It’s taken weeks and multiple viewings of these episodes, but I just realized the first thing you see in the opening credits of Downton Abbey is a dog’s ass. That’s how brilliant this show is – the first impression they give you is the Chamber Orchestra of London over a Labrador’s booty, and it wins a goddamn Golden Globe. Now let’s get down to this week’s business.
Welcome to Alpha Crawley Omega
It’s now 1918, and the Abbey is now basically a frat house for cute soldiers. The Crawleys have the requisite ping pong table, and Ethel is basically that one stupid girl who hangs around thinking she has a shot of marrying up. All she gets is sex (the dirty kind!) on a stack of blankets in a vacant room with a Major who has a porn mustache. Oh, and an unwanted pregnancy. The ginger maids don’t last at Downton, do they? [Ed note: Miss you so hard Gwen and we are all sure you are KILLING it at the telephone company.]
Speaking of getting hitched for money, Mary is still planning to marry Richard, who is making his fortune through tabloid media and blackmail. Nice guy! Mary is a forward thinker who sees the writing on the wall. In a conversation with Grandma McGonagall she spells it out: The war is making people poor. Times are tough, and she’s even had to repeat a few outfits. She probably hasn’t bought a new hat in months, so she’s basically making this decision through the lens of fashion depression. And maybe, Matthew has something to do with it too, but it’s probably lack of hats.
Cousin Isobel is becoming more disgruntled than a clerk at the DMV. When Cora institutes her own policies, Isobel threatens to quit. Looks like she watched the career episode of Oprah’s Master Class, because she’s already got a job set up for her in France. Au Revoir, bitches!
If You Feed Them, They Will Come
With Isobel off to France and Matthew serving in the army, the staff at the Crawley cottage are left to sit around and pickle eggs. I feel sorry for Molesley. He doesn’t have the internet or television, so he can’t watch a Kardashian marathon. He has to find extra work to fill his time. When a veteran of the war comes to the cottage to ask for food, Molesley and the cook Mrs. Bird decide to open a soup kitchen. O’Brien thinks something looks fishy, but even her meddling can’t ruin this act of charity. Sometimes the plots on this show are meant to hit you over the head. This was one of them. We get it. War makes people work together and blurs class lines. Moving on.
Everything’s Coming Up Bates!
Thomas finds out Bates is working in a pub, and everyone starts freaking out. I get that Bates had a problem with the drink and all, so I guess working there was so horrible it warranted a visit from the Earl of Grantham himself. Bates has been offered his old job, and his divorce looks like it is actually going to happen! Bates and Anna are finally looking happy! Now Mr. Moseley can go back to doing nothing and whining like Jan Brady (Bates! Bates! Bates!).
Thomas gets right back to trying to make Bates’s life like a scene in Les Mis. Even after getting put in his place by his boss, Thomas could care less about the Downton code of conduct. He’s probably putting his cigarette butts out in tea cups and making Daisy serve as a human ottoman. O’Brien is fueling the fire of their grudge and coaxing Thomas into her helping her take Bates down. With all three back in the house, all is right in the Downton universe. Game on!
Branson is back to work in his coveralls (swoon). He’s planning on staying at Downton until Sybil gives up everything and runs away with him. Grandma McGonagall is already three steps ahead of him, and she’s enlisted Mary for help. They aren’t looking at him closely in those coveralls, because Sybil is starting to seriously consider his offer. With Mary and Matthew deciding not to make their incest legal, I’m rooting for Branson and Sybil, but really just for more shots of shirtless Branson.
Mary’s letter to cousin Matthew (which included the news of her engagement) sounded like it was written by a robot who takes Klonopin. However, she did remember to sign it “Your affectionate cousin,” so thankfully, I didn’t have to go a week without an incest fantasy. Matthew is still fighting on the frontlines with William, and they get sent out on patrol. Did you catch how Matthew brought Mary’s lucky charm and left behind Lavinia’s photo? Nicholas Sparks couldn’t have written that better.
That brings us to this week’s “Julian Fellowes, I will hunt you down and kill you in your sleep if you did that” moment. Daisy uses her two brain cells to figure out that William should have been on leave, and it looks like he and Matthew are missing. Audible gasp!
Breaking News: Edith is still the worst. She, like with Matthew’s engagement, blurts out the info about Matthew’s disappearance to Mary. Some might say she did it because she thought Mary should know, but I refuse to think that Edith is anything other than evil. She tells Mary right before bed time. Basically, she was like “Good night, sleep tight and by the way your incestual love interest is MIA in WWI.” Pure. Evil.
The Downton Concert For The Troops: The Sequel!
Only Edith would think that a concert starring herself would help heal the wounded. She thinks she’s Liberace and she ropes Mary into singing with her for the men in what Cora calls “a unicorn” moment. However, I could read Mary’s mind, and she was hoping that Edith’s hair would catch fire on the candles on her piano.
I hope you had your tissues handy when Mary started singing. The only thing that could have made the opening of her song sadder was if the dog died at that very moment. Not only was her song so depressing in context, but it was edited with the faces of wounded soldiers, singing along. The only thing that saved my life was Grandma McGonagall’s facial expressions, because she reminded me that a sing-along at convalescent home is just freaking ridiculous.
Or is it? Matthew and William live! And they showed up (because Matthew can’t miss a good concert)! And he sang! Everyone is all smiles at the end of this week, except for O’Brien, who has never smiled in her entire life, and Ethel, because she is pregnant. Maybe those two can work together and sort that out? Just saying… O’Brien does have experience in dealing with those issues.
What did you think of the episode? Are you Team Bates or Team TomO’Brien? Tell us in the comments!