Series 2 started on Sunday night.  It was up against the final series opener of Spooks, and DA won the ratings battle.

The new series starts in 1916, 2 years after series 1 ended, and opens in the trenches of France during the Battle of the Somme.  We see a man, face down in the sand, and it takes a minute before we realize it’s Matthew.  So the heir to the Earldom is on the front lines.  Soon he’s back at Downton on leave, and the intrigue begins.  It’s as soapy as soapy can be, but I still love it.

Matthew has a fiancée, Lavinia, who gives a very cryptic answer when asked how she and Matthew met.  Mary is still unattached, but she does tell her family that she’s met someone. Personally, I still hold it against Mary that she refused to marry Matthew until she knew he’d be the Earl for certain, but if Matthew loves her, well then that’s his problem.  And it appears that he does still love her.

Bates’s wife, Vera, has come back because she knows his mother has left him some money, and she’s just evil.  Just when he thinks he can buy her off and marry Anna, the woman he loves and who loves him back, the other shoe falls.  I can’t wait to see how these 2 get together at last.

Edith and Mary still snipe at one another, and Sybil is still in her own little world.  Her becoming a nurse reminds me of Lady Georgina from Upstairs Downstairs, and I hope Sybil is as successful as Lady Georgina was.  I thought it was so sweet that she wanted to learn how to cook, and her mother’s teary-eyed reaction to knowing just how serious her baby is about going off to war and serving her country was just wonderful.  I thought Carson was being way too stuffy in not approving of Sybil’s actions.

All in all, I liked this episode and it’s whetted my appetite for the remaining 7 (plus a special Christmas episode that better be on the DVD!).

The sneak preview of episode 2 is rather interesting.  We learn that Matthew’s fiancée, Lavinia, is acquainted with Sir Richard Carlisle, who is Mary’s new beau.  According to the press pack, Sir Richard is a newspaper magnate.  I have a sneaking suspicion that this acquaintance might not bode well for the Crawley family.  Mary’s “interlude” with Mr. Pamuk was the subject of gossip in series 1, and we already know that, even 2 years later, it hasn’t gone away.

Thank goodness it’s back.  A good dose of period soap just as baseball season is ending really hits the spot.