It is now 1918, meaning six years have passed since we first met Daisy and she is STILL a child. Grow up, Daisy! “WAT FAH?” Haha. That’s probably what Daisy would say. “Wat fah?” Right? Why doesn’t anyone talk about how time passes and everyone stays the same age on this show? Is it because it’s boring to talk about because, with the plot arc they’ve chosen, they can’t really get around it? And everyone is giving them a lot of leeway? I guess I understand that, but it’s still something I want to complain about! At the VERY least put Thomas in a grey wig. Anyway, so, if you thought Matthew’s mom was upset with her position in the convalescent home LAST episode, HOO BOY. The episode opens with Cora having done all the work AND having rearranged everyone’s lunch schedules, how dare she, by the time Matthew’s mom arrives for work in the morning. Whoops! That’s what you get for not living at the convalescent home, Matthew’s mom. Shit gets done before you even get there and then you have nothing to do. She doesn’t take this lightly though, obviously, and plays a hilarious game of “quit chicken” with Cora that goes something like this:

Matthew’s Mom: I cannot operate where I’m not valued.
Cora: I agree.
Matthew’s Mom: Then I’m going to quit!
Cora: I think you should!
Matthew’s Mom: I mean it!
Cora: ME TOO!
Matthew’s Mom: I MEAN IT!
Cora: I JUST TOLD YOU THAT I ALSO MEAN IT!
Matthew’s Mom: I’M REALLY GOING TO QUIT I SWEAR TO GOD.
Cora: DO IT, I SWEAR TO GOD.
Matthew’s Mom: IF I LEAVE THIS ROOM–
Cora: LEAVE THE ROOM!

So she quits and goes to France to work someplace. Good! It’s probably nice there! I’ve only been to France once when I was very young but I remember having a cookie (this kind), and it was a good cookie!

Out in one of the many the beautiful gardens, Old Lady Grantham and Mary are talking about potential suitors for the ladies. OLG doesn’t like the idea of Mary marrying Richard Carlisle both because YUCK, and also because of the thing where he allegedly blackmailed Lavinia’s family. Does not sound like a nice man. Mary argues, though, that he is at least a rich man and also they are going to buy a house together. Because if she married anyone else they WOULDN’T live in a house? That question is not asked and the topic movies to Sybil, and how — because she has not been vocal about having any crushes — OLG suspects she has feelings for a person below her status. “War breaks down walls and when they’re reconstructed it’s very easy to find oneself on the wrong side,” says OLG. It’s weird how she knew exactly what was going on! Mary doesn’t believe her though until she leaves the conversation and then runs into Sybil talking with Branson.

Noooooooooooooo!

Inside, Lord Grantham tells Mary that he’s received a letter from Richard Carlisle telling him that he’s proposed, and Lord wants to know WTF. Mary tells him she thinks she’s going to take him up on it and the Lord asks, “What about Matthew?” Uhhhh, HE’S ENGAGED TO SOMEONE ELSE? Hellooooooo. But the Lord don’t care and tells Mary to send him a letter telling about her plans to marry Carlisle, and see if THAT changes his mind about marrying the person he’s already committed himself to marry. After speaking with her father, Mary talks with Sybil about Branson. Sybil reacts poorly, thinking (rightfully?) that Mary will not take kindly to her having a relationship with the chauffeur, but the whole time Mary looks GREAT.

Then we fast forward to Matthew receiving Mary’s letter in the war zone. Someone comments that it’s strange that she didn’t just wait until Matthew came home and he says, “I don’t think she knows I’m due back,” which is strange because it seems like Matthew is ALWAYS due back. “I’ll just tell him when he comes home and does his laundry this weekend?” is what Mary should’ve said. But anyway, then Matthew and William go off on their own and get shot at a lot and I think, and write down in my notes, “UHOH IS WILLIAM GOING TO DIE?” I am immediately regretful of calling him annoying so much in past recaps.

Back at Downton, everyone is finding out about how Bates works at a pub in town. For some reason Thomas had one of his friends find out this piece of gossip for him. But, like, why is he still obsessed with Bates? Bates doesn’t work at Downton anymore, and neither does Thomas! LET IT GO, THOMAS, YOU WEIRD JERK! How could finding out where Bates works now have led to anything good for Thomas? Were they going to show up at the bar and make fun of him? ????? Ridicule him for no longer having to dress another man every day? In any case, he tells everyone and then Daisy spills the beans to the higher-ups (after she finds out William and Matthew are missing — YIKES) who are immediately upset that no one came to them with this news sooner. Though I’m not sure why anyone would have. “The man who quit has found a new job.” Would that be the news? “Bates isn’t not working.” Anyway, once the news gets to the Lord, he calls Anna in to tell her about it, which is very sweet. Anna already knows, though, because she’s already been to the pub, and fills the Lord in on the situation with Bates’s upcoming (hopefully) divorce. The Lord asks why he hasn’t contacted any of them since he’s been back, and Anna says that he has two reasons: that he first wants to finalize the divorce with his wife, and that he left on bad terms and is embarrassed. Poor Bates!

