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Desperate for Downton

A New Season for All

January 1, 2012 7:08am (EST)

Downton Abbey is back with a cannon blast! It's so sad to see poor Matthew at war, with that hat hiding his lovely blonde hair. Luckily for him (and us), he has some leave coming and is going to Downton, with his fiancée, Lavinia Swire. I know it’s been two years since the end of last season, but you would have thought Matthew and Mary would have made up by now. Everyone is on their best behavior (more or less) and welcomes Lavinia to the house and to the family. Poor Lavinia looks like she’s been thrown in to the crocodile pit; obviously a smart girl!

Mary is surprisingly kind and welcoming to Lavinia; I guess she knows she blew it and is making the best of her situation. While Mary and Matthew prattle on about being friends, it’s obvious that they’re still madly in love. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or be touched when she presented her good luck stuffed animal to Matthew when he went back to the front. Matthew looked as if he was having the same reaction.

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Mary is dating Sir Richard Carlyle. While rich, he is not on her level socially, and sees her as another acquisition in his empire. Sir Richard knows that Mary is still in love with Matthew (and vice versa), yet he still proposes to her (in the most perfunctory way possible), most likely because she will give him respectability. Oh, and what is going on with him and Lavinia? Could they possibly “know” each other better than we think? I noticed that when Sir Richard and Mary were at the train station they were standing under a sign that read “Way Out”. I thought that was appropriate, considering that his proposal would give her a way out of losing her lifestyle.

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I am thinking that Edith is never going to overcome her Jan Brady syndrome, and will be looking for some distinction either from her family or elsewhere for a long while. While her efforts to help others with her newfound driving skill is admirable, driving a tractor is not the way to do it. Edith was in dire need of someone to give her an “Oh, honey, NO” when that idea popped into her head. Were you surprised when she fell for the farmer after he gave her a couple of compliments? I wasn’t, either. She should have just given him lessons on driving and left it. That being said, actually seeing Lady Edith working on a farm was all kinds of awesome, and I kindly picked this photo so you can relive the moment:

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I wanted to hug Lord Grantham after it became obvious that he was just going to be a figurehead for the regiment at home. He looked like a fanboy who has on his best Browncoat costume and is told that no, he can’t go to ComiCon. I hope he gets over that soon, as I suspect a depressed Lord Grantham will be a very bad thing for the house.

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Below stairs, hearts were growing like the Grinch’s. Both O’Brien and Thomas showed that they are capable of compassion, and I almost felt pity for Thomas while seeing him weep over his dead friend at the hospital. O’Brien moved up in my estimation not only for her care of the shell-shocked new valet, Lang, but also for her outright hazing of the new maid, Ethel. While I found it mildly funny when Ethel was sent to receive accolades from Lady Grantham in the sitting room (photo below), the “dusting for vapors” that Carson found Ethel doing one night was O’Brien’s cattiness at her finest. Ethel had been sent on a servant’s equivalent of a snipe hunt!

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I hope you didn’t miss the scene between Mr. Bates and his estranged wife. Showing up at the house unannounced shocked all of us, but I found the extent of Mr. Bates’ angry face even more shocking. Hitting her would have been understandable, but Bates was smart enough to know that would give her even more ammunition to make his life even more miserable.

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Poor Anna: engaged, kissed, and abandoned all in one episode! Let’s hope things get better for her.

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