Jan 30 2012 10:46am

Downton Abbey Season 2 (Series 2), Episode 5: Sob Alert!

Downton Abbey’s Bates and AnnaFair warning! This week’s episode was really emotional. I was a bawling mess by the time it was over.

(Need to catch up? Check out our recaps of the Season 2 premiereepisode 2episode 3, and episode 4.)

The episode started with a gruesome sequence at the front with Matthew and William getting ready to head out on an offensive with their squadron. The scene is especially poignant because the scene shows all the soldiers praying, reading letters or lovingly caressing pictures of loved ones.



Just as they start the attack and we see the enemy start firing at them, there’s a shot of Daisy standing frozen in the kitchen over at Downton. When Mrs. Patmore asks her what’s wrong, she just looks stricken and says she felt someone walk over her grave (which means she just got the chills). Snapping back to the front, the fighting is just one giant, confusing mess with soldiers from both sides being blown to pieces and we’re back at the Abbey, watching Mary gasp and drop her cup of tea on the carpet. She apologizes to everyone and says she just suddenly felt cold. Back at the front, William and Matthew are running when a shell explodes right next to them and … oh no! They’re both down! Covered in blood and lying in the mud.

Downton AbbeyBack at the Abbey, O’Brien wakes Cora & Lord G. up to see Moselely with an urgent telegram basically letting everyone know that Matthew’s been badly injured and is being transferred to the hospital in Downton. Poor Mary is just speechless and looks horrified. No news of William yet, but Edith volunteers to drive over to Mr. Mason’s house (William’s father) to find out if he’s received any news in the morning.

I have to tell you, scenes like this are what make me love this show so much. The entire household is facing the horrible news as one united front. You see all of them huddled together in their nightgowns and robes and for this one moment, there is no class distinction. They’re just members of an extended family.

So it seems that William has been sent to some hospital in Leeds because he’s not an officer and can’t stay at the Downton hospital. The Dowager and Edith confront Dr. Clarkson and basically demand William’s transfer and the doctor refuses on the grounds that the hospital is strictly there for the officers and he can’t pull any favors, even for the Abbey’s household staff. Violet is seriously upset by this and sets about trying to get William back home.

Downstairs, news of both Matthew and William’s predicaments has affected everyone. It’s brought it home to all of them, so to speak. Even Thomas is upset! He also makes some noise about how unfair it is that William is not being transferred to Downton simply because of his rank and how it seems that “their lot” always gets the short end of the stick. Seems that poor Mr. Mason has to spend an inordinate amount of money to be able to visit William.

Bates and Anna from Downton AbbeyAnna and Bates go to church to pray for Matthew and William and they have this really sweet moment with Bates apologizing for not being able to give Anna a real wedding:

Bates: “You should’ve had a church wedding. You in a white dress, me looking like a fool …”

Anna: “I’d rather have the right man than the right wedding.”

How sweet are they? Bates seems to be convinced that the divorce is going to be finalized pretty soon. Apparently, he’s paid Vera off and is optimistic about her actually taking the money and going away for good.

Meanwhile, Mary’s decided to go down to the hospital and wait for Matthew. Cora’s written to Lavinia, of course, and Lord G.’s been trying to find Isobel. But Mary’s determined to be there for Matthew and promises to be a good volunteer and not get in anyone’s way. They bring Matthew in on a stretcher and oh god! He really doesn’t look good. He’s been unconscious for a while and he’s pale with lots of bloody scratches and bruises. Sybil starts to clean him up and Mary jumps right in there to help. I’m so proud of her! She’s being so strong.

It turns out that O’Brien, in her typical conniving way, has written Vera a letter telling her about Bates’ return to the Abbey. Somewhat out of character, she confides to Thomas that she wishes she hadn’t done that because the family really doesn’t need another headache on top of everything else that’s going on.

Vera shows up and is her usual cheery self, throwing vitriol at Bates and Anna and basically telling them that the money isn’t enough to keep her quiet and she’s going to sell her story to the highest bidder. Anna tells Mary about Vera’s threats, prompting her to take a trip to London and ask Sir Richard for help.

Lady Violet of Downton AbbeyIn a hilarious scene, Violet calls “Shrimpy” (who is in fact, the Marquis of Fincher (sic) and a member of the Cabinet) to ask for help with William’s transfer. Watching her struggle with the phone is priceless. “Is this an instrument of communication or torture?” I think Maggie Smith deserves an Emmy for every single scene she’s in. Her delivery is just impeccable! Of course, she’s successful and manages to get him transferred over to the Abbey to rest, but not before we find out that his condition is beyond repair. Poor William is dying and there’s nothing anyone can do! So they bring William over to Downton and set him up in one of the guest bedrooms and Edith volunteers to look after him.