At Matthew’s mom’s house, having nothing to do, Mrs. Bird has begun to run a soup kitchen with Molesley and some of the kitchen staff, with food leftover from that which the army provides for the convalescent home. They haven’t OK’d this with anyone else, though, and of course that means O’Brien catches them doing it and then tells Cora about it while she’s putting a necklace on her. OY VEY. Always with the necklace tattling. O’Brien tells her that she thinks the kitchen staff is stealing food and reselling it, which is a super annoying leap to make, but it makes sense because she is O’Brien. Cora tells her to alert her next time she sees them doing it, which O’Brien does, and then she and Cora walk in and:

CAUGHT IN THE ACT! But when they explain that it’s a soup kitchen for soldiers, Cora immediately says that she and O’Brien will help, and also they should use food that Downton pays for rather than the army. BOOM! GOTCHA O’BRIEN, YOU HORRIBLE WOMAN!

Meanwhile, Matthew and William are still missing. Daisy asks Edith if she can look into it, and Edith asks her dad if he will look into it, and he says he’ll see what he can do. After dinner that night (a dinner during which OLG gave her “friendships that are not quite appropriate” speech to Sybil, and Mary mouths “I said nothing” and it was a great moment) the Lord receives a call from the war office informing him that Matthew and William went out on patrol together and haven’t been heard from since. He tells Edith the news, but tells her not to inform anyone else.

Meanwhile, Molesley — with very little to do since Matthew left for war — has been asking everyone to give him stuff to do. He runs into Mrs. Hughes and asks if he can start dressing the Lord, to take some of the burden off of Carson, and she says yes and “Keep this up and we won’t be able to do without you at all.” Then he tells her that he saw an officer by the maid’s staircase, and we ALL know what officer he’s talking about, and goes home. Hughes leaves for the maid’s quarters to check out the officer situation and finds Ethel DOING IT WITH THE GUY SHE WAS FLIRTING WITH FOR THE PAST FEW EPISODES:

Uhoh, Ethel! And then Hughes fires her, which Ethel always said is what she wanted — to not have that job anymore and travel the world and whatever — but after she is fired it certainly does not SEEM like it’s what she wanted. Sorry, Eth. Shouldn’t have done that dude and DEFINITELY should’ve been so cavalier about not wanting that job anymore.

Aww, then we check in on Molesley who is back at the Crawley’s place, talking to Mrs. Bird about his new responsibilities, which he thinks he can parlay into becoming a full-time valet for the Lord. “There goes Mr. Molesley, valet to the Earl of Grantham,” says Mrs. Bird. They both giggle. “Stop it,” says Molesley. It’s very cute! And soon to be very sad!

Later, Lord Grantham visits Bates’ bar and they talk and talk and talk. First about Bates’ divorce proceedings, then about how Matthew and William are missing, and about how the Lord loves Matthew like a son. He apologizes for treating Bates so badly when he left, and asks if he will come back and help him “through the veil of shadow.” Aww. It’s all very sad and sweet, and Bates agrees to come back. Yay, Bates!

Once he’s back, Anna seems very happy and it is adorable, and Thomas tells Bates about his new military job. Bates says, “Yet another reason to pray for peace.” Hahaha. Bates just got back and he’s ALREADY getting you, Thomas! You old jerk! But then all of our happiness is a little spoiled when Molesley walks in for duty as the Lord’s valet. Awww. WE FORGOT ABOUT MOLESLEY! He even bought a new kind of shoe horn to use, and Bates takes it from him and says thanks. It’s heartbreaking! I don’t even think I like Molesley very much, though it’s kind of hard to get a grasp on his character, and it’s still heartbreaking! Bates has everything he wants — Anna, the valet job, a name that’s easy to spell — and it all comes to him so easily!

