Lady Mary and Matthew finally tied up a loose end that has been driving the plot of “Downton Abbey” for two seasons. What better way to end, after so much grief, than to see the young heir on bended knee proposing in a wonderous snow?
Of course there was the little problem of Sir Richard (Iain Glen). He tried to leverage his way into the Crawley family and Lady Mary’s (Michelle Dockery) heart by holding her scandal with the Turkish fellow over her head.
Despite winning her hand, Sir Richard, a crass and willful London media baron, couldn’t get over the obvious chemistry between Mary and Matthew (Dan Stevens). Mary seemed to rub it in his face. Matthew and Sir Richard are like flint and stone. Every time they bump into each other and sparks fly.
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Finally, Matthew can no longer take his high-handedness with Mary and punches him in the face. The two trash the drawing room in a scuffle, while Mary looks on horrified. Lord Grantham ((Hugh Bonneville) finally steps in and puts an end to it.
Matthew apologizes to the dowager duchess (Maggie Smith) for breaking a vase, and she replies with a zinger that has infused the series with wry humor. “Oh don’t be. It’s a wedding present from a frightful aunt—I have hated it for half a century.”
Everyone in the household can sense Mary’s dislike of Sir Richard. Lord Grantham is bewildered that his headstrong daughter, so obviously miserable, puts up with him. Wife Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) finally asks if he can recall Mr. Pamuk. “I think I can be relied on to remember any guest who is found dead in his bed the next morning!” the Lord bellows.
“Well, that’s the thing…” she says, and finally clues him in about Mary’s scandalous incident. By now, nothing phases the Earl. Between the war, young Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) running off with the chauffeur and Mr. Bates’ murder charges, a Mary’s scandal is manageable.
He forgives his daughter and promises to stand by her. That frees Mary to throw over Sir Richard, who vows revenge. “I doubt we’ll meet again” he gruffly says to the dowager as he leaves the Abbey. “Do you promise?” she tartly replies. Heee! But somehow we doubt he’s gone for good.
Plans are laid for Mary to go to New York City to stay with Cora’s mother until everything blows over. That apparently opens the door for the character to be introduced in season three. Shirley MacLaine has been tapped for the part.
Downstairs, things are just as chaotic.
The long-suffering Mr. Bates is heading to the gallows for the death of his wife, after Lord Grantham, Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and O’Brien (Siobhan Finnernan) reluctantly testify for the prosecution. It was Mr. Bates, though, who put them on the spot with his unfailing honesty.
Interestingly, the plot spins around an oijua board. They were first sold in 1890 as a parlor game. But during World War I, an American, spiritualist Pearl Curran, popularized them as a way to reach the spirits.
Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) takes over an ouija board game to convince Daisy to visit her late husband’s father. He relieves her of her guilt about marrying William and offers to adopt her as a daughter. Daisy likes the arrangement. Her parents are dead. For once, she feels special.
In an interesting subplot, Lady Rosamund (Samantha Bond) arrives with her new maid (Sharon Small) and a beau in tow, Lord Hepworth (Nigel Havers). He’s penniless and in danger of losing his last estate, unless he can marry the wealthy Lord Grantham’s sister.
He’s oddly reminiscent of Lord Grantham himself. He was also in financial straits until he married Cora, a wealthy American heiress. But Hepworth is a cad. Head housemaid Anna Smith (Joanne Froggatt) spies him heading upstairs with Rosamond’s maid. He’s caught in flagrante delicto by Rosamund, Lady Mary and the dowager. “He’s hardly the consummation devoutly to be wished,” the dowager dryly notes.
It looks like Rosamund and Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) are destined to remain spinsters. Sir Anthony (Robert Bathurst) shows up to give her a formal brush off, but not because of Mary’s sabotage in season one. It’s the war wound, you see. Plus, he feels he’s too old. Lady Edith can surely do better.
Finally, Thomas (Rob James-Collier) schemes to regain Lord Grantham’s trust by kidnapping his dog! Of course, he’ll “find” him and earn the Lord’s good graces. His little plan goes awry when a village child discovers the dog in the shed where Thomas hid him. But his scheme ultimately works when Lord comes upon him desperately trying to find the dog. Appreciating his devotion, he decides to give him a chance as his valet.
“I don’t need you to tell me the world is falling about our ears,” says the dowager. On to season three!