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Downton Abbey

Posts related to the ITV/PBS Masterpiece Classic drama

Downton Recaps: Episode Four, Season Two

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Tasha’s recapping solo again this week (we’ll soon see Lynn again!), so without further ado, her thoughts on last night’s episode.


For once I’m glad this installment of Downton Abbey is only an hour, because I don’t think I could handle a 2-hour one this week. Anyway, I wonder what Thomas and O’Brien are going to be up to.

Going over the top © Downton Online

We’re in France! Vive la France! Shouldn’t the Americans be riding in to save the day soon? The guns blaze and there are explosions and Mary suddenly feels terribly cold. Daisy also felt a chill. That’s not a good sign! Sure enough, Matthew is injured. The expression on Lord Grantham’s face indicates that it’s not a scratch, either. William is injured too, apparently, and Lady Violet wants him to be taken care of at Downton Hospital, but the doctor/military guy won’t let her. Bureaucratic BS! But Thomas isn’t going to stand for that crap! He’s going to Do Something (but probably not).

Anna shares the news of the injuries with Bates. I’ve never seen a guy look so cute in an apron. They go to a church to pray about this and talk about their wedding. THEY ARE SO CUTE TOGETHER.

Daisy’s ashamed she deceived William about her feelings. She should be. Vampy Vera chooses that moment to slither into the Abbey kitchens. She calls Anna a floozy! And she’s going to tell the WORLD about Lady Mary’s indiscretions because she can’t stand seeing Bates happy. Naturally, Thomas and O’Brien are the ones who called her in, but now O’Brien realizes Bates was protecting the Granthams and she’s fully annoyed.

Meanwhile, in the haven for sanity that’s Branson’s garage (great name for a bar, btw), Sybil has decided she needs to be chauffeured somewhere. Branson’s conversational gambit is, “Hey, isn’t Mary in love with Matthew?” That’s not well-played, is it? Yeah, that’s right, Branson, rich people have feelings too!

Violet and Edith discuss William's treatment with Dr. Clarkson © Downton Online
Lady Violet and Edith go to visit William. The prognosis is death. 🙁 Since he’s going to die anyway, Lady Violet asks if they can take him back to Downton. William’s father is there as well and doesn’t seem to have heard about the prognosis.

At Downton, Matthew has arrived. The doc warns Mary that his condition will be “very distressing.” Again, not a good sign! He looks like a zombie extra Shaun of the Dead. His back looks like ground meat, and it turns out his spine is damaged. Matthew may never walk again, nor even do the horizontal dance. THE HORROR! Well, at least he’s not dying upstairs like William is.

Meanwhile, William gets his own room. POOR WILLIAM. I knew he was going to kick the bucket. Don’t they have like inhalers or something in this time period? Mrs. Pattmore continues to bully Daisy into pretending feelings for William. How long is this going to go on for? I’m going to guess until they’re married. Just listen to Mrs. Pattmore, Daisy, she’s smarter than you are.

Lavinia’s here. Is she still around? Matthew greets her with, “My darling.” Excuse me while I go puke.

Mrs. Hughes is helping out Ethel, because she’s nice like that. The Major is back in town and Ethel’s all, “Reunion! I bet he wants to see the baby!” OMG, this woman’s an idiot. Stupidly, Mrs. Hughes agrees to encourage this by passing along Ethel’s messages to the Major, but–shockingly!–he’s a dick. Wah-wah.

Mary and Matthew

Back at Downton Hospital, Matthew has the grace to ask about William, and his own legs, which he cannot move. He bullies Mary into breaking the news that he won’t walk again. Hey, you know what situations like this call for? Tea!

Lady Mary has decided to tell Sir Richard about the Turkish Diplomat Incident to foil Vera. He’s really a bastard about the whole thing. His lips say, “blah blah blah,” but his dancing eyes say, “I’ll enjoy holding this over your head for THE REST OF YOUR LIFE, you tramp. Thanks!”

New maid looks like a psycho.

Matthew breaks the news to Lavinia that they can’t be married–not properly. IF YOU GET MY MEANING. Did he just want to marry her so he could get under her skirts? Maybe they will get married and then she’ll take a lover and become the inspiration for Lady Chatterly’s Lover.