Daisy feels guilty and ashamed for leading William on and wants to tell him the truth and break it off with him, but Mrs. Patmore convinces her to keep up the pretence since he’s dying. This is so sad! William knows he’s about to die, so he asks Daisy to marry him right away so that as his widow she’d be eligible to collect his army pension. Oh, my heart! After much coaxing from Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes, Daisy relents and agrees to marry him. Now all they need is to convince the local vicar to perform the ceremony.

Downton Abbey’s MatthewBack at the hospital, Matthew’s finally awake, but his condition is pretty serious. His spine has been damaged and he can’t feel his legs. Dr. Clarkson tells Lord G. that Matthew will probably never walk again and worse than that, will not be able to have any children. Gah! Lavinia comes to visit him and he basically tells her that he won’t subject her to life with an impotent invalid. He tells her to go back to London and try to forget about him. Lavinia’s a mess about it and confides in Mary who tells her that she shouldn’t give up. But Matthew’s adamant and breaks off the engagement. So long, Lavinia!

Mary goes to London, meets with Sir Richard and confesses all the sordid details of the Pamuk affair. After railing at her a bit about her behavior, he agrees to help silence Vera, but still expects Mary to marry him. He feels that her involvement with the scandal has knocked her off her high pedestal and has made him more his equal. I really don’t like him. He’s just way too smarmy for me. Any way, he meets with Vera and offers her money for her story, in exchange for her signing a contract agreeing not to share it with anyone else. Vera falls for it and signs the contract but the next day, instead of publishing the scandal, Sir Richard’s paper announces his engagement to Mary! Vera’s livid, and can’t believe she’s been duped, but there’s nothing she can do about it. She vows to find a way to ruin Bates’s happiness any way. Well, at least the scandal has blown over for the moment, but I’m really apprehensive about Vera. I can’t imagine what she’s going to come up with next!

Lady Mary and Matthew of Downton AbbeyBack at the hospital, Matthew confides in Mary about his reasons for breaking off his engagement to Lavinia. It’s a beautiful moment between the two of them. He’s so vulnerable and she’s so caring.

Matthew: “I couldn’t marry her. Not now. I couldn’t marry any woman.”

Mary: “And if they should just want to be with you? On any terms?”

Matthew: “No one sane would want to be with me as I am now. Including me … I was just thinking it seems such a short time ago since I turned you down, and now look at me! Impotent, crippled and stinking of sick. What a reversal! You have to admit it is rather funny.”

Mary: “All I’ll admit is that you’re here and you’ve survived the war. That is enough for now.”

It’s beautiful to see them together like this even though it’s clearly under less than ideal circumstances. I think that through it all, they’ve at least developed a really deep friendship. As they’re talking, Isobel walks in and Matthew just bursts into tears when he sees her.

Downton Abbey’s Daisy and WilliamMeanwhile, the staff is preparing for William and Daisy’s wedding, but the vicar has still not been convinced to perform the ceremony. The Dowager steps in again and reminds the good Reverend Travis that he basically serves at the pleasure of the Granthams (seeing as how his “living” and house all due to Lord G.’s generosity) and maybe he would “find some way to overcome [his] scruples.” The vicar agrees, and in one of the saddest weddings I’ve ever seen, William and Daisy are quietly married. Everyone’s in tears because William is clearly drawing his last breaths. He dies a few hours after, with Daisy and his father sitting by his bedside. I guess the funeral we’ve all known about is going to be his. So, so sad.

In a minor storyline (but one that I think we’ll come back to more in upcoming episodes), Ethel has now had the baby and is living in a hovel in another village. Mrs. Hughes takes her food and tries to help her as much as she can. Seems like the dashing Major Bryant hasn’t responded to any of Ethel’s pleas to see the baby. Mrs. Hughes tries to corner Major Bryant into reading one of Ethel’s letters but he basically blows her off. In an interesting twist, Mrs. Hughes has hired a new maid (Jane) who happens to be a widow with a small child.

In the Sybil and Branson corner, nothing much happened this week, other than more innuendo and longing looks (from Branson’s side) and denials (from Sybil’s). Oh, there was an instance when Branson reached out to steady Sybil and accidentally held on to her for a second. It looked like they might kiss but of course, they didn’t. Sigh.

Next week promises more drama with Bates and Vera and I guess Mr. Carson is going somewhere because he asks Mrs. Hughes if she’s going to miss him! Branson tells Sybil that he’ll wait forever and Mary tells Matthew that she doesn’t have to marry Sir Richard! There’s also a scene implying the existence of another heir to Downton! Wow. Can’t wait!

