WAR! Open on: Scary war. Matthew and William are discussing how nuts this thing they’re going to do is, and how they have to “chuck everything they’ve got at them.” And we think, “What are they doing?” And then you see all of the soldiers bracing themselves as if they’re going to die, and then we’re thinking, “What? What are you doing? Just stay safe! Shoot from a safe distance!” And then the soldiers run at the other side’s soldiers with their muskets (or whatever) and their bayonets and it’s like, WAIT, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! And then they get shot at, and so many of them die brutally. And then Daisy feels startled back at home.
And also Mary suddenly feels a chill. Because THEY LOVE THOSE BOYS. (Except Daisy doesn’t actually? More on how Daisy doesn’t love those boys later.) Three days later, because it’s olden times, Lord Grantham gets a telegram telling him that Matthew has been injured. He isn’t dead, which is good!, and he’ll be brought back to the hospital at Downton. The servant class would like to know how William is, and Edith says she’ll drive (WE GET IT, EDITH) to William’s father’s house in the morning to see if he’s received a letter notifying him of anything. The thing I picked up from this scene is that olden times seem SUPER annoying when you’re trying to figure out if someone died in the war.
Edith’s driving mission is successful in that she found out the news about William, but unfortunately the news is bad. She and Old Lady Grantham try to convince Mean Dr. Rules to let William stay at Downton’s hospital, both because it’s where he’s from and because his father can’t afford to leave his farm and stay with William at the hospital where he is currently, in Leeds. Mean Dr. Rules says no, because of the RULES, and OLG says, “When you give these little people power it goes to their heads like a strong drink,” and we see that she is correct. Take the power away from the little people! They’re all dicks about it!
Along with the war scariness, there was a lot of Bates’ ex-wife scariness in this episode. The roller coaster begins when we see O’Brien and Thomas discussing how they, in light of all of the war scariness, probably shouldn’t have stirred the Bates/Ex-Wife shit by sending her that letter telling her that Bates was back at Downton. Ugh. These two. What a bunch of jerks. Thomas says it wasn’t his idea and that O’Brien is on her own with the guilt. Except that he is the one who wrote the letter? It doesn’t matter if it wasn’t your idea, Thomas! You still did it! You’re both terrible and I don’t understand why you keep terrorizing Bates! MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS! Anyway, so, then we see Bates and Anna at a church (to pray for the boys) where they’re discussing their future marriage, and Bates says it won’t be long until they can finally be married and everything is fine with his ex-wife and, like, “Oh, she’ll definitely never show up again, that problem is totally 100% solved, don’t even worry about it. Soon we will be perfect and happy together and we’ll never even have to think about my ex-wife because I gave her all my money and she gave me her word, and certainly I feel like I can trust her word because she has never been anything other than upstanding.”
And then BATES’ WIFE SHOWS UP AT DOWNTON AND SAYS SHE’S STILL GOING TO SELL THE STORY ABOUT LADY MARY AND THE TURKISH GUY, OBVIOUSLY. Ugh. “But you gave Bates your word! It’s almost as giving someone your word that doesn’t mean anything to you!”
Anyway, back to the Matthew and William plot. Mary wants to help out with Matthew while he’s at the Downton hospital, and Sybil wants to be there with her when he arrives. She asks Branson to drive her and Branson asks if Mary is still in love with Matthew, which is none of his business, and Sybil says she doesn’t want to talk about it, obviously, and Branson says, “Why? Because I’m the chauffeur?” Which is SO FUNNY AND ANNOYING! It reminds me of the scene from Parenthood where Haddie’s parents are discussing how they’re uncomfortable with 16-year-old Haddie’s new 20-something former alcoholic boyfriend who lives by himself and Haddie says, “YOU JUST DON’T LIKE HIM BECAUSE HE’S BLACK!” Hahaha. Ahh, Haddie! No! They don’t like him because of all those other iffy things! And Branson, the reason why Sybil doesn’t want to talk to you about her sister’s totally private business is NOT because you’re a chauffeur! You jerk! Go away, jerk! Leave us alone!
