Previously on Upstairs, Downstairs: Elizabeth Bellamy returned home after being educated abroad and quickly proved to be an obnoxious, selfish little pill. Luckily, Rose was around to put her in her place because God knows nobody else will.
It’s December 1905.
Richard sends his womenfolk upstairs and tells Hudson to bring a bottle of champagne up to the drawing room in a bit. Hudson excitedly scurries off to do so. Why, whatever could be going on in the Bellamy household? Richard goes into the dining room, where a kilt-wearing lad named Angus (could he possibly be Scottish? They’re really obfuscating that one, aren’t they?) Jumps to his feet. Up in the drawing room, Elizabeth’s pacing around restlessly. Seems young Angus is there to ask for her fair hand in marriage.
Belowstairs, Rose is just as antsily waiting for the bell to ring, summoning the champagne. She’s excited, but Alfred couldn’t care less.
Upstairs, Marjorie plays the piano and reassures her daughter, who’s suddenly getting cold feet. She’s realised that, though she likes the guy, she doesn’t love him. Uh, maybe you should have thought of that before you dispatched him to your dad, Elizabeth.
Back downstairs, Rose asks Alfred what sort of person he’d marry. Nobody remarkable. Hudson comes in with the champagne bottles and Alfred puts on a fake Scottish accent, which prompts Hudson (who is actually Scottish, mind) to say he had no idea Alfred could speak Welsh. Heh.
Bellamy’s given his blessing and rings for the champagne. Hudson snaps on his white gloves and takes it up. But Elizabeth catches him in the front hall and tells him to take it right back downstairs. She goes into the dining room and bluntly informs Angus that, while he’s a nice guy and all, she can’t marry him. Sorry about that. She actually does the ‘it’s not you, it’s me,’ thing and says she kind of needs to live life just a bit before she settles down. Angus tells her they can totally live life together, it’ll be great! She apologises for having caused so much trouble, tells him it’s a no go, and rushes out. Angus hopes she’ll change her mind but Richard tells him that’s not happening. Also, sorry about this whole thing. Angus takes it on the chin and bids Richard goodnight before heading out, looking a bit stunned. Poor guy, he seemed a good sort.
Richard goes up to see Elizabeth and reassure her it’s fine, but WTH, Angus seemed so nice! She agrees, but says he’ll find someone else, someone better. And isn’t it better she’s not going to be swallowed up by Inverness?
Marjorie’s out to lunch with a friend, who blithely says that these things will happen, and Angus could be a little bit of a pain anyway. He apparently chased after her daughter the previous year and had to be told off.
At his club, Richard’s joined by a friend, who’s apparently behind the gossip curve, because he thinks Elizabeth and Angus are engaged now and offers his congratulations. For some reason, Richard doesn’t set him straight.
Elizabeth gets breakfast in bed, which never happened for unmarried women at the time, and asks Rose if she did the right thing, since Angus seemed so very suitable. She asks Rose to tell her about her own boyfriend, to take her mind off things. Rose reminds her that the guy died, so thanks for that reminder, Elizabeth. Elizabeth kind of looks like she feels badly for bringing it up and suggests they go out for some fun outings later on.
She steals Rose away just as Hudson’s looking for her to help decorate the Christmas tree. Which is apparently not a chore he’s so keen on.
Elizabeth has taken Rose to Leiderhausen (I think), which Rose did not enjoy. She politely says she’ll get used to it and Elizabeth promises more such outings. The ladies go into the house via their separate entrances. Hudson makes it clear he’s not terribly happy Elizabeth took Rose with her, though it was Rose’s afternoon off, and tells Elizabeth that Marjorie has a ‘foreign’ visitor and would appreciate Elizabeth poking her head in. The visitor is a German who met her in Germany, Baron von Rimmer. Elizabeth goes up to the drawing room, but she doesn’t remember the guy at all. He jogs her memory by saying she had a terrible cold at the time. The Baron explains that, though he and Elizabeth didn’t get to know each other very much previously, he doesn’t know anyone else in London. He brings up music, which grabs Elizabeth’s attention.
Meanwhile, downstairs, Hudson asks Rose how the concert was. She says it was fine, just took some getting used to. He warns her not to get too chummy with Elizabeth, because they’re not equals, not really. He blames Elizabeth’s foreign education for muddling her up in this regard. Alfred comes down with the news the baron’s staying for dinner.
It’s a cozy meal, just the senior Bellamys and Elizabeth and the Baron. Elizabeth regales him with stories of her Season and tells him how very dull it is and how much she hates having to pretend she’s a dunce. She says Marjorie’s afraid Elizabeth will act out and cause some sort of scandal, but Elizabeth would never do such a thing and risk harming her father. Well, you know, except for that one time she ditched a party to go wandering the streets and embarrassed her entire family. I guess that incident doesn’t count or something. Richard asks how their society compares with that in Germany and the Baron says he loves England. Talk turns to politics, and how Balfour is highly considered in Germany.
In an awkward cut, apparently Marjorie’s offering the Baron a place to stay at the Bellamy home, with Alfred to look after him. Alfred helps the Baron off with his coat and there’s a really, really creepy vibe between the two of them.
