downton abbey daisy william 'Downton Abbey': Pass the tissues, please

The war is still raging on the latest “Downton Abbey” episode and it finally really comes to Downton, as Matthew and William are seriously injured when a shell lands near them. It looks as though William sacrificed himself to save Matthew, which makes it all the harder that William is injured so critically that he’s merely being made comfortable while dying.

Matthew, meanwhile, has a spinal injury and is now a paraplegic, which also means he’ll never have children (or sexual relations of any kind). It starts the whole household grieving, not only for Matthew but for the loss of an heir. And Matthew can’t stand not being able to be a proper husband to Lavinia, so he breaks her heart and sends her home.

As William lays dying, he asks Daisy to marry him before he goes – because he loves her, but also so she’ll be war widow and be taken care of her whole life. Daisy has a real problem with how false she’s being to him, but she eventually goes through with it at the urging of Mrs. Patmore. The wedding ceremony is a real killer, everybody’s crying (including us. And Lady Violet, bless her old heart). And then William passes a few hours later.

In other news, all of which is very minor in the face of what happens with Matthew and William, Lord and Lady Grantham appear to be growing apart a little. There’s just the one scene, but it’s very telling. And Sir Richard announces his engagement to Mary – without asking anyone first. Because he’s obviously a huge snake in the grass.


Bates and Anna are going strong, but of course that is short lived – meddlesome O’Brien has written to Vera to tell her where Bates is (though she does regret it, but not because of Bates, but just because of what is going on with William and Matthew, and Lady Mary’s reputation).

In an awesome move, Anna tells Lady Mary about the trouble Vera is stirring up and Lady Mary must confess about Mr. Pamuk to Sir Richard. He uses his position as a newspaper man to buy Vera’s story, making her sign an agreement that she won’t talk to anyone else about the story. Then he never publishes it, so Vera is thwarted on that front. But she vows that she’s not done with Bates. And now Sir Richard has the dirt on Mary. Hmmm.

Oh, and there’s the annoying plot of Ethel and her baby. The Major knows about the baby and wants nothing to do with it. Try to contain your shock. Speaking of Ethel, the house has hired a new maid to replace her – Jane, a war widow with a child. She’s a pretty brunette with bright blue eyes, who seems to charm Lord Grantham on her first day. Hmmm.

Thoughts & Tidbits

  • We found it a little weird when Mary and Daisy felt chills when their men were hurt. It’s a little too supernatural, maybe? Plus, Daisy doesn’t love William the way Mary loves Matthew, so that made it even weirder. Are we alone in finding that strange? It’s a minor quibble with an episode we liked very much. We’re just saying.
  • It was a laugh-out-loud moment when Thomas sticks up for working-class William, the way the other servants all freeze and stare at him. We just love the way he’s evolved as a character. O’Brien too.
  • This show is so wonderful in its quiet moments. When Lord Grantham and Lady Mary are talking in her room, he just looks at her and his sadness for her still being in love with Matthew is so palpable. Wonderful little moment.
  • “I’d rather have the right man than the right wedding.” Bates and Anna are so lovely.
  • Lady Violet strong-arming the hospitals until William was transferred to Downton and then getting the vicar to perform the wedding was wonderful. She’s such a great character – not just for her one-liners, either.
  • The wedding was pretty heartbreaking, but you know what was a close second? The moment where Matthew’s mother arrives. First she just kills us when she tells Mary, “It’s the very opposite of nothing.” And then, as Mrs. Hughes says, you’ve only got one mother. So the look on Matthew’s face when she finally gets there was a three-hankie moment.
  • We mentioned last week that we didn’t love the “missing” storyline. And this episode is why – it feels as though we had two Matthew/William crises in a row and this one was so well done, that the missing storyline seems kind of silly now. Especially since it was so cheesily resolved with the grand entrance during the singalong. Anybody else?

What did you think, “Downton” fans?

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."