Mary wheels Matthew along the verdant grounds of the Downton estate. When he complains that he is strong enough to wheel himself, she responds: “I’ll be the judge of that!” Leave it to her to find a way to further castrate a man with erectile dysfunction. Yes, Mary’s in top form.
SPOILERS AFTER THE CUT!
From afar, this little scene must look very romantic. If you’re insane. Which is what Sir Richard appears to be when he asks Lord Grantham if he should be jealous of Matthew. The Earl is clearly wondering the same thing as me, since he shoots him his best “Whatchoo talkin’ bout, Willis?” look. At the lack of response, Sir Richard tells him that he’s thinking of buying the Haxby Estate next door. Lord Grantham is horrified when he hears of Sir Richard’s plan to know more about Fleck water softeners and renovate the estate and install central heating and indoor plumbing. Wait till he hears about the trained pet monkey Sir Richard’s bought just so that it can crank the projector in the home cinema, and that he hired a former brothel pianist to supply live musical accompaniment.
Downstairs, Ethel tries to convince Daisy to claim her veteran’s widow pension. She refuses: “How long was I married? Six hours, seven?” Well, that’s longer than Britney Spears. At least an Elvis impersonator didn’t officiate at your wedding, Daisyleh. Mrs. Patmore tells Daisy that William wanted her to be looked after, but Daisy yells that he made her a liar. Oh, dear. This is what happens when you get married during puberty.
Isobel is back and more insufferable than ever. At tea, she asks Cora and Lady Vi what will happen to Downton once the war is over. When Cora answers that they’ll go back to the way things were, Isobel blubbers: “That life of changing clothes and killing things and eating them—!” Isobel’s a hippie now!! She might even be a fregan, maybe even a fregan vegan! Well, just as long as she doesn’t open a nudist colony at Downton. That might just finish off Lady Vi.
The Earl, Lady Vi, and Cora discuss Sir Richard. Lady Vi explains how she feels about Mary’s beau: “I don’t dislike him, I just don’t like him, which is quite different.” Exactly! This is what I keep trying to convey to well-meaning souls who set me up on blind dates. For the record, just because a man walks on two legs and has opposable thumbs does not mean we’re a match made in heaven. Granted, it helps. I’m just complicated. When the Earl blabs about Sir Richard’s renovation plans, he and Lady Vi tsk-tsk, but Cora says, “I’m an American. I don’t share your English hatred for comfort.” Or for egregious culinary creations, Cora’s too polite to add. The Earl’s clear preference for outhouses and chamberpots is my first clue that he and I may not be compatible. I resolve to include this in my online dating profile going forward.
Oh, my God, Sir Richard’s been swallowed up by a giant vulv—Oh, no, sorry. That’s just a room with shiny pink wallpaper. Hmm, I’m beginning to understand Lord Grantham’s trepidation about Sir Richard’s renovation plans. Sir Richard would like to hire Carson for the new place. You can tell Carson’s hoping Sir Richard finds a better interior decorator. One whose inspiration is not the female reproductive system.
In other horrible news, Bates’ wife refuses to divorce him. She’s told the judge that he bribed her and now the divorce has been thrown out of court. Anna says that doesn’t matter, she’ll be with him always. Anna must have the libido of a lake trout. And off to London Bates goes to get it all straightened out.
Dr. Clarkson mentions that a young, badly burned Canadian officer has asked for permission to convalesce at Downton. The young Canadian claims to be related to the Crawleys. The Earl grants him permission and vaguely wonders about the long-lost relative who goes by the name of P. Gordon. Am I the only one who keeps reading this as P. Diddy? Oh, how I’d love to see the Earl’s reaction were he to discover he’s related to the man formerly known as Puff Daddy!
Sir Richard takes Mary on a jaunt to the Haxby estate, their new home. It is beautiful. Let us hope Sir Richard has the decency to leave the place unscathed by his vulgarian touch. Lady Mary asks what will they do about furniture. Sir Richard says they’ll buy it, of course. Mary says, haughtily: “Your lot buys it. My lot inherits it.” Well, Mary, if it’s any consolation, my lot assembles it from an Ikea kit, after much cussing and fumbling.
Luckily for P. Gordon, the first Crawley to make his acquaintance is Lady Edith. He immediately asks if she recognizes him. If you’re swathed in bandages from head to toe, this is a very awkward position to put a well-brought up young lady in. Unless he went as the Invisible Man every Halloween as a kid. Come to think of it, this is a very cheap costume, especially for homely kids. Or even for me if, say, Halloween falls during an acne breakout this year. There is a split second of an awkward moment, but Edith, being British, recovers nicely and runs away. The British have an unerring gift for the polite and hasty retreat, no? I must take notes and deploy this on my next date.
The new maid Jane, who is NOT a redhead, seems to be developing “the feelings” for Lord Grantham. Not that I blame her, since he gives me “the feelings” myself whenever he shows up in tailcoats. Carson carelessly scheduled a wine delivery at the same time as lunch and now Jane must serve the Earl instead. Lord Grantham asks after her son and she tells him about the kid’s education prospects. He is angling for a scholarship. Lord Grantham offers to put in a good word. Oh, Robert, you are such a tease. Poor Jane is a goner.
