Welcome back to Downton Abbey! We start this episode seeing that our former-favorites-turned-ultimate snoozers couple, Anna and Bates, have not been communicating though letters, but neither understands why. Also, Bates is suddenly not allowed visitors for some unexplained reason.
Anna can’t stop fretting about this news even when she finds out that she will be Lady’s Maid to Lady Mary soon since Lord Grantham has finally approved hiring new staff. I mean, really, Anna, we’re all surprised that you’re not ecstatic over this. Even though more staff is Lord Grantham approved, Matthew -- who’s never understood these things anyway -- holds his tongue when Lord Grantham tells Carson to hire away!
Thankfully, right at the start of this episode we see Cousin Crawley looking lovelier than usual, if I do say so myself (I just said “If I do say so myself” in a Carson voice in my head).
That better mean that we’re finally going to figure out what’s going on with Ethel Parks already. Here we have yet another person in yet another episode being shocked by the word “prostitute.”
Upstairs we see Carson inquiring about new hires and starting his sentence with “So.” So, is this 2013 and are you a teenager, Carson? It’s, like, I’m Mrs. Hughes right now, and Carson just said the word “prostitute!”
Since we all know that spinsters get up for breakfast, we see Edith having breakfast with Matthew and Lord Grantham. Apparently, according to their conversation, in 1920 married women have breakfast in bed! Hold on a second here. Dear husbands of the 21st century, can we bring this tradition back, or can you at least build married women a time machine? Thanks. Sorry, spinsters, you still have to get up for breakfast.
Cut to post-breakfast-in-bed Mary in the nursery! But don’t be fooled -- much to Matthew’s chagrin, Mary is all business and no babies. Are you surprised really? She is talking about turning the nursery into a sitting room for them, because I guess the entire family will live together in Downton Abbey now because of Matthew’s money? Is this confusing to anyone else? I thought they were supposed to get their own house until Lord Grantham died.
Speaking of having your own house, Edith visits the Dowager Countess, and in her classic Granny way, she goes from being nice and sympathetic to saying, “You’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability, stop whining and find something to do!” (In reference to her new found spinsterhood.)
Cut to Anna still being confused over the letter sitch, and I think the same words of wisdom might apply here, too.
Back in cheery ol' prison, Bates appears to have a random stranger friend who knows exactly what is going on with him! How does he know all of this information and why is he the only nice person in prison? Let’s not dwell on it people, and just focus on moving the plot along, OK?
Turns out after Bates punched his cellmate to show him that he is tough and no-nonsense, and not in prison to make friends, the cellmate tattled on him and he gets marked as a “violent criminal.” All that on top of messing up the “tobacco framing” -- seriously, what was it that they hid in his mattress? The guards are messing up his visitors and letters.
So, pretty much what we figured was going on is going on. Bates is relieved because he thought maybe Anna had given up on him, but Friendly Prison Stranger Guy says, "Don’t be relived, the worst is yet to come with these guys!" This depressing look on Bates’s face pretty much sums up how he can never catch a break.
But then he smiles a little bit again, because he’s thinking of Anna.
Cut to Downton Abbey Downstairs, Alfred is failing a spoon quiz. Much more important matters are going on in the world than your prison problems, Bates! Also, I could listen to Carson say the word “bouillon” all day long.
Ethel has contacted Mrs. Hughes through a letter and would like to talk to her. After talking to Cousin Crawley, they decided to all meet at her house. Once again she almost doesn’t tell them what is wrong, and then Mrs. Hughes says, “Find a way, Ethel, we all have lives to lead!” Seriously! I’ve been saying that all season! Also, why are they all standing up during this conversation? It’s making me nervous.
The decision is made to try and contact Ethel’s child’s rich grandparents once again. She wants them to adopt him because she wants him to have the upper class life he deserves. On her way out, Cousin Crawley’s maid is not pleased to be touching a prostitute coat.
So, why can’t Crawley just give Ethel a job? I don’t get it. Again, the big secret is pretty much what we already knew.
Moving on, Mary looks amazing here right before the shizz hits the fan. Let’s reflect for a moment, shall we? Edith is looking a little too peach for my taste.
Reflection over. Apparently, Branson (I mean Tom) is in big revolutionary trouble and has shown up at the Crawley’s front door right in the middle of a fancy dinner! On top of the fact that he is soaking wet and without pregnant, hopeless Sybil! Shocked Faces Time:
Before talking to Tom, Lord Grantham laments, why can’t they just be a normal family? And the Dowager Countess replies, “No family is ever what it seems from the outside.” Wise words, Granny, wise words.
Everyone is freaking out and doesn’t exactly understand what Branson has done, but they know it is bad and that they hate him for it. This is the gist: Irish revolutionaries have burned down some castle in Ireland. The Dowager Countess thinks this is funny for one second because the castle is apparently very ugly, but then she composes herself because her humor is not making any of this any better.
