Jan 22 2012 9:00pm

Downton Abbey Season 2 (Series 2), Episode 3: Mary is Nice!

Matthew and Mary in Downton Abbey Season 2A review of Downton Abbey Season 2, episode 3, served with an extra dollop of SPOILERS. Need to catch up? Check out our Downton Abbey Season 2 premiere recap and episode 2 recap.

Well, things are certainly starting to get intense as we embark on the third episode of the season. And I’m not just talking about the war here! We have lots of drama with Anna and Bates, Sybil and Branson, Mary and Matthew, and … Ethel and Major Bryant???



The episode starts with the Abbey all in an uproar as it’s getting converted to a convalescence home. All the pretty furniture is being moved out and replaced with hospital beds and wooden foldout chairs. Mrs. Crawley is completely in her element, clenching her clipboard and bossing everyone around, including Cora—who’s not too happy about the situation. Seems there are just too many ladies in charge here.

Good ole O’Brien fans the flames of Cora’s discontent and suggests that maybe there should be someone from the military in charge of the day to day operations and hmm...let’s see...who better than Thomas for the job? What? You’re worried about a footman being in charge? Not to worry! O’Brien’s figured it all out. See, Thomas is not a footman any more. He’s a corporal in the army with medical training. He’d be perfect for the job! But what about his rank? He’s not an officer. Figured that one out too. Dr. Clarkson has put in a request and Thomas is being promoted to Acting Sergeant. So here we are: Thomas is coming back to the Abbey. And he’s going to be in charge. This is going to be fun. Seriously, I can’t believe how naïve Cora can be when it comes to O’Brien and her schemes!

Cora, Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey Season 2Once the entire scenario is presented to Lord G., he balks, but all of his arguments are countered and he ends up accepting Thomas’s return. Mrs. Crawley expects to be in charge of the household in general and sort of a go-between Dr. Clarkson and Thomas. Cora hates the idea, of course, and in the end, it’s decided that the duties will be divided between the two ladies. Oh, as a small aside? Evelyn Napier has been injured at the front and Mary wants to know if they can bring him over to the Abbey. Dr. Clarkson objects because that would mean pulling a favor and going against the established military system of assigning the injured to specific hospitals, but Lord G. loses it and tells him that it’s his house and he’ll invited whomever he wants to stay with them. So there! It’s so rare to see Lord G. lose it like this. It’s fun to watch everyone cower when he does. I like that they’ve established Evelyn’s possible return. I’m sure it will get all muddled up with Mary and Edith (and the letter she wrote about Mr. Pamuk, etc.)

Over in the Matthew/Mary corner, it seems Auntie Rosamund has told everyone about her little discovery in the garden with Sir Richard and Lavinia. Remember that little tidbit from last week? You know, when he was threatening poor sweet Lavinia with...something? Anyway, Rosamund and the Dowager are cooking up a scheme to find out exactly what’s going on so that maybe they can discredit Lavinia, help Matthew see the error of his ways, and come running back to Mary. Only problem is Mary’s not so convinced.

I said this last week and I’ll say it again: I really wasn’t a huge fan of Mary’s before, but I have to say, I’m really liking the new and improved version. She’s not as selfish and self-centered as she used to be.

The Dowager Countess of Grantham in Downton Abbey Season 2Back in London, the Dowager pays a visit to Rosamund and finds out Lavinia’s secret. Well, first, they invite Lavinia over for tea and practically interrogate her about her “relationship” with Sir Richard. Turns out that Sir Richard was friends with her father and uncle. Of course, Rosamund and the Dowager dig deeper and they find out that Lavinia stole secrets from her uncle and gave them to Sir Richard, who promptly published the information, incriminating half the British cabinet of an insider trading scheme. The “Marconi Scandal” embarrassed and questioned the honor of some pretty important people and Lavinia was at the center of all of it. Rosamund implies that she gave the information to Sir Richard because they were lovers. Mary is still not convinced. Go Mary!