At the hospital, the doctor requests that Mary hang back for a while so the nurses can get Matthew cleaned up a bit before she has to see him. She doesn’t want to do that, though, so she sees him fresh from the blast:
AHHHHHHHHH! Funny how WE didn’t get the option of waiting until he was cleaned up a bit. The ticket attached to his clothing says he has possible spinal damage, EEK, and under his blanket we find the little toy that Mary gave him for good luck before he left. Awww. Matthew! You kept it! When Lavinia shows up to the hospital later on (a few days later on) (but, who cares) (let’s just keep moving) we see that the doctor is checking Matthew out and that Matthew can’t feel anything below his waist. Uh-oh. Dr. Clarkson thinks he has suffered permanent damage to his spine and legs and that he will not walk again. Then the doctor takes the Lord outside to speak with him privately, and tells him that Matthew will no longer be able to do it or have children. Daaaaaaaaang. Dang dang dang.
At the hospital in Leeds, William’s doctor tells Old Lady Grantham that William will not recover because the force of the blast has fatally damaged his lungs. Nooooooo! Poor William! OLG wants to take him back to Downton, and the doctor agrees, saying he’d rather die in a familiar place surrounded by familiar faces. Very grim! And then William’s dad, who hasn’t been in on the conversation so far, says he thinks William will do much better when he’s at home. It’s sad. OLG lets him have the false hope, saying “Sometimes we must let the blow fall from degrees. Give him time to find the strength to face it.” OLG was really great for this whole episode! What a lady.
Oh, the other plot line included in this episode is that of the pregnant fired maid’s big, fat, adorable baby.
Awwww. What a big baby. Hughes has been checking up on Fired Maid and bring her food from Downton, which is very nice, and now Fired Maid wants her to take back a letter to the Major who got her pregnant. The maid says he hasn’t been responding to her. At first Hughes tells her that she won’t do this, but then she does! Hughes brings the Major the note when she gets back to Downton, and the Major is a MAJOR JERK about it. He refuses to even read the letter and tells Hughes that it’s none of her business. Ugh. MEN.
Once William is back at Downton, the kitchen staff urge Daisy to see him and say “warm, comforting things.” She is hesitant because she feels badly that she lied to him about her feelings for him, but no one will take no for an answer, so she goes to see him. Oh well. I certainly see her point, and it’s terrible that she’s put in this position, but also the boy is dying soooooooooo. C’mon, Daisy. But then when she’s talking to him he immediately asks if she’ll marry him now and not wait for the end of the war, EEK!, and she makes an excuse and leaves. Well. It is WAR time. The kitchen staff and the other servants urge her to take him up on the offer, and she pleads with them to not make her “be false to a dying man.” I don’t even know which side I support in this!
Back at the hospital, Mary is tending to Matthew who seems like he’s gotten a bit better, except for the not being able to feel his legs thing. He asks Mary if she knows anything concerning that fact, and she refuses to talk with him about it until Lavinia is there, until he asks one more time and she says “Ok, ok, FINE.” She tells him that they think he has spinal damage. “How long will it take to repair?” he asks, which is very sad. Lots of very sad, naive things are being said this episode! She explains that they’re not sure, and for now they have to focus on rebuilding his health. He thanks her for her honesty and she walks away crying. Ugh. Thanks a lot, TELEVISION SHOW.
Later, Mary visits Sir Richard to see if he can handle the Bates/Ex-Wife situation for her. She explains what happened with the Turkish gentleman and that this horrible woman is threatening her family with it, and asks if he could possibly buy the story from her and save them from humiliation. Sir Richard replies, “And when I save you, if I can, do you still expect me to marry you after all this?” Which is fair enough, really. It’s a weird story! Mary says she’ll accept his decision to break off their understanding, which hasn’t been made public yet anyway, and would be fine enough for her because Sir Richard seems like he would be a boring if not TERRIBLE husband. But he says he was only paying her a compliment, and would be even HAPPIER to marry her now, since they will be on more equal ground, which actually turned out to be kind of gross and not a great compliment at all! But, whatever. He’ll handle it. That’s all the matters right now.
