Previously on Downton Abbey: The Crawleys hosted a house party, Tom felt like a fish out of water, Isobel disapproved of joy, Mary got a maybe crush, Michael literally bought Robert’s love, and that thing of which we shall not speak happened to Anna.
Speaking of Anna, we start off with her right away, managing her stress by treating her husband like shit. Poor Bates asks her if he’s done something wrong and she briskly says no, she just really wanted to get Mary’s shoes polished, which is why she left their home that morning without waiting for him and now won’t make eye contact. She heads into the servant’s hall and Thomas asks about the black eye. She lies that she fell, and she can barely sit for more than two minutes before popping back up and rushing upstairs. Bates quietly asks Hughes if she knows anything here, because he’s not an idiot, but Hughes is like, ‘strange behaviour? What strange behaviour? I see nothing here!’ Poor Bates. She rushes off and Thomas asks what’s up with everyone. Carson says there’s something not quite on about high spirits at breakfast, so apparently he’s pleased to see multiple members of staff in distress instead of smiling.
The guests and their servants are getting ready to leave. Carson hopes that the evil Mr G had a good visit and the man evilly tells him that he’ll remember this visit for a long time, while Hughes fixes him with a stare that could easily sear a steak at 100 paces. Upstairs, Robert thanks Michael and shakes his hand, which is as close as anyone’s ever likely to get to approval in this family, so he should take that and run with it. The sweet Dowager Duchess, meanwhile, commiserates with Tom over the difficulties of losing a much-loved spouse, excusing his rather glum behaviour by saying when her husband died she went all clumsy because it felt disloyal to manage anything properly without him. But she got by, and he will too.
Rose is seeing off her crush, whose name I never did catch, and Mary has a moment with Gill, who admits he doesn’t really like his own manservant, but he feels lucky to have any valet at all nowadays. Oooh, oooh, hire Molesley! Gill kind of asks Mary out again, and again she gently turns him down, but not in a very final way. The cars all set off, leaving the family behind.
Isobel meets Dr Clarkson walking through the cemetery and he tells her he’s about to go see the board about creating an out clinic. He tentatively asks her for help and she promises to think about it.
Mary announces she can see the tax people at noon in a couple of days and she plans to head to…London, I guess…the following day to make sure there are no delays. Once there, she’ll find out what’s up and report back so she and Robert can make a decision together. He whines about the possibility of having to pay in instalments for the rest of his life and Mary reminds him that he keeps saying they’re only the caretakers of Downton, so maybe they should caretake a bit. Rose comes in, catches a snippet of conversation, and asks to be allowed to go up to London with Mary. Mary’s fine with it, and her mother asks if she’ll meet with Gill while she’s there. Geez, Cora, the man only just left, down, girl! Mary has no intentions of doing so.
Tom, looking a bit stressed, goes to head upstairs and is waylaid by Edna, who pouts and asks why he hasn’t been down to see her, after their apparent night of passion. He desperately tells her he was really drunk and what happened really shouldn’t have happened. And, of course, Thomas overhears all this. Sigh.
In the kitchens, Ivy’s doing pastry-wrapped asparagus, the first important thing Patmore’s trusted her with. Jimmy sneers at the fancy food and Patmore reminds the poor girl that if she screws it up, it’s back to learning square one. I think if you screw up something as easy as that, you should be back to scrubbing pots and pans, honestly.
Tom’s now upstairs, packing a suitcase, when Edna whirls in and whispers that he can’t treat a poor girl like this. Oh, for heaven’s sake. She accuses him of using and discarding her and asks what he’d do if she turned out to be pregnant. He insists that’s not possible, because, and I quote, ‘it’s not as easy as all that.’ Um, what? Tom, do you not know how the Siblit came to be? She wants him to promise to marry her if she turns out to be knocked up. Dear God, Tom, say nothing! What’s she going to do if you force him to wait? He tells her he totally regrets every last second they spent together and she retreats, acting all hurt, like this whole thing hasn’t been an awful ploy of hers.
