Okay, so the second half of last night’s episode! (For the record, this was the season finale when it first aired in England.) So I have two things to say to you. One: BE PREPARED FOR SHIT TO GET REAL. And two, be incredibly happy that you didn’t have to wait weeks for next week’s episode, which was the holiday special. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’re in for such a treat.
But first, we must survive the Spanish Flu! And other things.
Plans and preparations are underway for Matthew and Lavinia’s wedding. Matthew’s up and walking, albeit with a cane. It’s three days til the wedding, so, again, we’ve jumped forward in time by a few months.
Ooh, Mrs. Bryant has written to Mrs. Hughes! They want to see the baby again.
Sybil is arguing with her sisters. Branson’s gotten a job working for a newspaper, and she’s going to tell her father tonight that they’re going to elope.
Thomas is somehow still at Downton, and promises Carson he will make himself useful around the house. Carson just wants him out.
Oh boy! It is, I believe, after dinner, everyone’s gathered in the drawing room, and Branson enters. Sybil tries to cancel things at the last minute, as Violet’s there, but Branson perseveres. Things do not go well. Robert is furious and insulting. Violet asks Sybil what her plans are. Branson’s gotten a job in Dublin, and while Sybil will stay for Matthew’s wedding, she’ll leave soon after and live with Branson’s mother in Dublin, “while the bands are read,” (I have no idea what this means, perhaps I heard it wrong, I’m guessing it’s in reference to marriage documents?) get a job as a nurse, and then they’ll be married. Robert flips his shit. Sybil storms out, warning them that she won’t change her mind.
Mrs. Hughes tells Ethel about Mrs. Bryant’s renewed interest in little Charlie, and they plan to invite the Bryants back to Downton, where they’ll all meet.
Thomas is surprised that Carson is kicking him out of the house. Branson announces to the servants that he and Sybil are getting married. Carson puts the lid on the topic and kicks Branson out. Carson really can’t deal with the social upheaval, the man looks positively apoplectic.
And now, for another installation of Her Ladyship The Dowager Countess of Grantham Encounters New Technology. This time, she’s presented with a gramophone. She suggests people keep a wide distance from it.
Edith is putting out wedding presents, and worried she’s never going to get married.
Robert and Sybil are further having it out–Sybil is stubborn. She’s staying another week for the wedding, and that’s it, she’s gone. Anyone who wants to visit her in Dublin will be welcome.
Downstairs, Carson is not well. He insists that if he’s going to be in bed, Mr. Mosley must come and help with the dinner.
Cora looks under the weather. However, she seems far more supportive of Sybil than Robert is.
Anna is talking Mr. Mosley through serving dinner, and there are an awful lot of wines. Thomas would like to be helpful, which is weird for him. Mr. Mosley is testing the wines for dinner, nervous that he’ll get things wrong.
At dinner, Sybil drops the bomb that she was about to elope, but Mary and Edith talked her out of it. Mr. Mosley doesn’t seem at all well, but it’s Cora who’s not feeling well enough to make it through all of dinner, so she heads up to bed. Dr. Clarkson is already on his way over to check on Carson, so that’s good, at least.
Anna steals a moment with Mr. Bates, and lays down the law: They are going to get married, as soon as possible. Mr. Bates is going to ask for a few hours off and get the paperwork done. For whatever happens next, Anna wants to be able to face it together, legally as husband and wife.
In other news, Mr. Mosley is not well. Jane takes him downstairs, and Anna serves the wine. (Nobody tell Carson!) Lavinia’s out for the count too! Or she’d like to lie down, at least. Mary takes her to rest in the bed in which Mr. Pamuk died. Or, you know, her bed.
Dr. Clarkson is prescribing aspirin and cinnamon in milk. Seems legit.
And now, for something gorgeous. Matthew tries out the new gramophone, Mary comes in, and after some small talk, he and Mary dance. And everything is beautiful and nothing hurts and everyone’s so sorry and Matthew very much wants to dump Lavinia but he’s too noble and OH MY GOD ARE THEY GOING TO KISS OH YES THEY FUCKING ARE!
And then Lavinia comes downstairs. SHIT!
To break for just a second, I should point out that romances are generally not my thing. I’m not a huge Jane Austen fan, I hate most rom-coms, I don’t enjoy romance novels. BUT OH MY GOODNESS MATTHEW AND MARY ARE SO FANTASTIC AND PERFECT TOGETHER AND THERE IS SOMETHING REALLY BEAUTIFULLY TRAGIC ABOUT DOOMED LOVE.
Speaking of which, Lavinia. On the stairs. How much did she see and hear? Matthew and Mary recover quickly, and Mary explains that Lavinia is staying at Downton for the night, and rushes off to organize things. Lavinia feels like a nuisance. She doesn’t want to ever get in the way. And the beautiful music ends.
O’Brien insists on sleeping in Cora’s room, and Dr. Clarkson quickly concludes that Mosley does not have Spanish Flu, he’s just drunk. Poor Mosley. Man can’t catch a break. (But also, this is what you get for trying to court Anna the minute Mr. Bates steps away.)
