Nearly right off the bat, Carson says "more's the pity," which is absolutely one of my very favorite things to say. It is indeed a good omen, peeps.
This is the episode I have been waiting
my whole life all season for...the episode where the old folks rule! There are so many awesome characters on this show who are not twenty-something, and it was time for them to have a great eppy and this one did not disappoint. But more about those later.
Thomas the Sneaky (and Snarky) is back when he informs Bates that he shouldn't cut his arm off to help Anna, as they "can't have him wobbly at both ends..." All this in the first five minutes! I am in heaven, I tell you!! (This post is going to be chock-full of exclamation marks. Brace yourselves.)
The whole fam damily is going to a castle that Lord Sinderby has rented for grouse shooting. There is so much going on, and all of it engaging. (And a disengagement. And then...)
Is there anything cooler than Maggie Smith's laugh?? Or her inimitable faces? Just asking.
Okay, now to the nitty-gritty. First, there is some mystery with Robert. Cora keeps asking him if he's okay, and he is evasive. You are a middle-aged man with a paunch and a granddaughter you can't acknowledge and a formerly-neglected wife and three kids--one of whom is a bee-otch, one an unwed mother, and the other is dead. You have a huge enormous estate to run, and not enough in liquid assets. Your right-hand man is leaving for a completely different CONTINENT, and now you're feeling ill? Hello? Anybody home? At last he admits to seeing a doctor who thinks it may be angina, but it turns out to be an ulcer. So no dramatic death in this episode. But we are having DRAMA.
The Sinderby's have a butler who is, shall we say....a
douchebag jerk? Somehow, he suits Lord Sinderby, who has a little bit of the bagginess himself. Apparently, the butler (is it Stowe? Stowell? Sowell? Everyone pronounces it differently) can give formerly evil Thomas a run for his money. Shenanigans ensue. One thing leads to another, and it comes to pass that Lord S couldn't keep his trousers zipped and has a secret love child! But sweet Rose saves the day for him, and he is forever in her debt.
Two new men are joining the shooting party--Charlie Rogers (perfect name, right? You have to marry a guy whose nickname is "Jolly," which is what DL thought they said) and Henry Tolbert. (Maybe? With these accents, it's hard to tell.) Anyway, when Mary heard his name, her face be like:
|Oh geeze. Is he one of those guys I slept with?|
And then she's partnered with him for the bird shooting. (But his real sport is cars. His sponsors are Quaker State, Budweiser, and Xanax--that last one being for Mary.)
Shooting looks to be quite involved. Here are the steps:
1. Make sure you have your guns. You need more than one because there is a lot of gun swapping going on. They are long guns with red things you put in them, and you only have one shot. So make sure you bring plenty of guns, as if you are part of some weird Edwardian terrorist group.
2. Climb into a wagon with all of your people. This is a horse-drawn stagecoachy thing and it will be bumpy. Make sure you potty before you get in, as there won't be anywhere to go later.
3. When you reach your shooting destination, you will be assigned to a shooter. This may or may not be someone you know. You will also have your gun helper with you. All three of you will stand behind a tiny rock wall, approximately chest high. This is so you don't get shot by your friends, presumably. Although if your friends really WANT to shoot you, there are plenty of other opportunities.
4. Once they unleash the birds, or whatever it is they do, you can start shooting. You shoot one time, hand your gun to your gun helper and he hands you a different gun, loaded. Your helper then reloads the gun you just gave him, and so on. Back and forth with the guns. This seems extremely unsafe to me, but maybe it's designed to give the birds a fighting chance.
5. The shooting guy gets a little bit of a chance to hold a conversation with whomever he has been partnered. That's how one gets cold disdain from Mary or warm happiness from Edith. Looks like somebody drew the short straw, and it wasn't the land agent! (Team Edith!)
|he's a cutie-patootie!|
Meanwhile, back at the Abbey, the Dowager has made a small party for the Princess (whom I just watched on an episode of Midsomer Murders, but she wasn't a Princess on that one) to reconnect with the Prince. (Because "The presence of strangers is our only guarantee of good behavior.") Despite the Dowager's generosity in finding the Princess, playing hostess to her, and giving her a great dress, the Princess is frosty. AND THIS IS WHY: Back in the day, The Countess was ELOPING with the Prince! They were in the carriage on the way to the boat and they were RUNNING AWAY TOGETHER!!! And the Princess found out and got in a faster carriage and caught up and stopped the Prince's carriage and PULLED MAGGIE OUT!! SHE
BEAT THE HELL OUT OF HER sent her back to her Lord husband, and yeah. Like she says, she's sad because she never again will receive an immoral proposition from a man. PREACH, Sistah! Ain't none of us gettin' any younger.