Violet is taking a turn with Isobel through the graveyard—Geez, does Isobel spend all her free time there now?—and asks her how she enjoyed the evening at Downton the other night. She liked it fine, but she feels a bit bad for begrudging everyone else their good time. Violet kindly tells her she totally understands it. Isobel goes on to say that she wants Mary to be happy and she doesn’t begrudge her joy. Violet says sincerely that she hopes Isobel manages to make friends with the world again.
That evening, Mary notes that Anna seems a bit off and asks her if she’s ok. Anna says she’s fine and refuses to engage.
Cora reports to Robert that Rosamond is planning to give a wee dinner in London while Mary and Rose are there and will invite Rose’s latest crush. He needs a name, folks. Rose’s Crush won’t do for long. Robert asks if she thinks anything will come of this and Cora doesn’t think so, mostly because of Rose’s youth, and not because the guy disapproves of her family. Edna quietly says anyone would be proud to be part of this family. Shudder.
Isobel’s come up for dinner and has brought up the clinic, which, of course, Robert disapproves of, thinking it’ll just encourage people to go dashing off to the doctor at every little thing. Yes, God forbid people actually get to see a doctor when they’re injured or ill. Isobel believes it’ll encourage them to look after themselves and not become a burden. The cause for universal healthcare in a nutshell, folks. She plans to do some volunteering at the clinic. Mary notes that Tom’s a million miles away and asks him what’s going on, but he just takes a big swig of wine.
Jimmy tries one of Ivy’s asparagus spears and declares them delicious. He asks her, rather condescendingly and disapprovingly, if this is really what she wants and she reports that she wants to be a good cook and get on in the world. He sneers a bit that she sounds like Alfred, so she asks what Jimmy wants in life. A sugar momma, Ivy. He says he wants to see the world and spend money and drink champagne with lovely women, as he dances her around the kitchen. Alfred comes in with Daisy and threatens to tattle to Patmore about her fooling around with Jimmy, and Patmore comes in after them and asks what everyone’s talking about. Ivy lies that they’re saying how great her cooking is and Daisy sneers at her and leaves.
Anna stiffly tells her husband she’s going out of town for a night, and when he says he’ll miss her and reaches for her, she flinches away. He asks her again what the hell is wrong and she lies and says they just spend too much time together. Oh, Anna. I know you’re seriously traumatized here, and I feel for you, honestly, I do, but making Bates feel like he’s responsible for your sudden attitude shift is kind of awful.
Hughes is enjoying a late-evening sherry with Carson, who’s telling her about sweet Alice, who was apparently on the music hall stage just like he was. And he really wanted to marry her, but, you know, it didn’t happen. Anna comes in, so Carson excuses himself and leaves the ladies alone. Anna tells Hughes that when she gets back from London, she wants to move back into the house. Jesus, Anna, you don’t think this is going to require some explanation? At some point here, you’re going to have to either completely bury your horror and feelings (an extremely difficult, if not impossible prospect) or tell your husband what happened. Or tell someone! Tell Mary, she could probably lend some sort of help. At the very least, she could probably get Gill to fire the asshole without a reference, which at least would keep him out of people’s houses and out of your circle of acquaintance, and then maybe you could tell Bates. At that point, it’d be a lot harder for him to track the guy down and kill him. I get that she’s really raw at this point, and she’s afraid of her husband going back to jail, but this is not a good way of handling the situation, and I really wish Hughes would step up a bit more, because I don’t think we can fully expect Anna to be rational at this moment.
Anna, tragically, says she thinks she must have brought this on herself somehow, and Hughes tells her firmly that this isn’t her fault and they really should go to the police. Anna refuses, and Hughes says the guy could just go out and do this again. Anna brings up the possibility of Bates killing the guy, but it’d be a bit difficult for him to do that if the man’s in jail for rape, right? Again, not thinking clearly, Not that I would expect that, just now. Hughes gently tells Anna she’s breaking her husband’s heart. Anna says a broken heart’s better than a broken neck. That may be up for debate. Hughes says she can have the room, but she’ll have to think of a god excuse to give Bates.