Paradoxically, now Sybil has decided to share gossip with Branson, but he’s been reading the Edwardian equivalent of MSNBC and is distracted by the fact that the Tsar and his family have been executed. I thought that was a secret execution? And why does Sybil always look as if her shirts are about to fall off her shoulders? Especially when she’s around Branson, haha. Methinks he’s making inroads with that one. Or not. There’s A Moment, she runs away.

Vampy Vera shows up at Sir Richard’s office to spill the beans on Mary’s virginity. Maybe she and Sir Richard should get together! They have very similar personalities.

Now Mrs. Hughes is bullying Daisy to marrying Will, as well. Poor poor William knows he’s dying, and he knows that if Daisy marries him she’ll get his pension. ZOMG, this episode is AWFUL, I can’t STAND it. Then even Lady Violet gets in on the act and bullies the pastor into marrying them. And whoa, no one does bullying like she does! “May I remind you your living is Lord Grantham’s gift?” *smile*

Lavinia is staying at Downton. There’s something so wrong about that. She tells Mary that Matthew can never have the sexytimes again. How convenient that you told that to Mary, your obvious rival, Lavinia!

Meanwhile, Sir Richard hasn’t wasted time and posted an announcement of their engagement. Uhg, can’t Vampy Vera kill him off or something? And is it just me or is Mary visibly aging during the course of this episode? Well, you may have foiled Vera this time, but she’ll be back! And don’t even think it’s over for Bates! Mwahahahaha. *exists stage left in a swirl of evil smoke*

Daisy and William's wedding © Downton Online

Daisy and Will’s wedding! This scene is going to make me cry, I just know it. EVEN LADY VIOLET IS CRYING!!!! Worst. Episode. Ever. At least the bed looks nice. Daisy looks very pretty, as well.

Mary and Matthew are being spared all this drama in favor of their own problems. He’s expounding on why he can’t possibly marry Lavinia–or ANY woman–because of the lack of the sexytimes. “And if they should just want to be with you? On any terms?” Mary says, not talking about herself at all. But Matthew is in too much of a shame spiral to notice how she’s clearly not referring to herself. “I turned you down, now look at me… Impotent, crippled, and stinking of sick. What a reversal!” Matthew, are you implying Mary was puke-worthy when you broke off your engagement? Oh, good, mummy’s here to put up with your whining from now on.

Lady Mary gives Bates the heads up that their plan to foil Vampy Vera has worked. Everything in Bates’ and Anna’s garden is rosey now, but not in Mary’s. Can’t everyone’s garden be rosey?

William’s dead. I feel like I’ve spent an hour being punched in the gut. Feel free to cheer the eff up next week, Downton, for realz.

Photos courtesy of Downton Online; commentary is all Tasha (follow her on Twitter)

Downton Recaps: Episode Three, Season Two

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Lynn can’t be with us today, but Tasha is still here, and her recaps are always funny and informative!

Tonight was very stressful because the Giants’ game went into overtime, which means my mom INSISTED on watching American Idol even though Downton was on AT THE SAME TIME. As if American Idol can possibly compete against Downton. Whatevs. It’s so annoying when football interferes with anything, but most especially Downton Abbey. Grr. In other news, I hope Branson and Sybil get together in this ep. I confess I have a weakness for chauffeur/rich girl plotlines.

It’s 1918. Time moves fast in the Downton Abbey world! The Abbey’s still a hospital and Mary hates keeping people’s spirits up, totally unsurprisingly. She can barely keep her own spirits up, how can she be expected to give what little reserves of cheerfulness and hope she has out to others? Meanwhile, Lady Grantham has taken control of Downton by being passive-aggressive, ignoring Mrs. Crawley whenever she’s in the room and changing her timetable when she’s not around. Mwahahahaha.

Cora ignoring Isobel ©Downton Online
Cora ignoring Isobel ©Downton Online

“It would be too much to accuse you of being unprofessional, since you have never had a profession in your life,” Mrs. Crawley tells her. Oh snap! Now we finally know where Matthew got that self-righteous streak from. Mrs. Crawley threatens to leave–several times–and Lady Grantham tells her not to let the door hit her in the arse on the way out. Fine then! She’s joining the Red Cross! And no one appreciates her. *sadface*

Lady Violet suspects Sybil’s in love with someone inappropriate. She has the instincts of a bloodhound, I swear to god. The Home Office should employ her as a spy. Are her and my grandmother related?

