This week, we started to see the finish line, albeit still off in the distance, for our favorite upper crusty Brits. The Dowager Countess returned to the rarest of forms when she positively destroyed little Miss Cruikshank (you might recall she’s about to marry the vile Larry Gray, and become Lord Merton’s daughter in law.) In talking with Isobel about her conversation with the younger woman in town, Violet realizes something is fishy, and decides to pay this upstart a visit. She tells Isobel she’ll do it before she leaves town, confiding in her friend that she will be gone “until nostalgia has smothered (her) fury” regarding Cora and the hospital.
After about one minute of sizing up Miss Cruikshank, Violet susses out that she’s looking for a caretaker for her father in law in Isobel: “You want a free nurse to take a tiresome old man off your hands. You’re a cool little miss aren’t you? I’d feel sorry for Larry, if I didn’t dislike him so much.” BAM! And then there was this golden exchange:
Miss Cruikshank: “You should go now; much more and we should feel awkward when we meet, which we are bound to do.”
The Dowager Countess: “I should think not, Miss Cruikshank, not if I see you first.”
Her last gesture before leaving town for a while? She sends Spratt over with a new puppy, on whom Robert begins loving immediately, making it two weeks in a row that he’s been kind of charming, and the first time in a while he’s been played like a fiddle by his own mother.
In other news, the family is headed into London for a road race that Henry is participating in. Robert is super excited (at least in part about getting the hell out of the house), while Cora and Mary are dubious. Edith is ready to go if Bertie goes, much to Mary’s chagrin. For her part, Mary is nervous, which at least gives her a shred of humanity.
The race makes everyone giddy with excitement and anticipation. Ultimately, there is a tragedy; The driver/victim is Henry’s friend and he feels survivors guilt, which makes him want to seize the day and move his relationship with Mary forward, but instead she breaks it off with him. I feel the worst for Tom Branson, actually. He needs a win, and he really wants this guy to be his new brother in law. Hopefully, the minor spark he had with Edith’s editor will blossom into something. And I suppose I’ll also root for Mary and Henry to get past their issues; for Tom’s sake.
Once again, Edith is in the most natural and sweet relationship of the series. She and Bertie have such an easy chemistry and even though she seems afraid to tell him about Marigold, I think it will go pretty well when she does. He clearly adores her, which she even says she’s not used to happening. Edith, it’s finally your time to shine.
Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore conspire against Mr. Carson to get back at him for his bad behavior in regards to Mrs. Hughes’ attempts at cooking (btw, I’d watch the hell of out of a spinoff with these two!) His wife orders him around as she watched him sweat–due to a “hand injury”– and it’s glorious. I wonder if it will make him realize the error of his ways, but I really don’t think it will. He clearly can’t read any sort of social cues whatsoever.
Case in point, his ongoing shabby treatment of Thomas (“I shall be pleased when we learn the identity of your next employer, Mr. Barrow.”) Mrs. Hughes is at least a bit sympathetic, telling him he just hasn’t found the right person yet. Thomas explains that, at Downton, he’s got roots for the first time in his life, but no one seems to particularly want him there now that they’re all looking to the future and what it might hold for them beyond service. The result is a man left looking bereft after his many attempts to be helpful, including losing out on his tutoring sessions with Andy. Three more hours to see if he makes it out of 1926 alive.