Downton Abbey 2.4 Review

First off, as usual, this post has a bunch of spoilers in it. If you haven’t had the chance to see the latest episode of Downton (episode 4), then you’d darn well better not read this post. Got it?

Because there are some fairly major spoilers this week.

So I have to give the show some props right off the bat for not being predictable. I’m relieved that my guesses last week ended up being wrong–because really, who wants to watch a show where you know what happens each week before you watch? You might as well just turn the whole thing off.

Matthew getting paralyzed? Didn’t see that one coming. William dying? Wasn’t too hard to guess that was in the poor kid’s future as soon as he became Matthew’s helper in the field. Still, there’s a difference between not being predictable and actually being good. For me, part of how I’ll be able to tell which this is will be determined by what happens later. I would love for Downton to stick to its guns and keep Matthew paralyzed permanently. Not because I’m sadistic like that–I’m very sad for the guy and his future–but more because I’ll be sad if they give him a miraculous recovery two or three episodes down the road.

This show is good because it’s true to life. (Or at least it does an excellent job seeming like it is.) If suddenly you’ve got people prancing in and out of wheelchairs and paralysis, the soap opera elements leap to the forefront, and it cheapens the rest of the show. (That’s one reason why I really don’t care for the maid-with-a-child-out-of-wedlock subplot. I get that that sort of thing happened, and it’s appalling the way the major is treating her, but it’s not interesting enough to make me care for the maid yet. Am I just a cold, heartless jerk?)

More props for expanding Thomas and O’Brien into characters who actually aren’t always evil. (Well, O’Brien at least–and yay for giving Thomas a bit more in the way of motivation.) I love me some villains, but I also really would rather the villains be realistic. Few people (in my experience) are just 100% awful people, all the time.

Daisy and William–This was an interesting plot line, but at the end of all of it, I have to wonder just where it was going. I mean, if the big payoff is just that Daisy was really conflicted for all of two days about having to pretend to marry William, and now that’s it . . . what was the point? To make us all feel really bad for William? I’m hoping this somehow ties back into some more consequences for Daisy. In a soap opera, by next episode, she’d be back to her getting-bossed-around-by-the-cook-and-being-clueless old self again. (Maybe that’s what a good drama needs to set it apart from a bad soap opera: real consequences that make sense and are realistic.)

Mary and her big secret–the plot thickens. Hooray for her fiancee for being a stand up guy and protecting her from the story, but you can’t help but feel like washing your hands every time that fiancee is in the show. He’s oily, and no good will come of it. I’m still convinced Matthew and Mary end up together, but I’m surprised how devoted he is to Lavinia. (And I’m surprised at myself for caring as much as I do–another sign of a great show.)

In any case, excellent developments, and I’m looking forward (as always) to next week. How about you? What did you think?

PS–Sybil and the chauffeur? Blech.The girl deserves better. MUCH better.

6 Comments

  • By Rachael, January 30, 2012 @ 3:25 pm

    So with you on Sybil and Branson. What does he have to offer her? He keeps talking about how she loves him, but I see absolutely no reason for her to fall in love with him. He’s just angry with the world–not actively doing anything about anything.

  • By Anonymous, January 30, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

    Absolutely love the show. Good, bad or ugly, the characters have depth unlike alot of other shows. I might be wrong however I feel that the maid w/baby scenario may play into Mary and Mathew’s situation. Your right about it being more realistic than a soap opera although it was so hard to watch William die. Can’t wait until next week!

  • By Lisa, January 30, 2012 @ 8:04 pm

    I agree it was a bit soapy this week. For what it’s worth, and I don’t think this is too spoiler-y, I read a comment somewhere, from someone in the UK, that the creators/producers got some slack for that there mid-season and reeled it in appropriately. Don’t know what that means, and I don’t want to until we see, but I’m heartened.

    I also have liked seeing the evolution of Thomas and O’Brien.

    I do think they left it WIDE open RE Matthew being able to fully recover so I do expect he will. But then what will that mean for Lavinia — will she have moved on by then? Hmm.

    Curious to see if Daisy stays conflicted.

    And, I like Branson. I think they could maybe write him a little better — he’s just a bit less interested since he declared his love — but I’m rooting for them. Although not hopeful it will go well.

  • By Bryce Moore, January 30, 2012 @ 8:52 pm

    I liked Branson more last season, when he actually did some good things and seemed like he had a brain. These days, he’s a one trick “revolution!” pony. For me to buy the relationship, I need to see what Sybil sees in him. He’s not in the show enough as is for me to see it.

    Lavinia . . . I thought at first that she was just there to be taken care of by a convenient gold-digger scheme, but now it seems they might actually be going for a true love triangle, which is interesting. In this respect, the show’s large time span makes things more difficult. As viewers, we saw a lot of Matthew/Mary time together. But Lavinia’s been on the scene for years now–we just haven’t seen it. And because we haven’t seen it, it’s hard to root for her at all.

  • By Lisa, January 30, 2012 @ 8:59 pm

    Meant to say Branson was more interesting last season, not interested — so yes, I agree with you!

    Interesting point RE Lavinia and how long she’s been around, what we see, etc. Perhaps the show is doing what it can to build sympathy for her because Mary is sympathetic toward her — indeed, Mary’s comportment may be the most heartbreaking thing in the whole triangle, yes? I can’t decide what I wish for!!

  • By Bryce Moore, January 30, 2012 @ 9:00 pm

    Mary. All the way. Forget Lavinia. Little simpering wall flower. 🙂

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