As the episode opens, a title card tells us it is now April of 1917. This would mean something if I had been paying attention to the dated title cards from other episodes, but unfortunately I have not been. Really the only thing it means to me is that the show started five years ago in 1912, and nobody looks any older. Downton Abbey more like Fountain Abbey. (OF YOUTH!) (Downton of Youth.) As the episode opens, we see William get his papers. Finally William can go to war, get killed, and stop talking about it already. It’s unfortunate that I know that William is a nice character who I’m supposed to like, but I only feel like, ugh, William, GO TO WAR IF YOU’RE GONNA. You’re annoying and I don’t like your face! Elsewhere, the Lord’s new Bates — Lang — is trying to dress him in his soldier costume and, like William before him, is not doing a good job. Ugh, these people. Can’t a man find someone who knows how to dress him in his soldier costume PROPERLY in this town?
Immediately, O’Brien is upsetting. While putting a necklace on Cora, she mentions that Thomas would love to be sent to work at the Downton Abbey hospital after he gets back. She reminds Cora that they’ve donated a lot of money to the hospital, so they should be able to pull a favor and blah blah, and finally convinces her to put in a good word with the doctor. Which is just great because of how everyone loves god damn Thomas. Later, though, when Cora tries to put in a good word for him with the doctor, the doctor is NOT having it. He says Thomas wouldn’t be necessary there, and they can only take a certain amount of people, and whatever. “Whatever works.” “Great,” we think. “I’m sure this is the last we’ll ever hear of Thomas! Cannot wait to never even think about him again. What a jerk.”
Back at Downton, Carson is being a passive-aggressive jerk about Lane. What’s wrong, Carson? You don’t like people who are too nervous to do their jobs? Just as he and the Lord are discussing him, we see Lane in the maid’s quarters, polishing something or other. O’Brien tells him that Carson doesn’t like it when they polish things there (take it easy, Carson), but then she notices Lane’s hands trembling while he polishes and decides to take it easy on him. Why are your hands trembling, Lane? Is it because you’re scared that O’Brien may be a witch? If so, carry on! You’re right to be scared! We’re all scared! Then Molesley comes in and he, too, has some passive-aggressive things to say about Lane (I guess he really IS the new Bates) before giving New Maid a book to give to Anna. Uh oh. I’m ALREADY embarrassed for him.
Matthew and his fiance are coming for dinner soon, so Mary decides that she also wants her potential beau, newsman Carlisle, to come to dinner on that night. That’ll show him! Finally, Matthew will be yours once he sees you’ve invited an old jerk to dinner! Unfortunately, Lane will have to help serve that dinner because they haven’t got anyone else. I hope he won’t be too nervous just kidding I know he will be because that’s his thing! Elsewhere, Ms. Padmore has a nephew who has gone missing in the war and asks the Lord if he’ll find out what happened for her. Uhoh on all accounts!
Hahah, ahhh, so later Molesley confronts Anna about whether or not she has yet read the book. And, uh, it’s THE NEXT DAY. “You gave the book to me yesterday, obviously I haven’t read it yet, you weirdo,” she says. He asks her if they could maybe get together and talk about it once she has, and she says maybe it should be like a group thing, and he says, ahh, nah, let’s just do a solo thing, and then Anna excuses herself because MOLESLEY IS A CREEP. Get the hint, Molesley! She’s just not that into you!
The next scene was upsetting, too. O’Brien is putting another necklace on Cora or whatever, and the Lord comes in to tell Cora that he’s spoken with the doctor, pulled some strings, and now Thomas will be coming home to work there. Uh, what? Wasn’t the Lord so happy to be rid of Thomas when he left at the end of last season? What the F? Why did he pull those strings for a guy he doesn’t like and, more importantly, doesn’t trust? THAT DOESN’T MAKE SENSE AND IT IS UPSETTING!
Hahaha, oh, up until now I somehow forgot to mention that Edith is going to be a plow driver on a farm. Hahahahahhahahahahahahaha. I’m sure you are, Edith. You have a face to drive a plow on a farm, I’m so sorry. (Also you have a terrible personality.) So anyway, Edith goes to the farm and announces that she will be the one taking the plow-driver job, and then she pulls a tree trunk out of the ground, and ugh. Whatever, Edith. I’m glad you’re doing something, even though it seems very strange to me that you are. She even drinks right from a bottle, if you can believe it.
