Downton Abbey Series Blog- Series 2 Finale

Last week, we tied up the second division plot strands, leaving us a final, 90-minute (or, if you prefer, 15 minute + ads, cheers ITV) bonanza of metaphorical- and literal- coitus interruptus.

As we’ll see, some of the characters take “sorry dear, I’ve got a headache” to frankly extreme measures.

The key plot drivers, then, are sex and Spanish flu, two things I always try to keep separate. To be fair, as the epidemic overruns the Abbey, sex is the last thing on the minds of most of the invalids.

The same can’t be said for Lord Grantham, whose dalliances with Jane (“I think you know how much I want to help, my Lord”), if ultimately unconsummated, are a rather rum show while Cora writhes in bed for entirely more vomity reasons.

Disappointingly, ingrained chivalry eventually gets the better of him, which is a shame for those of us who heartily share in his taste and were looking forward to this moment, and packs her off the only way he knows how – out of his service, with a hefty chunk of hush money weighing down (but, alas, not all the way down) her petticoats.

You know, written down, that almost makes him seem like a bounder. Cuddly Sir Hugh? Never!

Another rather more surprising example of loinal stirrings is revealed via O’Brien’s fierce loyalty to death’s door-knocker Lady Cora. Doing my sums, then, that makes two gay characters, both of whom are boo-hiss baddies. Is that really on? Next series I expect we’ll discover Sir Richard has a penchant for lithe, pretty, flat-chested youths (a category into which Lady Mary slips suspiciously well) and complete the set.

Saucepants also in the Bates household, as it becomes when Bates and Anna hurriedly tie the knot in Ripon: increasingly desirable social hotspot of the north. The romance of the situation is slightly spoiled by their motivation – the inevitable impending arrest of Mr Bates – but then when have these two ever expected an easy life?

At least they get one night of marital bliss, in the form of a surprise boudoir prepared by Lady Mary who seems to have conveniently forgotten the lethal risks involved in illicit trysts in the Abbey.

Still, they both come out of it alive, which isn’t bad going since the household these days increasingly resembles one of Miss Marple’s soirées.

Lady Sybil’s romantic life, however, remains class war in microcosm. Branson (now a journalist, as if that’s somehow a more honourable profession) is finally allowed some speeches befitting the winner of Sybil’s heart and his passionate yet rigidly controlled showdowns with Lord Grantham briefly pull the show out of the tar pits of melodrama.

However, that all takes a bit of a back seat. We know what we’re all here for (echoes of series one here, by which I mean ‘exactly the same “will they won’t they” nonsense’) – and that’s Matthew and Mary. The plot device Sir Julian Fellowes has chosen to use may be more or less historically accurate, but is one hell of a great big blunt object that flattens everything in its path. Yes, it’s the Spanish Flu guest spot, here to rid the estate of the weak, the elderly (not Aunt Violet, she still has the immunity she developed during the killer outbreak of 1731) and the narratively inconvenient.

Ah, Lavinia. Despite having the heart and stomach of at very least a minor royal, we’re constantly reminded she has the slim, frail body of a consumptive child. So it really knocks her for six when she sees her fiancé, the man she intended to nurse all his days without so much as a quiver from his trouser department, smooching, dancing and making love (in the original sense, you dirty birds) to Mary while the gramophone scratches erotically in the background.

Except, it doesn’t. “Be happy, for my sake” are her last words. It’s all a bit of a headf*ck, true, but Matthew, back in zombie make-up (a white and black sunken-eyed combo to rival Baron Samedi in “Live & let Die”) and enough solipsistic self-pity to make a goth blush, manages to convince himself that she died of a broken heart. He and Mary are cursed forever! Or until the end of series 3, we presume.

The Spanish Flu treats the rest of the (less expendable) household more generously. After a rather tenuous “will Cora die?” strand that brings out O’Brien’s humanity, she makes a full recovery, as do Carson and any number of non-speaking extras. Even Thomas, suddenly with a purpose again in the absence of half the staff, is back in the fold.

It may be the dawn of a new decade, but we really haven’t gone very far, have we?

Quality lines of the week: “don’t be defeatist, dear, it’s very middle class” Aunt Violet to self-fulfilling prophecy Edith as she bemoans being left on the shelf.

“I do hope I’m interrupting something” Aunt Violet again, as Sybil and Lord G confront each other over their Branson pickle (yes I used that joke a month ago, and damn straight I’ll use it next series too, see if I don’t).

“If you’re turning American on me, I’ll go downstairs” Lord Grantham to Lady Cora. Not a euphemism, sadly.

Unnecessarily specific crime of the week: Bates is arrested for wilful murder. Not just boring old everyday murder, oh no, he had to show off. Wilful, ghastly, BEASTLY murder. Just not on.

Technological innovation of the week (and I could actually do this one straight): the gramophone. These are the days when a stately turn around the dancefloor with a woman who is not your betrothed was equivalent to a kneetrembler behind the bike sheds, so you can imagine the dangerous power barely concealed in its massive horn.

Genuinely uncomfortable Edwardianism of the week: Baby Charlie’s strange looking dummy. I’m not sure I can bring myself to plug it on a family website, butt please use your imagination.

After watching this episode, two friends, previously Downton addicts, told me they wouldn’t be watching series 3. What do you lot think? For all my moaning, I bloody will. I love it.

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You can follow @Biondino on Twitter here, and Tellysquawks there.

Rent out the fantastic first series of Downton Abbey today at lovefilm.com, LOVEFiLM offer a huge range of movies and tv shows that can be delivered to your door and also let you watch films online using their streaming service, visit the site now to sign up.

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2 Responses to Downton Abbey Series Blog- Series 2 Finale

  1. Pingback: The Many Lovers of Miss Jane Austen « Tellysquawks

  2. Essie says:

    From my own flu-ridden corner of Blighty, thank you for a giggle this New Year’s Eve.

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