Downton Abbey Recap: Who’s Up for a Game of Cards?

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Blameless flower Anna.

Welcome home, friends! It’s episode two of Downton Abbey and finally the dog’s butt is back! As always: spoiler alert! Now, it’s time for a party.

A train of fancy automobiles wind their way up to Downton Abbey. Who do they contain? Rich people? Famous people? Love interests?

Well, right out of the gate, one of them contains a dashing servant with the hot hot hots for Anna. But more on that later, I’m sure, because…

Upstairs, it’s a party! An awkward milling-about tea party. But the family is in full form. Take for example Robert who says: “Who’s the glamorous pirate?” about a perfectly normal looking gentleman in the corner. What makes him pirate-like, pray tell, Robert? Is he wearing his tie in a particularly uncouth knot? Is his hair unacceptably dark and wavy? Oh Downton, your rules and mores still befuddle me.

Mary tells the Pirate she hates him because he was a mean meanie when she was a little kid. He’s a pirate, Mary! What do you expect??

But the party must go on! “I’m afraid Tom’s small talk is very small indeed,” zings Violet.

“Not everyone can be Oscar Wilde,” zangs Robert back.

“That’s a relief,” zooms Violet. Comedy!

Downstairs, Hughes and Carson (Brangelina) reminisce about the days before the war when everyone had a proper number of maids and valets. Edna begins to show her true colors as a lazy layabout Thomas follower by saying she’s too busy to lend a hand with the guests. Too busy plotting to bring down Downton!

On the stairs, Mary chats up the Pirate and gets the vitals: no kids, no wife, no eye patch. Too bad she’s so grin-y these days. A pirate would have been a perfect husband for Wednesday Addams.

In the kitchen, Mrs. Patmore appears to be cooking squirrels or else her mouth is full of marbles. Seriously. Is she cooking squirrels?!

The flirting man is back. Note: he’s much cuter than Bates and doesn’t seem to have any enemies who want to destroy him forever. Also, Anna is clearly flirting back.

Speaking of flirting, Edna the Home Wrecker ambushes poor simple Tom with her low sexy home wrecker voice. Oh god, Tom, NO. Think of Baby Sybbie! Think of me!

At the other house, Isobel is still in black, still palling around with the doctor. Another later-in-life will they/won’t they perhaps? Brangelina is already taken so…Bennifer?

In the drawing room, Violet gives old Tommy a little lesson in manners. When he points out how illogical it is that he has to call rich people by different titles now that he too is a rich person, Violet quips: “But if I were to search for logic, I should not look for it among the English upper class.” She smirks as she walks away, much, one assumes, as Julian Fellowes smirked as he wrote the line.

As the party starts to heat up, Mary starts talking dirty to the Pirate: “I haven’t been in the saddle in ages,” she says. “I’ll be stiff as a board the next day.” Oh, will you?

Molesley the Sad Panda turns up as a delivery boy. Well, it’s better than shoveling asphalt, right? I’m wondering if he’s working towards a spin-off series about all the crap jobs a drunk can get in the village? Like Dirty Work: Downton Abbey?

At the breakfast table, Rose seems to be striking up more than just conversation with Chris O’Donnell circa Circle of Friends. Tom tries to get work done while Edith, a dream in pink, tries to get her daddy to talk to her boyfriend. Unfortunately, Lord Grantham doesn’t recognize her or maybe was never quite sure who she was in the first place. Oh, Edith. Just go to Germany, where you will be valued for your golden locks and you can work on your daddy issues with your older future husband instead of your real daddy.

Downstairs, the servant men discuss how the richy-riches upstairs lost a bunch of money last night playing poker. Thomas says something menacing through a cloud of smoke and nobody even cares anymore.

Mary and the Pirate ride horses down a sun-dappled lane. At least it’s not a car ride. Too soon!

Downstairs, Bates is getting jealous!

In the library, Cora the Queen of Passivity says to Carson: “We’re all going on a tour of the gardens in 10 minutes. When we get back it might be nice to have some coffee.” Hypothetical: what if he didn’t get the coffee and was like, “Hey, you never said, get coffee. You just mentioned you thought it would maybe be nice if it was there when you got back! I agreed! How kind of nice if coffee just appeared for you out of the sky!”

Downer Robert rains on Cora There’s-a-Singer-Coming-to-Our-House parade. Hey, Robert! Stop ruining everything fun in the whole world!!

In the kitchen, Jimmy Jam shows off for Ivy (her?) and breaks a jar of jam. It’s cute because it goes with his name!

In the dining area, Robert shows what a real Future Man he is by letting Carson let the kitchen staff see the opera singer. Next step, equal rights for women! Just kidding. Not under Lord Grantham’s watch!

On the horses, Pirate and Mary commiserate about the sad trouble of land owners forced to pay taxes. You can almost see the #firstworldproblems sign hanging over their heads in the crisp, English air.

In the kitchen, Jim Jam’s stunt with the jam jar has led to a real wrist injury, which means his old love interest T-Bones is going to have to carry a tray like a common commoner! “Mr. Carson, must I remind you that I’m the under butler?” asks Thomas.

“I don’t care if you’re the high cockalorum; you’re a footman tonight,” responds Carson.

(Note: using the pause button and the internet, I discovered that high cockalorum is a thing! Not just Carson nonsense talk from the vaudeville stage, it’s a game that involves jumping on people—like extra dangerous Red Rover. Also, it was popular during World War II. So in this case, I think we can definitely call it anachronistic nonsense that could hurt Jimmy’s wrist worse than a little jam jar mishap. Moving on.)

Upstairs and downstairs, the flirting rages on. Rose and Chris, the Pirate and Mary, Anna and the Interloper Servant and the Duchess and Tom. Drama! Romance! Let the dancing begin!