After Matthew comes to understand the full extent of his injury, he tells Lavinia that they can never “be married properly. Not properly.” And she GETS IT, but tells him that she doesn’t care and wants to stay with him anyway. He doesn’t listen, though, and tells her that he has to let her go. Are we supposed to be rooting for him to let her go at this moment because we want him to be with Mary eventually? Is that what’s supposed to be happening? What am I supposed to want here? Because really I just want him to stay with Lavinia and for them to live happily ever after, because they both seem so sad! And they seem like they really love each other! What’s going on! STAY TOGETHER, GUYS! Finally he tells her to go home and think of him as dead. Jeeeeeesus.
That night, Mary walks by Lavinia’s room, where she finds her crying. Lavinia tells her the whole Matthew story, and then Mary makes a beautiful face.
Luckily for Mary’s beautiful face, Sir Richard DOES get Bates’ ex-wife to sign a binding contract that keeps her from selling her story to any other news source. She asks him how he heard that she had this information and he says, “I know everything that goes on in this city” and “I’m a newspaper man, when I hear of something good I have to make sure of it right away.” And at that point it is SOOOOO Gossip Girl’s “Bass Industries” that I can barely even take it. For the sake of getting on with it, later in the episode Bates’ ex-wife storms back into Sir Richard’s office screaming “YOU TRICKED ME!” He acknowledges that yes, he tricked her, but there’s nothing she can do about it now. She then swears revenge on Bates. Hahaha. She says,”It doesn’t end here. Not for John Bates. Lady Mary got away clear, what do I care, but he won’t. You tell him.” Which is very, very funny. Why would this guy EVER care about the revenge she exacted on her ex-husband? And uh, you may not want to point out how crazy it was that the thing you were holding over his head in the first place had NOTHING to do with him? LOL. Good one, ex-wife. Sir Richard sends her on her way, because COME ON, LADY.
Back at Downton, William is trying to convince Daisy to marry him. It seems like he knows that Daisy is not in love with him, but he tells her that if they get married and he dies she’ll be entitled to his pension and more rights, and he just wants to know that she’ll be taken care of. And it’s just the sweetest sentiment, and it is so nice, and I’m a little mad at Daisy not falling in love with him RIGHT THEN. But then it starts to not seem like he knows she isn’t in love with him because she says it will feel dishonest and HE says, “We love each other, don’t’ we. Where’s the dishonesty in that?” Uhhhh, eeep! I thought we were all on the same page, William! Oh well! You’re still super sweet! I’m sorry for all the things I’ve ever said about you!
Anyway, she agrees to marry him and they arrange the marriage for that afternoon. This takes some coaxing from Old Lady Grantham, because their Downton priest thought they were only doing it for the War Widow benefits. Again, OLG was great. She coaxes the shit out of him, and he agrees to perform the ceremony.
While they kiss, Old Lady Grantham watches and cries and it is all SO SWEET AND SAD.
After the ceremony, Bates runs into Lady Mary in the hallway and she lets him know that his ex-wife told Sir Richard that she’s going to be attempting some revenge. Uh-oh. Then Bates runs into Anna in the same hallway and Anna asks if “everything in [their] garden is rosy again” and Bates says, “I hope so. I certainly hope so,” when really he should have said, “Probably not? It never was. I shouldn’t keep telling you that everything is fine because everything is definitely NEVER fine.”
And finally, at the end of the episode, while Daisy sits by his side, William dies. It’s strange because really I thought he would get better? I know they kept saying that he was definitely going to die for the whole episode, but I kind of thought that actually meant that he’d pull through? How dare you toy with me like that, Downton Abbey! Goodbye, William! I’ll miss you! You did a nice thing for Daisy! Have fun in Heaven!
Next Week: We see what Heaven is like, I hope!