It is now 1918, meaning six years have passed since we first met Daisy and she is STILL a child. Grow up, Daisy! “WAT FAH?” Haha. That’s probably what Daisy would say. “Wat fah?” Right? Why doesn’t anyone talk about how time passes and everyone stays the same age on this show? Is it because it’s boring to talk about because, with the plot arc they’ve chosen, they can’t really get around it? And everyone is giving them a lot of leeway? I guess I understand that, but it’s still something I want to complain about! At the VERY least put Thomas in a grey wig. Anyway, so, if you thought Matthew’s mom was upset with her position in the convalescent home LAST episode, HOO BOY. The episode opens with Cora having done all the work AND having rearranged everyone’s lunch schedules, how dare she, by the time Matthew’s mom arrives for work in the morning. Whoops! That’s what you get for not living at the convalescent home, Matthew’s mom. Shit gets done before you even get there and then you have nothing to do. She doesn’t take this lightly though, obviously, and plays a hilarious game of “quit chicken” with Cora that goes something like this:
Matthew’s Mom: I cannot operate where I’m not valued.
Cora: I agree.
Matthew’s Mom: Then I’m going to quit!
Cora: I think you should!
Matthew’s Mom: I mean it!
Cora: ME TOO!
Matthew’s Mom: I MEAN IT!
Cora: I JUST TOLD YOU THAT I ALSO MEAN IT!
Matthew’s Mom: I’M REALLY GOING TO QUIT I SWEAR TO GOD.
Cora: DO IT, I SWEAR TO GOD.
Matthew’s Mom: IF I LEAVE THIS ROOM–
Cora: LEAVE THE ROOM!
So she quits and goes to France to work someplace. Good! It’s probably nice there! I’ve only been to France once when I was very young but I remember having a cookie (this kind), and it was a good cookie!
Out in one of the many the beautiful gardens, Old Lady Grantham and Mary are talking about potential suitors for the ladies. OLG doesn’t like the idea of Mary marrying Richard Carlisle both because YUCK, and also because of the thing where he allegedly blackmailed Lavinia’s family. Does not sound like a nice man. Mary argues, though, that he is at least a rich man and also they are going to buy a house together. Because if she married anyone else they WOULDN’T live in a house? That question is not asked and the topic movies to Sybil, and how — because she has not been vocal about having any crushes — OLG suspects she has feelings for a person below her status. “War breaks down walls and when they’re reconstructed it’s very easy to find oneself on the wrong side,” says OLG. It’s weird how she knew exactly what was going on! Mary doesn’t believe her though until she leaves the conversation and then runs into Sybil talking with Branson.
Inside, Lord Grantham tells Mary that he’s received a letter from Richard Carlisle telling him that he’s proposed, and Lord wants to know WTF. Mary tells him she thinks she’s going to take him up on it and the Lord asks, “What about Matthew?” Uhhhh, HE’S ENGAGED TO SOMEONE ELSE? Hellooooooo. But the Lord don’t care and tells Mary to send him a letter telling about her plans to marry Carlisle, and see if THAT changes his mind about marrying the person he’s already committed himself to marry. After speaking with her father, Mary talks with Sybil about Branson. Sybil reacts poorly, thinking (rightfully?) that Mary will not take kindly to her having a relationship with the chauffeur, but the whole time Mary looks GREAT.
Then we fast forward to Matthew receiving Mary’s letter in the war zone. Someone comments that it’s strange that she didn’t just wait until Matthew came home and he says, “I don’t think she knows I’m due back,” which is strange because it seems like Matthew is ALWAYS due back. “I’ll just tell him when he comes home and does his laundry this weekend?” is what Mary should’ve said. But anyway, then Matthew and William go off on their own and get shot at a lot and I think, and write down in my notes, “UHOH IS WILLIAM GOING TO DIE?” I am immediately regretful of calling him annoying so much in past recaps.
