Guess who is coming to dinner? Why it is current health minister (and future Prime Minister) Neville Chamberlin. Lucky Mr. Chamberlin received a coveted invitation (against his will) to attend one of the family’s notorious dinner parties. Over the past 5 seasons, the show has featured many memorable ones but last night’s has to go down in the history books as the most ‘shocking dinner party’ ever. It is also one of the few times in the past 5 years that a real life person has ventured into the fictional world of the Crawley’s. Since Chamberlin was visiting facilities in the North, Violet naturally invited (twisted Chamberlin’s arm) to dinner. Robert doesn’t believe that a busy man like Chamberlin would change his plans on a moment’s notice. Violet mentions that Robert’s father was Chamberlin’s wife’s godfather so they are practically family.
Cora, of course, invites Isobel, Lord Merton and Dr. Clarkson as reinforcements. It appears that Dr. Clarkson has now had a change of heart and now supports the merger. When Denker finds out, she accosts Dr. Clarkson in the street and accuses him of being a traitor, reminding that the Dowager was running things while he was still in nappies eating porridge in Scotland. Dr. Clarkson refuses to let the insult stand and writes to the Dowager who promptly fires Denker. Before Spratt can throw a going away party, Denker threatens to tell Sgt. Willis about Spratt harboring a fugitive. Spratt has no choice but to somehow convince the Dowager to give Denker her job back. Although he accomplishes the impossible, Denker refuses to let him off the hook.
Neville Chamberlin barely sets foot in the door before the Dowager starts in on him about the hospital. Tom, who proves to be the MVP in this episode, immediately rescues him with a cocktail. The arguing continues at the dinner table with Violet vociferously making her feelings known about town vs. government control, making Chamberlin very uncomfortable. Apparently he hates conflict. Robert, who has been feeling ill for weeks, finally can’t take any longer. He stands up to make his excuses before suddenly vomiting enough blood to make Quentin Tarantino proud. Dr. Clarkson immediately deduces that Robert’s ulcer has burst. There is a touching moment where Robert tells Cora that if this is the end, he wants to make sure that she knows that he loved her very, very, very much. Cora finally puts an end to the argument by insisting to Chamberlin that the merger with the Royal York Hospital will go through. Despite the fact that her son just redecorated the carpet, Violet is not happy when Cora insists that she’s tired of all the shenanigans that have been going on. She mentions something about Marigold not realizing that Mary was in earshot. Later, Mary questions Anna about what the servants have been saying below stairs about the little girl. Lord Grantham pulls through the surgery, but Mary informs Tom that the two of them will now be running the estate.
The rest of the episode was a bit anti-climactic. Remember last week, when Baxter was all up in arms about whether or not to testify against her former lover in court? Well, it appears that the court system works really fast in York because the time has come for her to appear in court. Unfortunately, the big dramatic moment of Baxter seeing her former lover across the courtroom, never happens. Coyle decides to change his plea to guilty which means that Baxter is no longer needed. The whole thing is a bit anticlimactic and unsatisfying. The only person happy about it is Baxter.
Is there anything that Tom Branson can’t do? Not only is he good-looking and kind, he also offers well-meaning advice to Mary about not being afraid to take a chance on Henry Talbot. Mary, ever the snob, worries about marrying down. Tom reminds Mary that people thought his marriage to Sybil was a misalliance given the differences in their backgrounds. Instead, because they had the same ideals, and they understood each other, they were equals.
While Henry tests out a new race car, Mary winces from the sidelines. Although she mentions that racecar driving is dangerous and unsafe, not once does she mention the fact that Matthew died in a terrible car accident. Instead, Tom tells her that loving someone can be unsafe, so Mary touches up her lipstick. The three have a quick drink at the local pub where Tom and Henry bond over their mutual love of cars. He also calls them out for not owning up to the attraction between them. “Why can’t you just say, ‘I’d love to spend more time with you. When can we do it?’” Tom is the best! Mary is not the only one who might have found love. After finding and hiring a female editor for her magazine, Edith celebrates by inviting Bertie Pelham over to her flat for drinks before dinner. Bertie takes the opportunity to snatch a kiss from Edith who is not unwilling. It is a lovely moment and it’s nice to see Edith smile for a change. Happily the two head out for dinner and dancing at Café Paris.
Mr. Mason moves into Yew Tree Farm at last and asks Daisy to come and live with him. While Daisy is not sure whether or not she wants to move, she sure as heck doesn’t want Mrs. Patmore to spend any time with Mr. Mason. When Mary expresses concern that Mr. Mason might not be able to handle the pigs, former City boy Andy eagerly offers to help. But there is a slight problem. It turns out that Andy can’t read. Although he’s previously rebuffed Barrow’s attempts at friendship because he didn’t want him to get the wrong idea, he accepts his help when Barrow offers to teach him.
Finally can we talk about Carson? At first it seemed like a nice moment, that Carson wanted to have dinner with Mrs. Hughes at their cottage instead with the others at Downton. Instead dinner turned into a critique session. Apparently Mrs. Hughes culinary skills were not up to the standards of Carson’s mother. He suggested that perhaps Mrs. Patmore might take Mrs. Hughes in hand for a couple of lessons because what Mrs. Patmore needs is more work! Perhaps Mrs. Patmore should open up a culinary school when she retires.