THA’S AH WOR AHN! After a one-week hiatus, Downton Abbey is back for its second season with the Videogum TV Club and tha’s ah wor ahn. You know that there’s a war on because the show opens not with the normal opening credits, but with scenes of Matthew in a war zone. MATTHEW! Be safe! You’re too
beautiful charismatic necessary to make the Mary plot line sad to die! After dodging so many explosions, Matthew comes inside to talk to a man about how he can’t wait for his week off in London/Downton. “Naturally there’s a girl I want to see while I’m there,” he says, and we think that it’s Mary. “Awww, he can’t wait to see Mary!” we think. “I can’t wait until he goes home, sees Mary, marries her in a joint wedding with Anna and Bates, the war ends, and everyone lives in loving peace for the rest of the season,” we think. Oh, how wrong we were to think that!
Back at Downton, there’s a new redheaded maid named Ethel. Apparently the want ad said, “Must have red hair and maid experience; being a bitch is a huge plus,” because Ethel is a huge bitch for the whoooole episode. As if we NEEDED another bitch. We just got rid of Thomas! (No we didn’t, but let’s pretend to be ignorant for a second!) She doesn’t know how to be a maid, first of all, and second of all she keeps going on and on about her maid experience when she previously worked in a house with only one other maid and a cook! CAN YOU EVEN BELIEVE THE NERVE SOME PEOPLE HAD IN THE PAST?
In other news, Edith is learning how to drive, but not from Salty Pudding. Where is Salty Pudding? Has he died in the war, like all of Sybil’s potential suitors apparently have, as she finds out from a letter that she receives at dinner? We don’t know! Bates isn’t around because he is in London attending his mother’s funeral. This is sad for Bates, sure, but more importantly it is sad for The Lord because it means that William has to dress him in his Army costume every day, and William is not very good at it. Poor The Lord!
This episode is about fourteen hours long again, so let me get through a few more things quickly. William is upset (for the whole episode, and I’m sure it will keep being A THING) that his dad doesn’t want him to enlist in the army. It’s weird how he thinks he’ll be able to fight in the army when he can’t even DRESS ANOTHER MAN IN ARMY CLOTHES! Thomas is working as a medical person on the front lines and he looks very scared 100% of the time, which makes sense both because war looks very scary and because Thomas is an awful coward. The hospital where Matthew’s mom works is overflowing with patients, so they’re having some sort of concert to raise money for it. And speaking of hospitals, Sybil has decided that she actually wants to do something in her life and that something is that she wants to become an auxiliary nurse, on the suggestion of Matthew’s mom! The Dowager Countess thinks that it’s a good idea that Sybil become an auxiliary nurse even though Cora is unsure, and also she is dressed like how Tim Burton imagines crows.
And also we find out that Molesley is unsuitable for service, but no one asks him why! PHEW. Now onto ALL THE OTHER MILLIONS OF FRUSTRATING THINGS. Bates comes back from London on the same train as Lady Mary and surprises Anna! He says he didn’t know he was going to come back until that day and Anna says, “You could have at least texted.” And Bates said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t think of it.” And Anna says, “You didn’t think of it? Did you think of me at all on your way home?” And Bates says, “Of course I did, Anna.” And Anna says, “And not once did the thought pop in your mind, ‘Hey, maybe I should text her and let her know I’m coming home?’” And Bates says, “Please, Anna. Let’s not fight. I’m just so excited to see you.” And Anna says, “You’re right, I’m sorry.” And everyone reading this is like, “Good thing you didn’t waste any time talking about this incredibly long episode with paragraphs of fake dialogue!” And I’m like, “I KNOW.”
Matthew’s mom suggests that Sybil ask Ms. Patmore for lessons in how to be a functioning human (make tea, make an egg) before she goes off to auxiliary nurse. That’s a great idea! She does it and immediately doesn’t know how to turn on a sink.
