Downton Abbey, Season 2

Lord Grantham’s Just Not That Into You
Talking television.
Jan. 22 2012 10:16 PM

Downton Abbey, Season 2


Sorry, Molesley, Lord Grantham’s just not that into you.

Still from Downton Abbey.
Star-crossed lovers, old-time music, in period costumes.

Photograph courtesy 2011 Carnival Film and Television Limited for Masterpiece. All rights reserved.

See our Magnum Photos gallery on the English countryside.

Seth Stevenson Seth Stevenson

Seth Stevenson is a frequent contributor to Slate. He is the author of Grounded: A Down to Earth Journey Around the World.


Is it dusty in here? I seem to be misting up.


When Mary at last glimpses Matthew—after fearing him dead—a wave of joyful relief crashes across her face. Moments later, it gives way to a confused, bittersweet expression. This is Mary realizing just how much she loves Matthew, and that to give her heart to any other would be in some way a lie. Which is very sad, as she’s recently announced her plans to marry Sir Richard.

To me, this was the most richly emotional moment of the season so far. For one, I am unable to resist the romance of star-crossed lovers, set to old-time music, in period costumes. But it’s more than that. June, you say Thomas stirs your soul. As for me, I find there’s something about Mary. She’s worldly, shrewd, and a little bit naughty, but in the end she’s a sucker for love just like the rest of us. Mary’s the one I want to sneak outside the party with, and share a soulful cigarette as we rap about the mysteries of life and this crazy universe. But I fear she’s destined to join Sir Richard in a marriage that’s more partnership than passion.

Meanwhile, poor William doesn’t get nearly the welcome that Matthew does. Was that a slight softening on Daisy’s face? Or was she just dreading the enactment of further charades?

When Matthew first mentioned taking William along to the front as a “soldier-servant,” I had to look up the concept to understand what it meant. According to The World War I Reader, soldier-servant was actually a coveted position. It came with special privileges and luxuries. Fine, I guess. But it still seems horribly unfair. The kid faces equal risk of death and/or trench foot, yet in his spare time he makes your tea and shines your shoes? Fie on that! Just because it works at a country house doesn’t mean it should carry over to the Dardanelles.

Sad-sack Molesley is really killing my Downton buzz. There’s a war on, you’ve got a soup kitchen operating out of your house, and yet you’re still spending your personal funds on a brand new shoehorn for the richest man you know? Pathetic. Let it go, dude. Lord Grantham’s just not that into you.

Finally, what do we imagine will become of pregnant Ethel? Surely her officer will attempt to make the problem go away. Will he deny it? (Good luck with Mrs. Hughes around.) Will he flee? Dare he, or the show, suggest a smashmortion? Paging reproductive rights historians …

Forever sweeping chimneys in Solihull,


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



The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?


Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories on the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
The Vault
Oct. 21 2014 2:23 PM A Data-Packed Map of American Immigration in 1903
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
Oct. 21 2014 11:44 PM Driving in Circles The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 22 2014 7:30 AM An Illusion That Makes Me Happy and Sad
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.