Downton Abbey Season 2 (Part I)

Real life intervened, but I finally caught up with the last 2 episodes of Downton Abbey. Well, there’s still the Christmas special, but frankly, I don’t think a whole lot will happen in that episode, since there will be a third season after all. My review in one word – baffling. There’s so many WTH plot development I don’t know where to start. But let’s start with Lord Grantham and Jane the maid. Seriously?? Your wife was too busy with war effort and you had to lunch by yourself a few times, and that made you decide your life is missing something? And the way to fill it is by flirting (and almost much, much more) with the maid while your wife is lying sick? I know aristocratic men throughout history were never the most scrupulous when it comes to these kind of things, but, umm, what about realistic character development? I’m actually one of those people who think Julian Fellowes was a bit full of it making Lord Grantham such an epitome of honor and noble-ness in Season One, but still, you can’t potray a character one way, and without any warning, just make him someone else altogether for the sake of plot development. Well, I guess you can if it’s a character that exists solely for the purpose of furthering the plot (Lavinia, Mrs Bates etc etc), but not when it’s a main character that you still want the audience to care about in future seasons. And Grantham’s flaws aren’t even that interesting, it’s so cliched and predictable and boring.

Finally some resolution on the tedious Sybill-Branson romance. Yup, good riddance for both of them, go live happily ever after in Dublin. Too  harsh? Maybe. I’m just disappointed because Branson’s character had so many potential when he was first introduced to illustrate the tension between the classes. But woopps, he fell in love with the upper-class daughter and suddenly it’s all about LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. And the show also shortchanged Sybill, after a few scenes about her wanting to be a nurse, suddenly she is a nurse, we see her being a nurse a few times and that’s that. Really, it was that easy for her, the daughter of an Earl who presumably was brought up with every comfort in the world, to adjust to being a nurse during the war, seeing all kinds of horror she must have been unfamiliar with?

I’m more interested in Edith’s development. She’s the one who has grown the most among the three daughters. So she really did love Patrick, wasn’t just to be the mistress of Downton. I understand why Mary was quite cruel and unfeeling about the whole thing, she really believes the man was an impostor, and it must be Matthew’s future that loomed large in her mind. But still, she knew how Edith felt about Patrick, I thought she was unnecessarily cruel when she talked about all the memories of them growing up with Patrick is so commonplace and cliched anyone could fake it and pretend to remember them. Well, I’m sure Edith has more special memories of Patrick.

I actually like the Mary-Richard Carlisle dynamic, it’s interesting and promises a lot of fireworks in the future. Hopefully they won’t turn him into a cartoony villain and make him starts physically abusing Mary or something like that – I like his villainy and manipulation the way it is now. I predict we won’t see any resolution of the Mary-Matthew story until the last season, whatever number it may be , so maybe we get to see more of the battle of wills between Lady Mary and Sir Richard. I’d put my money on Mary ultimately prevailing – hopefully the show won’t go the deus ex machina route this time like with Lavinia and Mrs Bates.

Anna and Bates – well, I’m a sucker for those two, what can I say, I got teary-eyed at the wedding and the “first night” scene. I admire Anna’s practicality, it’s not just about love, it’s also about having a formal position as his wife in case Bates is arrested by the police, which he was in the last scene. Not sure what’s in store for those two, I don’t think the show would want to keep Bates in prison and out of sight for too much of Season 3, so it will be probably resolved early on.

To be continued in Part II (William-Daisy, Matthew-Lavinia, the war, and the rest of the main casts).

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