Strangely, Mary can’t handle the sight of Matthew’s old gramophone. Oh really? But you are cool with the rest of his house and his baby and so, so many sun-dappled lanes? Just admit it, Mary, you are two seconds away from Pamuk-ing it like crazy with the Pirate and it scares you because the record of people you have slept with who have then perished in strange and premature ways is now 2 for 2.

The Card Shark sharks the men hard in a smoky room for men only. Someone expose this man!

Upstairs, Tom confides in Edna that he feels stupid amongst the rich. Dear Tom: Edna is a tricky, bad lady. She will eat your heart and your soul for breakfast. Please find another woman to tell your sorrows to. I suggest Edith, Baby Sybbie or a pen pal from the future (me).

Mary lies in bed, fully clothed, and dead pans to Anna: “Sometimes I don’t know who I’m more in mourning for, Matthew or the person I was when I was with him.” Hint: it’s you. You you you. You love you sooo much, Lady Mary. You love you the most.

Downstairs, Molesley is going to serve tonight at the party. Great, finally some excitement! He’s guaranteed to get wasted and pour mousse all over the most famous guest.

Upstairs, Robert lies hard to Cora about the fact that he just lost all their money to the Card Shark who happens to just be a guy he met at his “club” and then invited over to his house for a many days long party. What kind of clubs are you going to, Robert?

Downstairs, Molesley is mortally offended by the fact that he must wear gloves.

In the servants dining area, Bates glowers as Anna basically makes out (plays cards and laughs) with the Other Servant, while somewhere, in a smoky room, Edith’s BF sets the Card Shark up for what I can only hope will be a Molesley-level humiliation.

In the drawing room, Cora is horrified that the world famous singer isn’t being allowed at the dinner table. She doesn’t get it! Robert is Future Man! He’s letting the kitchen staff watch the singer later! Let him live, Cora! Geez.

Carson and Robert are wearing the exact same outfit. Oh god. Who is the butler and who is the Extreme Master Overlord of Everything?!

Mrs. Patmore is flipping out so hard over Ivy’s terrible spooning skills that she appears to develop a hernia right before dinner. Alfred, who as we all know secretly is the Top Chef of Downton, takes the reins and starts in on the dill sauce.

Upstairs, all is calm and appropriate (no hernias, no men making sauces). The Opera Singer has the world’s best headdress and the Pirate flirts with Mary in front of her dead husband’s mother. Isobel nearly cries to Tom at the dinner table. So maybe she’s the one he should confide in?

Downstairs, Bates’ rage over Anna’s outrageous flirting (card playing) is about to boil over. Please tell me all the poison is hidden somewhere high up that requires a ladder and jumping to reach?

The doctor diagnoses Patmore with panic over the guests. He gives her a Xanax and tells her to get over herself, then goes and gets ready for the concert (and maybe a little romance with Isobel?).

Carson, as usual, is not amused by any of it.

In the library, Thomas and Robert have a man-to-man heart-to-heart, which just involves Robert completely ignoring the words coming out of Tom’s mouth. He might as well be Edith. Poor guy.

The Opera Singer entertains the whole house with her headdress and, well, singing. Carson especially is taken back to his time on the stage (flash back flash back [to be chanted together]). Somehow, Isabelle is in purple now too. Did she change after dinner? Get over her extreme mourning period finally?

In the side room, where the men are playing cards, Edith-loving Michael appears to be setting some kind of genius trap.

In the kitchen, things take a turn for the very, very dark as the Nameless Servant attempts to rape Anna. Everyone upstairs! Stop smiling! Rescue Anna right now!!! She is a blameless flower! I am sorry I ever said anything bad about her! Rescue her! Stop this ridiculous singing!

In the card room, blah blah blah who cares if Michael wins back all the money in the world? Where is Anna and will someone please help her?!

Are you kidding me? More nonsense nothing happens. Edna again tries to insinuate herself with Tom and can we please get to the real business?

In Hughes’ office, Anna is sobbing and totally broken. Somehow, raping Anna is by far the worst thing that has ever happened at Downton. You can make jokes about Matthew and Sybil’s deaths, and even the soap and baby thing has its funny side, but geez, not this. This is the worst. That’s pretty much all I can say about that.

Well, now I’m devastated, but I guess the show must go on.

 

Character Ranking:

5. Molesley: For not getting drunk and spilling dill sauce all over the Opera Singer and the Duchess, I rank you, Molesley. I’m all about improvement and, by not completely failing at everything you did this week, you showed some.

4. Michael: He saved the day by out card sharking the Card Shark (even if they gave us absolutely no details about how either of them cheated)! And in the process, he discovered the only way to get through to Robert: dollar dollar bills, y’all (pound pound notes, y’all).

3. Alfred: I mean, come on! He saved dinner by cooking the dill sauce! Where would we be without you, long-suffering nice guy?

2. Violet: Violet is back on the zinger train and we are going to need all we can get of her comedy in the future after what happened to Anna.

1. Anna: Deeeeep sigh. This was a rough one for her/all of us. I hope she tells Bates what happened and I hope he doesn’t commit murder because of it and I really, really hope she isn’t pregnant. I’m giving her the top spot because she definitely made me hella sad. Oh man, I am so sad. Next week, I hope Anna has an uplifting narrative of some sort and I kinda hope the Rapist Servant goes for a ride in a car on a sun-dappled lane, if you know what I mean.

 

In case you missed it, check out the first episode’s recap!

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Lizzy Acker

Lizzy Acker’s work has been published in Nano Fiction, Fanzine, Joyland, Eleven Eleven and elsewhere. She has read with Bang Out, RADAR, Quiet Lightening and others. Her first book, Monster Party, was released in December of 2010 by Small Desk Press.

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