Downton Abbey, Season 2

The Crawleys I Hate the Most
Talking television.
Jan. 17 2012 5:55 PM

Downton Abbey, Season 2


Must Ethel suffer heartbreak at the hand of a mustachioed corporal?

The housemaids of Downton Abbey.
The housemaids of Downton Abbey

Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television

’Allo June, Sef –

Dan Kois Dan Kois

Dan Kois is Slate's culture editor and a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine.

I too slapped my forehead at Bates’ demurral when Anna, showing steely courage of her own, offered herself up to him. I guess his was the chivalrous response. But c’mon, Bates, did you not notice how cute her hat was? In his way, Bates is as retrogressive as Carson or the Dowager Countess. After all, there’s a fine line between respecting Anna so much he wouldn’t dream of sullying her rep and making all her decisions for her because Bates Knows Best. Bates crosses that line all the time. Also, let’s give a hand to commenter Falcon86, who cracked, “After courting Anna for four years without consummation, I believe he should be called Master Bates.”

Personally, I was delighted by the rehabilitation of Lady Edith, who just a week after topping my Most Hated Crawleys list* (for her “What about my dress?!” as Carson collapsed) discovered that her one true talent—the talent Sybil urged Edith to find when she seemed lost in the new rehabilitation ward—is getting to know the patients. Turns out her knack for sitting quietly and paying attention (which served her so well in discovering Mary’s dirty secret) and the canniness that allowed her to utilize that information so adroitly are great use in a hospital, where you must size up men in a flash and learn what it is they need most.


Ethel, the new maid, already knows what that one officer needs from her, and I sure hope that story takes a surprising turn soon. Must Ethel really suffer heartbreak and ruin at the hand of a mustachioed corporal? (Note: I don’t know if he’s really a corporal, or what a corporal is.) One of my favorite subplots last season was the tale of Gwen, the maid who wanted to become a secretary; I assumed all season that she’d be beaten down by the cruel hand of the English class system, told to mind her place, and would huddle miserably in the corner of Downton for seasons to come. So I was delighted when she got a job, just like she wanted. Ethel’s flighty and a bit annoying, but I’d love to see the looks on the downstairs staff’s faces if she really bagged a corporal (or whatever).

The development with likely the furthest-reaching consequences this week, of course, was the return of Thomas—once a footman, now an acting corporal (right?) and the manager of Downton. June, do you cheer for Thomas because he’s a troubled lost soul who, whether for the right reasons or the wrong ones, is helping Lady Cora keep a tiny place in her own home? Or do you jeer him because he’s a scheming asshole?

Forgive me, Lady Sybil,


1. Lady Rosamund
2. Isobel/Lady Cora (tie)
3. Lady Sybil, that goody-goody
4. Lord Grantham
5. Lady Edith

Note: Out of consideration for viewers in the U.S., please do not post Season 2 spoilers in the comments.


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