Previously on Downton Abbey: Michael is officially dead, and the sad news, the separation from her daughter, and her family’s collective shrug made Edith just throw up her hands, grab the kid, and up stakes to London to run Michael’s publishing business. Mary was still toying with her boys, but it looks like Mabel’s making some inroads with Gill. Molesley tried to help Daisy with her studies.
Rosamond steps off the train at Downton, having been summoned by the family, which finally realised they should at least pretend to give a shit about their missing daughter. She’s surprised to be met by Violet, but Violet needs a word with her before they get to the house. Things have gotten to the point where she has reluctantly concluded they need to bring Cora in on this whole situation. Yes! Thank you, finally! Rosamond thinks that’d be a betrayal, since they promised Edith not to blab, but Violet argues that, as Edith’s mother, Cora deserves to know the whole story. But Robert can be left in the dark, because dads don’t need to know what’s happening in their daughters’ lives.
Carson tells Hughes that Rosamond’s been sent for (it’s the day after Edith’s flight).
Hughes: Isn’t it kind of weird and shitty for us to still be throwing a fancy dinner party with all this going on? I mean, it’s not normal to party when one’s kid is missing, right?
Carson: No, it’s not, but cancelling would be just soooo awkward, so on we go!
Upstairs, the family’s discussing the situation. Apparently Tom heard me yelling at the TV last week and asked the station master at Downton where Edith was heading, and learned she was going to King’s Cross. Funnily, the station master apparently failed to mention she had a child with her, which you’d think is a detail he’d throw in. Either that, or Tom’s keeping it quiet. Gill, Tony, and Mabel are all there, and Gill says it feels super awkward for all of them to be staying there while this family drama is going on. He asks if they should all just quietly go home.
Mary: Why should you go home? Why should Edith’s disappearance be in any way meaningful or disrupt my life in any way? Who gives a shit if she disappears? Also, we have Merton and Atticus’s family coming to dinner tonight and the servants have already set the table and everything.
Tom: Maybe we should put this dinner off a little?
Rose: Please don’t! Why should Edith’s disappearance disrupt my romance?
Robert: No, no, we mustn’t let on that anything’s out of sorts. We’re too upper-class and British for that! Let’s just pretend that our least-loved child is on holiday somewhere. Worked when she mysteriously upped stakes and went to Switzerland or whatever last year, right?
Rosamond and Violet arrive and Rosamond immediately goes to Cora and commiserates over how distressing this is.
Mary: Oh, god, why does anyone care where Edith has disappeared to? I sure don’t!
I like to think that it was during these displays that Gill started to seriously consider Mabel a better life partner, because who would want to hitch themselves to such an uncaring harridan as Mary’s being?
Gill, Blake, and Mabel: This is all so impossibly awkward. Let’s get out of here for a while.
Violet: Awesome idea! Cora, why don’t you walk Rosamond and I around the garden?
Cora: Why would I need to do that? Are you really in need of a guide to get around the garden you’ve spent the past 60 years of your life wandering around in?
Violet: Yes, yes, we seriously need you to come outside with us right now.
But, because the members of this family are thick as the walls of their own damn house, neither Cora nor Robert understands the urgency. And then Thomas comes in to announce that Mrs Drewe has arrived to speak to Cora. Cora tells the ladies to go walk on their own. Robert offers to take them, but Violet snaps that she has no intention of walking. Robert understandably looks confused.
Mabel decides she’s been outside long enough for the discomfort inside to dissipate and heads back in to dress for dinner, leaving the bros alone for some guytalk.
Blake: What’s your deal, man? It’s obvious to anyone with at least one functional sense that Mabel is a far better match for you than Mary will ever be. Also, she’s much cooler, so she’s a better match for just about anyone who breathes.
Gill: I totally agree, but I’m shackled to Mary because of my deep-rooted sense of honour. I can’t explain more.
Blake: I’m not an idiot. Clearly you mean you schtupped her.
