As always with these Downton Abbey posts, if you’re waiting to watch the show when it airs on PBS please don’t read ahead – I’d really hate to spoil anything for you.
However, if you’ve managed to get your hands on the show post-BBC airing (I don’t know how you would – magical elves bring mine, and then make me a cup of tea and leave) please read on!
I watched the second episode of Downton Abbey‘s third season on Monday, and it was just as delightful as the premiere. We really didn’t see a lot of Mary and Matthew’s wedding – it was all dramatic lead-up in episode one, and the drama following their honeymoon in this episode. (They went to the South of France, which everyone other than The American agreed was far too hot.)
The large arc for this season is Lord Grantham’s financial status and the future of Downton Abbey, and that was developed quite a bit in this episode. I mean, who couldn’t love Lady Mary and the Dowager Countess scheming together to convince Cora’s mother Martha to use her fortune to save the estate?
The house hosted a large, fancy party that was thisclose to being an utter disaster when the stove broke at the eleventh hour. Martha saved the day by suggested an unconventional indoor-picnic style party, which everyone loved. Everyone except poor Carson.
The party gave us a lot of beautiful clothes to drool over, so let’s indulge and look at those for a moment.
I only wish that Sybil had still been around in this episode. I’m sure she’ll return this season (the baby and all) but I would’ve loved to see her and Tom at the party.
Then we have poor Edith. I actually wish this storyline had been allowed to develop more slowly. She’s been in pursuit of Sir Anthony, but Lord Grantham put a stop to it and asked him to leave Edith alone. It’s interesting that they didn’t consider him an appropriate suitor. As Martha pointed out, by English aristocratic standards he certainly wasn’t the least suitable husband of the three men the Crawley daughters had chosen. I mean, even in 1920, was old with a band hand really worse than the chauffeur? I just thought Lord Grantham caved a little too easily – Edith cried, and that was it. He decided to allow them to be together. It made his original decision to force them apart seem halfhearted.
The other major storyline this episode involved Mrs. Hughes. She could have breast cancer, and while the storyline is very sad I liked seeing Mrs. Patmore try to be as supportive as possible. Revealing my dreadful knowledge of scientific history, I had actually no idea that cancer had already been discovered in 1920. You know, discovered beyond the point of “lumps that kill people”, but some very brief Internet research has revealed that discoveries in cancer treatment and surgery began happening in the 1920s.
The teasers at the end of the episode were especially good – the family looks into moving into a smaller house called “Downton Place” (ugh, it might as well be a condo), and Mrs. Hughes’ cancer becomes public knowledge.