It's getting a little bizarre how much Downton Abbey has in common with the Real Housewives franchise: a bunch of rich people making well-placed barbs and fighting over trivial things. The only thing missing is the confessionals, and the fact that the actors of Downton are so amazing they can sell the intensity.
Everyone is excited about Lord Grantham’s birthday. They are anxiously awaiting the arrival of Lady Mary Craweley’s oft-rejected suitor Evelyn Napier, his employer Mr. Charles Blake, and some pigs. Mr. Blake arrives and instantly butts heads with Lady Mary. He is studying the lavish estates and questioning if they are even meant for a modern UK.
Lady Rose MacClare organizes a surprise for her uncle’s birthday. She recruits Steve Urkel Jack Ross (Gary Carr), the nasal jazz singer. It’s always strange when British television shows cast English actors to play Americans. They spend more time trying to sound like accountants.
Gird your loins, Isobel Crawley and the Dowager Countess are back to fighting. Watching Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton go at it is the best part of this show. This verbal joust was over the fate of Peg, the gardener. Isobel reboots Murder She Wrote and goes snooping through Violet’s drawing room. Boom! She finds the missing knife. She shows up with Dr. Clarkson to shame the Dowager into giving Peg his job back. She has a rehired Peg come in and completely embarrass Isobel. Check and mate.
Tom Branson bonds with Isobel about their dead loved ones. He goes on to make a valid point. He won’t be able to find another member of the aristocracy willing to slum it with him. Plus, everyone would take issue with him bringing some ratchet girl from town to the house.
Lady Edith is still waiting for word from her married lover and gets a bombshell…she’s pregnant with the bastard son of her married lover. Equally shocking, Lady Mary catches Lady Rose and Steve Urkel ... um, Mr. Ross engaged in a little chocolate vanilla swirl. The look on Mary’s face is priceless.
Alfred ends up getting the apprenticeship at The Ritz. It sends everyone into a rural fervor. Daisy is emotional because Alfred is leaving. Mr. Molesley stops by to try and get the footman job but Carson is still dying to make him suffer for his hubris. Mr. Molesley suffers until Mrs. Hughes has him serve the servants and Carson stops him right there and rehires him.
Jimmy takes Ivy to a movie and then decides he’s earned the right to sexually harass her. Luckily, she escapes unscathed but their relationship is over. Suddenly, she’s a little more keen on Alfred which sends Daisy into a tantrum.
Bates and Anna go to a hotel to try and escape the terror of Anna’s attack. Their host is rude and dismissive until Cora Crawley gets them a table. But she does overhear their bickering. But she did miss him talking about wanting to murder. Mrs. Baxter is in the room when Cora tells Mary what she heard. Barrow puts the lean on Mrs. Baxter for the details. But it looks like Baxter has some fight in her.
The Reading Room - Best Barbs of the Episode
"I have a feeling most things would fit into this particular pocket." -The Dowager Countess about thieving Peg
"I wonder you don’t just set fire to the Abbey and dance around it… painted in woe and howling." -The Dowager’s recommendation for Isobel’s weekend.
Isobel: "How you hate to be wrong."Dowager Countess: "I wouldn’t know…I’m not familiar with the sensation."
"What a very disturbing thought." -Carson at the idea of Mrs. Patmore with a man
"I don’t expect Mr. Blake to be witty." -Lady Mary to Mr. Bates
"Some people run on greed, lust, even love she runs on indignation." -Dowager Countess about Isobel