Gill: I will not say yes or no. Suffice it to say, I can’t simply drop a woman I’ve sullied, even if she keeps insisting I drop her. It just doesn’t work that way. Females don’t know their own minds or what’s best for them, you know. Also, have you seen the new hairstyle and the way she’s not at all trying to put me off anymore? She’s not acting like a woman who wants to break things off. I think she’s confused.
Blake: Allow me to explain a little bit about the crazy shittiness of Mary Crawley. Her instinct is to make every man within her radius want her, whether she wants him or not. Did you hear about how she once flirted with Anthony Strallen? She totally wants to break up with you, despite all appearances to the contrary.
Bates and Anna sit down in the boot room and Bates tells her that the tenant staying in his mother’s house is leaving. Anna suggests they go check the place out and then decide what they want to do with it.
Mrs Drewe, no doubt fuelled by rage and grief, apparently told Cora everything, and she is rightfully seriously pissed at her mother- and sister-in-law. She’s got them both in her bedroom before dinner so she can scold them like kids. They don’t have much of a defense beyond ‘well, Edith didn’t want us to tell anyone.’ Cora couldn’t possibly care less but wants to know what set Edith over the edge. Violet suggests the news of Michael’s death and Rosamond adds the fact that Mrs Drewe was being ‘difficult.’ Nobody mentions the Crawley family’s possible role in Edith’s departure, probably because this is not an introspective lot by any means and they clearly see nothing wrong with the way they treat her. Rosamond tells Cora about her and Violet’s ridiculous plan to send a one-year-old to a boarding school abroad and Cora’s like, ‘WTF were you two thinking?! Of course she freaked out! You are both the worst planners in the history of planning anything at all! You are suddenly making Michael’s plan to go to Germany and antagonize the brownshirts look positively brilliant by comparison!’ Cora, as she tends to do in these difficult situations, dips deep into her well of awesomeness and steely resolve to tell them both that they’re going to keep this between them, but find Edith and find out what she wants to do. Nice to see someone finally putting Edith and her own feelings back into this equation.
On her way down to dinner, Mary’s intercepted by Hughes, who asks if she happens to still have that train ticket of Bates’s. As Baxter passes, she overhears their conversation. Hughes tells Mary that the ticket could be proof of Bates’s innocence.
Mary: Oh shit. I totally got rid of it.
The guests arrive and Rose practically launches herself down the stairs at Atticus. He lights up when he sees her. Mary leaves Hughes and goes to greet them. Rose quietly tells Atticus that he’s kind of walking into a family drama, which she’ll tell him about a little later.
Belowstairs, Patmore notes that Daisy’s looking a bit glum and asks if she’s going off her studies. Daisy says she might, because have you read the newspapers lately? That shit’s just depressing. The Labour government’s not doing well so…now she doesn’t want to learn anymore? The fact that Ramsay MacDonald couldn’t hold his government together makes her not want to learn about history anymore? I don’t think I understand her logic. She goes on to say that they’re all trapped in a system that gives them no value and no freedom. I’d like to point out that she totally has freedom, as well as choices—if she wanted to leave, she could. Mr Mason’s given her a total lifeline. She actually chose to stay at Downton. Not to mention Alfred’s already shown her that there are other options for cooks out there. Daisy thinks bettering herself is pointless. Thanks for that glass-half-empty moment there, Daisy.
Baxter goes into the servants’ hall, where Bates and Anna are already hanging out. The pair give her the serious deep freeze and she apologises a bit for having had to speak to the police (like she really had a choice?) and swears she didn’t give them anything that could stand up in court. They couldn’t care less and go forth with their mean-girling, which seems really out of character for both of them. Bates accuses her of having put them in a difficult position. Jesus, what was she supposed to do?
Robert is seated next to Mrs Aldridge at dinner and reassuring her that he’s totally cool with Jewish people, since Cora’s dad was Jewish and all. She’s pretty gracious about that and comments that her son seems really taken with Rose, and she really likes Rose right back. But her husband might take a little winning over.
Her husband, meanwhile, is asking Cora about her heritage, asking if there was ever any awkwardness growing up with a different faith from her father. There was not. He then rather inappropriately asks if she ever felt shame and she points out that clearly her family didn’t, since they didn’t change their name, unlike the Aldridges. Zing!
