Downton Abbey Recap: Let's Talk About Sex

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Romance! Photo: PBS

A lone figure clad in black walks to Downton. Inside, she polishes shoes like a maniac. It’s Anna. This Anna storyline is going to be hard for the foreseeable future. Sorry, guys.

Downstairs at breakfast, Anna is making excuses for her beat-up face. Everybody knows something’s up, though maybe not. Maybe life’s hard everywhere, especially -- let's be real -- for servants. As Carson says, “I always think there’s something rather foreign about high spirits at breakfast.”

True, but will we ever get high spirits again, at any meal??

At the table, the Rapist just sits there, like NBD. Can someone please take him on a drive down a sun-dappled lane?

As the guests leave, Branson has a heart-to-heart with the Duchess, where he learns the rich mourn their spouses just like us! Wow, the happiness here is more contagious than the Spanish Flu.


Mary plays hard to get with the Pirate, who happens to be the employer of the Rapist, which means they’ll both be back or we’ll see them in London or something. Hopefully Anna uses the intervening time to brush up on her Krav Maga skills.

Everybody makes sad comments about how no one will hold trains for richies anymore and how the whole world is changing and then the cars pull off and the hell party is over.

The Doctor and Isobel (Bennifer) have a chance romantic encounter in a graveyard (a bit on the nose guys; we know this is all sad). Will they/won’t they work together on a new “out clinic”??

The high counsel (Branson, Lord Grantham and Lady Mary) meet in the library to discuss the fate of Downton and a trip to London (really, that only took one scene?). Mary is in purple, her power color. She’s going to run this place before things are over.

In the hall, it looks like Edna and Tom did in fact know each other in a biblical sense last night. Way to go Branson (said in the dead panniest of dead pans). Smart move getting physical with a tricky black magic witch. From behind a door, Thomas rubs his hands together and spies on the couple as Branson tries to tell Edna that it was a one-time deal and he was just trying to hit it and quit it, so to speak. And he was drunk. And lose his number, okay?

In the kitchen, Ivy tells the Top Chef she’s nervous about her ability to make a puff pastry asparagus dish. Since the Top Chef is in love with her, I think we can all see where this is going (somewhere involving delicious puff pastries).

Upstairs, Edna is already trying to extort Branson by saying: “What if I’m pregnant?” Hey, Edna, you know what my third grade teacher would say if anyone asked a stupid what-if question? “What if your butt fell off?” What if, Edna?? What if your butt fell off?

A hundred bucks says she’s already pregnant.

The old ladies go for a stroll, also in purple. It’s been brought to my attention that purple is the color you wear when you come out of deep mourning and I think it is working for everyone.

A whole trip is getting set up for London. Cora is trying to hook Mary up with the Pirate (okay, yes, I will learn his name if he becomes a regular) and Rose is definitely going to get up to no good with her love interest. At dinner, Tom is about as silent as Anna. Can we have a nice sex thing happen? Something that doesn’t leave everyone full of regrets, sadness and/or bruises?

In the kitchen, James reveals to Ivy it is his career ambition to be the real guy from Wolf of Wall Street. He does have a bit of a DiCaprio vibe I guess. Not enough for me but a bit. Still, Daisy is jealous jealous jealous when she sees them about to kiss. Don’t worry, Daisy. They have about as much chemistry as two lumps of bread dough on opposite sides of the room.

In another hall somewhere, Bates is really confused about Anna’s sudden coldness. Anna, please tell Bates what happened!

Mrs. Hughes and Carson (Brangelina) share a drink in an office. Carson is once again telling Hughes about his old girlfriend Alice. Not a huge turn on, but it seems to be working a little at least.

Carson leaves and Anna comes in to talk to Hughes, classic victim blaming herself for the Rapist’s behavior. Hughes tries to talk some sense into her and tell her to go to the police or at least tell Bates, but Anna is convinced, rightly probably, that Bates will murder the Rapist. “Better a broken heart than a broken neck,” she says. Really though?

Speaking of which, in the kitchen, Daisy is setting up Alfred for a lower-level broken heart by letting him catch Jim Jam making out with Ivy. Which is worse, Alfred?

In London, Mary is surprised by the Pirate. All the richies are going to see jazz music! Wait a second! There’s a black person on the screen! He’s singing music and I think he’s American! His dulcet tones are watering the tiny baby shoots of romance between Mary and the Pirate.

Back in the kitchen, Top Chef Downton is finally taking the next step in his journey towards being the Best Chef in the World by testing for a cooking school in London. Make them a dill sauce! You’re a shoe-in, Alfred. And while Ivy may not see the forest for the trees, your dreams of acceptable employment are much sexier than Jim Jam’s ambition to be a lothario. Of course, Daisy the Shining Star of the Kitchen sees you Alfred. Why can’t you see her back?!

But out of the muck of the kitchen and back to the jazz dancing party in London! I’m just going to say it: this guy is a terrible singer. He’s cute and I’m glad they are bring even the smallest bit of token diversity to Downton, but, seriously, the singing is atrocious.

