The Waiting Is Over: Downton Abbey Season 2 Airs Tonight!

GeekMom TV and Movies

Many of us here at GeekMom have been champing at the bit for the American premiere of Downton Abbey Season 2, and now at last it’s here–two whole hours of Edward intrigue and house-politics. I’m all a-flutter. To help us endure the long hours until showtime, here’s a clip featuring ten of the Dame Maggie Smith’s most deliciously withering one-liners. (Regrettably absent is the Dowager Countess’s first encounter with electric lights–possibly my favorite moment in all of Season 1.)

I’m sure we’ll have tons to dish about after tonight’s episode…combox afterparty, anyone?

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32 thoughts on “The Waiting Is Over: Downton Abbey Season 2 Airs Tonight!

  1. Oh, I very much like the little prompts from WETA: “SHOULD John have told Anna the truth?”

    Answer: YES!

    Also: someone please explain to me why I like Mary as much as I do–because she really is capable of some callow behavior. And I like Matthew so much–doesn’t he deserve someone better? And yet: I want them to be togethhhhhherrrr!!!

  2. Greetings from 38,000′ where I can watch the season 2 premiere ONLINE!!! Isn’t technology great!

    Sadly, though, it’s very very boggy and I’m not getting very far at all — I’ll have to watch it tomorrow….

  3. Ugh! Now I can’t wait for the next episode. Thankfully, the Spurs sucked tonight so I didn’t feel guilty about switching over at 8pm to watch episode 1. I love, LOVE the Bates/Anna storyline so much. I think Bates should’ve just owned up to Anna as to why he had to leave, but in the context of the era…I understand why he didn’t. Bring on episode 2!

  4. I like the way Mary has grown as a character. I thought she started out the first season so shallow and I admit, I didn’t care for her too much then but I loved the scenes last night between her and Matthew. They have both grown so much! Edith’s new “adventure” seems odd and out of place. It didn’t seem believable to me. During season 1, I kind of understood why she was the way she was but now I don’t get her at all. Sybil’s new interest seems very much in character and I liked the way she didn’t run into Branson’s arms when he declared himself. Cora watching her in the kitchen was very sweet.

    Dame Maggie Smith CRACKS ME UP!!! She had so many wonderful lines! “Amputations in the dining room?” ” Cora’s flowers always look better suited to a First Communion… in Southern Italy.” I love her!

    I didn’t want to feel sympathy for O’Brien or Thomas, but I admit that I did, just a smidge. I think O’Brien might change but I think Thomas will always be a snake in the grass. I was sad that Bates just left and we didn’t hear from him again but I know he will be back. He has to come back! I detested his wife and I LOVED Mrs. Hughes’ listening grate! But I did recognize her (Maria Doyle Kennedy) from The Commitments and that was fun.

    Glad to see the talented Iain Glen show up in this season (Sir Richard Carlisle). He plays “mysterious” so well! Can’t wait to see what plays out between him and Lavinia. So excited for next week!

  5. Ahhh….happy sigh. That was worth the wait. (Spoiler alert.) I can’t decide if I wish Mary had spoken up and told Matthew or not. Keeping quiet was probably the least self-interested thing she has ever done, and her pain is really heartbreaking. She’s been in pain a long time. And I worry about the course she’s setting for herself: suppressed heartache, a future with the newspaperman (though actually he’s right, I think, in recognizing they could be a formidable pair). I don’t want to see Mary growing hard and cruel as a defensive shell to hide her interior pain.

    Lots of pain in these two episodes…(and how gratifying to get two all at once). Bates and Anna, oh my. Talk about heartbreaking. I hope that particular storyline moves along quickly; I would rather not see their suffering drawn out.

    It’s interesting watching this after having read A. S. Byatt’s THE CHILDREN’S BOOK, which spans an overlapping time frame. Both take a hard look at how suddenly and irrevocably the War altered long-entrenched (so to speak) societal norms. For me one of the most piercing moments in last night’s show was when Sybil said it seems like every boy she ever danced with is dead now.

    1. Lissa, if this time frame seems to be nagging at you I highly recommend you read Vera Brittain’s autobiography of the war years, Testament of Youth. Heart wrenching and would put both Downton and The Children’s Book into real life perspective.

  6. Charlotte, we overlapped in the ether! THANK YOU for solving the mystery of Mrs. Bates’s identity: I was literally going to IMDB her as soon as I finished that comment. We *knew* we knew her but I couldn’t place her. The Commitments…ah, how I loved that movie!