Back at Downton, everyone is finding out about how Bates works at a pub in town. For some reason Thomas had one of his friends find out this piece of gossip for him. But, like, why is he still obsessed with Bates? Bates doesn’t work at Downton anymore, and neither does Thomas! LET IT GO, THOMAS, YOU WEIRD JERK! How could finding out where Bates works now have led to anything good for Thomas? Were they going to show up at the bar and make fun of him? ????? Ridicule him for no longer having to dress another man every day? In any case, he tells everyone and then Daisy spills the beans to the higher-ups (after she finds out William and Matthew are missing — YIKES) who are immediately upset that no one came to them with this news sooner. Though I’m not sure why anyone would have. “The man who quit has found a new job.” Would that be the news? “Bates isn’t not working.” Anyway, once the news gets to the Lord, he calls Anna in to tell her about it, which is very sweet. Anna already knows, though, because she’s already been to the pub, and fills the Lord in on the situation with Bates’s upcoming (hopefully) divorce. The Lord asks why he hasn’t contacted any of them since he’s been back, and Anna says that he has two reasons: that he first wants to finalize the divorce with his wife, and that he left on bad terms and is embarrassed. Poor Bates!
At Matthew’s mom’s house, having nothing to do, Mrs. Bird has begun to run a soup kitchen with Molesley and some of the kitchen staff, with food leftover from that which the army provides for the convalescent home. They haven’t OK’d this with anyone else, though, and of course that means O’Brien catches them doing it and then tells Cora about it while she’s putting a necklace on her. OY VEY. Always with the necklace tattling. O’Brien tells her that she thinks the kitchen staff is stealing food and reselling it, which is a super annoying leap to make, but it makes sense because she is O’Brien. Cora tells her to alert her next time she sees them doing it, which O’Brien does, and then she and Cora walk in and:
CAUGHT IN THE ACT! But when they explain that it’s a soup kitchen for soldiers, Cora immediately says that she and O’Brien will help, and also they should use food that Downton pays for rather than the army. BOOM! GOTCHA O’BRIEN, YOU HORRIBLE WOMAN!
Meanwhile, Matthew and William are still missing. Daisy asks Edith if she can look into it, and Edith asks her dad if he will look into it, and he says he’ll see what he can do. After dinner that night (a dinner during which OLG gave her “friendships that are not quite appropriate” speech to Sybil, and Mary mouths “I said nothing” and it was a great moment) the Lord receives a call from the war office informing him that Matthew and William went out on patrol together and haven’t been heard from since. He tells Edith the news, but tells her not to inform anyone else.
Meanwhile, Molesley — with very little to do since Matthew left for war — has been asking everyone to give him stuff to do. He runs into Mrs. Hughes and asks if he can start dressing the Lord, to take some of the burden off of Carson, and she says yes and “Keep this up and we won’t be able to do without you at all.” Then he tells her that he saw an officer by the maid’s staircase, and we ALL know what officer he’s talking about, and goes home. Hughes leaves for the maid’s quarters to check out the officer situation and finds Ethel DOING IT WITH THE GUY SHE WAS FLIRTING WITH FOR THE PAST FEW EPISODES:
Uhoh, Ethel! And then Hughes fires her, which Ethel always said is what she wanted — to not have that job anymore and travel the world and whatever — but after she is fired it certainly does not SEEM like it’s what she wanted. Sorry, Eth. Shouldn’t have done that dude and DEFINITELY should’ve been so cavalier about not wanting that job anymore.
Aww, then we check in on Molesley who is back at the Crawley’s place, talking to Mrs. Bird about his new responsibilities, which he thinks he can parlay into becoming a full-time valet for the Lord. “There goes Mr. Molesley, valet to the Earl of Grantham,” says Mrs. Bird. They both giggle. “Stop it,” says Molesley. It’s very cute! And soon to be very sad!
Later, Lord Grantham visits Bates’ bar and they talk and talk and talk. First about Bates’ divorce proceedings, then about how Matthew and William are missing, and about how the Lord loves Matthew like a son. He apologizes for treating Bates so badly when he left, and asks if he will come back and help him “through the veil of shadow.” Aww. It’s all very sad and sweet, and Bates agrees to come back. Yay, Bates!
