Previously on Downton Abbey: Violet couldn’t let go of the Mary/Matthew romance, even though it’s been done for years and even Mary seems over it now. Downton became a convalescent hospital, run by Thomas, despite its proprietors’ pouting, and Edith revealed her secret awesomeness and actually got credit for it. Mrs. Patmore railroaded Daisy into an engagement to William she doesn’t want at all, shortly before he departed for the front with Matthew. Oh, and Lavinia’s big bad secret was revealed and wasn’t that bad after all.
It’s 1918, according to the chyron, and the place is bustling. Edith catches Mary and asks her if she’ll agree to perform in an upcoming concert for the soldiers. Mary whines, because she’s just soooo busy, you know, but Cora, thankfully, tells her to button it up and help out for a change. Isobel arrives and asks if she can help with the concert, but no, it’s all under control. Isobel asks when Dr. Clarkson’s going to do his rounds and is upset to hear he’s already done them without her. Cora then moves along to discussing the linen books with Mrs. Hughes, despite Isobel’s protestations that she went over them last week. Looking put out, Isobel tries to speak with Cora, but Cora blows her off. And really, as obnoxious as Isobel was last week, can you blame her?
Edith goes around the library, handing the soldiers their mail. She notices Ethel flirting with the Major and sends her off, observed by Mrs. Hughes.
Mary and Violet stroll towards Violet’s house as Mary fills her in on some of the details of Lavinia’s big scandal. And by ‘some of the details’ I mean she just tells Violet that Lavinia and Carlisle were never lovers, which was always a pretty stupid assumption.
Hang on a second here. The last episode took place in 1917. Late spring/summer 1917, if I had to guess, judging from the fact that Branson mentioned the tsar being imprisoned in one of his palaces and the fact that everyone was clearly wearing summer clothes. And the events of that episode pretty clearly only took place over a few weeks, maybe a couple of months. It’s now 1918. Spring 1918, I’m guessing, judging by all the foliage and light jackets people are wearing. So, Mary waited something like eight months to fill her grandmother in on what she and Lavinia talked about? And while we’re wondering what the deal is with this timeline, what the hell is the Major still doing at Downton? What’s he convalescing from? If he’s still there, why isn’t Edith’s friend Captain Smiley? Where’s Evelyn Napier?
Ok, I guess I just have to come to terms with the fact that the timeline’s a mess for this series. It’s not the first time the seams have shown, I’m afraid. Violet, like me, thinks Carlisle’s kind of a dick for lending Lavinia money and then using it to blackmail her years later for absolutely no reason at all, but Mary excuses him by saying he lives in a tough world. Violet asks if she wants to join him there and Mary reels off his virtues, which basically boil down to: he’s really, really rich. And she’s fine with that. He’s even talking about buying an estate once the war’s over, because he’s fairly sure the market will be flooded with them once all the young men who would have inherited have been horribly killed off. Glass half full, right? Violet’s as disgusted by that as I am, remarking that they can dance on the grave of a fallen family. Mary shrugs it off, so Violet asks where this leaves her and Matthew. Oh, for heaven’s sake, do I need to start ranting again? Mary tells her grandmother that that’s all done, and she really needs to move on, like the rest of us.
Out of nowhere, Violet asks if Sybil’s got a crush on anyone. Mary doesn’t think so, but Violet wonders if Sybil just has the hots for someone she doesn’t want to mention. Mary doubts it. Isn’t it convecnient that they just start talking about this now?
Isobel’s down in the kitchen, arguing with Mrs. Patmore about a new dining schedule. Seems someone’s moved the patients’ lunchtime back half an hour, to 1 p.m. Hughes asks Isobel what she’s getting so worked up about, and Isobel snippily mentions the new lunchtime. Hughes politely explains that the earlier lunchtime was making the servants’ lunch unreasonably early, so they just shifted it back half an hour. Isobel argues that that’ll throw off the nurses’ shifts, and Hughes cheerily says that Cora’s altered them too. Oh dear. I sense a throwdown. Hang on, I want to go get some popcorn.
