PBS gave us quite the surprise on Sunday. Not one but two crazy hours of Downton Abbey, and they were crazy. The show at times verged on jumping the shark, what with its medical miracles and soapy romantic complications. That’s okay though. It was still highly entertaining, especially thanks to the Dowager Countess who spent much of the first hour doling out her incomparable one-liners. Even the most uneven of episodes will be elevated by her.
This week’s action centered around no less than four impending nuptials. Upstairs, we had the ongoing saga of Lavinia and Matthew as well as Mary and Sir Richard CarLISLE. Joining their ranks were Sybil and Branson, who finally decided to act on their burgeoning love. They wanted to elope in the middle of the night, but thanks to professional love-ruiners Mary and Edith, Sybil reconsidered. And so instead a big fussy scene was made in the parlor as Robert strictly FORBADE his youngest daughter from running off to Dublin with the chauffeur (they did it anyway AND earned his blessing ultimately; so HA).
If anyone knew about yearnings of the heart though, it should have been Robert, who finally made his own upstairs/downstairs transgression with that new maid. First they enjoyed a brief kiss in the closet. Then a more prolonged moment of passion in His Lordship’s bedroom — one that was interrupted by Bates (oy). Finally, there was one last secret kiss as Robert bid the maid goodbye. Yes, it was simply too much to have her in Downton, especially once Cora came down with the Spanish Flu (no BRITISH Flu would have the gall to kill someone in someone else’s home, that’s for sure).
Thankfully this maid left before her affair with Robert could grow truly tiresome. It seemed so out of character for him to carry on with such a transgression, and I feared that this dalliance would be something we’d have to deal with for episodes on end. Of course, there’s a perfectly good chance that the kissy-kissy could come back to haunt Robert. Either way, good grief. Glad that story line was nixed before it was developed too far.
Also testing credulity was Matthew miraculous ability to walk again. This one had most viewers scratching their heads, I imagine, and the only explanation we received was the doctor merely saying, “Wrong diagnosis. Oops!” Personally, I don’t know why the writers even bothered with the paralysis if they were just going to make Matthew walk again a few episodes later. All they succeeded in doing was painting themselves into a creative corner — one they could only escape from with a ridiculous twist (which was the case here). Personally, if they wanted Matthew to walk again, I would have been much happier had Patti LaBelle walked into Downton, sang “Are You Ready For A Miracle?” and saved him through Jesus. Now that would have been a neat turn of events.
Well, now that Matthew was no longer a cripple, he could now (properly) marry Lavinia, but not if Granny had anything to say about it. The Dowager Countess threw protocol to the window and met with Matthew IN HIS CHAMBERS to reveal that Mary still loved him. That was all well and good, but Matthew wasn’t about to dump Lavinia.
Oh but he wanted to, as evidenced by the kiss he planted on Mary’s face later on while they were dancing alone. Well, almost alone. Turns out Lavinia had seen them, and in quite the martyr moment, she announced that she wanted Matthew to be with Mary because that’s who he truly loved. mmmmmnot buying it. We all know Lavinia would’ve jumped Mary and pulled her hair out. Let’s not forget that Lavinia was the one who PLUNGED her uncle and Parliament into a SCANDAL MOST SCANDALOUS. She clearly does not mind making waves.
But there she was, dying from Spanish flu (which threatened to take Cora’s life too), imploring Matthew to go after Mary. Wheeze wheeze gasp… and she died. It seems as though anytime Mary enjoys an illicit kiss, someone keels over. Let us not forget Mr. PaMUK!
Okay, well, with Lavinia dead, that should make Mary and Matthew’s courtship much easier, yes? Not so much. Matthew suddenly became stricken with intense melodramatic emotions (as he is often wont to do), and he announced that he and Mary were cursed! CURSED I TELL YOU! Their love is not meant to be!!!!
But it is!! It is!!! Get over yourself and marry your alabaster crush!
Meanwhile, downstairs the love was consummated for Bates and Anna, who finally married and then DID THE NASTAY. Happy at last! Except oops — here came the cops! They arrested Mr. Bates for the murder of his wife. D’oh!
I should note right here that my father’s theory is that Sir Richard CarLISLE is the murderer, and this will all come out during the trial in the season finale. We shall see…
In other servant news, our old gay friend Thomas has found a place for himself on the staff once again. When the war ended, he was going to make his riches on the black market, but instead he lost all his money when he was swindled by a crook (worst wannabe crook EVER). Thanks to that fortuitous Spanish plague though, half the house — including Carson — was out of commission. Enter Thomas Barrow, Footmen to the Stars! Thomas happily reprised his old role and found himself part of the gang once again. Molesley had a chance to shine also, but the old chap got drunk instead. Claaaaassic Molesley!
What else? What else? I don’t know. Whatever I’ve omitted, be sure to talk about it in the comments!
“My lord, I must apologize. I spent entirely too much time in the sun, and I’m afraid I’m a dreadful hue of tan.”
“Don’t mind me. I’m just letting out the most exquisitely delicate fart you’ve ever heard.”
“I HATE COLORFUL THINGS!”
“My dear, when I see you, I can do nothing but think of clotted cream, if you know what I mean.”
