Downton Abbey recap: Kissing, Cousins, Kissing Cousins And Her Ladyship's Soap
Matthew and Mary wonder why she isn't pregnant yet, Bates comes home, and Thomas makes a move on Jimmy.
A lot of things happened on tonight’s episode, with several important turn of events woven together. I’ll attempt to break it down for you.
Matthew and Mary: Mary won’t sleep with her husband — and you can sense his disappointment after she gives him the old “I’m tired excuse.” But don’t fret you Matthew and Mary ‘shippers. It turns out that, despite Matthew’s worry that his spine bruise caused him to be infertile, Mary was the real problem. She reveals that she had a minor surgery, and they can now try to make a baby again. (That is polite speak for having a lot of sex.) Matthew is relieved. “I thought you’d gone off me,” he says to his wife. Oh, Matthew, how could anyone go off you? (Except for Jessica Chastain in The Heiress, but that’s a different story.) Furthermore, Mary begins to support her husband’s involvement with the estate, and understands that he’s trying to create a future for their children. They have a very sweet exchange at the end of the episode, too. “You can always count on me,” Mary says. “I know that. I don’t think it was possible to love as much as I love you,” he says, then they kiss. Awww.
The estate: Matthew wants to make Downton self-sustaining, and once again Robert isn’t happy with Matthew’s plans — and neither is his longtime manager Jarvis, who up and quits. Violet suggests that they make Tom the new manager. (I half expected Lord Grantham to do a spit take at the idea. Unfortunately, he’s too proper for that.) He soon relents, though, after Cora and his mother basically gang up on him. He makes them promise, however, that they will admit that they were wrong when things go south with Tom. Knowing Robert’s track record, I doubt this will happen. Matthew and Tom hope to turn some of the larger farms into profitable enterprises, but Robert worries that it’s too much change, too fast. He suggests that they invest with an American chap named Charles Ponzi, instead. (Yes, we know what Robert does not, but I think the writers are deliberately making him out to be an imbecile here.) It’s Tom who ultimately convinces Lord Grantham to get on board with their plan. “Shall I tell you how I look at it? Every man or woman who marries into this house, every child born into it, has to put their gifts at the family’s disposal. I’m a hard worker and have some knowledge of the land. Matthew knows the law and the nature of business,” Tom says. “Which I do not,” Lord Grantham replies grumpily. “You understand the responsibilities we owe to the people ’round here. Those who work for the estate and those that don’t. It seems to me if we could manage to pool all of that, if we each do what we can do, then Downton has a real chance.” Tom really should have stayed in politics.
Edith’s new job: Edith goes to visit London to meet with the editor who wants to hire her. (I’m going to call him Sir Anthony Strallan’s younger brother, or SASYB for short, because darn if those two don’t look alike.) She decides to accept the job after having lunch with SASYB. And at another meeting between the two, SASYB even flirts with our Edith. Since she’s a proper journalist now, she does her homework on SASYB and finds out that he is married. She visits him in London again to to resign. “I’m afraid I find the idea of a married man flirting with me wholly repugnant,” she tells him. (Edith, don’t you know that beggars can’t be choosers?) SASYB explains that yes, he is married, but his wife is in an asylum and he cannot divorce her. “It means that I’m tied for the rest of my life to a madwoman who doesn’t even know me. I can’t tell you how much it cheers me to read your column and to meet when we do. I hope very much you’ll consider staying on.” Who thinks Edith will continue writing her column?
NEXT: Bates to the rescue.
Bates’ return: Bates is home! Yay! This never-ending saga is actually over. While Mr. Carson and Lord Grantham decide how to handle the Bates-Thomas situation (since Thomas will have to leave now that Bates is back to be his lordship’s valet again), Bates and Anna move into a cottage in the village. And, surprisingly, the happily non-incarcerated fellow soon becomes Thomas’ savior.
The scandal: Encouraged by O’Brien’s machinations, Thomas walks in on a sleeping Jimmy, and kisses him on the mouth. (Side note: Someone should tell Thomas that it’s really not cool to kiss an unsuspecting unconscious person, gay or straight.) Just as Jimmy wakes up, Alfred walks into the room. Jimmy starts screaming at Thomas to get out, and Mr. Carson wonders what the commotion is. Thomas tells him that Jimmy had a bad dream and that it’s all over. But it’s not.
Ms. O’Brien presses Alfred to tell Carson. So he does. Carson — thoroughly disgusted by the turn of events — believes this will be the perfect way to fix the Thomas and Bates situation. Carson insists that Thomas resign with a good recommendation. This isn’t enough for O’Brien, who goads Jimmy into crying foul. Jimmy threatens to go to the police — since homosexual acts were illegal at the time — if Carson gives Thomas the reference. And Carson knows that Mr. Barrow would not do well in prison. In a heartbreaking scene, Thomas finds out that he is to leave Downton after 10 years without a reference. When Mrs Hughes finds Thomas crying in the rain, she becomes his advocate with Carson. But Carson feels like his hands are tied — he doesn’t want Thomas to end up in jail.