Isobel goes right up to Cora and starts bitching about her timetables being moved around. Cora tries to explain that it was a bit rough on the servants to make them eat lunch at 11 and then starve until they could have their tea at 6, which seems pretty reasonable to me. Ease up, Isobel, it’s a frigging half hour! Isobel goes way below the belt by snipping that she couldn’t accuse Cora of being unprofessional, since she’s never had a profession in her life. Not ok, Isobel. You’re in her house, remember. Apparently she does not remember, but Cora’s happy to remind her. Isobel sulkily says that if she isn’t appreciated enough, she’ll go elsewhere. Cora’s fine with that, which obviously isn’t the response Isobel wants. I think she’s expecting Cora to beg her to stay, but that’s not happening, so off she goes. Frankly, I’m grateful–what happened to her? When did she become so obnoxious and fundamentally unable to control herself or read a room?
Sybil’s taking a break down at the garage so she can have a chat with Branson. She asks him why he’s promised Carson not to stage any more protests and he shortly says he has his reasons. Those reasons being: the plot says so, and they can only justify my not being fired for so long. She then asks if he plans to stay at Downton forever, when there’s freedom fighting to be done. She’s surprised he didn’t hightail it back to Ireland the year before in time for the Easter Rising. He says he would have if it hadn’t been put down in six weeks. Weak sauce, Branson. It didn’t take six weeks to get from Northern England to Ireland in 1917. You had plenty of time to get your ass over there. As they talk, Mary comes walking up the driveway and sees them together. Why, how very convenient, when she and Violet were just talking about Sybil maybe having an inappropriate romance! While she’s still out of earshot, Branson tells Sybil he’ll stick around until she’s ready to run away with him. She tells him that’s ridiculous, but he’s sure she’s in love with him, despite her never having given him any encouragement whatsoever. Mary chooses this moment to bust in and ask for him to take her to Ripon later. She asks Sybil if there’s anything she wants and Sybil, a bit significantly, says there’s nothing that can be found in Ripon. Well, then.
Like a child, Isobel’s gone complaining to Dr. Clarkson, who reminds her that Downton is Cora’s house. Isobel points out that that doesn’t mean Cora’s in any way medically qualified. I’m not sure she needs to be, Isobel. She’s not doing surgery, she’s deciding when lunch is served. Clarkson tells Isobel that convalescent homes don’t generally require much in the way of medical knowledge. So, Isobel throws a bit of a hissy fit and threatens to go to France and work with a cousin in the Wounded and Missing Inquiry Department. She’s become really tiresome, if you ask me. I feel like she’s being kind of a drama queen here, because she clearly wants everyone to beg her to stay and tell her how wonderfully awesome she is, but to be frank, they don’t really need her in Downton. Clarkson tells her she’ll be missed. “By you, maybe,” she says. “At least, I hope so.” Oh, please, get over yourself.
Mary and Edith are practicing their song for the concert in the library, to the delight of the soldiers. Robert comes in and Mary joins him, complaining about the concert, and having to sing, and bitch, bitch, bitch, that’s almost all she does. At this point, I honestly don’t think this series would lose a thing if she was written off of it. She’s so awful and tiresome. Send her to France with Isobel. Robert tells her he’s had a letter from Carlisle, telling him that he proposed to Mary the last time he was there. He asks Mary if she’s made a decision, and she says she has, though she hasn’t told Carlisle that. Woah, hold up a second. Carlisle proposed to her in spring 1917. She’s been stringing him along for a year now? And he’s only now getting around to writing Robert a letter? Come on! It was hard enough to believe that Matthew would wait around for an answer for a couple of months, but a year? No way. This timeline’s a total mess.
Robert doesn’t seem all that excited that Mary’s going to marry Carlisle, but she reminds him that he wasn’t exactly madly in love when he married Cora. Robert tells her that he and Cora have been very happy together and Mary says she and Carlisle might be happy together too. Honestly, I really do think she and Carlisle would make a good pair. Robert asks where Matthew fits into all this, and I start screaming in frustration. “Not you too,” says Mary, clearly hearing me. She tells him Matthew’s in love with Lavinia and that’s that. Robert urges her to write to Matthew and tell him about her impending engagement.