Outside in some sort of shed, Sybil tells Branson that she’s told Mary about them, but that Mary doesn’t seem to approve. (Which makes sense for Mary because disapproving of people who aren’t of their class has always worked out for her.) Branson tries to convince Sybil to run away with him, and Sybil says “what about my work?” And Branson says “What work? Bringing hot drinks to a bunch of randy officers?” And then Sybil and I both make this face:

ARE YOU GOD DAMN SERIOUS, BRANSON? YOU AWFUL MAN! HOW DARE YOU BE SUCH A DISRESPECTFUL JERK TO THE PERSON YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE IN LOVE WITH! DON’T YOU SEE WHAT IT HAS TAKEN FOR SYBIL TO WORK AT ALL! ISN’T THIS PART OF WHY YOU LIKE HER IN THE FIRST PLACE? YOU TERRIBLE MAN, HOW DARE YOU. And in one moment I don’t care about Branson anymore and hope Sybil never has anything to do with him. Fuck you, Branson!

Later, Edith tells Mary that Matthew is missing. She says that dad told her not to say anything, but she thinks Mary has a right to know, and she isn’t trying to hurt her. Mary says for once in their lives she believes her, which is kind of a bitchy thing to say after you learned that the guy you like is probably dead. But! Oh well. Mary’s gotta Mary.

At the same time, the Lord is telling Cora about the news, saying that should prepare for the worst. Mary walks in on them and tells them that she already knows, and they tell her that it’s time to get ready for the concert, because oh yeah they’re putting on a concert/talent show that night for the soldiers in the house. AT A TIME LIKE THIS? Yes at a time like this. The Lord says they all have to help each other keep going, which is honest and makes a lot of sense and I like it.

At the concert, the Lord gives OLG the news about Matthew and she tells him that she needs a lot more than that to make her anxious, but it also pretty sweet about how she accepts Matthew now because HEAVEN KNOWS what kind of garbage would be up next in the heir line. Then a guy does a terrible magic trick, and then Mary and Edith get up to play and sing their song, “If You Were the Only Girl in the World.” At the chorus everyone starts singing along except for OLG and she makes a funny face:

AND THEN…

MATTHEW AND WILLIAM WALK IN! AHHHHHHH! A hush falls over the crowd, because apparently they were ALL waiting for these two soldiers they don’t even know to safely return for their leave, and Matthew says “don’t stop for me” which is a little presumptuous because what if they were stopping for William?, and then he starts singing with Mary! Ahhhhh! OUR TWO LOVEBIRDS, SINGING THEIR LOVETUNE! Later Matthew tells Mary that he got her letter about Carlisle and says he’ll like him if he’s good to her, which is nice but it’s certainly not, “I’m jealous and want to marry you now instead of Lavinia.” Win some/lose some.

After the concert, Bates has a sweet moment with Anna and tells her that he’s lived “in a fog of misery” since he left her, which seems A LITTLE BIT like he ripped off the Lord’s “veil of shadow” line from before, but whatever. Kill your idols. Elsewhere, O’Brien is trying to scheme against Bates but Thomas is kind of bored with it, and O’Brien says something about how she guesses she holds a grudge longer than he does, and Thomas kind of shrugs, and I think OH THANK GOD. I legitimately really hope that they stop scheming against Bates because it just makes no sense at all and I don’t understand it and it only annoys me. Give it a rest you two.

And then at the end Hughes comes downstairs to find Ethel and Ethel tells her that she’s pregnant by that officer she was sleeping with. OOPS! OOPS OOPS OOPS!

Next week: Ethel has the baby and it becomes heir to Downton?

Comments (26)
  1. I know the comments have gone down on these reviews, but in any case they’re still delightful to read.
    1. Agreed about Branson. That was horribly dickish.
    2. I’m a grown ass man and the duet made me misty. This show, I swear.

    • Branson is so full of himself. Sybil basically would have to give up everything in order to be with him. He supposedly loves her, but he doesn’t even recognize the sacrifices she’d have to make to be with him and instead treats her like SHES the one being the jerk.

      • I have to defend Branson here. I agree that comment was messed up, but she has been stringing him along for YEARS now and he is frustrated and took out that frustration on her. And after this episode aired in the UK, people were tweeting the actor who plays Branson (Allen Leech) yelling at him for being a dick and he said they filmed an apology scene where he explains that he tells her how sorry he is for losing his temper and he feels that her working at the convalescent home isn’t the best use of her skills, but he said the scene got cut and obvs it never aired.

        I don’t know…I think Branson is full of fire and yes, he is arrogant, but he is passionately, crazy in love with her and all he wants is for her to make some kind of admission, whether its good or bad, about how she feels and he has been waiting for her for years remember…so I think he made a shitty comment, haven’t we all said things we regret?