Okay, yes, I want Mary and Matthew to get together too, but I like that Mary’s not willing to drag Lavinia through the mud. Maybe it’s because she’s been in the middle of a scandal herself (a much less public one of course) and she feels a sort of kinship with Lavinia. What’s also interesting is that she doesn’t seem too bothered by Sir Richard having an (alleged) affair and this is the man she’s supposed to like enough to consider marrying!

Meanwhile, during her weekly trip down to the village, Anna gets a glimpse of—gasp!—Bates! But…but…but … what is he DOING here? How? When? Why? She confides in Mary about her little sighting and Mary offers to call her beau (!!!) Sir Richard and ask him to snoop around and find out what’s going on. Guess what! Bates has taken a job working at a local pub. What in the world? He was supposed to be shacked up with his estranged wife (well, not willingly of course, but still!)

Bates in Downton Abbey Season 2Of course, Anna finds the pub and (gently) confronts Bates. Seems Bates’s lovely wife has added to her already long list of virtues (insert sarcasm here) and has been cheating on him. This is great news because now he has a reason to divorce her. Yay! But why is he HERE? Well, he had to leave Vera in order to strengthen his claims against her and decided to take a job at the pub because he wanted to be near Anna. Awww. He was in the village when Anna saw him because he knew she always went down there on Wednesdays. Sigh.

Bates: “You’ve changed your hair”

Anna: “I was trying out Lady Mary’s new curling iron. What do you think?”
Bates: “I think I would love you however, whatever, whenever …”

Anna offers to become his mistress just to be with him and of course, Bates doesn’t accept that, “I know you Anna Smith and I love you and that is not the right path for you. It won’t be long now.” My heart! Seriously, they are so awesome together. Anna and Bates forever!

Oh my god! Branson’s been called in to serve! Eep! But wait—he’s decided to be a conscientious objector. And, he’s going to do it in style. He’s going to report in for duty, get his training and then during the final ceremony, he’s going to denounce the army and the war. Sybil is not too happy to hear about his rebelliousness, but well, Branson is being stubborn about it. Sadly though, his plans are thwarted when the army rejects him after his physical. Apparently, he has a heart murmur and is disqualified. He hasn’t given up his plans to make his opinions about the war known, though. He’s going to find some way to make a statement. Turns out he’s a fan of the Russian uprising and sees himself as quite the rebel. Sybil tries to talk him out of it, but to no avail.

Thomas shows up at the Abbey full of his usual charm. None of the servants (minus O’Brien) are really thrilled to have him back, least of all Carson who now has to (technically) report to him. This is just a disaster waiting to happen. I know Thomas is going to pull something.

The convalescing officers finally begin to arrive and poor Mr. Lang is having some serious flashbacks. Mrs. Patmore comforts him and shares her nephew’s story with him. Lang, who doesn’t realize the other servants don’t know the full story (i.e. that he was shot for cowardice) lets the cat out of the bag at the dinner table, embarrassing poor Mrs. P. Later on, the servants are all woken up by Lang’s screams as he has a nightmare. O’Brien is there to help him get back to sleep.

Seems like Edith’s finally found her calling. Well, I mean, they established that she wanted to be helpful last week when she helped the Drakes, albeit with disastrous results, so her need to find something useful to do is nothing new. In her own quiet way, Edith starts taking care of the soldiers and gets them books from the library and helps write letters for them.

Matthew’s back! He’s still on tour with General Strutt and is granted a short leave. The family decides to have a proper dinner party and invite the general to see the progress of the Abbey as a bonafide convalescent home first hand. Carson’s worried that the dinner won’t go off very well without a footman and Branson steps in and offers to help. Oh oh. This can’t be good.

In a cute little aside, one of the officers— a hot looking Major Bryant—catches Ethel’s eye and she starts to flirt with him, to the dismay of Mrs. Hughes. I love how brazen Ethel is and how she really doesn’t buy into the whole class distinction. She’s the perfect example of lines being blurred by the changing world. I hope they carry her storyline further. It’d be fun to see her married off to an officer and a “lady” in her own house. Hah.

