Fair warning! This week’s episode was really emotional. I was a bawling mess by the time it was over.
The episode started with a gruesome sequence at the front with Matthew and William getting ready to head out on an offensive with their squadron. The scene is especially poignant because the scene shows all the soldiers praying, reading letters or lovingly caressing pictures of loved ones.
**WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD.**
Just as they start the attack and we see the enemy start firing at them, there’s a shot of Daisy standing frozen in the kitchen over at Downton. When Mrs. Patmore asks her what’s wrong, she just looks stricken and says she felt someone walk over her grave (which means she just got the chills). Snapping back to the front, the fighting is just one giant, confusing mess with soldiers from both sides being blown to pieces and we’re back at the Abbey, watching Mary gasp and drop her cup of tea on the carpet. She apologizes to everyone and says she just suddenly felt cold. Back at the front, William and Matthew are running when a shell explodes right next to them and … oh no! They’re both down! Covered in blood and lying in the mud.
Back at the Abbey, O’Brien wakes Cora & Lord G. up to see Moselely with an urgent telegram basically letting everyone know that Matthew’s been badly injured and is being transferred to the hospital in Downton. Poor Mary is just speechless and looks horrified. No news of William yet, but Edith volunteers to drive over to Mr. Mason’s house (William’s father) to find out if he’s received any news in the morning.
I have to tell you, scenes like this are what make me love this show so much. The entire household is facing the horrible news as one united front. You see all of them huddled together in their nightgowns and robes and for this one moment, there is no class distinction. They’re just members of an extended family.
So it seems that William has been sent to some hospital in Leeds because he’s not an officer and can’t stay at the Downton hospital. The Dowager and Edith confront Dr. Clarkson and basically demand William’s transfer and the doctor refuses on the grounds that the hospital is strictly there for the officers and he can’t pull any favors, even for the Abbey’s household staff. Violet is seriously upset by this and sets about trying to get William back home.
Downstairs, news of both Matthew and William’s predicaments has affected everyone. It’s brought it home to all of them, so to speak. Even Thomas is upset! He also makes some noise about how unfair it is that William is not being transferred to Downton simply because of his rank and how it seems that “their lot” always gets the short end of the stick. Seems that poor Mr. Mason has to spend an inordinate amount of money to be able to visit William.
Anna and Bates go to church to pray for Matthew and William and they have this really sweet moment with Bates apologizing for not being able to give Anna a real wedding:
Bates: “You should’ve had a church wedding. You in a white dress, me looking like a fool …”
Anna: “I’d rather have the right man than the right wedding.”
How sweet are they? Bates seems to be convinced that the divorce is going to be finalized pretty soon. Apparently, he’s paid Vera off and is optimistic about her actually taking the money and going away for good.
Meanwhile, Mary’s decided to go down to the hospital and wait for Matthew. Cora’s written to Lavinia, of course, and Lord G.’s been trying to find Isobel. But Mary’s determined to be there for Matthew and promises to be a good volunteer and not get in anyone’s way. They bring Matthew in on a stretcher and oh god! He really doesn’t look good. He’s been unconscious for a while and he’s pale with lots of bloody scratches and bruises. Sybil starts to clean him up and Mary jumps right in there to help. I’m so proud of her! She’s being so strong.
It turns out that O’Brien, in her typical conniving way, has written Vera a letter telling her about Bates’ return to the Abbey. Somewhat out of character, she confides to Thomas that she wishes she hadn’t done that because the family really doesn’t need another headache on top of everything else that’s going on.
Vera shows up and is her usual cheery self, throwing vitriol at Bates and Anna and basically telling them that the money isn’t enough to keep her quiet and she’s going to sell her story to the highest bidder. Anna tells Mary about Vera’s threats, prompting her to take a trip to London and ask Sir Richard for help.
In a hilarious scene, Violet calls “Shrimpy” (who is in fact, the Marquis of Fincher (sic) and a member of the Cabinet) to ask for help with William’s transfer. Watching her struggle with the phone is priceless. “Is this an instrument of communication or torture?” I think Maggie Smith deserves an Emmy for every single scene she’s in. Her delivery is just impeccable! Of course, she’s successful and manages to get him transferred over to the Abbey to rest, but not before we find out that his condition is beyond repair. Poor William is dying and there’s nothing anyone can do! So they bring William over to Downton and set him up in one of the guest bedrooms and Edith volunteers to look after him.
