Downton Abbey – Series 2, Episode 7 Review

Apologies for the delay on this week’s post – the frivolities of Halloween have taken their toll on my fragile head.  But what of Downton, what ghouls and spectres came out to haunt the house members this week?

It can safely be said that the ghost (or poltergeist?) of Mrs Bates is tormenting Bates.  Not content to plague him in life, torturous woman has now made the ultimate sacrifice just to pin him for her murder.  It seems that naïve goodwill can never triumph over evil cunning.

Elsewhere the malevolent Sir Richard continues to hold sway over Mary’s heart, though not home thanks to the fine upstanding moral fibre of Anna and Carson.  If only Mary’s scandal had come out during the war, no one would have paid it any attention then and she’d be free to run away (roll away – still too early?) with Matthew.

Although running away probably isn’t for Mary, not after her reaction to Sybil and Branson’s elopement.  At the beginning of the second series I was aghast at their pairing – this episode I was cheering as they shared their first kiss.  Nevertheless, it was still surprising to see Sybil abandon all good sense and run off in the middle of the night, but then I suppose that’s countered by the enjoyment of watching two sisters and their housemaid in a car chase in 1918.

Why is Branson called Tom?  Is frightfully realistic writing – two people in the same house with one name – or frightfully bad planning?

Elsewhere the spirit of infidelity possessed the Earl, violent anger took hold of Thomas and the Major’s cruel legacy came to torment Ethel further.  I’m not wasting time on the Earl, who has so utterly disappointed me that I’ll barely think of him, let alone speak of his infamy.  Ethel I did finally pity.  Thomas held his own in one of my favourite scenes this entire series.  Bravo Thomas, we’ve never seen bitterness of that calibre!

There was one force for good this week, a shining beacon against the demons and monsters.  This was none other than the Dowager countess, who basically controls the whole world and who condescended to give Matthew some much needed lessons on women and love.  “But Lavinia nursed me” – so did Mary you blind fool, I thought it was your legs that don’t work, not your eyes.

Next week – final episode!  Spanish flu is nigh but we’re having a Downton send-off party with afternoon tea and servants (when I say we…)

Matthew 7, World War I 0.

Words by Claudia Rowe

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