Downton Abbey (series 2)
|Downton Abbey (series 2)|
Region 1 USA DVD cover
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||8 + Christmas special|
|Original release||18 September– 6 November 2011|
The second series of the British historical period drama television series Downton Abbey aired from 18 September 2011 to 6 November 2011, comprising a total of 8 episodes and one Christmas Special episode aired on 25 December 2011. It was broadcast in the United Kingdom on ITV, and in the United States on PBS, starting on 8 January 2012. Series 2 explored the lives of the Crawley family and servants during and after the First World War.
Series 2 received widespread acclaim, with critics praising its cast, historical depictions, and story's arc. The viewing figures significantly increased compared with series 1, with an average of 11 million viewers per episode. The series was nominated for several industry awards, and won the TCA Award for Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries and Specials. Maggie Smith received critical praise for her performance as Violet Crawley, which earned her the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series and the Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.
The second series covers the last two years of the war and the first year of peace. Events mentioned or directly affecting the Crawley household include the Battle of the Somme, the Easter Rising, the Russian Revolution, the Battle of Amiens, the Armistice, and the Spanish flu epidemic.
On the domestic front there is a serious shortage of able-bodied men for home front jobs. Matthew Crawley and William Mason go off to fight, while Thomas Barrow joins the Medical Corps. Tom Branson, as an Irishman, won't fight for Britain. Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) returns to uniform, but is refused active service due to his age. Sybil Crawley (Jessica Brown Findlay) defies her aristocratic position and joins the Voluntary Aid Detachment as a nurse.
In the biggest development, Downton Abbey becomes a convalescent home for wounded officers.
Cast and characters
Recurring and guest cast
- Samantha Bond as Lady Rosamund Painswick; Lord Grantham's sister (Recurring)
- Robert Bathurst as Sir Anthony Strallan; Crawley family friend (Guest)
- Allen Leech as Tom Branson; the Crawley family chauffeur (Recurring)
- Kevin Doyle as Joseph Molesley; Matthew Crawley's valet (Recurring)
- Brendan Patricks as The Hon Evelyn Napier; Suitor for Lady Mary (Recurring)
- Cal MacAninch as Henry Lang (Recurring)
- Iain Glen as Sir Richard Carlisle of Morningside (Recurring)
- Maria Doyle Kennedy as Vera Bates (Recurring)
- Jonathan Coy as George Murray; Lord Grantham's lawyer (Guest)
- Paul Copley as Mr Mason (Recurring)
- Michael Cochrane as Reverend Albert Travis (Recurring)
- Clare Calbraith as Jane Moorsum (Recurring)
- Kevin R. McNally as Horace Bryant (Recurring)
- Lachlan Nieboer as Lt Edward Courtenay (Guest)
- Julian Wadham as Sir Herbert Strutt (Guest)
- Trevor White as Maj Patrick Gordon (Guest)
- Nigel Havers as Lord Hepworth (Guest, Christmas special)
- Sharon Small as Marigold Shore (Guest, Christmas special)
- Zoe Boyle as Lavinia Swire (Recurring)
- Christine Lohr as May Bird (Guest)
- Christine Mackie as Daphne Bryant (Recurring)
- Daniel Pirrie as Major Charles Bryant
- Stephen Ventura as Davis (Recurring)
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers|
|8||1||"Episode One"||Ashley Pearce||Julian Fellowes||18 September 2011||11.41|
November 1916. Matthew, now an Army officer, is fighting at the Battle of the Somme. He is returning to Downton during his upcoming leave and informs the family he is engaged to Miss Lavinia Swire. Lady Mary attempts to hide her dismay, and announces that she has invited Sir Richard Carlisle, a ruthless, wealthy newspaper mogul to Downton. Later, alone with Anna, she breaks down over Matthew's engagement. Meanwhile, the servants prepare for a concert to help fund the local hospital.
With Bates in London for his mother's funeral and Thomas in the Army Medical Corps, the servants struggle to keep Downton running. A new housemaid, Ethel, irritates the other servants with her constant boasts about improving herself, causing O'Brien to repeatedly pull pranks on her. Bates tells Anna that he may finally be able to get a divorce and proposes. Vera Bates, Bates' estranged wife, arrives at Downton and demands that Bates return to her or else she will expose Lady Mary's indiscretion with Pamuk. Bates gives his notice without explanation, infuriating Lord Grantham. However, Mrs Hughes overheard Vera's demands and tells Mr. Carson, and he informs Lord Grantham.Sybil, assisted by Isobel, enrolls in nursing training. Branson reveals his feelings before Sybil leaves. Matthew arrives with Lavinia. He and Mary reconcile, but struggle with their feelings for each other. Mary gives him her lucky mascot to keep him safe at the front. Matthew meets Thomas in the trenches and they share tea in the midst of the fighting. Thomas notes the irony of a footman sharing tea with the gentleman he once served. Matthew responds that "War has a way of distinguishing between the things that matter and the things that don't." Thomas, sick of war, intentionally gets wounded to be sent back to England.
|9||2||"Episode Two"||Ashley Pearce||Julian Fellowes||25 September 2011||11.77[nb 1]|
April 1917: With so few male staff left, Carson overworks himself, until he collapses while serving dinner. He is forced to accept female staff serving in the dining room.