Daisy feels guilty and ashamed for leading William on and wants to tell him the truth and break it off with him, but Mrs. Patmore convinces her to keep up the pretence since he’s dying. This is so sad! William knows he’s about to die, so he asks Daisy to marry him right away so that as his widow she’d be eligible to collect his army pension. Oh, my heart! After much coaxing from Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes, Daisy relents and agrees to marry him. Now all they need is to convince the local vicar to perform the ceremony.
Back at the hospital, Matthew’s finally awake, but his condition is pretty serious. His spine has been damaged and he can’t feel his legs. Dr. Clarkson tells Lord G. that Matthew will probably never walk again and worse than that, will not be able to have any children. Gah! Lavinia comes to visit him and he basically tells her that he won’t subject her to life with an impotent invalid. He tells her to go back to London and try to forget about him. Lavinia’s a mess about it and confides in Mary who tells her that she shouldn’t give up. But Matthew’s adamant and breaks off the engagement. So long, Lavinia!
Mary goes to London, meets with Sir Richard and confesses all the sordid details of the Pamuk affair. After railing at her a bit about her behavior, he agrees to help silence Vera, but still expects Mary to marry him. He feels that her involvement with the scandal has knocked her off her high pedestal and has made him more his equal. I really don’t like him. He’s just way too smarmy for me. Any way, he meets with Vera and offers her money for her story, in exchange for her signing a contract agreeing not to share it with anyone else. Vera falls for it and signs the contract but the next day, instead of publishing the scandal, Sir Richard’s paper announces his engagement to Mary! Vera’s livid, and can’t believe she’s been duped, but there’s nothing she can do about it. She vows to find a way to ruin Bates’s happiness any way. Well, at least the scandal has blown over for the moment, but I’m really apprehensive about Vera. I can’t imagine what she’s going to come up with next!
Back at the hospital, Matthew confides in Mary about his reasons for breaking off his engagement to Lavinia. It’s a beautiful moment between the two of them. He’s so vulnerable and she’s so caring.
Matthew: “I couldn’t marry her. Not now. I couldn’t marry any woman.”
Mary: “And if they should just want to be with you? On any terms?”
Matthew: “No one sane would want to be with me as I am now. Including me … I was just thinking it seems such a short time ago since I turned you down, and now look at me! Impotent, crippled and stinking of sick. What a reversal! You have to admit it is rather funny.”
Mary: “All I’ll admit is that you’re here and you’ve survived the war. That is enough for now.”
It’s beautiful to see them together like this even though it’s clearly under less than ideal circumstances. I think that through it all, they’ve at least developed a really deep friendship. As they’re talking, Isobel walks in and Matthew just bursts into tears when he sees her.
Meanwhile, the staff is preparing for William and Daisy’s wedding, but the vicar has still not been convinced to perform the ceremony. The Dowager steps in again and reminds the good Reverend Travis that he basically serves at the pleasure of the Granthams (seeing as how his “living” and house all due to Lord G.’s generosity) and maybe he would “find some way to overcome [his] scruples.” The vicar agrees, and in one of the saddest weddings I’ve ever seen, William and Daisy are quietly married. Everyone’s in tears because William is clearly drawing his last breaths. He dies a few hours after, with Daisy and his father sitting by his bedside. I guess the funeral we’ve all known about is going to be his. So, so sad.
In a minor storyline (but one that I think we’ll come back to more in upcoming episodes), Ethel has now had the baby and is living in a hovel in another village. Mrs. Hughes takes her food and tries to help her as much as she can. Seems like the dashing Major Bryant hasn’t responded to any of Ethel’s pleas to see the baby. Mrs. Hughes tries to corner Major Bryant into reading one of Ethel’s letters but he basically blows her off. In an interesting twist, Mrs. Hughes has hired a new maid (Jane) who happens to be a widow with a small child.
In the Sybil and Branson corner, nothing much happened this week, other than more innuendo and longing looks (from Branson’s side) and denials (from Sybil’s). Oh, there was an instance when Branson reached out to steady Sybil and accidentally held on to her for a second. It looked like they might kiss but of course, they didn’t. Sigh.
Next week promises more drama with Bates and Vera and I guess Mr. Carson is going somewhere because he asks Mrs. Hughes if she’s going to miss him! Branson tells Sybil that he’ll wait forever and Mary tells Matthew that she doesn’t have to marry Sir Richard! There’s also a scene implying the existence of another heir to Downton! Wow. Can’t wait!
Want more? Carry on to episode 6...
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.