Isobel’s bags are being loaded onto the car as she fires off some last-minute instructions for Molesley and Mrs. Bird, the cook/housekeeper. Nice to see her again. They watch her go and wonder what they should do next.
Mary joins Sybil in her room as she’s getting ready for dinner and immediately asks her what she was chatting with Branson about. Sybil tells her it was nothing, but Mary pushes, asking what she was doing there, then. Sybil volleys back by asking Mary why she was there and Mary says she was ordering the car, which is the only reason one would deign to speak with a chauffeur. Sybil tells her she actually considers Branson a person, and therefore, she can talk to him about things other than ‘take me from point A to point B.’ Then she starts to get defensive, asking if she should just go out and see if Carlisle has a younger, richer brother she can hook up with. Mary seems bewildered to have her sister pissed at her for prying and acting like a snob and insists she’s on Sybil’s side. In what way?
Mary’s letter has reached Matthew at the front, and he reads it just before taking William out for a patrol. They talk about their impending leave as they make their way through the trenches.
Thomas and O’Brien discuss Bates’s new job at the nearby pub as Daisy comes out into the courtyard. Seems some buddy of Thomas’s told him about it. O’Brien figures Anna will be trying to drag him back, and Thomas comments that he’s surprised Bates hasn’t turned up on his own, now Robert’s been valet-less since “the looney” left. Dick! O’Brien tells him not to talk that way about Lang, and Thomas chuckles that she runs hot and cold.
Crawley House. Molesley joins Mrs. Bird in the kitchen and they talk about how incredibly bored they are, now there’s nobody to care for and they’ve cleaned everything half a dozen times. As they’re chatting, a dirty young man with a limp and a cane comes to the door and apologizes for barging in, explaining the door was open. Bird asks what he wants and he hesitantly asks if they have any spare food. She scoffs at the idea and the poor man goes to leave, but Molesley calls him back, asking if he’s from the area. The man explains he used to work on one of the farms nearby, but he can’t anymore. Molesley asks if he was wounded in the war, and the man quickly tells him not to pity him, because he’s one of the lucky ones. Man, that’s a seriously optimistic view to take, seeing as how he can’t work anymore. Bird goes to find him something to eat and Molesley invites him to sit.
Matthew and William are on their patrol, somewhere behind German lines. I guess they see what they need to, because they head back, but then somehow get caught in the middle of the Germans, who open fire on them as they flee through the woods.
Molesley heads up to Downton, where he tracks down Carson and asks if he can help out with the valeting for Robert, since Carson has so much on his plate at the moment and Molesley has absolutely nothing to do. Carson’s happy to have the help.
Belowstairs, Daisy tells Mrs. Hughes that William’s late for his leave, which worries her just a bit. Hughes tells her it could be due to any number of reasons and they shouldn’t assume the worst, because during chaotic times people tend to vanish and then reappear in the strangest places. “Like Mr. Bates in that pub?” Daisy says innocently. This, of course, is the first time Hughes has heard of that. She takes Daisy to Mr. Carson, who can’t believe a trained valet would be working in a public house. Poor Daisy says she just thought it was general knowledge and suggests Carson ask Thomas for the details. Carson’s ready to do so.
Carson ropes in Robert as well, and they interrogate Thomas together. He, of course, is totally blasé, saying he thought Bates had left Robert’s employment and that was that.
Later that night, Patmore shoos Daisy out of the servants’ hall and up to bed. As Daisy goes to leave, Thomas steps in front of her to give her crap about telling Hughes and Carson about his “private letter.” If it was so private, Thomas, maybe you shouldn’t have been discussing it in the middle of the courtyard as Daisy very obviously walked past you. Jerk. He just wants to cause trouble. Is he ever going to develop into anything more than a paper-flat villain who does bad things just because he’s a bad guy? Because that’s getting dull. Daisy tells him she wasn’t aware it was private and says she’s sorry if it was wrong before slipping past him. Thomas plops down next to O’Brien, who asks what Robert wants, for Bates to have his job back? Thomas points out that if Bates wanted his job back he’d have written. Ethel wonders why he’d want his job back, when he’s free from all the servitude and bowing and scraping. Oh, for heaven’s sake, Ethel, if you want to escape service than do it. Stop whining about how much you hate it and do something about it. Pull a Gwen and take a typing correspondence course or something. Ethel says she’s ready for a new adventure, and O’Brien snarks that she should be careful what she wishes for. I’ll say.