Violet questioning Mary ©Downton Online
Violet questioning Mary ©Downton Online

In point of fact, Branson has apparently gotten over his moodiness and is back in love with Sybil despite their difference in stations. “I’ll stay at Downton until you want to run away with me… You’re in love with me, you’re just too scared to admit it,” he declares. Branson gets all the best lines.

Sybil and Branson  ©Downton Online
Sybil and Branson ©Downton Online

Sir Richard has written to Lord Grantham asking for Mary’s hand in marriage, despite the fact that he’s been refused. What is with the passive aggressive asshole behavior in this episode? Mary thinks she should marry him, because he wants to buy her a proper house. Well la di da, Mary! I think you missed a lesson in the How To Live class, girl. But at least her dress is very nice! Just bordering on flapperish. She’s filling Matthew in on all the family gossip via post. Matthew is of course in France, with William! I forgot William was there. He talks a lot.

Some things never change, namely O’Brien and Thomas plotting. Thomas can’t help but notice Lord Grantham has no valet. But he’s not a footman anymore, is he, so he can’t fill the void… so to speak. Too bad!

Thomas and O'Brien plotting...as usual ©Downton Online
Thomas and O'Brien plotting...as usual ©Downton Online

Meanwhile, the Crawley’s servants are depressed, since they no longer have anyone to serve. Moseley’s so bored he’s volunteering at Downton. A beggar comes around the Crawley house asking for food. He’s quite cute for a beggar. This gives Mrs. Bird the idea to start a soup kitchen for soldiers, since she’s so bored.

France! Matthew’s on patrol with William. They’re getting shot at! My mom is upset Matthew’s wearing a rain coat, I don’t know why. They disappear! Or at least William’s disappeared, which is odd. Lord Grantham FINALLY gets a phone call that William and Matthew are MIA. Cheerful as always, O’Brien reminds the staff that this means they might be dead. THANKS.

Rumor has it Mr. Bates is working in a public house. Not that kind of public house, get your mind out of the gutter. Thomas had it in a letter, I don’t know why, and Daisy read it and then she told Mr. Carson, who told Lord Grantham. Does Anna know?!? Grantham is slightly disappointed that she does, but on the plus side this means she can pass along more gossip.

In Downton’s kitchen, O’Brien wants to borrow bacon. Why, does she want to perform voodoo with it? She happens to hear about Mrs. Patmore’s “special storage area,” which is where she and Daisy are keeping extra food for Mrs. Bird’s soup kitchen. O’Brien smells a rat, and blabs about it to the housekeeper, who doesn’t care. She’ll find someone who does care if it’s the last thing she does!!!

The hungry veteran ©Downton Online
The hungry veteran ©Downton Online

While O’Brien’s plotting, the gentry are dining. Lady Violet is still worrying over Sybil’s upper-class purity and starts off a most awkward dinner conversation gambit with, “So, Sybil, what are you up to, dear?” Sybil: “I’m not up to anything!” Doesn’t Lady Violet know one of the sure ways to get a young woman to do something is to warn her again it? Or him, rather.

Ethel (the maid) is also doing someone she shouldn’t do: the Major! The housekeeper catches them in flagrante delicto in Ethel’s room! What. An idiot. They could at least have gone at it outside the house. Ethel’s let go without a reference and hopefully not preggers.

Ethel and Major Bryant ©Downton Online
Ethel and Major Bryant ©Downton Online

Lord Grantham has traveled to Yorkshire to beg for Mr. Bates’ return. It went something like this: “Mr. Bates, this show isn’t half as interesting without you! We need your mysterious yet noble presence. You also need to shave.” Actually, what happens is he tells Bates Matthew and William are missing. Mr. Bates to the rescue! He will use his mysterious powers and war connections to bring honor back to the earldom, and return Matthew to Downton. *angels singing*

Back at Downton, after the awkward dinner, Mary feels the need to console Sybil that Granny’s just being Granny and she shouldn’t be so upset about it, which leads to Sybil finally confessing to Mary that there IS something between her and Branson. But they haven’t kissed or anything! Mary is HORRIFIED. “What did you think, you’d marry the chauffeur and we’d all come to tea?” What a bitch she is sometimes. Hey, she sounds exactly her aunt. Mary makes Sybil promise not to do anything stupid, not that she has any room to talk. *coughTurkishdiplomatcough* I’m disappointed that Sybil neglected her duty as a younger sibling to point out the irony of this.

