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Downton Abbey recap: Episode 2

In which a main character secretly become the series’ greatest villain

Posted on

Nick Briggs/PBS

Downton Abbey

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Hugh Bonneville, Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, Maggie Smith

I don’t know, guys. That kidnapping seemed kind of justified.

Let’s back up for a bit, because if I’m going to try to rationalize what Mrs. Drewe does at the end of this episode, there needs to be a bit of stage setting.

We begin as this final season of Downton Abbey has been wont to do, with a throwaway update on Branson’s car dealership and Rose’s role in Cinderella life in New York. And reading a bit between the lines, Mary suspects that her dear cousin may be pregnant. Why does she think this to be the case? Because Rose says that she might come back to England in August depending on how filming Pride & Prejudice & Zombies goes. Hmmm. That seems like a stretch, and Edith agrees. “As usual, you add two and two and get 53.” Point: Edith! But don’t get comfortable, girl. I’m coming after you in a bit.

Now that the terms of how down Carson and Hughes will get once they’re married have been decided, the happy couple set a date for the wedding. There’s just the matter of the venue to sort out, so Robert jumps into the conversation, thinking he’s being super generous and says, “The servants hall is going to look awesome for your wedding.” Thanks, sir, but no thanks, sir. Carson is happy to receive any kind of generosity from His Lordship, but everyone else — including Mary, to her credit — thinks the idea is horrifying. “I just don’t want to be a servant on my wedding day,” Mrs. Hughes says. “Is that so wrong?” No, Elsie. It’s not so wrong at all.

Even though Mrs. Hughes has resigned herself to the patriarchy of the time, she is dead-set on making her wedding day about her, and there’s simply no way to achieve that if the reception is held at Downton. It doesn’t matter whether that’s downstairs or up, as Mary suggests later. Mrs. Hughes, who has spent most of her time on earth waiting on the whims of people who have more than her, simply wants some autonomy on her wedding day, something her future husband is struggling with. It’s no wonder that she loses her temper. “Heaven forfend that we lowly folks should do anything to contradict the blessed lady Mary,” Mrs. Hughes says, letting the facade slip for just a moment, maybe for the first time in the show’s history.

If you’re worried about Carson’s future as a husband, there’s a good reason for that. Even after all of her pleading, Mrs. Hughes is stonewalled — temporally at least — during the fat stock show, when Carson tells her straight-up (or whatever the Downton version of straight-up is) that any location but the abbey is out of the question. Carson?! What’s happening to you?

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And Carson’s cold shoulder wasn’t reserved for only his future wife. With the possibility of downsizing rearing its ugly head at Downton, the butler has been not-so-subtly telling Barrow to GTFO. Things are bad enough already for the sometimes-villain. So far this season, there’s been a recurring bit where the servants fear that Barrow will turn Andy gay, because that’s definitely how that works. Now Barrow has to go to some second-rate house and interview for a position that would require him to be the Swiss Army knife of servants.

NEXT: Let’s talk about Barrow