Rosamond asks Tom if he’s decided whether he’s going to go or stay and he says he’s still debating, because he doesn’t want to go disrupting Sybbie’s life and later regretting the decision.
Atticus confirms with Rose that Michael left Edith his publishing company and suggests they try telephoning the office to find out if she’s checked in recently. Thank you, Atticus! How long was it going to be before one of the Crawleys thought of that?
Rose: Wow! What a great idea.
Atticus: Seriously? That’s totally the most obvious thing in the world to do. You guys didn’t think of that? Just how inbred are you people?
Atticus moves on to tell Rose that his mom’s fine with their relationship, but his dad could be an issue. Rose has the opposite problem: dad’s great but mum’s a nut. He suggests the crack the two parents against each other.
Gill comments to Mabel that it’s strange that some people get married over and over and they can’t seem to manage it once. For heaven’s sake, Gill, stop teasing this poor woman. She suggests (well, straight-up tells him) that he’s sticking to a course that’s going to just make him unhappy, which is pretty stupid.
Isobel calls everyone to attention and announces her engagement to Merton. Robert proposes a toast and everyone enthusiastically joins in. Everyone but Violet, anyway. She’s super downcast and Mary notices and asks what’s up. Violet covers by saying she’s worried about Edith.
Mary (actual line): I can’t think why.
For god’s SAKE!
Violet: Ok, I don’t know how you managed to miss this particular life lesson, but you should know that being a nasty, unsympathetic bitch utterly lacking in compassion is neither attractive nor cute. It’s vulgar and horrible. Most of us learned that a good decade before the age you’ve currently achieved, so smarten up, mmmkay?
Molesley goes to the kitchen and asks Daisy if she wants to discuss Vanity Fair that evening. Daisy says she’s too tired and swirls out. Patmore explains that she’s just feeling let down by the Labour government, which doesn’t really excuse her rude behaviour. Molesley indignantly says that she shouldn’t give up just because politics aren’t perfectly going her way. Patmore notes that he wasn’t this keen when Sarah was around and he says that he didn’t want to interfere with a professional, but with Sarah gone he wants to help Daisy out. Patmore urges him to talk to Daisy and maybe change her mind, but Molesley doubts she’d listen to him. Thomas agrees but suggests they get Mr Mason in on this, because Daisy will listen to him. Patmore offers to get in touch with him.
Upstairs, Cora congratulates Merton, who says he hopes to give a dinner so Isobel can meet his sons. Mary reminds him that she met one of them, Larry, before, when he came to Downton and proceeded to spike Tom’s drink years ago. Oh, I had totally forgotten that was one of the Merton spawn. Mary suggests they give the dinner at Downton and Cora and Merton agree.
Mabel and Gill play cards and she presses him to tell her why he can’t leave Mary. He won’t blab but admits this is a real struggle. I’m sure that’s a great consolation. Blake, meanwhile, tells Mary to stop trying to entice Gill, because it’s just confusing the poor idiot.
Rose goes over to the other ladies and shares Atticus’s totally commonsense suggestion they get in touch with the magazine offices. Cora decides to just go down to London and visit the offices in person, and Rosamond immediately offers to go along. Violet won’t, because she just can’t handle the tension and Cora coldly informs her she’s lost her trust forever. And she means it, too.
Bates and Anna relax in the cottage over a cup of tea and discuss selling the London house and buying a cottage in the country they can rent out. Anna brings up Greene and wonders if the whole business is over. Bates thinks so, since Baxter hasn’t given the police anything to go on. ‘So we can start planning our future?’ says Anna. Oh, Anna, don’t you know better by now? Every time you two try and plan your future something awful happens. Bates thinks that means babies in the near future (and she’s apparently told him the birth control was Mary’s, though he apparently can’t fathom why she’d need it. Really, Bates? You can’t?) He wonders if there’s a reason they haven’t gotten pregnant yet but Anna brightsides that it just takes some people a little longer than others.