So, Thomas is back.
And he has a disgusting hand injury.
In the servant’s quarters, Thomas asks Daisy about William, who has left for the army. She tells him not to be nasty as soon as he gets back, but it’s weird that she does that because WHAT ELSE IS HE SUPPOSED TO BE? Ugh, Thomas. He also asks where Bates leaves, and when someone tells him that he’s gone Thomas says, “So not all the changes were bad.” Yeah, Thomas, and you know what other change wasn’t bad? THAT YOU WERE GONE! JUST KIDDING, YOU WERE NEVER GONE! WE NEVER EVEN GOT A ONE-EPISODE BREAK FROM YOU EVEN THOUGH WE DESERVED IT, YOU JERK!
Before the Crawleys show up for dinner. Mrs. Hughes takes Anna into her room to talk to ask her how everything’s going. She mentions that Lane seems nervous, and Mrs. Hughes is like, I know, that’s the ONLY thing that he seems, but then she tells Anna that “A broken heart can be as painful as a broken limb,” and it’s super sweet. You think it won’t get any sweeter, but then Anna says that she at least knows what real love is, and there aren’t too many people who can say that. She considers herself one of the lucky ones. Which is not true at all, but it certainly sounds very sweet, and we all love it.
In the next scene, honestly, I’m not sure what went on because it began with the Lord greeting Matthew who has come home safely from war, and Matthew replied “touch wood.” And then the Lord said, “I never STOP touching it.” !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was my favorite moment in maybe any TV show I have ever seen. I almost cried. Not because I was laughing, because I was by myself and felt self conscious, but because it was just so funny and beautiful that I couldn’t keep the emotion inside. Luckily, because the Internet is INCREDIBLE, there is a YouTube clip of the Best Moment That Has Ever Happen In A TV Show:
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don’t even want to continue with this recap because IT JUST DOESN’T MATTER, but I guess we have to. But my goodness. Perfect. Congratulations, Downton Abbey. You did it.
(Oh, and in the next scene Anna is telling Lane how to serve people at the table and she says to start with “Old Lady Grantham” and that was exciting too, because THAT’S WHAT I CALL HER!) (Two exciting things in a row!) (One so much better than the other.)
So, anyway. What else. At dinner, Carson drops butter on Edith and then collapses. Uhoh, Carson!
Cora tells Edith to call 911 (or whatever) and Edith says, “But what about my dress?!” And everyone responds, in unison, “IT FINALLY MATCHES YOUR FACE, GO CALL THE HOSPITAL.” Fortunately, though, we soon learn — as the Lord and Cora are talking in bed — that it was not a heart attack. What was it, though? Who knows. Just not a heart attack. Yay, Carson! That night, Carson is resting in bed and Mary walks in to talk to him. Mary! How dare you be in a room with a man. What if you kill him! Carson tells her to tell Matthew how she feels, in case he dies. It is sweet, kind of, but also it is weird. Mind your own business, Carson! But also, you seem sweet!
Later, O’Brien interrupts Lane as he is doing something. I don’t know what. Staring into a cabinet? She confronts him about having shell-schock, explaining that her brother also had it, and that he shouldn’t be working yet. I guess he wasn’t just nervous about O’Brien being a witch, even though he should’ve been! Also: It seems like these two are going to fall in love? A real Monica and Chandler.
At the hospital, Thomas reads a letter to a young man who was blinded in the war. It’s a tough scene because I don’t hate Thomas in it! The letter tells the young man that his brother is taking his job at home, or some such thing, and Thomas tells him “You’re not a victim, don’t let them make you into one.” He also includes a few vague lines about how he’s been treated poorly his whole life because he’s different, and I know it’s supposed to be because he’s a gay man, but really all I can think he means is because he has reached non-human levels of being a jerk. “It’s so tough to be such an incredible jerk in a world full of people who are only normal jerks.” But, sure, I get it. Maybe he is just a jerk because everyone has always been a jerk to him. Poor old Thomas. Poor old blind kid. Poor old everyone.
