A two hour episode of Downton Abbey is almost too much even for my British period costume drama love…oh, what am I saying, I loved it. It was 2 episodes in 1! Literally, it was 2 episodes in 1, because when this aired in Britain, it was split into 2 episodes.
So much happens, but it all wraps up into a shiny, pretty bow of a conclusion…or does it? Let’s just wait and see what next week’s episode brings. I’m always suspicious when drama-filled shows end an episode on a tidy, happy note. It generally means a shocking bender is around the corner. Then again, Julian Fellowes has already destroyed us this season with Sybil’s death: he’d leave it at that, right? Right? Right. Yes. He would. He totally, completely would. I think.
This deliciously long episode is full of ups, downs, go arounds and changes. First off, Bates gets out! Woo-hoo! He and Anna happily reunite and they get a little love cottage all their own, away from the house. Granted, the house is a worn down piece of crap, but with a ton of hard work, a good attitude and the love that has conquered a first marriage, a murder trial and conviction, plus false imprisonment, it will be as good as new in no time.
Bates, however, comes back to a tenuous job situation. He WAS Lord Grantham’s valet. Thomas is now in that role. These two loggerheads are yet again set at, well, loggerheads, growling and bristling and making snotty comments over who gets the privilege of brushing Lord Grantham’s coat shoulders. Well, we know who’s the Boston Rob of the house, but sometimes, the Russells of the world are the ones to get ahead. Yes, I just referenced Survivor and yes, that show is still relevant. Ah, Jeff Probst. You just keep hosting on with your khaki shirts and your lame cowrie necklaces.
Love, however, can make even the most devious self destruct. Misled by O’Brien, Thomas sneaks into Jimmy’s bedroom and creepily starts to kiss him. Jimmy wakes up and yells bloody murder. Albert comes in, all confused. Thomas rushes out. O’Brien gets to Jimmy and tells him he must insist Thomas is both dismissed and let go without reference or he’ll go to the police (apparently, being Gay was a crime). Carson is put into a quandary. Bates feels bad, because his enemy is being brought out so low (ah Bates, ever the magnaminous). Thomas is magnificent, standing up for himself and telling Carson in the best way possible that what he feels (man love) is not unnatural or demonic or make him a terrible, twisted thing of inhumanity. Yay Kurt/Thomas! You go man, stand up for your rights! Don’t worry, someday, future you and a future Jimmy, who will kiss you back, will be able to get unconditionally married in 9 states in the US.
After everyone in the house goes around saying different variants of, “Um, everyone knows Thomas is Gay, why is Jimmy being such a crybaby about it?” Bates and Anna corner O’Brien and threaten her with the magic word: soap. O’Brien caves and gets Jimmy to back off. For those who don’t remember, soap is a threat of terrible proportions because O’Brien tried to kill Lady Grantham with soap in Season 1. Yep. She’s that much of a bitch.
Meanwhile, Matthew and Mary are terrible at communication (not boding particularly well for their marriage). They both, without telling the other, consult the same fertility doctor about their own, separate babymaking issues. Uh-oh…is this a set up for one or both of them not conceiving? Nope. They run into each other and over tea in a restaurant have an oh so proper conversation about how Matthew is fine and now that Mary has had a teensy weensy operation, she is also fine. Let the babymaking keep on truckin’!
Matthew has other matters to deal with other than, erm, his downstairs issues. His father-in-law is being particularly stupid about managing/consolidating the estate. He favors a Ponzi scheme (yes, they went there) to get some quick cash. Oh, Robert. Didn’t you learn your lesson when you invested ALL your money into ONE STOCK and then LOST IT ALL in the beginning of the season? No? Haaaand over the pen, dude. You’re not allowed to sign anything ever again until you take an ECON 101 class.
To further complicate matters, Matthew royally insults Mr. Old Estate Manager with his new fangled notions, so Mr. Oldie quits in high dudgeon. Robert gives Matthew “I told you so” looks. Matthew makes stressed out faces.
Lord Grantham further promotes his douchebaggery by being a pain in the neck about Branson christening little Sybil Catholic. No one else cares and he loses that fight. Ah well.
Branson’s brother from Liverpool visits for the christening, forcing Branson to realize that erm, maybe going to live above a garage instead of Downton isn’t such a good idea because, well, it’s a garage and Downton is A MANSION. He’s befuddled.
Of course, good old Lady Violet steps in and in one fell swoop solves all these problems: Branson stays on as estate manager! Woo-hoo! Branson looks relieved, Matthew grins and even Lord Grantham grudgingly sees this is ok. ONLY however, if Branson plays cricket.
That’s not as much of a nonsequitur as it seems, because cricket is a big deal in this episode. Apparently not happy with being the Lord of all the land, Robert is obsessed with trouncing the little village people in the annual Downton vs. The Village cricket match. He pretty much agrees to Branson’s staying on and finagles Thomas a promotion from valet (which is given to Bates) to underbutler to get him to stay on. Jimmy also is promoted to first footman and Albert is unhappy and calls the police anyways. Everyone rolls their eyes at Albert who makes “what did I do?” faces, and Lord Grantham makes the police go away with British suaveness. Ah, the British. Their ability to cover up the nastiness of life with snobbery and polite, yet oppressive, social strata flexing is practically a super power.
The episode ends with Branson, Lord Grantham and Matthew all having a bromance moment. Aw, Downton will survive with the old and the new combining their powers to make everything awesome! Or, will it….?
Oh, because I have to, Edith has a lame storyline involving her Editor and his crazy Mrs. Rochester wife, and trying (but failing) to keep an eye on her wild cousin Rose, who then (Rose, that is, not Edith) gets shipped off to a boring Scottish estate because of misbehavior. I would care more, except, well, it’s Edith and every time she comes on screen, I stop paying attention to dialogue and imagine Sybil’s head on her body. The wrong sister died, that’s all I’m saying.