In the last episode, Lady Edith had disappeared and the Crawleys are now desperately seeking Edith with as much desperation as good manners and class restrictions will allow. This was not a cliff hanger, but more of a hang nail–annoying but no one is being rushed into surgery. This episode, airing on 15 February 2015 on PBS and available VoD after, is about the restrictions of class and the growing discomfort for both the aristocracy and the common people.
There are, of course, secrets and Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) had one and multiplied it into more. As a result, Violet (Maggie Smith) has gone to meet Lady Rosamund (Samantha Bond) at the station. As a dowager, this is an act of high concern and is surprises Lady Rosamund. Rosamund was Edith’s first confidante when she found herself with an unexpected problem as a result of her unwanted epilogue now named Marigold.
Violet and Rosamund have an idea of why Edith has taken off so they confer at the train station.
Violet tells Rosamund, “We have to tell Cora…you see as a mother it is her right.”
Rosamund now wonders just how far they should go, asking, “But you don’t plan to tell Robert. He is her father.”
“He’s a man. Men don’t have rights,” Violet replies.
Lady Edith left while the others in the house with the exception of Tom were at the point-to-point. From the point-to-point, comes a trio of guests: Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen), his ex-fiancée Mabel Lane Fox (Catherine Steadman) and Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden). This makes for an awkward situation as this threesome are there when the Crawleys discover that Edith has gone and have no time to hide their concern. Worse yet, more guests are coming to Downton Abbey.
Back at the house, the Crawleys are still attempting to form a plan of action. Violet desperately needs to speak with Cora and tells them all that she needs some air. “When I say we need some air, we need some air,” Violet declares when questioned. Suddenly, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) has a visitor. Mrs. Drewe (Emma Lowndes).
Only Violet and Rosamund understand clearly what this means. Violet had already made a visit to the Drewes’ farm and ascertained that Edith had taken Marigold. Edith had bluntly shown Marigold’s French birth certificate to Mrs. Drewe so there are now two people in the town who know Edith’s secret and one of them, Mrs. Drewe is angry.
We don’t see Cora’s interview with Mrs. Drewe. That drama is left to our imagination. Cora, however, is angry with both Cora and Rosamund, but she also believes there is no need to tell Robert (Hugh Bonneville). Cora tells the two, “I agree with one thing: The secret is not ours to tell.”
When the three guests escape, Mabel soon leaves the men, determined to sneak up to her guest bedroom to change. Blake tells Gillingham he should be with Mabel because he’s “much more relaxed with her than you are with Mary.”
Yet there is a matter of honor and Mary isn’t exactly being hostile toward him. You can see the problems of having good manners and mixing that with pre-marital sex. Blake tells Gillingham, “You’re muddling up her instinct which is to hold every man in thrall and her wish.”
Back at the manor, Mrs. Hughes goes to Mary to speak about the ticket, the ticket that Mr. Bates left in the pocket of his coat, the coat that Anna gave to charity. Mrs. Hughes found the ticket and gave it to Mary as both of them were afraid that this proved Mr. Bates had indeed murdered the nasty Mr. Green.
Mr. Bates has explained how the ticket, the unused ticket was proof he hadn’t been to London.
Anna (Joanne Froggatt) has explained this to Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan). Mrs. Hughes explains it to Mary. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) now knows, “So it was proof of his innocence and not his guilt. I’m afraid I burnt it, Mrs. Hughes.” Anna and her husband wonder if things are not over with Mr. Green, but we know it isn’t, right? They have a house in London and the tenant has decided to move so they will go down to look at it sometime later this season.
There’s more gloom downstairs. Daisy (Sophie McShera) has been reading about how the first Labor government is being stymied. When Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle) attempts to interest her in more reading and conversations, she’s not interested.
Daisy tells Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol), “We’re trapped, held fast in a system that gives us no value and no freedom…is it worth it, me trying to better myself. What’s the point?”
The dinner goes off well. Atticus Aldridge (Matt Barber) is charming and so is his mother, Lady (Rachel) Sinderby (Penny Downie). Lord (Daniel) Sinderby (James Faulkner) is less so.
The dinner is about the two families getting to know each other better. Rose (Lily James) tells Atticus, “Your mother and Robert are hitting it off.”
“She’s not the problem. My father’s the tough nut.” he replies.
“My father’s the darling; my mother’s the nut,” she explains.
“Then we shall crack them against each other,” he concludes. Aren’t they sweet.
Being a working man, Atticus comes up with the solution to finding Lady Edith. She’s now head of a publishing company. She must be in contact with the office in London. Rose thinks he’s a genius. We have some idea how out of touch the Crawleys are with the world of business.
