In this episode of Downton Abbey, Edith takes off for London with Marigold (and, shockingly, the rest of her family actually notices her absence), Bates and Anna finally have a conversation about the murder of Mr. Green and Mary’s cold-hearted insensitivity is charmingly offset by a fetch new haircut.
Some of the major storylines are finally starting to percolate and pick up some much-needed steam. While still terribly uninteresting, the murder of Mr. Green and Bates’ culpability is at least going in an actual direction instead of moving aimlessly in giant circles. Now that Anna and Bates have had the conversation and everything is out in the open, at the very least the oblique, useless conversations about the murder can now be more direct.
This is still a storyline I’m deeply uninterested in, but it’s happening, so I’m trying to find a silver lining. But seriously, how many times can one person get wrongfully suspected of murder? Bates’ record is starting to look like that guy from HBO’s new documentary The Jinx.
Meanwhile, Edith’s story with Marigold finally comes to a boil after the rampant insensitivity she is forced to deal with from her own family. Poor Edith forgot that she is human wallpaper within the walls of Downton Abbey, and that no one really cares about her feelings or her personal tragedy.
When Matthew died and Mary was sad, everyone walked on eggshells around her. Literally hours after Edith finds out her lover is dead, people are planning a party over her head while she quietly sobs at the dinner table. I’m starting to think Downton Abbey is going to end with Edith burning the whole house down with her family inside. Sometimes the Crawleys are really terrible people.
Downton Abbey Recap: A Brawl Shakes Up Robert and Cora’s Marriage >>>
Everything on Downton Abbey moves at a stately pace, and the storytelling is no different. Storylines sometimes only creep forward an inch every episode. The narrative on this show moves at a snail’s pace; the Dowager Countess could outrun most story developments.
Of course, part of the charm of watching Downton is the show’s leisurely pace and the way it uses those spaces in narrative to flesh out the characters. Downton Abbey is more interested in the little moments than in moving quickly in any one particular direction.
This works in the show’s favor, since the series has a penchant for reusing and re-purposing story elements. By focusing on the character development and the smaller moments, it’s easier to ignore the fact that you’re watching the 12th iteration of the same story.
I’d much rather focus on the lovely moment between Carson and Mrs. Hughes than realize I’ve already seen Bates wrongfully accused of murder once before. I’d much rather focus on the small, quietly human moment between Baxter and Thomas than realize we have yet another example of a Thomas scheme going way too far.
It’s one reason why I wouldn’t mind a whole episode just dedicated to Violet and her old Russian beau: at the very least, it’s storyline ground never tread before. It also shines a light on aspects of Violet‘s character and backstory we’ve never even thought to wonder about. Plus, Violet Crawley is the undisputed MVP of this whole series, and Maggie Smith is absolutely killing it this season.
The promised bad news finally comes for Edith, and it turns out Gregson really is dead. He was killed, as hinted, by some of Hitler’s men. Edith does not take this news well, especially since her family has all the emotional sensitivity of a bull in a china shop. Unable to deal with her horrible family any longer, Edith decides to snatch little Marigold and get the hell out of Downton.
This is not something Mrs. Drewe takes well because creepy Edith stealing little Marigold was probably always her biggest fear anyway. I still fail to see how Mrs. Drewe didn’t put the very obvious pieces together, since Edith was practically walking around with a giant “Ask me about my love child” button.
While it’s hard not to be Team Edith after knowing everything that she’s been through, what she does to poor Mrs. Drewe is ice cold. This is why you don’t use poor people as your personal babysitters until you’re ready to raise your child. Edith shows Mrs. Drewe the birth certificate with her name on it, then grabs Marigold and walks out the door while a shattered Mrs. Drewe cries.
“Thanks for raising my child!” Edith yells, then heads for London where she and the baby can finally live together in peace without her meddling family. At least, until Granny finally manages to track her down anyway. Violet Crawley is like a scandal bloodhound. If you’re about to embarrass the family, she will find you.
Speaking of Violet, she goes to see Prince Kuragin to tell him the Princess just might be alive in Hong Kong. “That’s too bad, I wanted to pick up where we left off all those many years ago,” Kuragin tells Violet. This guy is a smooth operator. They have a lovely little scene reminiscing about their relationship, which just makes me want to know more about their love story.
Speaking of love stories, Mary is in the middle of an elaborate shell game to get Anthony Gillingham off her back and onto Lane Fox’s. So far, it seems to be working swimmingly because Gillingham is amazingly easy to trick. He seems to have the attention span and blind enthusiasm of a golden retriever; just put Lane Fox directly into his line of sight and he forgets all about Mary.