Carson catches Mrs. Hughes stealing food for Ethel and her child. I gotta say, it would chill my blood if Carson gave me that look he just gave her. When he’s stern, he looks just like Grandpa Munster. Next thing you know, he and Mrs. Hughes stand before Cora. Tattletales, man. The MI4 or the M80 — or whatever the British secret service is called – should recruit the entire household. Mrs. Hughes tells Cora about Ethel’s predicament. Cora plans to invite Major Bryant to Downton. Maybe Lord Grantham can prevail upon him to take responsibility. Oh, yeah. Like he won’t see that coming from a mile away, Cora.
The burned Canadian soldier is worming his way into Edith’s heart. He has an improbable explanation for every reasonable question she asks. For instance, why didn’t he come forward sooner, preferably before he replaced his dashing British accent for a Canadian one, eh? Oh, because, you see, he had amnesia! Let me tell you something, my memory is shot to the point that I forget a man’s name even after six months of courtship, but I’d remember if I had misplaced an estate, a fortune, and a houseload of servants eager to wait on me hand and foot. What about your name, asks Edith. He got it from a bottle of gin. Oh, yes. That’s not the slightest bit suspicious, getting a moniker from an alcoholic beverage. If he’d chosen Tom Collins as his monicker, at least he’d show more sophisticated taste in cocktails. Edith being Edith, she finds all this irrefutable proof that P. Gordon is indeed the late cousin Patrick, heir to the Grantham estate.
She brings this up to her father, who gathers everyone in the library to discuss. I half expected him to propose a game of Clue. Or to reveal who the real killer is. Except there’s been no murder. Or at least not yet. But more on that later. Anyway, what he reveals instead is the presence of a pretender in their midst. You can tell Sir Richard is about to flip his lid with jealousy. Matthew has a full-on tantrum. Mary poo-poos the whole notion. Really, no one but Edith believes that it’s plausible.
Sir Richard does not like how Mary wheels Matthew about. It’s unseemly. Tongues will wag. Ah, Sir Richard, if you only knew about Mary’s propensity for kicking a man in the metaphorical cojones, you’d jump on the first Zeppelin out of town. He threatens Mary that she has given him enough material to destroy her, so she better behave. Then he kisses her. Mary, did you not get that handout at the local high school? The one with that handy dandy list of telltale signs your boyfriend might be abusive? Gaudy taste in decor, creepy strong-arm tactics, I wonder if Sir Richard is part of the Russian mob.
Lady Edith and the Canadian are growing closer. You know Edith, always falling for the inappropriate male. It’s like she and Mary have a competition to see who can win the “Fall for the Unavailable and Untrustworthy Man” Award. When she tells young P. Gordon that her family does not believe his tale, he too has a tantrum. I cannot abide an ill-tempered, ill-behaved man, and am more than a little miffed that Mary and Edith have not put their foot down at these shenanigans. As well-connected as the Crawleys are, do they not know of a good analyst to send their daughters to?
Talking about unavailable men with bad manners, Sybil all of a sudden exhibits an interest in motors. She asks Branson to teach her to fix an engine. This must be her way of saying, “You do rev my motor after all. Can I touch your tool?” That would be more awkward than that Jamie’s lap dance for Ben on the last episode of The Bachelor. Anyway, just as Branson brightens up, she runs away, saying that is Edith’s department. Why, Sybil, don’t you know it’s wrong to tease?
Bates returns from London with a rather suspicious gash on his forehead and a smug smirk. Well. I am no expert in forensics, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bates finally took matters into his own hands and fixed Vera Bates. No, I mean, kill her. Not have her tubes tied. But would Bates debase himself this way? I sure hope so. God invented TV so that we could all enjoy the vicarious thrill of seeing good people kill evil people. Anyway, while the downstairs denizens arch their brows in suspicion at Bates’ self-satisfied grin, who should show up but the Earl? He has wonderful news! The war is over. Announcing the beginning and end of wars is the Earl’s only responsibility. You wouldn’t think he’d shirk it, would you?
When Edith goes to find her Canadian soldier, she finds that he’s gone. Abandoned by yet another man! Oh, Edith, at this point, maybe you should hire a matchmaker. I hear there’s a faboo one out in Flushing, whose every match leads to marriage. Unfortunately for you and me, she only caters to native Chinese. Now that the war is over, you have all the time in the world to learn Mandarin.
Everyone is gathered at the entrance, the Crawleys, the servants, the convalescent soldiers too bland to merit a storyline. As the camera pans over them, I wonder why, pray tell, could Lady Edith not find a nice prospect among this fine lot. Or Mary. Or Sybil. Or Anna, for that matter. Anyway, Lord Grantham makes a moving speech about how this is the dawn of a new era. For a second there, I thought he was going to kick up his heels and belt out, “This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius, AQUARIUS!” But, alas, he represses the urge in time for everyone to observe a minute of silence. I’m glad at least one male member of the cast can behave with decorum.
Talking about decorum, apparently there’s something about the way Bates wheels Matthew, for I do believe that the latter had had “stirrings.” Okay, one stirring in a very particular place, if you catch my drift. Yes, I think this is Matthew’s “it moved” moment, as George Constanza would say. I may be reading way too much into this, though. On the one hand, this would be such good news for he and Mary. On the other hand, if Bates has the magic touch, that’s all veering off into a rather tangled plotline.
Carson hands Bates a telegram. His wife’s dead! And then we cut to the welcome sight of Vera Bates splayed out on the floor, looking every bit the victim of foul play. Apparently she was tempted by a very enticing scaffold.
I bid you adieu, dear hearts. Until next week! I am off to learn Chinese!