Downton Abbey and OUTLANDER
* * * SPOILER WARNING!! * * *
Spoilers for Season 2 of "Downton Abbey" below, as well as for THE SCOTTISH PRISONER.
If you're sensitive to spoilers, don't read below unless you have seen Episode 6 of "Downton Abbey" Season 2, which aired on February 12 in the US.
1) Lady Sybil abandoning her upper-class upbringing, wealth, and a life of luxury in order to marry Branson, the chauffeur. There are many similarities to the Dottie-and-Denny storyline in AN ECHO IN THE BONE. I was surprised and pleased to see Lord Grantham, in Episode 6, let Sybil go with his blessing, and enough money so they won't starve. I wonder what Hal's reaction will be, in MOHB, to the news that his daughter Dottie has decided to turn Quaker and marry Denny Hunter?
2) Ethel, the former housemaid with a bastard child. Watching Episode 6 the other night, I was struck by the choice Bryant's father gave her: he would take the child and raise it as his heir, in a life of wealth and privilege, but she would never see her son again. I couldn't help thinking that Brian Fraser, too, was the bastard son of a housemaid, acknowledged by the laird (the Old Fox, Lord Lovat). It's all too easy to picture Lord Lovat giving Brian's mother precisely the same choice.
3) The marriage of Daisy and William, when William lay dying from his war injuries, seems very reminiscent of the deathbed scene in DRAGONFLY IN AMBER, when Mary Hawkins marries Jonathan Randall. Daisy doesn't love William, doesn't particularly want to be married to him, but allows herself to be talked into it, and in the process, she presumably gains some amount of financial security, by taking advantage of his military pension. I think the same is true of Mary Hawkins.
4) Lady Sybil's attempt to elope with Branson, in Episode 5, by fleeing to Gretna Green, just across the border in Scotland. Those of you who have read THE SCOTTISH PRISONER will recognize the similarities to Isobel's attempt to elope with Wilberforce, the lawyer. (Of course it was a much more arduous journey to get to Gretna Green in 1760 than in 1918!) And Lady Mary gets there just in the nick of time, just as Jamie did in SCOTTISH PRISONER.
5) Cora (Lady Grantham), Lord Grantham's American-born wife, like Claire, is an outlander, who has made a home and a life for herself in England. I loved Robert's line to Cora in this week's episode: "If you're turning American on me, I'll go downstairs." <g>
6) In some ways, the Dowager Countess reminds me of Jocasta Cameron.
Consider, for example, her reaction to the idea of Downton Abbey being turned into a hospital for wounded soldiers:
Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham: I think it's a *ridiculous* idea.
Lady Sybil Crawley: Why?
Dowager Countess: Because this is a house, not a hospital.
Lady Mary Crawley: Granny, a convalescent home is where people rest and recuperate.
Dowager Countess: But if there are relapses. What then? Amputation in the dining room? Resuscitation in the pantry?
Or an autopsy in the garden shed in the dead of night, like we saw in THE FIERY CROSS? <g> It's probably just as well that Jocasta never found out about that. I think she would have been appalled at the idea. On the other hand, she did let Claire operate on John Quincy Myers on her dining room table, in full view of a roomful of guests, in DRUMS OF AUTUMN.
I think these two women, with their powerful personalities, have a lot in common.
7) And finally, because I can't help thinking of this every time I lay eyes on the man: Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew Crawley, looks very much like my mental image of a young Lord John, possibly as he looked around the time of BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE or SCOTTISH PRISONER. I first commented on this a year ago, and I haven't seen anything in Season 2 to change my mind.