Marjorie’s getting together with that friend of hers again, Prudence, picking out cloth for a new dress and gossiping about the Baron. She explains how Elizabeth met him and Pru guesses Elizabeth’s making a play for the guy now. She wonders aloud if the guy is a real Baron, since one hears such dreadful stories about these foreigners. Marjorie swears he is, though how she would know, I have no idea. Prudence urges her to bring the guy to dinner at her place, so her daughter can have a shot with him too. Marjorie says she has no intention of parading him like a prize bull.
Elizabeth plays the piano for the Baron, who compliments her. They get a little flirty and start singing each others’ countries national anthems. Elizabeth steps away and urges him to play, since he studied music and all. He does, beautifully, and asks her to sing. She shakes her head, just enjoying the music. She stares intensely at him, and you can practically see little hearts coming out of her eyes.
Baron joins the elder Bellamys at breakfast and goes for scrambled eggs and coffee. Marjorie gets a letter from Aunt Kate in Monte Carlo, complaining about how many foreigners there are in a foreign country. She asks Baron what he plans to do that day and he says he was planning to hit the Houses of Parliament. Richard say it’s going to be a boring day, since the debate’s mostly about fishing. Baron’s cool with that, since his family’s connected to the sea. Richard thought Baron’s family was in banking. Apparently they’re in both. Riiiight. Baron asks Richard if he’s going to be in the house. Richard says he has a meeting that morning and the Baron, a little creepily, knows all about it. Richard seems a little unnerved by that. He goes to get ready to leave, taking Marjorie with him, and the Baron manages to dump a plate of food over himself. Alfred leaps forward to help wipe him down. Richard asks Marjorie if she thinks this thing between Baron and Elizabeth is serious. She laughs and says their daughter could do worse. True, but it looks like this match isn’t getting quite the enthusiastic response that Angus received.
Alfred literally comes dancing into the servants’ hall and tells Rose that Baron and Elizabeth are in love, playfully adding that they should imitate their masters. He dances her (against her will) around the room until Hudson comes in and breaks up the party. Alfred says he’s starting to rather like foreigners. Hudson notices a pin on Alfred’s shirt, which Alfred was making quite a show of gesturing to in a ‘see my pin? Has anybody noticed MY PIN?!!!!’ He says it came from ‘his master’ and when Hudson clarifies that he means the Baron, Alfred says he serves no other master at the moment. Except Bellamy, who actually pays your wages, Alfred. Hudson stays nothing, but Alfred immediately goes on the defensive, saying there’s nothing wrong with getting a present, since it’s Christmas and all. Woah, there, simmer down, touchy.
Elizabeth and Baron take a walk and talk about Germany vs England. He truly admires England, complimenting the empire and its incorruptible people, like Richard. She laughs and tells him Richard was a clergyman’s son who married way up and has his political career to thank for it. Baron clarifies that Richard’s dependent on his wife’s family, financially. Hmmm. Richard comes out and finds them and invites them back into Parliament for tea.
Later, Richard joins the Baron in the sitting room and, after some small talk about a chandelier, Richard asks the Baron to make his intentions known. Baron offers up his business card and Bellamy takes one look at it, says he was never really sold on the ‘I’m here to learn the banking business’ story, and notes that ‘they’ are employing young barons to do ‘their’ sales talks these days.
Rose is helping Elizabeth dress for dinner and Elizabeth confesses she pretty sure she’s in love with the Baron, even though she doesn’t feel like she really likes him. Rose tells her that Hudson’s not keen and has some seriously paranoid conspiracy theories about there being thousands of Germans in England working as waiters and whatever who are really trained soldiers waiting to rise up during some future invasion. Elizabeth laughs.
Richard and Baron are having a drink and talking about Germany’s plans to just take over Holland, which’ll leave England even more vulnerable than it already is. Baron works for some German munitions company that wants to do business with England, selling new naval gun mounting to His Majesty’s navy. He shows sketches to Bellamy, who asks why the Baron went through back channels in this way. Baron says that Bellamy’s a well known politician, so why not go about it in this way? Richard calls him out on using Elizabeth and Baron admits she was really just an in with Bellamy. Bellamy, surprisingly, doesn’t care about that. Really, Richard, you don’t mind that someone just toyed with your daughter to sell military equipment and enrich himself? That’s kinda douchy. Then again, maybe he actually is still mad at Elizabeth for ditching that party and embarrassing their family in front of royalty and possibly costing her dad a Cabinet post. Baron asks him to use his influence with the government to try and get them to buy this technology. Richard’s apparently on the committee of imperial defense, so that should help. Richard promises to look over the papers. Baron sweetens the pot by suggesting Richard could be given a nice financial windfall if the whole scheme is successful.