During this dinner, Gillingham muses, “It’s strange how some people get married and married and we can’t manage it once.”
Mabel slyly replies, “Dogs barking in wrong trees springs to mind…I remember my mother telling me that in the end happiness is a matter of choice…Some people choose to be happy and others select a course that leads to frustration and disappointment.”
Gillingham asks if she’s referring to him, but she hopes not. No doubt, she’ll be reporting back to Blake so they can further plot.
Isobel and Lord Merton make their announcement and Robert makes a toast to “the future Lady Merton.”
Mary annoyed about the possibility of losing an admirer and having none and she also annoyed about the concern for Edith. She’s a big girl. She can take care of herself. There are three people who now know about the secret at the table: Violet, Rosamund and Cora. Violet tells Mary, “A lack of compassion can be as vulgar as an excess of tears.”
Lady Mary does have an affection for her former mother-in-law asks if they might host an engagement dinner for her and Lord Merton with his two sons coming up for London.
Mary also consults with Blake who reminds her that with Gillingham, “Just as he’s moving off you tug his strings. Send a clear message and I’m sure he’ll go.”
“What is that message,” Mary asks.
“I’ll think of something,” Blake assure her, but it is really a woman’s touch that is needed here and Mabel will come to the rescue with Blake’s assistance.
Lord Grantham is disappointed that Gillingham will not be his future son-in-law. “Pity I would have been so pleased.”
Yet he’s not displeased that Miss Bunting has left and Tom broke off with her. Tom assures Robert that he doesn’t blame him for the end of that relationship because, “I didn’t want to spend my life in a bare-knuckled fight.” Robert assures Tom that they don’t want to see him alone for the rest of his life, but Tom wants to go away, perhaps to Boston.
Taking Atticus’ advice, Cora and Rosamund go to the publishing company. The receptionist tells them, “But we have no way of knowing if Lady Edith will be in today,” when she is already there. They see her.
“You’ve told her, haven’t you. You’ve broken your word,” Lady Edith tells Rosamund. What did she think would happen when she left so abruptly?
Cora threatens to talk about it in front of all the employees so Edith agrees to meet in them at a tea room. Edith has no really good ideas. She had thought of running away to America and inventing a dead husband, but how could she run the publishing company? “I thought I’d drop my title and invent a dead husband…I don’t want the magazine business to fall into ruin… I want Marigold to grow up English.”
Edith has other concerns, “Papa must never know the truth…nor Mary. I couldn’t have Mary queening it over me.” She doesn’t want to become “the county failure.”
Cora has another idea, one that Rosamund thinks is unwise. They will tell the family that the Drewes don’t have enough money to raise another child and Edith will volunteer to take the child in. They will meet Mr. Drewe at the train station and he will take Marigold so it won’t seem as if Edith had Marigold in London. Lady Rosamund calls the plan ludicrous.
Things do not go smoothly. Edith sees Mary and Anna at the station. Mr. Drewe is asked in to take their luggage, but instead must take a ride with Marigold one station down to hide Marigold from Mary’s attention.
Mary and Cora go to meet Mary and Mary says, “So, you found her?”
“I did, ” Cora replies. ”
Edith volunteers, “I don’t know what the fuss was about. I wanted a day or two in London.”
Mary replies, “I knew it. I said that’s all it was. What a nonsense they made.”
Cora asks, “Why are you here?”
“I’m catching the first train to London. It’s due any minute,” Mary replies.
Cora reminds Mary that “We’ve a duty to protect Isobel from Larry Grey.”
Meanwhile, Mary is having tea at Violet and confronts her about Violet’s supposed snobbery, that Violet is upset that by marrying Lord Merton, Isobel will not outrank her. ” Is that what you think of me?” Violet asks “That I care about her change of rank…I got used to having a companion, a friend…Isobel and I have a lot in common.”
Mary and Anna are going down simply to execute Blake’s plan to put off Gillingham. They go to the cinema and exit before the movie is over so that Gillingham will see Blake kissing Mary. That was easy and it wasn’t Blake’s idea; it was Mabel’s. If you’re hoping Blake will be Mary’s next suitor, that is instantly nixed. This display of public affection, which in 1924 was much more shocking than it would be today, had to be done that evening because Blake is going to be in Poland for months, maybe as long as a year as part of a trade delegation.
“Not for months, even a year. You’ll be married by then,” Blake tells Mary.