William comes back to spend one last night at the Abbey before he’s deployed. Daisy’s all aflutter because she doesn’t know what to do with his, er, declarations of love and Mrs. Patmore tells her that she has to just be agreeable and pretend like she feels the same way about him. She tells Daisy that William can’t go off to war with a broken heart and that she can always break the engagement when he comes back. William proposes and Daisy accepts, all under the watchful eye of Mrs. P.

The general arrives and is quite impressed with the care given to the soldiers. Everyone’s seated for dinner and Branson’s carrying the soup tureen, but he looks really nervous. Anna’s upstairs cleaning Sybil’s room when she finds a note from Branson asking Sybil to forgive him and that “the bastard had it coming to him!” Of course, she runs downstairs in a mad dash and finds Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson and they stop Branson right as he’s about to start serving the soup. They remove him discreetly from the dining room and take the soup away only to find that he never intended to murder anyone. He’d just made some disgusting slop and wanted to dump it on the general’s head! LOL. Carson’s obviously pretty upset and William offers to step in and act as footman, so the dinner goes off relatively smoothly.

The best part of the dinner is when the general salutes and toasts Edith for her kindness and generosity to the patients. It’s really a sweet moment for Edith. She’s finally acknowledged for something!

Meanwhile, The Dowager and Rosamund try to pressure Mary into giving Lavinia away and telling Matthew the sordid details of her history with Sir Richard. They keep hinting at it at dinner, but Mary doesn’t say anything. Afterwards, she pulls Lavinia aside and they have a little heart-to-heart.

Lavinia admits to having given the sensitive information to Sir Richard, but only because her father owed him a large sum of money and he’d blackmailed her. And she adamantly denies ever having been Sir Richard’s lover. Back in the drawing room, Mary tells Matthew (in front of Rosamund) that Lavinia is absolutely perfect and completely charming! Again, hooray for Mary!

The evening is a success and as the general is getting ready to leave, Mr. Lang, who’s standing with the servants to see the general off, has a bit of a meltdown. The stress of having all the wounded officers around and seeing the general are just too much for him. He ends up packing his bags and leaving, with Carson’s good wishes and promise to recommend him when he feels he’s ready to go back to work.

Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey Season 2Lord G. asks Matthew to assign William as his servant at the front and keep an eye on him, and of course, Matthew agrees. Back in their bedroom, Cora sadly admits that while Matthew and Mary looked great together during dinner, Lavinia is in fact a nice girl. Lord G. sums it up beautifully, “We dreamed a dream my dear, but now it’s over. The world was in a dream before the war, but now it’s woken up and said goodbye to it. And so must we.”

What did I tell you? Intense.

So next week, there’s a glimpse of Branson and Sybil, where he’s telling her that he’ll leave only when she’s ready to run off with him (squee!) and oh my god, Bates comes back! Matthew and William go off on some mission, and oh no! Matthew’s MISSING???


If you liked this Downton Abbey recap, you might also enjoy these related posts:

Or, carry on to the episode 4 recap...


Naz Keynejad is an avid reader, wanna-be writer, editor and self-professed geek. She has a “thing” for period dramas and will watch anything as long as it’s filled with suppressed sexual tension, angst and of course, period costumes. Oh, and there has to be tea. Lots of tea.

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Beebs
It's just getting better and better but I'm still waiting for some HEA's. (I'm not very patient)
2. DeeC
OMG OMG OMG. Dearest Naz you have outdone yourself -- What a great recap. I feel like I watched it through you. I love the bit about Ethel writing letters for the poor soldiers. Yes, Ethel's quite good at writing letters as we know.....a hem! The thing with Thomas is absolutely diabolical. As you say, Cora's naivite(sp) where O'Brien is concerned is absolutely mind boggling. Hello, didn't we have Lord G. sum it up for us about getting rid of Thomas right before Cora's miscarraige during Season 1 when he said to Carson, "Well we knew he was a thief." Something about being an aristocrat must make you soft in the head where job histories are concerned. I truly thought we would never see Thomas at Downton again, silly me. Should be interesting. The Lavinia thing I'm having a bit of trouble following but as you say, we can admire Mary for not jumping on the opportunity. All in all, Mary is turning into someone quite more thoughtful and ....likeable. And now, my two favorites....Anna and Mr. Bates. Sigh....ok, Mr. Bates is in the village? At the pub? Ok, that's fine and good but what about the DIVORCE. How's he going to get that? Anna offered to be his mistress!!! My mind is still blowing over that. She loves him, of course, but....isn't she pissed at him for walking away from her? Did se beg her forgiveness? Ok, I have a thousand more questions but I better let someone else have a chance to comment....thank you again a million times, Naz!
Naz Keynejad
3. nazkey
@Beebs Me too! I think we're in for some HEA with Anna & Bates at least. It's only the third epi tho and we have quite a few left to go. I'm also totally rooting for Sybil & Branson.

