It’s the penultimate episode of “Downton Abbey,” gang. But this two-hour episode in the U.S. was actually two separate episodes in the U.K., so we’re going to discuss each hour separately.
Tom is the new agent of Downton! Hooray! We’ve been wondering if this was going to happen after his conversation with Matthew last week about farming the land. It’s so wonderful that Lady Violet is the one who suggested the idea. But not that surprising.
Violet is a sharp lady and even though she acts all stuffy, she is obviously a big softie deep inside. You can tell by the way she’s been acting towards Tom since Sybil died that she feels so awful for his loss. We love that she is the one who kept him in the family (and kept baby Sybil near).
This storyline has also provided wonderful tension between Matthew and Robert. It’s old-school versus changing with the times and it feels very organic. It’s easy to see where both men are coming from and has actually turned what could have been a very boring storyline into something quite interesting.
In other news, three cheers for Lady Edith for accepting that newspaper job, though we aren’t sure it’s the best idea to go thrusting her back into a relationship with a man who is in a position of authority over her (Strallan due to his age and now the editor due to his position). Hmm. It’d be actually pretty great for Edith if she and the editor fell in love and were revolutionary writers in the big city together, but she would have to be his equal and not his subordinate for that to work out.
It’s also wonderful to see grandmama Violet supporting her granddaughter in this endeavor. It is also wonderful to see Violet finding a position for Ethel and making sure she can be near her son. Like we said, Lady Violet is actually a big ol’ softie.
Downstairs, we really feel like O’Brien has gone a bridge too far in this one. It’s fun to watch her mess with Thomas, but this has gotten out of hand. Granted, Thomas should not have gone to Jimmy’s room in the middle of the night (it’s called subtlety, Thomas), but O’Brien took Thomas’ slighting of Alfred way too far.
It’s also hard to watch Carson to be so ugly about it. It’s perfectly fitting for the time period (heck, it’s fitting in today’s day and age with some people). But it’s still hard because Carson is so great a character and we want to love him and all he does.
It’s the great cricket match (that we have heretofore heard nothing about). We find it easy to believe Robert is super competitive, though. It’s fun to watch the men come together — Robert, Matthew, Tom, Thomas, Carson, the whole lot of them.
It was also wonderful to see Tom knock some sense into Robert about pooling their collective knowledge into running Downton the right way.
And speaking of Thomas, we never thought we’d say this, but we felt so sorry for him this whole episode. O’Brien just can’t let it drop and encourages Jimmy to get Thomas fired without a reference, which would be the end of him. Luckily, Mrs. Hughes and Bates to the rescue. The two of them ferret out what’s been going on and Bates smooths things over with Lord Grantham.
Bates really only intended Thomas to be sent on his way with a good reference, but instead, Thomas is promoted to “under butler,” which makes him Bates superior. Oops. But still, it was nice to see Bates make O’Brien about swallow her tongue with what we found out was “Her ladyship’s soap.”
In other news, Violet’s niece Rose is quite a handful, apparently having taken up with a married man in London. Matthew, Edith and Rosamund are there to put a stop to things and they aren’t going to rat her out to Violet, but Violet is way smarter than all of them put together and she figures out what has been going on.
It sounds as though Rose will be around for Season 4, so that should be fun. But poor Edith — her handsome new newspaper man is married, but his wife is institutionalized. Surely there is something they can do about that. Edith deserves some happiness.
Finally, Mary and Matthew are sneaking around seeing doctors behind each other’s backs because they’re worried about not being pregnant yet. These two are so exhaustively silly sometimes. In the end, their secrets are revealed and it sounds like they have a clear path to pregnancy.