After the high of last week’s wedding, the second episode of Downton Abbey reminds viewers of the uncertain future of the Abbey itself. The visiting Americans bring below stairs kissing, a thoroughly progressive outlook and perhaps the best chance of saving Downton.
The episode starts off with Matthew and Mary’s return from their honeymoon to a house fraught with uncertainty. In the after dinner chat one subject prevails: how to save Downton. The men are divided from the ladies and the men’s chat sees Lord Grantham discuss finances with Matthew. However the most progressive plan is hatched by the Dowager Countess and Mary. Their plan involves impressing Martha with all the splendour of Downton so that she can’t possibly see it sold to another family. Girl power indeed.
Tension below stairs abounds as Thomas schemes to ruin the new footman’s training, by giving him the wrong chemicals to clean Matthew’s shirt. However the plan backfires as he receives a taste of his own medicine courtesy of the friendly American maid, who takes quite a shine to the fledgling footman, culminating in a kiss by the moonlight.
However a romance upstairs is cut short as Lord Grantham warns Sir Anthony off Edith citing the age gap as an irreconcilable problem. After receiving a letter from Sir Anthony at the breakfast table the next morning Edith runs out of the room in tears. “Age is just a number!” you could almost hear Downton fans screaming at the TV!
But let’s not forget poor old Master Bates in prison. Anna has managed to get in contact with friend of Vera’s and plans to visit her to continue her private investigations into Vera’s suspected suicide. The case very much remains inconclusive.
Back at Downton, on the night of the ‘charm Martha by any means possible’ plan, sheer panic runs throughout the house as nothing has gone right: most alarmingly the oven has broken down. In fact it ends up being Martha herself that saves the day by suggesting an indoor picnic. Cue singing and the unification of Anthony and Edith. Hurrah!
The end of the picnic culminates in Martha saying a big fat NO to saving Downton, protesting that she cannot understand why they want to keep it. Her inspiring speech highlights her ethos: "The way to deal with the world today is not to ignore it." Adaptation is key, Martha lectures.
Mrs Hughes's cancer scare sets look to be a continuing theme in the next couple of weeks as she is told that the results of her test are inconclusive.
So at the end of the second episode the future of Downton still looks uncertain. Mrs Hughes’s cancer scare is set to develop and she really rather depressingly concludes that everyone at Downton will eventually die. Oh dear, that's not the spirit Mrs Hughes!
Check out the Downton cast at the Emmy's: