Lady Mary Makes A Pig's Ear Of Courtship
While Mary considers her romantic options some more, Edith lets someone into her confidence, and SARAH BUNTING makes her first appearance!
Situation: Cora's bonehead brother has gotten embroiled in the Teapot Dome Scandal, and he's asked Lord G to come lend him a little English respectability.
What makes it awkward? As Lord G's valet, Bates should go, but given the precarious state of his marriage at the moment, (a) he doesn't want to go, and (b) it's going to be hard for him to get out of it without letting lots of people in on the reason that he'd rather didn't know about it.
Who's feeling awkward about it? Bates, because he's protective of Anna; Anna, because she thinks that if Bates makes this into a thing, his job could be in jeopardy; Mary, because Mrs. Hughes intercedes with her on Anna's behalf and now Mary knows that Anna was raped and probably feels shitty that her first reply to Mrs. Hughes's request was to say, "I hope we are good employers, but even we expect to get what we pay for." BRRRRRR.
How is order restored? Without telling him anything except that he'd agree with her if he knew why, Mary uses her daughterly influence to get Lord G to take a sub instead...but now Bates knows she knows, so the awkwardness hasn't dissipated entirely.
Women And Seamen Don't MixYou are asking me to travel without a valet.I'm asking you not to take Bates.You do know the Americans have a correct uniform for practically every activity known to man.But Thomas was your valet the whole time Bates was in prison; he knows how you like things done.Well, suppose he doesn't want to go.Why wouldn't he? It's an adventure. All those handsome stewards strutting down the boat deck.Don't be vulgar. What do you know of such matters?I've been married. I know everything.
Plot Lightning Round
The Goodbye G
Cora calls Lord G's trip to America to save her idiot brother "a real act of love," and like, it is, but he's travelling First Class to America's capital; it's not like he's en route to Sochi.
Lord G tells Edith to stay strong, and she's like, YEP, TOTALLY STRONG AND NORMAL.
Lord G asks Tom to take care of all his women, including Isis, or actually, "especially Isis." Definitely prioritize her over Rose, anyway.
Thomas orders Baxter to find out why he's going to America instead of Bates. Baxter's like
These Two Will Never Get Along, And That Is Final!Is it just lack of money, why these places are all failing?Usually. But why is that? Because so few of the owners make the most of what an estate has to offer. So few think about income. So few are ready to adjust their way of life.But you have to understand what these people are used to.[snorts] 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.And you don't think He will be.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.
Situation: The Dowager C is sick.
What makes it awkward? Isobel's the first person to see how sick The Dowager C is and spring into care taking action.
Who's feeling awkward about it? The Dowager C, who clearly doesn't like being beholden to anyone, but particularly not to Isobel, whose help she'd already shrugged off earlier this very same day.
How is order restored? Dr. Clarkson assigns Isobel to round-the-clock care to make sure The Dowager C's bronchitis doesn't turn into pneumonia, and Isobel totally nurses The Dowager C back to health/her usual crabbiness.
We Can't Miss You If You Won't Go Away
Alert Type: Alfred Alert.
Issue: Fucking Alfred is coming back to town...because his dad is ill. Okay, I shouldn't call him "fucking Alfred" under the circumstances, but honestly.
Complicating Factors: Now that Ivy and Jimmy have fallen out, Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes are worried that Alfred's reappearance is going to cause all kinds of turmoil with Ivy and Daisy.
Resolution: Carson and Mrs. Hughes hatch this whole scheme where Mr. Carson heads Alfred off at the train and puts him up at a pub because the house is full of flu or something.
Spoiler: Alfred shows up anyway, on his way out of town, and sure enough, fucking Ivy kisses his ass to needle Jimmy and Alfred's all, "You've given me something to think about, Ivy. And I will." Ugh, don't think.
Everyone Needs A Cool Aunt Who'll Take You For An Abortion
Alert Type: Unplanned Parenthood Alert.
Issue: Edith is still pregnant.
