Downton Abbey – Series 2, Episode 4 Review

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

With cutting words, Mrs Hughes has to deal with the feisty maid Ethel and her raunchy escapades. Not such a free spirit it transpires as she realises that saucing the officers will cost her her job, and in the final scene bring her a baby too!

Gosh, it’s an exciting period at Downton. While Ethel’s busy in the bedroom, a letter to Thomas leads to exposure of Mr Bates’ whereabouts. Much to Thomas’ dismay, Daisy accidentally lets slip and before he knows it his arch-enemy is returned to the abbey. So it would seem that the reformation of Thomas and Miss O’Brien has been waylaid – tonight’s episode brought us right back to the tittering and plotting of the first series. I think it’s part of the finesse of Downton that I desperately want to see the pair brought good but also delight in their scheming.

Bates’ return is naturally satisfying, for Anna and for us (though not for poor uncharismatic Mr Molesley). The humble dialogue with the Earl of Gratham was mesmerising and the second best romantic pairing in the series is back on track. But I can’t help thinking, as I do every time, that Anna and Bates are counting their chickens far too early (confirmed by next week’s preview) … why do they have to be so sure of themselves?!

Romance number 3. Now I really didn’t think Sybil and Branson were walking a two-way street. The most level-headed of the Crawley daughters, I was under the impression that it was sensibility, as well as sense (see what I did there?), that was keeping her from the chauffeur. Yet today’s episode and the Dowager’s meddling has thrown that judgement completely. Oh to see the outcome of their meeting in the garage!

Cora is an interesting character in this week’s episode. In a total about turn on last week’s story, she has successfully pushed out Mrs Crawley to the point of departure. Cora, how heartless. I was disappointed in Mrs Crawley last week but to be honest I was disgusted at Cora tonight. The only criticism I have this week (and it’s a struggle) is that no one seems bothered about Mrs Crawley’s parting and they don’t try too hard to find her. Seems a little unbelievable.

A quick point on the camera work, one of my favourite parts: there were no real defining panning shots this week, but I absolutely adored the use of reflections – Anna in the window, Lady Mary in the mirror. Beautiful.

And so, to Matthew I-loved-him-like-a-son Crawley. What an episode! Having seen the preview, I was not surprised, though still necessarily anguished, when Matthew and William found themselves surrounded by Germans. Tears flowed as Edith tenderly revealed the news to Mary (loving the arc of their relationship). As Mary began to sing, I prayed that Matthew would appear but knew that Downton was far too sane. Frankly I can’t really comment on the moment that he appears because I was too busy wailing, squealing, screaming and breaking down (let’s not even get into him restarting the singing). No criticism on the series, though, as Mary and Matthew’s exchange after was accordingly formal. Damnable social etiquette!
This is unquestionably my favourite episode to date. The drama, unfurled through a phemonenal mixture of tenderness and wit, was Downton at its finest. And best of all, I get to write:

Matthew 4, World War One 0!

Words by Claudia Rowe

Don’t forget you can catch up on Downton Abbey Series 2 with our series blog.

1 comment

  1. Claudia

    I have been chastised for not shoehorning a reference to Mr Molesley’s humiliation at the hands of Mr Bates into the post. The reason for this is I physically couldn’t stop myself from using an appalling pun. Oh…

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