Speaking of dogs, poor Isis appears to be feeling ill. I swear to god, Downton Abbey, if you kill that dog we will have words. Strong, strong words. I’ve put up with so much nonsense on this show. If you repay me with dog death, I will be so pissed. I don’t know why I’m even surprised anymore; apparently, killing off beloved characters is what this show does best. I will be way more upset about Isis than Matthew, though. This is your final warning, Downton.
The party of the week this time is a horse race, where Mary and Lane Fox ride alongside the boys. Also in attendance is Rose’s new beau Atticus and his Jewish family. “It’s always something,” Violet sighs hilariously.
Mary and Charles Blake continue to be huge trolls, this time by creating an elaborate Parent Trap scenario for Lane and Gillingham. Before the race, Mary gets her hair bobbed and it looks amazing or weird depending on the angle at which she’s standing. Mary’s grand unveiling of her hairstyle is literally the last nail in the coffin for Edith’s ability to deal with her family.
She looks like she wants to stab Mary right in the face, while Mary doesn’t understand why Edith’s loss should get in the way of her cute new hairdo. One of the things I really like about Downton Abbey is how the show hasn’t sanded the corners entirely from Mary. And when it comes to Edith, Mary has always been all jagged edges.
“This is the story that doesn’t end. Yes, it goes on and on, my friend.” This is how I feel about the unstoppable murder storyline currently happening on the show. I’ll never escape it. I’ve just given up at this point.
So Bates finds Mary’s book of family planning among Anna’s things and wrongly assumes Anna doesn’t want to get preggers because she thinks he’s a murderer. “Well, I mean, yes, I think you’re a murderer. But I still want to have your babies!”
Bates explains that he was planning on killing Mr. Green and had gotten a ticket to London to do the deed. Then he realized that the justice system isn’t exactly three strikes and you’re out; after two murders, you probably end up hanging.
So he never used the ticket to London, and when he heard about Mr. Green’s death he kept the unused ticket as evidence he never made it on the train. Unfortunately, Mrs. Hughes and Mary found that ticket last season and decided to destroy the evidence to protect Mr. Bates, which in turn has actually made him more likely to be implicated. “You’re welcome, Bates!”
Okay, I don’t want to think too deeply about this whole thing, but wouldn’t it still be generally bad to admit you were going into London secretly on the same day Mr. Green was killed? What would stop Bates from buying two tickets to London and keeping one unripped as evidence he never made it? I’m not sure this ticket was ever the silver bullet piece of evidence Bates hoped it would be.
So wait, if Bates didn’t do it, then who did? Will we have a Downton Abbey murder mystery this season? I’m calling Molesley in the dining room with the candle stick. Place your bets on Green’s murderer now!
Speaking of Molesley, he wants to help Daisy with her studying, but she acts like an entitled little brat to him initially. Sarah Bunting really did rub off on her! She finally sits down and listens to him, and agrees to accept his tutoring in history even though he only went to school until he was 12 years old.
And in the best downstairs storyline, Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes go with Mrs. Patmore to see her rental property. This prompts Carson to start thinking about the future or, more specifically, about his future with Mrs. Hughes.
He suggest the two buy a piece of real estate together, for rental purposes only, of course. Mrs. Hughes smiles because Carson is totally obvious with his massive crush on her. Work it, girl! Those two remain the best couple on this show.
Elsewhere Around Downton…
— Branson doesn’t have much to do in this episode, but Edith does advise him not to let the Crawley family turn him into a horrible, unfeeling monster. Poor Branson keeps getting pushed around from all sides this season.
— Zombie Thomas continues wandering around Downton in search of brains, looking really rough. He finally accepts help from Baxter, but not before his anonymous letter puts her in hot water with the police. She takes him to see the doctor, who tells him there’s no medical cure for being a hot gay guy. Baxter tells him that she actually respects his bravery and thinks he could accomplish a lot if he just stopped scheming and being horrible all the time.
— Robert is still in a snit about Bricker and is just stomping around the house like a giant man baby. Finally, Cora tells him that people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, implying that she has a good idea Robert has let one or two flirtations go too far. Considering that one time he was macking on a maid while she was nearly dying of Spanish flu, I don’t think Robert has any moral high ground to occupy when it comes to this battle. Robert knows it too and returns to the marital bedroom. Well played, Cora, well played.
— Isobel decides to finally accept Lord Merton’s proposal. Violet looks like she’s sucking on a lemon, but she does suck it up in order to congratulate her friend. It’s hilarious how much Violet hates Isobel moving up in the ranks.
What did you think of the episode? Who do you think killed Mr. Green if Bates didn’t do it? What’s going to happen with Edith and Marigold? Sound off in the comments!
Downton Abbey airs Sundays at 9pm on PBS.
(Image courtesy of PBS)