Downton Abbey, Season 2

Branson’s Momentous Hip Caress
Talking television.
Feb. 1 2012 10:02 AM

Downton Abbey, Season 2

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Branson, Sybil, and the hip caress that rocked a nation.

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Lady Sibyl

Courtesy of © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for MASTERPIECE.

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.

Wallace and Gromit,

Lady Mary does appear to be afflicted with a man-maiming curse. At this point, who could blame her for feeling the universe rather unfair? Good point, June—I wonder what misfortune will befall Sir Richard, having announced his engagement to the human Hope Diamond. Perhaps his hands will be mangled to the elbows in a printing-press mishap.

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Excellent info, Dan, with regard to that primogeniture statute. We must find some way to get word to Downton. (Do either of you have one of those old-time telephones like the one that befuddled the dowager countess? Might be able to use it to place a call to 1918.) By my reasoning, if Mary can simply hold out for seven more years she can ditch both Sir Cunning and Mr. Softy, opting instead to live out her days in inherited luxury while cougaring local Yorkshire lads.

Have we not yet mentioned the momentous hip caress? (The director felt it merited a close-up, insert shot. I suppose this is the Downton equivalent of a gratuitous HBO nude scene.) I have mixed feelings about Branson—his "gotta break some eggs to make an omelet" defense of the Romanov child murders didn't sit well with me. Yet he seemed to electrify something deep within Lady Sybil's petticoats. Do we think she has real feelings for him? Or is she just frazzled because it's the first time a man has touched her below the bodice?

You folks sure are reading a lot into that three-sentence interaction between Lord Grantham and the new, widowed maid. But it makes sense the show would wish to give Hugh Bonneville a bit more to do: He's a fine actor, and he's spent the whole season sitting around reading newspapers in his military uniform. So, assuming something is indeed afoot, what are the ramifications? If Lady Cora wants a divorce, can she take her money with her, leaving the title and the manor with no economic foundation? Would that render the entire entail problem moot?

Don't recall seeing a single shot of Isis the golden lab this week. The dog must have been filming a spin-off pilot.

Woof,

Seth

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