Even though Branson didn’t burn the castle down, he was there. And even though he hates richie riches, he still felt very bad when he saw that poor richie rich family shivering in the rain watching their castle burn down. So he’s not totally evil, but everyone is still super mad at him for leaving Sybil behind. Here’s everyone looking really mad:
Even though because of their relatively modern relationship, I’m pretty sure Sybil was part of that decision to stay behind herself. Anyway, Lord Grantham puts an end to it all by telling him to “Go to bed!”
Downstairs, everyone is gossiping about Branson (I mean Tom) and Carson says, “Bedtime, I think?” Apparently, bed is the best way to solve problems!
But before bed, Carson is in for a fright. “What in God’s name is it?!” It’s an electric toaster! Carson declares it scarier then a dangerous revolutionary. Thanks for the chuckle, because we needed it, Carson. Things are getting real upstairs!
OMG another great distraction. Turns out, the new footman is a cutie and it can’t be denied! Even by Thomas!
Lord Grantham agrees to help Branson (I mean Tom) but only for Sybil’s sake. And Branson still has the nerve to be cheeky to his Lordship! Saying, “We all live in a harsh world, but at least I know I do.” Here’s my question: if Branson is as badass as he’s claiming to be, wouldn’t he have not come running to the Crawleys for help? Since the Crawleys are basically the English version of the family whose castle burnt down? His morals are confusing to me, but like the Crawleys, I just want Sybil to be happy.
We get a glimpse of some sort of Bates prison plan (more revenge, I’m assuming?) and then luckily we’re quickly back to Downton, looking at Mary in a beautiful dress.
Here, Mary convinces Carson to hire the cute footman candidate for the sake of “the ladies.” Carson agrees but in reference to Alfred being a hard and willing worker he had to add on “even if he is Miss O’Brien’s nephew.” Mary and Matthew think this is hilarious. It seems like O’Brien’s getting dissed hard at least once an episode this season! The lesson here: new bangs won’t change your life. I need to remember that the next time I get my hair cut.
Back at Cousin Crawley’s, Ethel decides she’d rather have her child raised rich and emotionally deprived than poor and loved by his mother. There are so many class issues in this episode! Cousin Crawly doesn’t fully understand, because, like Matthew, she’s oblivious to these sorts of things, but Mrs. Hughes gets it, and says, “She’s taken the road to ruin, there’s no way back.”
Sybil makes it home safe, thank God. We see a passionate kiss in the place where so many passionate kisses happen in this show!
Oooh! Back downstairs, Thomas sees the new footman shirtless! Please let them fall in love!
Upstairs at dinner, Edith has submitted an essay on women’s right to vote to the newspaper! Even though she’s finally stopped whining and found something to do, the Dowager and Cora do not approve. Cora says, “It’s good to have strong views but notoriety is never helpful.” I disagree, Cora! Yay, Edith!
In another “Yay, Edith” moment, she sticks up for Alfred, the less attractive footman. Hmm, wonder why.
After dinner, we finally get a thank you from Branson to Lord Grantham but it falls flat to his Lordship and me, the viewer. Not buying it, Branson, you better not burn Downton Abbey down, too! After Branson sheepishly leaves, Matthew tries to bring up managing money more effectively and Lord Grantham cuts him off because he’s obviously not interested. Matthew seems to be having second thoughts about using Dead Lavinia’s Dead Father’s money to save Downton.
Ugh, more prison nonsense. A pile of letters are thrown at Bates. He’s back in the good favor with the guards for framing his cellmate. Where do they get these “drugs” to use for framing purposes anyway? How long is this back and forth going to go on?
Meanwhile, Carson smells burnt toast for the first time in his life!
It’s bedtime again, and Branson’s butt looks really cute in his PJs.
In the morning, we find out that Edith’s essay was published! Lord Grantham is freaking out, but everyone else thinks it’s cool. “Earl’s daughter speaks out for women’s rights!” You guys, I bet Lady Edith would have loved xoJane, don’t you think?
Anna finally gets her pile of letters. Ha ha, look at the gray prison stationary, because everything in prison is gray.
Down in the kitchen, Daisy is about to tell Alfred she likes him or something thoroughly modern like that, and at that very moment, Mrs. Patmore butts in with the new kitchen maid hire. Daisy has been waiting her entire life for this moment! But, oh, no, she’s pretty!
(I guess. She doesn’t seem that pretty to me. She’s no new footman, if you know what I mean.) And WHAT?!? Alfred immediately falls for her?! Daisy is SO the downstairs Edith!
The episode ends with Matthew telling the Dowager Countess about his plans to better manage Downton Abbey’s finances and she understands but warns him that “a great many noses will be out of joint” by this. And finally we see Anna and Bates separately feeling their love for one another. Prison love means lots of crying.
And that’s the end! Personally, I went from being furious with Matthew last week to furious with Branson (I mean Tom) this week. And my newfound support for Edith is still going strong. Who are you guys mad at the most? Let’s get obsessive in the comments, shall we?