This week we had a wedding and a return of a family member from abroad. This episode was an improvement over the first two episodes which seemed a bit like the show was treading water instead of giving us a jam-packed final season of drama! I mean, Matthew Goode hasn’t even showed up yet and we’re almost half-way through the season. A great deal went on in the episode but a lot of just seemed to be retread of what previous episodes.
Denker vs. Sprat Round Two: Denker notices that Spratt is acting more squirrely than usual, so of course, she spies on him in a not very subtle way. When Sergeant Willis stops by, Spratt’s secret is out. It turns out that his nephew has been in prison, and is now on the lam, and Spratt has been hiding him in the woodshed. Instead of selling him out to the po-po, she decides to tortures him instead, and might even be blackmailing him. I’ve decided that these two are secretly hot for each other and need to throw caution to the wind and make-out immediately while the Dowager’s back is turned.
It’s Hard Out There For a Butler: Thomas has yet another job interview in the county. For some reason, he prefers to stay in Yorkshire where there are probably no underground gay bars, and no chance of him actually meeting anyone. Sir Michael Reresby lives by himself in a large house that has seen better days with only a housekeeper. His wife has passed and he lost his sons in the war. Despite everything, he believes that one must keep up appearances because better days are coming. He worries that Thomas is a Republican, and Thomas wonders how he’s supposed to keep 50 rooms filled with clutter clean all by himself. The job interview is not a success. He’s back to square one. And his efforts to make friends with Andy keep being thwarted. Baxter, like Mrs. Patmore, thinks he’s trying to get a leg over but Thomas assures her that he just wants to be friends with the lad. I really don’t like seeing Evil Butler so defeated. It makes me sad.
Edith Meets a Man! In London, Edith runs into Bertie Pelham, whom she had met at Lord Sinderby’s estate. He asks her out for a drink at Rules in Covent Garden. When her editor up and quits, Bertie proves to be an invaluable help, giving her editorial advice and providing sandwiches and coffee as they prepare the issue before the deadline. He seems keen to see her again, and it’s nice to see Edith happy and smiling for a change.
Downton Anatomy: The battle for the hospital’s future continues with Isobel and Cora apparently getting Dr. Clarkson on side. Isobel points out that Dr. Clarkson seems more worried about being a little fish in a big pond if the hospitals merge rather than the Big Kahuna he is now. It was a terribly unkind thing to say and Violet calls her on it. “Did you DRINK at luncheon?” “NO I DID NOT,” Isobel snaps. “Which you know very well, since we were together.” Violet sniffs. “Not all the time.” Dr. Clarkson rejects her suggestion but later on he agrees that she has a point. Violet is incensed that Dr. Clarkson might turn traitor. The battle rages on! And Daisy seems to have jumped the gun in regards to Mr. Mason. Although the Drewes have left Yewe farm, it’s not a done deal that Mr. Mason would take their place. Moseley cautions her about saying anything to Mr. Mason or to Cora, but Daisy can’t keep her big mouth shut and gets Mr. Mason’s hopes up. Anna thinks she might be pregnant, but doesn’t want to say anything to Bates until she’s further along. After making a joke about Bates’ sperm count, Lady Mary, of course, can’t wait for the day she can invent an excuse for them to zip up to London so that the doctor can sew Anna’s uterus shut.
The wedding of the season: Her wedding day is soon to arrive but the blushing bride seems less than enthused about it all. She’s resigned to having her reception in the Great Hall of Downton, but she hasn’t even bothered to buy a new wedding dress. Instead, she’s decided to wear an old brown dress that she’s no doubt had for years. Mrs. Patmore suggests that she try these newfangled thing called a catalog. Mrs. Hughes assures her that she has heard of such a thing but it would be too late to order something in time for the wedding. Since she had such great success as a go-between in the matter of the wedding night, Mrs. Patmore decides to interfere to make sure that Mrs. Hughes at least has the wedding reception that she wants. She tells Cora that Mrs. Hughes is not happy about the reception venue. Cora calls Carson and Mrs. Hughes upstairs and asks Mrs. Hughes point blank what she would like for her wedding day. Relieved, Mrs. Hughes admits that she would prefer to have her reception at the school house. Of course, Lady Mary is appalled that Carson would be denied having a reception at Downton. When Cora accuses Lady Mary of being a bully (which she totally is), Lady Mary turns around and accuses Cora of being a snob, of not wanting to have all those poor people in her dining room. Mary is worried that Carson is being denied his just desserts as a long-time servant, but Carson assures her that as long as she is there, all is right with the world.
Of course, there is still the matter of Mrs. Hughes’ wedding dress. Mrs. Patmore orders a dress from a catalog and it is even uglier than the one Mrs. Hughes was planning to wear. Of course, Lady Mary, who just loves to play Lady Bountiful when it suits her, suggests that they just paw through Cora’s Closet without her permission for something suitable. When Cora returns home from a long day arguing with the Dowager about the Hospital Question, she’s understandably appalled to find people playing dress-up with her clothes. In her polite Cora way, she flips her lid. She later apologizes to Mrs. Hughes and offers to loan her a beautiful brown velvet coat to wear over her dress. The wedding goes off without a hitch, and there is a surprise guest at the reception. Branson is back and he’s brought Sybbie with him. Apparently he went all the way to Boston to realize that Downton is his home. “I didn’t know that before I left. I know it now,” he announces, as all the children hug, and there is not a dry eye in the schoolhouse.