I’m not going to beat about the bush here: this sucked. This sucked so badly I actually found myself apologizing to my family for making them watch it. And just to be clear, I’m not saying that because of what happens at the end. I hated that for other reasons than you probably think.
Previously on Downton Abbey: Ethel caused a scandal by existing, things got super awkward between Thomas and Jimmy, Edith became a journalist, and Tom was given a job he was wildly underqualified for.
Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Gillian found a Jimmy replacement, Two Face found a crush, Margaret’s son got kinda creepy, and she got it on with Sleater again.
It feels slightly strange writing and watching this, knowing that AC is currently mostly under water. To everyone in NY, NJ, and all the other states that just got slapped around by Sandy, best of luck—my thoughts are with you. Those are my old stomping grounds and I still have lots of friends and family there.
Previously on Downton Abbey: Bates was proven innocent, and because the wheels of justice are really well oiled on this show, he was declared a free man in about ten minutes. Robert popped his already stuffed shirt at the thought of Ethel serving lunch to the ladies of his family and Branson threw oil right on that fire by telling him Baby Sybil would be christened Catholic. And Matthew jumped in by having the temerity to suggest the estate not be run quite so idiotically.
Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Margaret started to slowly get her women’s clinic off the ground, Al went a bit crazy on a bully in Chicago, and Gyp went a lot crazy on an entire convoy of Nucky’s booze.
A minion sits in the hallway, shuffling cards outside a hotel room while, inside, Gyp and the waitress from the diner engage in some erotic asphyxiation. For the record, he’s the one being choked. He makes her keep going until he passes out, then he asks for a wet towel and smiles.
Previously on Downton Abbey: Branson got himself kicked out of Ireland, Edith found a new vocation, Ethel was looked down upon and gave up her child, and a handsome new footman arrived, to Thomas’s delight.
Late at night, Clarkson arrives to check on Sybil, whose been experiencing pains a bit early. Clarkson reassures her that everything is all right, and then goes out into the hallway to reassure the menfolk of the same. Branson is rather adorably relieved. Clarkson tells them the birth is imminent, though, and Robert tells him that another doctor will be arriving the next day. “If you think it advisable,” says Clarkson, in a tone that says he certainly does not. Well, Clarkson, considering your medical track record, yes, I think I’d call for competent backup too.
Previously on Downton Abbey: Edith got seriously kicked in the teeth by life and her family yet again, Hughes is probably going to live after all, and Matthew accepted Swire’s inheritance.
Carson hands out the mail to the staff and it seems Anna’s the only person not to get anything. It’s not the first time she’s been left emptyhanded either. Bates, you dick.
Speak of the devil, he’s in prison, also not getting any letters. Hmmm. I’d believe he’d stop writing in some misguided ‘You must go on without me!’ nonsense, but I’d never believe Anna would stop sending letters.
Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Nucky decided to give jealousy a try and spent more time focusing on his girlfriend’s other male friends than on his business. Gyp got revenge for being cut off from the liquor trade by keeping Nucky’s shipment from reaching New York, and Margaret found a new cause: women’s health.
Nucky’s trying to get Billie on the phone, but the operator tells him to worry about running out of company. Nucky looks up and there’s a boy standing in front of him. He asks if the kid’s hungry and a frying pan full of bacon appears in his hand. Mmmmm, baaaacon. The phone rings and Nucky wonders what’s wrong with it, as a shot rings out and the kid falls dead. Nucky looks down and sees a smoking pistol in his hand…
…and then Eddie’s shaking him awake. Wow, that whole sequence was very Sopranos-esque, no? Eddie tells Nucky that Margaret’s on the phone, so Nucky picks up and she tells him the bishop’s rep is there to finalize plans for the ceremony to honour Nucky. He tells her to just do it without him because he doesn’t even want to do this. She informs him that this is an honour and he’s the one focused on putting up a good front. Nucky hangs up and asks Eddie if Billie called. She did not. Eddie urges Nucky to get up so he can make it to his meeting. Nucky reluctantly drags himself into a sitting position and asks if someone’s frying something.
Previously on Downton Abbey: Robert decided to take a turn at being a terrible father by trying to ruin Edith’s relationship with Strallen for absolutely no good reason at all. Mary, meanwhile, kept herself busy trying to pump Martha for cash, only to find out Martha’s money is too tied up to save Downton. Oh, and Mrs. Hughes has a suspicious breast lump and it looks like Ethel’s a prostitute now.
Before we get started, I think you should know that, as I write this, I’m huddled up on my sofa, clutching a hot water bottle in one hand and tea with the other, nursing a cold I may or may not have caught from the dog. So if I seem a bit snippier or more out of it than usual during this recap, that’s probably why.
Previously on Downton Abbey: Branson showed up to act like a total stereotype of the worst sort of Irish radical. Robert lost all the family’s money through sheer idiocy; Cora’s brash, outspoken (read: American) mother showed up; and Mary and Matthew finally got married.