Downton Abbey Review: A Wedding and a Funeral

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From one tragedy to another, this episode saw the very last remnants of the war leave Downton Abbey, ushering in one of the worst pandemics of our time, the Spanish Flu. There was barely time for characters to celebrate before they were confronted with even more sickness and dying.

For some reason, I never took to the maid who replaced Ethel, Jane, although Robert has always felt very comfortable talking with her. I was wondering if there was something shady going on, considering their flirtatious looks and longing glances and how Robert was dealing with the incorrigible Cora and losing his manliness. You just knew he was enjoying the attention.

Angry Lord Grantham

Does one scream "oh no" at the top of their lungs during Downton Abbey? It appears the answer is yes. When Robert went in for a kiss on Jane, even after just thinking everything I noted above, I never imagined he would really plant one on her. Yet a part of me had a miniature fantasy where he threw Cora to the curb and had a lovely life with her. That's how far Cora had fallen in my eyes during this second season. I wanted Robert to rid himself of her. As if!

That moment had me so flustered that I completely missed the falling object that popped Matthew up out of his chair. Robert's kiss was far more surprising to me than learning Matthew was not paralyzed for life. Can you believe everyone just brushed over the fact that the doctor decided against telling Matthew the differing opinion of the other doctor just so he couldn't get his hopes up? As we later learned with Lavinia, hope is the one thing people can grasp onto when they most need to heal.

Sybil couldn't stand to think about life without all of the hustle and bustle and decided it was time to join Branson in a life outside the Abbey. She chose the right route, to run away and elope. Mary and Edith caught wind and brought her home, but she stood her ground. I was so proud of her standing up to her family to do what she thinks is best for her own future.

Oh my gosh, I was also so incredibly proud of Violet for being the one person in the family who was willing to listen to Sybil and Branson. On one hand, she she hopes that everything goes back to the way it was, but on the other, she was so far ahead of the times that she didn't close the door on her granddaughter. For all of her snarky comments, she has more brains than any other member of the Crowley family. I just wish there had been more of her in the episode.

If we thought Major Bryant was a pain in the arse, we now know where it came from. When his parents went to see where their son died, his own father was nothing short of embarrassing. Ethel saw their visit as a last chance to try to get them to recognize their grandson. To her credit, she wasn't looking for a handout, just some sort of place in their lives. I don't think she even knew what that would look like.

They brushed her off as if she were a flea on a dog. Mrs. Bryant was on the edge of cracking, but women didn't often go against their husbands in those days. They left believing Ethel a gold digger. Mary was particularly unfeeling toward Ethel in light of her own plight. She was stuck with Richard Carlisle because of a decision she made, and almost vindictively enjoyed seeing someone in a similar situation. Not that their circumstance can possibly be compared. Mary will always have more than Ethel could ever dream.

After a time, the Bryants had a change of heart and offered to raise Charlie as their grandson, as long as Ethel promised she would have no part in his life. She thought about that for the sake of her son, but she's far stronger than they gave her credit. As she said, what could they provide that would possibly be better than the love of his mother? No doubt she will make a good life for them both.

As word of the Spanish Influenza was bandied about, both Cora and Carson found themselves feeling under the weather, and then Mosely started coming down with something. Within the span of one dinner party, at least four people were taken ill. The Spanish flu has been used as a barometer for all illnesses that have come after, and watching them fall was really quite frightening.

I still don't understand Mrs. O'Brien's devotion to Cora. But she didn't run from her responsibility of aiding Cora, instead staying by her side every minute. It was quite impressive. Cora was close to death, and it knocked some sense back into Robert. Lavinia, who seemed as though she would pull through, gave up after seeing Matthew and Mary in an intimate moment. If you don't have something to fight for, giving up seems the easier choice. Lavinia stopped fighting, wished Matthew and Mary well and died.

Amidst all of the pain and suffering, Anna and John were married. It seemed such a long time coming, and a simple affair, but their love certainly withstood some of the very worst of times. Thin and thin, as Bates put it. They spent their wedding night together thanks to Mary, and it was the first time I had seen Anna with her hair down. Amazing how formal it all is when you see the brief informal moments played on screen.

After Lavinia's funeral, awaiting Bates were two policemen to arrest him for the murder of his ex-wife. The neighbors can't possibly be envious of this particular family and their staff. For them, happiness is barely a blip in an otherwise desolate world.

