This week's episode is two hours. Because CURSE YOU, JULIAN FELLOWES!!!
Bates is being released from prison! No one shanks him on the way out the door, and he and Anna reunite in a long-awaited embrace. Once they arrive at Downton, Bates interrupts breakfast! Mrs. Hughes, Carson, Daisy and Mrs. Patmore are happy to see him, but Thomas is not, obvs. At breakfast with the swells, Edith has a letter from her editor and her hair looks stellar! He's asked to meet her in London. Matthew encourages her to visit Lady Rosamund and buy some new clothes, but Robert does not want Edith being a lady reporter or updating her frumptastic wardrobe. He is Bitter McBitterpants, and gets up to leave, mentioning that Matthew has summoned Jarvis to a meeting. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Robert runs into Bates in the hallway and is super happy to see him. He offers Bates a cottage, and promises to sort out the valet situation with Thomas.
At Crawley House, Lady Violet is laying down the law to Isobel about having a PROSTITUTE work as her maid/cook. Violet says Ethel is notorious in the village, and she knows so. How does she know this? Because she's EVERYWHERE!
Maybe because she's secretly an Animagus?
Violet informs Isobel that she's surrounded the family with a MIASMA of scandal and she should rid herself of Ethel straightaway. Ethel enters and Isobel praises her improvement in cooking. Ethel is grateful to have a skill. Violet says, "But you seem to have so many."
Cora and Robert are on speaking terms again. They discuss what Robert will do with two valets (the post-war era really is trying) and Cora spies the nursemaid taking Lil Sibbie out in her pram. Robert wants to know when Branson is moving out and Cora reminds him that Tom and the baby are their responsibility now.
Downstairs, Moseley asks what Thomas is going to do now that Bates is back. *Facepalm* Ivy enters, and Alfred announces he's planning to see a moving picture! With Lillian Gish! Jimmy thinks the plot sounds a bit soppy (it does), and Ivy won't be seen in public alone with Alfred. Mrs. Hughes gives permission if other maids accompany them so as not to invite scandal.
Much more after the jump!
During the meeting with Jarvis and Robert, Matthew Ilyich Crawley wants to reparcel the land and invest in new machinery, new methods, new, new, new, new! Jarvis tells Matthew he's new to their way of life and doesn't understand How We Do Things, and Matthew gets his panties in a knot about Robert bailing out the place with Cora's money. Matthew thinks Downton has to be self-supporting if it's going to survive, and Robert is unwilling to go along with the plan because HE BUILT THAT.
Lady Violet is on patrol in the village and she sees Ethel walking alongside the street, visibly in tears. Later at the brothel, Isobel notices that Ethel is upset. Ethel says local tradespeople refused to serve her and that is why she was crying.
Don't worry, Ethel. #ItGetsBetter
At tea, Edith wants the dowager persuade Robert to come around about the newspaper column. Violet explains to Edith when she said “find something to do” she didn't mean become a member of the working classes. She meant respectable things like charities and painting water colors. Edith however is tired of being invisible. Granny says she'll do what she can but, mob boss that she is, she'll want a favor in return.
In the kitchen at Downton, Jimmy is being a bitch to Alfred and Carson overhears. Carson gives Alfred first footman duties for dinner that evening. Daisy wants to know why Alfred is taking Ivy to the movies when she takes no notice of him. A question for the ages.
Mary enters Branson's room and asks about the christening. Branson tells Mary that it's been arranged with the Catholic Church in Britain, because Robert hasn't managed to have the church outlawed as of yet. Branson asks Mary to be the godmother, and tells her that his brother Kieran, “a bit of a rough diamond”, is coming over. Mary invites Branson's brother to stay at Downton. Diamonds are Mary's best friends.
Downstairs, Jimmy is pitching a hissy because Alfred is serving the lobster. O'Brien's continuing to insist to Thomas that Jimmy wants to tap that, and cites Alfred as the source.
In how could this dinner possibly go wrong news, Matthew invited Murray to Downton without asking Robert first. Alfred makes a wrong move and Violet's lap is cram full o' crustaceans. Fifteen hundred points from Gryffindor! Jimmy gives Alfred a winky wink and there's that mystery solved. If that went on any longer, I would have put Anna on the case.
