House Party 22
A large house party at Downton Abbey offers plenty of reminders that it's a changing world, in case you somehow forgot.
Mr. Green, With The Hatbox...
Hey, Anna made a platonic male friend! How nice for them both.
Name: "Mr. Gillingham," so called because he's staying in another household in Lord Gillingham's employ; his real name is Mr. Green. Age: Early 30s. Occupation: Valet. Goal: To minister to Lord Gillingham's needs during his stay at Downton Abbey, and to flirt with Anna when he's not directly looking after his boss. Sample Dialogue: "You're an angel from above!"
A Changing World Includes Tom, The Former Driver, And Everyone Is Just Going To Have To Deal With ItThe Dowager C: I'm afraid Tom's small talk is very small indeed.Lord G: Not everyone can be Oscar Wilde.The Dowager C: That's a relief!
Guess What The World's Doing Now?
Alert Type: Changing World Alert.
Issue: The Crawleys are having a giant house party with like a dozen guests staying over, and they've only brought "three maids and two valets between them," which is way less than would have come before The War, and also means more work for the Downton staff.
Complicating Factors: Jimmy is about to dick around in the kitchen, fall down, and hurt his wrist badly enough to keep him from carrying a tray, meaning that the staff gets overloaded even more, particularly after Thomas only agrees to the indignity of serving as a footman for one night, in a pinch.
Resolution: Molesley gets called back up to the majors! And when he's been reduced to delivering groceries for a living — honest to God, groceries!!! But as a second footman. Under Alfred. In gloves. All of which is hideously embarrassing to Molesley, apparently.
Spoiler: We will soon find out that there was actually one more servant hanging around than some might have preferred.
The Other Lord G
Mary reconnects with a friend of her youth, who's perfectly safe for her to talk to unchaperoned because he's engaged and this can't possibly go anywhere and they can keep it on the platonic tip for sure.
Name: Anthony Foyle, Lord Gillingham Age: Late 30s. Occupation: Lord. Goal: To enjoy a weekend house party at Downton Abbey without feeling like the Crawleys are rubbing it in his face that they still have their manor and all their land, while his family's home was turned into a hospital during The War and that now he lives in the dower house due to inheritance taxes after his father's death. Also to play cards, maybe. Sample Dialogue: [to Mary] "No children. No wife. I've come close a couple of times. In fact, I'm close now. What about you?" Awkward.
Lady's Maid For Loving You, Branson
Alert Type: Maneater Alert.
Issue: Edna is still giving Tom the hard sell AND I DO MEAN HARD.
Complicating Factors: Though he'd already reached out to Mrs. Hughes as soon as Edna was re-hired to make sure they were all on the same page in terms of keeping Edna's claws out of him, the house party has left him feeling super-awkward and out of place, so he's more susceptible than he might be otherwise to someone pointing out that he doesn't belong...but that it's okay.
Resolution: She brings him a giant whiskey and they have a nice, friendly chat.
Spoiler: The nice, friendly chat is just a prelude to her sneaking into his room and totes Doing Sex with him.
As Mic Drop Lines Go, That's A C+The Dowager C: Don't call her "Your Grace."Tom: I thought it was correct.The Dowager C: For a servant, or an official at a ceremony, but in a social situation, call her "Duchess."Tom: But why? I don't call you "Countess."The Dowager C: Certainly not!Tom: There's no logic in it.The Dowager C: Oh no. If I were to search for logic, I should not look for it among the English upper class.
That Quote"I haven't been in the saddle for ages. I'll be stiff as a board the next day."- Lady Mary -
Australian Dame = Servant
Alert Type: Class Warfare Alert.
Issue: As a capper to the Crawleys' house party, they're having a performance from acclaimed Australian opera singer Dame Nellie Melba...but WHERE IS SHE GOING TO EAT DINNER?!
Complicating Factors: She's a dame...but she's also Australian, and she's being paid to perform. When Mrs. Hughes suggests that maybe it might be appropriate for her to dine with the house party, Carson is horrified.
Resolution: Carson decides that Dame Nellie should have a tray sent to her room, and when he runs it by Lord G, he's like, "Sure, whatever."
Spoiler: Lord G's co-sign of Carson's great idea is wrong; Cora is mortified when she finds out that a place at the table hasn't been set for Dame Nellie; when Cora punishes Lord G for his failure to live in the twentieth century by seating him next to Dame Nellie, she shows an expert knowledge of wine, and he's impressed (but probably not enough to revise his opinion of either professional singers or Australians).