Other bits:

  • Ethel's baby had a wooden binki. I never thought about that before.
  • I do admit to feeling a little sad when Thomas discovered his attempt to make a go at business was a trick. He sure did pick up his act trying to take over for Carson while he was down. I feel a little infighting coming on.
  • As the day of the wedding of Matthew and Lavinia drew closer, Matthew was angry he was still using a walking stick. From thinking he was going to be in a chair for life to being perturbed at a stick. Get your head out of your arse man!
  • Richard Carlisle will never understand the ways of the British. Asking Anna to spy on Mary was downright stupid. Together with everything else, it would point to him losing her. Will he use what he knows to get back at her?
  • I always wondered if Carson and Mrs. Hughes would some day get together. Wouldn't they make an adorable couple?


Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.4 / 5.0 (83 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.


@Carissa Pavlica The reason that O'Brien feels so loyal is that she still feels guilty about when she caused Cora's miscarriage. She is trying to earn back her honor.


I realize that Robert is married and he should have not kissed Jane, nevertheless, it was very dear and romaantic. Really do not care for the character Cora, especially this season. I can't help but feel we will see Jane again, perhaps in the village at her Mom's store. I assume we will meet Fredde at some point no need to give him a name.


My entire family watches Downton (husband and 3 teenagers) and we all screamed out loud when Robert kissed Jane. We really didn't see that coming -- it was so unexpected and out of character for Robert. It does seem as if the writers want to throw everything at us as the season comes to an end. Although I don't especially like Mary, I can't help but feel for her a little bit. I can't imagine the horror she must feel as she prepares to marry a creep who she actively dislikes at the same time her true love tells her that they are cursed and can never be happy. I would like to see Matthew marry Edith -- it would kind of make sense and would keep the story interesting.


I love DA and all the characters except this season Cora's voice and/or acting is irritating me, her acting seems out of place compared to the others. She just isn't interesting like the other characters. Anyone else feeling similarly?


I agree with an earlier comment that this episode gives multiple whiplashes. In fact I would say it is an illustration of the concept of "Jumping the shark" as described in wikipedia in which a particular scene/episode/aspect of a show in which the writers use some type of "gimmick" in a desperate attempt to keep viewers' interest. It is unfortunate since DA certainly has kept its audience so there was no reason to pour all those twists and turns in one 2 hour span. There was enough here for an entire season.
One correction to a comment made earlier, Ethel did not sleep with a "house guest" but rather than a convalescing soldier. Maybe a niggling point but worth noting.


So it was ok for Violet to counsel Matthew that "Marriage is a long business" but not Sybil...It was honorable and deeply affecting for Daisy to marry William in his deathbed but Matthew could not even bring himself to profess his love for Lavinia or appear distraught - let alone having a hastily arranged wedding. I get it. William WANTED Daisy to marry him before he died and Lavinia INSISTED the opposite. I no longer care if Matthew and Mary will be together.


Next Sunday's finale has a 2-hr time slot in all PBS markets. Masterpiece combined the S2 finale w/the Christmas special. I like Robert being worthy of his family's trust, and his employees' respect. If it's atypical of the era, then good! I'm sure there must have been a few men of that time who honored and loved their wives.


Have to disagree with DeAnn below. I like that Robert is a good, solid father and overall good character. It's nice to see he's human for sure, but it's nice to also see an honest and upstanding man worthy of the respect of his family and his employees. Don't want to see any mistress whatsoever. He's better than that! I want to see a good representation of what marriage SHOULD be. And this is tv, so they can make it happen :) Also, Georgiaguy, the season finale should be 2 hours long(at least the finale on DVD was) unless they split it up.


I enjoyed this series immensely.. I did see all the first season.. but only tidbits of season 2 I saw part of last weeks and the last hour of last night ..
I have been an avid fan of PBS Masterpiece Theatre and Masterpiece Mystery for several decades...


Next week's episode is only one hour, I think. It was originally broadcast in the UK on Christmas Day, so it will look a little out of place in February. Too bad the episodes air a couple of months later in the US, but the lag time is getting less. Graham Norton airs much sooner on BBC America than before, when stars pushed movies that had already come and gone. Can't wait for Season 3 and Shirley MacLaine as Cora's mother. Maggie and Shirley should be like too battering rams.

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Downton Abbey Season 2 Episode 6 Quotes

The customs are so strange in this country. A couple is barely allowed two seconds alone before they are expected to walk down the aisle.


Cora: So you still want to keep him on?
Robert: Cora, Bates' wife has committed suicide. It's very sad, of course, but not when I last looked, a reason to sack him.