Cora tries to save dinner by bringing up Edith's newspaper column. They've all taken leave of their senses, and Robert asks Violet to make them see things his way. Violet thinks the woman's place is eventually in the home, but there's nothing wrong with Edith enjoying her single life. Also, Edith isn't getting any younger, and maybe you're just not marriage material, darling. Best. Burn. Ever.
Matthew is concerned that he and Mary aren't expecting a bundle of joy yet. Well, he should be. Matthew wonders if he should see someone about it, Mary says she's sure there's nothing wrong. So, rest assured, there is something wrong.
On his pseudo-date with Ivy, Alfred tells Ivy that Jimmy isn't interested in her. Ivy says that Jimmy flirts with her. Of course he does. Gay guys always flirt with pretty girls. It's in their job description. Alfred tells Ivy he wants to see her on a regular basis, but Ivy wants proof that Jimmy isn't interested first.
In the servants' hall, Jimmy is complaining (again) that Carson doesn't like him. Thomas offers to assist, and tells Jimmy that Carson might like Alfred, but that's not the case with everyone. Like with…Thomas. Jimmy lays down some Latin (and where did he pick that up?) and O'Brien thinks he should try that on Carson to make up some points. Jimmy thinks not, but maybe he needs a magic spell? (ASK LADY VIOLET. DU-UH.) O'Brien works more on Thomas, but Thomas thinks Jimmy is straight. She exits, leaving Thomas to wonder if O'Brien is telling the truth.
Thomas is pretty lonely, and maybe more than a little desperate. He goes upstairs and undresses, thinking about whether or not to put the moves on Jimmy. Feeling rapey, he goes to Jimmy's room. He goes all Edward Cullen and opens the door and creepily stares down at Jimmy while he's asleep. He enters the room and closes the door. If a gumpy footman recently spurned by a kitchen maid is traveling up the stairs at two miles an hour, and a valet is trying to get in a footman's pants at one mile an hour, how long before they intersect at a shitstorm?
"According to this wildly successful young adult novel series I've been reading, this would be even more romantic if I could somehow sparkle for you."
Alfred walks in as Thomas is snogging Jimmy and Jimmy wakes up. Jimmy screams at Thomas and tells him to get out. Thomas thinks there's something between them, and Jimmy says there isn't. Jimmy says he didn't say anything about being interested in Thomas, and Thomas realizes that O'Brien has played him.
In the most awkward meal of the entire season (and that's saying a lot), super sleuth Anna and Mrs. Hughes want to know what is up with Thomas, Jimmy and Alfred. Jimmy tells Ivy she looks yummier than toast. I bet he says that to all the beards girls.
No, that's not Michael Palin from teevee's Monty Python and the Holy Grail. That's Mr. Gregson, the hawt editor of The Sketch. Edith is a good girl in London and still wants permission from Daddy to write for him, and so Gregson asks her for lunch after she's had a day to think about it. He totes wants to be her beau! Holla!
Over at Downton, Matthew and Branson are in agreement that they should make Downton into a workers' paradise. Tom tells Robert he has a narrow view of socialism, and Robert thinks Tom has a very broad one. Now, now, children, says Lady Violet. You're both pretty. Later, Cora chides Robert about being a bitchtits about the changes at Downton. Robert tells Cora he is certain Violet has her own reasons for sticking up for Edith. Is she really so Machiavellian? I was going to go with Godfather-esque, but Machiavelli works, too.
Edith is meeting Hot Older Man for lunch. She tells Hot Older Man that she's hopelessly single. This is going to go Somewhere fast. We all know Edith can't keep her wrinkly spinster hands off an old dude, and Gregson is hot for an aristocrat. He almost destroys his chances by saying Mary looked glamorous in the society pages, but he's pleased Edith's not married. That makes one person. In the entire world.
Mary Tyler Moore and Ed Asner: The early years
At Downton, Matthew and Robert are meeting with Murray and Jarvis. Turns out, Robert didn't build that. The third earl nearly went bankrupt and the fourth earl only saved Downton via dying, and we all know Robert would have lost the estate if he hadn't married Cora. Matthew wants to make radical changes and Jarvis takes this as an affront on his managing abilities. He up and quits, leaving Robert with no estate manager. What's that you say? Foreshadowing? Oh, you don't say.
