Downton Abbey Season 2: Episode 1 on Masterpiece Classic PBS – Recap & Review

Image from Downton Abbey Seasin 2 Episode 1: Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary

Season 2 of the award winning television series Downton Abbey aired on Masterpiece Classic PBS last night. I had a blast as co-moderator of the official Twitter Party hosted by PBS. Many thanks to my fellow moderators:  @pbs, @masterpiecepbs, @VanityFair and @tomandlorenzo. The turnout of Tweeters was amazing and we had great fun dishing about this long-awaited second season. Join us on Twitter, or your favorite aggregator like TweetDeck or TweetGrid, next Sunday by using hashtag #DowntonPBS, and every Sunday at 9:00pm ET & PT (check local listing) through February 19, 2012.

Season one concluded last year with the announcement of the war by Lord Grantham. This is a real turning point for life at Downton and the British nation. We know from history that the devastation in deaths and the way of life will change everything – now we must watch and wait to see how these true life events play out with the characters that Fellowes has crafted. Here is a brief recap from PBS:

Recap of Episode 1 (spoilers) 

1916 opens in the throes of the Great War. Uncertainty and worry have taken up residence in the great house of Downton Abbey. Some newcomers arrive, met with varying degrees of welcome; some young men are absent, desperately clinging to survival in the trenches of France; and some men remain at Downton, their discontent festering.

Robert, ever the honorable patriarch, struggles with the uneasiness of a diminished house and the suspicion that the uniform he wears is empty. The Crawley women, too, attempt to find their place in the new climate, as Isobel helps chart a new course for one sister and Branson exerts his influence over yet another. Among the servants, love is in the air — O’Brien being, as always, the exception — until Bates makes a decision that crushes the hearts of the two people who love him most.

News about Matthew stuns the house, and Mary has a revelation of her own. Downton Abbey itself is to be made useful, transformed into a convalescent home for wounded officers. In wartime, not even the seemingly immutable Dowager Countess, Violet, remains entirely unchanged!

Favorite Moments:

I want the best. And I’m not ashamed to admit it.” – Ethel Park

Favorite new character: Cheeky housemaid Ethel Park.

Amputation in the dining room? Resuscitation in the pantry? I forbid it!” – Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham

Favorite laugh out loud line! Violet is such a wit. She reminds me of Lady Bracknell on Oscar Wilde’s play The Importance of Being Earnest. Her off the cuff reactions are just priceless!

You thought you’d got the better of me. But you were wrong.” – Vera Bates

Favorite new evil character: Wicked Witch Vera Bates!

Favorite flashback to Gone with the Wind: Lady Mary at train station asking Matthew to come back safely from the war.

Favorite check with reality: Thomas at the front in the thick of trench war and facing his courage/cowardice.

Favorite *snort*: Lady Edith goes all Greenacres on us and drives a tractor to aid the cause!

My Review:

What an incredible, mesmerizing premiere. We have been introduced to new characters with cheeky housemaid Ethel Parks and Mr. Bates wicked wife Vera. The war is in full swing and we know we in for a tragedy as so many members of the household enlist and serve in trenches of WWI.

The costumes in this episode were stunning. Seeing the men in their red coats always takes my breath away. It is still very early in the season so I am keeping an open mind to plot and character development. What did you think of the season two premiere? Who is your favorite character so far?

Period drama flourishes at Downton. Bravo creator/screen writer Julian Fellowes. You have us in the palm of your hand.

Images courtesy © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for MASTERPIECE; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2014, Austenprose.com