Well, things are certainly starting to get intense as we embark on the third episode of the season. And I’m not just talking about the war here! We have lots of drama with Anna and Bates, Sybil and Branson, Mary and Matthew, and … Ethel and Major Bryant???
The episode starts with the Abbey all in an uproar as it’s getting converted to a convalescence home. All the pretty furniture is being moved out and replaced with hospital beds and wooden foldout chairs. Mrs. Crawley is completely in her element, clenching her clipboard and bossing everyone around, including Cora—who’s not too happy about the situation. Seems there are just too many ladies in charge here.
Good ole O’Brien fans the flames of Cora’s discontent and suggests that maybe there should be someone from the military in charge of the day to day operations and hmm...let’s see...who better than Thomas for the job? What? You’re worried about a footman being in charge? Not to worry! O’Brien’s figured it all out. See, Thomas is not a footman any more. He’s a corporal in the army with medical training. He’d be perfect for the job! But what about his rank? He’s not an officer. Figured that one out too. Dr. Clarkson has put in a request and Thomas is being promoted to Acting Sergeant. So here we are: Thomas is coming back to the Abbey. And he’s going to be in charge. This is going to be fun. Seriously, I can’t believe how naïve Cora can be when it comes to O’Brien and her schemes!
Once the entire scenario is presented to Lord G., he balks, but all of his arguments are countered and he ends up accepting Thomas’s return. Mrs. Crawley expects to be in charge of the household in general and sort of a go-between Dr. Clarkson and Thomas. Cora hates the idea, of course, and in the end, it’s decided that the duties will be divided between the two ladies. Oh, as a small aside? Evelyn Napier has been injured at the front and Mary wants to know if they can bring him over to the Abbey. Dr. Clarkson objects because that would mean pulling a favor and going against the established military system of assigning the injured to specific hospitals, but Lord G. loses it and tells him that it’s his house and he’ll invited whomever he wants to stay with them. So there! It’s so rare to see Lord G. lose it like this. It’s fun to watch everyone cower when he does. I like that they’ve established Evelyn’s possible return. I’m sure it will get all muddled up with Mary and Edith (and the letter she wrote about Mr. Pamuk, etc.)
Over in the Matthew/Mary corner, it seems Auntie Rosamund has told everyone about her little discovery in the garden with Sir Richard and Lavinia. Remember that little tidbit from last week? You know, when he was threatening poor sweet Lavinia with...something? Anyway, Rosamund and the Dowager are cooking up a scheme to find out exactly what’s going on so that maybe they can discredit Lavinia, help Matthew see the error of his ways, and come running back to Mary. Only problem is Mary’s not so convinced.
I said this last week and I’ll say it again: I really wasn’t a huge fan of Mary’s before, but I have to say, I’m really liking the new and improved version. She’s not as selfish and self-centered as she used to be.
Back in London, the Dowager pays a visit to Rosamund and finds out Lavinia’s secret. Well, first, they invite Lavinia over for tea and practically interrogate her about her “relationship” with Sir Richard. Turns out that Sir Richard was friends with her father and uncle. Of course, Rosamund and the Dowager dig deeper and they find out that Lavinia stole secrets from her uncle and gave them to Sir Richard, who promptly published the information, incriminating half the British cabinet of an insider trading scheme. The “Marconi Scandal” embarrassed and questioned the honor of some pretty important people and Lavinia was at the center of all of it. Rosamund implies that she gave the information to Sir Richard because they were lovers. Mary is still not convinced. Go Mary!
Okay, yes, I want Mary and Matthew to get together too, but I like that Mary’s not willing to drag Lavinia through the mud. Maybe it’s because she’s been in the middle of a scandal herself (a much less public one of course) and she feels a sort of kinship with Lavinia. What’s also interesting is that she doesn’t seem too bothered by Sir Richard having an (alleged) affair and this is the man she’s supposed to like enough to consider marrying!
Meanwhile, during her weekly trip down to the village, Anna gets a glimpse of—gasp!—Bates! But…but…but … what is he DOING here? How? When? Why? She confides in Mary about her little sighting and Mary offers to call her beau (!!!) Sir Richard and ask him to snoop around and find out what’s going on. Guess what! Bates has taken a job working at a local pub. What in the world? He was supposed to be shacked up with his estranged wife (well, not willingly of course, but still!)
Of course, Anna finds the pub and (gently) confronts Bates. Seems Bates’s lovely wife has added to her already long list of virtues (insert sarcasm here) and has been cheating on him. This is great news because now he has a reason to divorce her. Yay! But why is he HERE? Well, he had to leave Vera in order to strengthen his claims against her and decided to take a job at the pub because he wanted to be near Anna. Awww. He was in the village when Anna saw him because he knew she always went down there on Wednesdays. Sigh.
Bates: “You’ve changed your hair”
Anna: “I was trying out Lady Mary’s new curling iron. What do you think?”
Bates: “I think I would love you however, whatever, whenever …”
Anna offers to become his mistress just to be with him and of course, Bates doesn’t accept that, “I know you Anna Smith and I love you and that is not the right path for you. It won’t be long now.” My heart! Seriously, they are so awesome together. Anna and Bates forever!
