Love is in the air this week on Downton Abbey. Not just upstairs but downstairs as well. Mary’s relationship with her ‘oily racecar driver’ (as Edith calls Henry) takes a step forward. Lord Merton is trying to get back into the game with Isobel via his future daughter-in-law, and Mr. Mason clearly has developed a tendre for Mrs. Patmore much to Daisy’s chagrin. Mary still hasn’t gotten the truth about Marigold from anyone, although not for want of trying. And Tom and Henry start their own bromance. We also finally get a resolution to the hospital story in this episode.
As usual, opinions are divided upstairs and downstairs about throwing open the abbey to the public for one day in aid of the Downton Hospital trust. Of course, Robert, who is still convalescing, thinks the idea is ‘crackers’. People would be better off buying a ticket to London to see the Tate. Carson is also totally against the idea. “What’s to stop them from slipping the odd first edition into their back pocket?” he grouses. He also proclaims that it is the first step towards a ‘guillotine in Trafalgar Square.’ But both Mary and Tom point out that the villagers clearly want to see how the other half lives. Comrade Daisy of course thinks that all great houses should be open to the public. After all what right do people have to keep their houses private? Carson points out that there is this little thing call private property laws. Clearly a legal career is not in Daisy’s future.
Dr. Clarkson and Isobel inform Cora that the merger is definitely going through, and that the Board of Governors wants Cora to take over as President. ‘Golly, they have sacked the captain?” is Cora’s response, especially when she finds out that they want to give her even more responsibility. Cora is undecided about what to do until Robert sticks his foot in his mouth. He doesn’t understand why she would want to work, and implies that she’s too old. It’s one thing for Isobel, but another for his wife. Even though Mary and Edith are grown women with responsibilities and children, Robert still thinks Cora needs to stay home to take care of them. Of course, Cora decides to take the job after all.
Despite her misgivings about his prospects and ‘marrying down’, Mary is quite keen on Henry Talbot. When Anna complains of twinges of pain, Mary uses the excuse of taking her up to London to see the doctor, as a way to surprise Henry at his dinner with Evelyn Napier. Talk at dinner inevitably turns towards the race at Brooklands which Tom is keen to attend. When Henry offers to walk Mary home, they get caught in a sudden downpour. Henry makes his intentions clear. He’s falling in love with Mary and wants to marry her. It’s nice to see Mary flustered and out of her depths. Mary finally tells Henry about Matthew’s death in a car accident. As well as being extraordinarily handsome, Henry is also understanding about Mary’s fears. He tells her that it’s not necessary for her to attend the race at Brooklands if it makes her uncomfortable. After a searing kiss, Mary decides to push past her fears to attend the race. Edith’s budding romance with Bertie Pelham is moving along swimmingly as well. They have such a natural and easy rapport. He comes to stay at Downton and gives the family some practical advice about the opening, including stationing a servant in each room to make sure nothing is taken. He also suggests that Cora, Mary and Edith act as guides to house even though the only person who seems to know anything is the hitherto unmentioned librarian.
The opening day is a success despite the fact that the family knows absolutely nothing about the house that they’ve lived in for so long. While it was amusing, it also seemed to give the family new insight as to how others saw them and the house. Since the opening raised so much money for the hospital, Tom even suggests that the family consider opening the house to the public on a regular basis to keep it afloat. Mary, of course, vetoes that option. She has no doubt that she and George will be able to run Downton quite successfully without resorting to allowing the unwashed hordes of tourists to enter. The only sour note is that an angry Violet show up to have it out with Cora in full view of assembled throng. She chastises Cora for letting her believe that she had triumphed instead of telling her the truth about the hospital. She storms off in a huff, leaving her relationship with Cora in tatters for the foreseeable future.
Change is afoot downstairs as well. Moseley has been offered the chance to work at the local school if he passes an exam. Baxter has received a letter from Peter Coyle, he wants her to visit him in prison. Anna’s twinges turn out just to be her ligaments stretching as the baby grows. Mrs. Patmore’s new bed and breakfast is almost ready to open. She’s even installed a telephone to receive bookings! Carson continues to treat Mrs. Hughes more like an employee and less like a wife, criticizing her cooking, her coffee making skills. He even goes so far as to suggest that one of the housemaids teach her how to make the bed! Kudos to Mrs. Hughes for not hitting him over the head with the frying pan. He informs Barrow that his services as under-butler are no longer needed. This whole episode was particularly hard on Barrow. Only Master George seems to truly like him. When Mrs. Patmore overhears Barrow and Andy making plans to get together later, she assumes the worst. She wastes no time telling Carson that she fears that Andy is being led astray by Barrow. When Carson later sees Andy coming out of Barrow’s room, he too jumps to the wrong conclusion. When Barrow denies that anything inappropriate (or illegal) is going on, without revealing Andy’s secret, Carson doesn’t take his word for it, leaving the under-butler in tears.