Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Season 2, Episode 5

This excellent episode of Downton Abbey opens up with a panoramic view of the warfront in Amiens, France. Two of my favorite characters, Captain Crawley and William, are found on the front discussing their future right before a major battle begins. When they leave the trenches to fight, they are both seriously injured when a shell explodes nearby. 

What I found to be most interesting about this opening scene was that the show’s writer, Julian Fellowes, heightened the episodes suspense by pairing the explosions on the front with scenes back at Downton Abbey. For example, when Captain Crawley is hit during battle, Lady Mary immediately feels his shock on the front when she spills her tea back at the estate. Whether this comparison was intentional or not, I thought  it created a great deal of suspense for the remainder of the episode.

When Lord Grantham finally hears the news about William and Captain Crawley, he is completely beside himself. With the heir to the Crawley fortune seriously injured, the future of the Downton estate is thrown into question once again. Though William is sent to Leeds, and Matthew to Downton Village, William’s father cannot afford to leave his farm and move to the city while William recovers. As a result of this misfortune, the Dowager Countess goes to visit William’s doctor to ask if the boy can be transferred to Downton hospital. Unfortunately, the doctor tells the Dowager Countess that William has no hope for recovery.  He has sustained too much damage, and the force of the blast has fatally injured his lungs. Though the doctor is cautious about moving William, he tells the Dowager that he thinks William should die in a familiar place surrounded by familiar people. Even though the Dowager intentionally hides this horrific news from William’s father, she has an even tougher time convincing Dr. Clarkson to move William back to the estate. 

The dialogue between Dr. Clarkson and the Dowager Countess in this episode further illustrates the fact that the Dowager is not the only cold-hearted personality in the Downton village. When the Dowager goes to ask Dr. Clarkson if he can spare a bed for William, Dr. Clarkson says that the Downton hospital is only for recovering officers. Since William does not have the rank of an officer, he cannot be transferred to the Downton hospital. In one of my favorite scenes from this episode, The Dowager Countess sharply responds to Dr. Clarkson's answer by saying. “It always happens when you give these little people power, it goes to their heads like a strong drink.” Though Dr. Clarkson will not change his policy, the Dowager has made it clear that she will make sure William is transferred to Downton. Another fantastic part of this episode is when the Dowager tries to call the Prime Minister to change Dr. Clarkson’s mind. While she is speaking with the Prime Minister on the telephone, she becomes frustrated that she cannot properly use the new piece of technology. As a result, she screams, “Is this an instrument of communication or torture?” 

But the Dowager’s clever remarks do not makeup for the pain that is being felt throughout the Downton household. Matthew’s fiancĂ©, Lavinia Swire, has been notified of Matthew’s condition, but Lady Mary has taken it upon herself to take care of Matthew while Lavinia is away. Though Lady Mary has turned Matthew away in several of the show’s previous episodes, it seems as if his injuries have only made her fall even more in love with him. Thus, there is a significant change in Mary’s attitude during this episode, as she finally chooses to play the role of caretaker. 

Furthermore, when Lavinia finally arrives at Downton, it seems as if she may not have the courage to stay with Matthew if he cannot recover from his injuries. Though she protests that she will stay by Matthew’s side no matter what, Matthew sends Lavinia to London because he is told he will never be able to have children. If this isn't enough drama for one episode, William also asks Daisy to marry him before he dies. Unfortunately for Daisy, Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes practically force her to accept William’s proposal. In a five-minute wedding ceremony, Daisy and William are married in one of the Downton bedrooms. William ends up dying shortly after, and I have to admit it was a terribly emotional scene. I sincerely hope that this rushed marriage will not prove to have negative consequences for Daisy in the future.

Towards the end of the episode, Lord Grantham also learns that Sir Richard Carlisle has announced his proposal to Lady Mary in a local newspaper. Though Lady Mary has not officially agreed to Sir Richard Carlisle’s proposal, she promised to give him a chance if he cleared her name from the rumors surrounding her relationship with Mr. Pamuk.  Although this announcement only added to the drama in this episode,  I still think it was one of my favorites. Once again, the acting by Maggie Smith was superb, and the constant tension between Lavinia and Lady Mary is nothing short of entertaining! Even though this particular episode was slightly depressing, I cannot help but wonder what lies ahead for the Crawley family in future episodes!

Here are some of my favorite moments from episode 5!