Last time, on Julian Fellows Hates His Fan Base, lots and lots of things happened. Babies were born and people argued and Lady Sybil died. Caught up? Good.
Guests are leaving Downton Abbey and we find most of the family in the sitting room, looking depressed, as would normally happen. Branson is sad, Matthew is patronizing, and Cora and Robert are being bitchy towards each other. Catty comments are had by all, and it looks like we’re off to a good start.
Downstairs, Alfred looks majorly depressed and this still really seems like a cop out since he was never shown interacting with Sybil that much. Rolf consoles him and immediately regrets it, as Alfred tries to turn it into sexy times.
More bad jokes about Ethel’s cooking and, yes, we get it.
Back to the servants, Anna discusses last week’s episode, and it looks like Bates’ freedom rests on his dead ex-wife’s pie, which would mean that he would be dead soon, but this is Downton Abbey we’re talking about. Mary steamrolls right over her and Anna is really glad to have such nice employers. No, really.
Robert comes into his bedroom and Cora tells him to turn around and march right back out. Robert is still in the dog house, it seems. Cora launches into a rant about how Robert believes more in people with knighthoods and impressive degrees and such, rather than the doctor who’s attended to Sybil all her life. She has a point. It quickly turns into Depression Olympics and Robert quietly walks out to stand in the hall, dejected.
Next morning, it’s breakfast time. Apparently, Edith and Matthew are the only people who eat breakfast, with occasional guest appearances by Robert to act disdainful towards the two of them. Branson joins them, and Edith asks about names, and the future and, oh yeah, christenings. This raises the sticky religion question, which, of course, Branson fully believes his child should be Catholic and Robert thinks that’s the worst thing he’s ever heard. No one comments on Branson future plans of “I want to leave, get a job and live with my daughter in a state of uncertainty,” though.
Meanwhile, Ethel approaches Mrs. Patmore to get some cooking advice. At first, Mrs. Patmore is all “I can’t talk to you! You used to be a whore! People will talk about me!” but Ethel gives her a “Bitch, please” look and points out how nasty that mentality is and shames Mrs. Patmore into assisting. Harriet Jones, though, is having none of this, despite not knowing Ethel’s cooking lessons, and informs Ethel that she will NOT cook. Just slice some ham and toss a salad for the party.
In prison, the inmates are walking around in a big circle that reminds me of Dead Poets’ Society no matter how hard I try. Jug Ears accosts Bates in a very passive aggressive not talking about anything sort of way.
Robert and Mary discuss the Catholicness of the baby, and of course, are on opposite sides without REALLY saying so. Mary quietly puts her foot down.
The Dowager asks Robert about the baby and some other sort of questions until Robert finally blurts out that he and his wife aren’t sleeping together and are having marital difficulties. Violet looks less than impressed with this knowledge and informs him that “people like us are never unhappily married.” She then suggests sending Cora to NYC to live with That Woman for a while, which is somewhat amusing and I wonder if Cora’s leaving the show.
In the kitchen, Daisy starts digging into the staff. Alfred stares at Ivy and Daisy gets more upset. Oh, good lord. I’ve seen this movie. It’s called “Threesome” and in the end, they all end up having sex with Stephen Baldwin, which isn’t a good thing. Mrs. Patmore leaves to instruct Ethel on how to cook, and also informs her that anyone with arms can make a salmon mousse, and I have a pitch for a new TV show.
Harriet Jones and Cora talk a bit, and Harriet Jones invites them for lunch. Violet scares the bejebus out of her by poking her head up from the sofa and asking if she can come, too. The rest of the family comes in and they’re all stylishly sad, and by stylishly sad, I mean black sequins everywhere.
During dinner, it looks like the local Anglican pastor has been invited to strike the fear of the Anglican Church into Branson. Good luck with that. Most of the table calls the pastor out on this, except Lord Robert. Violet even mentions that she has Catholic Friends, and Mary tells everyone that this is what Sybil wanted, which ends the conversation.
Mirroring this conversation, the servants also discuss religion, only with more clichés. Rolf is our resident disestablishmentarianist and wants to be a free soul without any borders or labels. Yeah, I’ve read THAT book before.
The next day, the solicitor goes to see Vera’s Mother, Mrs. Bartlett. Apparently, she’s changed her story in the middle of the night and denies everything she told Anna. This can’t be good. She kicks the solicitor out with a parting shot about How the Real People live.
