Season 3 of Downton Abbey claims its second big-name victim. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
We spend the morning after Downton Abbey mourning the passing of a popular Downton resident. Needless to say, spoiler alert.
It was a Christmas to remember -- though some, like Sir Richard Carlisle, would probably prefer to forget it -- at stately Downton Abbey on the Season 2 finale of the eponymous British import. (Overseas, of course, this 90-minute installment aired as a standalone special, but PBS is billing it as the season finale. Either way, it's the last we'll see of the show stateside until January 2013, which seems like an eternity.)
Let's face it: one of the big reasons why Downton Abbey is a hit on both sides of the Atlantic is that it's an above-average example of comfort food TV. That's not meant to be disparaging, by the way. It's a challenge to make a series that, week in and week out, engages, toys with and then satisfies the audiences' emotions without talking down to them; hats off to series creator Julian Fellowes for regularly finding ways to upset the oversized apple cart that is Downton Abbey, while also concocting believable means of turning it right-side up again. That said, we came away from last night's two-hour installment (which aired as the Season 2 finale in England -- the PBS run will officially conclude next week with the Christmas episode) wishing that Fellowes had taken a few more creative risks. Sure, you can't exactly describe the episode's ending as happy -- what with Lavinia pushing up the daisies after her brush with Spanish flu and Bates arrested for the death of Mrs. Bates -- but there were other roads not taken that would potentially have shaken up the status quo in really interesting ways. Here are the five plotlines we would have sent in a different direction.
The bell literally tolled on the First World War at the end of last night's Downton Abbey. It's been a challenging couple of years at stately Crawley manor and the residents' troubles don't seem likely to end, even now that peace has been declared. Here are the biggest home front battles still facing Downton:
Although the residents of Downton Abbey have witnessed the ravages of war courtesy of the steady stream of wounded soldiers that have passed through the sizeable manor, their own personal casualties have been limited... that is, until last night. In the opening sequence, Matthew and William go over the top for one more big charge and run straight into an explosion that leaves them bloodied and battered in a muddy pit. While both men are retrieved from the battlefield still alive, they arrive back at Downton considerably worse for the wear. By the end of the hour, one will die, while the other may find himself wishing he had. But they aren't the only people left wounded by the war. Here's our picks for last night's five biggest wartime casualties:
Downton Abbey is a beautiful estate with friendly hosts, lush grounds and a helpful staff. It also happens to be the worst place in England to keep a secret, as evidenced by last night's episode. Here are the supposedly confidential pieces of information that everyone in the house was buzzing about... even though they weren't supposed to be.
The second episode of Downton Abbey's second season literally brought the war home, as the Crawley clan began sharing their opulent house with a legion of wounded soldiers in desperate need of a peaceful place to convalesce. But with all the tensions running through Downton at the moment, those poor guys might find more relaxation back in the trenches. Here are the biggest feuds that are currently making life in the house difficult.
PBS's sudsy period soap Downton Abbey returned for Season 2 last night and we fell hard for this addictive upstairs/downstairs look at the goings-on in an early 20th century British manor house all over again. Granted, the season premiere was a more somber affair than much of last year, starting, as it did, in the midst of World War I. Downton's heir, Matthew Crawley is on the front lines, dug deep in the trenches at The Somme, as is the estate's former footman, the duplicitous Thomas Barrow. Back home, Matthew's mother Isobel is tending to the wounded soldiers that have been sent back from the continent and welcomes a new nurse into the hospital: the Earl of Grantham's youngest daughter, Sybil. Her sisters are asserting their independence in their own ways -- Edith is learning how to drive, while Mary tries to put her brief romance with Matthew behind her and finds a new man, newspaper magnate Richard Carlisle. As for the Abbey's staff, they're trying to deal with the loss of Lord Grantham's valet, John Bates, whose scheming wife blackmailed him into leaving the manor... and his One True Love Anna Smith. In Bates's absence, the butler Mr. Carson assumes too many responsibilities and overworks himself into exhaustion. Unfortunately for him, things are about to get even busier around the house thanks to Isobel's plan to turn Downton into a convalescence home for the returning veterans.
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