sybil branson downton abbey 'Downton Abbey': Fetch me the matches!“Downton Abbey’s” supersized episode tonight is actually a combination of the UK episodes seven and eight, so we shall be recapping each episode separately, since there is a lot going on.


The big news upstairs is that Matthew can walk. Lavinia trips and he jumps from his chair to save her! Oh, the “unbridled joy,” as Lady Violet says. We aren’t sure how we feel about this development. It certainly isn’t a medical impossibility, especially back then when they had no way to test exactly what is wrong. It also makes thinks much more interesting in the Matthew-Mary-Lavinia-Richard love quadrilateral. But on the other hand – it’s a little convenient and soapy. It may have actually been more interesting to have Matthew go forward wheelchair-bound.

But in other developments, the reunion of Matthew and Lavinia has Sybil thinking about not letting grass grow under her feet and she finally gives her heart to Branson! It’s wonderful – he asks her if she won’t mind burning her bridges and Sybil responds, “Fetch me the matches.” Lovely. We’re glad they didn’t steal away like thieves in the night (or at least, that her sisters brought her back). That doesn’t seem like the way Sybil should part from her family.

Sir Richard is up to his usual no good. He has asked Anna to spy on Lady Mary and Anna, of course, says no, then tells Carson and Mrs. Hughes. This news is what keeps Carson at Downton, which is wonderful. It wouldn’t have been the same without him. We do think Mary shouldn’t have been so mean to him about deciding not to leave with her, though. Carson’s reaction should tell her a lot about the life choices she’s making.

And Lord Grantham … sigh. He is still flirting with disaster in his bonding with Jane, going so far as to snog her in the pantry. We understand the groundwork that has been laid all season for his midlife crisis (feeling so useless during the war, growing apart from the ever-active Lady Cora), but Robert has been such a stalwart of decency and honor. We are not in favor of this storyline at all.

Finally, Lady Violet has a talking-to with Matthew once he has regained the ability to walk. She lays it all out about the choice he should make regarding marriage. He very honorably sticks with his promise to Lavinia, who was willing to be with him even when he couldn’t walk. It’s a nice moment between them between Matthew and Violet.


Mr. Bates realizes the rat poison that killed Vera (or she used to kill herself) is something he bought and put in the house. He also tells Anna that Vera wrote to a friend of hers before Bates last came to London to talk about how scared she is of him. We think it’s probably her machinations in planning to kill herself and frame Bates. Do you agree?

And Thomas. Oh, it’s nice to see him get some comeuppance, but we do kind of feel sorry for him getting swindled out of all that money. *giggle*

And the tiresome Ethel plot thickens. Major Mustache’s parents come to Downton (which is weird in and of itself), but Ethel hears of it from Mrs. Hughes and crashes the luncheon. The Major’s father is appalled, declares his son would never have sired a child and not claimed it, so it must not really be his, and he and the missus storm out.

Thoughts & Tidbits

  • We love Carson. “I couldn’t work for a man that I don’t respect. And I certainly couldn’t have left Downton for him.”
  • It’s convenient that Lavinia wants to get married at Downton. Do you think she’s completely blind to Matthew and Mary? Because we can’t imagine if she had an inkling of their feelings that she’d want to get married in Mary’s house.
  • Lady Violet had her regular bon mots:
  • “Oh, certainly. All this unbridled joy has given me quite an appetite.”
  • “I would just say one thing. Marriage is a long business. There’s no getting out of it for our kind of people. You may live 40, 50 years with one of these two women. Just make sure you have selected the right one.”

What did you think, “Downton Abbey” fans? Look for the discussion of the second episode here.

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."