Last night wasn't just a night of teary triumph in Hollywood. It was also a night of teary heartbreak in rural England, as the second installment of Downton Abbey's third season aired on PBS and further punished an already terribly mistreated character. Read no further lest ye want spoilers.
Poor, poor googly-eyed Edith. She was all set to marry the elderly cripple of her dreams until her beloved Sir Anthony literally at the last moment possible — they were standing there at the altar — said he couldn't shackle the poor young thing to a life caring for the likes of him. So he bowed out and walked away, leaving Edith standing there like a jerk and her grandmother and father quietly (or not so quietly, in Granny's case) relieved. Oh Edith. Will anything ever work out for her? Sure she behaved rather bitchily in the first season, but she's been unfairly paying for it ever since. Homely (I mean, the character is supposed to be, the actress isn't), unloved, kind of annoying — she's the ultimate sad-sack middle child, and Julian Fellowes just could not resist denying her a little more happiness last night. Perhaps they're setting her up for some grand redemption later in the season? Sexy-pex actor Ed Speleers is joining the cast starting next week, so may he's for Edith? (If he's not for Thomas, that is.) Let's hope so, because the Continued Misery of Lady Edith is beginning to feel a bit lopsided and cruel.
The rest of last night's episode played out in similarly high-drama fashion. More people found out about Mrs. Hughes's cancer worries, mostly because Mr. Carson is such a busybody. Hughes got in a funny line last night, shaking her head at how Carson "worships" the noble people upstairs, a remark that seemed to sting the reserved head basement-dweller ever so slightly. One thing unclear about this storyline: At the end of the episode, Mrs. Patmore gave Carson the news that Hughes simply had a benign cyst, that she was cancer free. But did we believe that? Didn't it sort of seem like they just told him that to get him to stop worrying? I don't know. Other recappers seem to think that Hughes really does have a clean bill of health, but I'm not sure I buy it. Maybe there was something I missed, though. I also must have missed the moment when Mrs. O'Brien and Thomas went from sneaky allies to all-out enemies. I guess it was around the time that Alfred showed up and became O'Brien's pet. Whatever the impetus, they're completely out to destroy each other now, though so far in typically mild Downton-style ways. Oh no! Molesely told Cora and Robert that O'Brien is leaving even though she isn't! Quel scandal! It was unclear what Thomas's end game was with that one, but no matter, the issue had been sorted by the end of the episode. But now O'Brien is rip-roaring mad, and Thomas would do well to remember that there is one rather significant, Jodie Foster-esque thing that she knows vaguely about Thomas that could get him into some real trouble. We'll see if Downton "goes there" as Degrassi does, but his sorta-open secret situation seems bound to come to a head (heh) eventually.