Downton Abbey, Season 2

Were It Any Other Toff in Tofftown …
Talking television.
Feb. 6 2012 3:00 PM

Downton Abbey, Season 2

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Lord Grantham would never bone the maid!

Clare Calbraith as Jane and Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham.
Clare Calbraith as Jane and Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham

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

See our Magnum Photos gallery on the English countryside.

June Thomas June Thomas

June Thomas is a Slate culture critic and editor of Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section. 

Boys,

So, we’ve gotten to the point in the TV Club when we discuss who will “bone,” have we?  Dan, I’m shocked to hear you say, with such conviction, of Lord Grantham and Jane the maid, “(They will bone soon, I’m certain.)” So much folly in one parenthesis. Were it any other toff in Tofftown? Sure, they would bone. But even though Julian Fellowes has given Lord Grantham a couple of flaws this season—a little pomposity here, a little selfishness there—there’s no way that this paragon of progressive, upper-class tolerance and marital affection would screw the housemaid. He might lust in his heart, and maybe a little bit more, but he’s not going to pull an Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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Dan, you seem to be suggesting that I am hopelessly naive not to laugh in P. Gordon’s destroyed face, given how preposterous his story is. Yes, of course, he displayed all the tells of the chancer, and a pretty mediocre one at that. The way he got Edith to talk about her childhood governess was a classic con. A family like this is bound to have had a governess, he thought, and it’s a fair guess that the willful Crawley sisters would’ve balked at her discipline. Do a little fishing until you manage to extract her name; then guess that little MaEdSy would’ve done what kids did long before Hogan’s Heroes and made fun of her German accent. But still … the guy was at Passchendaele. He’s suffered terrible injuries. Doesn’t he deserve the benefit of the doubt? (But you’re right, Seth. He bugs. So let’s dispatch him immediately to the dustbin of plots too daft to return to.)

Of course, the dowager countess used similar tricks on Matthew’s mother. In the scene where she redirected Isobel’s do-gooding away from Downton, Violet proved that she knows how to mount a first-class fishing expedition. She had to offer up a couple of tasty morsels before Isobel finally took the bait. Sick kids? Incredible advances are being made. Poor, displaced female workers? Isobel’s the mother of a son. Refugees? Now that strikes a chord. Whew! If the dowager countess had given up as easily as P. Gordon, Downton Abbey would still be a convalescent home. (And since you linked to those photos of Downtonians in civvies, Dan, let me recommend this video in which Penelope Wilton, an amazing actress in her own right, reveals herself to be a major Maggie Smith fangirl.)

When can I take off this armband?

June

Editor’s note: For the benefit of American readers who haven’t yet seen Season 2 of Downton Abbey, please do your best to avoid spoilers when commenting.