Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for MASTERPIECE
Ellin Stein
Feb 01, 2016 @ 7:45 am

As the final season of Downton Abbey moves toward the halfway point, Ladies Mary and Edith are rocking career-woman neckwear and exploring new romantic relationships.

Edith's new flame Bertie Pelham, the manager of a nearby estate, wants to meet her in London, while her sister's new beau, Henry Talbot, a dashing racing driver, invites Mary (Michelle Dockery) to watch him go round a test track, not Mary's idea of a good time.

After the excitement of the wedding, Mrs. Hughes (a.k.a. Mrs. Carson) is struggling with domesticity. Mr. Carson wants to eat dinner at their new cottage, but cooking is not one of her many skills and she turns to Mrs. Patmore for help. The cook provides prepared ingredients but even so the meal is a disaster, with raw lamb and burned vegetables.

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Meanwhile, new footman Andy's friendly overtures towards Daisy are rebuffed. He himself similarly rebuffs Barrow's friendly overtures, telling Anna he's heard about the under-butler and doesn't want to give him any "wrong ideas." However, he later apologizes for his rudeness after Barrow discovers he can't read and offers to teach him.

Mary, in a sensible burgundy suit with midi-skirt and long-line jacket (with matching tie to show she means business), inspects the estate with Tom Branson, who emerges in this episode as an all-purpose confidante and sounding board, advising everyone from family members to the future prime minister of England.

Mary tells Tom that her relationship with the relatively impoverished Henry isn't serious. "I don't mean to sound snobbish," she says (Mary? Snobbish? As if!), "but I won't marry down."

She and Tom watch Henry race, and afterwards they all go for a drink, leading to the unlikely sight of Lady Mary in a pub, pink pearls and all.

Meanwhile, in London, Edith (Laura Carmichael) and Bertie go for a walk in the park. Bertie's employer, his single cousin, spends a lot of time in Morocco painting "the young men of Tangiers." Innocent that he is, Bertie says he assumes his cousin will eventually get married.

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Later, Edith turns up for their date looking fabulous in a metallic gold embroidered shift. An entranced Bertie kisses her and declares that he is serious. Oh what a fine wardrobe can do!

Back at Downton, everyone is preparing for the arrival of Neville Chamberlain, the government's health czar, invited to dinner by Lady Violet in the hope that he will support her campaign to retain control of the local hospital. Lady Violet (Maggie Smith) and Cousin Isobel squabble over the issue at the dinner table until a stressed Lord Grantham dramatically spews Tarantino-like quantities of blood before collapsing.

He is rushed to the hospital as gloom descends below stairs, with Carson particularly distraught despite his calm exterior, until happy news arrives: Lord Grantham has had an operation to repair his burst ulcer and will be just fine. But it doesn't all end well. Having overheard a remark by Lady Violet while waiting for the ambulance, Mary grows suspicious about Marigold's parentage. Only the rest of the season will tell how Mary handles it!

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