Last week in the season 6 premiere of Downton Abbey, Lady Mary's past came back to bite her, Lady Edith had trouble with her editor in London and Isobel discovered once again that the Dowager Countess makes a fearsome opponent. This week we got another dose of drama with a healthy smattering of absurdity at Downton, so let's recap six talking points from episode 2.
1. Rose is living it up in the Hamptons
Lady Mary receives a letter from Rose, who doesn't know when she'll be back in England and doesn't expect it to be any time soon. And why would she, when she's busy living large in the Hamptons? Which got me thinking about how a spin-off featuring Rose mingling with Jay Gatsby at one of his notorious parties would be probably the greatest thing in the history of historical fiction. Although whether Julian Fellowes is a writer quite at the standard of F. Scott Fitzgerald is a point of some contention.
2. Lady Mary is still oblivious to Marigold's parentage
In her enthusiastic new capacity as "agent" of Downton, Lady Mary arranges a meeting with Farmer Drew - whom she (affectionally... right?) refers to as "our pig man" - and inadvertently sets off a chain of events involving a heartbroken Mrs. Drew and Marigold, the child she grew to love and then had to give up when Edith decided she wanted her daughter after all.
"Mrs. Drew has not got over Marigold!", Cora exclaims in a sentence which appears to have been airlifted directly out of 2015 and sent back to 1925 by telegram. Later at the Malton Show, Mrs. Drew takes Marigold back to the farm, causing some alarm for Edith and the Crawleys. This sequence felt a little off to me - clearly we're supposed to side with the family and see Mrs. Drew as somehow unreasonable for pining over the girl she raised as her own, but she actually has all of my sympathy. It doesn't seem right that they should be turfed out of the farm, and nobody seems to have considered that Marigold might actually want to spend some time with Farmer Drew and his missus, who did raise her after all.
The Malton Show did offer some presumably unintentional comedy when Baxter opined of Mary, "People might think she's a pretend farmer, but she's not!" - because Lord Grantham's eldest is always found milking the cows at sunrise.
3. Mrs Hughes doesn't want to marry at the Abbey
"Tell him thank you, but no!" she instructs Carson, who of course does nothing of the sort and ultimately allows Lady Mary to bully him into hosting the wedding reception in any room of his choosing - which was clearly a common occurrence with the aristocracy and their staff. Something tells me this little dilemma could rumble on a little while yet...
4. Edith's publishing business is still based in London
There's more trouble down south, where Edith's publishing business seems unable to run itself smoothly. "I'll have to go up to London, which is a nuisance, but there you are!", remarks Edith, as if running a newspaper should be as easy as taking the occasional phone call between dinner and desert.
With Rosamund at her side, Edith reluctantly visits the office, where Rosamund is left to make small talk with a staffer. "It's drier than they say it would be in the newspapers", she remarks in an alarming throwback to the days before the Met Office weather app was a thing. Seriously, how often was the weather forecast right back in those days? How did these people survive?
5. Anna is still really sad
Anna might have had all charges against dropped in the first episode after the world's most prolonged wrongful murder charge saga, but she's still not happy, worried that Bates won't love her having convinced herself she can't have kids. When Bates catches her crying, he utters the episode's most appalling piece of dialogue: "You're married, and that means you never have to cry alone again!" If you made it to the end of that scene without diving for the sick bucket, you're made of stronger stuff than I. Later Anna lies to Bates for no apparent reason about her visit to the fertility doctor in London, which seems weird given that they are allegedly one another's soulmate. But what do I know?
6. Isobel promises "wigs on the green"
From episode two's worst line to its best, Isobel neatly sums up the ongoing hospital politics tête-à-tête with Cousin Violet with the promise of "wigs on the green" before a common ground is found, which Julian Fellowes had damn well better follow through on if season 6 is going to go out memorably.
Don't let me down, Jules.
What did you think of Downton season 6, episode 2? Do you feel for Lady Edith, or for Mrs. Drew? Will it be handbags at dawn (or mid-afternoon) for Isobel and the Dowager Countess? Share your thoughts or write your own post about it!