Jimmy grabs Ivy and takes her to some room to chat while he cleans shoes. Daisy sees them go, then heads into the kitchen, where Alfred appears to report that they’re setting up an Escoffier training school at the Ritz. It won’t even cost anything, but it’s super competitive. Patmore suggests Daisy go for it and Daisy asks if she’s trying to get rid of her. Alfred says Ivy should see this, what with her mad skilz at wrapping bits of phyllo around asparagus, and Daisy tells him she’s in the boot room. Off he goes, where he interrupts Jimmy and Ivy coming out of what appears to be a very chaste kiss. Alfred hastens away and Daisy looks a little guilty.
Rosamond’s dinner: Mary comes downstairs and finds Gill and Rose’s crush—Sir John, a name!—waiting. She’s surprised, naturally, and probably relieved she’s actually wearing one of her better dresses. Gill admits to having cancelled his plans to be there, and John offers to take them all to a jazz club afterwards. Rose begs to be allowed to go and Mary turns and asks Tom if he’d like to go. He wants to stay behind, but they all press, so it’s a party!
They arrive at the club, which is quite swanky, and Gill immediately whisks Mary onto the dancefloor while the singer croons. Take a good look at the first person of colour to appear on Downton Abbey, folks. Mary admits she’s glad she came to town and also glad to see Gill again, because back home she feels so weighed down. It’s nice to feel a bit liberated. He asks if he can see her again before she leaves, but she says there’s no time. Plus, isn’t he engaged? He says he’s almost engaged, and she says that’s close enough. And also: she’s not ready to date again and doesn’t expect to be for some time.
Alfred starts boning up for the Ritz exam and Patmore nicely offers to help him if he has any questions. Jimmy shows up and rudely rolls his eyes about the whole chef business again, and Patmore scolds him for being an ass to someone just because they have dreams and Jimmy doesn’t. Jimmy insists he does so have dreams, they just don’t involve peeling potatoes. He’s such an unpleasant little tick, isn’t he? Alfred and Ivy go to bed and Patmore urges Daisy to help him, telling her it might be best if he goes, since a once-sided love is a tough one. Ouch. I mean, it’s true, and it’s probably good for Daisy to get some straight talk, but ouch all the same.
Tom’s now dancing with Rosamond, who asks him how he likes being a member of the Crawley family. He says they’ve been kinder to him than he deserves, which she doubts, but he insists it’s true. John’s drunkenly whirling Rose around, which does not amuse her at all. She finally gets him to let go of her when he rushes off to get sick, and the singer breaks off mid-song and comes out onto the dance floor to partner her. He introduces himself as Jack Ross and she tells him her name, and then Branson appears at her elbow to bring her back to the table, having been dispatched by Rosamond. The elders all tell Rose they’re going home. Rose stammers that Jack was just being nice, but they’re done. She glances over her shoulder and smiles at Jack as she leaves, and he waves
Back at Rosamond’s, Mary gets Tom alone and asks him what’s wrong. He doesn’t want to tell her, but she kind of lays a ‘truth shall set you free’ line on him. He says he can’t tell her, so she advises him to find someone he can confess to, because it’ll make him feel lots better.
Edna hums while she polishes shoes and Thomas swings into the boot room to ask what’s made her so cheerful, observing that she seems rather glum when she was chatting with Tom. She smiles creepily and says he thinks he can read her like a book, but he’d better keep both his eyes and ears open where she’s concerned. She goes on to say that there’ll be a day when he’ll be glad he stayed on her good side.
The London contingent arrives home and Anna is greeted by Bates, who asks her how London was. She says it was great. He asks her to either kiss him or tell him what happened and she tearfully asks him not to bully her. He promises not to push her now, but says he’ll find out what happened eventually. Carson interrupts to tell Anna to tell Mary that Gill has shown up. Wow, did he fly up? Or was he, oddly, on the exact same train as the others without telling them? Anna almost freaks out and asks if his valet’s with him. Carson says it doesn’t look like it, so Anna goes to deliver the message.
And Branson’s confessor is…Hughes. Man, is there any sordid story involving the people under this roof that she doesn’t know? She tells him this is indeed a sorry tale and wonders what should be done. He asks if he should beg Edna to just leave him alone and Hughes tells him they haven’t quite gotten to that yet.
