Downton as expected turned out to be a solid piece of duvet tv. It ticked a lot of boxes for manufacturing some angst for most of the main characters. It is now 1916 and the Great War is raging in France.
The main event of the episode was the return of heir to Downton Abbey from the front. He turned up with a shock fiancee. The Michele Doherty character was doing some serious gazing-across-the-room acting. Later she is found doing some uncharacteristic praying by her bedside for his survival. They had a farewell scene at a train station as he returned to the front. Those are always good. I liked that he was all convinced he was not coming back from France, almost like they are setting him up for a shock exit? She insists on giving him her 'lucky' stuffed toy.
I expect that stuffed toy to be in the shops for Christmas.
I also liked the Penelope Wilton butler approaching the doctor as he tries to get out of being called up on account of his 'bad lungs'. He could have at least coughed.
And remember the nasty footman? He's now a stretcher bearer in the trenches and is desperate to get home. He holds a lit cigerate lighter above the trench in order to get his hand shot by an obliging German sniper. He sobs his thanks as the blood pumps from his ruined hand. I actually think the episode was quite successful in this sequence as they made me have sympathy for an unlikable character and made it quit believable that one would go those lengths to get out of the madness of the trenches.
The Bates story seemed a bit contrived to me though. One minute he's planing his future with the maid he's sweet on. The next minute his wife turns up. She was was a bit too much boo-hiss evil and was clearly added to the story just to split up Bates and his true love. He is forced to resign his position and leave in order to stop some scandal spreading and Hugh Bonniville's resulting whine about Bates leaving service didn't ring true.
In other developments the youngest daughter baked a cake and the Irish driver expressed his love for her.
I think I might like Amy Nuttal's new maid lady. Must be a redhead thing.
I'll be keeping my eyes out for any melodramatic bar of soap incidents.
Spooks was ok in a tired sort of way. The characters uncovered a plot to kill a Russian and Lara Pulver managed to shoot the assassin while wearing an evening gown. I expect that we will see her staring into a mirror a lot to signify that it's the first person she's killed. Her voice reminded me a bit of Eva Green.