This week, the drama hits high gear.
Poor Bates. Will the turmoil never end? A telegraph has just arrived alerting him to the fact that Robert has go to America — some problem with Cora’s brother. But he doesn’t want to leave now considering what’s going on with Anna.
Robert is in the bedroom freaking out to Cora that her mother is calling him to America to help save her brother’s reputation. Mrs. Hughes appeals to Mary to see if her father can go to America without Bates. Mary says, “I hope we are good employers. But even we expect to get what we pay for.” Mary says, “If you wish to enlist my help, I must know the facts.”
Bates tells Anna he won’t go. She tells him to pack, but then cries when she leaves the room.
Mary asks her father to take Thomas instead of Bates. She says she can’t explain why she’s asking but if she could, he’d agree with her. Bates walks in, and Robert tells him that Barrow is going instead. Robert leaves the room, and Mary starts to walk out. “What have they told you?” Bates asks. Mary tells him that she knows the whole story. He blames himself, and she says it wasn’t your fault — and it wasn’t hers.
Violet arrives, as does news that pigs will be arriving at the estate (As part of their new farmer initiative?). Isobel joins everyone in the library. She says it’s noble of Robert to travel halfway around the globe to help his brother-in-law. “Noble is not quite how I would describe it,” says Violet.
Mrs. Hughes tells Carson that Bates won’t be joining Robert. “He doesn’t want to go?” Carson can’t believe it. Mrs. Carson says it’s not that he doesn’t want to, it’s that he can’t. Carson is appalled. He suggests that she knows more about this than she is letting on, and she says she’s sorry he’s suspicious of her but they’ll both have to get over it.
Thomas is packing, and Jimmy says he wishes he were going. Thomas asks, wouldn’t he miss Ivy? Jimmy says nothing is going to come of that — it was a huge waste of effort and money. Thomas says he’s sure something is just around the corner. Jimmy says he hopes so — otherwise he might “do something stupid.”
Cora thanks Robert for going to help her brother. She says she cherishes him for it. “That will keep me warm as I cross the raging sea.” They kiss.
As the family and staff stand outside to see him off on his journey, he tells Edith to be strong, “Gregson must be out there somewhere.”
Thomas, standing next to Baxter, says “I expect a full report when I get back. Why am I going instead of Mr. Bates?” “I don’t know” she says. He tells her she better find out.
Violet tells Isobel it’s a relief he’s gone. “Is it?” Isobel says. Violet says yes, she doesn’t feel well and she wanted him away “before I keel over.” Isobel offers to go home with her, but she says that’s the last thing she wants.
Mary talks to that pesky Mr. Blake, asking him why so many estates are failing. Is it just lack of money? He says it’s their inability to adjust to a new way of life
Mary: “But you have to understand what these people are used to.”
Blake: “No. They have to understand it’s time to get used to something different. They think nothing needs to change, that God will be upset if the old order is overturned.”
Mary: “And you don’t think He will be?”
Blake: “No. To farm an estate is hard work, and never more than now. The owners must face up to that, or they don’t deserve to keep what they have.”
Branson drives Isobel home. She asks him what happened to his politics. He says they vanished, along with that silly chap Branson who used to be a chauffer. Isobel says she doesn’t believe that. She tells him about a speaker coming to Town Hall tomorrow and offers to get tickets. He says no, not a fan of The Coalition as it is. Isobel won’t take no for an answer.
Edith asks Cora if she minds if she goes to London tomorrow. The investigator has pieced together some information about Gregson. He checked into his Munich hotel, went out and then never came back. Cora says it doesn’t make any sense. She hugs Edith. “I don’t ask you not to worry. Only to not give up hope.” She tells her of course go to London. Edith, in tears, “Can I ask you something? You don’t think I’m bad, do you?” “Sharp tongued sometimes, but not bad.” “Sometimes I have bad feelings?” “We all having bad feelings. It’s acting on them that makes you bad.” Bad feelings like wanting to have sex out of wedlock?
Carson gets a letter from Alfred. Daisy asks if he mentions any of them. Carson says his father is ill and he will stop by during his visit. Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes tell Carson they think it’s too soon for Alfred to visit. They don’t want him stirring up the drama between Ivy and Daisy. Can they put him off? She suggests he tell Alfred the flu is going around the house. “You’re quite a plotter when you want to be.”
Mrs. Hughes: “It’s a skill all women must learn.”
Rose asks Cora if she can go to London with Edith. Cora tells her to wait until she’s been “presented.” Rose says she will look after Edith.
Mary walks with Mr. Napier and asks why Blake has to be so judgmental. He says he just gets tired of people seeing their fortunes fall to the wayside and doing nothing about it. He says he thinks Mary is aloof. “Aloof? I hope you stood up for me.” He says of course he did, but Blake thinks “I’m blind where you’re concerned.” We should go in, Mary says, ending putting an end that kind of talk. (Please, Napier. You’re about third in line to get Mary from the looks of this episode.)
Edith is making an appointment for her trip to London. She tells Cora it’s to get her hair done, but clearly it’s to see the doctor.
Isobel checks in on Violet, who is very sick in bed. She is appalled at how bad she seems. She is going to fetch Doctor Clarkson.
Anna thanks Mary for convincing her father to let Bates stay behind. Mary says so you know that Mrs. Hughes told me what happened? Anna says yes. Mary asks if there is any way to find out who it was. Maybe Anna should see Dr. Clarkson? Anna says she is glad there is honesty between them again, but she doesn’t want to talk about it. Mary says you helped me in the past, and now I want to help you. Anna refuses to discuss it.