Sybil wanders the grounds, deep in thought, and remembers Branson telling her he’ll hang around until she runs away with him. See, Branson, I think that might be your problem. This holding pattern of yours isn’t attracting her because it’s not proving that you’re going to make something of yourself. Go out, make your mark, and then come back and try to win her over.
Anna joins Robert in the library so he can tell her about Bates. Of course, she knows all about Bates’s new job. In fact, she knows more than Robert does, because he wasn’t even aware of the name of the pub. He confirms that she’s seen him and asks if he’s well. She tells him that he hasn’t been back because he has some personal matters to settle, and he was also worried about having an embarrassing sit-down with Robert, seeing as how they didn’t part on the best of terms.
Patmore and Daisy walk through the village, needing an escape from the kitchen for a while. They notice Mrs. Bird waving a line of scraggly veterans into Crawley House and head that way, asking Mrs. Bird what she’s up to. She invites them in and shows them that she’s set up a sort of soup kitchen. Patmore immediately removes her gloves and she and Daisy muck in. As they ladle up soup and hand out bread, Bird fills her in on the first visitor and how this grew from there. She’s not sure she’s going to be able to keep it up, though. Patmore asks her how often she does it and learns it’s once a week. Patmore says they’ll figure out a way to make it work.
As she goes to lay the fire, Daisy runs into Edith and screws up her courage to ask her a favor: Could she make inquiries about William and Matthew? Edith promises to see what she can find out.
She goes to Robert, who wonders if they might have changed their plans. Edith allows that Matthew might have decided to stay in France for his leave, to meet up with Isobel, but Robert realizes that wouldn’t explain William’s absence. He tells her he’ll make inquiries.
In the kitchen, a servant comes in with some chickens and Patmore tells her to give it to Daisy to put in the special storage area. O’Brien, of course, overhears that, so I’m sure we’ll see her meddling soon enough.
The family’s at dinner, discussing some future travel plans. Robert tells Cora he’ll need the car the next day, because he wants to go to this pub and find Bates. Violet can’t imagine why he’d do that, can’t someone else go? Robert tells her he wants to go himself. Violet next turns to Sybil, asking her what she’s been up to. Working, Sybil tells her. Violet goes on to warn her against making “inappropriate” wartime friendships that’ll be awkward once hostilities have ceased. “Inappropriate for whom?” Sybil snaps. Violet tells her to chill out, she’s just sharing a bit of advice. Thankfully, Cora interrupts by asking Robert why he wants to see Bates. Robert wants to mend fences after having been so unreasonably angry with him when he left. Carson comes in and tells Robert there’s a phone call for him, and he goes to answer it. As he leaves, the family can hear some of the soldiers cheering after a ping pong game or something. Violet sighs that it’s like living in a second-rate hotel where more guests keep arriving and nobody ever leaves. So, Downton’s the Hotel California, then?
The family streams past Robert as he’s hanging up the phone. Edith, bringing up the rear, asks him what’s up and he tells her that Matthew and William are missing. He plays it down, saying this happens sometimes and then the men turn up just fine in a field hospital somewhere. He asks her not to say anything to anyone. She asks about Isobel and Robert says he doesn’t know how to contact her. Didn’t she say she was joining a fairly specific office over in France? Whatever. They go join the rest of the family.
O’Brien’s tattling about Patmore’s “special storage area” to Hughes, who blows it off and bids O’Brien good night. Molesley emerges from somewhere, having finished some mending. O’Brien tells him there’s no reason he can’t full-on valet for Robert. Molesley’s happy to do so, and Hughes says he’d better be careful, because it’ll get so they can’t do without him. Hughes, don’t set him up for a fall. On his way out, he mentions he saw one of the officers heading up the stairs to the maids’ rooms, but he’s sure there’s a perfectly reasonable explanation. Yes, there is, and that explanation is: sex.