Want more? Carry on to episode 6...


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.

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1. Beebs
Oh! every minute was just wonderful this week. Any more episodes like this and I'll be buying shares in a tissue company.

I agree Maggie Smith is a brilliant actress, she had me laughing at her scenes on the telephone and crying right along with her at the wedding. Poor Daisy. *sniff*

Sir Richard is a nasty piece of work, definitely up to no good and don't even get me started on Vera. Can't wait for next week. *g*
2. anmarama
I cried so much on this episode!!! William such a beautiful character, with a great sweet personality. Why did the producers have to "kill" him?
=( We'll miss him so much, to be honest, I thought they'd just to be wounded but I never expected to actually see him die =( (I still have tears rolling down my cheeks)
Naz Keynejad
3. nazkey
@Beebs: OMG, when Violet yelled "Shrimpy?" on the phone I almost fell out ot my chair, I was laughing so hard. I think it was brilliant of the writers to inject some levity into the episode. We certainly needed it!

@anmarama: I agree. I was shocked at how severe William and Matthew's injuries were, tbh.
4. Hannah B.P.
Yes, what a tearjerker! I thought that he was leading us to think it would be William who would die but that it would be someone else. It was very well done though. Poor Daisy is going to be haunted. I was also laughing my head off at Violet on the phone. All the stuff between Matthew and Lavinia and Mary was heartbreaking. I am actually married to a man in a wheelchair (he got viral encephalitis in college and it left him a paraplegic). So I was especially emotional since I have literally been through all that with him. Although they would have thought then that there was no hope to be intimate, that's actually usually not true. Usually the man can have intercourse, but often not have children (as is the case for my husband). But even the latter can happen even when it's not expected. So we'll see what the future brings. The war will also leave a lot of orphans so if he and his wife were willing to adopt... It's not surprising he pushed Lavinia away. It was very sad because she did love him and I feel for her. In his condition, it's very natural to do so. Mary won't so easily be pushed aside though. She knows her heart now and since she's so tenacious, she won't let him push her away.

What a fake out with Sybil and Branson! Oh, I thought they were going to kiss, too. So close! She did lean in and he did. They were physically closer than ever before. I thought his hand wasn't on her waist to steady her but to keep her from walking away when he was talking passionately about "things that are worth fighting for." I bet we'll see something dramatic with them soon. I have been cringing for weeks with Anna and Bates because they were being so naive about Vera. She didn't disappoint! I am so nervous about what Richard will so after the preview for next week. He's angry and he's obviously the vindicative sort. The scandal will probably come out right as Matthew and Mary are starting over. And that old man as the heir? How strange! We'll see what comes of that, too. And I wonder if it isn't Mrs. Hughes that's leaving to help Ethel with her baby. Would that mean O'Brien would be promoted?! Oh horrors!

So I have a little quibble about the timeline. Ep 4 started with 1918 (presumably January). Ethel discovers she's pregnant at the end (presumably weeks or even months after the start of the episode). When ep 5 starts it's the Battle of Amiens in Aug, 1918 and she's had the baby. It's at least a couple of months old. August is the 8th month. She was probably a few weeks along in the pregnancy when she found out but still it's not enough time for the baby to be a couple of months old in August.
Naz Keynejad
5. nazkey
@Hannah: OMG! I thought the EXACT same thing about Ethel & her baby! I mean, I honestly didn't get a sense of the timeline until they showed the baby and I was like ... whoa! We totally skipped ahead a few months. The rest of the story didn't "feel" like it was that much later.

God, I hope O'Brien doesn't get promoted to housekeeper! Can you imagine? Thomas and O'Brien in charge? It would be horrible!

I can't wait to see what happens with Richard/Mary/Matthew. Mary's really got herself in a jam with Richard because now he knows her biggest secret and can really ruin her if she doesn't play along, so to speak. I guess we'll see.
6. Hannah B.P.
Totally! Mary's in a bind! I knew it was coming but yikes. I hope she doesn't pull a Daisy (though of course very different circumstances) and marry him to prevent it from getting out. I wonder if she'll decide it doesn't matter so much anymore in comparison to Matthew's condition. It is amazing they kept it secret for more than 5 years already!

This is what the ITV preview for ep 6 had included in it: "And a Canadian Major asks to visit Downton claiming to have links with
the Granthams, which will later send shockwaves throughout the house."