Mary strides into the library the following morning with the news that Rosamond and Cora and the others made the train. Robert confirms that neither Gill nor Blake will be joining the family anytime soon. Mary leaves to go visit Violet. Robert thinks it’s a shame Gill and Mary broke up and then asks Tom if he’s considering trying for love again. Tom chuckles that he supposes it would be ok as long as it’s someone who doesn’t hate their family. He goes on to say that he’s not sorry Sarah’s gone, because he didn’t want to spend his life ‘in a bare knuckle fight.’ Good for you, Tom. He does mention that he’s written to his cousin in ‘Besten’ (Boston, I guess, though it took me a little while to get that) who’s suggested he come to America, and he’s seriously considering it, though it’s a very hard decision. Robert says they’ll all be really sorry to see him go. It’s nice to see the warm rapport that’s developed between these two.
The receptionist at the magazine office tells Cora and Rosamond that Edith hasn’t come in yet, so Cora declares her intention to wait all day, and every day until she shows up. But just then Edith comes strolling out into the reception area, spots her mother, and immediately guesses Rosamond talked. Cora sets her straight, adding that Mrs Drewe was right to think she’d been pretty badly used. I hate to say it, but, yeah, she is right. Edith flat-out refuses to talk to them, until Cora threatens to make a scene, and then she suggests they go to a tearoom down the street.
Mary, while taking tea with her grandmother, asks Sprat how he’s doing. He responds with a martyr-ish whine and Violet explains that he’s helping to train Denker. And by ‘helping to train’ I assume you mean ‘making her life a living hell?’ Once he’s gone, Mary reminds her of the dinner that Friday, which Violet isn’t excited about. Mary thinks her grandmother’s upset because Isobel will be taking her place as a great lady in the county whereas Violet will be a widow in a dower house. Violet tells her it has nothing to do with a change of rank, the truth is, she’s sad to be losing her friend. Awww. This is a really sweet scene, actually, and Maggie Smith just KILLS IT.
Tom takes Sybbie outside for some playtime and gently brings up the idea of moving. Using the little kid’s special talent of being able to simplify things, Sybbie just keeps asking him ‘why’? and Tom kind of has trouble justifying this particular decision, so we’ll see what happens.
Baxter runs into the Bateses in the servants’ hall again and offers to swear to the inspector that the train ticket hadn’t been used. They still give her a massive amount of nasty attitude, so Molesley, who’s sitting by, steps in and tells these two sudden assholes that Baxter’s in a difficult position. They know and don’t seem to care. In comes Thomas, so Anna and Bates leave. Thomas advises Baxter to either ignore them, or tell them why she had to talk to the police. She quietly says she’s too ashamed.
Blake gets Mary on the phone and tells her that he’s leaving for Poland for several months, but before he goes, he wants her to come down to London for an afternoon at the cinema (which he pronounces kin-ema, so either the word was pronounced differently in the 20s or the cinema—which was considered a rather downmarket form of entertainment—is so foreign to him he doesn’t even know how to say the word properly). Mary hangs up and heads upstairs to dress for dinner, just as her father comes by and says he’s worried about Isis, who’s still just lying around looking miserable. He plans to take her to see the local dog expert (I guess) the next day. Mary doesn’t care, of course, and breezes upstairs just as Rose rushes in from a tea date in Ripon with Atticus. Robert remarks that it seems to be getting serious but advises her not to rush into anything.
Rose: One of my most notable traits is my impetuousness—remember how I got engaged to a black jazz singer I barely knew last season? Of course I want to rush in!
Robert gently reminds her that marriage is a big damn deal, and Atticus’s religion is going to be an obstacle, both within their families and Society at large. The Crawleys don’t care that Atticus is Jewish, but Atticus’s dad sure cares that Rose isn’t. And Rose’s mother will probably hit the roof.