“I think I do?”
“I want to rub scones with you.”
“I want to stick my nose in your Yorkshire pud and waggle it about like a springer spaniel at mealtime.”
[nom nom nom]
“My lord! This is out of character!”
“But it feels so right.”
“NO IT IS LITERALLY OUT OF YOUR CHARACTER. WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?”
“Forgive me. I have acted ungentlemanly. I was just trying to make myself useful. My tongue at least.”
“I must go. I wish to be useful.”
“But my lord, you are very useful.”
“Hardly. I am but a wastrel, malingering about in this wretchedly casual outfit.”
“Lavinia, please don’t pick up that tray. It is rather common of you.”
“But I wish to be useful!”
“Why does everyone want to be useful all of a sudden?”
“Matthew, I feel compelled to bring this tray to the other side of the room, and you cannot stop me!”
“But there are so many ottomans! You know how terrible you are with ottomans.”
“I will not allow my childhood fear of ottomans to deter me. This tray MUST be moved!”
“Lavinia, as a lawyer, I am compelled to present an argument for leaving the tray be. 1) You have terrible balance. 2) You have a tendency to fall over ottomans. 3) Your inherent fear of ottomans will render you incapable of taking the proper steps to avoid said ottomans. 4) You have no muscular development in your arms; so the notion of you carrying but a teacup, let alone an entire tray, is already a risky proposition. Shall I go on?”
“MUST… BE… USEFUL…”
“Very well. You may take the tray. Godspeed. Just make sure you don’t trip on one of the–“
“Matthew, you’re standing!”
“Well… this is improbable.”
“Everyone! Come at once! I have something to show you!”
“What could it be? Perhaps a new fainting couch!”
“Oh, it’s downstairs!”
“Do you suppose paPA has purchased a second phone?”
“Don’t be vulgar, Edith. We do not indulge in excess!”
“How exciting! I for sure thought our surprise would be in the drawing room. Perhaps the parlor!”
“Which ever room will it be in???”
“Oh PaPA! I cannot bear the wait any longer! How many more rooms must we scurry through?”
“Precisely six more!”
“Heavens, we’re back in the drawing room.”
“I always thought it was the parlor.”
“I’m clouded with excitement! I don’t know which room we’re in! We could be Rippon Grammar for all I know!”
“Robert, are you leading us in circles? I could swear this is the fourth time we’ve been in this room.”
“Cora, do you hear the callous words that come out of your mouth?”
“And here we are. Surprise!”
“But it’s just Matthew.”
“You interrupted my letters before dinner for THIS?”
“HEAVENS! He can walk!! And check out his boner!!”
“There’s a simple explanation for all this. I’m a terrible doctor.”
“Turns out I misdiagnosed Matthew. Upon further inspection, I see his broken back was actually just a sprained ankle. LOLZ!”
“Quite frankly, I’m just looking forward to masturbating again.”
“Matthew, I know you were looking forward to enjoying the pleasures of your own flesh, but I must interrupt your spank session to have a word or two.”
“Fine. But make it quick, Cousin Violet. I have two years of abstinence to make up for.”
“Yes. Of course. About that… may I watch?”
“I may be old, but I’m as horny as a hare.”
“Robert! I’ve received a letter! What a joyous day!”
“Cora, must you be so vulgar?”
“But… the cardstock is of the utmost quality! I must write a letter about this letter!”
“Cora, I sometimes wonder if you hear the banal things that emerge from your mouth.”
“Robert, I must confess that I’ve been harboring a secret desire to work for the post. Imagine being around all those letters! Plus, I could be useful!”
“Yes… well, there is a certain thrill that comes with being useful. Cora, would you mind leaving the room so that I could be more useful with the new maid?”
“Gladly! If you need me, I’ll be writing letters before dinner. SO EXCITED.”
“Something is ever so slightly out of order! I am shocked! But my disdain shall remain private.”
“Mr. Carson. You MUST rest.”
“This will teach me to not try Daisy’s cakes again.”
“Hey guuuurl, let me help with that! LOVE what you’re doing with your hair!”
“Would you mind if we danced and nearly confessed to our deepest feelings but not really?”
“That sounds wonderful!”
“I’ll just walk downstairs. I’m sure I won’t see anything terrible. Tra la la…”
“Don’t mind me. I’ll just go up to the bedroom. I mean… I only gave you sponge baths and wiped your ass for a year, Matthew, but seriously… don’t mind me…”
“Matthew, we mustn’t stay here much longer. I forgot to set my DVR for Cougar Town.”
Matthew: “Hello all. I’m here to murder you both.”
“Well… I said Lavinia would be fine, but it looks like she’s going to die. Honestly, I’m just a terrible doctor.”
“Lavinia, I would love to watch you die, but I’m afraid I must be off to make myself useful.”
“I’m coming to meet you, Whitney! I’m coming to meet you!”
“Wow, that was some flu! I had a fever dream that you were making out with a maid! Hahaha.”
“Did you enjoy our sexytime?”
“Yes! I especially when you asked me to beat you with your own walking stick! That was rather exciting, Mr. Bates!”
What did you think about the episode? And remember, if you’ve finished the season already, no spoilers for the rest of us!