Welcome back to another Downton Abbey recap! Before we begin, please be advised a red level spoiler alert is, as always, in effect.
The music musics and the bell tolls. But for whom does it toll? A telegram makes its way to the Abbey. Edith's Michael better not be dead. How much can one girl handle?!
Oh, I guess not. All the message contains is that Robert, like Fievel before him, is going to America! For how long? It must take a while to get to America on a boat, especially with all the post-Titanic safety precautions. Which is why Bates doesn’t want to go. He can’t leave his flower Anna for that long, which is understandable, but I have a solution: everyone go to America together! Spin-off show!!
Hughes tries to get Mary to allow Bates to stay back. Mary, the little meddler, sees this as an opportunity to finally get the deets on the Bates’ marital issues.
Anna pretends like she’s cool if Bates goes, but she obviously isn’t. Luckily she has LGBTQ ally Mary on her side, who suggests Thomas as a good America Bates substitute to dear Papa, specifically so he can meet cute sailors. Dad is somehow convinced, probably by her statement of: “I’ve been married; I know everything.” And it is settled that Bates will not be going to the USA.
In the library, everyone is talking about pigs. A bunch of other rather uninteresting travel preparations happen. Everyone bids Robert and Thomas happily adieu and, as if the two worst people in the house leaving wasn’t enough of a treat, we get to see Isis, the dog. Best day at Downton ever!
As soon as Robert leaves, things start to happen. First, Grandma is sick. Probably really sick. No! The bell must not toll for Violet.
Second, back in the house, it is becoming clear that I’m going to have to learn the name of Evelyn’s boss. He’s rather dashing, it turns out. And clearly unknowingly has the hots for old Mar Bear. I guess his name is Mr. Blake. How do poor socialists propose to fancy aristocrats? Does he know that snow should be involved? Is he wealthy enough to purchase the requisite diamonds?
Branson drives Isobel home and they discuss how they are both like slightly political. Fact: Branson is a trained chauffeur and actually the only member of the extended Crawley family I trust behind a wheel, even driving down sun-dappled lanes.
In the library, Cora and Edith have a heart-to-heart about Michael the Disappeared. It sounds like Edith might be heading up to London for an abortion. Would they do it? On Downton? Would she be punished, like the bad girls always are?
In the kitchen, Alfred might be coming for a visit and the Ivy/Daisy/Alfred Love Triangle is reignited. Handsy Jim Jam is out of the picture forever.
Back in the library, Rose is angling to go to London with Edith. Bow chicka wow wow. Is it time to learn the Jazz Singer’s real name too?
On a romantic walk with Evelyn, all Mary wants to talk about is Mr. Blake. Evelyn is in love with you Mary. Be cool!
In the staff dining hall, the only one onto the Baxter/Thomas intrigue is Empty Head Molesley. So that mystery won’t get solved anytime soon.
At Violet’s house, it’s Isobel to the rescue because Violet is hella sick. Uh oh. Looks like Violet is going to have to admit that Isobel is good at something and that something is saving lives!
In Mary’s room, Anna and Mary have a tiny heart-to-heart about what I guess we are calling “Anna’s Attack.” It’s too bad Anna can’t tell Mary because I feel like Mary's wrath would be wrought a bit less murderously but still as satisfyingly as Bates’.
In the Confessional a.k.a. Hughes' office, Patmore, Hughes and Carson are working together to not reignite the love triangle. But why?!
Violet is in bed and very sick with the old bronchitis. I’ve had it, Violet, and let me tell you it’s no picnic. However, you’re about to get ministered to by the greatest nurse in all the land, Isobel, so I predict a full recovery.
Downstairs, Ivy is giving Jim Jam the cold shoulder, probably because she’s fixing to make her move on Alfred. Strumpet! Daisy for life! Pick the right one, Alfred!
At the Dowager House, Nurse Crawley is getting harassed by her patient.
In town, Carson is keeping Alfred away from the house by getting him drunk at the pub. I can’t wait to see how this magical adventure turns out! I have a feeling Carson is a terrible liar…
In the kitchen, Ivy and Daisy are at it again. Daisy tells Ivy she made Alfred’s life “a misery with [her] cold and vicious heart.” Couldn’t agree more. I mean, also, her?
Violet continues to abuse Isobel while Isobel saves her life. The Doctor finds the whole thing hot and not in a “she has a temperature” sort of way.
