Previously on Downton Abbey: After various disasters involving everything from the reception location to wedding attire, Carson and Mrs. Hughes finally tie the knot and everything is perfect forever and I can basically just stop watching this show now. Oh, wait, there are like five more episodes to go? What? In other news, Anna thinks she might be pregnant, Daisy is convinced Cora has a secret plan to rescue Mr. Mason, Edith has to pull an all nighter to get an issue of her magazine to press, but gets to spend it with a nice man, and Branson comes back from America.
Oh, and that hospital storyline no one cares about is still happening despite no one actually caring about it. (If you need more info, you can check out last week's recap right this way.)
Guys, our last ever Downton Episode 4 recap is here. (Sniff.)
Let’s get it started.
Tom’s Back! Tom Branson has officially returned from America, and it seems apparent that he didn’t like Boston much, though he apparently IS a fan of US-style capitalism and social mobility. Now that he’s home again, everyone’s wondering what Tom’s going to do with himself, whether that’s to be the estate agent again or do something else. He’s not entirely sure about his plans for the future either, but he thinks he needs to find something to do that isn’t entirely about the estate.
Mary says she’s fully supportive of whatever he decides to do, and that he should worry about making himself happy and not the Crawley clan.
This Hospital Battle is Just the Worst. I may be alone in this, but at this point, I don’t care if they sell the village hospital to Donald Trump if it means I never have to hear anything about the stupid place or the family infighting surrounding it ever again.
Anyway, in this week’s stupidity about this issue, Rosamund has decided to visit Downton, apparently JUST to get involved in this family spat about the future of the village hospital, a debate which there is literally no way she cares about since she lives in London and hates the countryside, but since the Downton writers don’t seem to care whether we, the viewers, care about it, I guess poor Rosamund is up a creek, as they say. Sorry about your internal character consistency, darling!
And, since the show seems utterly convinced that we are just dying for more of this idiocy, the Dowager Countess has invited her friend Lady Shackleton to join the Crawleys for dinner, ostensibly to give herself another ally in the inevitable verbal throwdown about it. Violet even provides her friend with a series of talking points that effusively support of keeping the village hospital under local control. Why Lady Shackleton gives a rip about this either, is deeply unclear, but even she personally comes down on the side of modernity and more progressive treatments for everyone, because this story apparently exists to make Violet look like a backward, power-hungry narcissist. Ugh. Lady Shackleton agrees to say whatever her friend wants her to in the end, though. Because that's what friends are for, I guess.
Remember that Time Baxter Got Arrested? Honestly, this show never revisits the plots I want to see, but it sure does hang on to the things I hate with a relentless death grip. (See also: the multi-year Bates may or may not be a murderer thing.)
Anyway, so of course the cops are back at Downton. But this time, they don’t want to see either of the Bateses – a joke that even the characters themselves make, that’s how ridiculous that is – they want to talk to Baxter. Remember that story from last season where we learned that Baxter was involved with some guy who was terrible and coerced her into being a jewel thief? It turns out that guy – whose name was Peter Coyle – is currently in legal trouble again, for theft again, and has once again implicated a woman as being guilty of the majority of the crime for which he is accused. Baxter doesn’t look surprised by this, but Molesley, who she’s asked to sit in on the police visit with her, looks horrified.
The police sergeant says that it’s weird that this guy’s been so close to several crimes in the past and escaped prosecution, while women he’s known have been arrested and charged. He wants Baxter to testify and tell the story of what happened to her, in the hopes that they can protect other young women from being exploited by Coyle in the future. Baxter doesn’t say anything, but Molesley says she’ll think about it.
After the sergeant leaves, Molesley says that he thinks Baxter should testify, because Peter Coyle is a man that’s ruined lives. Baxter says he doesn’t know what he’s asking of her, and leaves the room.
Rosamund Has a Project. Besides her desire to get in the middle of her mother and sister-in-law’s fight over the village hospital, Rosamund apparently does have another secret reason for wanting to come to Downton. She tells Edith about a place called Hillcroft, which is a college for “clever women from modest backgrounds”. Turns out that Rosamund is a trustee of this place, and she wants Edith to be one too. She plans to invite the treasurer - a man named Harding – to visit Downton and meet with them while she’s in town.
The Downton ladies love the idea of Hillcroft – since, as Isobel puts it, “It’s marvelous for ordinary women to aim at rich and fulfilling careers.” (Thanks? I guess?) Edith is excited because she feels like it’s work that could really positively change lives.
The Yew Tree Farm Situation. With Tom back, Cora decides that now’s the perfect time to bring up the discussion of what will happen to Yew Tree Farm now that the Drewes have gone. Again, it’s deeply infuriating that none of the Crawleys even vaguely acknowledge that the reason the farm is empty is that they basically drove out a family who’d been there for generations after the Drewes did a life-altering and basically uncompensated favor for them, but it doesn’t look like the show is ever planning to acknowledge that fact. However, I am still going to complain about it every single week because it’s gross.
