I’ve never felt more tension watching an episode of Downton Abbey than I did this past Sunday as we saw Daisy working up her nerve to telling off Cora while at the same exact time Cora was imploring Robert to let Mr. Mason run Yew Tree Farm instead of the family handling it. I was waiting for Daisy to bust in unannounced and chew out her boss and then get fired, or maybe even get fired just for daring to walk into the room at all. I swear, for as much time as the Crawleys have spent Downstairs so far this season, they still seem awfully scandalized when any of the servants dare to venture out of their assigned spaces in the Abbey. I guess that’s not new, but it’s certainly annoying.
Ultimately, Daisy got what she wanted and Cora did too, not even remotely aware that she’d avoided another uncomfortable run-in with the help. At least this one didn’t involve anyone trying on her clothes. And how much clearer could it be made that the show is setting Robert up for a major health crisis? The man can no longer have port, which is in and of itself an absolute tragedy. It’s just a matter of how important of a part the hospital will play in his situation and whether or not it will finally convince his stubborn mother to allow progress into the 20th century.
Anna is benefiting from Mary’s forward thinking in this area at least. After experiencing some excruciating pains throughout the day that made her think she was losing the baby (again), she had another in front of Mary and her boss did some quick thinking so she could get her to London to see the good doctor who had promised that magical stitch. Anna was still petrified she might lose the baby en route, but all’s well that ends well for Mrs. Bates at last (well, so far). The stitch is in, she’s still preggers and the doctor gets to charge Mary double time for calling him in the middle of the night (“It will be reflected in my bill” is probably one of the best things anyone’s said to Mary ever, in my humble opinion.) On top of that, Mr. Bates is smart enough to know Anna was up to something with her late night disappearing act, and she seemed delighted to tell him, in the most roundabout way possible, that she’s with child. I guess when you’re being cautious, it’s best to speak in vague terms.
But Mary also made the trip work to her own advantage, managing to meet the dashing Henry Talbot (played by the handsome Matthew Goode) for drinks (“or dinner, or whatever.” That was something he actually said.) You could cut their sexual tension with a knife, but this being 1925 and them being all upper crusty, it seemed to result in little more than witty reparte for the moment:
Mary: I hope this means you’re boiling up to make a pass before we’re done.
Henry: Probably. But will you accept?
Mary: No, but I shall enjoy the process enormously.
Mary was full of zingers this week. When Edith shared her ambitions for the magazine, Mary actually gave her sister some credit for once. Pretty much everyone was surprised, but Mary had the perfect rationale: “A monkey will type out the Bible if you leave it long enough.” Thanks?
There were other stories brewing with the staff this week. Thomas was promoted to Butler in Carson’s temporary absence and was as big a prick as you knew he would be, especially when he outed a former housemaid, Gwen, who was now a member of society, and had come to luncheon with her husband to discuss her pet cause. The only good that came from this was that everyone was reminded of just how fantastic a person Sybil was (she’d helped Gwen get the job that allowed her to leave a life of service) and they all remembered not to be such snobs for half a second. It’s likely Thomas is merely jealous; he’s missed his window of opportunity to make a break and now sees no other way to live than as a butler, stuck in a job where no one likes him because it’s still the best option he has.
Now that the pressure is off Anna and Bates, the police are stopping by to visit Ms. Baxter, whom they want to testify against Peter Coyle, the man she’d stolen for at her previous job and a guy who has apparently made a life of ruining women in general. As usual, it’s Molesly who helps her see that she has to do the right thing, even if it means her story getting out. I’m not sure where this one is going, exactly, and it seems kind of a bummer at this point in the series, but I’ll trust Fellowes for now.
After all, he brought Tom Branson back home, and is steering him (pun intended) toward a career involving cars, which would bring him full circle. Incidentally, racing cars is what Henry Talbot does too, which can’t sit well with Mary considering how her husband died. Then again, not much sits well with Mary lately, who practically had to be reminded that she had a child during her dinner with Henry. Poor little George.