Hmm. Which wine should Carson serve? This red one, or this red one? Mrs. Hughes interrupts Carson's oenomanic reverie to inform him that there's an intoxicated leprechaun in the servants' hall. It's Tom's (much) older brother, Kieran! Mary tries to extend her hospitality to him, but Kieran acts like a toolbag and tells her he wants to eat with the servants. Branson, all class, tells Kieran that Lady Cora has extended an invitation to Kieran for him to eat with the family and Tom won't let Kieran snub her. Carson, hand to God, says he's stoked that Branson showed some real breeding, instead of talking about what horrors result when you mix the classes.
Downstairs, O'Brien encourages Alfred to tell on Thomas's shenanigans because Thomas is flouting the laws of God and man. It's been a few days since things got all gay up in here, and Thomas still hasn't been sacked. O'Brien wants Alfred to finish her dirty work for her. She finally convinces him, and he reports the incident to Carson, and Carson tells Alfred to keep his mouth shut.
At dinner, Kieran tells Robert that when he's not hiding pots o' gold, he's in the car refurbishment business and he lives above a garage. Mary wants to know who's coming to the christening. Robert says he's not coming because Tom wouldn't want him there, and he wouldn't know what do to during all that bobbing up and down. Tom, the only person at this table with any diplomatic skillz, tells Robert that Sybil loved Robert with all her heart and that she would want him there. Robert can't snark that argument, so he agrees to attend. Edith tries to distract from the unpleasantness by announcing that she's taken the journalist's job. Edith says the editor was "nice," Judging from her facial expression, Mary likely takes that to mean "old and lonely."
Turns out, Edith's "favor" for Violet was to place an ad in Lady magazine to find Ethel a new place. Edith asserts that Ethel really should move out of the area where no one knows she was a WHORE. Isobel thinks Violet couldn't give tuppence about Ethel or anyone like her. Violet accuses Isobel of reading those Communist newspapers. Again.
Violet asks to speak to Mrs. Hughes in the hall and asks her opinion of the Ethel situation. Mrs. Hughes agrees that as long as Ethel remains in the area, the good citizens will snub her. She nicely explains to Isobel that if Ethel can start over in a new place, things would be much easier for her, instead of reenacting The Scarlet Letter every time she walks outside.
After dinner, Violet tells Robert that, to Jarvis, Robert was always the young master. Violet tells Robert that it's obvs he should give Jarvis's job to Branson. She asks Robert if he really wants his only granddaughter raised in a garage with that drunken gorilla. But living over a garage is magically delicious!
Carson tells Thomas that what he's done is against the law, and he doesn't want to take a tour of Thomas's revolting world. Carson asks Thomas to give his word that nothing actually happened. He tells Thomas he needs to think about what to do, and Thomas leaves Carson's office. Mrs. Hughes enters and wants to know why Thomas is looking more emosexual than usual. Carson cryptically answers that human nature is a funny thing. Now, why didn't the poets ever come to Carson?
It's a christening! Finally, Tom Branson gets to baptize his Lil Sibbie a papist. Edith says it's strange not to have Sybil there. Cora says she knows Sybil is watching. Well, her grandmother is Shirley MacLaine… In awkward family photo news, Robert and Violet have to pose with the baby and the priest! Robert later offers Tom the job of estate manager, and Matthew encourages him to take it.
Pictured: What the English imagine "mirth" to look like.
Downstairs, Carson believes Thomas has been twisted by nature into something foul, and asks Thomas to resign, citing Bates's return but also tells O’Brien to stop causing trouble. Thomas waves the world’s smallest rainbow pride flag and defends himself by saying he's not foul; just one of these things is not like the other. In the hall, Carson tells O'Brien to stop causing trouble. Later, O'Brien encourages Jimmy to blackmail Carson, by saying that unless Carson gives Thomas a bad reference, Jimmy will go to the gendarmes. Jimmy's like no, they'll find my weed and O'Brien is like, you have to, unless you want everyone to think you're a ladyboy as well.
In the study, Cora asks about the village cricket match! Apparently, everyone in Britain except Moseley hates cricket, but they play because…they're…British or something. Edith thinks Robert should support the house and village teams, SINCE HE OWNS BOTH. In fertility news, Mary is looking tired and Mary says it's nothing, but Cora gives her a knowing glance so we know she's having some work done on her lady parts. Matthew walks in on Mary and Cora having girl talk, but we do hear that Mary has been seeing a doctor, so we can presume that the royal conception troubles are due to Mary's hysterical ovaries and not with Matthew's war wound.
