Isn’t it funny to be reminded that there are people in the world of Downton Abbey who are neither upper class nor servants? We saw many of them flood into the Crawleys’ mansion for paid tours this past week, and we also saw, to our comic delight, that the Crawleys have no idea what to do deal with people who are not of their same station unless they are paid to wait on them hand and foot. On that note, was there any line of dialogue better than Mary saying to Anna, “Oh, good, you’re back! I thought I was going to have to dress myself.” This line was delivered just as Anna was returning from a doctor visit to investigate the origin of some pain related to her pregnancy. Don’t worry; all appears to be totally normal. And it’s not like Lady Mary cared! The idea of that woman having to put on her own clothes. Yikes!
Cora, Edith and Mary were charged with showing strangers around their home and expected to know some history of the place, which apparently only their in-house librarian possesses. They all winged it with varying degrees of success, but only Cora was interrupted by the Dowager countess, who looked like she was wading through sewage rather than pushing past commoners when she ventured into the house to speak to her daughter-in-law.
She was upset at having been ousted from the hospital board, and outraged at Cora’s appointment, which was done swiftly. For her part, Cora doesn’t know if she should celebrate her new career or not, what with her husband and his mother being so opposed to it. Robert’s not irate in the same way as his mother (“Tell Cora I do not wish to see her face until I’m used to having a traitor in the family.”); he just can’t imagine why Cora would want to work if she doesn’t have to. Heaven forbid Cora find something else to do with her days other than luncheon and the occasional bit of charity work. We wouldn’t want a woman to do something meaningful with her life, would we?
Robert does appear the most sympathetic and charming he ever has, though, in a scene with a random boy from the village wandering in his room and asking why he lived in a such a big house and wouldn’t he like one that’s more cozy. Molesley’s recoiling in abject horror at the sight of the child moments into their conversation was a sight to behold. It’s like he’s just spotted a poisonous snake he has to kill. Dude, it’s just a KID. What are you, in Monsters, Inc.?
In a storyline that appears to have been lifted from a Three’s Company episode, Mr. Carson is pretty sure Thomas and Andy are getting it on in Thomas’ room, rather than reading, which is what they are actually doing. This makes either Thomas or Andy Jack Tripper (we’re going to say it’s Andy, since we can’t imagine Jack ever ended up sobbing alone like Thomas did, putting him back on suicide watch) and makes Mr. Carson into Mr. Roper/Furley, which is who he is acting like nowadays on a couple of levels. Besides the obvious, he’s also being a jerkwad to Mrs. Carson, aka Mrs. Hughes, critiquing her cooking and cleaning constantly. How did their fairy tale late in life romance go off the rails so quickly?
In better romance news, Edith and Bertie Pelham look downright cozy and rom-com wacky with him coming out to Downton to oversee the tour arrangements. They have adorable hijinks when she goes to pick him up from the train and gets turned around, ending up finding him walking along a country road. They then gush over their shared kisses and close quarters while Bertie stays at the house. It’s downright adorable, even when Edith introduces Bertie to the children, especially a sleeping Marigold. His reaction (“God Bless You, Marigold!”) certainly indicates this is a man who might accept Edith with all her perceived shortcomings.
That would make him the polar opposite of her sister Mary, who continues to be insufferable. On another trip to London (with the excuse that Anna needs another doctor visit), Mary invites Tom along for what appears to be a singles dinner for widows and widowers, although no one calls it that. It becomes instantly clear that had Mary gone to anything resembling a high school, she would have been the queen bee that everyone orbited around but no one really liked all that much behind her back. Well, except Henry Talbot, who is bewitched. Tom encourages their relationship, like the sweet brother he’s become to both Mary and Edith. His prodding gets Mary to allow Henry to walk her home for the night, which results in them getting caught in a rainstorm, hiding in an alley and finally giving in to their attraction, at least for a few kisses. She’s still apprehensive, admitting that the way Matthew died gives her great pause when she thinks of dating a race car driver. Henry accepts that, but still wants her to come see him race, even if she doesn’t really watch the actual race.
When she gets back to the London flat and talk to Tom about things, he seems to hand picking his next brother in law. When Bertie is mentioned in relation to Edith, Mary proclaims him boring and then calls Edith “stupid” for “saddling herself” with a child, assuming no one will want to take her on. Do shut up, Mary. You’ve made it almost impossible for me to root for you to have a happy ending.