Anyway, Cora thinks they should get another tenant there, but Tom and Mary are of the opinion that they should take the farm back and manage it themselves as part of the main estate. This is probably going to create a fairly big problem, as downstairs Daisy is still 100% convinced that they’re going to give the lease to Mr. Mason. When Thomas tells her that he heard the family wasn’t planning to let the land to anybody, Daisy is heartbroken and angry – and she blames Cora for going back on her word. (Even though Cora never actually said anything about this herself. Shut up, Daisy.)
Guess Who Lady Shackleton’s Nephew Is? The upside to Violet bringing her BFF Lady Shackleton to visit is that she forces the Crawleys to invite her nephew along as well – there’s a reason for this, but it’s not important, what IS important is that her nephew is, OF COURSE, Henry Talbot, the one man that Mary managed to have actual chemistry with after two years of dating losers. Huzzah!
Mary seems pretty enthusiastic about seeing Henry again, which is great, because, while he is not Matthew, he is the best option she has had since Matthew. It turns out that Henry’s great hobby is racing cars – seriously the man is obsessed – and his stories of the track seem to pique Tom’s interest, as a possible career change option. Since, after all, he did use to be the Downton chauffeur.
All of this is almost enough to make up for the fact that dinner happens, and we have to watch everyone retread well worn ground about the hospital, the benefits of modern technology, the importance of local control over local services, blah blah blah. Seriously, everyone talks about this dinner as though the hand of God is forcing each of them to debate this issue angrily and at length for the fifteenth time, instead of simply acknowledging they could all just choose to talk about something else. No one makes any progress in swaying anyone else to their opinion, and it’s all just a colossal waste of time.
Molesley and Baxter Should Not Be Allowed to Fight. For some reason, Molesley decides that the best way to convince Baxter to testify against her terrible ex is to go to Cora and tell her all about it. This is an awful idea, obviously, and Baxter’s pretty furious about his presumption. But Molesley stands his ground and says he thinks Baxter will regret staying silent.
The next day, the police sergeant returns to ask Baxter again about testifying. He tells her that he can force her to attend the trial if he has to, even if he can’t make her actually say anything. He reminds Baxter that he just wants to stop other girls from being tricked into a life of crime – some of Coyle’s other victims are now prostitutes, and at least one of them is dead. Baxter finally agrees to at least add her name to the list of people willing to testify, in the hopes that Coyle will change his plea. The sergeant promises to alert her if they end up going to trial, or if anything changes.
Molesley asks Baxter what made her change her mind. She says she couldn’t stop thinking of all the other girls Coyle ruined, the way he ruined her. Molesley, who is perfect, insists that Baxter isn’t ruined, and the proof of that is the fact that she’s still standing there. She looks doubtful.
A Familiar Face Returns to Downton. Mr. Harding and his wife arrive for lunch to discuss the Hillcroft project. Interestingly enough, it turns out that his wife is none other than Gwen Dawson, who used to be a housemaid at Downton, way back in Season 1. (Yay, Rose Leslie!) She’s apparently the brains behind the whole Hillcroft enterprise, and a big proponent of education for women, especially working class girls, since it helps them go further in the world and achieve their potential.
Awkwardly, none of the Crawleys recognize her, though Anna, the rest of Team Downstairs and even Tom are pretty excited to see her. The one person who isn’t pleased to see her is Thomas, who seems to take it incredibly personally that Gwen has moved up in the world and married a gentleman. He decides to behave in a predictably Thomas-esque manner about it, and try and ruin her during lunch by dropping the bombshell that she used to work at the Abbey.
The Crawleys are a bit shocked – Mary is actually terribly snotty and obnoxious about it – and rightfully embarrassed that they apparently never looked at or spoke to a woman who worked for them for two years. But then Gwen tells the story of how she became a secretary instead of a housemaid, with the help of Lady Sybil, who provided her clothes and took her to interviews and helped her with everything. She says Sybil’s kindness changed her life and she’ll never forget her. Everyone (including me) gets kind of misty-eyed and it’s really lovely.
Anna’s Pregnancy is Predictably Dramatic. Anna’s pregnancy seems to be continuing fairly smoothly, despite Mary’s best attempts to make her condition INCREDIBLY obvious by loudly proclaiming how she can’t lift heavy things and must rest. Anna, for her part, says that she’s just trying to keep things as they are, so she doesn’t get Bates’ hopes up about a baby that may never happen.
However, since nothing nice is allowed to happen to either of the Bates-es ever, Anna starts having pains at various points during the day. After one particularly bad one in Mary’s room, she starts freaking out, convinced that she’s losing the baby. Mary tells her not to panic, that they’ll head to London and find Dr. Rider, and they’ll make him see Anna ASAP. She even volunteers to tell everyone that she’s the reason they have to get to the doctor immediately, so that Anna can keep her not-pregnant cover going with Bates.
Mary even enlists Tom’s help to help get the two of them to York, and gets Rosamund to loan them the use of her house. Mary is maybe not as graceful as Sybil was about it, but she’s pretty useful to have around in a crisis after all.