Mary comes downstairs and finds Gill waiting in the library. He admits he was on the same train as her, just travelling in third class. Wow, how hard up is this family anyway? Oh, he says it’s because he didn’t want to talk to her in a railway carriage. She rings for tea and he almost immediately asks her to marry him. Wow, Gill, were you not listening when she said she wasn’t even ready to date yet? Mary claims he doesn’t know her, but he reminds her they’ve known each other since they were kids, though there was a big gap in the middle. He says he loves her and wants to convince her of it. They’re interrupted by Jimmy, whom Mary asks for tea. Once they’re alone again, Gill says he’s sure Matthew was a great chap, but he’s dead and Gill’s alive, which makes him instantly a better prospect. And while he likes his almost-fiancée, he doesn’t love her, while he’s completely obsessed with Mary. He tells Mary to take as long as she needs—years, even, and from what we’ve seen before of this girl, that’s about how long it’ll take for her to make up her mind one way or the other on this. I have to say, this actor’s really selling his ‘I’m in love with Mary’ storyline, about a million times better than Matthew ever did.
They’re interrupted yet again, this time by Robert, and Gill lies that he had business nearby. Robert invites him to stay and Gill’s grateful for the room.
Hughes returns to her room, where Branson’s waiting, and tells him Edna’s on her way. The devil herself comes in and immediately guesses this is an ambush. She thinks she’s in for a payoff, but Hughes tells her that wasn’t the intention, because she knows for sure Edna’s not pregnant, guessing she’d never let herself get into such a situation before she was sure of nabbing Tom. Also, Hughes found a copy of Marie Stopes’s Married Love, which must have been pretty hard for her to get her hands on, considering how scandalous it was. Amongst other things, it provided information on birth control, hence the scandal and why Edna would have wanted it. Tom wonders what would have happened if he’d agreed to marry her and Hughes guesses she would have found some other guy to knock her up. Oh, I hope she wasn’t thinking of Thomas, although that’s kind of hilarious. Hughes threatens to have her examined by the doctor if she persists in this nonsense. Edna threatens to go to Cora and Hughes tells her that, if she does, she’ll never get a reference or another job. Edna takes her book and whirls out, rushing upstairs, past Thomas, who asks her what her problem is. There’s a lot of that going around this episode. She spits at him that everyone hates him because he’s sly and nasty, and she’s glad she got the chance to tell him before she left. Thomas grins, all, ‘honey, I know all this,’ and then gives tit for tat, calling her a manipulative little witch and he’s glad her schemes have come to nothing. What happened between these two? Weren’t they besties just a couple of episodes ago?
Edna packs her things and gets the hell out of there, to Cora’s distress. Robert wonders if they’re living under a curse, doomed to keep losing their ladies’ maids. There are worse curses, Robert. He then turns his attention to Anna and asks her if there’s something wrong, because she seems very quiet. She hands Cora her gloves and leaves. Robert tells Cora that Gill’s there for the night and she knows and doesn’t think they should read too much into it.
After dinner, Violet asks her son why Gill’s back so soon and Robert says he doesn’t know, but they’re glad he is. Violet doubts everyone is, as Isobel comes over and tells her that the car’s waiting outside. The two older ladies shuffle off and Robert goes over to Mary and Gill so he can provide a bit of exposition over Edith’s absence (she’s in London again). Robert admits he doesn’t dislike Michael. High praise indeed. Isobel shakes Gill’s hand and says she hopes to see him again soon. Robert declares that nobly done and Violet too admires her for not holding a grudge, though perhaps she would if she knew that Gill was doing more than just flirting a bit with her daughter-in-law.
Edith and Michael have just finished having a solo dinner at his place, and she awkwardly tells a story about one grand house that used to ring a stable bell at six a.m. so all the guests could scurry back to the right beds. Yes, that is actually a thing that happened. She gets kind of shy and says she has no idea why she just said all that. She’s nervous because Michael’s leaving for Germany soon, but he has enough confidence in her to give her some control over his affairs while he’s away. He gives her some paperwork to sign and tells her he plans to try writing a novel while he’s over there. He’s always meant to write one, but never had the time. She asks how long this process will take and he admits he’s not altogether sure, but his lawyer’s optimistic. She finishes signing and asks what else he has planned for that night. Oh, well, you know. They start to make out.
