groveyswife asked: Something has been on my mind lately and I thought you might just be the right person to ask. I've been rewatching S2 of DA and when Mary sees Matthew downstairs by himself. She has to lean against the wall and take a deep breathe. Do you think maybe she knew she was going to kiss him then or what do you think her plan was? The script book didn't tell me anything. I know you must have a thought or two on it. :)
Oh, dear, I have so many thoughts and feelings about that scene! Some time ago I wrote a short drabble trying to channel some of them, but in essence… that episode is all about reality setting in for Mary (as well as for Matthew), isn’t it?
Consider the opening scene, we come into the great hall of Downton, the servants rushing left and right, Cora instructing them, Isobel having her say, Lavinia thanking the mistress of the house, and Mary… she’s there, right in the middle of all that, but she’s… silent, somewhat stunned, because… it’s happening.
The war has ended, Matthew is on his way to full recovery, and he is marrying. He moving on with his life.
War had stopped things in a way, froze them and Downton in a constant wait, but that wait is over now and real life is about to began.
And in that real life Mary and Matthew are destined to take different roads.
So this scene you mention… Mary just guided Lavinia to her room, a few days before the wedding takes place, days before everything changes, forever, with no coming back.
She hears music and she looks to see who’s playing, and isn’t it so typical, so ironical that it must be Matthew?
The man she loves, the man she can’t have, the man who loves another. The man who is lost to her, standing just a few metres away and yet so distant.
And I think all this kind of takes its toll on Mary in that moment.
It’s like if, for only a moment, Mary gives in to her own heartbreak.
She leans agaist the wall, sighs, she’s tired, tired of this constant ache in her chest, tired of the façade she has to keep with the world, tired of feeling so trapped all the time.
She is strong, she is never down for long, and she will go through life with her chin high, but in this moment, up here alone?
She gives in to that sadness, she lets it lingers, for one beat, two beats, and then…
And then Lady Mary is back.
The sadness is not gone, but the lady is back, only that sadness makes her quieter, softer.
When she gently asks Matthew about the song once she’s down, I think she’s genuinely surprised that he asks her to dance.
So, to answer your question, I think she never in a million year thought she would kiss him, and she certainly didn’t imagined how similarly desperate Matthew had grown in these past weeks since Violet’s visit, she couldn’t know his turmoil.
She’s so surprised when he slips, when he confesses that he would happily throw Lavinia to be with her, to marry her, and she’s so surprised when he leans down and kisses her.
She could stop him, she should stop him, but…
One of the things I love the most is how… longing, soft, desperate Mary’s face is in that kiss.
Matthew is her heart’s desire, she craves him, loves him, and now she finds out that he loves her too, that he wants her too, but…
This is a goodbye, isn’t it?
There’s no the thrill of discovery in Mary’s heart, there’s the knowledge that it’s over, definitely, completely over, and he is marrying another, and she is marrying another, and this kiss?
This kiss is stolen.
You know, Lavinia happened upon them and then promply died leaving Matthew a free man (such an easy way out), but imagine how Mary must have felt moving away from Matthew that night, and later, how elated she must have been going back in her room, but also how terrible shaken, torn in two between what was honourable and what she wanted.
Had she planned to talk to Matthew? Had she decided she must speak to him and confess everything, her love, her mistakes, her devotion?
JF just jumped ahead and gave us some more drama, but can you imagine the sweet torture of these hours?
And what if Lavinia had survived? What if Mary had wanted to know for sure, that what she thought he’d said was indeed true, that he truly loved her?
What if he’d confessed of never having stopped loving her?
What if they’d opened themselves to the other?
What if they’d kissed again? What if they couldn’t stop?
Ah, such beautiful, complicated, heartrending story that would have been.
So, well, I hope this satisfies your curiousity, and thank you so much for asking, it was so lovely to revisit that moment :)