“Well, the pigs have arrived!” announces Branson, winning Line of the Episode. He’s looking more and more at home in Downton. Maybe he’ll go to this political thing. Maybe he won’t emigrate after all!
In London, Rose is being evasive about the nature of her errands, but we all know what they are: make-out sesh with her dreamy boyfriend! Sadly, Edith’s errands are less fun. But let’s forget about that because: We're on a boat with Rose and her paramour! They kiss under a bridge as Rose does some weird heaving thing with her chest and…we’re back to the reveal of the pregnancy to Aunt Rosamund. Judge Judy from a couple episodes ago is suddenly so supportive of whatever Edith decides to do about her pregnancy. Sure. Right. Of course. Luckily, Edith is good at calling out liars and Rosamund’s horror at the idea of abortion is not enough to stand in her way. Will they let her go through with it?? A rape and an abortion all in one season?
Back home in the drawing room, it’s time to forget our worries and play flirt-along with Mary and Mr. Blake. First she insults him and then he invites her on a walk to see the pigs.
At the political rally, Branson sits next to a lady. A love interest in a hat!
At the pigpen, Mary and Mr. Blake find the pigs thirsty and rush into action in their fancy outfits, bringing the pigs water, cementing their romance and ruining their dinner clothes.
In sick bay, Violet is still a pill.
At the pigpen, Mary is a total mess. But she loves pigs and that's what matters. As is their way, the two love birds bond by mud slinging, though this time it is literal mud, filled, I assume, with pig feces.
In London, Edith is sad and therefore has no patience for Rose, the Lover of Life.
But no matter because in the kitchen at Downton, the tiny bud of love is becoming a flower as Muddy Mary proves to have some skill in the kitchen. She makes scrambled eggs and pours some wine! Dream meal.
Back in London, Rosamund and Edith go to the place where the procedure is going to happen. The place is dark and tragic and, as expected, Edith can’t go through with it. So she’ll be an unwed mother. And Rose is pissed because she can’t go to the club with the Jazz Singer.
In the library, the boys are all very impressed by the tale of Muddy Mary, Brave Blake and the Pig Rescue. It looks like the Pirate is coming to dinner tonight, which means a.) the Rapist is back and b.) Mary will have three suitors to worry about: Evelyn, the Pirate and Mr. Blake.
In the kitchen, Alfred shows up, despite Carson's efforts. Ivy the Temptress is all up in his business. Good god, girl. Get it together. Who do you think you are? The Mary of Downstairs? You can’t call dibs on every boy in the house.
At Violet’s, she’s all better. And it looks like she’s going to finally at least attempt to bury the hatchet with the Life Saver Isobel. Of course, she isn’t happy about it. What good is life without an enemy?
Downstairs, the Rapist is back. Hughes might murder him this time. Actually, I think Hughes should. No one will suspect her and she can make sure to do it while Bates is out of town or something.
On the stairs, Mary and the Pirate reunite. He’s none too happy to see Mr. Blake flirting with Mary. Especially none too happy to see her flirting back.
In the dark shoe shine closet, Hughes tells the Rapist to watch his back. Don’t warn him. Take action!
The old ladies blithely play Gin.
Downstairs, the Rapist’s days are numbered. Bates is on to him, You don’t get a glare like that and live to tell the tale. Just ask the former Mrs. Bates.
Tune in next week to find out whether Edith will claim Virgin Birth, and whether Bates will kill the Rapist with his cane or with his fork and his knife right there at the dinner table.
5. Alfred: You beautiful fool. How can you not see that a daisy is much more beautiful and less invasive plant species than ivy?
4. Rose: You beautiful fool. I love how you kiss your African-American love interest who is named Jack Ross on a boat for the whole world to see. True romance.
3. Mary: You muddy beautiful fool. You have such a type! I hope you and Mr. Blake will throw mud at each other for years to come.
2. Jack Ross: You beautiful fool. You think you can just take Rose for a boat ride make-out party in the middle of London and everyone will be cool with it? Maybe. Who knows how liberal Robert will be once he gets back from America. Fingers crossed you guys have smooth sailing and boat make-outs for the rest of your long and happy lives.
1. Hughes: You are beautiful but, unlike nearly everyone else on this show, you are not a fool. Top points for confronting the Rapist and meddling when meddling needs to happen. You are the glue that holds this crazy family together.