So how on Earth did Mary and Edith manage to figure the exact hotel where Sybil and Branson were staying? Especially once they'd figured out that they likely hadn't made it all the way to Gretna Green yet.
Bear in mind that they are A: Out in a relatively remote area, so there are few roads and therefore inns and B: in circa 1917, where cars were still extremely rare; Mary and Edith are specifically looking for places with a car out front, which is how they find them.
Also, where did the extra car come from? Branson says he'll return the car in the morning, so it seems he was driving the Crawleys' car (and it's unlikely he could afford one of his own), but the Crawleys didn't have two cars, so what were Edith and Mary driving?
Who says the Crawleys don't have two cars? In all likelihood, they do.
The Crawleys do have two cars. You can often see them parked side by side during Sybil's scenes with Branson in the garage.
Why does the Dowager Countess dislike Edith and Strallan's plans to get married? She grew up in the Victorian era; back then, May-December romances were the norm. Strallan is older, a member of the landed gentry, and a social peer of the Granthams; he is, in fact, the personification of a good match by Victorian standards. Ostensibly, the Countess should have been the marriage's biggest supporter.
The issue with him is not just his age, but also his injury. Violet in particular seems to be worried that Edith will spend her life as just a nurse to an ailing man. Note that he wasn't considered quite as undesirable of a suitor for Edith before the war, when his arm was still intact.
Even with the injury, her objections make little sense given the social aftermath of WWI. England had a "surplus" of about two million women, and around 30% of Edith's generation never married at all. Strallan was injured, but was able to live independently, and was a far better alternative to staying single.
You may be underestimating how people used to feel about cripples. Among the upper class, it was a life-ending deal.
Why the hell isn't Matthew helping to support Daisy? He's got the money now, and her then-fiancÚ was fatally injured saving his life. You'd think he'd feel at least a twinge of I Owe You My Life towards his widow.
He may have offered. She wouldn't take her widow's pension on the grounds that her marriage was a sham; no reason to think she'd accept help from Matthew either.
Daisy also has a secure job that provide roof and food, and apparently no dependant family members. It's not as if she's in a similar situation to Ethel, on the verge of starvation.
So when Mary says she had some sort of operation to cure some sort of reproductive disorder that was keeping her from getting pregnant, what exactly was that? She's apparently too repressed to explain it, which sounds like a Hand Wave to me, just to provide an excuse to finish up the subplot about Matthew worrying he's sterile with a bit of a twist. I mean, what reproductive disorder exists which can be fixed with a "small operation" which they were capable of doing back then?
It is absolutely historically accurate that Mary would not want to discuss the finer details with Matthew, especially given her father's attitude about such things (remember how he doesn't even like to think about Cora's ability to get pregnant at this point). You may well be right about there being no real-life condition that could have been resolved as simply as she suggests back then, but it is certainly consistent with Mary's character for her to tell Matthew that whether it's true or not.
Season 3. Oh, boy, here we go:
Why did Matthew take such a level in dumbass? I get that he's still mourning Lavina's death, but he isn't stupid. Why would he have so much of a moral dilemma in accepting her father's money to save Downton—the home of his in-laws and his future children—and then let go of all of that angst with one letter?
I thought he explained himself quite well. He feels like he screwed Lavinia over after she stuck with him through his darkest hour, and thought that the inheritance was assigned to him without any knowledge of his actions. In that context, he thinks keeping Mr. Swire's money after breaking his daughter's heart mere hours before she died is staggeringly crass. But the letter basically says that Mr. Swire understands what happened, and so it acts as his forgiveness from beyond the grave. Note that Matthew doesn't even accept the letter straightaway, he only believes it when Daisy confirms she mailed off Lavinia's last words.
After Sybil died, Mary and Matthew had absolutely no emotional hangups about trying to conceive. You'd think one of them would have had at least some nervousness about it. In fact the writers could have driven the whole second half of the season around this—imagine their marriage breaking down and the Succession Crisis rearing its head, because one of them is too frightened to have a child. Nope! They both go right into fertility treatments and the season ends with them going, "Let's make babies!" The best we get is Carson looking a bit worried while Mary is in the hospital during the Special.
Values Dissonace? In those days, women were expected to have babies, end of story.
I'm not an expert, but I've never heard of a higher risk of death in childbirth running in families. Anyone else know something about it?
In fact, a tendency towards eclampsia *does* run in families, with women who have had a mother or sister with the condition being at higher risk themselves. In Mary's favor is that eclampsia is more common in younger women; against her, it's more common in first pregnancies. And I agree, it would have been nice to see at least *some* acknowledgement that Mary was afraid the same might happen to her.
If everyone was so eager for Mary to marry Patrick or Matthew or whoever so that Downton could be secured, why is she unmarried at 22-ish and dragging Matthew along? Yes I understand she has objections, but you'd think someone would have said "Look, you have to do this now so we can have an heir." I mean, it was 6-ish years between Patrick's death and their marriage.
The family probably thought that nagging her or pushing her to marry Matthew when he first proposed was the best way to make her turn him down, given how contrary she was. It did take her 2 years to come around to the idea of marrying him in the first place.
Why was there any doubt whether Mary and George would inherit Matthew's share of the estate etc? She was his legal wife and he was his legal, recognised heir, even if Matthew hadn't made a will, they'd still be first in line to receive any inheritance. No, Mary doesn't inherit Downton Abbey itself or get the title, but all his wealth and worldly goods should go straight to her as next of kin - and George should get all the estate as the new, next heir of Downton.