OK people, a two-hour Downton Abbey means we have a lot of drama and Dowager Countess quips to get through. Between cricket, calling the police and secretive doctor visits, we don't even have time to stop for a spot of tea and a scone. So, let's get right into it.
WHAT WE LEARNED
Changing Times: We know Robert (Hugh Bonneville) has made some questionable choices in the past, but have never groaned so loudly as when he suggested a Charles Ponzi investment. Robert, please just sit quietly in the corner. The way he resists change at every turn would be enough to drive anyone crazy. You would think after the doctor disaster resulting in Sybil's death, he'd be a little more open to compromise. But there is someone even more resistant to Matthew's (Dan Stevens) proposed changes: the estate agent of 40 years. Jarvis (Terence Harvey) throws a tantrum and quits. Good riddance, because actually that regime change solves a multitude of problems.
New Hire: The question of what Tom Branson (Allen Leech) would do next loomed. His gruff car-mechanic brother, Kieran (Ruairi Conaghan), arrives for Baby Sybbie's Catholic christening. Robert has to try very hard not to get cooties from the all the Catholics. But the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) comes up with the best plan ever to keep the adoable granddaughter in Yorkshire: make Tom the estate agent for Downton. Win-win. Tom and Sybbie stay for the foreseeable future and the Matthew-Tom bromance can continue to reign.
P.S. We literally still cry every time some mentions Sybil. We'll never get over it.
Mixed Signals: We never thought we'd ever see Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) so defeated. We've all known about his sexuality since the pilot, but a mix-up—carefully orchestrated by O'Brien—involving a late-night visit to Jimmy's (Ed Speelers) room threatens to leave Thomas with no reference and possibly a trip to prison. But he has a very surprising ally in recently released Bates (Brendan Coyle). Prison has really changed him. Even better, he learns the secret password to get O'Brien (Siobhan Finneran) to back off her Jimmy and Alfred (Matt Milne) puppet-master routine: Her ladyship's soap. Yikes, that'll do it. Remember Soapgate of 1914? But all's well that ends well, right? Actually, everyone else is stuck with Thomas, but he gets a promotion to underbutler.
We'd like to give Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and shockingly Robert MVP awards for their sensitivity to Thomas. It's really heartbreaking to see him so alone, and like Robert says, Thomas didn't choose to be different.
Jazz and Rebellion: There's a new rebel in town. Rose (Lily James), the daughter of the famous Shrimpie, comes to visit her great-aunt Violet. And she's a handful. She jumps at the first opportunity to go to London to meet up with her married male friend. We finally get the chance to see the Twenties we're used to on Boardwalk Empire: jazz and wild dancing. Alas, no secret can be kept from the Dowager Countess, and Rose will be on the first train to Scotland. The Dowager Countess can play everyone like a fiddle. It's awesome.
Lady Jane Eyre: Poor Edith (Laura Carmichael) just can't catch a break. She finally accepts the
terribly degrading job of journalist and even flirts with her editor, Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards), but in true middle-child fashion, nothing can ever go smoothly. Turns out the editor is married. Gasp! But he's not a complete lech, his wife is actually locked up in the attic an asylum.
Expanding Family: Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew really need to work on their communication. Both sneak off to London to find out why she isn't knocked up yet. Matthew is positive it's because of his brief stint during the war when he was in a wheelchair. Turns out that with the help of a little procedure, Mary should be pregnant within six months, aka the next episode.
Cricket Crisis: One thing Robert is terribly passionate about is cricket. He's absolutely nuts for the big Downton vs. the village game. Apparently in years past the Downton team has sucked. While he doesn't exactly admit it, it's obvious Robert gives Thomas the underbutler job to keep his star player. And Robert finds yet another reason to hate his Irish son-in-law: He can't play cricket. But with teamwork and effort, Downton wins! Cricket really does bridge all the divides. Cue slow-motion bro-hug.
"I mean, if I shouted blue murder everyone tried to kiss me at Eton, I'd have gone hoarse in a month." —Robert
"You sure you wouldn't rather just cut and run like me?" —Tom
"Blimey, they've stolen my story." —O'Brien
"Have you changed your pills?" —Isobel
"Well I am surprised to find out you are a fan of Mr. Oscar Wilde." —O'Brien
"Oh well, that's an easy caveat to accept, because I am never wrong." —Dowager Countess
"I'm not foul, Mr. Carson. I'm not the same as you, but I'm not foul." —Thomas
"Rose, you have obviously read too many novels about young women admired for their feistiness." —Edith
"So we'll be building a new kingdom while we make our little prince." —Mary
WHAT LIES AHEAD
Joy and Heartbreak: Believe us when we warn you to stock up on tissues. A truckload would be appropriate. Next week's season finale will take you to places of extreme joy and extreme sadness...within minutes. In fact, we can't help but be impressed by how easily our emotions are manipulated. Cryptic enough for you?
Happy Highlands: Next week will see Robert in his element, traipsing across the Scottish Highlands after deer. But seriously, the family trip to the north to visit Shrimpie is Robert's favorite thing to do ever. Even better, we get to meet the rebel, Rose, again. And this time the Scottish air has made her a little calmer and much more amiable.
Fun and Frolicking: Left back at Downton, most of the servants are ready to let their hair down. Things get fun, flirty and even dangerous at the local fair. Keep your eyes peeled for a new scheming maid who makes our hackles rise.
Surprised O'Brien backed off? Happy Tom and Sybbie will be staying at Downton? Will Edith ever get a happy ending? Bracing yourself for the season finale? Sound off in the comments!