Hughes hightails it upstairs and finds Anna asleep in her room, alone. There’s giggling and noise from a room down the hall, and she busts open the door to find the Major and Ethel in flagrante. Hughes sends the Major away, then fires Ethel on the spot, telling her to hit the road before breakfast. “I didn’t think I–” Ethel starts to say. “No, and that’s the problem: you never do,” Hughes says shortly. Amen. I won’t miss Ethel at all.
Molesley and Bird are having some tea together and discussing what Molesley will do if they ask him to become Robert’s valet full time. He’s not sure, though he admits it would be a big step up for him. She supports his possible job change. These two have a nice, friendly rapport.
Back up at the house, Ethel’s crying and packing while Anna tries to get some answers as to why she was sacked. Anna, you’re not an idiot. You’ve seen Ethel ogling the officers. Surely you can put two and two together there. She offers to talk to Hughes on Ethel’s behalf, but Ethel says it won’t do any good.
Even though it’s pretty damn early, if Ethel hasn’t left yet, Robert’s still made the trek over to the pub where Bates works. He lets himself in, and he and Bates stare at each other for a second.
Anna goes to Hughes after all, and she still doesn’t know why Ethel was given her walking papers. Hughes tells her to let it go, then asks about Bates being back in the county. She asks why Anna didn’t mention anything to her and Anna says it wasn’t her secret to spill.
At the pub, Bates and Robert are sitting down and having a talk. Robert asks about the threats Vera made and Bates tells him not to worry about it, because Bates is going to pay her off. Robert asks for details of the stories but Bates won’t say.
The servants are finishing up their breakfast as Daisy putters around. Hughes comes in and tells Daisy not to worry about William, because they don’t have any info right now and they shouldn’t assume the worst, because there could be plenty of reasons why he never returned from his patrol. “Yes, and one of them is that they’re dead,” says O’Brien. Thank you for that, O’Brien. She catches sight of Daisy’s face and backpedals a bit, saying she really hopes he and Matthew are ok, but it’s unrealistic not to prepare oneself for the worst. Hughes turns and catches Anna in the hallway, asking if she thinks Bates might end up coming back to Downton. Daisy says she hopes so, because she always thought Bates was a rather romantic figure.
Back at the pub, Robert’s telling Bates about Matthew being missing and how he’s not sure he could bear that, after having also lost Patrick. Wow, way to make it all about you, Robert. He asks Bates to come back and help him out during this difficult time, and Bates readily accepts. Robert apologizes for having abused Bates when he left and Bates, of course, accepts the apology as well.
Patmore and Daisy, laden with heavy baskets, make their way to Crawley House, where they’re greeted at the gate by Bird. None of them realize that O’Brien’s watching them carefully from across the road.
Mary tracks Sybil down to a room where she’s organizing bandages or something. Mary swears she didn’t say anything to their grandmother, that it was just a coincidence she happened to bring up inappropriate relationships when she did. Coincidence and a rather clunky script. Sybil doesn’t believe her. Sybil snaps that she doesn’t deserve to be told off, since she hasn’t done anything, but she lets spill that Branson told her he loved her. She says she hasn’t encouraged him, and she’s not even sure she likes him that way. Mary promises not to say anything, just so long as Sybil doesn’t do anything foolish.
The return of Bates. Hughes is the first person to greet him as soon as he steps into the servants’ area, followed quickly by Anna, who beams when she sees him. In the servants’ hall, Carson fills him in on some of the changes. Bates notes that Thomas has returned as well, and Thomas and O’Brien waste no time explaining that Thomas is there as part of the Army Medical Corps. “Yet another reason to pray for peace,” says Bates. Heh. Molesley runs in, apologizing for being late, only to be told that Bates is back for good. Molesley’s clearly disappointed, but he covers as well as he can. The dressing gong is rung and Daisy scurries off to get dinner together. Thomas tells her to get him some more tea first, rudely ordering her to be quick about it. Asshat. Just outside the servants’ hall, O’Brien warns Bates to watch himself, because Thomas is in charge and it wouldn’t do for him to get on his bad side, as if Bates has any way of getting on Thomas’s good side. Oddly, I don’t detect any malice in what she’s saying—I think she’s genuinely trying to help Bates out here. Maybe she is softening up a bit.
