Welcome back to Downton Abbey. Or, technically, welcome to Amiens, in 1918. Which, 1918?! When did we get here, exactly?! Time passes so quickly on this show, it’s a bit of a problem ““ you lose sight of the fact that, say, Daisy’s been a scullery maid for six years now, and Matthew and Lavinia have been engaged for, what, 4 years? When did all of these things happen? No one’s aged a day, of course.
William and Matthew are preparing to go do something stupid and heroic. Matthew’s leading a charge out of the trench, where the men will be open targets for the Germans.
Back at Downton, Daisy gets an odd feeling, as if someone walked over her grave. Mary feels terribly cold, and drops her teacup. Matthew and William, at that exact moment, get hit by a huge explosion–William shields Matthew’s body with his own, and neither of them look good–or even alive.
At Downton, Mr. Mosley shows up with a telegram. Matthew’s not dead, but he’s been badly injured, and they’re bringing him to the hospital near Downton, because life is convenient like that. Lord Grantham informs the staff that Matthew’s seriously wounded, and we’ve got no news of William. Mary begs her father to not hold back information ““ tell her whatever he finds out.
Anna tells Mr. Bates that William was indeed injured badly, and is at a hospital in Leeds. They make plans to go to church later.
Violet goes to Dr. Clarkson and basically orders him to accept William into the hospital, but Dr. Clarkson strongly resists.
In the servant’s hall, O’Brien regrets writing a letter to Bates’ wife, telling her that Bates is back, because what with William and Matthew being injured, there’s enough trouble in the house. Everyone laments that William’s staying so far away, and, surprisingly, Thomas joins in, saying it isn’t right. (One “have a heart” point for Thomas, please! And a half-point for O’Brien.)
Mary has decided that she’s going to go and hold vigil by Matthew’s hospital bed, and then has kind things to say about Lavinia.
Bates and Anna go to church, to pray for the wounded, and discuss the barriers to their marriage. Apparently, there are two types of decrees you need, and they’ve got the more important one, the second’s just a formality–it seems Mrs. Bates is pretty much gone for good. Bates and Anna pray together, holding hands, and it’s sweet and lovely AND THEY ARE THE BEST NO MATTER WHAT ANYONE ELSE SAYS. Ahem.
Daisy is guilty and ashamed that she’s lead William on.
AND MRS. BATES IS BACK. BOOOOOOO.
Violet is using the telephone for the first time, and is trying to get William transferred to the hospital.
Mrs. Bates is going back on her promise to keep the story of Mr. Pamuk to herself, despite the fact she was paid off, and is now planning on going to the papers with the story. She’s determined to not see Bates happy.
At the hospital in Leeds, William has sustained too much damage to survive, basically. There’s nothing more they can do. Violet’s pulled enough strings that William’s coming home to Downton, so that’s hopefully something.
At Downton’s hospital, Matthew and co. are about to arrive, and Sybil, good sister that she is, has gone down to support Mary as Matthew’s brought in.
Matthew looks bad. He’s breathing, but unconscious, full of morphine, and the makeup department has gone to town on his poor face. He’s got a tag that says “probable spinal damage,” so that’s a huge problem. Sybil moves Matthew’s folded-up clothes, and Mary’s good luck charm falls out–Matthew’s kept it with him. Mary and Sybil prepare to wash him, and Sybil warns Mary that this part can be rough, but Mary soldiers on. I love this scene because of the interaction between Mary and Sybil. What with Edith and Mary seeking to screw each other over so much of the time, it’s very touching to see sisters acting like, well, sisters.
Meanwhile, William is being brought into Downton.
O’Brien is now greatly regretting bringing Mrs. Bates back into things, and wants to fix the situation she started. Anna updates Mary on the situation, and Mary decides that she’s going to tell Sir Richard the Mr. Pamuk story herself, in the hopes that he can keep it locked down.
Poor William. Edith’s administering to him, and he’s got a bedroom to himself, separate from the other men. He doesn’t look as injured as everyone says he is, but also, he’s breathing like Darth Vader, so that can’t be good.
Lord Grantham and Lavinia come to visit Matthew, who has horrific bruises on his back. Matthew’s conscious, but Doctor Clarkson thinks his spinal cord is permanently damaged. Matthew won’t walk again, but this isn’t the end of his life. Dr. Clarkson takes Lord Grantham aside, and explains that, what with it being a spinal injury and all, Matthew will never be able to have children, “or anything.” Mary comforts Lavinia, who goes in to see Matthew.
