We begin this episode with Mary and Matthew coming back from their lovely honeymoon in the South of France, where apparently, Matthew’s “eyes have been opened.” Giggle. We have the two “grannies” barely being civil to each other at dinner, with Martha harping on how old fashioned and backwards the rest of the family is, and poor Violet trying to figure out how to stop her from, you know, talking. It’s awesome to see these formidable old dames going at it like this.
(Need to catch up? Don't miss Naz's recap of the Downton Abbey Season 3 premiere!)
Oh hey! Look at this! Matthew’s calling Lord G. by his first name. Huh. I guess when you’re the newly minted son-in-law you can forego certain formalities! Any way, he tells “Robert” about the whole business with Reggie’s will and the oodles of money that might come to him. At first, Lord G. doesn’t understand Matthew’s hesitance to accept the money, but once he makes his case about how he broke Lavinia’s heart, Lord G. relents. May I just say, while this is very noble of Matthew and all, it’s really not very practical. I mean, yes, he’s being very honorable, but this isn’t a romance novel, Matthew! It’s real life! Okay...I’m fine now. Moving on with the rest of the story.
Meanwhile, Violet and Mary are trying to figure out how in the world all the money was lost, and see if they can find another “untapped” revenue source to rescue Downton.
Violet: “If only we had some coal. Or gravel. Or tin.”
Mary: “Well I can think of someone who’s got plenty of tin …”
Oh-oh. She’s talking about Martha. This is not going to go well. They overhear a conversation between Martha, Isobel, and Cora, talking about the women’s charity Isobel’s involved in, and Martha asks if they need her to donate some money:
Cora: “You don’t have to give money after every conversation, mother!”
Martha: “Oh? Isn’t that what the English expect of rich Americans?”
Oh yeah. This is definitely not going to go well.
Well, it seems that Mary’s resigned herself to the fact that Matthew will simply not accept Reggie’s money. Lying in bed together (very sexy!), they talk about finding a house, because these are going to be their last days at Downton. The Duchess comes over for a secret meeting with Mary to plot how to get money from Martha. Mary assures her that her American grandmamma is “made of money,” and when she dies, all her wealth will be split between Cora, and her brother Harold. Violet objects to having to wait that long, because “[Martha] looks like she’s going to outlive [them] all!” She thinks it’s best to somehow convince Martha that it’s her duty to save Downton. Did I mention this isn’t going to go well? Yeah, well, now I’m really convinced of it. But watching them try is going to be lots of fun.
Anyway, they gang up on Martha during tea at the Dowager House. Cora’s there too, but of course, she has no clue about their secret plans. Violet goes on about how the Crawleys and Levinsons have always supported each other as a family, and how strong their bonds are, but Martha’s not buying it…yet. Mary and Violet continue with their “plan” at dinner, and talk at length about how important it is to maintain Downton’s traditions.
Meanwhile, it turns out that Matthew really is Reggie’s heir, and he’s most definitely not going to accept the money. Mary shares her plan to ask Martha for money, and Matthew is pretty indignant about it:
Matthew: “So you mean to fleece her.”
Mary: “Since you’re the one to get us out of this hole if you wanted to, I won’t take any criticism, thank you.”
Cora’s not a big fan of the plan either. She doesn’t think it’s right for her mother to dish out more money towards Downton. She tells Mary that the worse thing that could happen to them is they move to a smaller estate. Mary, in her most haughty way, says that since she is going to be the Countess one day, she wants to make sure Downton is secure for her.
As usual, intrigue abounds downstairs: Thomas is (typically) giving the new guy, Alfred, a hard time. Apparently, he’s upset that the new kid is Matthew’s valet, so he tries to sabotage Alfred’s work. Matthew’s fine with the little burn in his tailcoat, but he happens to mention the incident during dinner, Carson overhears, and now poor Alfred’s in trouble. When Alfred points out that he listened to Thomass’ advice, Thomas denies the whole thing. Oh, and to make matters worse, he goes over Carson’s head and tells Lord G. that Alfred’s just not ready to be a valet, and that they should bring Mr. Molesley up to tend to Matthew. Once O’Brien finds out, she vows to make Thomas sorry.
Oh no! Mrs. Hughes found a lump on her breast! She’s so scared! Mrs. Patmore tries to reassure her and offers to go to the doctor with her. When Mrs. Hughes worries about the cost, Mrs. Patmore tells her it’s better to pay the doctor rather than the undertaker! The two of them go to see Dr. Clarkson, and the biopsy is inconclusive. Eep! Meanwhile, Mrs. Hughes is out of sorts, and since she won’t let Mrs. Patmore tell anyone what’s going on, gets yelled at by Carson who’s expecting perfection.
