First off, as usual, this post has a bunch of spoilers in it. If you haven't had the chance to see the latest episode of Downton (episode 4), then you'd darn well better not read this post. Got it?
Because there are some fairly major spoilers this week.
So I have to give the show some props right off the bat for not being predictable. I'm relieved that my guesses last week ended up being wrong--because really, who wants to watch a show where you know what happens each week before you watch? You might as well just turn the whole thing off.
Matthew getting paralyzed? Didn't see that one coming. William dying? Wasn't too hard to guess that was in the poor kid's future as soon as he became Matthew's helper in the field. Still, there's a difference between not being predictable and actually being good. For me, part of how I'll be able to tell which this is will be determined by what happens later. I would love for Downton to stick to its guns and keep Matthew paralyzed permanently. Not because I'm sadistic like that--I'm very sad for the guy and his future--but more because I'll be sad if they give him a miraculous recovery two or three episodes down the road.
This show is good because it's true to life. (Or at least it does an excellent job seeming like it is.) If suddenly you've got people prancing in and out of wheelchairs and paralysis, the soap opera elements leap to the forefront, and it cheapens the rest of the show. (That's one reason why I really don't care for the maid-with-a-child-out-of-wedlock subplot. I get that that sort of thing happened, and it's appalling the way the major is treating her, but it's not interesting enough to make me care for the maid yet. Am I just a cold, heartless jerk?)
More props for expanding Thomas and O'Brien into characters who actually aren't always evil. (Well, O'Brien at least--and yay for giving Thomas a bit more in the way of motivation.) I love me some villains, but I also really would rather the villains be realistic. Few people (in my experience) are just 100% awful people, all the time.
Daisy and William--This was an interesting plot line, but at the end of all of it, I have to wonder just where it was going. I mean, if the big payoff is just that Daisy was really conflicted for all of two days about having to pretend to marry William, and now that's it . . . what was the point? To make us all feel really bad for William? I'm hoping this somehow ties back into some more consequences for Daisy. In a soap opera, by next episode, she'd be back to her getting-bossed-around-by-the-cook-and-being-clueless old self again. (Maybe that's what a good drama needs to set it apart from a bad soap opera: real consequences that make sense and are realistic.)
Mary and her big secret--the plot thickens. Hooray for her fiancee for being a stand up guy and protecting her from the story, but you can't help but feel like washing your hands every time that fiancee is in the show. He's oily, and no good will come of it. I'm still convinced Matthew and Mary end up together, but I'm surprised how devoted he is to Lavinia. (And I'm surprised at myself for caring as much as I do--another sign of a great show.)
In any case, excellent developments, and I'm looking forward (as always) to next week. How about you? What did you think?
PS--Sybil and the chauffeur? Blech.The girl deserves better. MUCH better.