Downton Abbey, Season 2
Thank goodness Carlisle is obsessed with power, not sex.
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My dear things,
The sudden arrival of the Spanish flu rather overshadowed Lady Sibyl and Tom Branson’s elopement to Gretna Green, which was fortunately interrupted when eagle-eyed Anna managed to spot the family’s other “motor” parked outside a hotel. I was almost disappointed that Branbyl’s mad dash to marriage was thwarted by a firm application of common sense—by Lady Mary, of all people. But at least it made possible what may be the show’s best joke not uttered by the dowager countess. That came when Sir Richard Carlisle said, “You said the chauffeur’s gone? I could always drive the car.” And Mary replied, “Preferably over the chauffeur.”
Speaking of Sir Richard, was I the only one who worried that we were in for a bit of an (alleged) DSK situation when he invited Anna into his bedroom, shooed away his valet, and then closed the door? Thank goodness Carlisle is obsessed with power rather than sex. (The two urges are frequently connected, of course.) The whole episode was full of strange bedroom scenes. We had the dowager countess invading Matthew’s bedchamber, Lady Mary visiting Carson’s tiny room, Mary and Edith barging their way into Sibyl and Branson’s hotel room, Lord Grantham’s visit to Branson’s room at the Grantham Arms, the situation between Jane and Lord Grantham, and all those gatherings around the beds of the deathly ill. I’ll be glad when we’re back in the drawing room.
Now, I have a couple of questions for you, Dan.
First, could you help me decode the message of Lavinia’s stumble? You’ll recall that one afternoon, early in the episode, the servants were mysteriously away from their posts, so Lavinia picked up a tray of tea things. However, she tripped on a stealthy pouffe, and when Matthew saw her falling, he jumped up from his wheelchair and discovered that his legs worked. Is the deeper meaning that the toffs would be better off—mentally and physically—if they didn’t let the servants take care of their every need? Or does it simply buttress Carson’s belief that “the war is no longer an excuse for sloppy presentation”?
Second, was I alone in flashing on the Monty Python “Gumby” characters every time Baby Charlie appeared on screen? It must be the hanky hat.
So that’s the finish of it?
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 for next week’s finale when commenting.
June Thomas is a Slate culture critic. Follow her on Twitter.