Richard meets with that friend at the club again. Whoever the guy is, he seems to be a government man as well. They talk about this whole affair, and while Richard thinks they should take a pass, mostly because this seems really sketchy and like the Germans could be using this deal as a way to set up an intelligence network in England (the outfitting of the ships would give them full access to the navy, after all), his friend is more receptive to the idea of going through with it. He guesses Richard’s been offered a bribe and informs him that’s standard operating procedure. Richard’s still not on board with the whole thing, so they move on to dealing with the Baron. Friend guesses the man will have some sort of incriminating documents on him and suggests Richard have a dinner in the near future so they can try and ensnare this guy.
Baron and Elizabeth are out on a date, he talking about his family Christmases. It sounds a bit like something out of the Von Trapp family (father rings a bell and we all go in and look at the tree and our presents, and then the kids sing, and then we get to open the presents). They have goose every year. Elizabeth flat-out begs him to take her with him back to Germany for Christmas, because she loves him and she wants to be with his family. She promises she’ll make him happy, but he turns her down flat, then softens the blow by suggesting maybe next year. Maybe.
They arrive home and Marjorie scolds them for being late before hustling Elizabeth upstairs to dress for dinner. Richard comes down and the Baron says he has all the necessary paperwork ready for Richard’s pal.
Alfred comes into the Baron’s room, slooooowly wipes off his arm on a towel, and informs the man his bath is ready. Alfred’s a creepster. Baron thanks him and sits down to have his shoes removed. Man, these people didn’t do anything for themselves, did they? He then calls Alfred out for taking some of his cologne, kicking him over and screaming at him. Alfred tearfully begs forgiveness, whimpering that he’s not worthy. Woah. Baron tells him to get to his feet and kiss the Baron’s hand. Alfred does, tearfully and grovelingly. It’s kind of disturbing.
Elizabeth, meanwhile, is lying on her bed in a sulk, whining that the Baron’s leaving and she wants to go with him. Waaaaah! Rose says he’ll come back, because of course he loves Elizabeth. Elizabeth pouts, and then when Rose informs her the Baron’s taken all the hot water, she lasciviously suggests joining him in his bath. Rose, for some reason, goes to the Baron’s room for something and finds the Baron and Alfred in a compromising position. Oh, so Downton lifted that subplot from this show as well? Rose slams the door, utterly shocked.
Prudence and Richard’s friend arrive for dinner just as Rose comes running downstairs, sobbing. Hudson takes their coats and goes to find out what the hell is going on. Alfred finds her first, but when he tries to speak to her she yells at him to get away from her. Hudson whirls in and yells at her and she apologises before bursting into tears again. Hudson asks Alfred if he knows what’s going on, and Alfred’s all, ‘who, me? How would I know? I KNOW NOTHING!’ Hudson sends him to serve the drinks and Rose apologises again, but refuses to explain herself.
Upstairs, everyone’s having champagne and Prudence is wondering why she was invited at all. Glad someone said it. Baron arrives and is whisked away by Elizabeth to amuse the ladies while Richard and his friend discuss their plans as Alfred offers them biscuits or something.
Prudence hopes the Baron will return to London soon, inviting him to stay at her place if the Bellamys won’t have him. Richard calls Prudence to admire some objet d’art and Marjorie goes to chat with Richard’s friend. Rose hands around canapés and tries not to be too super awkward around the Baron. She eyes him, and then asks Hudson for a word. Annoyed, he nevertheless follows her out. She tells him everything, while Alfred serves champagne and sweats. Rose begs Hudson not to make her wait at table that night, because she can’t bear it, looking at Elizabeth, knowing what she knows. Hudson says she needs to keep to her normal routine so Elizabeth doesn’t know what’s happening.
Hudson goes back into the room and tells Alfred to go downstairs and wait in his pantry. Alfred leaves with a hangdog look, and Hudson asks Bellamy for a word. After apparently hearing the whole story, Bellamy tells Hudson the Baron has to remain in the house through dinner. There’s an inspector from Scotland Yard coming afterward and he’ll ring at the back. Alfred listens in from behind a pillar or something. Marjorie comes out and asks what’s going on but Richard refuses to tell her anything.
Back inside, Prudence tells Bellamy’s friend, Sir Adam, that he once offended her years ago and apparently she has nothing better to do than hold a grudge. She stomps away as a message is delivered for the Baron, who tells the others he has to attend to something, before leaving. The dinner gong rings and everyone goes into the dining room. Marjorie asks where Alfred is and hears he’s just indisposed. Everyone waits for the Baron, and finally Elizabeth gets up to find out what’s keeping him. She goes to his room and finds clothes all over the place but no Baron. She rushes back down to the dining room and tells them the man’s gone.
Post-dinner, Richard has told Marjorie about the Baron and Alfred. She can’t believe she actually made the terrible faux pas of having invited a pervert into their home. He reassures her she wasn’t to know. Apparently he’s taken Alfred with him. That’s unexpectedly generous. Marjorie wonders what she’ll tell Elizabeth, because it can’t be the truth. Richard asks her to just leave it to him.
Rose is putting Elizabeth to bed, and apparently Richard told her about the Baron being a spy, and because she’s still pretty immature, Elizabeth thinks it’s rather romantic that she was used by a spy. Rose is all,’ yeah, great, awesome.’ She turns down the lights and leaves Elizabeth to her sleep.