Mrs. Hughes is taking the bus somewhere, and it turns out she’s gone to visit Ethel, who is not doing well. The baby’s father is refusing to see him, and Mrs. Hughes, in addition to bringing Ethel food, tells her that Major Mustache is coming to Downton, but she won’t let Ethel come to Downton, or even give him a letter.
Mrs. Padmore literally drags poor Daisy in to see William. William’s awake and clearly thrilled to see Daisy. William again asks Daisy to marry him, and both Edith and Daisy say that William ought to get better first. Daisy then flees the room.
Mrs. Hughes interviews a new maid, who has a son living with her mother in the village.
Matthew tells Mary that William tried to save him, and Mary informs him that William’s not doing too well. Matthew’s confused as to why he can’t feel or move his legs, and demands to know why. Mary tells him that his spine may be damaged, and won’t tell him how long it may take for him to get better. Matthew thanks him for telling her, while crying. Mary walks away and tears up herself.
Oooh, Major Mustache! Mrs. Hughes tries to give him a letter from Ethel, which he refuses to take.
And now we’re in Sir Richard’s newspaper office, where Mary has just told him the story of Mr. Pamuk. Sir Richard is, well, being a dick, and clearly enjoying giving Mary a hard time because she was sexually assaulted by a foreigner. Mary offers to break off the engagement, Sir Richard says no, and then gets creepy: “when you are my wife, you are entitled to be in my debt.” I don’t like the sound of that.
Carson is broaching the subject of hiring a war widow with a child as a maid. Robert is agreeable.
Mrs. Padmore is now bullying Daisy into marrying William.
Matthew and Lavinia are discussing Matthew’s inability to walk and have children. Or, “be properly married” as it were. It takes Lavinia a minute, but she understands. Matthew tries to release Lavinia from the engagement, not wanting her to have to spend her life without sex. Lavinia refuses to leave, but Matthew tells her to go home, and think of him as if he’s dead.
Sybil goes to chat with Branson, who has just found out that Czar Nicolas and his family were assassinated. (PS, was anyone else hopelessly obsessed with the Romanov girls when they were little? Just me? Okay.) Branson’s devastated, but also thinks the future needs hard sacrifices. Sybil goes to leave, and he puts his hand on her hip (which, WHOA BOY STEP OFF!) and for a second, it’s as if they’re about to kiss, but instead, Sybil storms off.
Back in Sir Richard’s office, Mrs. Bates is selling her story to Sir Richard. Sir Richard explains, quite clearly, that she’ll wind up in court if, after signing a contract with Sir Richard, she sells her story to anyone else.
William’s asking for Daisy, and Daisy feels hopelessly guilty. Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Padmore bully the poor girl into going up to his room. William now knows he’s dying, and is even more convinced that Daisy has to marry him, this time, for his pension and rights as a war widow. Daisy says she can’t, it would be like cheating. William, thinking Daisy is just as in love with him as he is with her, doesn’t see the problem with it. Outside William’s bedroom, William’s father, Mr. Mason, proceeds to pressure Daisy into marrying William.
And then there’s Lavinia, sobbing hopelessly. Mary goes in to comfort her, and Lavinia drops the bomb that Matthew won’t be able to have children. Mary needs to sit down.
Next day, Mary’s engagement is in the newspapers! Mary didn’t know this was coming.
Violet has bullied the village vicar into performing the wedding of William and Daisy. It’s always wonderful to watch Violet throw the weight of the Granthams around.
Mrs. Hughes is back with Ethel, who can’t find much work.
Mrs. Bates has stormed into Sir Richard’s office, saying she was tricked. Sir Richard threatens her, and Mrs. Bates agrees that while she’ll give up on Lady Mary, John Bates is still in for it. Great.
Jane, at her first day of work, barges into the library, where Robert is futzing around. Robert and Jane chat.
Daisy is all ready for her wedding, and is freaking out. She takes Carson’s arm to head up to William’s room, but looks like she’s on the way to her own funeral.
They’ve covered William’s room with flowers, and everybody’s tearing up. Saddest. Wedding. Ever.
Mary is not at the wedding, because she is talking to Matthew about his newfound inability to bear children. Ahhhh Cousin Isobel has arrived! The poor woman. Mary runs into Bates on her way back from the hospital, and informs Bates that Mrs. Bates has been silenced for good, but also of the threats Mrs. Bates made against him.
Annnd William’s died. Poor William. Poor Daisy, too, who apparently spent the entirety of her marriage sitting at her husband’s deathbed.