Seriously, Daisy, Shut Up. Later that night after Mary and Anna leave, Daisy just decides she’s had enough with everything. (Why? Does it matter?) She says she doesn’t care what anyone says, Cora has cheated Mr. Mason out of his farm that she promised him, and she’s going to have it out with her because of it. Molesley says that Daisy’ll lose her job if she does this, and tries to convince her to stop and think. Daisy says Gwen’s “thrown off the yoke of service” to make a good life for herself, and she could do the same if she had too. But the bottom line is she just can't bottle up all her (ridiculously unjustified) anger over this inside anymore. Because reasons.
Honestly, hands up if you find this portrayal of Daisy sympathetic in some way? Is there something wrong with me that I don’t? She’s SO obnoxious about this that I almost want to see her get fired just so she has to stop talking.
Anyway, as Daisy determinedly takes off her apron, the entirety of Team Downstairs basically lines up to convince her that what she’s about to do is crazy. Mrs. Patmore says she’s a great cook and could work anywhere but she’ll never get a reference after this. Andy tells her that her tantrum won’t help Mr. Mason. Even Thomas pipes up that this is a very bad idea. But Daisy’s not hearing it and says that come hell or high water she has to speak her mind and Cora's just gonna learn some truth today or somehting. (THIS MAKES NO SENSE ARRRGH.)
Meanwhile, at this exact moment, Cora is actually making a pitch to Robert that they should offer Yew Tree to Mr. Mason. She says that it’s what Sybil would do and is actively arguing the point to her family, which really makes Daisy’s tantrum downstairs look even worse. Tom agrees with her, saying that after what happened to William, he does kind of feel that Mr. Mason’s in their care. Everyone agrees, and the issue is settled.
Cora heads off to bed, but she runs into Daisy on the way, who’s waiting in the hallway and looking kind of rabidly crazy. Luckily, before Daisy can really let go with her full “Cora and all the Crawleys are garbage” rant, Robert appears and announces that Daisy might as well tell her father-in-law he’s being given the farm. Daisy’s overcome, and Baxter hustles her off before she can say anything at all. It’s a bit…anticlimactic and weird after all that build-up – it really feels like it wasn’t worth it – but maybe this means at least that this particular irritating and pointless storyline is done for the season. Right? Please?
Good News for Everyone in London! Dr. Rider comes to see Anna at the house in Belgrave Square – and finally, something good happens! He’s successfully managed to perform his planned operation, Anna is resting and her baby is fine. Woohoo! But, she needs a few more days of rest, so he advises Mary to keep her in London for a couple of days.
Since she’s in town with nothing to do, Mary decides the obvious plan of action is to call up Henry Talbot and go out for dinner. He takes her out to dinner in a car club, and talk about his obsession over driving. Mary says she doesn’t understand his thing about cars at all, which is obviously a blow for him, and also kind of weird, in the sense that her husband died in a car crash and she just…doesn’t mention that as the reason she’s not into driving? Maybe the show’s forgotten that at this point. Maybe they need the car plot point for Tom more than they need to remember that’s also how Matthew died. Who knows? Anyway, Mary impresses Henry with her love for Downton, and her determination to keep it from going under. They flirt – a lot – and it’s pretty adorable. More of this, please, show!
The Carsons Are Home! Carson and Mrs. Hughes return home from their honeymoon – they went to someplace Mary disapproves of, so it was probably perfect for them – and Team Downstairs throws them a little welcome back celebration. It’s kind of adorable and the newlyweds look happy and so I am happy and all is basically right with the world.
Even the Crawley family goes down to the kitchens to say congratulations, and everyone seems pretty stressed about whether they have to call both the newlyweds Carson or not. Everyone is ridiculously relieved to learn that they’ve decided to keep going by Carson and Mrs. Hughes around the house. Which, as someone who has to recap this thing, I’m pretty relieved about myself, so, I’m with y’all, Crawleys.
Elsewhere, Daisy tells Mr. Mason the good news about Yew Tree and he’s pretty happy about it, obviously. He says that they’ll never sell Downton in his lifetime, which is real security, and he owes it all to Daisy and her influence. Which, clearly means that he knows nothing about how Daisy’s been behaving since her outburst at the auction, something which is probably for the best.
Violet finally manages to present an argument to Isobel concerning the hospital that isn’t about her maintaining her own personal power, which is too little too late at this point, but still nice to see. She insists that the role of great families is to protect the little people from the power of the state, and it’s why the barons made King John sign the Magna Carta to begin with. She insists that the wishes of the individual should still count for something, and if the government is allowed too much control over everything, then they won’t. Rosamund reminds her that the influence of great families is waning in this day and age, and we’re still apparently at an impasse over this hospital issue. (Though at least Violet looks a little less…selfish and awful. So, yay?)
Bates admits to Anna that he thinks she went to London because she had another miscarriage. He looks pretty teary about it, actually, and Anna finally admits that she’s pregnant. They’re adorably happy together for a minute, and it’s okay if we all take a second to really kind of wallow in this, because who remembers the last time anything good happened to either and/or both of the Bates-es? Two seasons ago? Maybe? I’ll allow it, just this once.
Thoughts on this week, folks? Things you loved? Things you hated? Feelings you just have to get out? Hit the comments.