        I am crazy invested in Branson and Sybil in case you couldn’t tell.

        • You make a good point. Them not showing that scene was a really bad call because Branson really needs to show us more that he loves her not that he’s in love with the idea of her.

          • Hmm, yeah, have to agree with smokey marcella here. Big mistake to cut that scene.

            This is another place where the story is ill-served by the timeline. Because you’re right, it has been a couple years since Branson made his feelings known. This makes both Sybil and Branson both look really bad. Her for stringing him along, and him for saying this dickish thing out of frustration.

          • In general I think their storyline is hurt the most by the timeline and by lack of proper writing for them both. I think it’s a wasted opportunity to not explore Branson’s politics further, and why he becomes increasingly angry as the series moves deeper into WWII, as well as not giving Sybil enough screen time to really work through her (very obvious if you ask me) feelings for him. I think they are the two most dynamic characters on the show but they aren’t given enough screen time or depth. I love this show endlessly, but I do get frustrated when I think they are missing opportunities for character development.

            The cutting of the apology scene is crazy to me too. I read a fanfic (DON’T JUDGE ME) on them and the entire plotline was filling in the missing holes in their storyline and it was so well written and amazing I basically have it my head that that is how their relationship actually progressed, so I will defend Branson forever. I’m a sucker for a passionate Irish radical in uniform who confesses undying love to a gorgeous and kind feminist.

          • I was SO PISSED OFF at Branson when he said this, but then when I watched the whole season again a second time (I was absolutely obsessed with it), I realized that we all say things when we are hurt–we lash out at those we love the most sometimes for fear of losing them, and even say the exact opposite of what we mean. So yeah, don’t give up on Branson.

        • Yeah, I still like Branson and thus the two of them, but that scene BOY I SWURR YOU TREAT SYBIL WITH RESPECT.

        • I’m not a fan of Branson. He’s been creepy and pushy and weird ever since he spied on Sybil in her genie pants-frock. I’ve never gotten a stringing-Branson-along vibe from Sybil–she even told Mary that they’ve never even shaken hands. He’s just obsessed and won’t take a hint. The apology scene would have been nice, though.

          The timeline does drive me a little crazy with this–that all those people have been working there for so many years and only, like, two people have quit (well, now Ethel got fired for being a floozy). And maybe Branson and Sybil actually do know each other better than it seems because we see so little of their interactions…it’s a tad frustrating. I still love it, though! And yay for gifs again!

          Did anyone else squeal with joy to see Gwen on Game of Thrones this week? I knew she was coming, but I seriously raised my fist and yelled, “Gwen!!!” when she appeared on-screen and my husband gave me A Look.

  2. I forgot about the whole illegitimate baby thing. That story gets good.

  3. Thank you for pointing out the time lapse! It bugs me so much. Aren’t all those daughters spinsters by 19teen standards at this point?

  4. everytime i saw OLG in the review made me laugh… my dyslexia made me see ODB… so i kept thinking ” Old dirty bastard? What’s he doing in Downton?”

  5. The scene with Branson made me so angry. It’s heart-breaking but honest to show that this man, no matter how progressive he claims to be, would not fully grasp how much Sybil has to give up to try and be with him.

    :( Poor Sybil.

    • I agree with you 100%. Just to play Devil’s Advocate though, Sybil also portends progressivism, but is not progressive enough at this point to just give in to her desires and be with Branson, and to hell with what anyone else thinks.

  6. I’ve really missed these recaps (not that they stopped, I went on vacation) and I’m happy to be reading them again! Kelly, you do an awesome job.

  7. Yay! Downton Abbey recap!

    THIS episode is when I stopped shipping Branson/Sybil. What an incredibly rude and unfeeling thing to say! Hey, asshat, what more do you expect of her? Her becoming a nurse was a HUGE step. Hello? Branson, you can talk all about “sacrifice” and blah blah blah, but guess what? SHE’S the only one who will have to sacrifice ANYTHING for this relationship. You have nothing to lose. She might lose everything she’s ever known, so STFU. GAH.

    Also, Cora and Isobel? Please grow up. Both of you are kind of acting like babies, but I am kind of on Cora’s side here. It’s her house, Cousin Isobel! You’re so bossy, let her manage her own house!

    Oh! As soap opera-y and melodramatic as it was, I loved Matthew’s dramatic entry and duet! Love you Matthew! Sing duets forever!

  8. Also, Mary’s skin is amazing. How do you get skin like that?!

  9. I feel like maybe you’re not talking enough about how great The Lord is? Like, all the time? Who’s this great all the time in response to pretty much everything?

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