As Lady Mary would say, golly! This week, there was plenty of blood and gore and drama. The health crisis finally bubbled over, but we shall get to that soon.
While Tom is still trying to figure out his new role upon returning to Downton Abbey, Mr. Mason is preparing to move into the Drewes’ farm. Mary is a bit miffed that she wasn’t consulted before the decision was made, but she thinks he is a good man and anyway he knows a lot about pigs. Her only concern is that he physically may not be up to all of the tasks required of a farmer, so she and Tom are going to visit to ask him. This confused me because, if he isn’t strong enough, what will happen? They’ve already offered him the farm. But this gives Andy, who, along with Daisy and Mrs. Patmore, is helping Mr. Mason move in, a chance to say he has always longed to learn more about pig farming and will help with the more physical tasks. Well, of course. Mr. Mason gives Andy some books to learn more about it, so it seems Andy the footman will also be a pig farming apprentice. Andy also seems a bit sweet on Daisy, which heaven help him. Anyone who ends up with Daisy is going to need a few prayers and then some. Daisy, after their visit to Mr. Mason, wants Mrs. Patmore to be a bit less interested in her father-in-law. So, there are a lot of convoluted romantic subplots going on downstairs.
Just a few episodes ago, Mr. Carson was assuring Mrs. Hughes, through intermediary Mrs. Patmore, of the extent of his love for her. However, that love does not seem to extend to her cooking. Mrs. Patmore packs some food for them to enjoy at their cottage, but Mr. Carson finds much to criticize in the way it is prepared. Before the end of the episode, he rudely asks Mrs. Patmore to give his wife some cooking tips, but perhaps Mr. Carson should learn to cook instead.
Mary’s flirtation with car racing Henry continues. She and Tom go to watch Henry race cars, which still makes Mary nervous. Afterwards, they all go to a pub to celebrate Henry’s win. Mary mentions something about never having been in a pub, how Matthew wasn’t all that into that sort of thing, so does Henry know all about what happened to Matthew? It wasn’t entirely clear to me. Henry makes an excuse to see Mary another time, and Tom calls them both out on their evasive techniques. If you like each other, he seems to be saying, just say so and make plans to see each other again. Mary is the queen of playing coy, though, so I expect this to continue until the last episode.
In London, Edith interviews a new woman editor, who seems lovely and is Edith’s age and whom Edith decides to hire. She also sees Bertie again, inviting him to see her apartment before dinner. He calls this racy, but Edith is a woman of the world and downplays it. That evening, she talks about Michael Gregson, how the apartment was his, but it’s not entirely clear how much Bertie knows about Edith’s relationship with Michael. He has to know that they were close enough that Michael left everything to Edith, but he clearly does not know about Marigold being Edith’s . I think he should be able to connect the dots (Edith has a ward whose birth coincides with the relationship to Michael, who left her everything). Edith also finally has the realization she should have had episodes ago: that Downton is Mary’s realm now and that she would be better off spending more time in London. Goodness, it’s only taken her five episodes to reach the obvious conclusion. Before they leave the apartment for dinner, Bertie and Edith kiss in a sweet moment. Finally, Edith gets a love interest, though I know something is going to happen to tear them apart. No one on Downton Abbey can be happy for long.
Baxter is prepared to testify, but it turns out that she doesn’t have to when Coyle changes his plea upon seeing the list of witnesses. She calls this anticlimactic, which it definitely is. Molesley jokingly asks if she wants him to go ask Coyle to change his plea back. Well, that plot went nowhere. I think there were better ways of developing the character than convincing poor Baxter to testify, and then it never happening. It is just a rehash of another old plot. Sigh.
Thomas finds a frustrated Andy looking over his pig farming books. Thomas has been trying for weeks to befriend Andy, but Andy apparently doesn’t want to be friends because he thinks it will give Thomas the wrong idea. Gigantic eye roll at that; maybe he and Daisy would be a good match. Anyway, Thomas asks Andy the title of the book he is reading, and, rather than answering, Andy hands him the book. Hmm… Thomas seems to think this is strange too, and, later, when he hears a lamp crashing in Andy’s room, he goes to talk to Andy. Thomas has rightly deduced that Andy can’t read, and he generously offers to help him learn to read and write. Andy apologizes for the way he has treated him, and Thomas tells him that he has heard worse. This has been the Thomas redemption season thus far, and I have to admit that it is working.