Lord Grantham hires Lang, newly discharged from the army, as his valet. O'Brien notices signs of his shell shock and is kind to him. William is happy after receiving an important letter. Lord Grantham informs Mrs Patmore that her nephew was shot for cowardice. Thomas, now discharged from front-line service, goes to work under Dr (now Major) Clarkson at the village hospital along with Lady Sybil. Thomas and Sybil help a blinded young lieutenant who is depressed by his future. But Dr Clarkson says that the lieutenant has recovered from his wounds and must be transferred to a different facility. The young man commits suicide. This tragedy leads to Downton becoming a convalescent home.
Molesley is interested in Anna, but her heart belongs to Bates. Matthew is unhappy about returning to England for a recruitment drive. Carson advises Lady Mary to tell Matthew she loves him before it is too late. Lavinia is confronted by Sir Richard Carlisle, an old and unwelcome acquaintance.Mr Drake, a Downton tenant farmer, has all his farmhands conscripted. Lady Edith volunteers to drive his tractor and help with the work. She and Mr Drake become attracted to each other and kiss - seen by Mrs Drake, who quietly puts an end to Edith's job.
|10||3||"Episode Three"||Andy Goddard||Julian Fellowes||2 October 2011||11.33[nb 2]|
July 1917. Downton becomes a convalescent home for wounded officers, with Isobel taking charge, and the family confined to a relatively few rooms. At O'Brien's instigation, Cora gets Acting Sergeant Thomas Barrow assigned to run the military side of Downton.Violet believes that Mary and Matthew are still in love. She and Rosamund try to end Matthew's engagement to Lavinia. Violet believes there is something more to Lavinia's relationship with Sir Richard. Meanwhile, Anna sees Mr Bates in the village. They are hopeful they may have a future together, as Bates has a plan to deal with his estranged wife. Back at Downton, William proposes to Daisy before going to war, while Mrs Patmore reacts badly to a chance remark.
|11||4||"Episode Four"||Brian Kelly||Julian Fellowes||9 October 2011||11.30[nb 3]|
Early 1918: Ethel continues flirting with Major Bryant; when Mrs Hughes finds them in bed together, she dismisses Ethel. Later, Ethel returns, announcing she is pregnant with Bryant's child.
Preparations are under way for a concert at Downton. Tensions flare between Isobel and Cora, while Edith receives worrying news about Matthew and William. Branson declares his feelings for Sybil again.Lord Grantham visits Bates at a nearby pub where he is working. Lord Grantham receives a letter from Carlisle, which causes him concern and forces an uncomfortable conversation with Mary. Daisy and Mrs Patmore help Mrs Bird with her soup kitchen. O'Brien slyly informs on them to Cora, but Cora insists on helping them.
|12||5||"Episode Five"||Brian Kelly||Julian Fellowes||16 October 2011||11.59[nb 4]|
Mid-1918: Lord Grantham receives shocking news from the front; Matthew and William have been wounded in France. Matthew has suffered a serious spinal injury and is paralysed from the waist down. He is told that he will never walk again or father children. Lavinia insists this changes nothing and that she only wants to care for him. However, Matthew wants her to forget him and sends her away, while Mary attempts to nurse him back to health. Carson and Mrs Hughes hire a new maid, Jane, though she is a war widow with a child. Mrs Hughes also secretly helps Ethel and her baby since Ethel's lover, Major Bryant, has ignored her.William's injuries are fatal, prompting him to ask Daisy to marry him before he dies. But Daisy does not love him, and is reluctant to act out a lie. Mrs Patmore, who wants William to die happy, persuades Daisy to go through with it; William dies a few hours later. Bates is taken aback when Vera promises to expose old secrets about Lady Mary and Pamuk's death, as he paid her to divorce him. When Mary discovers this, she confesses everything to Sir Richard Carlisle and asks him to help. He pays Vera to sign a contract with confidentiality obligations, thereby silencing her. Unknown to Mary, Sir Richard announces his engagement to her in his paper. On finding out she was tricked into silence, Vera warns Bates she will still ruin him.
|13||6||"Episode Six"||Andy Goddard||Julian Fellowes||23 October 2011||11.33[nb 5]|
October–November 1918: A Canadian officer, badly disfigured by burns, arrives at Downton. He stuns everyone by declaring that he is Patrick Crawley, the supposedly deceased heir. He claims he survived the Titanic disaster but suffered from amnesia and lived as a Canadian until his memory recently returned. Mary vehemently rejects the claim, but Edith is persuaded as "Patrick" recounts details of old times at Downton, where Patrick was a frequent childhood visitor. Robert has his solicitor Murray investigate; Murray learns that Patrick Crawley had a close friend who emigrated to Canada. "Patrick" abruptly departs, leaving a plaintive but ambiguous note for Edith.
