes on Edith. Hopefully she doesn't ruin this by getting married to the first one who calls her "competent" or "helpful."

Edith: "What could I possibly do to help?" Sybil: "MAKE A BED, BITCH."
  • Edith: "What could I possibly do to help?" Sybil: "MAKE A BED, BITCH."

Lady Sybil spends the episode throwing blankets on things. We're hoping next week she'll start a, "buy one pair of pantaloons and a starving African gets a pair for free" program. Gets into several fights with Branson about whether or not she loves him and the biggest one is interrupted by a clueless Lord Grantham who needs Branson and the car. He goes, "Sorry to keep you waiting but you're gonna have to step on it, I've got to get to ye olde IHOP before the olde Rutti Tutti Fresh and Fruity have run out."

The Dowager Countess hates Lavina Swire, hates Sir Richard Carlisle, wants Mary and Matthew together VERY BADLY, harangues Mary about it incessantly, is thrilled with all the drama.

Matthew Crawley comes back from the front to tour the Yorkshire countryside with some famous general, talking up the war because England wouldn't rest until all its young men were either dead, maimed, or otherwise shell-shocked.

Isobel Crawley thinks she's the boss and really isn't, so she's feeling all put upon and underappreciated, and acts even pushier and bossier than ever. Was a total b about Isis, haven't you heard of therapy dogs? Damn, get with it.

Lady Rosamund feels guilty about convincing Lady Mary not to accept Matthew's proposal right away last season, so she plans a takedown of Miss Swire that would've gone perfectly if not for Mary's dumb conscience.

Miss Lavinia Swire's inadvertently reveals that Sir Richard Carlisle is even more of a dick than we thought! She continues sporting the dumpiest Christmas clown dress.

Downstairs

O'Brien and Thomas scheme and plot like classic villians. O'Brien plays Lady G like an amusing American fiddle, convincing her that Thomas should run the Army part of Downton. Thomas repays her by being mean to her and telling Lang to put a sock in it when he's having PTSD nightmares. Thomas convincingly says things like, "cock of the walk." That's our Thomas!

Mrs. Hughes and Carson operate as best they can short-staffed. Mrs. Hughes puts her nose in everyone's business, and rightly so, while Carson continues to feel scandalized by the lack of footmen. He dramatically prevents Branson from throwing shit soup on the general (set to retrospectively comical violins).

In the BEST SCENE EVER OF ALL TIME, Anna is shopping and Bates is scamming! We got the shivers. Anna and her ugly hat track him down to the public house where he's working, as a lowly bartender. Way to hide out, Bates -- so sneaky. Bates revealed that it WAS him creepin'. Anna's like, "NO DOY. Who else looks, acts, and cripples about like my Batsey?" At least she doesn't have to deal with pathetic old Molesley.

Anna's all, "I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY." And then she's all, "Waaaaait a minute."
  • Anna's all, "I HAVE PEPPER SPRAY." And then she's all, "Waaaaait a minute."

Bates annoyingly operates exclusively in the realm of noble secrets. He nobly takes a secret job at a pub near Downton to nobly force his wife to divorce him, then nobly turns down Anna's sexy proposition to secretly hold hands or whatever.

Branson manages to be in every scene in which Lady Sybil expresses disdain for class distinction. Explains the Russian Revolution to the other servants, swears that Kerensky, Lenin et al. won't want to this new age to dawn with "the murder of a bunch of young girls" LOL dramatic irony. His big plans for humiliating the British army through making a big deal of conscientiously objecting are ruined when his heart murmur renders him unfit for service (nice chest hair, Branson) (no really, unbutton your shirt some more). We get all excited because we think he's about to murder the visiting general at table but NO, he's just going to pour slop on him. Anarchy!

New Mother to All on the Front Mrs. Patmore bullies Daisy into accepting William's marriage proposal. We can just imagine relations between them if it comes down to it. William all, "Daisy, are you SURE??" as he's already doing it and Daisy looking super bewildered and terrified and Mrs. Patmore in the corner being all, "CLOSE YOUR EYES AND THINK OF ENGLAND, DAISY." So healthy. William's Army fate is taken up by Lord Grantham, who asks Matthew to take William on as his "soldier-servant," which is the same way he first hooked up with Bates! So sweet.

Ethel thinks an officer -- who looks like a Roald Dahl character as drawn by Quentin Blake -- is in love with her. Poor Ethel. The whole episode Ethel is like, "I think this officer really likes me for my sparking personality," and Anna is like, "Yeah, it's your poonanny." Continues to be off-puttingly ambitious. Why can't you just emulate the quietly desperate low self-esteem of Anna or Gwen?

Ethel and Major Mustache in the library.
  • Ethel and Major Mustache in the library.

Lang continues to display his utter unsuitability for work, culminating in a breakdown in front of the visiting general and Lord G from fear that he will be sent back to the front. He is kindly dismissed by Carson, because there's no crying in valeting.

And so we're dumped out of the abbey until next week. What did you guys think of this week? What are your hopes and aspirations for next week? In terms of Downton, and everything else. Lay it on us. In exciting news, Downton took home some (a?) Golden Globe for Best Dog in a Motion Picture. Congrats, Isis! More importantly, what did you think of Lady Grantham's dress at the awards? She's still sporting her creepy half-smile. "Guess that's not acting after all," says Laura.

Notable Quotes

The Dowager Countess: "I'm very good at mixing. We always danced the first waltz at the servants' ball, didn't we, Carson?"

Carson: "It was an honor, my lady."

Pushy Cousin Isobel: "What should we do to stop Isis from getting into the patients' rooms?"

Huffy ol' put-upon Lord Grantham: "I can answer that -- absolutely nothing!"

Mrs. Patmore: "Are we all working for Mrs. Crowley now?"

O'Brien, eyes on fire: "WE ARE NOT."

The DC: "I don't know many people who would threaten me behind the laurels."

The DC: "There's no 'always' about the Painswicks, my dear; they were invented from scratch by my son-in-law's grandfather."

Miss Swire: "You make Mr. Painswick sound rather a rough diamond, Lady Grantham."

Lady Rosamund: "Marmaduke wasn't a rough diamond, was he, Mama?"

The DC: "No, he was just cut and polished comparatively recently."

The DC: "I say good. If someone's to manage things, let it be our creature."

Cousin Isobel: "Why? Are you planning to divide his loyalties?"

The DC: "I wouldn't say I was 'planning' it."

Lord Grantham: "You must be enjoying your time away from the front."

Cousin Matthew: "Actually I'm struggling a bit. I just lost my soldier-servant and haven't had time to replace him." LOL rich people problems.

Mrs. Patmore: "Go and grate that suet before I grow old and die!"

The Olde Cock of the Walk.
  • The Olde Cock of the Walk.

Laura Beck and Meave Gallagher are ladies and writers living in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow Laura on Twitter at mrpenguino, follow @ExhibitionistSF on Twitter and like The Exhibitionist on Facebook.

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