While US viewers were glued to their TV’s last night watching the 2nd episode of season 2 of Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Classic PBS, season 1 was awarded a Golden Globe for best miniseries or motion picture made for television beating out the BBC America’s The Hour and three HBO films: Mildred Pierce, Too Big to Fail and Cinema Verite. To the many fans of the hit series set in England during Edwardian and WWI times, the recognition and award meant that we might see a season four. Period drama has resurfaced after threats of extinction. Ha!
Season 2 continues to intrigue. Last week in episode 1, we were thrown into the trenches of 1916 France as Great Britain battles the Hun during WWI, heir Matthew Crawley introduces his fiancé Lavinia Swire to his family, housemaid Anna Smith and valet John Bates were separated by the arrival of his estranged wife Vera, former footman Thomas Barrow purposely injures himself on the front for a ticket home, and cook Mrs. Patmore presses scullery maid Daisy into a romance with newly enlisted footman William. This week the scenes are set entirely in England at Downton and London in 1917. Here is a brief recap from PBS:
Recap of Episode Two (spoilers)
As a convalescent home for wounded officers, Downton Abbey offers respite from the front. But Cora and Isobel, locked in a power struggle over running the home, wage domestic war, and Thomas in his new rank as acting-Sergeant is not one to broker peace.
Mary rejects Rosamund’s dubious advice while Daisy reluctantly accepts Mrs. Patmore’s — in both cases, new bonds are irreversibly forged. Meanwhile, Anna dares to hope when she spies a familiar figure in the village.
When Matthew accompanies a visiting General to Downton, a dinner party brings much of the war’s painful demands into sharp relief, claiming one victim and very nearly several others. Branson’s ambitions are revealed and William’s aspirations are fulfilled. And Edith, finally, catches someone’s eye.
“I don’t know many people who would threaten me behind the laurels.” – Violet, Dowager Countess Grantham
Mary seems defensive of Lavinia. Countess Violet’s comment was the perfect comeback.
Favorite touching scene: Housemaid Anna and former valet Mr. Bates are reunited after Lady Mary uses Sir Richards resources to discover that he is tending bar in a local town.
Favorite underdog shines: Lady Edith sheds her “Jan Brady” image and earns the recognition she deserves for helping the patients. Go Team Edith!
Sense of impending doom: Matthew’s fiance Lavinia Swire is as delicate as a candle in the wind.
“Classic Rosamund. She is never more rightous when she is in the wrong.” – Violet, Dowager Countess Grantham
Chip off the ole block: Aunt Rosamund is rivaling her mother Violet, Dowager Countess Grantham in the manipulation department.
The quality of the production continues to shine. Even though we are deep into the war with cutbacks and rationing in place, we do see new frocks on many of the ladies, and the gentlemen all in striking red regimental uniforms. Lady Mary’s stunning black beaded evening gown reflects up to date fashions of a sheath dress that had been embellished and a string on jet beads.
Screenwriter Fellowes is building up his characters and plot line nicely. I really like how he has worked in the historical facts of the era. Several grand manor houses became hospitals and the ladies of the household nurses while many of the male residents, upstairs and downstairs enlisted for King and Country. It is early days yet in the season, so the jury is still out on this season.
Images courtesy © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for MASTERPIECE; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2014, Austenprose.com