Warning: Spoilers ahead
Last night Downton Abbey did not end with a cheery song and the return of an unscathed missing man. Instead viewers were hit with one piece of depressing news after another. This was the darkest episode yet (except for a few light spots with the Dowager Countess, such as when she calls the telephone an instrument of torture. Oh Granny).
Two of my Downton Predictions proved accurate in this episode. During the battle of Amiens (which was the beginning of the end of the war and was a major success for the Allied forces), Matthew and William are wounded by a nearby shell explosion. William sustains a serious lung injury that will slowly kill him, while Matthew’s injury leads the doctor to suggest that he will never walk again, and will never have a “proper marriage.” Now the future of the entail is called into question again, as well as Matthew’s engagement to Lavinia. He tells her to leave, refusing to tie her down to a cripple who won’t be able to give her any children.
Lavinia pours her heart out to Lady Mary, then promptly departs for London, leaving Mary to care for Matthew. Given Lavinia’s meek and mild nature, someone with Mary’s strong resolve is probably what Matthew needs (and of course I’m rooting for them to reunite). Mary devotes herself to Matthew’s care, and seems to finally have found her place among all the change occurring around her from the war.
But Mary has other problems to tend to. Vera Bates returns (thanks to O’Brien) and has every intention of revealing Mary’s secret, and plans to bring Anna down along with the Crawley name. Anna tells Mary, who goes to see Sir Richard about the matter. You know you’ve made a mistake in your choice of fiancee when he says he’s happy to help, but it also pleases him to know that he’ll have something on you and you’ll be in his debt. As we can see from next week’s preview, it looks like Sir Richard plans to play the “Pamuk card” to get what he wants.
Mrs. Bates is paid off by Sir Richard, who then promptly announces his engagement to Mary (again, not a good sign, given that Mary had no knowledge that he would do so). This news infuriates Vera, and she swears that she will get Bates back another way. This woman is on an entirely different level than O’Brien and Thomas in her one-dimensional vendetta against Bates and Anna. O’Brien and Thomas can be nasty, but who knows to what lengths Vera will go to get back at Bates.
Meanwhile William is dying at Downton (after a few strings are pulled by Lady Violet to get him there) in the largest bedroom he’s ever slept in. Daisy is basically peer-pressured into marrying William in order to receive a widow’s pension. You can’t help but feel badly for her, and I know the guilt is going to eat away at her as that pension starts coming in. The marriage, quickly followed by the death of William, left us reaching for the tissues (if Lady Violet is allowed to shed a tear, so are we!).
There were a few odds and ends tucked in throughout the episode. Lady Edith quietly nurses William, keeping him comfortable during the final days of his life. A few short scenes between Lady Sybil and Branson show that he seems to be chipping away at the barrier she’s put between them (really, this relationship grows creepier each week, like Sybil is some sort of trophy that Branson’s trying to win).
Lord Grantham is being ignored by Lady Grantham, who is busy running the convalescent home, and like some sort of spoiled child he pouts with his newspaper, and then takes an all-too keen interest in the new maid (did anyone else notice that lingering look he gave after she left the room?). Mrs. Hughes has been looking out for Ethel and her illegitimate child, who the father wants nothing to do with (is it just me or does this thread fall somewhat flat–I didn’t have enough time with Ethel to become emotionally invested in her). And Isobel Crawley returns at last, and the look Matthew gives her before breaking down when he sees her was enough to make me bring out the tissues again.
So what next? Nothing was resolved in this episode, and it looks like several story arcs are getting ready to hit their critical peaks.
What did you think of this week’s episode?