In this week’s Downton Abbey, the much-ballyhooed house party leaves a lady with palpitations (of the good sort), a servant with palpitations (of the bad sort) and rains down upon one beloved character a fate worse than Mrs. O’Brien’s hair. Seriously, it’s horrific. But if you think you can stomach it, read on…
CLASS DISMISSED | From the start, Tom has a hard time mingling with all the fancypants snobs that descend upon Downton for the shindig. (He’s so dreadful at it that even judgmental Robert is sympathetic. “Not everyone can be Oscar Wilde,” he says. “That’s a relief,” Violet replies.) Naturally, Edna seizes the opportunity to cozy up anew to the former chauffeur. And, after he confesses to her, “I’m a fish out of water, and I never felt it more than today,” she serves him a bucket of whiskey, then sneaks into his room after hours. (You called that one, Mrs. Hughes!)
MATT WHO CRAWLEY? | Although handsome Anthony Foyle — aka Lord Gilligham — is already engaged, he can’t help but be drawn to Mary, who lightens up to the point that Isobel’s heart breaks at the sight. (She fears that if she allows herself a moment of happiness, it means she’s forgotten her son.) For better or worse, just when Mary starts to really relax in Anthony’s company — they even (gasp!) dance — the widow notices that the music they are so enjoying is coming from Matthew‘s old Gramophone! (Oh, Rose, you thoughtless minx! Anna told you to ask Mary first if you could pull out the record player!)
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ACE IN THE HOLE | While Edith is sure that the weekend will force her papa to get to know Michael, she underestimates Robert’s willingness to run from every — and I do mean every — opportunity to do so. Still, Michael finally manages to score some points with his future father-in-law by outwitting a card shark and winning back the small fortune Cora would have been livid to learn he’d lost. (Mind you, she’s still plenty miffed with her husband when she finds out that he and Carson planned to exclude their entertainment — opera star Dame Nellie Melba — from supper with the guests!)
A LITTLE PARTY NEVER KILLED NOBODY | Downstairs, Jimmy sprains his wrist showing off his jar-juggling “skills,” paving the way for Carson to bring in Molesley as a (lowly) footman for the night. (Gloves and all — the horror!) And Mrs. Patmore gets so stressed out about the meal that she damn near gives herself a coronary, paving the way for Alfred to step in and make sauces (his Top Chef dream come true!). Meanwhile, much to Bates’ chagrin, Anthony’s valet — who everyone confusingly calls Gillingham — takes a fancy to Anna. And, when she leaves Dame Nellie’s performance for an aspirin — hey, opera’s not for everyone — the villain corners her, beats her up and rapes her! Afterwards, she swears Mrs. Hughes to secrecy — if Bates knew, he’d seek vengeance, and as a convicted felon, vengeance, however justified, is rather a no-no.
Okay, your turn. What did you think of the episode? After Bates’ imprisonment, I thought he and Anna — and we! — deserved a break from the tragedies, didn’t you? Not forever, maybe, but certainly longer than we got! And how dumb can Tom be, taking up with Edna? When even the staff is saying, “Dude, watch your step around her!” you bloody well watch your step! I did like Mary’s new suitor, though, and I loved that Michael was able to impress her impossible father. (Go, Team Edith!) Dame Kiri Te Kanawa sounded divine. And, of course, as always, Violet was a hoot. Her best line? “If I were to search for logic, I should not look for it among the English upper class.” Hit the comments.