Oh, and one other thing that I didn’t want to tell you guys because I felt too bad about it earlier is that Matthew is engaged now. NOT to Mary, if you can believe it! To a girl named Lavinia whom he met in London! Mary doesn’t learn about this as gently as I broke it to you, though, because Edith. Do I even need to explain? Edith. That’s why. Mary puts on a brave face, though, until everyone leaves the room (everyone was in a room) except Anna, and then she starts to cry. Poor Mary! I know you were conflicted, but you probably shouldn’t have been so terrible about not marrying Matthew unless he was the heir! That’s what you get! NOTHING! I’m sorry, though!
Everyone meets Lavinia at the concert that night, and she is pretty and has perfect skin just like everyone did back then.
When Lavinia and Mary meet, Lavinia says she’s heard a lot about Mary from Matthew. “That we were going to get married but then my old mom got pregnant and I thought maybe it would be a boy so I wasn’t sure if I wanted to marry Matthew as a commoner, and then something about an Aunt that we never heard about before or again, but then my mom fell out of a tub and then I wanted to marry Matthew again, but then he didn’t want to anymore? Is that what he told you?” asked Mary. “Oh, no. Just nice things,” responded Lavinia. Matthew says he’s glad to see that Mary is looking so well, and we’re all glad to see the two of them getting along again.
While the concert goes on, Carson sits in his room and drains wine through a sheet, as he does. He explains to Ms. Hughes that he looked into Lavinia and doesn’t like her, but Ms. Hughes thinks that Mary was kind of a bitch in how she treated Matthew, and she’s just happy to see him happy again. As an audience we appreciate both of their viewpoints, but agree more with Ms. Hughes.
Back at the concert, some terrible girls have come in to give white feathers to the young men (including William) in the audience, informing them that they are COWARDS! For not being at war. Oh no, but ladies, William wants to go to war! It’s just! His dad! The Lord sees them doing so and totally explodes, shouting “YOU ARE THE COWARDS, NOT THEY!” Oh shiiiiiiiiiiiiit.
After the concert, the family has dinner and Matthew’ mom tells Sybil there’s an auxiliary nursing spot open, and do you want to take it, and also oh by the way, The Lord, Sybil is going to be a war nurse hope that is ok. Mary, who is seated next to Matthew at dinner for some reason, asks Matthew how war was. “Pretty ok,” he says, while we see Lavinia, seated on the other side of the table, talk to a servant. GROSS, LAVINIA!
Bates and Anna are having a sweet moment elsewhere. Bates says that he might be able to get a divorce from his awful wife, finally, because his mom left him a bunch of money that he could give her as part of the settlement. Anna says, AND THIS IS NOT A JOKE, “Mr. Bates, is this a proposal?” UUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. Pretty rushy and presumptuous, Anna! The guy was just telling you that he was getting a divorce! But, actually, yes it was a proposal. “If that’s what you want to call it,” he says. “And you might start calling me John.” He says that the Lord will set up a cottage for them near Downton, and then when they have enough money they’ll buy a hotel that they can run and stay in with their kids, and Anna starts crying because she never thought she’d be so happy, and it’s so beautiful, until Ethel comes in and ruins it. Ethel!
Hahah, this next thing is weird because it involved liking O’Brien for a minute, but later O’Brien pulls a wicked prank on Ethel and tells her to go into the drawing room (!!!!) because Cora wants to thank her for the wonderful job she’s doing (LOL!). She does it, like a fool, and everyone laughs at her. Haha, Ethel. YOU JUST GOT DOWNTON’D. (Later, O’Brien pulls another prank on her, telling her to wax the lightbulbs or whatever, and the whole thing is VERY The Parent Trap, and also very good.)
The next morning, Matthew leaves to go back to war and Mary meets him at the train to give him her lucky charm. Aww, Mary. He tells her to look after his mom and Lavina if he dies. MATTHEW! Don’t talk like that! Mary agrees to do that. Everyone is sad.
Back at the house, the doctor spills the beans about Molesley’s “condition” that no one asked about before, and it is revealed that Old Lady lied about both Molesley and William having “conditions” that they do not have, so they’re not able to go to war. Old Ladies be Old Ladying.