Dr. Clarkson has seen Violet and tells Isobel it looks like bronchitis. He says there is a danger it could turn to pneumonia. He is short on nurses because the flu is going around. Isobel says she will tend to her. Dr. Clarkson says he will inform the house. She asks him to also tell Branson she can’t go out with him tonight but he should still go to the political lecture. Cora and Mary go to visit Violet. She seems delirious.
Carson meets Alfred’s train and tells him he’s booked him a room at the Pub. He’s disappointed not to get to the house. They have a drink.
Ivy say she’s disappointed Alfred isn’t coming after all. Daisy says what do you care? When you were here, you made him a misery with your unkindness. Mrs. Patmore tells her to stop.
Dr. Clarkson warns Isobel that she must stay up all night to make sure Violet’s fever doesn’t get too high. He says he’ll look in later.
In London, Aunt Rosamund asks Edith what’s wrong. Edith says she needs to go out tomorrow night but not to tell her mother. Rosamund says she’s putting her in a bad position. “The last time you did this you were with your Mr. Gregson, weren’t you?” Edith starts to cry, and her Aunt hugs her. She confesses about her pregnancy. What do you propose to do? Edith says she hates to say it, but she’s decided to get rid of it. She says she will support her whatever she decides, as will Cora and Robert. Edith says that’s not true. She says what will you do when Mr. Gregson walks through the door with a full explanation for his silence? “Nothing,” says Edith. “I pray he’s alive. But if he is, I won’t say a thing.” Rosamund asks if she will marry him. “If he still wants me to.” Rosamund says then her whole life will be a lie. Has she thought about that?
Edith: “I am killing the wanted child of a man I am in love with, and you ask me if I’ve thought about it?” Rosamund reminds her this is illegal and dangerous. “What will I say to your parents if it goes wrong?” She says she will go with her.
Rose is out having a romantic row boat ride with the jazz singer. “I keep thinking you’ll forget about me.” He says he won’t forget about her, but what does she expect to come out of all this? She says let’s just have a good time. Take me to the club tonight. “But first — kiss me.”
Back at Downton, it’s just Cora, Blake and Mary for dinner since Branson is at the political meeting. Blake suggests going out to dinner. Cora declines, so the two of them go.
On the way to dinner, Mary and Blake check out the pigs. He spots that one is almost dead. The water trough has been kicked over. He throws off his dinner jacket, grabs pails and starts fetching water. Mary, in her dress, grabs pails to help him. In the dark of night, They pump water and run back and forth in the mud, getting covered in it. When they’re finished, they sit muddy. He gives her his dry coat to keep her warm. He says you should go, she says she’s not going, “They’re my pigs.” She says what must I look like? He laughs. She smears mud on his face.
At the rally, Branson sits next to a woman and they strike up a conversation. After the rally, Branson and the woman talk socialism and Ireland.
Later, in the kitchen, Mary makes eggs for herself and Blake. “Who’d have thought?” he says. “I can make scrambled eggs, but that’s about it.” She says she loves how they all went to bed without the slightest thought of us. What did they think we were doing? Ivy shows up. It’s already morning!
Edith and Rosamund arrive at the abortion clinic. While they wait, Edith tells her she loves Gregson, and she would have loved his baby. But she doesn’t want to be an outcast. “Sybil might have brought it off. But not me.” She says she is selfish. Edith says she can’t go back to the nursery, not with Mary and Sybil’s babies there. She hears a woman crying. She changes her mind and walks out. Rosamund asks if Edith is going to tell her mother. She says she has to at some point. Rosamund offers to be there with her. “I’m certain there is some way forward.”
At Downton, Mary is in the library with Blake, Branson, and Napier. They are laughing about the events of the night before. Cora comes in and tells them that Lord Gillingham is coming tonight. Mary is aghast. “Why?” Blake knows him. They served together during the war.
Downstairs, an unexpected visitor arrives after all: Alfred shows up! Ivy says she’s missed him. “Have you really?” He says it makes it hard for him to go. “All the reason why you must,” says Mrs. Hughes. Ivy is looking at him like he’s fresh meat. As he leaves, he says “You’ve given me something to think about, Ivy. And I will.”
Violet is on the mend. “Dr. Clarkson, when you go, please take that madwoman with you?” He informs her that the “madwoman” has not eaten, slept, nor left her side since she took ill. “No one else was here?” Violet is incredulous. She remembers a nurse mopping her brow. “She was that nurse.”
Lord Gillingham arrives at Downton, and he and Mary exchange pleasantries. Blake greets his old friend.
In the servants quarters, everyone is at the table when Mr. Green shows up! Of course — he accompanied Lord Gillingham. Anna pales and leaves the room.
Mrs. Hughes confronts Mr. Greene and tells him that if he values his life, he’ll keep to the shadows. He says both he and Anna were to blame for that night. “Does Mr. Bates know?” “Not that it was you.” He thanks her. “Don’t thank me! I’ve not kept silent for your sake.”
At dinner, Mr. Green is seated directly across from Anna. She is forced to act normally in front of Bates. The servants discuss the night the opera singer was there – the night of Green’s last visit. He says he hated her voice and was forced to go downstairs for some peace and quiet.
Bates gives him a death glare.
After weeks of what has felt like groundwork being set , the pieces of the dramatic puzzle are finally paying off. All of the tensions and conflicts have some forward motion, and for the first time all season, I’ve excited to see what happens next.