Instead of working, Ivy’s dancing around the kitchen with a plate of food. Rolf and Alfred, sensing her female charm and coyness, show up to banter her with some good cop/disinterested cop nonsense. Daisy’s not around to see this, because she’s visiting Mr. Mason, William’s father. He flat out offers her his farm, equipment, training and wads of cash, because he has all that lying around and no one to offer it to. Who are these people? No really. Who are these people with all their saved up money to offer to their children’s dead spouses/finances that they know didn’t return the favor? It’s really jarring. Anyway, Mr. Mason does bring up the point that in 40 years, it’s going to be 1957 and Daisy is more likely to be Ida Blankenship from Mad Men, since the old houses are dying off, so she better start planning for the future.
Lady Violet summons Dr. Clarkson. She roundaboutly asks him if he really could have saved Sybil’s life. He roundaboutly answers her, and Violet flat out blames him for causing Cora and Robert’s marital strife. She asks him to lie for her, and he refuses. She presses the issue and you can just watch his will power crumble.
Matthew and Branson are taking a walk through the farmsteads talking about their country boy heritage and, once again, Branson talks about taking his kid, with no way to support her, and running off, and no on bats an eye about how stupid this is.
It’s time for Cooking with Mrs. Patmore! It’s not as heartwarming as anything on the Food Network, but Ethel gets it done in time for Harriet Jones to bust in exclaiming “I SMELL COOKING!!” Ethel fesses up and Harriet Jones is left with nothing other than to serve her guests this COOKING!!
As Mrs. Patmore leaves, Carson spies her and later calls her out for conversing with a scarlet woman. Mrs. Hughes, surprisingly enough, stands up to Carson and Carson is just shocked and flabbergasted and storms off.
The boys are upstairs having lunch. Lord Robert and Matthew are fighting over how Downton is to be run, and Branson is just looking on, sadly. Carson barges in to explain how Cora and the rest are having lunch that was prepared by a prostitute and Robert goes into full on Disgruntled White Male mode. His indignation fuels his flight to Harriet Jones’ place.
The women are eating lunch, and Harriet Jones is so completely surprised that the food is edible and makes a BIG DEAL out of this. Edith would love to learn to cook and Cora supports her daughter the way a Modern Woman should. This is interrupted by Robert bursting in to drip his disdain, loudly, over the luncheon party. Everyone is minorly shocked, and it quickly becomes clear that Robert only cares about what people will gossip about. Violet says something sassy, and Cora puts her foot down. In the end, Violet is on the side of dessert, which is the side everyone should be on, anyway.
While doing their Dead Poets’ Society exercise, Bates accosts his cell mate and drags him into a corner to threaten him. No one notices.
Carson and Hughes argue over kindness verse standards. Hughes is on the side of kindness and Carson is on the side of standards, no surprise there.
Continuing with the fighting, Robert and Mary non-fight some more. Mary is firmly on the side of christening the baby in the Catholic Church, and won’t budge. Mary then goes upstairs, with Matthew, to see Branson and the baby. The music is soft enough that you can hear Mary’s biological clock ticking away.
The servants start talking about Ethel and are interrupted by Mrs. Patmore seeing Ivy’s make-up and calling her out on that. Rolf sits down to play the piano, and Thomas hovers over him as if he’s in a competition to be the world’s clingiest crush. O’Brien starts to regret her influence in the matter.
Alfred is trying to learn how to foxtrot and Daisy steps in. Where did she learn? Rolf comes in to flirt with either Daisy or Alfred. I’m getting confused by my polygon here. Carson interrupts their dancing and now everyone hates Alfred for being the guy who wasn’t doing anything the moment the authority figure shows up, even though he was fully participating two minutes before.
Cora and Robert try to have a Cersei and Robert Baratheon moment, and don’t quite succeed. Anna comes in and informs everyone that Mrs. Bartlett has changed her mind, aka been pressured to do so by the solicitor. Yet, her words and her actions don’t line up, since she talks about a possibility, but acts as if it’s a certainty.
Ethel comes to thank Mrs. Patmore. Carson is a jerk.
Violet summons Cora and Robert to have a chat with Dr. Clarkson. He hems and haws and gives a non-answer about how he may or may not have been able to save Sybil, but all Cora hears is that she can stop being angry and actually grieve.
Next time! Bates returns! I have no idea how I feel about that.