Complicating Factors: Michael's still in the wind, and even if he wasn't, he couldn't come back and shotgun-marry her, legitimizing her "premature" baby a few months later.
Resolution: Edith found a place in a magazine where she can go for an illegal abortion. Aunt Rosamund will go with her, and Edith will never tell Michael there ever was a baby.
Spoiler: When Edith actually ends up at the place, she talks about how she couldn't have the baby and make herself an outcast from society...but then she hears a woman crying and decides not to terminate her pregnancy after all! Who does she think she is, a rebel like Sybil?!
Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows (Probably, Eventually)
When Isobel can't join Tom for a political speech because of her nursing duties and no one else he knows gives a rat's ass about politics, Tom attends alone...though he doesn't stay so for long after a cute lady invites him to take the seat next to hers. Soon they can chat about baseball and true crime!
Name: SARAH BUNTING. Age: Late 20s. Occupation: Unknown. Goal: To support progressive causes, and progressives. Especially thick Irish ones. Sample Dialogue: "You can't blame him for having a bit of fun."
Love, Hate & Everything In Between
So with the group for Downton dinner made up just of Cora, Mary, and Charles, talk turns to the pigs, which are not just new livestock but THE FUTURE OF DOWNTON, basically. Charles wants to walk down and see them after dinner, and Mary takes him, talking about "The Pig Man" they're told is good. Except, oh no, one of the pigs is practically dead, and the rest haven't had any water since they were dropped off because they kicked over their trough! I thought pigs were smart! Mary offers to race back to the house and get The Pig Man back, but Charles says there's no time! And they can't direct the pigs to the water pipe in the barn, they'll die first! There's nothing for it but for Charles and Mary to fill buckets and race back and forth refilling the trough! It's muddy work! And Mary gets totally filthy! And as if that wasn't enough to get Charles to see Mary in a new light, then she takes him into the kitchen and scrambles eggs for him with her own two hands! What will happen if Charles starts to think of Mary as less of an entitled princess and more as an owner who's "getting used to something different" and "deserves to keep what she has"? WHAT?!
Wrap It Up
Amid Rose's bitching that they're leaving early, Edith gets ready to return to Downton. Once stupid Rose has stomped out to "un-arrange" her plans, Rosamund asks if Edith is going to tell Cora about the baby, and offers to be there when she does. "Well, the decision's been made now," says Edith. That's the spirit!
Mary is still glowing from her porcine triumph when Cora comes into the library to remind her that Tony Gillingham will be back that night, and Mary immediately gets weird about it! And what do you know, Charles served with Tony in The War!
While Mary tries to escape to deal with her Tony-related feelings, Evelyn trails after her to confirm that Charles no longer thinks she's "aloof": "Only trouble for me is, I'm afraid it's increased the competition." Oh, Evelyn, not a bit! You were never in competition!
Dr. Clarkson tells a recovered Dowager C that Isobel was the one who nursed her back to health, and that she should be kind to her: "You'll be rewarded in better." "The sooner the better," she replies. Classic Dowager C!
The return of Tony means the return of Green, and Anna runs into him with zero warning in the servants' hall, under Mrs. Hughes's glare and Baxter's and Bates's watchful eyes!
Mary seems sincerely happy to see Tony, but when she brings up Mabel, he is weird about it and instantly changes the subject!
But when he reunites with his old War buddy, they both talk in code about how awesome Mary is, as who wouldn't about a woman who'll mud-wrestle with pigs?
Mrs. Hughes confronts Green in the boot room to tell him she knows alllllll about him, and when he tries to claim that he and Anna were both drunk and that their assignation was mutual, she is not even kind of having it! She says that Bates knows about the assault, but not that Green is the rapist, and advises him to keep a low profile for his own sake!
Isobel and the Dowager C play gin, and either the Dowager C is genuinely enjoying herself, or she is better at faking it than any other moment in the show would have ever given us to believe!
Green acts like a cocky prick in the servants' hall...
...while Baxter watches Bates...
AND BATES WATCHES GREEEEEEEEEEEN!