Edith is taking her job as intrepid reporter very seriously, and tells Matthew not to make fun of her serious expose of the plight of war veterans. Violet's been asked to host 18-year-old Rose, the daughter of her niece. Robert wants Tom to play cricket for the house team. Tom says no. Wrong answer, Branson. Cora wants Robert to leave him alone about it, so they can have a nice dinner. Wishful thinking, thy name is Cora.
TENSION! Bates has overheard O'Brien plotting against Thomas and he asks Thomas what he will do. Over in the abode of love, Matthew is talking about buying out some of the tenants. He wants to get his freak on with Mary, but she shoos him away. She's obviously had a procedure, likely to evict the Turkish ambassador that has taken up residence in her uterus (the raucous parties he's been throwing have really gotten out of hand).
Jimmy asks Carson to give Thomas a bad reference. Jimmy says he can't let "a man like that" work in people's houses. Jimmy thinks he ought to report Thomas to the police, and he does the unthinkable by accusing Carson of being all right with Thomas being an unnatural freak and all that. "How dare you call me a liberal?!" sayeth Carson. Carson will ask Thomas to go quietly for the sake of the house. Jimmy says he won't turn a blind eye to sin, and tells Carson he's going to the fuzz, convincing everyone who may still have been in doubt that, in the grand tradition of homophobes, Jimmy himself is gay.
Miss Rose makes her entrance, breaking her journey at Crawley House, and she doesn't drink coffee. She's hyper and crazy all on her own. This is where Violet discovers that Ethel is still there. Violet is not amused. You Hester Prynne that shit, Ethel. Violet has some answers to the ad for Ethel, and Violet and Isobel have a very polite cat fight. Rose is like, "Whaaaaaaas going on??" SHE DOESN'T UNDERSTAND WHEN YOU THROW BIG WORDS AT HER.
Jimmy apparently has Carson by the balls and Carson tells Thomas that he's to leave Downton with no reference, meaning he will not get another job in service. I have a hard time believing Carson wouldn't just swat Jimmy away like a gnat, or fire him or something. Why is he letting Jimmy be the boss of him? Everyone in that house has always known that Thomas is gay (except maybe Daisy), and no one cared up until this point. What's changed?
Rose wants to go to London with Edith, even though Violet has heard from Lady Flintshire that Rose simply detests London. Rose claims she's planning a surprise for mummy, and that sounds shady to Edith, budding journalistic impresario that she is. Edith invites Rose to stay with Aunt Rosamund in London, and Matthew later tells Edith that he'd like to go with her to London, too. Edith is delighted because her skankdar is telling her she will need help controlling Rose. Later, Mary asks Edith to make sure Matthew doesn’t take an earlier train from London, so their clandestine trips to the babymaking doctor won't intersect.
"My completely transparent plan will never be discovered! Now to tell the dowager that I'm sleeping over at Ashley's house for realsies."
Branson and Matthew are planning to farm one-third of the estate directly. Just distribute that wealth evenly, fellows. Branson is anxious to move into the agent's house, but Cora wants Sibbie to stay with them at Downton.
Outside, Thomas is out smoking in the cold, like a good nicotine addict. Mrs. Hughes happens upon him and she's shocked to see him in such a state. She tries to comfort him, but he realizes she doesn't know what happened. He's afraid that telling her will shock and disgust her. Shock and disgust Mrs. Hughes? Are you kidding? Homegirl has been there and done that! Mrs. Hughes wants Carson to relent, but he's afraid standing up to Jimmy will drive him to tell the coppers on Thomas.
At the Crawley Home for Tarts, Isobel tells Ethel that the dowager has taken an interest in her plight – and she wants to stop the tongues wagging – and gives her the replies to her advertisement. Isobel promises a reference from herself and from Mrs. Hughes. Ethel goes through the letters and only finds one she's interested in, but it's in Cheadle and Ethel feels that is too close to where the Bryants live with Charlie.
Carson is putting together the house cricket team, and there's all kinds of intrigue. Bates figures out that O'Brien has something to do with getting Thomas thrown out, and he's got a moral dilemma. He doesn't like Thomas, but let's remember O'Brien helped to get him thrown in prison. A flow chart of who is plotting against whom and why to appear forthwith.
