This scene alters the relationship between Richard Carlisle and Mary, because it changes the terms of their deal. Up until now, Carlisle has known that Mary was attracted to him because he’s very rich, and very powerful, and she is bringing to the marriage her noble birth and her social position. He will enter a level of society, and more importantly his children will be born into a level of society, that he would not have been able to reach without her help. In a sense, Mary is the giver, because she could probably get another rich man to marry her if she didn’t marry Carlisle. But the revelation of her past and the fact that she is not undamaged goods means that, in a sense, he is now doing her a favour by going ahead with the arrangement, making it a much more equal exchange. When the series went out, the audience on the whole decided Carlisle was a villain, but I don’t agree. He’s quite straightforward, and he always tells the truth with Mary. Nor is he in the least ashamed of his own origins. All of that, to me anyway, makes him quite an attractive fellow. Added to which, he is very successful, so he can’t be a fool.
–Julian Fellowes, Downton Abbey The Complete Scripts Season Two
Carlisle represents, in a sense, the world that is coming. As I have explained, I’m not hostile to him. I’ve been accused of disliking him, but I don’t at all. His ways are not entirely compatible with the ways of the Crawleys, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like him. In fact, I admire people who have made the journey he’s made, but inevitably, when you have fought every step of the way, it beats all sentimentality out of you. Whereas the weakness of great families like the Crawleys is that they want to be liked, as well. So they’re terribly nice, with lots of ‘Oh, Nanny, you really must put your feet up,’ which is designed, although subconsciously for the most part, to present them as warm and caring people, when in actual fact their demands are no less stringent than those of Carlisle, and that’s what we’re contrasting here.
But in real life, then or now, and whether Carlisle likes it or not, if you want things to run smoothly it is necessary to evolve a way of doing things that answers the needs of the family but is still acceptable to the staff. Very few people want to be served by men and women they dislike and who dislike them, and to work out an acceptable regime means ensuring a degree of pleasantness all round. At Downton, the staff have a decent Christmas lunch and the family gives them time off for it. And before anyone yells, this was not an uncommon pattern and happened in many houses. It wasn’t so much. They may serve themselves at luncheon, but they don’t clear away, and Anna makes the point when she asks if she should go up and ‘make a start on the dining room?’
Julian Fellows, Downton Abbey: The Complete Scripts Season Two
Deleted Richard and Robert moment from 2x07, following on from Mary and Richard’s dialogue in which Richard asks, “Once and for all, are you still in love with Matthew Crawley?” and Mary replies, “Of course not. Would I ever admit to loving a man who preferred someone else over me?”