In the Anna and Bates corner, it seems that there was a Mrs. Bartlett (sic) who lived around the corner from Vera, and who might have some information about her death, and wants to go meet with her. Bates cautions her that Mrs. Bartlett was basically Vera’s best friend and might not be in their corner, but Anna’s determined. And we have a little bit of sexy flirting: Anna tells Bates that she bought a garter while she was in the South of France with Mary & Matthew. Ooh la la!
On the Edith and Lord Strallen front, it seems that Violet is not a big fan of the couple, and she asks Lord G. to tell Strallen to end it. Well, Strallen has been trying to dissuade Edith on his own, but she just won’t have it. When Lord G. asks him to break it off, Strallen’s very understanding and offers to write Edith a letter, asking her to stop visiting him. Poor Edith! She gets the letter the next morning and is really upset by it. Martha steps in to comfort her and they both confront Lord G. about his interference. Edith vows to basically stalk Lord Strallen at his house, and after seeing how truly upset this has made Edith, Lord G. agrees to invite Strallen back to Downton.
The evening of Downton's big dinner party with all the local gentry arrives, and they’ve really gone above and beyond. It almost feels like a final, goodbye party for the house. Everyone’s dressed to the nines, with the exception of Matthew, whose ruined tailcoat has yet to arrive back from London where it was being mended. Oh, and sneaky O’Brien has hidden Lord G.’s dinner shirts, just to get Thomas in trouble. It’s always fun to watch Thomas sweating it out. So, both Lord G. and Matthew come downstairs in their dinner jackets and black tie, which of course, is quite a disaster.
Lord G.: “I feel like a Chicago bootlegger!”
Violet: “Well, I don’t even know what that means, but it sounds almost as peculiar as you look.”
Meanwhile, the oven in the kitchen, which had been acting up all week, has stopped working all together, and there’s no way to get dinner ready for the guests. Can you say absolute chaos? Martha comes to the rescue and tells Carson to clear the fancy set-up in the dining room, and bring up all the accoutrements for an “indoor picnic,” and allow the guests to eat wherever they want! The stuffy evening turns into a casual (well, as casual as can be in Downton) night of fun, with music and singing. Clearly, Martha’s winning her battle to bring Downton into the “modern” world of 1920!
Lord Strallen and Edith have a very sweet scene, and he admits that he cares for her. He’s really tender and proposes to her, which of course, she accepts. Yay!
Violet and Mary finally approach Martha and tell her the truth. She offers to help, but not with money. Apparently, Mr. Levinson had tied up the money so that the Crawleys couldn’t get their hands on any more of it (or so Martha says), but she offers to host the entire family in Newport and New York. Violet looks positively devastated. I honestly thought for a moment that she might have a stroke or something.
After the dinner is over, Martha has a nice chat with Lord G. and tells him that she’s sorry for not being able to help, and that he should learn to adapt to the new world.
Martha: “You know the way to deal with the world today is not to ignore it. If you do, you’ll just get hurt.”
Lord G.: “Sometimes I feel like a creature in the wild whose natural habitat is gradually being destroyed.
Martha: “Some animals adapt to new surroundings. It seems a better choice than extinction.”
Lord G.: “I don’t think it is a choice. I think it’s what’s in you.”
Martha: “Well let’s hope that what’s in you will carry you through these times to a safer shore.”
Downstairs, Carson comes over to ask Mrs. Hughes if everything is all right, and she still won’t tell him about her health problems. Meanwhile, back at the prison, Bates gets into a scuffle with his cellmate and basically beats the guy up. I hope this guy doesn’t end up creating problems for Bates. He needs to get out and be with Anna!
In a couple of minor plot lines, Martha’s maid has a thing for Alfred, and keeps kissing him in corners. And Isobel runs into Ethel, the maid who got pregnant, and refused to give up her son to his paternal grandparents. Well, she shows up at the women’s shelter to talk to Isobel, but chickens out at the last minute. I’m sure we’ll find out more about this in future episodes.
Next week’s episode looks to be really interesting. We have Edith and Strallen’s wedding, Mary and Matthew having a big fight over Reggie’s money (which apparently, Matthew has decided to give away), and the family is looking at smaller homes, and Violet quips about opening up a “shop” in the village. Can’t wait!
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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.