It's not everyday the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) gets to harbor fugitives in Downton Abbey and especially not Irish revolutionaries on the run from the law.
So tonight's episode is particularly exciting.
Oh that Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay), those harem pants were clearly just the start of her rebellion.
WHAT WE LEARNED
It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: Tom Branson (Allen Leech) brought some rainy weather with him when he crossed the Irish Sea and he has quite the tale to tell. Something that is a surprise to no one who has watched Downton's previous two seasons is that Tom is fighting for an independent Ireland. We might as well admit we are huge nerds for Irish history, but if you aren't caught up you should probably get on Wikipedia so you understand the Maud Gonne, Countess Markievicz and Lady Gregory shout-outs. Long story short he was present—but feeling very guilty—when a country house was burned to the ground. Ruh. Roh.
Turns out that Tom, while he might be wanted for arson, isn't a terrible person who left Sybil pregnant and alone in Ireland. It was all part of the big escape plan. But presumably getting banished from Ireland and stuck at Downton was not. However it is terribly convenient for the Bransons to come back to stay: All the drama is back under one roof!
Out of Favor: Bates (Brendan Coyle) is still walking in circles in the most depressing place in the world. And even worse he hasn't been getting any letters from his dearly devoted wife, Anna (Joanne Froggatt). Bates learns he is actually quite good at working the system in prison. Maybe he's done some hard time before or just watched a lot of Oz.
Edith's Quest: Oh how hard it is to be an earl's daughter with no husband and nothing to do. Edith (Laura Carmichael) is in a perfect quandary, but isn't quite desperate enough to take up gardening. So what does a jilted spinster do? Write strongly worded letters to the editors of course. Needless to say Papa Robert isn't pleased, but really when is he ever? Whether it is Catholics or women getting the vote, Robert has something
ridiculous to say about it. Matthew (Dan Stevens) will probably have to drag him kicking and screaming into the modern world.
Lost Cause: Fallen former housemaid Ethel (Amy Nuttall) is back, but this time she is ready to send her adorable son, Charlie, off to live with his grandparents. It's all very sad and there is much crying, but we came to an important conclusion: If we ever have kids they will always wear 1920s newsboy hats.
New Faces: Oh hey there, hot new footman. Jimmy (Ed Speelers), or James as Carson insists on calling him, joins the downstairs and it seems as if he has already caught the eye of all the maids. Even better, Thomas (Rob James-Collier) looks pretty intrigued by the new addition as well. Amusing for us, there is also a new kitchen maid that hasn't been in Downton for two minutes and Daisy (Sophie McShera) already hates her. Awesome.
Rewind Moment: Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) playing with her new toaster to Carson's horror.
"Edith dear, you are a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do!" —Dowager Countess
"Other men have normal families with sons-in-law who farm or preach or serve their countries in the war." —Robert
"We all live in a harsh world, but at least I know I do." —Tom
"He looks like a footman in a musical revue." —Dowager Countess
"Alfred is nice but he does look like a puppy who has been rescued from a puddle." —Mary
"God in heaven! Earl's daughter speaks out for women's rights!" —Robert
Are you happy that the Bransons are back in England? Will Robert ever stop pretending the world hasn't changed? Should Ethel have given Charlie away? Sound off in the comments!