Mr. Bates is back to save us all from WWI. I’m sure he will be the key to ending hostilities, and finding Matthew. In the meantime he’s doing a fine job of sneering at Thomas. Everyone is happy to see Bates except Mr. Moseley, who was hoping to be the next valet to the earl; and O’Brien, who takes a moment to threaten Bates with the ominous warning that Thomas is in charge. WHAT IS HER PROBLEM?

Back to the days of Sybil and Branson’s lives… Branson looks very handsome in his chauffeur’s uniform when Sybil comes by to tell him she told Mary about them, even though there IS no “them.” How many times does she have to say that?! He insults her job, which loses him some points, but he gets them back by saying it just comes down to whether or not Sybil loves him. He’s a dreamer, our Branson. I’m actually not sure she’s that into you, dude; this could end really badly. Anna and Bates are also having a romantic interlude. L’amour!

Lady Grantham finds out about Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Patmore’s soup kitchen. From O’Brien, of course. O’Brien and Her Ladyship are roped into service.

Mrs. Hughes gets Thomas’ boss to give him a dressing-down for rudeness. But O’Brien thinks it was Bates, and she’s plotting something to get rid of him. Again, one has to wonder what her problem is. Does she think Lang will be re-employed if Bates goes? Not likely.

Finally everyone knows about Matthew being MIA. Edith told Mary and Lord Grantham told Lady Grantham. Mary’s having a little spaz, but Lord Grantham gives them the “Keep Calm and Carry On” speech, and they all go down for a concert. Mary and Edith are performing! Is Mary going to cry while singing a touching a song? “If you were the only girl in the world, and I were the only boy…” Sing along!

Mary is shocked ©Downton Online
Mary is shocked ©Downton Online

WAIT! IT’S MATTHEW! HE’S ALIVE! Oh, we never knew how much we liked you until we thought you were dead, Matthew. And now he’s singing too! This is like Downton Abbey: The Musical! Matthew can actually sing, that’s amazing. I want a musical episode NOW, Julian Fellowes!!!! I think my mom’s actually starting to get into this show; she wandered in to find out why they were singing.

Matthew is safe ©Downton Online
Matthew is safe ©Downton Online

Afterward, Matthew explains his disappearance was just stupid army bureaucracy, more or less. He confesses to Mary that war is starting to seem more real to him than Downton, which is not a good sign. Then they exchange uncomfortably intense “You take care of yourself,” wishes and part. Yes. YOU TAKE OF YOURSELF, OKAY???? *STARE*

Meanwhile, Anna and Bates are making zee plans, and Thomas and O’Brien are making zee plans to ruin their plans, whatever they happen to be. Thomas and O’Brien are like nega-Anna and Bates.

Ethel has returned begging for forgiveness. She is pregnant. Naturally! Mrs. Hughes better get her gun so she can force the Major to marry her.

Anna and Bates ©Downton Online
Anna and Bates ©Downton Online

Annnnd that’s the end. That was a pretty good episode. It was all about zee lurrve, which naturally I enjoy; and Bates came back, even though he wasn’t in the show that much. The scene with Dan Stevens and Michelle Dockery (Matthew and Mary) singing together was priceless. I hope that gets posted on YouTube. Stay tuned for next week when Matthew gets blown up, Vampy Vera returns to ruin Mary’s reputation, and Bates ends the war. Keep calm and carry on!

Downton Recaps: Episode Two, Season Two

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And we’re back once again with our Monday recaps of Downton Abbey. This was mostly a filler episode, in my opinion, as it set up the major dramas for the rest of the season (Downton as a convalescent hospital, Cora vs Isobel, Violet and Rosamund urging Mary to scheme against Lavinia to win Matthew, the evilness of Mrs. Bates, Ethel & Major Bryant, etc)–but it was still sumptuous and entertaining. Tasha and Lynn have returned to fill you in on the doings of Downton!

Robert, Matthew, and Sybil

Lynn: This week’s episode dives immediately into what seems to be this season’s main theme – that the war erases class boundaries and the precious rigid structure of English society will be forever changed. In the aftermath, what will the privileged do all day to have meaning and what new roles will the servant class find for themselves?

Tasha: This episode all centers on the changes coming to Downton because of its new role in the war as an officer’s convalescent hospital place. The order in the household is all mixed up–ladies are becoming nurse maids, maids are becoming lady’s maids, footmen are hanging out with gentlemen, chauffeurs are becoming footmen, and THOMAS IS IN CHARGE!!! It’s utter madness. One cannot relax when one has to mix with the lower social orders, as Lady Violet might say. Everyone’s stressed out, especially Lord Grantham, who has to read the paper while people play ping-pong on the other side of his library! The indignity! And then they want to keep his dog out of all the rooms? OH NO YOU DIDN’T.

Lynn: As I get ready to watch this week’s episode, the thing I am most excited about is finding out what Lavinia’s secret is. Did she mistakenly kill the Ukrainian Ambassador’s footman during an affair? Did she have the gall to wear colors while still in mourning over a distant relation?

After watching this week’s episode, I’m left with so many questions. So what else is new? It looks like they are setting it up for Bates to come back to Downton. YAY! Hope that happens next week. The tidbits form the sneak peaks at next week’s episode seem to say so. They also tell us that Matthew goes missing. Since William’s take on the position of Matthew’s soldier servant, is he missing too. Oh I ma already worried about them. it also looks like Cora gets fed up and kicks Isobel out of Downton. That should be a good cat fight. MEOW!

Tasha: Matthew’s mother has inserted herself, in the most unpleasant sense of the word, into Downton and is pretty much throwing her weight around. O’Brien looks like she wants to squeeze Mrs. Crawley’s neck until her head pops like a grape. I bet that image lulls her to sleep at night, in fact. Meanwhile, there’s some sort of secrety secret about Lavinia that Lady Violet’s daughter found out! She hopes fears it will spell the ruin of Matthew and Lavinia’s engagement, so she’s going to travel straight to London to drag the truth out of Lavinia, Grantham-style: over tea. Fear not, Mary, Grandma’s on the prowl!

Isobel and Cora, no doubt organizing the house for its renovation as convalescent hospital

Lynn: As the family readies the house to become a convalescent hospital, it becomes clear that the lines between rich and poor, officers and not, are going to have to blur if people are to be treated humanely through their recovery. The family and the soldiers will have to eat together, recreate together and live together. Separation will not be possible. How the house will be managed – and just who will manage it – is a point of contention and disorientation for everyone. Does Lady Grantham run the house? Is Mrs. Crawley calling the shots? Should Dr. Maj. Clarkson be in charge? O’Brien comes up with a brilliant solution to the confusion – let Thomas come back and manage the house. WHAT?! Oh why not put me in charge of the chocolate?

Surprisingly, Lady Grantham seems to like the idea. Has she lost her mind? When O’Brien tells Thomas her plan, he doesn’t trust her reasons for trying to put Thomas in charge but he’s anxious to boss Carson around. Lord Grantham really has his knickers in a twist about all the changes needed to make Downton into a convalescent home. Especially letting Thomas run the place – mostly because he’s just a corporal. Who will listen to a corporal? “Not to worry”, says Major Clarkson “We’ve arranged to promote him to acting sergeant.” HA! Isn’t it Thomas’ lucky week?

When Lord Grantham tells Carson that Thomas is coming to manage the convalescent home, Carson predictably bristles at the idea of Thomas – a known thief – even being back at Downton. But Lord Grantham thinks Thomas’ being wounded in service shows he’s changed. Yeah right. Oh this should be both fun and painful to watch. And indeed it is. When Thomas shows up at Downton, he and Carson literally circle each other like sharks around a drunk late-night swimmer to size each other up anew. What’s the male version of a cat fight called because I want to say “meow” – again.

The servants are excited to see so many men in the house when the wounded officers arrive. Ethel especially. Anna reminds her officers are off limits. Foreshadowing an affair? Sure enough, Mrs. Hughes catches Ethel flirting with an officer. I’m sure we’ll see more about that in future episodes.

Tasha: *gasp!* I think I just saw Bates! He was lurking around like a lurker! Anna saw him, too. But she didn’t chase after him with her arms flailing and screaming, “Mr. Baaaaaates!”, which I know is what you were thinking happened. Instead he disappeared and she went back to work.

Lynn: Throughout the whole episode Lady Cora and Isabelle really butt heads about who is in charge at Downton, even after Thomas arrives. Isabelle is one pushy dame but Cora shouldn’t be underestimated. She has a shaming look that would make a nun drop her ruler and she uses it a lot this week. When Matthew brings his General around to see how Downton is contributing to the war effort they both are trying so hard to be the clear leader of the house that they nearly lose their dignity. Really the general is most impressed with Lady Edith, who seems to have finally found something appropriate to do. As it surprisingly turns out she is a kind and compassionate person who selflessly, efficiently and quietly helps the soldiers with the little things that mean a lot like remembering their names, helping them write to their families and getting them little treats from the village. When she is recognized for her efforts by the General, at dinner, Cora and Isobel are as surprised as everyone else.

Tasha: Lady Grantham and Matthew’s mom are fighting for control of Downton, Carson and Thomas are fighting for control of Downton, and O’Brien’s helping the former in one case and the latter in the other. She convinces Lady Grantham to let Thomas be the army guy in charge of things for the hospital, and then they both conspire to knock Mrs. Crawley down a peg or two. Or three. O’Brien clearly feels guilty about the whole Soap Incident last season that resulted in Lady Grantham losing the next heir of Downton. Quick poll: how many steps away do you think O’Brien is from turning into Mrs. Danvers? I vote three.

The servant's hall

Lynn: Branson’s story takes a nice unexpected turn this week. He gets called up and tells Lady Sybil that he plans to be a conscientious objector. He is not just going to run away and hide either. He’s going to march in front of everyone and announce his objections to the world. Will Sybil think he’s a coward? Doesn’t seem so. Mostly she just doesn’t want him to go to prison. Well guess what? Our handsome strapping young chauffeur fails his physical and is turned down by the army. Sybil is thrilled because at least now he won’t go to jail but she wants to know why he is so angry anyway?

Turns out Branson has a cousin killed by an English soldier who was doing the early 20thC version of racial profiling – assuming he was a rebel because he was Irish. Ahh now it all adds up. Branson tells Sybil not to count him out of prison yet. What is he up to? Later in the episode, when the General is coming for dinner Carson is having another cow about how to have a fancy dinner without footmen. Branson volunteers to serve at the General’s dinner. Uh-oh this is going to end badly, isn’ it?

Tasha: Not much happened relationship-wise for the three sisters in this episode. Mary finds out Lavinia stole evidence that resulted in a scandal and was possibly illegal? I didn’t quite get the 411 on that one, but I did get that she was sleeping with Sir Richard, Mary’s current beau, at the time and he printed the evidence in his paper. Did I call that one or did I call that one? So not only does Lavinia have HORRIBLE fashion sense (that white dress was just plain ugly), she’s also a spineless, sneaky little snake! Lady Violet wants Mary to tell Matthew, but while being rather suspiciously forthcoming about the whole incident, Lavinia tells Mary she did it to save her dad. *EYE.ROLL* Seriously, Mary, you’re going to fall for that? Naturally, she does. She doesn’t tell Matthew and the engagement’s still on. If Lady Violet was smart she would have told Matthew’s mom about Lavinia; that would have settled the whole thing before the hour was up.

Lynn: The whole Lavinia’s secret plot wraps up a little too quickly and neatly for me. I think we may find out much later that we didn’t get the whole truth this week. Rosamund and Violet play with Lavinia (and hence with us) like a cat with a dead baby bird over this thing. They have her over for tea and ask how she knows Sir Richard. Lavinia will only say that he was a friend of her uncle and of her father but that they’ve fallen out. Later, Violet assures Mary that Rosamund can find out what Lavinia’s secret is. OH HURRY UP.

Rosamund finds out what Lavinia’s secret is. Apparently, she outed a bunch of corrupt politicians (including her own Uncle) to Sir Richard who blew the story out in his papers and created a scandal. Mary thinks there is nothing wrong with this because the politicians broke the law. Violet looks incredulous at Mary. Why is she defending Lavinia?! Then they key question comes up.- why on earth would Lavinia do such a thing to her own family? Why because Lavinia and Sir Richard were LOVERS of course! What?! Mary confronts Lavinia about her secret. Lavinia admits to stealing the evidence for Sir Richard to print. They get interrupted before she can admit or deny being Sir Richard’s lover. ARGH. Rosamund is really pushing Mary to get the truth about Lavinia from her own lips. Ease up Rosamund – jeez.