Huh, some people were speculating that he was a deformed Patrick or Patrick's father (who didn't die in the Titanic sinking after all). Clearly, he's not. I wonder what is connection actually is.
7. Hannah B.P.
Sorry, here's the rest of it: "The war is over but the same cannot be said of the drama at Downton. Bates continues in his struggle to be free from Vera while Lady Cora finds out that Mrs Hughes has been helping Ethel. Lady Mary is under pressure to save her family from scandal." Cora wouldn't let Mrs. Hughes go over finding out about her feeding Ethel, would she? We might see her nasty side again given that Robert said to her "sometimes you can be curiously unfeeling" in the preview. Although that could be referring to her reaction to Matthew's condition. You'd think she be more feeling about him though. I do wonder if Lavinia will get the Spanish flu. She seemed pretty determined to make Matthew see that she would stick it out with him. So she may have to got rid of another way.
8. DeeC
Rrrgh!!! Too busy with work and coursework to chime in here. I'll be back soon. How much more can we stand of the Bates/Anna suspense here, though? Thanks all and especially Naz! Be back as soon as I finish writing a paper.
Regina Thorne
9. reginathorn
Hey darling, just wanted to say that I'm always excited when I see your name on a post. Unfortunately, I haven't seen DA Series 1 yet and will have to wait until PBS broadcasts series 2 (or else it appears on DVD which might be sooner.) So WHEN I do see it, I will definitely be reading your recaps.
Naz Keynejad
10. nazkey
@reginathorn *waves* HI BB!!! I miss you! Thank you for stopping by and commenting. No worries, I'll wait until you see it :-) *mwah*
11. Diana017
I am in the States and won't be seeing DA until January! I've read all your posts on all the episodes . . . I have wanted to know what happened with everyone and am so glad I don't have to wait another 3 months! Last year when it came on we were able to order the DVDs right after the first episode so we didn't have to watch weekly - we did a marathon on a Saturday in bed - my husband loves it as much as I do! THANKS for your detailed recap!!
Jackie Wisherd
12. JackieW
I would enjoy reading this book...hope I win . I missed the show.
13. Gobsmacked
It doesn't seem that much happened with Sybil and Branson in this episode, and I kind of like it that way. What Mary said to Sybil last week was true: "Do you think this is a fairy tale?" Branson is no knight in shining armor, even though he's trying to pass himself off as the humble chauffer with a big future and a big heart for Sybil. He's judgemental, self-righteous, pushy, belittles whatever he doesn't personally approve of, and I could see him being controlling, too. I like the fact that Sybil is so young, yet has her head on straight. She's not (so far) to get all impetuous and fling herself at the first syrupy romance that comes along in her young life. I hope Julian Fellowes keeps her sensible and sure of herself, because I think Sybil is a real sleeper of a dominant character.
Naz Keynejad
14. nazkey
@Gobsmacked: I agree that Branson comes off badly here, which frankly, is not in line with what his personality was set up in Season 1. I'd be curious to see how you feel about the Sybil/Branson 'ship as the series progresses. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!
Darlene Marshall
15. DarleneMarshall
I'm glad no one was home last night because I made major forays into the tissue supply. What a weepfest! It was so well done, and I agree that The Dowager steals every scene she's in.
16. mochabean
Thanks so much for the recap! I also thought the scene between Matthew and Mary where she tells him the truth about the extent of his injuries was very powerful and moving. And later when he tells her the situation is really quite funny, it was a sad echo of when they first met in season one, when he tells her he was only joking and she agrees "it's all a complete joke." Sigh.

@Gobsmacked-- agree with you about Branson. Pivoting off the murder of the Tsar and his family (which I'll admit did seem to shock and bother him) to telling Sybil some sacrifices are necessary for the greater good (that is -- she should leave her family and admit she loves him) was really off-putting. Branson, you need to work on your material a little -- comparing your epic love to mass murder to advance a political agenda is probably not as romantic as you think... Up until then I liked their little tropish romance -- now I'm not so sure...
K.M. Jackson
17. kwanawrites
Is it crazy to think (yes) that something could have gone on already with Lord G and this new maid Jane? And there is something to this small child of hers? I'm suspicious. If not something will go on for sure.

What a great episode. Thanks for the recap.
Charli Mac
18. CharliMac
I cannot wait for Branson and Sybil to kiss already. I can tell he's an Irishman trapped in the English world. If this were the motherland he would've kissed her already and damn the consequences.

Daisy.... I am utterly disappointed in her.

Poor Matthew. I thought more could've been done with this storyline. If you're going to kill him off at least drag it out for two episodes.

I am so annoyed with Bates. Get your bollocks up already. Geez. I loved the sap but now he's just too sappy.

BTW, sorry but I am not at all interested in Ethel. There, I said it.
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