Series One: Episode Two
It is September 1912, and we see Matthew Crawley arrive at Downton Abbey with his mother Isobel.Crawley is a middle class solicitor who isn’t keen to play his new part (as heir of the Earldom and the Abbey) but his mother is anxious that the current Earl and his family shouldn’t be able to look down on them. However, the family do have a very patronizing attitude to Matthew and his mother, which comes particularly from the Dowager (Lady Violet) and Mary. This is especially hurtful to Matthew as he is attracted to Mary. The mother and son draw further scorn from the family by their determination to work: Matthew informs them that he will keep working as a solicitor and Isobel, who was a nurse in the Boer War, starts helping out at the local cottage hospital.
Below stairs Carson has been upset by a letter he has received. We learn that Carson used to perform in music halls, and now his former stage partner Charles Grigg is threatening to expose his past. Grigg is on the run from the police, (he is a petty thief) and Carson has been stealing food for him and giving him a place to hide out. Anna sees Carson stealing food and things look grim for him, but the Earl finds the story amusing and pays off Grigg, telling him that he will call the police if there’s any repeat of his behavior. Only Bates, Anna, the Earl and Lady Sybil (the Earl’s youngest daughter) know of the incident, and so Carson can stay in his post.
Isobel and the Dowager come into further conflict when Isobel persuades Dr.Clarkson to undertake the very risking procedure for the time of draining fluid from around a patient’s heart. The Dowager does not approve and tries to block the procedure, but it turns out to have a successful outcome. The episode makes the Earl feel that his mother has too much control over the hospital, and to temper this he makes Isobel chair of the hospital board.
Finding herself thwarted the Dowager starts to consider marrying Mary and Matthew, which would keep the title and estates in the immediate family. However, Mary only shows contempt for Matthew and refuses to countenance the plan.