Downton Abbey—Season 2

9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 10/10

Gets better with the second season, less concern about character development and more story

Some might not like period pieces, so many characters and so little time


The Doors of Downton Abbey Are Open Again!

“Life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous.”  World War I has come to Downton Abbey and Downton will never be the same.  As the family is forced to make sacrifices, the help finds themselves struggling with love and loss themselves.  As the War rages on, Downton finds itself converted to a convalescent home with one guest a member of the family itself.  The struggles continue after the end of the War and an outbreak of Spanish Flu might change the lives of everyone at Downton.

Downton Abbey—Season 2 aired from September 18, 2011 to December 25, 2011.  The popularity of the series grew and Downton Abbey almost became a cult of its own in the short period of time.  Downton Abbey—Season 2 is composed of eight episodes and a special extended Christmas episode.


William, you’ve looked better

I enjoyed Downton Abbey—Season 1 but I really liked Downton Abbey—Season 2.  I think the reason is that first there is the central theme of the war that drives most of the story (especially the first half), but second that the writers don’t have to establish characters.  By now we have a relative understanding of the staff, the major players, and plotlines.  It becomes more enjoyable.  The first few episodes of season one are a blur.  I barely remember anything from them as I tried to get the characters down.

With such a large cast of characters, it is difficult to have a completely balanced storytelling, but the writers do a good job.  I do wish they would focus a bit more on certain characters, and Downton Abbey—Season 2 helped some rather one dimensional characters appear more rounded.  I also enjoy that there is more mixing between the staff and the family showing more of a breakdown of classes.


I might not be in a lot of scenes, but I’ll make the most of the scenes I’m in!

******Spoiler Alert****** This season also is more traumatic with life and death coming more into play.  The characters are really growing and times are changing.  Sometimes the writing is very obvious.  The Lavinia character was too perfect and too nice to slip away and it was quite obvious to me that she would have to die to not hate Mary or Matthew.  It was also pretty obvious that things weren’t going to turn out well for Bates…It was just a matter of how it all went down.

Downton Abbey is a good show and might even be tolerable for those who say they don’t like period pieces.  You can’t jump into Downton Abbey—Season 2, and you must see season one to understand the characters and their relationships.  If you got hung up on the first season, give Downton Abbey—Season 2 a chance…It really kicks off big events and keeps them coming.

Downton Abbey—Season 2 Complete Episode Guide:


“Episode 1”

2.1       Episode 1 Airdate:  09/18/11

November 1916…World War I has come to England, and everyone Downton Abbey is affected.  Robert Crawley (Hugh Bonneville) finds he’s too old for the war but is given a special local title.  Matthew (Dan Stevens) has been fighting on the forefront, but has become engaged to be married to a woman named Lavinia (Zoe Boyle) he met during the war.  Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) learns people she knows are dying on the front and tells Isobel (Penelope Wilton) that she wants to provide real help to the soldiers against the objections of her mother Cora (Elizabeth McGovern).  A new maid named Ethel (Amy Nuttall) stirs up problems by not being quiet about the fact that she wants more from life.  William (Thomas Howes) tries to join the war but finds his father will not allow him.  Mary (Michelle Dockery) learns of Matthew’s engagement and works to mend the differences between them.  Sybil tries to learn to cook and finds herself struggling in the kitchen.  Bates (Brendan Coyle) returns from his mother’s death and starts planning a future with Anna (Joanne Froggatt), but the return of Bates’ wife Vera (Maria Doyle Kennedy) might force him to leave Downton forever.  Isabelle uncovers a secret being hidden by Violet (Maggie Smith).  Daisy (Sophie McShera) and William (Thomas Howes) make a big jump.  William encounters Thomas (Rob James-Collier) on the front and Thomas makes a sacrifice to try to get out of the war.


“Episode 2”

2.2       Episode 2 Airdate:  09/25/11

Thomas is transferred back to Downton’s infirmary from his injury as William prepares to go to battle.  Edith (Laura Carmichael) finds herself helping out a local farmer named Drake (Fergus O’Donnell), but their relationship might cross the line.  Anna deals with Bates leaving and finds Robert’s sister Lady Rosamund Painswick (Samantha Bond) comes to visit and Mary uses the opportunity to show off her new suitor Sir Richard Carlisle (Iain Glen).  With a big party, Carson (Jim Carter) finds himself suffering an attack when he is pushed too hard.  Sarah O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) discovers Henry Lang (Cal Macaninch) is hiding that he is still suffering from shellshock.  Painswick discovers that Carlisle’s connection with Lavinia might not be entirely harmless.  Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) learns her nephew has been killed but Robert finds disturbing information on his death.  Mary and Thomas butt heads with the head doctor (David Robb) over the treatment of an injured patient and the battle has tragic consequences.  As the hospital fills up with patients, Downton Abbey might become a solution to the problem.