The hospital fight continues. Dr. Clarkson is changing his allegiance, so Denker confronts him on the street, calling him a traitor. Clarkson writes to Violet about Denker, and she quickly dismisses Denker. Spratt asks Denker if she had been drinking before she yelled at Clarkson, and I rather think she had (remember what happened in London with Andy?), but Denker chooses to use this moment to enlist Spratt to save her. If he doesn’t, she will bring him down with her by revealing to the police that Spratt hid his prison escapee nephew. Spratt talks to Violet and saves Denker’s job. I do wish Denker would go away; she is so tiresome. This show needs a villain with O’Brien gone and Thomas being nicer, but Denker isn’t interesting enough to do the job properly.
Violet invites Minister of Health and future Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to Downton Abbey to try to get him on her side in the hospital fight. She gets him to be there through some sort of mysterious scheming, but she clearly hopes that she will be able to convince him despite the fact that staunch opponents Cora, Isobel, and Dr. Clarkson will also be at dinner. Robert is not feeling well, and Cora feels that this could be an excuse to put the dinner off, but Robert says that Violet will just make them do it another time and he would rather get it over with. The hints about his health are not so much anvil-sized as a whole parade of elephants stampeding right at Robert. This cannot end well.
During dinner, fighting goes back and forth, but I didn’t catch any of it. I could only notice how ill Robert looked during the scene. The makeup department did a top notch job of making him look very sick indeed. Robert tells them to lay off the arguing and gets up from the table. He doesn’t get very far. Instead, he projectile vomits blood everywhere and, convulsing, falls to the floor. Dr. Clarkson says to put him on his side and keep him very still until the ambulance arrives. Robert tells Cora how much he loves her, and Cora tells him to stop because this isn’t the end.
While they are transporting Robert to the ambulance, Cora and Violet have an argument, during which Violet wonders if Cora is talking about Marigold in the context of the evils of concealment. Mary is within hearing distance, and she finally gets it. Finally.
Tom talks with Neville Chamberlain until a car can be brought for him. You would think that Tom, being well aware of politics, would have a whole bevy of things to say to this conservative man. A younger version of Tom would have anyway, the more interesting Tom, but the current Tom is very mellow and does not seem to care that he has a moment with a highly influential politician, one whom another character even said could eventually be prime minister. Tom has changed a lot over the course of the show, but I’m not sure if it is for the better. The only topic Tom, who was once obsessed with the need for political change, has to discuss with Neville Chamberlain is how Violet convinced him to come to dinner. The answer is sort of disappointing, as is the whole exchange. I think that Sybil would be disappointed, too. She was all about change and equality despite the world she was born into, but this current Tom has turned into a very establishment, status quo person.
The servants wait for news about Robert. Mr. Carson takes a call from Lady Mary, and his face is so grave that it could mean anything. He announces that Robert has had an operation and is expected to recover. Cora is going to stay at the hospital with him overnight, but Edith and Mary will return. They start to scramble to get things ready for them. Upon their return, Edith goes off to check on the children, and Mary remarks that of course she is going to. Tom and Mary have a conversation in the hallway. Mary concludes that she and Tom will have to do everything. Robert’s illness was caused by stress, so he won’t be able to be involved in the day-to-day tasks of running the estate anymore. I thought Mary had already taken over a majority of things? But I suppose it is even more necessary that they should do everything.
In her room, Mary asks Anna if the servants gossip about Marigold, and Anna seems clueless about it. That was a rather ill-advised question. I know Mary trusts Anna, but what right had she to ask it? It implies more than just the question. In any case, Mary guesses the truth. What evil she will do with this knowledge I don’t know, but we shall undoubtedly find out very soon.