@Dee Aw, I'm so glad you're enjoying these! Okay, so the thing with Lavinia: it appears that she had access to some secret documentation that tied several high ranking members of the government to an insider trading scheme. She turned those over to Sir Richard in exchange for her father's debt to Sir Richard. Rosamund and the Dowager didn't know the debt part, so they assumed that L. had turned over the evidence because she was sleeping with S.R.

Re. Bates and his divorce, he can prove that Vera is being unfaithful and according to the law, that evidence is enough for him to seek divorce. He's left her to show that the marriage isn't working, etc. He's going to offer her money to just accept the divorce and move on. I highly doubt that Vera's going to be that easy to get rid off, but we'll see.
4. Hannah B.P.
I had to laugh a little at the title for this post. I've always been firmly in the Mary camp vs Edith. Mary showed much earlier on that while she does have self interests (as she should) she is not wholy selfish. At the very beginning of S1 she was somewhat petty and selfish but I felt like that changed with Mr. Pamuk. She really came to care for him and soon after for Matthew. I guess the blow of Pamuk's death made her have different outlook on the pettiness of the aristocracy. And she admitted to Matthew that the whole life made her angry. She was being used like a play thing, with men being flung at her constantly. I think of her reaching out to make sure William got to see his mother before she died. That was touching. Edith, on the other hand, has not shown anything but selfishness until this episode. Sometimes hers was understandable, too, but often it wasn't. Even in ep 2 of S2 when Carson seemed to be having a heart attack, all she cared about was her dress. So I would call this one Edith is nice. And she was quite nice in this one. I have my suspicions that it was to find another bloke to snog, like Mr. Drake. Caring little if he's married or not, too, which is much worse than making love when single with someone else who is single before marriage. I do hope she gets her comeuppance about Mr. Drake at some point. But perhaps she'll surprise like Mary has done and find her heart in caring for the injured. I think I would like to see her form a relationship slowly over time with Mr. Smiley, the amputee. He brought out a nicer side of her. Maybe she can teach him to write with his right hand.

I predict that Mr Bates is in for a ride awakening with Vera. She's so scheming, she'll take his money and divorce and go straight to the papers about Pamuk/Mary/Anna. And of course, it will be Richard Carlisle's paper, so that it will ruin any chance Mary has with him (no one's going to cry over that). And esp since Anna and Mary have gotten so close (by the way, another selfless thing Mary did was helping Anna find out about Bates) Anna will not forgive that. Plus, he was right to be cautious about it once Vera said she knew Anna's part in it. If that came out, Anna could be fired and not get a job elsewhere. I would doubt Lord G would do that to Anna but with O'Brien and Thomas scheming and leading Cora (who I'm sorry is being obnoxious lately) by the nose we could have a serious shake up. Anna and Mary lately remind me of Sybil and Gwen in S1. Speaking of Sybil, she and Branson are getting tense, yes? I wonder what Branson will do now that he's so upset about Ireland. His scheme at dinner was pretty funny, esp everyone thinking he was going to assassinate the general! Whatever he does next it's going to be a sticking point with Sybil. I hope they do have a romantic moment this series though. I like Ethel, too. She's spunky and I wonder if this supposed sex scene that we'll see this series will be between her and Major Bright. There's also supposed to be a wedding and funeral. The wedding could obviously be Matthew and Lavinia or Mary... or William and Daisy! That was a shocker. I love Mrs. Patmore but what was she thinking! Of course, he might try to get married before he leaves! Now Daisy's in a pickle. I do think she is conflicted in her feelings for him. She lights up when she talks about him but I think she just feels like things are moving too fast. The funeral could be any of the men serving (like Matthew, God forbid). They make it seem like William has a death wish but there's also Carson's health problem. I'm thinking it could be him. :(
5. DeeC
They'd never fire Anna over the Pamuk thing! Cora was the one who basically asked Anna to be silent. If Mary really grows up (and who knows it sound promising) she should go straight to her dad and say, "They're something you ought to know...." That would take away Vera and O'Brien's power and clear the way for Bates and Anna to be truly happy. Wedding in December!!!!!
6. Hannah B.P.
No, they wouldn't fire her, but that would have been protocol. Vera probably doesn't know that Cora was involved, too. And Bates didn't know she was either. That's why Bates was persuaded to go by Vera. That and loyalty to Robert. Even today, it would be very hard for a young woman to tell her father she slept with someone. So that is highly unlikely that she would volunteer that information.
Naz Keynejad
7. nazkey
@Hannah: I totally agree with you about Vera. It's just too good to be true that she'll divorce Bates, take the money and just go away. If that had been the case, she would've already done it. (Not to mention they've hired a pretty heavy duty actress to play her role and I doubt it was just for one measley little scene. LOL).

