Downton Abbey Series 2- Episode 3

Episode 3, then. Now that we’ve been allowed some plot, the question remains: do we actually want a plot? Or is Downton all in the detail?

The convalescent soldiers – my apologies, officers (learning a whole new set of etiquette rules is tough, even for a posho like me) have arrived at the Abbey, but their pain and discomfort isn’t a patch on that felt by members of the Grantham family. The Dowager Countess is in her masochistic element. It’s frustrating enough getting slightly miffed about flower arranging on an almost daily basis, so to be pushed out of her drawing room into the small library (the small library, for heavens sake!) must be delicious agony.

Lord Hugh and the Simpertron 5000 are equally troubled. “This is our HOUSE, damn it!” My house doesn’t have two (or more) libraries, but I can see his point. Everyone’s had house guests who just won’t leave and/or expire, haven’t they?

Lady Edith’s rustic lusts have been reined in, so she’s channelling her passions into a role as some kind of award-winning social hostess for the injured. I wouldn’t have bet on compassion and personality pushing her arc forward, but then I’d also have guessed *someone* would have been in Lady Sybil’s bloomers by now and it seems that not even fiercely leftwing rhetoric can further Branson’s cause. What a pickle! (sorry)

In fact, all three gals seem to have achieved the desired redemption with most of the series left. Mary resists the machinations of her Machiavellian aunts and befriends Lavinia, who may just turn out to have more balls than the lot of them (which, in a house filled with battle-damaged veterans, may not be as unlikely as it sounds) and is certainly capable of bringing down the government when Daddy’s in trouble. I hope my own daughter will do the same one day.

The Thomas plot strand continues to unfurl. I was the kind of kid who used to hate it when, in books, characters would stop enjoying themselves and conflict would inevitably creep in (I could do a whole deconstruction of Willard Price books on Novelsquawks, assuming such a thing exists), and that’s kind of how I feel about Thomas. I know why he’s there, and I know the narrative needs him (though his new promotion feels clunkier than Bates’ hip socket), but he’s such a pantomime villain, with O’Brien as his Judy. And speaking of O’Brien, what’s going on? Why her sudden generosity of spirit? It’s a sad state of affairs when I can’t believe the pure motives of a century-old fictional character.

Big news, fans of stiff upper lips in the face of beastly ghastliness: Bates has been stalking Anna; fortunately in those days this was considered romantic.

Their reunion appears a picture of propriety, of course, but these two lovebirds have hidden depths; Bates is re-blackmailing his wife, while Anna (who I developed a surprise insta-crush on when she was teasing her lovely long hair with Lady M’s curling tongs) offers to become his mistress. Lawks! Fortunately girl power is still in its infancy, because apparently a husband’s adultery alone isn’t sufficient grounds for divorce. Ph-hugh.

But I’ve left the most important revelation till last. Now I’m not a very observant person, but there were no less than FOUR lingering shots of Bouncer out of Neighbours* lying faithfully at his master’s side etc. Never seen him before. And did he get a credit? Did he buggery.

Prescient reviewing moment of the week

Lord Grantham following my brief about uniform porn to the letter in a wholly flamboyant and rather visceral set of red tails. Something like what Lady Gaga would wear if she really were a Lady.

Modern analogy of the week

Downton is writhing with class war, normal folk under the jackboot of a reactionary but frightened elite hellbent on keeping the working man down. Branson is the poster boy, or course, with his sexy convictions and his comic turn with the Tureen Of Doom, but I think Anna sums it up pithily: “Officers aren’t men”.

Surprise mise-en-scene of the week

A ping pong table. Presumably the Subbuteo is still in its box and the Scaletrix is being set up in the billiards room.

Snigger of the week

(William has just proposed to the reluctant Daisy, pretty much guaranteeing he’ll never return from the front, when Mrs Hughes enters) “William, would you like to go up top?”

Terrifying possibility of the week

Would you threaten the Dowager Countess, as she affrontedly suggests, behind the laurels? Desperately hoping Sir Richard (“booooo!”) tries it next week.

Advertising tie-in of the week

Rubbish looking dating site Zoosk showing some game filly clicking on a hunk called “Thomas”. Nuanced, like it.

* or possibly Goldie out of Blue Peter, if you’re my age.


Downton Abbey is next on your tellybox on Sunday night at 9pm- ITV1

You can follow Biondino on the Twitters


2 Responses to Downton Abbey Series 2- Episode 3

  1. Hilary Wardle says:

    Delicious Rustic Lusts, coming soon from McVities

  2. Had to check the publication date of Wind In The Willows last week, as Dowager Countess referenced Toad of Toad Hall. Published 1908, so OK. Wiff Waff (Ping Pong) is also OK, as it started in the 1880s as ‘an after-dinner, parlour game’ — so quite appropriate for capable invalids.

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