This week saw Matthew and Mary return from their honeymoon to find Downton Abbey no closer to being bailed out of its financial problems. While the ladies and gentlemen upstairs try to figure out a solution, the folks downstairs find themselves going through their own personal troubles.
The bulk of the episode ‘upstairs’ dealt with the impending loss of Downton Abbey. While Mary and Matthew act like picture perfect newlyweds, her resentment of him for not offering to help Downton with his potential inheritance is clear. Determined to save the life she knows and loves, Mary pairs up with Violet to try to coax her other grandmother, Martha, into offering to finance Downton Abbey. But their hopes are dealt a cruel blow when Martha reveals that her money was tied up by her late husband; she cannot help, even if she was inclined to do so. With no money looming on the horizon, the Crawley’s are faced with the unthinkable — leaving Downton Abbey.
While no progress was made with saving the abbey, if indeed it can be saved (and presumably it can, otherwise a name change will be in order), this episode served to show us differing views on the ‘traditional’ upper class lifestyle of the Crawley’s and the new, slightly less decadent ways of living being ushered in by the 1920s.
It also showed us how the views within the Crawley family differ, too. While Matthew is willing to try something new (albeit after circumstances have forced his hand), Mary is less inclined to change her ways. It’s the only time I’ve ever found Mary truly obnoxious, and I’m hoping that this storyline is leading to a point where she learns to evolve and accept that the old ways aren’t always the best ways.
While old ways aren’t always best, for Edith, older men probably are. This week Lord Grantham stepped in to put paid to the burgeoning romance between Edith and Sir Anthony, much to his daughter’s distress. After she makes some very good points about her happiness and how she and Sir Anthony are a step up from the pairing of Sybil and Branson, all it takes for Lord Grantham to cave is a little unwanted prodding from Martha. By the time of the big Downton dinner party, Edith and Sir Anthony are closer than ever. So close, in fact, that it sounds like another wedding is on the horizon. It looks like Edith’s time in the limelight has finally arrived. Will it go to plan?
Downstairs, Mrs Hughes finds a lump in her breast and goes to see Dr Clarkson, supported by Mrs Patmore. Initial tests prove inconclusive, leaving Mrs Hughes with a two month-long wait while further testing is carried out. She refuses to tell Carson about the situation, despite doctor’s orders to get some rest, and by the end of the episode the stress and worry is getting to her. It’s heartbreaking to see Mrs Hughes in such a vulnerable position, and Phyllis Logan played every scene to perfection.
My favourite part of this week’s episode has to be the newfound antagonism between Thomas and O’Brien. After Thomas’ advice lead Alfred to ruin Matthew’s tailcoat, O’Brien takes it upon herself to exact revenge by hiding Lord Grantham’s shirts. They’re later found by Alfred (thanks to his new lady friend, Martha’s American maid) and returned, but the damage has been done. War might as well have been declared. It’s strange to see these two turn against each other, especially after their plotting and scheming in the last two series, but a Thomas scorned is always a delight. I can’t wait to see what mischief these two get up to next week.
Also this week: Isobel takes a job aiding women who have been forced into prostitution due to circumstances beyond their control and has a brief encounter with Ethel, the maid who left Downton and had a child last series; Bates shows a disturbing darker side when threatened by his cellmate; and Daisy questions Alfred to see whether men prefer it when women are more forward.
What did you think of this week’s Downton Abbey Leave your thoughts in the comments below!