Rosamond, Cora, and Edith meet up at that tea shop to talk about what needs to be done next. She admits that she, like Tom, was toying with the idea of going to America and pretending to be a widow, but she really wants to raise her daughter in England. Rosamond idiotically suggests she just invent a dead husband in Britain, but Edith reminds her that there’s no way she’d get away with that. Cora has another plan: bring Marigold to Downton and raise her there, telling the public at large that the Drewes couldn’t afford to have the kid so Edith adopted her. I’m sure Mrs Drewe will be quite eager to go along with that. Edith considers it, as long as neither Robert nor Mary ever know. Cora readily agrees. Rosamond doesn’t think this is such a great idea, but Cora presses on, suggesting they head back north the following day and have Drewe pick up Marigold from the station so the ladies can go float the idea to the rest of the family before going to collect her.
At Downton, Molesley gets a note from Mr Mason, inviting him up to the farm, along with Daisy. Thomas suggests Baxter go along and have a nice day out. She points out that she hasn’t been invited, but Daisy says Mr Mason would love to have her. Patmore volunteers to talk to Carson and get everyone the time off.
Cora is all delighted smiles as they arrive at the Downton station, but then she spots Mary on the platform and kind of freaks. Edith calls Drewe over, as Anna watches from a bit of a distance. Edith quickly asks Drewe to ride with Marigold to the next station and he sits down with the girl as Cora and Edith get off. They approach Mary and Edith coolly says she just wanted a day or two in London. Anna sees Marigold and Drewe in the train car as it passes. Mary tells her mother she’ll be in London overnight but will be back for the dinner on Friday so they can all protect Isobel from the odious Larry.
Violet has Merton and Isobel to tea. Isobel says she’s looking forward to this dinner and to meeting the sons. She and Merton are cute together for a bit before he leaves. Isobel notes that Sprat still seems a bit down, then thanks Violet for not being crappy about the engagement. Talk turns to the Princess Kuragin and whether Violet will have her as a guest once she’s found. Violet plans to cross that bridge when she comes to it. Sprat then bursts in and gives his notice, claiming he’s suffered more than anyone ever should. Violet is unconcerned, because she knows he doesn’t mean it. Are you kidding me? This whole plotline is excessively stupid.
Blake hustles Mary out of the cinema just before the film ends. Right outside the door, he orders her to kiss him and grabs her right as the film lets out. What do you know, Gill and Mabel are there! How did Blake know yesterday that they were going to be at the movies? Did Gill give him a rundown of his week or something? The fact that Gill and Mabel are at the cinema at all suggests that they’re kind of dating on the down-low, going somewhere where they probably wouldn’t run into anyone they knew (remember what I said about films being downmarket). I guess we’ll never know. Gill kind of laughs and tells Mary that she could have just told him she wanted to move on.
Mary: I totally did, asshole!
Gill: Well, whatever, now that I’ve got a fallback, I’m good.
Mabel: Much as I know I should pretend I want to spend any time in this woman’s company, I really can’t be bothered. I want my dinner now. Ta ta!
Once the happy pair have left, Mary admits she’s a teensy bit sad that it’s all over now, but not sad enough to wish it back. She suggests some dinner as well and Blake agrees. She asks how long he’ll be away and he says it could be up to a year, adding that she’ll probably be married by then.
Daisy et al go to the Mason farm for lunch and Mr Mason firmly tells Daisy she shouldn’t give up on her education, because education is power. Molesley backs him up, saying he could have made something worthwhile of his life if he’d had the chance. Baxter gently tells him he has made something worthwhile of his life. When Daisy brings up the government again. Mason says that there’ll be another Labour government someday, and maybe that one will stick it out a bit longer. And how.
On their way out, Molesley asks Baxter if she’s considered telling Bates why she had to talk to the police, because if anyone would understand it’s him. Why does she need to justify herself? With most people, when the local constable and an inspector from Scotland Yard show up and ask you questions, you answer them! Why wouldn’t you (unless you had something to hide, of course)? Bates and Anna are being total jerks about this whole situation.