No matter because on the dance floor, Rose is getting twirled like a top by her drunken suitor. When he runs off to ralph in the john, the chanteur turns out to be much better at gentleman-ing than singing, as he rescues her from “deep humiliation” by twirling her around the dance floor like a proper lady. Sadly, her Crawly family is not into African-American jazz singers and her love is cut off abruptly by Tom “Person in a Glass House Who Should Probably Be Careful About Where He Throws Societally Inappropriate Relationship Stones” Branson.

Back at the London house, Mary Shakespeare says to Tom the Sad One: “What’s the matter? You’ve been in a glump all day,” and thus wins the prize for Best Word of the Episode.

Back at Downton, Edna happily shines some shoes and out sneaks the House Sneak Thomas. Because she’s already pregnant, right?!

Downstairs, Bates finally confronts Anna about her refusal to so much as make eye contact with him. Of course, the Pirate is back with his valet, the Rapist. #whyarewepilingonanna

In her office, which might as well have a video camera and a sign on the door that says “Confessional," Tom confesses his Edna Sex Problem to Hughes.

In the library, the Pirate proposes to Mary. Which seems a bit abrupt. He is a pirate, which is a bonus, and let’s be honest, cuter and more committed to the show than Matthew. Also he takes trains instead of driving, which is smart in this dangerous world of automobile crashes.

In the Confessional, an intervention is happening. Turns out Edna isn’t actually pregnant, proven by a book of contraception ideas, which is like the Downton Abbey version of the Pill. Bad move, Edna. You should have gotten knocked up before you sexed up little Tommy B. Now it’s too late and you will never ever fill Sybil’s perfectly shaped shoes.

On the stairs, Edna’s out, which appears to be good news for Top Sneak Thomas.

After dinner, Mary’s in purple and back to her regular Edith take-down habit. When Robert notices that Edith isn’t around (she could have been gone for weeks for all he knows) and acts as though she’s a mysterious mystery, Mary says: “Honestly Papa, Edith’s about as mysterious as a bucket.” Zing!

Back in London, Edith the Sinful is probably going to get to know Michael in a naked way. She’s dressed like a flapper, which might be giving him the wrong idea. And by wrong idea, I mean the absolutely right idea. Bow chicka wow wow.

In the Confessional, Hughes the Healer gives Carson a framed pic of his old lover interest. Kiss her, goddammit!

In the Lord’s room, Robert doles out emo marital advice to Bates, followed up by “my goodness that was strong talk for an Englishman.” You’re not supposed to read the handwritten feedback notes in the margins, dude.

In London, in the morning, Edith slinks up some stairs like the sinful sexy sinner she is.

Out on the grounds, the Pirate says romantic things to Mary like, “We both know I must marry. I don’t need to explain to you how the system we're trapped in works.” He is pitting her against some wet blanket named Mabel and we all know that Mary likes a romantic adversary. Remember What’s-Her-Name-Who-Died-of-the-Spanish-Flu?

Tragically, Mary is still loyal to the memory of the Lawyer Without a Will and will not become Mrs. Pirate. Weirdly not too loyal though, because she dramatically kisses the Pirate as the music swells. Then he walks off to marry Mabel.

Speaking of wet blankets, back in London Aunt Rosamund, gives Edith a talking to for her late late night (early morning) with Michael. Whatever. Edith deserves to get some, after her years of being the ugly sister no one likes. She's probably like 40 by now. She can lose her virginity if she wants.

Back at Downton, Team Future/Team Widow[er], Branson and Mary, get in a car and head for York. Please god, let it not be a sunny day.


Character Ranking:

5. The Pirate: It takes guts/total stupidity to propose to an ice queen widow you barely know, but I guess it's also romantic. I like his tenacity. I also like his haircut and the fact that he didn't bring the Rapist along on his second trip to Downton. I'm also ranking him because we may never see him again, because Mary is a cruel master. I love you, Pirate!

4. The Jazz Singer: He's a new character and he's a terrible singer, but he has the potential to make Rose interesting! And he's cute! And American! And not white! So, yes, he didn't do much this episode, but I see a bright future for him, in which I learn his name faster than I did with the Pirate.

3. Tom: Yes, he's made mistakes, but he's in mourning! And Edna is a total manipulator and he probably hasn't had sex since sometime during Sybil's pregnancy so that's a pretty serious dry spell. Not to excuse his actions, but you know, he got out of his glump this week and learned some important lessons. Welcome back, Branson.

2. Mary: Oh, how I hate to rank Mary, but, as much as liked the Pirate, not marrying him was probably the right move. I also like that she's proactive about her role as the new leader of the Downton Counsel. But let's be honest, she made number 2 this week just for using the word "glump."


1. Edith: Well well well, Edith. How does it feel to finally join the ranks of people who have had sex? Great? Amazing? Are you so glad you waited for Michael? It is partially tragic that Downton doesn't give us any sex scenes so we don't know what really happened beyond your clear lack of regret. But partially not tragic because we can just imagine Michael removing your flapper headdress and then...bravo, Edith. You are a winner this week and also, always.