The war is finally over! But that hardly means that Downton’s troubles have ended. We have intrigues, threats, Sullen Cousin Matthew, and even death. So much drama.
This episode found Sir Richard “Absolutely Never” Carlisle and his coerced fiancée estate-hunting (Is the name of the estate, Haxby, supposed to sound like “hack” and refer to Sir Richard? Is that the kind of paper he publishes?), and stepping on quite a few toes in the process. The Earl thinks it’s insensitive and tacky to buy neighboring homes from fallen aristocrats – but apparently marrying American ladies with large fortunes is perfectly acceptable. Carson doesn’t want to leave Downton to become their new butler. And Lady Mary doesn’t like that the house in question is unfurnished, and that Sir Richard’s “lot” would have to furnish the place with purchased (heaven forbid!) items rather than heirlooms. Snob and a half, no? Mary, you made your soup, now slurp it.
It doesn’t cost me anything to say this, but I’ve become so partial to Sir Richard “Absolutely Never” Carlisle, even though this season I actually believed more in the Mary-Matthew loveline, and despite him being slightly abusive. It was so poignant and slightly degrading seeing him take part in Crawley powwows and looking so bored and bewildered while doing so. How many times did he ask “Should I be worried” and get completely ignored by everyone? I especially felt for him every time he mentioned the word “money” and Carson cringed. I wanted to shout at the butler “MONEY MONEY MONEY” but that wouldn’t have been very productive, I suppose. He’s tacky and nouveau, I get it, let’s move one. Maybe I’m too American. I think it’s no surprise that Sir Richard’s only Crawley ally seems to be Cora, the embarrassing American.
He has some reason to be worried (though no excuse for threatening Mary and giving her a pretty awkward kiss) since Mary and Matthew are growing ever closer. I’ve never really liked Matthew much, but I welcome the new Sullen Cousin who appeared in this episode. I guess he had good reason to be sullen. I think Mary lightens matters by making fun of him being in a wheelchair – but in a flirty way. Lavinia’s return, with the help of Sir Richard (Anything going on there? Or is a travel delay just a travel delay?) and Cora, will probably put a damper on things, especially since she’s getting the manic glint of a fanatic as regards staying with Matthew. But wait – Matthew felt something! I respect him for hiding the fact until he knows more, but I respect Major Clarkson less for a bad diagnosis. Am I wrong to think that Fellowes was a fan of the Spike-in-a-wheelchair storyline in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2?
As I feared, the neglected Earl is becoming more and more drawn to the new maid, Jane – the mother of the boy who is good at math. And really, could the Earl have been more undignified – eating sweets in the afternoon, bold as brass. At least Carson seems to suspect and disapproves of this intimacy. I still don’t know what her intentions are, but we’ll find out soon enough. I don’t appreciate the Earl getting all pissy with his wife, either. Just wait till her mother comes.
Downstairs we found Daisy still being self-righteous over William (I’m getting over it) and Miss O’Brien being supremely creepy as she tried to suss out what Bates is up to – all to help, of course. I even feel a little sorry for Thomas, since he’s a little lonely now that his former partner in crime has other things on her mind. I exhibit no surprise that he’s thinking of going into the black market – but shame on him that Patmore thought of it before he did. He’s getting sloppy.
And in plotlines that I didn’t really care about, Lady “I’ve Worn a Do-Rag in This Entire Season” Sybil continues to indulge in her boring and embarrassing non-tryst with the lamest revolutionary ever. Edith was occupied with The Stranger with No Face who claimed to be the dead heir apparent, Patrick Crawley (as I had thought). I didn’t really believe him, but mostly because that would have been too neat. The Crawleys would rule the entire county with Edith at Downton and Mary at Haxby. And Sybil would drive from house to house, I suppose.
And before I forget, Mrs. Bates is dead! Of course I don’t suspect Bates, though he did leave something of a paper trail. In the previews it seems to be implied that arsenic is the culprit, and having read my Agatha Christie I know that poison is a traditionally feminine weapon. O’Brien, perhaps? It would be more exciting if it was Anna – that would give her more to do this season than repeatedly offer to ruin her reputation and be Bates’ mistress.