Cora and Edith have put the ‘adoption’ plan to some of the others. Mary worries that the Drewes are just looking to park the kid at Downton for a little while but Edith hastily says that’s not the case. The discussion is put on hold, however, when Robert comes in carrying Isis and informs them that the dog has cancer and doesn’t have long to live. Noooo! Poor Isis. Though, for a Lab, she’s actually lived a pretty good long life, so there is that. A super happy one, too. Everyone says how sorry they are and Cora goes to pat her. Robert wonders if they can cancel this dinner on Friday but Cora reminds him that Merton’s sons have come up from London, along with Atticus, though Rose is willing to postpone. I can’t help but note that everyone’s more willing to put plans on hold and show sympathy over the dog’s ill health than they were over Edith’s disappearance. Not that it isn’t really, really sad that Isis is dying, but…still. The kids are brought in and Edith, clearly feeling a little awkward, asks if she can have Marigold or not. Both Robert and Mary think it’s a bad idea, with Mary suggesting she just throw some money at the problem, but Cora pipes up that the situation requires more than that. Robert’s like, ‘ask your mother,’ and Cora’s in favour, obviously, so looks like Sybbie and George get a new companion!
Hughes and Anna talk about their possible property investments before Anna brings up the fact that she saw Drewe on the train with a little girl the day before. Remember that Anna found the photograph of infant Marigold under Edith’s pillow after the fire. She clearly starts sniffing around for more info, not that Hughes has it. Hughes shuts that right down, basically saying this is none of their business.
The Friday dinner party is underway. Isobel supports Edith’s adoption plan and explains it to the son who’s sitting next to her. He sniffs that an orphan would be an unwelcome piece of baggage for an unmarried woman. Oh, here we go. He wouldn’t want to take on someone like that. Well, damn, because I’m sure you were right at the top of Edith’s list. The conversation turns to Rose and Atticus, and Atticus admits they know that the religion issue is going to be, well, an issue. Larry sees his chance to be an asshole and starts talking about how most marriages fail because of differences like these. Differences like religion, nationalities, age gap, and social status. And there he’s just gone and insulted pretty much every marriage or committed relationship of everyone at that table. Well done, Larry. His focus, of course, is now on Isobel and how she’s so very middle class and now deigns to become a Lady. He predicts an inevitable failure. Robert tightly reminds Larry that Isobel’s son was his heir.
Larry: So what? You guys were desperate, everyone knows that.
Mary’s face: Woah, dickhead, that’s my husband you’re talking about!
Merton, completely humiliated, tells Larry to go, but Larry’s yet another worthless straw-man character and starts throwing shade at the chauffeur at the table and now a Jew who’s hoping to join them. At this point, Tom leaps to his feet, calls Larry a bastard, and tells him to get the hell out. Rose and Atticus grab hands under the table. Robert adds his own disinvitation, so Larry finally goes. His brother picks up the ball and hisses to Isobel: ‘what did you imagine? That we would welcome you with open arms?’ She looks like she’s trying desperately not to burst into tears.
Belowstairs, everyone gossips about what just happened. Bates thinks Branson was right and Anna feels sorry for Isobel. Carson reports that everyone’s leaving a bit early. Not surprising.
Upstairs, Atticus pulls Rose aside. He’s clearly ready to propose, but she makes him go through all the formalities, kneeling and everything. He obeys and though she knows that there are going to be some obstacles to overcome, she’s all for it. Downton wedding, squee!
Violet tells Isobel to take her time coming out to the car. Merton says, in a rather bleak voice, that they’ll laugh about this someday. I doubt it. Isobel’s still pretty shell-shocked. He says he hopes this hasn’t made her reconsider, but how could it not, Merton? Can you imagine the hell those jerks are going to put her through if you predecease her? Isobel basically tells him she needs some time to process. The non-Larry son comes in to hurry his father up, reminding him that Larry’s been sulking n the car since being kicked out of dinner. Well, let him sulk a little longer, it serves the little shit right! Merton tells Isobel that his horrible sons take after his dreadful bitch of a wife, not that there’s really any excuse for them. He leaves and Isobel looks really sad.
Robert carries Isis into the bedroom and tells Cora that he’s planning to sleep in the dressing room, because he wants the dog with him on her last night. Cora tells him to just lay her in their bed, between them, so she has two people who love her nearby. He does. I have to admit I cried a little bit during this part.