O’Brien is, as usual, delivering inaccurate information to Cora. This time, she’s telling her that Patmore and Daisy are selling food to Bird, which even Cora thinks is pretty stupid sounding. Cora’s curious about this and tells O’Brien to take her along the next time she goes down to the village to spy.
Sybil’s down in the garage to chat with Branson and tell him that Bates is back. She admits that she’s told Mary what he said to her, and Branson immediately figures he’s going to be fired. Oh, Branson, nobody ever gets fired from this house. Unless they show emotion. That’s a no-no. Sybil reassures him Mary won’t give them away. Branson immediately grasps at that really feeble straw, noting that’s the first time Sybil’s spoken about them as an “us.” He figures that she would have told them months ago about what he said, if she wasn’t in love with him. She tells him she didn’t say anything because she didn’t want him to be fired, but what he’s asking her is pretty outrageous. She’d have to give up her whole lifestyle, and more importantly, her family and friends, and she’s not really willing to do that. I don’t blame her. She’s also smart enough to realize his family probably wouldn’t accept her with open arms any more than hers would accept him. Plus, there’s the matter of her work. And here, Branson makes a pretty shocking dick move by insulting what she’s doing, saying she just brings drinks to a bunch of randy officers. I’m sorry, but excuse me? Were you not there when she was helping out in the hospital while you stood around with a frigging picnic basket? Did she not help turn Downton into a convalescent hospital? Don’t insult what she’s doing, Branson, at least she’s doing something. What’re you doing? Not a damn thing. Driving rich people around and complaining about not being able to create a ruckus. What happened to him? He’s got all the appeal of a wet dishrag these days.
Bates and Anna are stealing some time together in the courtyard, where he tells her he’s written to Vera, telling her she doesn’t stand a chance and offering to be generous if she cooperates with him. He asks Anna to be patient a little while longer, then pulls her close to keep her warm. She asks him not to go away again and he reassures her she’s stuck with him now. Awww!
Edith intercepts Mary upstairs and hesitantly tells her about Matthew being missing. She mentions that Robert thought she should keep it secret, but she thought Mary should know. She’s definitely not trying to create drama here, she’s really doing this because she thinks it’s best for Mary. It’s nice to see that the two of them seem to have buried the hatchet. Mary moves past her and takes refuge in a side hall to have a brief, quiet freakout. Anna finds her and immediately realizes someone’s told her about Matthew. Mary tearfully says she wishes Edith had told her in the morning, because she could have faced it better with one more night’s sleep.
Down at Crawley House, Patmore, Daisy, Molesley, and Bird buzz around, getting ready for the veterans. They’ve got quite an operation going. In come Cora and O’Brien, and everyone freezes, ready for the axe to fall. Cora asks what’s up, realizing this is not a commercial venture, as O’Brien assumed. Patmore promises she’ll be back at Downton in time to put lunch out. Cora’s not worried about that; she wants to know if these men are being fed from the Downton kitchens. Daisy pipes up that they only use food the army sends along, and Patmore backs her up, adding that all the men they feed have served their country. Cora tells them that, in future, she wants them to use food the Crawley family pays for, because she doesn’t want the army accusing them of mismanagement. “You mean, you’re going to let them get away with it?” O’Brien asks, astonished. Get away with what? Feeding starving veterans? Geez, lady, you have so much compassion for one guy, but not any of the others? What’s your deal? Why do you want to cause problems all the time? Cora tells her that she’s going to pitch in, and so is O’Brien. Off comes her coat and soon she’s dishing up soup alongside the others. Nice to see her starting to help out somewhere.
Up at the house, Clarkson pulls Thomas aside and tells him he’s heard Thomas is being kind of a douche to the staff members, particularly Daisy. He tells Thomas to lay off and stop being a jerk, then reports to Hughes that he’s done as she asked. Hughes sighs that Thomas is becoming more imperious than Mary, and that’s saying something. Heh. I love that at least one staff member is under no illusions as far as Mary’s concerned.