Oh my god! Branson’s been called in to serve! Eep! But wait—he’s decided to be a conscientious objector. And, he’s going to do it in style. He’s going to report in for duty, get his training and then during the final ceremony, he’s going to denounce the army and the war. Sybil is not too happy to hear about his rebelliousness, but well, Branson is being stubborn about it. Sadly though, his plans are thwarted when the army rejects him after his physical. Apparently, he has a heart murmur and is disqualified. He hasn’t given up his plans to make his opinions about the war known, though. He’s going to find some way to make a statement. Turns out he’s a fan of the Russian uprising and sees himself as quite the rebel. Sybil tries to talk him out of it, but to no avail.
Thomas shows up at the Abbey full of his usual charm. None of the servants (minus O’Brien) are really thrilled to have him back, least of all Carson who now has to (technically) report to him. This is just a disaster waiting to happen. I know Thomas is going to pull something.
The convalescing officers finally begin to arrive and poor Mr. Lang is having some serious flashbacks. Mrs. Patmore comforts him and shares her nephew’s story with him. Lang, who doesn’t realize the other servants don’t know the full story (i.e. that he was shot for cowardice) lets the cat out of the bag at the dinner table, embarrassing poor Mrs. P. Later on, the servants are all woken up by Lang’s screams as he has a nightmare. O’Brien is there to help him get back to sleep.
Seems like Edith’s finally found her calling. Well, I mean, they established that she wanted to be helpful last week when she helped the Drakes, albeit with disastrous results, so her need to find something useful to do is nothing new. In her own quiet way, Edith starts taking care of the soldiers and gets them books from the library and helps write letters for them.
Matthew’s back! He’s still on tour with General Strutt and is granted a short leave. The family decides to have a proper dinner party and invite the general to see the progress of the Abbey as a bonafide convalescent home first hand. Carson’s worried that the dinner won’t go off very well without a footman and Branson steps in and offers to help. Oh oh. This can’t be good.
In a cute little aside, one of the officers— a hot looking Major Bryant—catches Ethel’s eye and she starts to flirt with him, to the dismay of Mrs. Hughes. I love how brazen Ethel is and how she really doesn’t buy into the whole class distinction. She’s the perfect example of lines being blurred by the changing world. I hope they carry her storyline further. It’d be fun to see her married off to an officer and a “lady” in her own house. Hah.
William comes back to spend one last night at the Abbey before he’s deployed. Daisy’s all aflutter because she doesn’t know what to do with his, er, declarations of love and Mrs. Patmore tells her that she has to just be agreeable and pretend like she feels the same way about him. She tells Daisy that William can’t go off to war with a broken heart and that she can always break the engagement when he comes back. William proposes and Daisy accepts, all under the watchful eye of Mrs. P.
The general arrives and is quite impressed with the care given to the soldiers. Everyone’s seated for dinner and Branson’s carrying the soup tureen, but he looks really nervous. Anna’s upstairs cleaning Sybil’s room when she finds a note from Branson asking Sybil to forgive him and that “the bastard had it coming to him!” Of course, she runs downstairs in a mad dash and finds Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson and they stop Branson right as he’s about to start serving the soup. They remove him discreetly from the dining room and take the soup away only to find that he never intended to murder anyone. He’d just made some disgusting slop and wanted to dump it on the general’s head! LOL. Carson’s obviously pretty upset and William offers to step in and act as footman, so the dinner goes off relatively smoothly.
The best part of the dinner is when the general salutes and toasts Edith for her kindness and generosity to the patients. It’s really a sweet moment for Edith. She’s finally acknowledged for something!
Meanwhile, The Dowager and Rosamund try to pressure Mary into giving Lavinia away and telling Matthew the sordid details of her history with Sir Richard. They keep hinting at it at dinner, but Mary doesn’t say anything. Afterwards, she pulls Lavinia aside and they have a little heart-to-heart.
Lavinia admits to having given the sensitive information to Sir Richard, but only because her father owed him a large sum of money and he’d blackmailed her. And she adamantly denies ever having been Sir Richard’s lover. Back in the drawing room, Mary tells Matthew (in front of Rosamund) that Lavinia is absolutely perfect and completely charming! Again, hooray for Mary!
The evening is a success and as the general is getting ready to leave, Mr. Lang, who’s standing with the servants to see the general off, has a bit of a meltdown. The stress of having all the wounded officers around and seeing the general are just too much for him. He ends up packing his bags and leaving, with Carson’s good wishes and promise to recommend him when he feels he’s ready to go back to work.
Lord G. asks Matthew to assign William as his servant at the front and keep an eye on him, and of course, Matthew agrees. Back in their bedroom, Cora sadly admits that while Matthew and Mary looked great together during dinner, Lavinia is in fact a nice girl. Lord G. sums it up beautifully, “We dreamed a dream my dear, but now it’s over. The world was in a dream before the war, but now it’s woken up and said goodbye to it. And so must we.”
What did I tell you? Intense.
So next week, there’s a glimpse of Branson and Sybil, where he’s telling her that he’ll leave only when she’s ready to run off with him (squee!) and oh my god, Bates comes back! Matthew and William go off on some mission, and oh no! Matthew’s MISSING???
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Or, carry on to the episode 4 recap...
Naz Keynejad is an avid reader, wanna-be writer, editor and self-professed geek. She has a “thing” for period dramas and will watch anything as long as it’s filled with suppressed sexual tension, angst and of course, period costumes. Oh, and there has to be tea. Lots of tea.