BROTHGATE: Spratt challenges Denker to make a "restorative broth." Denker is culinarily-challenged. Therefore, she enlists the help of Daisy and Mrs. Patmore. But Spratt finds out and she has to make the broth on her own. It is obviously horrible, but the Dowager puts Spratt in his place and lets him know what he's doing isn't cool. She doesn't like dissention.
|Not a fan of Spratt, who is slightly cross-eyed here, but I LOVE that plate rack!!|
Mrs. Crawley makes what I like to call a 'Deal With Dickie.' She will marry him if he can get his sons to accept the relationship and welcome her into the family. Because they are "little dickies," they cannot. She has no choice but to break it off. She tells the Dowager while they are enjoying the hydrangeas. The Dowager tells her that the Dr. will be happy, while Dickie tells her she should have spat in his face or something. As if.
|Will we ever see summer again, peeps?|
Anna is still in jail, and Bates is still trying to save her. Unfortunately, she cut her stepfather when he tried to rape her when she was younger, and so her lawyer thinks it could be a problem. So Bates does the Batesy thing and confesses, which gets Anna released, then takes off for parts unknown. Okay, Robert knows--he's in Ireland. Luckily, Molesley has the great idea of showing his photo around at different pubs and finds a publican who remembers Bates quite clearly! He is free! (Until they come back to get Anna again, presumably.)
By Christmas, Andy (of the wedding episode) has been hired as a new footman. I have a prediction (see next season's prediction at the bottom of this post).
Speaking of Christmas...this is Tom Branson's last Christmas at Downton. He and Mary and Edith take a moment to think of Sybil. (And her stalled career. The lesson here: don't leave a show in its prime! *cough* Shelley Long *cough* David Caruso *cough* Delta Burke. You may never be heard from again.)
Mrs. Crawley and the Dowager sneak off for a moment. I am SO glad that neither of them are giving their lives up to men....because it seems disingenuous. At my age, if something happened to my sweet DL---well, do I really want to share my Al Jolson imitation with just anyone? No.
Carson and Mrs. Hughes look at various houses where they will run a bed-and-breakfast when they retire. (DL and I have thought about doing that, if we could find the right location.) After Carson makes the announcement that he has chosen one, Mrs. Hughes comes clean and tells him that she is, in fact, without any savings. She will be working forever in order to pay to have someone care for her infirm sister. Mrs. Hughes tells Carson she's sorry, but it was fun looking with him, and now life must go on. But wait! Carson buys a house and has Mrs. Hughes' name put on the deed! What?
She is "celebrating the fact that (she) can still get a proposal at (her) age." YAY!!!!!!! I told you last season they should get a room...well now they're getting a HOUSE!!
PS: I love this dress. If I was 5'7" and weighed 100 pounds, I would wear it EVERY DAY!!
My predictions for next (the final) season are:
*The "agent" that Edith was partnered with at the shooting comes to Downton to take Tom's place. He is interested in both Mary and Edith, and while he is not 100% on board with the whole Gregson/Marigold deal, he chooses Edith. They will live at Downton and he will manage the estate.
*Mary ends up with the guy who races cars, even though Matthew died in an automobile accident. They move to London and live a fancy life.
*Mrs. Patmore and Daisy BOTH go to Mr. Mason's farm when Mr. Mason marries Mrs. Patmore. Daisy keeps the books for him and she and Mrs. Patmore-Mason write a cookbook.
*Tom the sneaky butler (who will be Lord G's valet) ends up with Andy the new guy, even though Daisy barks (momentarily) up that tree. (Brokeback). They are much loved at the Abbey.
*Baxter and Molesley end up buying Mrs. Patmore's property from her. They continue at Downton, but only until they have saved enough to retire. (Molesley ends up being the butler, which is what he wanted in the first place.)
*Bates and Anna are tired of the cops always giving them the side-eye. They move to London to work for Lady Mary and her new car guy.
*Rose and Atticus are in New York for the duration.
*Tom and Sybbie are in Boston.
*Mrs. Crawley moves into the Dower House when Violet becomes infirm. It remains hilarious until Violet dies in her sleep, at which point Isobel gets married to the doctor. Or the Lord. Someone.
*The Carsons are still taking care of the Grantham family, but we also see them getting ready to move into the next phase of their lives. They will be the heart of the series next year, I hope. Carson will go down kicking and screaming, but he will see that in order to move forward, one must embrace change.