Bates gets wind of the situation, and wants to help Thomas, because he wouldn’t wish prison on anyone — not even Thomas, who isn’t exactly his BFF. Bates informs Lord Grantham what has happened, and Robert says what we have all been thinking. “It’s not as if we didn’t all know about Barrow.” Robert follows this with what is perhaps his best quote of the series: “If I shouted blue murder every time someone tried to kiss me at Eton, I would have gone hoarse in a month.” Bates explains that it’s not Jimmy’s fault, either — Ms. O’Brien is the one behind it all.
Bates goes to Thomas, intending to help him with the O’Brien problem. Since Thomas feels as if he’s been beaten, Bates says he’ll do it for him. “Give me the weapon, and I’ll do the work, what can I say that will make her change her mind?” Oh and does Thomas have a doozy for him.
Bates asks O’Brien to tea, and when she won’t be discouraged, he whispers in her ear. Whatever he says does the trick, she convinces Jimmy to give up his crusade, and Carson hopes to keep Thomas on as an under-butler, which pisses Bates off, since now Thomas will be senior to him. You know the saying about good deeds and punishment.
To quell Jimmy’s anger, Lord Grantham names him first-footman. But Thomas isn’t out of the woods yet. Alfred called the cops, and they come to talk to him about Thomas. Fortunately, Robert stops Alfred from telling the police. “I’m not asking you to abandon your beliefs, Alfred, just to introduce a little kindness into the equation,” he says. “Am I not to stand up against evil?” Alfred asks. “Evil? Thomas does not choose to be the way he is. And what harm was done, really, that his life should be destroyed for it? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone. Are you without sin, Alfred? For I am certainly not.” No, Robert, you are not. In this moment, however, you’ve begun to redeem yourself.
As for what Thomas told Bates to use against O’Brien? “It was her ladyship’s soap,” Bates explains to a baffled Anna. Of course we all know what that means. Will O’Brien ever pay for causing Cora’s miscarriage back in season 1? (And that aside, how does O’Brien still have a job?)
NEXT: Prostitutes and cricket matches.
The maid: Ethel’s notoriety surrounds Crawley house with gossip. Isobel hopes Violet will persevere. Violet wants Ethel to find another job. The Dowager Countess enlists Edith to place an ad in the London papers, and several houses want to hire Ethel as their cook. She doesn’t like any of the positions, except for one. The problem is, it’s near the Bryants, who are raising her son. She turns down all the offers to Violet’s dismay and Isobel’s happiness. Never one to mind her own business, Violet invites Mrs. Bryant, Ethel, and Isobel to her house, where Mrs. Bryant convinces Ethel to take the job. And just like that, we lose Ethel again.
Cousin Rose: This was dull, right? Lady Susan Flintshire, a cousin of the Crawleys, sends her 18-year-old daughter Rose to stay with Violet. Rose schemes her way into a trip to London with Matthew and Edith, so she can meet her married boyfriend. When Matthew, Edith and Rosamund — the group’s host while they are in town — catch Rose at a night club with her lover, they aren’t pleased, to say the least. Matthew promises Rose he can keep everyone quiet if she’ll just go home with them now. Back at the Dowager’s home, Edith drops Rose off and scolds her for what happened. And, yep, Violet overhears their conversation, tricks Rosamund into telling her the whole story, and basically has Rose shipped off to Scotland. Next.
The cricket: The match between the house and the village provides us with two things — a great scene with Matthew teaching Branson how to play, and hot men looking hot in their uniforms. White sweater vests can be sexy — who knew? (Also, am I the only one who thought the episode would end on a freeze frame of Robert, Matthew, and Tom, newly joined in the spirit of camaraderie to save Downton, jumping in the air?)
Other things of note: Baby Sybil’s (who goes by Sibi — an absolutely adorable nickname) christening goes off mostly without a hitch. (The hitch being Tom’s obnoxious brother.) And Tom, in his new role as manager of Downton, decides to stay in the house until Sibi is older. Is Tom growing on you as much as he is me?
And now for the Dowager Countess’ best quotes:
I do think a woman’s place is eventually in the home. But I see no harm in her having some fun before she gets there.
And another thing, I mean Edith isn’t getting any younger. Perhaps she isn’t cut out for domestic life.
What is The Scarlet Letter?
Edith: A novel, by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
It sounds most unsuitable.
If he’s the agent, we can call him Branson again, thank heaven.
Think of the child. You cannot want your only granddaughter to grow up in a garage, with that drunken gorilla.
That is an easy caveat to accept, because I’m never wrong.
My husband was a great traveler, so I’ve spent many happy evenings without understanding a word. The thing is to keep smiling and never look as if you disapprove.
Are you ready for next week’s season finale, Downton-lovers?
The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate.