Let’s just say that Thomas is no match for Miss O’Brien! I don’t know why he let himself get dragged into a flirtation with Jimmy knowing full well that O’Brien knew his sexual orientation and she seemed to be laying low with her payback. I almost felt sorry for Thomas until I remembered how unnecessarily cruel he’s been to William, Bates, and Daisy as well as his three-seasons worth of scheming against everyone for his own benefit and amusement. I do, however, believe that Jimmy was playing everyone–if Bates hadn’t been released from gaol (thanks to Anna aka Mrs. Sherlock Bates) he would have manipulated Thomas’s come-on to nab the position as Lord Grantham’s valet.

Speaking of Bates, how sweet was it to see him and Anna set up house? Even though lots of people cringed at their honeymoon, Anna and Bates have such an easy, natural chemistry, and compared to every other romantic relationship, theirs is built to last. He also looked pretty dapper in his panama and blue suit while keeping score at the cricket match.

Besides the scandal with Thomas, we also saw the introduction of Rose. She’s young and wild and pretty, but I don’t think she’s a Sybil replacement. Since the Crawley family is very country-based and Edith and Mary are in their mid/late-20s, there was no other way to insert a bit of  “Golden Twenties” hedonism into the series without a new, much younger upstairs character. So even though Rose is wayward and bratty, I don’t mind her. Part and parcel with Rose is a new suitor for Edith–her editor Michael Gregson, who, IMO, looks like Sir Anthony Strallan’s younger brother! Edith plays it cool, thankfully, and uses her head this time by checking up on Gregson, and discovers that he’s married to a mad wife (shades of Jane Eyre). I don’t see this ending well. And why can’t Edith have a suitor without any baggage or wives?

Branson seems to be settling in now that Matthew has taken him under his wing. After Mr. Jarvis quits his position as estate manager, Branson is thrown into the role even though, realistically, he is woefully under-qualified. But whatever keeps him at Downton!  In the meantime, his brother Kieran comes for the christening and acts as boorishly as Branson did in the beginning of the season. We see how much Branson has been tamed…The highlight of this segment is when the photographer asks Robert and Violet to take a photograph with the Catholic priest who christened Baby Sybil–the looks on their faces!! And of course Cora gets a snarky word in–go Cora!

The ongoing saga of Ethel and Isobel petered out to an end, with Violet doing her usual meddling in Isobel’s life by having Edith place advertisements for a cook/servant in The Lady. The solution to getting ex-prostitute Ethel out of Downton village is quite simple when the position that interests Ethel just so happens to be in the vicinity of the Bryants. Mrs. Bryant makes an appearance to give the okay for Ethel to hover around the fringes of Charlie’s life and vows to take care of Mr. Bryant’s reaction to the news. I don’t know about you, but Ethel’s storyline could have gone this route a long time ago. After all, she did offer to be Charlie’s nursemaid when she first contemplated giving him up, but I guess Isobel wouldn’t have had anything to do (Julian Fellowes didn’t take my suggestion of having her stand for Parliament!).

My absolute favorite part of the episode was, however, Mr. Molesley’s Cricket Tips. He really is a source of sly, underrated humor on Downton Abbey and I hope he sticks around!

What did you think of last night’s episode? Do you feel sorry for Thomas? Is Rose an interesting addition to the cast? Are Mary and Matthew’s fertility problems over for good?

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