- Matthew and Mary--How can I not lead with this story? Because it was just executed so well throughout. You've got Matthew, riddled with guilt and wanting to punish himself for the rest of his life--and totally set on doing it. But then you have him watch Mary constantly berated by Sleazebucket. (On that topic for a moment, did anyone really buy that he "really loved her"? Ever? Because let's face it--all Oilslick really loved was a trophy wife he could have on his arm. All that "protecting her family" was nothing more than protecting his investment. Please.) I loved watching Matthew finally decide that he couldn't just sit back and let the woman he loved ruin her life--even if it meant that he actually had to be happy for a minute to save her. I also really enjoyed seeing his mom stop being treated as a joke by the writers and start actually doing some noble, strong things--in the form of verbally slapping her son upside the head. The proposal in the snow to cap off the episode? Very well done. (And on another side note, I gotta find me where I can order up some snow like that. There must be a hotline somewhere, because Hollywood trots it out for special occasions all the time. Maybe it's 1-800-MAGIC-SNOW.)
- The Bates Family--Ever consider for a moment that all of Downton Abbey is just a prequel to Psycho, and that Mr. Bates and Anna eventually move to America and open a motel (naming it after their family name, of course), only to have their son eventually inherit it and go crazy? No? That's just me? Okay. On a serious note, hooray for ditching the soap opera climaxes during this episode. I was really worried they were going to have some last minute "evidence" surface that cleared Bates of his crime, culminating in teary-eyed bliss for him and Anna. Instead, the writers stuck to their guns and had him found guilty. Bravo. And because I'm not a complete jerk, I was very relieved to have his sentence reduced to life in prison. At the same time, his defense lawyer needs to be fired. Because from everything I saw, he had the Worst. Defense. Ever. If I were Anna, I would have gone all Jessica Fletcher all OVER that case. Maybe that's what's going to happen in Season Three. Because you know Mr. Bates is getting out of that prison. He and Anna have a hotel in America to open.
- Thomas and the dog--I swear. That guy is an absolute jerk. If he shook my hand, I'd count my fingers after he let go, just to make sure he didn't waltz off with a pinky or something. Locking the dog up? The guy ought to be horsewhipped. Can someone tell me why in the world Lord G didn't wonder "How did my dog manage to lock itself into a woodshed?" Or does that dog have magical powers? Because if it does, maybe Thomas should watch his back. Just sayin'. Don't worry, Thomas. You'll get yours. Eventually. I hope.
- Daisy--I have to hand it to the show: it actually managed to bring this plotline (which I had loathed to this point) around to the point that I actually really enjoyed it. The culminating scene with Daisy talking to her father-in-law? Fantastic. And all it took was a Ouija board to do it. Go figure. And her sticking up for herself based on his advice? Also wonderful. Go Daisy!
- Of course, not everything was spot on--that bit with Lord G's sister being courted by Some Guy Who We've Never Seen Before, and then finding out he was shacking up with the woman's maid (or as I called her, "Who in the World is That Woman and What is She Doing in the Kitchen?") That was a totally random, unnecessary plot, and it could easily have been ditched in favor of perhaps showing us more of Bates' trial. (Maybe actually a hint of a real defense? Would that have been too much to ask?)
- My favorite line? Violet saying to Sleazebucket, "Is that a promise?" She was in fine form in the episode, too. Loved the scene where she's giving advice to Daisy, and seems so surprised that she's having the conversation at all. Too funny.
Anyway--I'm hip-deep in catching up from my time off, so I don't have a ton of time to talk about anything else. Those are my main thoughts. Thanks to this episode, I still consider Season Two a resounding success. They brought most things around in the end, and it all turned out very well. I'm intensely interested to see what they come up with for Season Three.
What did you all think?