“Episode 3”

2.3       Episode 3 Airdate:  10/02/11

Everyone works to turn Downton Abbey into a convalescence home, and the staff and family members wonder how it will work.  Anna thinks she sees Bates in the village and questions if something has changed.  Painswick and Violet try to find what Lavinia’s relationship with Carlisle is.  Tom Branson (Allen Leech) is called up and Sybil learns that he plans on being a conscientious objector to the war.  O’Brien works to get Thomas back in Downton Abbey to run the convalescence home, and Thomas realizes he’ll be in charge of Carson.  Isobel clashes with Robert and Cora over how Downton Abbey is used and finds the house invaded with patients.  Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) discovers Ethel flirting with a soldier and objects to her actions.  Mary learns that Lavinia is being targeted by Painswick and Violet and questions whether Matthew should know the truth.  Anna is reunited with Bates but learns he has a plan for them to be together.  Daisy questions her relationship with William and is warned not to break it off with him.  When Carson is rejected from the army, he makes a decision about what he can do to object when a general comes to Downton.  With the general’s arrival, Lang suffers a mental breakdown.


“Episode 4”

2.4       Episode 4 Airdate:  10/09/11

Isobel finds Cora taking control of the infirmary and puts in an ultimatum that could send her away from Downton.  Carlisle writes of his intentions to Robert, and Robert demands Mary tell Matthew.  Matthew and George discover a German camp but discover themselves surrounded.  Thomas learns of Bates’ job at the pub, and Daisy accidentally reveals the information to Robert.  Isobel’s servants starts feeding soldiers out of Isobel’s home and question how to keep up with the growing numbers.  Robert learns William and Matthew are missing and decide to keep the information secret.  Hughes catches Ethel’s indiscretion with a soldier named Charles Bryant (Daniel Pirrie) and forces her to leave.  Robert goes to Bates and learns that Bates has worked a way to keep his wife silent.  Bates returns to Downton and learns that he’s going to have to deal with Thomas.  Daisy finds she has to make a decision about her relationship with William.  Cora learns about the food kitchen and makes a decision about its future.  George and Matthew’s fate is revealed.  Ethel returns with shocking news.


“Episode 5”

2.5       Episode 5 Airdate:  10/16/11

Matthew leads a big offensive, and William and Matthew are caught in the attack.  When Matthew is arranged to be sent back to Downton, William finds himself stuck in Leeds.  As Bates tries to finalize his divorce, new problems arise when O’Brien reveals to his wife that he is back at Downton.  Vera threatens to reveal Mary’s secret and ruining Bates and Anna in spite of taking Bates’ payoff.  Violet and Edith learn William’s situation is terminal and use the situation to get him back to Downton.  Mary is told that her secret is going to be exposed and decides Carlisle must be told.  Doctors reveal that William is paralyzed from the waist down and won’t be able to have any children.  Mrs. Hughes tries to help Ethel take care of her child and Bryant refuses to accept her letters.  Carlisle agrees to buy the story from Vera, but under the agreement that Mary marries him.  Jane (Clare Calbraith) applies to be a maid at Downton and reveals she’s a war widow with a child.  Daisy debates what to do about her relationship with William and learns William wants her to marry him for his pay when he dies.  Matthew makes a decision about Lavinia, and Mary learns the truth of Matthew’s injuries as her engagement is publicly announced.


“Episode 6”

2.6       Episode 6 Airdate:  10/23/11

Matthew works to recover and mourns William’s death.  A Canadian burn victim named Patrick Gordon (Trevor White) asks to come to Downton Abbey and claims ties to the home.  Isobel learns that the War might be ending and that Cora and Violet plan to restore Downton Abbey after the War.  Carlisle offers Carson a job without Mary’s knowledge as he prepares to purchase a home.  Carson discovers Hughes has been feeding Ethel, and Cora decides to get involved.  Bates receives bad news about his divorce proceedings, and O’Brien learns the truth.  Edith finds out who the mystery patient is and hears his story.  O’Brien and Thomas realize that food is becoming the hot commodity and question how they can profit.  When news of Bryant comes in to Downton Abbey, Ethel tries to find a way to survive.  The War is declared over, and Downton celebrates. Cora summons Lavinia returns to Downton under false pretenses.  Bates returns to London to meet with his wife but receives shocking news upon his return to Downton.