Once he’s back, Anna seems very happy and it is adorable, and Thomas tells Bates about his new military job. Bates says, “Yet another reason to pray for peace.” Hahaha. Bates just got back and he’s ALREADY getting you, Thomas! You old jerk! But then all of our happiness is a little spoiled when Molesley walks in for duty as the Lord’s valet. Awww. WE FORGOT ABOUT MOLESLEY! He even bought a new kind of shoe horn to use, and Bates takes it from him and says thanks. It’s heartbreaking! I don’t even think I like Molesley very much, though it’s kind of hard to get a grasp on his character, and it’s still heartbreaking! Bates has everything he wants — Anna, the valet job, a name that’s easy to spell — and it all comes to him so easily!
Outside in some sort of shed, Sybil tells Branson that she’s told Mary about them, but that Mary doesn’t seem to approve. (Which makes sense for Mary because disapproving of people who aren’t of their class has always worked out for her.) Branson tries to convince Sybil to run away with him, and Sybil says “what about my work?” And Branson says “What work? Bringing hot drinks to a bunch of randy officers?” And then Sybil and I both make this face:
ARE YOU GOD DAMN SERIOUS, BRANSON? YOU AWFUL MAN! HOW DARE YOU BE SUCH A DISRESPECTFUL JERK TO THE PERSON YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE IN LOVE WITH! DON’T YOU SEE WHAT IT HAS TAKEN FOR SYBIL TO WORK AT ALL! ISN’T THIS PART OF WHY YOU LIKE HER IN THE FIRST PLACE? YOU TERRIBLE MAN, HOW DARE YOU. And in one moment I don’t care about Branson anymore and hope Sybil never has anything to do with him. Fuck you, Branson!
Later, Edith tells Mary that Matthew is missing. She says that dad told her not to say anything, but she thinks Mary has a right to know, and she isn’t trying to hurt her. Mary says for once in their lives she believes her, which is kind of a bitchy thing to say after you learned that the guy you like is probably dead. But! Oh well. Mary’s gotta Mary.
At the same time, the Lord is telling Cora about the news, saying that should prepare for the worst. Mary walks in on them and tells them that she already knows, and they tell her that it’s time to get ready for the concert, because oh yeah they’re putting on a concert/talent show that night for the soldiers in the house. AT A TIME LIKE THIS? Yes at a time like this. The Lord says they all have to help each other keep going, which is honest and makes a lot of sense and I like it.
At the concert, the Lord gives OLG the news about Matthew and she tells him that she needs a lot more than that to make her anxious, but it also pretty sweet about how she accepts Matthew now because HEAVEN KNOWS what kind of garbage would be up next in the heir line. Then a guy does a terrible magic trick, and then Mary and Edith get up to play and sing their song, “If You Were the Only Girl in the World.” At the chorus everyone starts singing along except for OLG and she makes a funny face:
MATTHEW AND WILLIAM WALK IN! AHHHHHHH! A hush falls over the crowd, because apparently they were ALL waiting for these two soldiers they don’t even know to safely return for their leave, and Matthew says “don’t stop for me” which is a little presumptuous because what if they were stopping for William?, and then he starts singing with Mary! Ahhhhh! OUR TWO LOVEBIRDS, SINGING THEIR LOVETUNE! Later Matthew tells Mary that he got her letter about Carlisle and says he’ll like him if he’s good to her, which is nice but it’s certainly not, “I’m jealous and want to marry you now instead of Lavinia.” Win some/lose some.
After the concert, Bates has a sweet moment with Anna and tells her that he’s lived “in a fog of misery” since he left her, which seems A LITTLE BIT like he ripped off the Lord’s “veil of shadow” line from before, but whatever. Kill your idols. Elsewhere, O’Brien is trying to scheme against Bates but Thomas is kind of bored with it, and O’Brien says something about how she guesses she holds a grudge longer than he does, and Thomas kind of shrugs, and I think OH THANK GOD. I legitimately really hope that they stop scheming against Bates because it just makes no sense at all and I don’t understand it and it only annoys me. Give it a rest you two.
And then at the end Hughes comes downstairs to find Ethel and Ethel tells her that she’s pregnant by that officer she was sleeping with. OOPS! OOPS OOPS OOPS!
Next week: Ethel has the baby and it becomes heir to Downton?