Feb 10 2011 12:00am

Downton Abbey, Episode 2: As The Soap Bubbles

Downton Abbey Matthew Crawley

Whoa! Talk about drama—or melodrama, you be the judge. Episode two of Downton Abbey is just rife with interesting vignettes, all of them possibly setups for yet more drama down the road.

What do we have? Let’s see. We have Mrs. Crawley, widow of a doctor, former nurse, and mother of the heir to Downton Abbey, visiting the local hospital of which the dowager countess is patroness. Of course, Mrs. Crawley cannot resist giving her medical opinion and encouraging the good doctor to perform a newfangled procedure. I want you to imagine the righteous wrath of Maggie Smith when she learns of the nerve—the nerve, I tell you—of this woman, interfering in HER hospital. And things do not improve between these two ladies when the procedure turns out to be successful.

Downton Abbey Kemal Pamuk

We have the mysterious Evelyn, who turns out to be the son of a viscount and a rather eligible suitor, coming to Downton to hunt and, we assume, court Mary. Too bad for Evelyn that he brings along a charming Turkish diplomat who quite turns Mary’s head. And too bad for Mary when said diplomat ends up dead in her bed. And too bad for the whole family when at least three servants know that’s where he died, even though he is stealthily returned to his own room by Mary, her mother, and her maid. One can hardly blame Evelyn for his waning interest in Mary as he takes his leave of Downton. And one can only surmise that at least one of said servants will not be able to keep his mouth shut about the fatal assignation.

We have Lady Edith, middle daughter of the Crawley family making a rather obvious play for Mr. Crawley by offering to take him on an expedition to look at local churches. And Mr. Crawley making a polite attempt to deflect it, although he does acquiesce to some sightseeing. Against all reason, he seems attracted to Lady Mary (she of the dead diplomat). One can only wonder why.

We have a little window into the past of Mr. Carson, the adorable Downton Abbey butler. It turns out that, in his past, Mr. Carson had been half of a song-and-dance duo known as The Cheerful Charlies, who performed in English music halls. The poor man had tried to hide this and, when we meet the other half of the duo, we cannot wonder that he wanted to keep him a secret. What a nasty little man. Carson is dreadfully embarrassed and we get to see, yet again, what a lovely person the earl is. Cora might have married him for his title, but she got an excellent man in the bargain. Fortunately, she seems to realize that.

Realizing what a good man her husband is, however, does not keep Cora from continuing to conspire with her mother-in-law to try to break the entail although it is obvious that her husband wants to keep the estate intact. The telling moment from this episode is when the earl tells Mr. Crawley that when he looks at Downton Abbey, “I see my life’s work.”

Downton Abbey Lady Mary

So, what do we have to look forward to? Lady Mary has already been through an ill-bred duke, a future viscount, and a Turkish diplomat (dead). Who will be her next suitor? Why did Mr. Pamuk die? He seemed a healthy young man. Did he really die of natural causes or did someone slip something into his brandy? If so, who—and why? Will cousin Matthew get his chance or will he be lured away by Lady Edith’s church tours? Will the dowager countess find someone to break the entail? Will she break Mrs. Crawley’s head? Will the other half of the Cheerful Charlies come back to make more trouble? And what about Thomas, the footman, and O’Brien, the lady’s maid? Will they continue to make trouble for all and sundry?

Tune in next week.


Myretta Robens, The Republic of Pemberley

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Liz Maverick
1. Liz Maverick
I can't help loving the interaction between Maggie Smith and pasty-faced heir's mother. It's a little ham-fisted but it works.

Myretta Robens
2. Myretta
Almost anything with Maggie Smith works for me.

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