‘Downton Abbey’: This Week’s Winners and Losers

Time to brew the tea and pop the popcorn — it’s Season 2 of Britain’s beloved Downton Abbey! The men (well, except for the rich ones) are fighting, the women are pining (and becoming independent), and much of the show’s relentless intra-Downton intrigue has given way to the human drama of life during wartime. But that doesn’t mean that everyone’s pulling together for the common good. So, in the spirit of class-conscious competition and self-interested jockeying for position, we’re declaring winners and losers for each episode of Downton Abbey.

The Crawleys and their staff may have solemnly celebrated the end of World War I this week, but the end of the international conflict hardly spells the end of their ongoing drama. While most of America was glued to the Super Bowl, we watched an entirely different set of players compete — and met a new character who threatened to change the fate of Downton forever. See who scored points and who came up short after the jump.

WINNERS

Sir Richard: Mary’s nouveau riche fiancé is one of the episode’s prime movers, securing Carson to run the couple’s new estate and manipulating Lady Grantham into orchestrating the return of Lavinia, to ensure that he isn’t jilted in favor of Matthew.

Matthew: Finally, some good news for the injured captain! Although he kicks off the week in somber spirits and the (alleged) return of Patrick Crawley means he may not be Downton’s heir, Cousin Matthew comes out on top in the end. Not only does Patrick suddenly flee the estate, but in the final moments of the episode, he seems to be regaining feeling in his paralyzed lower half.

Jane: The new, widowed maid hits it off with Lord Grantham, and he offers to help her gifted son secure a place at a prestigious school.

Dowager Countess: Violet is on top again, of course, having convinced Isobel that the war refugees need her more than Downton, where she had planned to carry on her invasion of the mansion into peacetime with a series of YMCA-like public programming.

Lavinia: She’s back! And with Matthew ostensibly on the brink of an unlikely recovery, she may not even have a life of celibacy and wheelchair-pushing to look forward to. But with Mary still waiting in the wings, how long can it last?

LOSERS

Carson: Sure, he loves Lady Mary, but it’s clear the Crawleys’ loyal butler is unhappy about leaving Downton. Plus, he didn’t seem thrilled to have to deal with Mrs. Hughes feeding poor Ethel.

Mrs. Hughes: Caught by Carson and scolded by Lady Grantham, Mrs. Hughes still can’t save Ethel from the horrible news she has to deliver.

Ethel: Now that the jig is up at Downton and Major Bryant is dead, the young single mom’s plight seems utterly hopeless. Who will save her?

Patrick: Whether he is who says he is or not, the disfigured man who claims to be the long-lost heir to Downton doesn’t get very far. He’s only able to convince Edith, and he leaves the estate in frustration before his identity can be confirmed.

Edith: The middle sister’s one true love — and the source of her eternal feud with Mary — has returned. Maybe. And seems to be more interested in her than ever before (perhaps because his mangled face isn’t doing much for his romantic prospects). But she’s high and dry again when he absconds, leaving her only a terse note.

Lord Grantham: The Crawley patriarch seemed haunted this week by the mystery of Patrick, and what it might mean for Matthew, who he clearly likes very much. He’s also thoroughly disgusted with his wife for bringing Lavinia back, and he isn’t happy to lose trusty Carson.

Mary: It’s another bad week for the eldest Crawley daughter. First of all, she’s got Sir Richard reminding her that their marriage is built on blackmail, threatening her with ruin if she betrays him for Matthew and then giving her a totally creepy kiss. Then there’s Lavinia’s return. And if that weren’t enough, the man she was originally supposed to marry may be back in the house. Considering all she’s got on her mind, who could blame Mary for immediately dismissing the possibility that Patrick is for real?

DISTURBINGLY UNCLEAR

Bates and Anna: Uh, OK. There is no good way to address these characters’ trajectory this week, but dammit, it needs to be addressed. It sure looks like Mrs. Bates was so relentless in her attacks on her husband and determined in her quest to deny his divorce that Bates’ only option was to murder her. Honestly, we’ve been screaming “Kill her!” at the screen every time she’s appeared this season. And yet, can we really believe that our dear, righteous, dignified Mr. Bates is capable of homicide? If so, will Anna still be able to love him when she finds out the truth?