Back at Downton, Anna asks Hughes for Edna’s room, and Hughes sadly tells her that’s fine. Anna leaves and Carson, who was standing behind her the whole time, bizarrely doesn’t ask what the hell is up here, instead choosing to focus on the great tragedy of Edna’s departure, since it’ll mean disruption for Cora. Hughes sighs that she’ll tell him the whole story someday (Hughes, please don’t. Tom already has enough of an uphill battle in this house), but honestly, they were crazy to let her back in the house at all. A whole situation that could have been avoided if you’d talked to Cora like normal humans, folks! She hands him a present: a framed picture of Alice for his desk, so he can look at her and remember. He tells her he certainly will, because the business of life is the acquisition of memories.
While getting ready for bed, Robert asks Bates if he knows why Edna left. He doesn’t. Robert chattily says he hopes it won’t be too much for Anna, looking after both Cora and Mary, and Bates gets very quiet, then admits Anna wants to move back into the house so she can attend her duties properly. Robert asks if there’s trouble in paradise and Bates admits there is, but he has no idea what’s happened. All he knows is that it must be his fault, because Anna is incapable of fault. Oh, please, Bates. I know you love your wife and all, but that line was pretty gag-inducing. Nobody in a real relationship believes their partner is entirely incapable of fault, because that’s not actual reality. Surely by now she’s burnt the toast or something? Robert tells him that any marriage between two intelligent people always has to negotiate thin ice at some point. Hilariously, he adds that he knows that for sure, even though I wouldn’t call his marriage one between two intelligent people. He’s sure whatever damage there is isn’t irreparable, because Bates and Anna really and truly love each other.
A maid at Rosamond’s catches Edith doing her walk of shame, but ducks out of the way before Edith sees her.
Gill and Mary are taking a walk in the park and Mary asks him what will happen if she says no. He tells her he has to get married at some point, and she asks him not to rush into anything. He promises not to make a fool of his not-fiancée, because that wouldn’t be fair and he’s a decent man. He’s sure she’ll understand the breakup and Mary says that sounds pretty nice of her. And then she regretfully tells Gill that she’s just not over her husband and can’t even think of moving on at this point. To be fair, it hasn’t even been a year yet. I wouldn’t have expected her to just leap into another relationship at this point. Gill only asks one favour: that she kiss him before he goes, because he wants something to remember. She obliges and he bids her goodbye, sincerely wishing her well before he walks off. Aww, I’ll miss him. He was such a nice guy.
Thomas catches Robert and tells him he has a candidate for the now-empty ladies’ maid position. Robert tells him to tell Cora when she comes down. Thomas mentions that the woman’s a bit older than Edna, and Tom, who’s just come down, dressed to go out, says that won’t hurt. Heh. Mary comes in and collects Tom so they can go to York for estimates to re-equip the sawmill. Guess they’re full steam ahead without Robert now, huh? Tom asks her if they’ll be seeing Gill again and she says he’ll probably pop up now and again, but that he’s going to be getting married soon.
Edith joins Rosamond in her drawing room and Rosamond immediately tells her she knows she was out all night. She knows what was going on and scolds Edith for taking a huge risk (I think it’s safe to assume Edith doesn’t have a copy of Married Love on her nightstand). Edith, looking flustered, says Michael wants to marry her, so she trusts him. Rosamond unkindly reminds her that she trusted Anthony Strallen too. She does promise not to tell Cora and warns Edith not to gamble with her future. Edith tells her she’s not at all sorry and Rosamond says she may very well find herself feeling very sorry later.
At Downton, Mary observes that Tom seems more cheerful. He says his problem’s been taken care of, thanks to her advice. She says she envies him, because she thinks she’s just done something she’s going to regret for a long time.
Well, I have to say, this was one of the better episodes of the series. No big events (and I think we all need a break after last week), but at least we’re shot of horrible Edna, and most of what was happening felt organic and made sense, which is more than I can say for a fair bit of what’s been going on since…well, series one, really.
Stupid Robert Moment: Surprisingly, he didn’t give us much to work with this week. Maybe thinking that the family curse involves losing lady’s maids instead of, I don’t know, losing heirs left, right, and centre. Honestly, I think this week we should hand it over to Tom, for not quite understanding how babies are made, even though he has one.