    Funny–I came away thinking the opposite, that Thomas might actually come out of this a better person, but that Bates will never cease to be a snake. I’m still trying to puzzle out why she cared whether Sybil became a nurse. She tried pretty hard to poison Cora against the idea. Is it simply a love of her own power as puppetmaster? Or did she have a deeper motive? Not that it seemed to matter. Sybil’s got some deep resolve under that babyface. I was surprised, though, that she had her grandmother as an ally in that fight.

    And I could easily watch nothing but a clip show of Dame Maggie’s every utterance. She’s perfectly marvelous.

  7. Quick notes: I am loving Anna and Me. bates but have a Very Bad Feeling about it all. i suspect that we are in for the long haul here and that it will not be pretty. Mrs. bates also played Catherine of Aragon in The Tudors and was fabulous. They won’t let aa actress of her caliber go without a meaty storyline.

    I feel insulted (as a viewer) over the Edith storyline: I love that she’s doing the driving/ helping out on the estate farms etc that. That’s all well and good and believable. The whole kissing the married farmer ipn the barn bit? Oh please. Spare us. If we’re going to have that sort of thing, let’s have it be realistic to the era and characters. (Housemaid with the Lord, Mary and her hewspapar man marrying and then having trouble being faithful etc).

    Cora seems to be slipping. Not sure if I can put my finger on it? If it’s the writing or acting, I mean. It makes me wonder where she’s going this season …

    Oh, it’s going to be hard to wait a week between episodes! We were spoilt by watching all of the first season in a white heat last week on netflix!

  8. Oh how I love Downton Abbey! What a relief to my psyche that season 2 is finally airing!

    Can’t wait to see where all the story lines are going.

    I must admit to feeling slightly underwhelmed last night. It was good and a lot going on but…I don’t know.
    I was a little disappointed in some of the historical misfires. But again, there are a lot more episodes to air yet. Let’s face it, some of the men need to die. Sad but true. When you look at the statistics there is just no way all the main characters should come out of the war. And isn’t it more likely that Sybil would have been trained as a VAD and not a full blown nurse? I’m getting nit picky I suppose.

    But oh my goodness! What dirt does Sir newpaper man have on Lavinia and her family?? You know there is something.
    And please don’t let Mary actually marry him!!
    I actually feel that Mary is a very sympathetic character. A product of her rank and generation for sure. But oh! I want a happy ending for her.
    Edith-I can not abide her actions. She runs on bitterness and jealousy. Am very interested to see what comes of the affair with the farmer.
    Bates, the ex and Anna. Where is that story line going??
    So much!

  9. It’s great to learn of someone else who reads A. S. Byatt, and particularly The Children’s Book, which I’ve read three times. If one thinks as well of the book/play/movie War Horse, World War I seems to have gotten a fair amount of attention in the Anglophone media in the last few years.

    1. Leslie, I read The Children’s Book twice last year and could happily pick it up again this very minute! It has quite a grip on me.

      Last night when Lavinia made her first appearance in that green gown, I kept thinking of Seraphita Fludd!

  10. Oh, my, where to start?

    First, I am happy, happy, happy to be watching again. Maggie Smith is indeed a delight in every single scene. And she *owns* her scenes. Love. Her. To. Death.

    Mr. Bates and Anna — at first, I thought, “Oh, my! Resolved so quickly? They’ll actually be *happy* this season after a season of full of missed chances, miscommunication, and missed moments? Be still, my heart! But, I knew it couldn’t last. Ooooh, that awful Vera! We will love to hate her.

    My heart simply broke for Anna and for Bates (shall we call him John now?) 🙂

    Mary is certainly much more sympathetic now, and I do like her and I want her to be happy. It took everything in her to *not* tell Matthew — you could see how torn she was, but she couldn’t follow up on Carson’s advice (which ended with such dismissiveness of Lavinia, which of course, I understand, since Mary is a favorite of his) without it costing her in some other way, and it was an adult, unselfish move, which is a new thing for her.

    I also think it’s very interesting to watch the ripple effect of Mary’s fatal (no pun intended!) decision to spend the night with Pamuk — the consequences are now so far-reaching. That action is now costing Bates and Anna tremendously, too.

    I also love the way small moments make such enormous points in this show — when Lord Grantham said, “Well, there is a war on … we all have to make sacrifices,” and he was talking about using the maids in the dining room instead of the butlers … sheesh! Talk about painting a powerful picture of the lives of the idle rich.

    Edith — oh, my, Edith. Really? Is this all coming from being a middle child? 😮

    Yes, felt some sympathy for Thomas, but grrrr on the wound.

    O’Brien? Nice, really, to see her feel some sympathy and want to offer to help Lang. Surprised me. I tend to see her softening before Thomas, though I think they’re offering us some explanation about why Thomas is such a bitter person.

    The new maid, Ethel — poor thing! Had to chuckle at the practical jokes, though.

    And what about poor William? Daisy didn’t know what her flirtatious kiss was getting her into.

    I do love Carson.

    And loved Mrs. Hughes offering the tea room for the purpose of listening in on Bates and Vera.

    Very interested in where the Carlisle/Lavinia thing goes.

    Loved Sybil’s new work, and felt so bad for Branson. I think she likes him but was overwhelmed and not ready for such a serious proclamation of love. And *loved* the moment when Cora was watching her in the kitchen. Laughed so hard at Carson articulating how he feels about surprises, too. 🙂

    Oh, I know there’s more, but must go for now …

  11. Re Cora: she was interesting last night. Seemed sort of…faded? Impotent? Until the end when she showed her claws to the Dowager Countess, of all people. Perhaps the sudden changes in her daughters–all of them asserting independence in various ways, all of them taking the first steps toward leaving the nest–has nudged her to assert her own dominance in the household heirarchy. She is Lady Grantham but she often seems uncomfortable in that role, or deferential at least.

    Edith: ugh, I too was bothered by her little romance–it felt more like a plot point than an authentic character action. The driving, that was wonderful. And her relish in the outdoor tasks, the being useful, being skilled at something. Even the flirtation, I could buy. But it seemed contrived to have a sudden romance developing.

    The Carson and Mary scene was really moving. I love their special bond.

    Great observation, Karen, about the ripple effect of Mary’s ill-fated night. It’s nagging at me a bit, though, that the story is out to the point that servants in other households know about it. It seems unlikely it wouldn’t simply be public knowledge, once the secret had traveled outside Downton Abbey at all.

    I love the irony of her being courted by a scandal-peddling newspaperman. It puts her in a very precarious position–if she hurts him (before they marry, if they marry), it would be easy for him to destroy her family, if the secret makes its way to his ears. I wonder how long it will be until that power dynamic comes into play. Seems a very likely course for the writers to take…

    Kathryn & other UK viewers, it must be amusing to hear us poor Americans speculating! 😉

    1. Our PBS station had a 5 minute interview with Elizabeth McGovern before the episode started–some of the cast is in NY to promote the premier (great New Yorker snippet here: http://www.newyorker.com/talk/2012/01/16/120116ta_talk_mead). She said that at the opening of this season, she and Lord Grantham are struggling with figuring out their place in this quickly changing WWI social landscape. She said something like “that’s why I have that vacant look in my eye a lot of the time at the beginning of this season.”

    2. “Ill-fated decision,” yes. “Fatal” was not the right word. My, this show muddles my thinking when I go all giddy. 🙂

      I do know what you mean about the secret and where it has and hasn’t traveled.

  12. I thought two tings initially…. They really need to hurry up with Sherlock Season 2 and I wish my kids would stop distracting me and just stay in bed so I could watch this.

    It was very good. I haven’t seen all of season 1 yet so I am still confused by some of the characters.

    To make matters worse, my brain kept associating Daisy with the Daisy in Bones and I realized later that the actors could be sisters, they look so similar. Very disconcerting as my mind links everything visually.

    Another problem I had was that there were too many similar WW1 brown British uniforms. If I didn’t get a really good close-up look at the face, I got character confusion. This was probably a cinematography and costuming problem. While Historically accurate, it caused several characters to blur together.

    I enjoyed it. Especially the beginning with Anna and her married Fiance. That should be an interesting subplot.

  13. Something that’s been bothering me is that while we’ve skipped two years in time, the characters really haven’t developed two years’ worth of emotion and relationship. It’s blindingly obvious where Anna and Mr Bates are concerned for sure, but for other characters as well. The actions and developments taking place in the first episode seem much more likely to have *already* taken place: they seem awkward, two years into the war, two years since we’ve last seen people.

  14. Ellie, that’s a great point! I actually forgot, once the episode got rolling, that two years had passed. It all seemed so new: the adjustment to the War, Sybil just now deciding to go into nursing, William fretting about not joining up, the war efforts reaching the estate, Mary being still so fluttery and fraught about Matthew, Edith just now learning to drive.

    Thomas’s action is easier to understand when you remember he’s been in the trenches for two years.

  15. Yes! Thomas is actually acting/behaving as if he’s been to war for a year and a half, two years. But for most other characters, a rather odd production/writing choice was made. Makes you wonder what they were all up to for the last two years!

  16. I admire everyone’s fortitude — I watched the whole season 2 as soon as it was downloadable from Britain. So many exciting things to come!! I can’t wait to watch the Christmas special! Unfortunately we must finish moving before my husband can treat ourselves. Enjoy season 2!

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