I think Edith is just lost. She's so desparate for attention that she'll do anything for it. Maybe being of actual use will help her get over her insecurities?

And yes, Cora is definitely being very obnoxious (especially in this last episode) and is just completely clueless, which bothers me to no end.
8. Hannah B.P.
Yeah, if Bates knew that Cora had helped move Pamuk, he might have been less pushed around by Vera regarding Anna. Because you're right DeeC that Cora would protect Anna but Robert would have ultimate authority so if he was a different man, he could easily just fire Anna over the whole thing. But Anna has no clue that Vera is trying to blackmail him, she thought Bates was just afraid that by not going back to Vera and having a relationship with Anna while he's still legally married, Bates would make Anna appear immoral. And I do think that contributed to his decision, too.

And Mary has no idea that Vera is blackmailing Bates about this and so she has no reason to tell her father what happened. What purpose would it serve based on the information she has? If she knew about Vera's threats that would be a different story. I'm irritated that Robert is overlooking Thomas' stealing. I would guess that is due to his feeling guilty about not serving when Thomas has. I wonder what the reason behind that is. I thought it would be because he was too old but he's younger than Molesly. There must be a medical reason that will be revealed. I wonder if Branson's heart murmur will continue to be an issue.

I was also thinking that perhaps the funeral is for Matthew. Soldiers who were missing in action were presumed dead and after the family has waited for a period of time they might decide they should have a funeral even without the body. I will assume that he won't turn out to be dead in the end though. Since it sounds like Evelyn Napier will return I wonder if he will try again with Mary. She might be more interested now. I can imagine that Mary may reject Richard Carlisle because she feels like he was mean to Lavinia and her father. Carlisile seems like a nasty piece of work. Of course, Carlisle might try to blackmail Mary if she refuses to marry him by printing the Pamuk affair if Vera approaches him with it. So many possibilities!
Charli Mac
9. CharliMac
I totally skipped reading this entire post and all comments. Today, on a chilly Sunday I decided to watch the entire first season on Netflix. OMG, why they heck did I wait so long to watch this series! I am going in now to catch up on Season 2, then I shall be commenting on every post. Squee! Oh, and I just adore Daisy and Mr. Bates and Thomas is such a wanker and when her Ladyship miscarried I bawled and when his Lordship cried, oh, well, I will stop babbling now and go catch up.
10. Lynn?Elsandra
It's been mentioned before but PBS is showing things slightly different in the States so your recaps are an episode behind.
Naz Keynejad
11. nazkey
@Lynn?Elsandra - Yeah, they did the same thing last year. They edit it slightly differently, which frankly, makes zero sense to me. If you want to read the other recaps (I've done the entire season), you can just click on my name and all of my posts come up. Be warned though, because there will obviously be spoilers!

@CharliMac - I can't wait for you to start commenting! Thanks for stopping by :-)
Post a comment