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Downton Abbey recap: Return of the Living Dead

A ghost of Downton’s past threatens Matthew’s future, while an unexpected fatality sends shockwaves below stairs.

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Downton Abbey
Nick Briggs/PBS

Downton Abbey

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Hugh Bonneville, Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, Maggie Smith

Time to lose the uniforms and the frowns. It’s November 1918 and World War I is about to be over like the boned corset. Downton gave a lot — the big library, Thomas’ hand, Matthew’s legs, William’s life, Ethel’s dignity — and while the manse may never go back to how it was before the war, it can now definitely lose that Ping-Pong table. But don’t put Kool & the Gang on the gramophone just yet. Last night’s episode still had schemes, scandal, threats — and maybe even a murder. Only Downton would have so much drama going on during a worldwide ceasefire.

If Robert learned anything in episode 5, it was never let a man stay at your house just because he says he’s a distant relative — even if he’s been badly disfigured in an explosion at the battle of Passchendaele and especially when it turns out he’s claiming to be your cousin’s son who died on the Titanic. Yep, Patrick, the former heir presumptive to Downton, was back. Or so this man, a major in the Canadian army, maintained. And he picked the most vulnerable Crawley sister to tell first: Edith, who had been in love Patrick when he died. She’d walked in on him looking at family photographs in a sitting room when he started saying mysterious things to her like “I’d thought you’d remember me… of course, I sound Canadian now,” and “I know I’ve changed, but even so…” He quietly badgered Edith throughout two scenes until hitting gold: All he had to say was that he’d visited Downton as a child and she guessed he was Patrick Crawley.

The Canadian claimed that he was one of the four men pulled out of the water by Fifth Officer Lowe (a real life hero of the Titanic) after the ship sunk in 1912. Suffering from amnesia, he was misidentified as a Canadian and sent to Montreal. There, he took the surname “Gordon” from a gin bottle (coincidentally, a British gin) and in 1914 joined Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry. When he was caught in the explosion — and burned so badly that he became unrecognizable — his memory came back. Edith relayed this to Lord Grantham, who interrogated the soldier himself. The Canadian nearly referred to the Earl as “Robert,” which is what Patrick would have called him. And then he passed his fingers over his lips in a gesture Robert recognized as something Patrick used to do. Case closed, right?

Eh. Robert gathered the family, including Matthew, Isobel, and Richard, for dinner to break the news. (Before he could even start talking, Violet squawks, “Are we talking financial ruin? Criminal investigation?” The Dowager is prepared for anything.) Upon hearing that he might no longer be Downton’s heir, Matthew just made a face that could only be read as “First my legs and now this.” However, Mary’s head exploded. She — like her grandmother said later — was convinced that the Canadian was an opportunist using his unfortunate disfigurement to score a massive fortune. She scolded Edith for believing him and pointed out that he could easily be coming up with things “only Patrick knows” just by being The Mentalist-style observant.

NEXT: Is he or is he not the real Patrick?