SPOILER WARNING: Plot points will be revealed in this episode-by-episode discussion of ITV period drama Downton Abbey.
Written by Julian Fellowes. Directed by David Evans. Originally broadcast: 8 November 2015, ITV.
Edith is torn over whether to tell Bertie about her secret daughter, then he becomes a marquess. Also, Violet has gone away, while Mr Molesley begins work as a teacher.
When is it set? 1925.
Where is it set? Downton and its estate. The local village. Isobel’s house. Mrs Patmore’s B&B. The Bateses’ cottage. Lord Merton’s house. The office of Edith’s magazine in London. Downton’s church and churchyard.
Debuts, deaths and guest stars:
* Although we’ve never seen him on screen, Bertie’s cousin the 6th Marquess of Hexham has died of malaria while in Tangiers. (He went there often, we’re told. And was unmarried.)
* There’s a throwaway subplot about Mrs Patmore’s B&B: her first ever paying guests turn out to be a couple having an affair and now the cuckolded husband is suing for damages. Mrs P is aghast but her colleagues and the family just find it funny.
* Bertie worked as his late cousin’s agent, so Mary assumes he’ll now be out of a job. But then Edith informs her that Bertie has inherited the title. If Edith marries him now, as he desires, she’ll outrank all her family in the aristocratic hierarchy. Mary is consumed with seething jealousy and things turn nasty when she deliberately forces Edith to tell Bertie that she has a daughter.
* Edith’s whole dilemma is very engaging. After the secret is spilled, she’s fearful that Bertie will dump her. He says he’s not sure if he can spend his life with someone who doesn’t trust him, and they part – assuming they’ll never see each other again.
* There’s then an electric scene between the two sisters, as Edith tells Mary some home truths. “I know you,” she says. “I know you to be a nasty, jealous, scheming bitch.”
* Thomas Barrow gets another rejection letter in his quest to find a new job, then is uncharacteristically kind to Mr Molesley. Miss Baxter deduces that something is very wrong – and she and footman Andy find Thomas in the bath with his wrists slashed.
* Mary tearfully admitting that she can’t face being a “crash widow” again. A few scenes later, she visits Matthew’s grave to explain that she’s fallen in love again. All very moving.
* Bertie plans to fly to Tangiers, and Robert says that now commercial airlines are operating “we’ll all be flying hither and thither before too long.” It’s Rosamund’s turn to complete the cliche by poo-pooing something that we viewers know will become true: “I rather doubt that,” she laughs.
* Isobel’s storyline with Lord Merton’s manipulative daughter-in-law is all a bit clunky. It feels like the meat of the plot has been moved to the wife because the actor who played the twatty son is unavailable.
* In the last episode we learnt that an agony-aunt columnist for Edith’s magazine, Cassandra Jones, was using a pseudonym. Now it’s revealed who it really is: Mr Spratt, Violet’s dour butler. What a silly development.
* After a lot of build-up, Mary’s wedding comes along very quickly indeed.
* Bertie says his mother makes Mrs Squeers – a character from Charles Dickens’s 1838/39 novel Nicholas Nickleby – look like nursing pioneering Florence Nightingale (1820-1910).
* When Mr Molesley begins work as a teacher, his first lesson covers the period between the English Civil War of 1642 and the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Later he talks about King Charles I (1600-1649) and the Divine Right to Rule.
Mary’s men: She hasn’t see Henry for a while and doesn’t know whether to pursue him. Their different backgrounds are an issue for her, bt Tom points out that she and her first love, Matthew, also had different upbringings. Then Henry shows up at Downton – Tom has illicitly invited him. Mary is angry, but Henry won’t give up. Then she’s upset when he leaves (women!) and despite everyone saying that Henry is right for her she refuses to admit it. So Tom writes to Violet and asks her to return from her overseas trip. When she’s back she’s able to talk some sense into her stubborn granddaughter. Eventually Mary telegrams Henry asking to see him, then tells him she wants to spend her life with him. They agree to get married… the following Saturday! She becomes Lady Mary Talbot.
Doggie! Robert’s new Lab puppy, Teo, sits in a basket in the library.
Review: An episode dominated by Mary and Edith’s rocky romances.