In London, Lady Rosamund wants to have a nice family dinner with Edith, Matthew and Rose, but Rose has other plans. Turns out, she doesn't hate London at all. She's just a debutramp. She sneaks into the study and telephones A Man. She dresses up for like Halloween or something and hails a cab. Fortunately, no one snapped a crotch shot of her getting in or out of said cab.
In unmarriageable, dried up old crone news, Gregson is hitting on Edith like crazytown. Gregson tells her she looks very pretty, and he's pleased with her article about soldiers. He wants to see her that night, but she's busy, although he does want to see her again in the next time she's in London. Go Edith go!
Tonight on DIY Cottagers, it's extreme whitewashing! Bates doesn't like the manner of Thomas's dismissal. Thomas was creeping around outside their cottage and now Bates is concerned that something fishy is going on. He decides to ask Mrs. Hughes to give him the full story, and he drops paint on himself. Mrs. Hughes explains it all to Bates, and Bates, like everyone, isn't shocked at all.
Edith and Matthew are eating with Aunt Rosamund, but Rose hasn't shown up yet. The cabbie is shown upstairs and he tells the WHOLE SHOCKING HORROR to them. How Rose took a cab to Warwick Square where she met a gentleman! How he sat outside waiting for them for nearly two hours! How he took them to The Blue Dragon club! Oh, it is too much! The Blue Dragon is one of "those" kinds of clubs, you know. No, Lady Rosamund doesn’t know, actually. HE MEANS A CLUB FULL OF BLACK PEOPLE. IN WHICH PEOPLE CONTORT THEMSELVES IN SHAMELESS DANCING.
Matthew, Edith and Lady Rosamund enter the club, looking like they just time warped out of a Merchant-Ivory. Matthew thinks it's just like the outer circle of hell in The Inferno, but Rosamund thinks this is a much deeper level of perdition. They spot Rose and interrupt her make-out session with her friend from Warwick Square, Sir Terrance Margadale, who is nonplussed to meet Rose's relations. He's married and Rosamund knows it! Matthew takes Rose away to the dance floor and tells her what she's going to get for waking up in Vegas. He quite bluntly tells her that Margadale is using her and might divorce his wife on the twentieth of never. He promises to keep her out of Rosamund's clutches if she leaves with them and never sees Margadale again.
The scene straight out of F. Scott Fitzgerald's wet dreams.
Jimmy confronts Carson about why Thomas hasn't left yet, and Bates tells him he's being a big girl's blouse about the whole thing (he really is). Thomas made a mistake, so calm the fuck down. Bates tells Carson that O'Brien has put Jimmy up to this scheme.
Matthew is visiting a fancy specialist in London to start on a course of fertility treatments. He asks the doctor of Mrs. Crawley has been to see him, and the doctor says she hasn't and couldn't tell him if she had. Matthew leaves the office and descends the stairs, and he will run into Mary in 3…2... There she is! Mary has been sneaking about, calling herself Mrs. Levinson (natch). She's had an operation, likely to remove whatever Turkish delight Mr. Pamuk left in her uterus, and she should be good to go from here on out.
Edith tells Rose that she's read too many novels and it has addled her brain. Rose has to be on her best behavior throughout the rest of her stay, or Matthew will telephone Lady Flintshire. They arrive back at Violet's charming appointments in the village, where Violet peers at them through the upstairs window. Edith and Rose make the fatal mistake of talking about keeping a secret from Lady Violet while in Lady Violet's house. Don't they know she is EVERYWHERE, especially in her own damn house?
Upstairs, Bates is dressing Robert and Robert's like but we all knew that about Thomas. And Bates is like I know, right! And Robert is like Eton was so gay, people tried to kiss me all the time, and I didn't complain about it! That would make me a sissy, duh! Bates explains that O'Brien's put the fear of God into Jimmy that people will suspect Jimmy of being gay if he doesn't make a big stink.
Lady Violet is very nicely explaining to Rose that she's to go to Duneagle early with the "horrid" Aunt Agatha! Rose figures it's because someone told on her and she demands to know who, so she can slip them an arsenic pie or something! Rose threatens to run away, and Lady Violet is going to send her maid along to make sure she doesn't.
