Regular readers of our reviews will know that we found Series 2 of Downton Abbey just a little bit silly; but we’ve been lucky enough to have a sneak peak at the Christmas special, and can confirm that it’s a triumphant return to form, developing many of the plot strands from last series but also unexpectedly revisiting characters and situations from Series 1.
Upstairs, Sir Richard Carlisle (Iain Glen) continues his charmless offensive in pursuit of Lady Mary, while Samantha Bond’s Lady Rosamund has a new admirer in the form of Nigel Havers.
Downstairs, the servants dabble with a ouija board, which delivers messages from the other side and from rather closer to home. Meanwhile, the whole house must wait anxiously for the outcome of Bates’ murder trial.
As you’d expect at Christmas, it’s a time for the past to be confronted, and for some, although not all, ghosts to be laid to rest.
If ever writer Julian Fellowes could have allowed himself the indulgence of a preposterously melodramatic storyline, it’s at Christmas, and yet, in revisiting story moments that viewers might have believed long forgotten, he takes a subtler approach – one which, for the viewers as well as for the characters, makes the Great War feel like a surreal and incomprehensible interlude.
Even the one apparently random storyline, in which the Earl of Grantham loses something of great value to him, has repercussions for next year’s Series 3.
To say much more, would be to spoil the many surprises that await viewers on Christmas Day. Until then, we have picked out ten teasing lines of dialogue from the episode.
Airs at 9pm on Sunday 25th December 2011 on ITV1.
Watch the Series 2 trailer…
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