Back at Downton, the people downstairs are working to encourage Daisy. Remember she couldn’t understand what was the point of education? She had hopes for the Labor government, but it was failing. What’s the point? Mr. Molesley gets a letter from Mr. Mason (Paul Copley) resulting in Daisy, Molesley and Miss Baxter visiting Mason’s farm. Remember that Mr. Mason has no children and is a widower.Daisy married William before he died from his injuries. Daisy is all he has left. He has offered to make her his heir and for her to take over his farm.
Mason tells Daisy, “Education is power…there are millions out there who could have done so much if they’d only been given an education.”
Daisy complains, “I think the system is slanted against us.” But Mason tells her that with each try, things will change, even if the change is slow.
Miss Baxter comments, “He’s made a daughter out of his widowed daughter-in-law.” Miss Baxter, Molesley and Daisy get on Mr. Mason’s buggy because they must get back to Downton Abbey.
Mary, Cora and Edith are back at Downton Abbey because on Friday and Lord Merton and his two sons are expected. Robert has been concerned with Isis because “She isn’t looking so clever.”
Edith is making her plea to take in Marigold, but is interrupted by Robert coming in carrying Isis.
“Is she carrying puppies?” Cora asks.
“She’s got cancer poor old thing,” Robert replies.
“Oh, no. Cancer oh how I hate that word,” Cora responds.
Poor Edith is left hanging–upstaged by a dog. But this only means her plan will be under less scrutiny. Mary thinks if the Drewes can’t afford to take in their friend’s child, Edith should just offer them money.
After the situation has been explained to Robert, Edith asks, “So I should I take her, papa?” Robert leaves it up to Cora, who, of course, says yes.
With the Isis crisis, Robert wishes they could cancel, but they can’t because Lord Merton’s sons have come up from London.
For those who don’t recall the last time we saw Larry Grey, Lord Merton’s heir, it was in 1920. Lady Sybil had married Tom Branson. Larry isn’t just a nasty snob, he’s a bit of an unscrupulous schemer. He wasn’t satisfied with simply being rude to Tom. He drugs Tom’s drink before dinner. Tom’s drunken dinner conversation upsets everyone except Larry who puts it down to a “vivid display of Irish character.”
Luckily for Tom, Sir Anthony Strallan (Robert Bathurst) saw the incident and reveals Larry’s villainy. This makes him a hero in Edith’s eyes. She had during Series 2, hoped that he would propose to her, but Mary makes sure that he doesn’t. In 1991, he is re-introduced to Edith at tea and by 1920, after the incident with Larry, Edith pursues him and gets engaged, but he leaves her at the altar.
When the topic of Edith and Marigold comes up at the dinner table, Robert says, “If you ask me it’s absolutely crackers.”
Larry’s younger brother states, “I should have thought an orphan an uncomfortable piece of baggage for an unmarried woman.” Poor Edith in her halter neckline gown seems unable to muster a clever answer. The woman can apparently write, but she can’t come up with a single clever line. Imagine if Violet decided to write what a wit she’d be.
Larry continues that most marriages fail because of irreconcilable differences..It might be different beliefs…in the end they cannot see eye to eye. You mean to marry Mrs. Crawley here. She’s seems very nice and I wish you both every happiness.” Here Larry has lured Isobel in, she thanks him, but he continues, “but that doesn’t prevent me from seeing the wide disparity in class and background may prove your undoing.” Her problem is that she has “neither birth nor fortune” and yet is expected “to fill our mother’s shoes as one of the leaders of the county” and the “inevitable failure will prove a source of misery to them both.” Do you wonder why Larry isn’t married yet although he is a banker?
Lord Merton asks Larry to leave.
Tom is more direct, “Why don’t you just get out you bastard.”
Robert concurs, saying “I do not endorse Tom’s language, but that is certainly how we all feel.”
If you think perhaps the younger brother Timothy Grey is much better, Timothy turns to Isobel and tells her, “Did you imagine that we would welcome you with open arms?” The problem with storming off when you didn’t drive over yourself is that you have to wait in the car like a sullen puppy put out of the house for punishment. Lord Merton wants to speak with Isobel, hoping that their marriage plans haven’t been quashed, but Timothy reminds him that the sullen Larry has been waiting since he was asked to leave.
Isobel asks Lord Merton not to blame Larry, because the boys don’t want to see their mother replaced, but he says, “The boys take after their mother in every possible way.”
To save the night from complete disaster, Atticus tells Rose, “Let us remember for two reasons: One bad, one good.”
Rose insists, “I’m not going to give you an answer until you ask properly.”
So we will have a marriage for this season, but we will also have a death. Isis is dying and Robert and Cora end the evening in bed together. Robert says Isis has “Two people who love her and each other very much by her side.”