Episode 2 is the second episode of the first season (series) and second episode overall of the US-UK period drama, Downton Abbey. This episode deals with the entrance of Matthew Crawley and his mother, Isobel as they move to Downton from their previous home in Manchester.
This episode makes the debut of recurring role Dr. Richard Clarkson, played by David Robb, the leading physician at Downton Cottage Hospital; and Kevin Doyle would also make his debut as the perennially unlucky servant, Joseph Molesley.
In the opening shot, we see Matthew and Isobel in the car, driven by Taylor, the Crawley chauffeur, as they would move to Downton from Manchester. They would later be greeted by the family who would put them very ill at ease. One of the first barbs out of the Dowager Countess's mouth was, when Isobel asked what she should call her, "Well, we could always start with Mrs. Crawley and Lady Grantham!"
They meet their new butler, Molesley, who would also serve as Matthew's valet. Also accompanying the Crawleys would be their cook, Mrs. Bird (Christine Lohr), a holdover from their time in Manchester.
Violet would begin her sparring with Isobel, who would later become her friend and crony (although they would still spar during the run of the show). Also, Matthew and Mary would first meet, and their first meeting would not go all too well.
During Tea Time, Lady's Maid, Sarah O'Brien, would make a snide comment about Matthew, calling him "A Mister Nobody from Nowhere" and that she would not treat him with respect nor would she curtsy to him, a clear sign of disrespect.
Unfortunately for O'Brien, Cora Crawley, the Countess of Grantham (who when meeting Matthew and Isobel would help make them feel more comfortable), would come down and overhear her and Thomas Barrow making fun of Matthew.
She would scold her lady's maid about her comments, saying that no matter what she herself had thought of Matthew, he was her husband's cousin and a part of his family. Therefore, he deserved respect.
Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper would scold both of them as well, pointedly telling Thomas to not push his luck (she had an idea that Thomas was bullying William Mason, the second footman, because of who he was).
A bit of Carson's past would be revealed when a man named Charles Grigg would come around to blackmail him out of money. Handled most ably by John Bates, Anna and Lady Sybil (who proves that in spite of her rebellious nature and her title, she had a lot of compassion for the servants), The Earl of Grantham sends the interloper on his way with twenty pounds and a warning that if he ever showed his face around Downton again, he would be promptly arrested and imprisoned.
Grigg angrily tells Robert that he may have thought he was lord of the manor, but there would be a day that he and the other lords would have to toe the line, same as he. He would then storm out of the Abbey in a fury.
It was revealed that Carson and Grigg had been a part of a vaudeville duo called the Cheerful Charlies. Carson had been ashamed of his life in show-business and had quit after the two had a falling out and the duo had been dissolved. He would then join the Downton staff as a junior footman, in the days of the The Dowager Countess, and would later proceed up the ranks, eventually becoming the family's butler.
Meanwhile, Isobel is quite valuable as she gets involved with working at the Downton Cottage Hospital. However, the formidable Violet is the president of the place. The hospital had been set up by her late husband, who had erected the building and set up an endowment for running it.
Isobel's knowledge of medicine (because her husband, her father and her brother had all been doctors and she herself had trained as a nurse during the Boer wars) would come through during a situation in which one of the many tenant farmers around Downton, a man named John Drake, would have dropsy of the heart.
Isobel would suggest a treatment scheme that would have helped, involving the doctor drawing out the excess fluid around the heart and then using some adrenaline to start the heart back up, but at first, Dr. Richard Clarkson would pooh-pooh the suggestion.
Yet, he was willing to be open to the situation, despite Violet's disgust with anything new being tried (she wanted things to remain as they were, and she was not very open to change). She felt that Isobel was interfering in the way that she felt the hospital had been run for many years, and demanded that Dr. Clarkson stop Isobel's "meddling" at once.
To everyone's surprise and Mrs. Drake's delight, Isobel's treatment scheme worked, and she is named chairman of the board of the Hospital, to the disgust of Violet.
Everyone in the house and village would attend the installment of Isobel as Chairman of the Board, which aggravated Violet.
Mrs. Hughes is thrilled as she feels the sickened look on Violet's face (she, unlike Carson, did not worship the ground the family walked on, called the Dowager Countess an old bat) would be priceless.