Before the General’s dinner. Lavinia finally fesses up. She and Sir Richard were not lovers. Turns out her father owed Sir Richard a lot of money – enough to bankrupt him. She did it to save her Dad from ruin. Mary can’t help but admire Lavinia now and seems resigned to her marrying Matthew. Honestly she seems to even like Lavinia. As I said, too fast and too neat. More of this will come I can feel it in my bones.

Tasha: Meanwhile, Sybil and Branson’s relationship isn’t going too well. Shockingly (considering he proposed and she made a meh face). He’s been drafted, but declares he’ll refuse to fight, which means he’ll probably be arrested. Sybil isn’t happy about either of these potential outcomes. Then it turns out he can’t fight because of a heart murmur, and he’s EVEN MORE PISSED. Dude, you didn’t want to fight in the first place! Naturally Sybil doesn’t point this out, and he throws some classist bs in her face to make her feel bad. Branson’s spiraling, I tells ye.

Mary, Lavinia, and Sybil greet Matthew on his return

Lynn: We lose Mr. Lang this week, which is good and bad. Good because it means there’s an opening for Bates to come back and bad because it gives a way too obvious opening for Bates to come back. Poor Lang’s shell shock is really starting to effect his work and the other servants are getting a little sick of it (except O’Brien of course as she’s taken him on as another pet project in memory of her dead brother). He thinks no one at Downton understands what is going on and how scared people are. They all assure him that the war is hitting them all hard. In particular, Mrs. Patmore confesses about her nephew getting shot for cowardice. Her vulnerability doesn’t seem to do much for him – he truly can’t seem to see anyone’s pain but is own.

Later he outs Mrs. Patmore’s nephew being shot for cowardice to the whole staff. Dear Mrs. Patmore is mortified. Lang just can’t help himself and he really needs to be somewhere where he can get help. That night, he has a nightmare and wakes the whole house with his screaming. O’Brien defends him but can he really work at Downton? Later Lang seals his fate by having a total break down on the line to see the General off. All the soldiers around is just too much for him. Lang decides to leave.

Tasha: On to the relationship everyone cares about… Bates and Anna! Anna tells Lady Mary about the Unconfirmed Bates Sighting and somehow Mary finds out Bates is working in a pub. Bates in a pub? I’m having trouble picturing this. So is Anna, so she goes down to the pub in question to check this sitch out. They see each other! Bates really does look out of place in a pub. He says, “I don’t know if I’ve dreaded this moment or longed for it.” Both? I melt into puddle of goo. Anna’s like, “Whichever it was I’m here now, so man up and tell me what the hell you’re doing here.” HER EXACT WORDS. Maybe.

Table time! Not THAT kind of table time, get your mind out of the gutter. They sit down in the pub to talk. I hope these two each have a pint for this conversation, because they’re going to need it. Where is Mrs. Bates? Who knows. You’d think she’d be stuck to Bates like barnacle, but she’s wandered off again, giving Bates the chance to chase the illusive dream of divorce once more. It turns out she cheated on him! Gasps of non-surprise all-around. That means he has grounds for divorce. Info dump time: did you know it was harder for a woman to divorce a man during the Edwardian era than vice versa? Yes, it’s true. *pause to contemplate unfairness of life, except of course in cases where it works in our favor, re: this situation specifically* Now all he has to do is chase her down and get her to agree, or something. Why chase her down? Just pretend to be rich for two or three days and she’ll show up. Then you can hog-tie her and mail her to France.

Anna’s getting impatient (who can blame her). “We don’t have to wait, you know… It’s not against the law to take a mistress, Mr. Bates.” OOOOH LA LA, ANNA! Rawr! You know, Mary could learn a thing or two from Anna. Naturally Mr. Bates politely refuses, BUT FOR HOW LONG?

Lynn: There was an interesting introduction of a new technology this week – the curling iron. I was so surprised to see Anna doing Mary’s hair this new thing. I had no idea they had curling irons back then. The use of a curling iron is probably the only thing Lady Mary and I have in common, it some how made me feel close to her. Later on, Anna uses the curling iron on herself. Good thing too because she needs to practice. Those curls look a little wonky. She’d better get all dolled up because she discovers that none other than her own Mr. Bates is working in a pub nearby. How can this be and why? Of course she goes to find out.

