Just Bananas About: Week of 9/17/12

I apologize for the late post today.

But can we raise our champagne glasses for the return of the Crawleys?  Here, here!!  A little recap from the previous season.  Matthew (Dan Stevens) and Mary (Michelle Dockery) got engaged; Mr Bates (Brendan Coyle) may have been saved from the gallows but now Anna (Joanne Froggatt) has to prove that he didn’t murder his ex-wife; Thomas (Rob James-Collier) becomes Lord Grantham’s (Hugh Bonneville) valet while Daisy (Sophie McShera) gets promoted to Assistant Cook.

Where to begin?  Well this season, Lord Grantham discovers that the family’s fortune (which includes Cora’s (Elizabeth McGovern) inheritance) is gone.  He doesn’t want to lose the abbey but he may not be able to afford the family’s lavish lifestyle anymore.  Though, he has one strong ally that he can always rely on.  His wife.  I do admire their steadfast love and support for one another, even with his indiscretion last year.

All the while, Matthew and Mary’s wedding is approaching.  Though he imparts this piece of news to Mary, she shows a brave face.  She knows of another option.  Matthew was named as the 3rd in line for the Swire forture (aka Matthew’s dead fiance).  Obviously he doesn’t really want it but Mary feels the money is the only way to save the family.  There has been so many ups and downs between these two that I’m fearful of what is going to happen to them.  Especially since Dan Stevens may not return for a 4th series.  I love Mary even though she’s spoiled.  She feels a sense of responsibility and wants to protect herself and her family’s legacy.  Iin recent years, it seems that it’s just been slipping through their fingertips.

Mrs. O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) and Thomas seem to be on the outs with each other after the self-aggrandizing and subsequent failure of his business venture.  Mrs. O’Brien has brought her nephew, Alfred Nugent, to the house as the new footman and Thomas doesn’t seem to take too kindly to him.  There are times when I feel bad about Thomas when he shows, ever so slightly, a little heart but then most times I find him utterly despicable.  Hoping to see more of the former.

Anna is ever so faithful to her husband, Mr Bates.  She holds out hope that she will be able to prove his innocence one day.

Daisy has been promoted to Assistant Cook but she resents that they haven’t taken swift action to hire her replacement.  I understand where Daisy is coming from but I’m totally annoyed at her little protest she takes against Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol).  I eagerly wait for the day when Daisy matures a bit because after the tantrum she put up for marrying the dying William and the inability to express what she really wants, I’d just about had had enough from her.

Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) returns home with Branson (Allen Leech).  I’m so happy to see them both again as I missed them in the Christmas Special.  However, it is awkward to see him being weighted on by someone who used to be his boss.  Mr. Carson is none too pleased to be serving him.

You have to understand that Branson can be just as stubborn as the Crawleys.  While the Crawleys make an effort to welcome Branson to their world, Branson wants to keep the upper class at arms length.  Despite what his politics are, there’s one thing he’ll have a hard time defeating.  The Crawley women.  He’d better get used to that.

An old beau of Sybil’s may have had his fun by playing a prank on Branson by putting something in his drink to make him intoxicated but I love that the drama didn’t resort to the usual plot device.  Sir Anthony Strallan (Robert Bathurst) realizes what’s happened and he quickly alerts everyone at dinner.  Then, Matthew decides to make Branson his best man while Mary beams.  It’s just refreshing to have it play out that way instead of dragging out the ridonculousness.

Then, there’s Edith (Laura Carmichael) who just radiates whenever Sir Anthony Strallan is around.  Sure, he’s ancient but what she feels for him is pure.  I feel as if Edith has matured a lot since the 1st series and I would like her to get her happily ever after, too.

Oooh, I have been waiting for this.  Shirley McLaine makes her entrance as Martha Levinson, Cora’s mother.  I have begun loving her witty one-liners but can she top Dame Maggie Smith as Dowager Countess of Grantham?

The first episode treated us to some piercing, tongue-in-cheek back and forth between the two.  And I thought only Matthew’s mother, Isobel (Penelope Wilton), aggravated the Countess.  Now it’s the American sarcasm versus the British sarcasm.  Who wins in this debate?  Hmm, the two seem, as of yet, on par with one another but I’m pretty loyal to Maggie Smith.  My money’s on her.

Finally, Matthew and Mary get married.  Fiiinally!!  Despite her disagreement with Matthew, they both realize that they wouldn’t be happy without each other.  So the wedding goes on as planned.  I love that when she descends the stairs in her gown, Lord Grantham and Mr. Carson are both there to see her.  They are both paternal figures to Lady Mary.

Of course, things won’t be easy for the newlyweds but what a lovely way to start the series.

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