This was a week of heart to hearts at Downton. As usual, that was accompanied by lots of things simmering just below the surface (mostly with the downstairs crew) and a few things finally boiling over. Continued discussions of manners and tradition got so heated that Edith left dinner table before dessert!
Aunt Rosamund has a heart to heart with Edith. She wants to see Marigold. They have a brief visit, freaking out Mrs. Drewe. She is furious with her husband for how this whole situation has gone down. He warns Edith to stop coming or his wife will have him give up the farm to get away from her. He puts his foot down, but he’s as upset as Edith, in his way. Later, after a chat at the Dowager Countess’ house, she and Rosamund conspire to get Marigold back and send her to a boarding school in France without her true identity ever being revealed. So, they want to kidnap her, basically. They implore Edith to do this, and nearly get caught talking about the topic by Cora. Edith sneaks away downstairs to call someone in London in Carson’s office, but we don’t know the who or why of it just yet.
Tom and Robert have a heart to heart as well. Tom confides that he doesn’t feel like a “freak” or “fool” with Sarah. But Robert says he shouldn’t make nothing of what he’s achieved the last five years. Later, Tom breaks it off with her by saying they should “call it a day”. She kind of can’t believe he doesn’t hate the people he lives with, even after he reminds her that his wife was one of them and his daughter still is. He says he doesn’t despise them (she does) or think of everything is such black and white terms. As much as he likes that she reminds him that he’s not the only socialist in the world, it’s clearer and clearer to him that she’s not the next Mrs. Branson.
Miss Bunting comes to say goodbye to the staff (per Mrs. Patmore, because Tom won’t stick up for her), but she explains it’s because she got a new job. Carson is chilly to her, while the ladies defend her. Later, Daisy finds Tom and tells him to go after her before she leaves town, which he didn’t even know. he finds her and kisses her goodbye. She admits she loves him but wished she’d met him before he met the family. Her true hatred of The Crawleys seems to make it a bit easier for Tom to let her go.
Baxter and Thomas have a chat in the stairwell and she says she’s heard about using drugs and electric shocks to change a person’s “nature”. He says it’s working, but spends the rest of the hour skulking around looking like he has a mild case of The Bubonic Plague and generally making everyone uncomfortable, as usual.
The Dowager Countess visits Dr. Clarkson and talks about how much Isobel has changed. He says Violet liked her more when she was middle class (Violet: “I wouldn’t go that far.”) He thinks she resents Isobel possibly changing in status if she were to marry Lord Merton. She shrugs this notion off, of course, but thinks the two of them have a mission to save Isobel from a life of boredom with Lord Dickie.
Anna and Mary are paid a visit by an inspector from Scotland Yard. He questions them both separately and things look potentially bad when Anna is told not to go anywhere. There’s a bomb coming here; it’s just a matter of time. (Also, why did Bates ask for a bandage that he said wasn’t for him?) The only place Anna is allowed to go is London with Mary, who is having dinner with Charles Blake. But Charles has brought a friend…Mabel Lane Fox (surprise!), whom he insists is in love with Tony Gillingham and should go get him now that Mary’s ended it. But the saucy Miss Fox does not want “the discarded leavings of Miss Mary Crawly”. It’s great watching Mary have someone to spar with other than Edith.
Rose makes a cute new male friend named Atticus Aldridge. who comes with her to the mission and explains that his parents were immigrants, too. They fled from Odessa, run out by Cossacks. This means he’s Jewish, so once again, Rose is the face of progress and integration.
Mr. Bricker comes back to Downton with the excuse that he’s working on a book about paintings. His visit coincides with a dinner Robert has out of town that was supposed to end late enough for him not to come home for the night. In the meantime, clearly misreading Cora’s admittedly flirty comments (though her actions didn’t really match her words), he sneaks into Cora’s room after Baxter leaves for the night and she’s having none of it. She’s cool as a cucumber in her rejection. But, like a bad 80’s sex romp, Robert busts in as Cora’s telling Simon to leave. Simon is about to leave, but not without a few words about Robert taking Cora for granted, because the man can’t leave well enough alone. Robert botch slaps him and then jumps him. Edith hears the ruckus and comes to the door, saving him from a beating. But Cora’s excuse that she and Robert were “playing a game” has got to flip poor Edith out. She’s not 10, she’ll just assume her parents are doing it and no one needs to think about that. After things subside, Robert opts to sleep in the guest room. The next night, Cora is doing her best to pretend all is well at the cocktail party, but Robert gives her the cold shoulder and everyone notices that there is trouble in paradise.
Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes continue to be at odds, quietly bickering over everything. Trying to get out from under the continuing knock on him basically being an old fuddy duddy, Carson tries to offer Mrs. Patmore some radical investment advice after an uncle of hers leaves her some money. He thinks she should invest in the up and coming building industry. She opts to invest in a cottage that she will rent out until she’s ready to retire there herself and take boarders.
Violet’s best line of the episode:
“In Essex? Isn’t it terribly damp?”–The Dowager Countess on Rose’s revelation that a nudist colony is opening in England