Ugh, now, this next stuff is really THE STUFF of the episode. I can’t believe it took us so long to get to it, but here we are. So. Downton gets a visitor (who I guess also said she was applying for a job?). Anna walks in on Ethel (ugh, Ethel) talking to this visitor about the Lady Mary scandal (ARE YOU SERIOUS, ETHEL?) and Ethel tells her she thought it would be ok, being that the visitor is BATES’ WIFE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
(Elsewhere, Sybil is baking Cora a cake with Ms. Patmore and Cora sees her because Carson was upset about it, but then Cora says she’s ok with her going to war now, and it is nice.) (But anyway.) AHHHHHHHHHH! Ms. Hughes sees what’s going on and tells Bates and his wife to go talk in the room where she can hear what they’re saying through a vent I MEAN JUST ANOTHER ROOM.
Now that Bates has money, his wife still refuses to give him a divorce. In order to get dirt to blackmail the family, because she honestly IS Georgina from Gossip Girl, she said “Why don’t you tell me what you think you know, and I’ll tell you if it’s true,” when Ethel asked her if she knew any information about Mary and the Turkish diplomat. (Because she’s Bates’ wife, and Bates is a known gossip?) (This is all very Gossip Girl in that is is very loosely held together and really makes no sense at all.) So she got a lot of info, and she says that if Bates divorces her she’ll sell the story to the papers. “Don’t worry. It’s not a criminal offense, is it? Just a social one,” she says, which is JUST THE MOST GOSSIP GIRL THING I’VE EVER HEARD IN MY LIFE. Bates tries to hit her and says “you bitch.” Which is kind of like, whoooooooa Bates. She tells him to put in his notice tonight, they’ll move back to London and live in his mother’s house until they get things sorted. Oh brother. Also: Hughes was listening through the vent the whole time, obviously.
Bates quites that night. The Lord is very upset with him. He lies to Anna and says the reason he’s leaving is that he’s going to give his marriage a second chance, which is very heartbreaking.
So, that’s the main thing. Let me get through a few other things, before we wrap it up with the THOMAS THING, UGH THE THOMAS THING.
Daisy kisses William to distract him from his dad problems, but doesn’t agree to be his girlfriend. LAME, DAISY. Sybil leaves for training and needs to pack clothes that she doesn’t need help getting into, of course, and before she leaves Branson admits that he wants to be with her. It’s very sweet, but she turns him down (for NO REASON). Matthew’s mom blows the whistle on Molesley and William and the doctor says he’ll write to the military people at once and let them know about the error, but later Molesley approaches him and is like, “Uhhh, well, haha, this is funny but, you know that thing the Dowager Countess made up about why I can’t go to war? Haha, you’ll never believe this but, uhh, it’s true! And I can’t go to war!” So the doctor says fine, whatever. Mary prayed. The Lord was super psyched about getting a real position in the army, but then he finds out that it’s just an honorary position, no duh. So sorry, The Lord. This is not your episode when it comes to military stuff.
Speaking of military stuff, Thomas and Matthew run into each other at the war and Thomas, the coward, asks how he could go about being sent home, so he could work at the hospital there? You know, NOT at war? Back where he could scheme with O’Brien more effectively and also not get killed? Matthew tells him that, well, he can’t do that really. First he’d have to be sent home, and then he’d have to pull a bunch of strings. Apparently Thomas had never thought of the “being sent home” idea before (or maybe just because he was holding out for a better option) because after their chat, he holds his lighter in the air in order to get his hand shot. And he does get his hand shot! Hooray, Thomas! You did it!
Back at Downton, Carson shares what he knows about why Bates left. “You’re saying that Bates fell on his sword to protect the reputation of my family?” Yes, The Lord. He did. And all you did was YELL AT HIM, YOU JERK! Why didn’t you know better?! Bates never does anything wrong at Downton!
Next week: Everything is fixed?