“Episode 7”

2.7       Episode 7 Airdate:  10/30/11

Downton Abbey tries to return to normalcy after the end of the War.  Thomas prepares to leave Downton and tells O’Brien that his plans with black market sales are proceeding.  Bates deals with his wife’s suicide, but some question if it is a suspicious death. Carlisle tries to get information on Mary from Anna, but Anna refuses to help him.  Carson prepares to leave Downton Abbey and tries to explain his feelings for Mary to Mrs. Hughes.  Matthew reveals to Bates that he’s had feelings in his legs and questions if it could be an illusion.  Bryant’s family is scheduled to come to Downton Abbey, and Hughes tries to get them to see Ethel’s baby.  Sybil takes a big step with Branson.  Carson learns of Carlisle’s offer to Anna and decides he can’t work with him.  Matthew regains the use of his legs, and the doctor admits his mistake.  Sybil admits her feelings to Branson and tells him that she wants to leave Downton with him.  Ethel confronts the Bryant’s parents and her claims are denied by Bryant’s father (Kevin McNally).  Violet tells Matthew of Mary’s love for him and tells him that he needs to do something.  Mary and Edith learn of Sybil’s plans with Branson and set out to stop her.  Thomas finds that his contraband supplies aren’t what he thought.


“Episode 8”

2.8       Episode 8 Airdate:  11/06/11

Matthew prepares to wed Lavinia at Downton Abbey.  The Bryants decides to see Ethel’s child and offer an ultimatum.  Sybil want to tell her parents about her relationship with Branson and    meets with the family.  Thomas tries to stay at Downton Abbey but is turned away by Carson.  Sybil and Branson announce their love to Robert and their family and reveal they intend to move to Ireland to be married.  Anna decides that she and Bates have to get married despite the problems with his wife’s death.  Spanish flu hits Downton Abbey and Cora, Carson, and Lavinia gets sick.  Separated from Cora by the flu, Robert goes to Jane for comfort.  The flu cancels the wedding and Cora lies near death.  O’Brien tries to admit to Cora what she did to her.  Lavinia decides that she cannot go through with the wedding if Matthew is in love with Mary.  Thomas finds the flu is providing an opening for him at Downton Abbey.  As the flu gets worse, its victims grow and nothing will be the same.  Bates receives word about the investigation into his wife’s death.


“Christmas Special”

2.9       Christmas Special Airdate:  12/25/11

It is 1919, Christmas has come to Downton and the family is gathering for the celebration.  Anna awaits Bates’ trial for murder, and everyone at Downton finds themselves talking about it.  The staff gets a Ouiji board, and O’Brien and Thomas host a game to connect to the dead.  Daisy makes dinner and her skill is noticed by Lady Rosamund Painswick’s maid Marigold Shore (Sharon Small).  Ethel is reunited with Sir Anthony Strallan (Robert Bathurst) but finds he has come back injured in the War.  Sybil sends word that she is pregnant but swears her parents to silence.  Thomas tries to find a way to get on Robert’s good side.  As 1920 rolls around, the people of Downton question their future.  Daisy tries to tell William’s father (Kevin McNally) about her true feelings for William.  Matthew finds Mary is miserable in her plans to marry Carlisle but finds she can’t tell Matthew the truth of what she is hiding.  Cora decides she has to tell Robert about Mary’s indiscretion.  Bates’ trial occurs and Bates is found guilty of murder and sentenced to die.  Lady Rosamund Painswick debates marriage to Lord Hepworth (Nigel Havers) with her mother Violet, and Violet wonders if Hepworth is a gold digger.  Thomas steals Robert’s dog Isis in an effort to find him to gain his trust, but his plans backfire.  Robert tells Mary to break off her marriage with Carlisle, and Mary finds he has to tell Matthew.  Mr. Mason asks Daisy to be her father and encourages her to speak up for herself.  When Mary gives her answers to Carlisle, the choice will decide Mary’s future.  Bates learns his fate.  The servants’ ball occurs and the servants and the family celebrate.  Matthew and Mary make a big decision about their future.

Related Links:

Downton Abbey—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 5 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 6 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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