Downton Abbey, ITV, PBS
When she isn't reining in the wild child while in London, Edith is attending to the matter of her first article for The Sketch. Her first meeting with the editor, a Mr. Michael Gregson, was quite pleasant and she accepted the job as the "balanced female voice in debate". On this trip to the city, Edith finds that Mr. Gregson likes more than just her writing, an exciting prospect given that she had nearly resigned herself to spinsterhood. Her good fortunes seem to take a turn though when she finds out that he is in fact married. Unlike Rose's Mr. Margadale, Gregson appears to have a reasonable excuse for his seemingly abhorrent behavior- his wife is in an insane asylum and quite unable to participate in their relationship. Furthermore, her mental state renders it impossible for him to get divorced. How credible is his story? For the moment, I choose to believe him. After all, how many failed romances can Julian Fellowes put poor Edith through? Will there be a newspaper man in the Crawley family after all?
On her first trip to London, Edith also ran an errand for her grandmother. In exchange for her support in accepting the position as a journalist, Edith agreed to submit an advertisement to The Lady for a new position for Ethel. It is no secret that the Dowager is displeased with the fact that Isobel has "surrounded [Crawley House] with a miasma of scandal" by hiring Ethel as cook-housekeeper. When she discovers that the rest of the village finds the former prostitute's presence equally disturbing, to the point that she is being refused service, she simply must take action. At first Isobel is irate that Violet and Edith would make these arrangements without her consent (after all, weren't we long overdue for a good old-fashioned Dowager-Cousin Crawley feud?), but with Mrs. Hughes' support behind the plan, she reconsiders. When the responses come in, she shares them with Ethel.
Only one appeals to her, but it comes with a major complication- the house is in Cheadle, far too close to the Bryants and little Charlie for comfort. So naturally, Violet intervenes further in the matter and arranges for Mrs. Bryant to pay a visit. As it turns out, she has felt guilty that Ethel has been cut out of her son's life completely. She urges Ethel to take the position with the plan to tell the boy that she is his former nanny. Ethel knows it may be difficult to maintain this lie, but is sure that nothing will ever be more trying than being separated from her baby. She will be all right, no matter what obstacles she may meet, so long as Charlie is in her life.
Matthew also has business to address while in London, and it does not involve dancing to Smokey Green and The Louisiana Boys. Namely, he is concerned that he and Mary have not yet conceived a child. While in town, he visits a Dr. Ryder. Given his war injury, he is convinced that he is the reason Mary is not pregnant, but the doctor tells him this is unlikely. Unconvinced, he makes his way out of The Office only to run into Mary, who is checking in under the name Levinson. Later at tea, she explains herself to her husband. In fact, it was she who was having infertility problems. After a minor procedure several weeks ago, all is well. Her appointment that day confirmed that she and Matthew should now be able to have children.
With the possibility of a new heir on the way, Matthew is also eager to settle strategies for the
future of the estate. And he is not having an easy time of it. Robert Is still rather reluctant to accept a new way of managing Downton and with his agent Jarvis behind him completely, Matthew has his work cut out for him. Tensions rise when Matthew calls for Murray to visit without consulting Robert. In fact when the lawyer comes, the meeting goes so poorly that Jarvis resigns. Unfortunate really, as the man had worked with family for forty years, but good news for Matthew as it leaves one less old dog to teach new tricks. His cause is fortified when the Dowager Countess suggests giving the vacant position to Tom. His minimal farming experience already makes him more qualified than Jarvis ever was, and by happy "coincidence", the appointment would also mean that he and baby Sybil would not have to move to Liverpool.
Tom is finding his place in the Crawley family in other ways as well. With Matthew, Mary and Edith's support, the rest of the family finally accepts his decision to christen Sybil into the Catholic faith. Even his unruly brother Kieran finds hospitality (and more importantly, beer) at Downton, when he comes to stay for the christening. At the event, though there remains some uneasiness, the family comes together to support the baby and to honor Sybil's memory.
Tom's most important role in the family is to reconcile Robert and Matthew in their debate over the management of the land. Matthew hopes to make the estate self-sufficient by using Swire's money to buy out a lot of the tenants and to farm the land directly. Robert, on the other hand, fears such drastic alterations and wishes to pursue more moderate change, perhaps investing some of the money instead; always with the keen eye for opportunity, he even proposes doing business with Charles Ponzi. Branson finally makes him see that in order to preserve the future of Downton, they must unite their strengths. Robert eventually agrees to consider Matthew's point of view on the condition that Tom agree to play in the cricket match.
With a few skills learned from Matthew in his arsenal, Branson joins the rest of the house team in the match against the village. While the cricket carries on, some remaining loose ends are tied up. Robert assuages Jimmy's opposition to Thomas being kept on as under butler by promoting him to first footman. But just when all seems to be well on that front, an inspector interrupts the festivities looking for Alfred, who reportEd Thomas after he found out he had been let off the hook. Luckily, Lord Grantham is able to avoid a commotion by pressuring the impressionable footman into confessing that he had merely misinterpreted some roughhousing while he was "squiffy" on cider. Bates also reveals to Anna that the information he used to sway O'Brien was in fact her darkest secret- "Her ladyship's soap". The Bateses may not understand what that means, but we viewers surely understand O'Brien's eagerness to keep it quiet. Rose confronts Rosamund and Edith about who gave her away, only to find out that Violet had tricked her daughter into revealing the story. Branson, seeing baby Sybbie with her godmother Mary, realizes that moving into a separate house may be a mistake. Cora has wanted him to stay all along and is thrilled that he has reconsidered. The mother- and son-in-law agree that Sybil would have wanted it as well. So Branson decides to let the influence of aristocracy into their world and live at Downton while his daughter grows up. Lastly, Robert officially signs on to Matthew and Tom's plan for the future. The three men, united in one cause, are ready to tackle the great unknown together. 7
What will go down at Downton Abbey next week? Will Alfred take a job in the kitchen after losing the position of first footman? How will Thomas behave now that he is so indebted to Mr. Bates? Will Molesley go out for England's national cricket team? Tune in Sunday, February 17 at 9 PM ET/CT on PBS to find out.
Lauren Robbins is a 23 year old from New Jersey. She graduated from Bucknell University in 2011 with a double major in Art History and Classics and a minor in French. For the past year and a half she has been interning at various museums in New York City, including The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The South Street Seaport Museum and The Museum of Modern Art. Her writing can be seen on MoMA���s blog Inside/Out. |