Meanwhile, Matthew is adapting to his condition and Mary's caring for him, displeasing Sir Richard. Carlisle and Cora conspire, to Lord Grantham's disgust, to bring back Lavinia, who resolves that she will never leave Matthew.
With the war ending, Isobel is full of social-improvement schemes using Downton Abbey, alarming Cora. Violet distracts Isobel with the plight of refugees as a cause that has greater need of her skills. Ethel hears the distressing news that Major Bryant has been killed.
Carson debates whether to accept Sir Richard's offer to leave Downton and be the Carlisles' butler after Sir Richard's marriage to Lady Mary; at the same time, Sir Richard makes it clear to Mary that he is uncompromising. Lady Sybil receives an ultimatum from Branson regarding his marriage proposal to her.Bates is shocked to find the legality of his divorce threatened, as Vera reveals that he paid her to leave him, and he goes to London to attempt to settle matters with her again. Upon his return, he receives the news that she is dead. Soon afterwards, the war ends with the Armistice.
|14||7||"Episode Seven"||James Strong||Julian Fellowes||30 October 2011||12.26[nb 6]|
1919: As the residents strive to return to normal life following the armistice, Matthew begins to feel his legs. One day, seeing Lavinia about to trip while carrying a heavy tray, he suddenly rises from the chair. Major Clarkson admits this was a possibility but did not want to raise false hopes. Matthew announces that he and Lavinia intend to marry soon. Violet tells him that Mary is still in love with him, but Matthew feels obliged to marry Lavinia. Meanwhile, Sir Richard Carlisle distresses Anna by asking her to spy on Mary; his behaviour leads Carson to reject his offer of employment.Bates realises that Vera committed suicide in order to frame him. When Major Bryant's parents visit Downton to see where their son convalesced, Mrs Hughes contrives a meeting between them and Ethel and her baby. However, Mr Bryant angrily refuses to believe her claim. Thomas embarks on a new money-making scheme in the post-war black market. Lord Grantham is attracted to the new maid, Jane, and kisses her. Lady Sybil makes the drastic decision to elope with Branson. However, Mary discovers her plan and, along with Edith and Anna, seeks them out and persuades Sybil to return and plead her cause openly to their parents.
|15||8||"Episode Eight"||James Strong||Julian Fellowes||6 November 2011||12.45[nb 7]|
April 1919: As preparations are under way for Matthew and Lavinia's wedding, Lady Sybil's wish to marry Branson shocks and horrifies her parents. Lord Grantham strongly opposes it but his threats of social disgrace and disinheritance do not dissuade Sybil. Grantham attempts to bribe Branson but he refuses. Lady Grantham, Carson, and Lavinia are taken ill by the Spanish flu. Thomas's black market venture fails, leaving him penniless and unemployed, but Carson's illness gives him a chance to become useful in the house. Matthew finds himself alone with Mary and tells her what Violet said. Both acknowledge that they cannot marry as it would be cruel to Lavinia. Lavinia overhears them and sees them kiss. When her illness delays the wedding, Lavinia tells Matthew that she heard and saw everything. She wants to call off the wedding but Matthew refuses. Fearing that Lavinia's illness might bring together Matthew and Mary, Sir Richard comes to Downton Abbey.Daisy is distressed by William's father's request that she visit him. Ethel is surprised when Major Bryant's parents want to see her but is horrified when she learns that Mr Bryant offers to take custody of the baby and tells her that she will not be allowed to see him. Disgusted, she refuses. Lord Grantham finds himself unable to control his desire for Jane, who willingly responds. However, their encounter is interrupted and Jane decides to leave. With the possibility of legal trouble regarding Vera's death, Anna insists that she and Bates marry so that she can support him through his difficulties. They marry in secret, with Lady Mary's support, and she arranges for them to spend their wedding night in a guest room. Cora becomes seriously ill and Clarkson fears the worst. O'Brien tirelessly cares for her and tries to ask for her forgiveness. However it is Lavinia who succumbs to the flu and dies, saying that it is best for Matthew. Wracked with guilt, Matthew tells Mary that any relationship between them is now impossible. Somewhat chastened by the recent events, Lord Grantham reluctantly gives his blessing for Lady Sybil and Thomas Branson to marry. The episode ends with Bates' arrest for the murder of his late wife.