She walks into his pub like Lauren Bacall walking into Sam’s and orders a glass of cider. They steal a moment to talk and Bates tells Anna that Vera has been unfaithful to him so he can divorce her. In those days, adultery was enough for a husband to divorce – even if a wife needed something more against her husband. Anna says it’s unfair but who cares?! Bates still has to get Vera to agree to divorce so she doesn’t go to the papers with Lady Mary’s scandal. Anna offers herself as a mistress. Oh my. Always the good guy, Bates says it’s beneath her and he’ll wait. Awww.

Tasha: The biggest twist of this episode was Branson becoming a political protestor. The record-it-and-post-it-on-youtube-then-get-arrested kind. He is really going off the deep end with this whole political thing! Is this the same Branson we saw in previous episodes? He seemed much more normal before; maybe Sybil refusing him has pushed him over the edge into crazy town. I was sure he was going to murder the general (major? major general?). He didn’t, thank heavens, but what a tense scene that was!

Lynn: During the General’s dinner, where Branson is indeed serving, Anna finds a letter labeled “forgive me” in Lady Sybil’s room. She reads it and runs down to the kitchen. It looks like Branson is going to assassinate the General in the dining room at dinner! Carson runs (well sort of) upstairs and interrupts just as it looks like Branson is about to pull a gun from a silver tureen and shoot the General. WOW. Branson is dragged downstairs and can’t understand why he is being treated so roughly. As it turns out, he wasn’t going to kill the General, just dump bucket of foul-smelling slop on him. Whew. William volunteers to take his place. What a saint. My goodness. I feel like I should make a Clue joke here. “It was the chauffeur in the dining room with the bucket of slop.”

Tasha: Edith! Edith is doing… well, I’m not entirely sure what she’s doing, to be honest. At the beginning of the episode she tells Sybil she envies her (as if there’s someone she doesn’t envy?) and Sybil advises her to find something she’s good at and put it to use. Hey, you know what Edith’s really good at? Writing gossipy letters! Whatever she’s doing, the general major major general whatever he is commends her for helping the officers. Good job, Edith, see what happens when you don’t try to bag every guy you see? Or maybe you are and that’s why they like you.

Daisy, Mrs. Patmore, and William

Lynn: William’s story continues to be heartbreaking and I fear that it will just get more so as the season goes on. He comes to see Daisy before going off to war. Mrs. Patmore tells Daisy that she must agree to be his girl no matter what until the war is over. Matthew promises to take William as his soldier servant so he (and we) can keep an eye on him. Of course (we can see it coming a mile away) William asks Daisy to marry him. Daisy isn’t sure but Mrs. Patmore says yes for her to save William’s heart before he leaves. Oh poor William when will Daisy break his heart and tell him the truth? Not before William announces his engagement to Daisy to the whole house staff. Daisy looks like a deer in headlights. And she’ll keep that look till next week at least.

Lynn’s favorite lines of the week: Maggie Smith continues to have the best lines in the show. Friends of mine call Downton Abbey, “The Maggie Smith Crazy Hour.” Well it is a little true but her little musings are so amusing.

Violet: I don’t know many people who would threaten me behind the laurels.

Mary [referring to Lavinia]: You sound as if you’re going to gobble her up.
Violet: If only we could.

Violet: He’s not a rough diamond, Just mined and polished very recently.

Isobel [referring to Lord Grantham’s dog Isis]: What will we do to keep Isis from getting into the patient’s rooms? Lord Grantham: I know precisely.
Isobel: What is that?
Lord Grantham: Absolutely nothing.

Bates [when Anna walks into his pub]: I don’t know if I’ve dreaded this moment or longed for it.
Anna: Either way, it’s happened.

Violet: [referring to Rosamund]: she is never more righteous than when she is in the wrong.

Mrs. Hughes [re: Daisy wondering if she should go upstairs]: No Daisy not you. The war hasn’t changed everything.

Mary [referring to Lavinia]: The truth is we are very much alike so of course I think she is perfect.

Last Thoughts:

Lynn: Another thing I really liked this week was that when the soldiers first arrive, they use a long take to introduce them to the house very much like the first shot of the house we ever saw in episode one of season one. So, the soldiers were introduced to the house the same way we were. Nice bookending.

Tasha: Matthew wasn’t in this episode very much, but whenever I see him I just want to hug him. Like tackle-hug and then force him to stay at Downton forever.