O’Brien figures Bates was the one who tattled on Thomas, but she thinks he’s more vulnerable than he was the last time he was around, since they know more about him.
Upstairs, Robert’s told Cora about Matthew being missing. He says he’s hoping for the best, but they may need to prepare themselves for bad news. Cora asks if he’s said anything to Mary, and Mary herself, who was just passing the room, pops in to say that Edith spilled the beans. Robert thinks it’s because Edith couldn’t resist getting under her sister’s skin, but Mary sticks up for her sister, saying she’s pretty sure Edith didn’t want to hurt her. Cora quietly says they need to go down for the concert, and Mary wants to back out, but Robert won’t let her, because the men care about the concert and they need to keep their heads up, no matter what happens. In other words: Stiffen up that upper lip, young lady!
In the library, the Major performs some magic tricks for the Crawleys, servants, and the other soldiers. Violet quietly asks Robert what the news is on Matthew, and when he doesn’t tell her that Matthew’s definitely dead, she shrugs it off and says she won’t be anxious, then. The Major finishes up and Edith calls up Mary, who tells everyone that it’s pretty rare for the two sisters to pull together in a double act. “Well, now I’ve seen everything,” says Violet. Hee! With Edith accompanying, Mary starts to sing ‘If You Were the Only Boy in the World,’ and as she hits the chorus, the audience chimes in, and then Matthew wanders into the room, accompanied by William. Oddly, even though he’s behind the whole audience and only Mary sees him at first, everyone stops singing, and Edith stops playing. After a beat, everybody turns around, and Mary closes her eyes, breathing “thank God!” as Robert hurries over to shake Matthew’s hand and welcome him home. William catches Daisy’s eye and grins. Matthew urges everyone to keep singing and sets them off again as he joins Mary up front. They finish the song and everyone applauds. Mary’s so happy her face is shining, and for the first time ever I actually buy this relationship between her and Matthew that everyone’s been making such a big deal about for years now.
After the concert, Matthew explains that he and William got trapped behind German lines for three days before they managed to slip away and make it to an aid station. Because they weren’t in serious danger (from wounds, I guess), nobody thought to notify their unit that they were safe. When they have a spare moment together, Mary asks Matthew how he plans to spend the rest of his leave. Predictably, he hopes to go see Lavinia. He mentions that he got her letter about Carlisle and says he’s sure they’ll be friends, as long as he treats Mary well. And if he doesn’t, he’ll have Matthew to answer to. Well, how brotherly of him.
Bates catches Anna on her way down to the kitchen and marvels at how much happiness resulted from one simple concert. “I think I was living in such a fog of misery I forgot what happiness was until I was with you again,” he says. I love these two, but aren’t they laying it on a bit thick? Thomas and O’Brien look on and sneer at them. O’Brien’s ready to plot to make them miserable, but Thomas says he doesn’t really care about them anymore. He hates Bates because he’s “a patronizing bastard who sneaks behind people’s backs.” Pot, Kettle, have you met? O’Brien comments that she clearly holds a grudge longer than Thomas. Why? WHY? Why do you hate this man so much, O’Brien? He’s never done anything to you. The only one of you who could, within reason, hold a grudge is Thomas, because Bates stole his job, but even he doesn’t care anymore. This woman really is insane, isn’t she?
Patmore greets William like a long-lost son, saying she was sure he’d be ok. He asks Daisy if she felt the same and Daisy allows that she’s glad he’s all right. He tells her she’s the one thing that keeps him going, like she needed that particular reminder.
Hughes heads downstairs, where she finds none other than Ethel lurking, waiting for her. Ethel’s not looking so great; she’s clearly had it rough since she left Downton. Hughes demands to know what she’s doing there and Ethel desperately says she knows she shouldn’t have come, but she needs help. Hughes guesses this is about the Major and asks Ethel how long the affair had been going on. Ethel says it was long enough to get her knocked up. Yes, I think we all saw that one coming.