Downton Abbey: Behind the Drama and Christmas special
A 46-minute documentary compiled in anticipation of the Christmas 2011 two-hour special broadcast, Behind the Drama features behind-the-scenes footage from the filming of the series and short interviews with Julian Fellowes, the writer, actors (Elizabeth McGovern, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle, Dan Stevens, Michelle Dockery, Jessica Brown Findlay, Laura Carmichael, Penelope Wilton, Phyllis Logan, Thomas Howes, Lesley Nicol, Sophie McShera, Allen Leech), and other members of the team that produces Downton Abbey. It was shown in the United Kingdom at 7:30 pm on Wednesday 21 December 2011 and narrated by Hugh Bonneville. 4.5 million people watched the show.
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||UK viewers|
|16||"Christmas at Downton Abbey"||Brian Percival||Julian Fellowes||25 December 2011||12.11[nb 8]|
|December 1919 and January 1920. The household is bustling with Christmas preparations. The staff entertain themselves with a Ouija board, trying to contact the spirits. Bates is convicted of Vera's murder, but his death sentence is commuted to life imprisonment. Bates encourages Anna to stay at Downton but live a full life. Daisy meets with William's father, Mr Mason, who assures her that she is a good person, and asks her to become his surrogate daughter. Rosamund contemplates marriage, but her suitor is exposed as a "fortune hunter". Sybil, now married to Tom Branson and living in Ireland, writes to Cora that she is pregnant. Cora insists on them returning to Downton. Mary jilts her fiancé, Sir Richard Carlisle, despite his threat to publish her dark secret regarding the late Kemal Pamuk. Though afraid that he will see her as "soiled", Lady Mary tells Matthew about Pamuk. Though surprised, he soon decides that what's past is past, and proposes to her; she happily accepts.|
Filming began in March 2011. The scripts were written by series creator Julian Fellowes. Episodes were directed by Ashley Pearce, Andy Goddard, Brian Kelly, and James Strong. Cal Macaninch, Iain Glen, Amy Nuttall, Zoe Boyle, and Maria Doyle Kennedy joined the cast as the new valet Lang, Sir Richard Carlisle, the new housemaid Ethel, Lavinia Swire, and John Bates' wife Vera, respectively. Nigel Havers and Sharon Small appeared in the Christmas Special as Lord Hepworth and Marigold Shore, Rosamund Painswick's maid, respectively.
Series two was highly acclaimed. On Rotten Tomatoes, it has fresh rating of 100% based on 24 reviews, with a weighted average of 8.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "With its excellent cast and resplendent period trappings, Downton Abbey continues to weave a bewitching, ingratiating spell." On Metacritic, the series 2 has a normalized score of 85 out of 100 based on 26 critics, indicating "Generally favourable reviews".
The series generally received overwhelming reviews from critics. Linda Stasi of the New York Post wrote "The series seamlessly moves between the horrors of war and the gentility of life in the show's titular 100-room manor." Writing for TV Guide Magazine, Matt Roush said, "For those of us who hungered for a year to witness these new chapters, the appetite is insatiable." Wall Street Journal's television critic Dorothy Rabinowitz said, "The vibrant brew of upstairs-downstairs relationships is more savory now, the characters more complicated." Robert Bianco of USA Today also lauded the series saying, "There's nothing in Downton you won't recognize, and almost nothing you won't enjoy." Variety's chief television critic Brian Lowry praised the series cast and said "Julian Fellowes has created such a vivid group of characters and assembled such an impeccable cast--effortlessly oscillating from comedy to drama--that the hours fly by, addictively pulling viewers from one into the next." Tim Goodman of The Hollywood Reporter said, "The characters are so beautifully and thoroughly rendered that we, as viewers, are caught up in their lives." Robert Lioyd of the Los Angeles Times said, "It is big, beautiful, beautifully acted and romantic, its passions expressed with that particular British reserve that serves only to make them burn brighter."
Some media outlets and critics were more critical towards the show. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette TV critic Rob Owen wrote, "Writer/series creator Julian Fellowes weaves together an engrossing tapestry of stories, although some of them stretch credulity or peter out." Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times also gave the series moderate reviews by comparison to first series and said, "Season 2 is in many ways as captivating and addictive as the first, but this time around, the series comes off as a shameless throwback to itself." In a moderate review, Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post said, "Your investment in the many stories spun out by creator Julian Fellowes may take longer to develop this year, because the costume drama's pace is off in the early going and it's far more contrived and inconsistent than it was in its first season." In a less enthusiastic review for the Washington Post, Hank Stuever quipped, "Downton Abbey lacks surprise and is stretched precariously thin, a house full of fascinating people with not nearly enough to do, all caught in a loop of weak storylines that circle round but never fully propel."