Riding And AbidingMary: Mabel Lane Fox! So you've caught the greatest heiress of the season!Anthony: She's very nice, in fact.Mary: I'm sure.Anthony: Of course, everyone wants it, on both sides, but we do get on.Mary: You may be surprised to hear that a match which is wanted by everyone can turn out to be extremely happy.Anthony: Do you speak from experience?Mary: Absolutely. Matthew and I were flung at each other's heads from the moment he arrived. If anything, it rather slowed matters up.Anthony: But you were happy?Mary: Wonderfully happy.Anthony: How lucky you are.Mary: Am I?Anthony: You've known a great love. Doesn't that enrich any life?Mary: I'm not sure. Matthew changed me. I loved him, but he changed me. If I were as tough as I was before I met him, I bet I'd be happier now.Anthony: Maybe. But we can't go back, can we?Mary: Apparently not.
Guess What Still Isn't Settled? The Estate!
Let's talk about the tax bill a whole lot more! JK, let's shorthand it. Anthony, having gone through the same thing with the Gillingham estate when his dad (apparently somewhat recently) died, suggests to Mary — new half-owner of Downton Abbey — that she should get Lord G's permission to go talk to "the tax people" herself, and bring back the best deal they offer; he ended up keeping the land but renting the house. FASCINATING, RIGHT?!
How Interesting The Writers Think The Tax Bill Is > How Interesting It Is
Change The Record, Mary
When Rose gets the fun idea to end the second night of the house party with some dancing to one of her jazz records, even Mary can't resist, and accepts an invitation from Anthony. It's all going quite nicely until she happens to glance over at the gramophone Rose had Alfred bring down from the attic...because, of course, it's Matthew's. Way to get Matthew haunting the house party, STUPID ROSE.
Sampson Is De-Liar
What's the game? Poker.
Who's playing? Lord G, Edith's trick Michael, some old dude, and this guy Sampson who mooched an invitation to the party when he heard Lord G talking about it at The Club.
What's at stake? A lot of money, apparently.
Who wins? Sampson, because he's a card sharp who takes sums off his opponents that, though we don't hear any figures, are big enough that Lord G is worried about Cora finding out about it. Except then, when Sampson pushes his luck and agrees to play another game against Michael on the last night of the party, Michael "revive[s] a dubious talent from [his] misspent youth" and sharps Sampson right back, winning so much that Sampson has to hand over all the IOUs he took off his other marks, which Michael then returns to their owners, thus earning Lord G's respect and admiration. SO I WOULD SAY HE'S THE BIG WINNER IN THE LONG RUN.
Breathless With Anticipation
Mrs. Patmore finally learns what comes of spending a lifetime as a stressaholic who's constitutionally incapable of delegating work to the many people who work under her: a panic attack. And a pacemaker is many decades off. Maybe let the stand mixer do some stuff and get to bed at a reasonable hour, Mrs. P.?
Laugh, And Your Dead Husband's Mother Probably Won't Laugh With You
Isobel having been convinced by the Dowager C to come hear Dame Nellie and allow herself a single moment of happiness amid her indefinitely long mourning period, she has a ringside seat to Mary laughing at some dumb thing Anthony says, and the sound hits her like an icepick in the eye. Tom, sitting next to Isobel (and no stranger to grief), quietly says that he thinks that's the first he's heard Mary laugh "since it happened," and Isobel has the grace to say she knows it's not okay for her to begrudge Mary any fleeting moment of happiness. So that's progress. Sad, sad progress.
Wait Till Dame Nellie Gets To Chuck BerryThe Dowager C: What a relief. I thought we might've been in for some of that dreadful German lieder. You can always rely on Puccini.Isobel: I prefer Bartók.The Dowager C: Pfft, you would.
Kitchen Turns Chamber Of Horrors
So...while everyone else is listening to Dame Nellie sing Puccini, Anna — who has a headache, probably from playing the rowdy card game Green flirted her into — goes to get powder or something and is followed by Green, who rapes her. Fortunately, no one tries to say it's as much as one should expect in the rapidly changing world.
Wrap It Up
Isobel tells Lord G how happy she is that the Dowager C convinced her to come: "I was wrong to hesitate, but then, guilt has the power to make all of us do strange things." "Not all of us," clucks the Dowager C. "Guilt has not played a major part in my life."
Mrs. Hughes finds Anna dishevelled and injured, refusing to tell Bates what happened: "If he knew, he'd murder the man who's done it and then he'd be hanged." Mrs. Hughes reluctantly promises never to tell anyone about finding Anna in this state.
Lord G jovially tells Cora that it was okay dining next to Dame Nellie and that she always thinks he's so narrow-minded, but that he's even okay with Michael now, and knows what's up: "It's a changing world." OH WORD???
When Bates finds Anna changed into a different dress and with her face all cut up, she lies that she passed out and hit her head, leaving her dress "badly marked." He doesn't buy it, but she doesn't give him a chance to question her further, taking off to walk home alone, sobbing about her terrible life. CHANGING WORLD NOT CHANGING FAST ENOUGH. (Also this aspect of the world still hasn't changed.)