Somehow I missed the part where Major Bryant, the loutish father of Ethel’s illegitimate child, got killed in the war. But you can see why he was such a jerk: Just look at his dad. Bastard this and bastard that, and then cutting short a perfectly nice luncheon. Ethel’s doing the right thing to keep her boy from the clutches of a guy like that.
Did anybody really think Mr. Bates was not going to be charged with the murder of his horrible wife? I still don’t care much for this story, but you have to admit it finally got Bates and Anna into the sack. She looks different, somehow, wearing nothing but a comforter. Next stop, the Old Bailey. But even if Bates has a date with the gallows, he can cross one thing off the bucket list.
Lord Grantham and Jane: Another thing we saw coming from the start of the season, but I guess I approve of the way this one was handled. I feared that Jane would be somehow unmasked as a schemer who never actually had a husband. But it turns out she’s just lonely, and happens to look very nice in a maid’s uniform. Glad to see the Earl is almost as honorable as we’d been lead to believe: Not above stealing a kiss or two, maybe, but finally strong enough cut a check and call it quits.
Speaking of kisses, are there no broom closets at Downton? Matthew and Mary smooching in a well-lit ballroom was the height of recklessness, especially with Lavinia wandering around. And look what it got them: A guilt that will haunt them forever. Or at least until Season 3. By then even Mary should see life with Richard Carlyle is not going to be any bed of roses.
Once again, Maggie Smith gets all the best lines. “Marriage is a long business. There’s no getting out of it for our kind of people.” Besides being perfectly delivered, that one perfectly summarizes the central conflict of the show: There is a proper way to live and an improper way. Lord help you if you choose the former, because there’s no changing your mind. (I also got a chuckle out of this one: “Dont be defeatist dear, it’s very middle class.”)
Hard to believe we’re nearly at the end of the season. But maybe it’s best. After some glaring missteps in the first few episodes, maybe the writers need some time to debrief.