Then there is a weird scene where we see Carlisle threatening Matthew’s wife outside, and Mary’s aunt catches them.
What’s the deal with that? I hope we’re not supposed to know already! Are they related and they’re only using the family to get money and/or dirt? What’s going on? HELLO?
Back at the hospital, the doctor wants to kick Thomas’s new blind friend out, because technically he doesn’t need to be there anymore. He doesn’t want to leave because he is depressed and, with Thomas and Sybil’s help, was finally starting to feel better. But the doctor says, “No, I’m sorry, I’ve never been a likable character even though I’ve never done anything particularly incorrect, so you still have to go, because of the rules.” Sybil thinks they can consider using Downton as a convalescent home, since the hospital is overcrowded, and she thinks she can convince her family to agree. Good luck, Sybil! Unfortunately, though, this will happen too late for Thomas’s blind friend, because:
He killed himself. “He must have smuggled a razor in his bed, there’s nothing that could’ve been done,” says the doctor. Oh yeah? NOTHING? Nothing like not kicking out a mentally disturbed patient?! Sybil says “It’s because we ordered him to go,” and Matthew’s mom says, “There’s no way to know that.” Ugh, Matthew’s mom.
At the train station, before Carlisle leaves, he proposes to Mary and says he thinks they could “do great things” together. Mary tells him that she can’t help but think the tradition should require at least some element of love, and Carlisle responds that he thinks they have MORE than that. Yuck. What do you guys have, Carlisle? Money and newspapers? Give me a break. But Mary says she’ll think about it.
When Mary goes back to Downton with the intention of telling Matthew she loves him, she finds his fiance crying in the garden. She tells Mary that she couldn’t imagine continuing to live if Matthew were to die, and Mary attempts to comfort her. This changes her mind about telling Matthew that she loves him, which is very kind of her, and when she does get a chance to talk to Matthew she just reminds him that her family would like him to join them for dinner tonight. He said of course, “if you still want me.” “Of course I still want you. Very much,” she says. “A little over the top, but we’ll take it,” we say.
In the servants quarters, Molesley approaches Anne one more time, and flat-out asks her if they could spend more time together now that Bates is gone. She gives him a weird analogy about how Bates is like if her kid went to the moon (?) and no, she doesn’t want to spend more time with Molesley, but thank you for asking. Sorry, Moles! You’re creepy, too, like a lot of the people on this show! But you seem nice! Maybe try Daisy, because apparently she doesn’t want to be William’s sweetheart, even though William carried her picture to war and thinks she’s his sweetheart!
So, the Lord wants to have a word with Ms. Padmore. He has news of her nephew, and tells her that he is WORSE than dead. Ahhhhh! UNDEAD?! A GHOST WHO HAS TO HAUNT DOWNTON ABBEY FOREVER?! No. Neither, but he was shot for cowardice. Eek. That’s no good. The Lord says that that her sister, the dead soldier’s mom, doesn’t need to know about the cowardice part. “We cannot judge.” He’s always so fair!
Later, Mary tells Anna she’s going to accept Carlisle’s proposal. Yuck. She asks Anna if she thinks it’s a good idea (NOOOOO!) And Anna says “That’s not for me to say.” But then she says, “If you love him more than anyone in the world, of course you should.” Oh yeah, Anna? I thought it WASN’T FOR YOU TO SAY, GET BACK TO WORK! “It’s not as simple as that,” says Mary. “It is for me, but I’m not your ladyship,” says Anna. Says then says that she loves Bates more than anyone in the world and will never love again like she loves him, which, honestly, seems over the top. She was still calling him “Mr. Bates” when he left! Mary tells her that she thinks she’ll find someone else, and “it’ll be second best, but it doesn’t mean you can’t have a life.” “I think it does. For me,” says Anna. Witch is very Bates-y of her, actually.
Oh, and Edith kissed the farmer she was working for and his wife saw her do it and then she got fired.
Sorry, Edith! You should’ve have hit on your employer’s husband in front of her numerous times, and then you shouldn’t have made out with him! You’re pretty terrible!
Next Week: Edith finds another farmer to kiss?