Bates pays a visit to Thomas and tells him O'Brien has been putting Jimmy up to this nonsense. Bates asks Thomas if he has any dirt on O'Brien. Oh. He. Does.
Speaking of girls' blouses, Robert is in the study pitching a fit about Matthew and Tom's plan for Downton. Robert thinks that a Ponzi scheme, hand to God, would be better than the horrid plans for increasing profit that the boys have planned. This is what professional writers like to call “irony”. Cora finally tries to talk some sense into Robert, by saying that Robert wants to continue on as things are, and then finally admit defeat and sell the property off to pay off debts. Robert feels totally left out of the modernization plans. To make matters worse, he walks by Edith using the telephone to call a newspaper! She asks the operator for some personal information about Gregson. Because apparently the operator has Google at her disposal.
Anna and Bates have invited O'Brien over to their cottage for a friendly cuppa and verbal smack-down. Bates tells O'Brien he wants her to persuade Jimmy to let Thomas have a reference. She refuses, and Bates gets up and whispers three little words into her ear: Her. Ladyship's. Soap. Awww yeahhh. O'Brien knows her ass is on the line, so she desperately convinces Jimmy to let it go. Upstairs, Robert reveals to Bates that he plans to tell Carson to keep Thomas on because they can find work for him. Thomas is also apparently a Zen-level cricket master, much better than Moseley, I'm certain, who is boring all the servants with cricket demos in the servants' hall.
At breakfast, Tom tells Robert that Matthew wants his support for his plans at Downton but he looks at things differently. Tom has the farming experience and is a hard worker; Matthew understands law and business; and Robert understands the sense of responsibility Downton owes both to the people associated with the estate, and those who are not. To each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs and all that jazz. Robert agrees to give Matthew his backing on one condition: Tom will play cricket for the house. Tom agrees, and yes! It's ROBERT FTW!!!
Lady Violet has summoned Isobel and Ethel to an early morning meeting. They walk in, and Lady Bryant is waiting there for them. We like Lady Bryant! Lady Violet wrote to Lady Bryant about Ethel working nearby. Lady Bryant says they will work out what they'll tell Charlie when he's older, but she'd be perfectly happy to have Ethel nearby.
In Edith has great clothes news, Edith has great clothes. She confronts Gregson, and pointedly tells him she thinks Gregson is attracted to her. Gregson is like jeah. Edith tells him she can't work for a married man if he is going to continue on shamelessly flirting with her. Gregson tells Edith that he has a wife, but she's insane and locked up somewhere. OF COURSE HE DOES! OF COURSE SHE IS! You can't be a proper Englishman without a lunatic wife locked up away somewhere. I bet she burned his house down, too.
Newly recent publicity promo for Downton Abbey Season 4
It's time for the long-hyped cricket match! They're all having a great time, so obviously something is going to go to shit. Bates is annoyed that he inadvertently helped Thomas keep his job, but let's remember that means Thomas is kinda sorta in Bates's debt now. Anna wants to know what phrase Bates whispered to O'Brien that spooked her into relenting. Bates tells her, but reveals he has no idea what it meant. Judging from Anna's expression, she's going to find out because she's the Nancy Drew of Downton.
Robert approaches Jimmy, and thanks him for being so generous about Thomas, who will stay on as under-butler. Robert tells Jimmy he won't mind, will, he, and congrats on being appointed first footmen.
OH SHIT IT'S THE POLICE. Buzzkill. The feds say they've received a report of unnatural from none other than young Alfred Nugent (any relation to Ted, by chance?). Robert takes charge and confronts Alfred, and tells him to have some compassion for Thomas. Robert returns and tells the feds it was a mix-up. You were wasted, weren't you, Alfred? Yes, yes I was, he replies. Sorry you can't persecute a gay person today, but would you like some tea? No? Oh, all right. Off you go, then.
One other bit of good news is that Tom decides to live at Downton while Sibbie is little. Robert's ready to get behind the plan, and the cricket match is a success. All is right with the world.
Everyone says that Tom is very eloquent. Does he have a career as an MP ahead of him? What about Rose? Is she going to be an alcoholic party girl or does she have some depth? Will Edith throw caution to the wind and involve herself in a torrid affair with a married man? Oh I hope so!
See you next week, duckies! Mwah!