And now, for squickiness! Robert and Jane. Jane’s son has gotten into the good school Robert recommended him to, and Jane asks how Robert’s doing. She offers to, um, help, and Robert invites her into his room. BOTH OF YOU KNOW BETTER, STOP THIS AT ONCE.
Carson’s still ill, but well enough to still worry about the wedding, so he must not be that sick?
Several floors above, Robert and Jane are making out like whoa. WHY ARE YOU NOT LISTENING TO ME. YOU’VE BOTH SHOWN YOURSELVES TO BE GOOD PEOPLE, STOP THIS. Which they do, once Bates knocks on the door. Robert comes to his senses, says this isn’t fair to Jane (took you damn long enough!) Jane says she still wants to be with him, and also that she likes him the way he is. (Which, to be fair, Robert could do with hearing, probably.) But that doesn’t give you license to kiss other people as your wife lays incredibly sick next door. Jane leaves.
Next morning, O’Brien’s still nursing Cora, and Mary informs Mrs. Hughes that Sir Richard is coming down “to help”–the hell is he going to help!?
Robert goes to visit Branson, and Branson is all noble and lovely and Robert offers him money, which he of course refuses. (Did you really think this would work, Robert?)
Cora’s sicker, and according to Mrs. Hughes, two unknown maids are sick as well. Thomas steps in, saying he’ll work for his rent.
Isobel makes the decision that the wedding must be delayed, though Lavinia doesn’t seriously ill.
Cora, on the other hand, is really not looking well. Sybil’s put her nursing uniform back on, and she and Robert put aside their fight to discuss Cora’s health. They’ll know more in a few hours.
Mistah Bates has booked the registrar–he and Anna are getting married this Friday!
The Bryants have showed up again, to meet Ethel. Mrs. Bryant is very sweet, and says that little Charlie looks exactly like Major Mustache did as a baby.
O’Brien nearly slips up and tells Mrs. Padmore why she’s been nursing Cora so faithfully–it’s clear she’s wracked with guilt over the kicked soap of last season. (Speaking of which, do we fully blame O’Brien for Cora’s miscarriage?)
Back to the Bryants. Evil Major Mustache Senior offers to adopt Little Charlie as his heir. Both Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Bryant push for Ethel to be involved–to work as his nurse, or even just as a maid in the house, but Mr. Bryant absolutely shuts that down. Out of the question. And now the question–is it better for Little Charlie to be raised in luxury as the heir of a presumably rich man with connections, or to be raised by his mother? It’s up to Ethel to decide.
Cora has a moment of clarity, and realizes that O’Brien is with her. O’Brien almost manages to ask for Cora’s forgiveness about the whole soap thing, but Cora’s already too out of it.
Lavinia’s doing much better than Cora, and is sitting up and coherent. She tells Matthew that she saw and heard him dancing with (and kissing) Mary the previous night, and thinks that Matthew should marry Mary. Lavinia says she doesn’t want to make Matthew marry the wrong person, but now is not the time to fight, so Matthew leaves.
Oh, Sir Richard’s here. Great. Mary realizes that Sir Richard showed up because he’s worried that, were Lavinia to succumb to illness, Matthew would seek, um, solace in Mary.
Daisy’s had another letter from Mr. Mason, who wants her to come visit him. Thomas, again, is being oddly super-helpful.
Anna confides in Mary about her impending marriage. Mary’s face in response to Anna’s, “Can you keep a secret,” is jut perfection. Mary promises to cover for Anna so she can run and get married.
Cora’s gotten even worse. Clarkson says that if she lasts through the night, she’ll live.
Carson is still bedridden, but looks like he’s got a normal flu, not the literal death-flu that Cora’s come down with. Mary and Carson make up, which is nice. Mary warns Carson about Thomas, who’s literally back in his old footman’s uniform serving at dinner.
Sybil rushes in, saying Lavinia’s taken a bad turn. Everyone rushes out, but Sir Richard grabs Mary by the arm, telling her not to intrude. (Which, screw you Sir Richard, Mary’s known Lavinia for 5+ years now, and they’ve always been at least sweet to each other. Shut up, Richard.) Mary yanks her arms away and runs off.
Lavinia looks about as bad as Cora, if not worse. Lavinia asks Matthew if this isn’t better–he won’t have to make a hard decision. In almost her dying breath, she tells him all she wants for him is to be happy, and then she’s gone. And I ought to be feeling sadder than I am, but all I can manage right now is envy at her pretty nightgown. Poor Lavinia. You were incredibly sweet and no one really liked you and now you’re dead.
Matthew’s heartbroken, wandering about like something out of a Bronte novel, but hey, Cora’s doing better! So that’s good. Matthew does NOT want to see Mary. Carson’s doing better, too! Cora’s clearly on the mend, and she and Robert have a nice moment.
Ethel shows up in the middle of the night to talk to Mrs. Hughes. She’s decided the Bryants aren’t going to take her son away.
Oh, hey, Anna and Mr. Bates’ wedding! There is laughter and kissing and general YAYYYYYYYYY.
Not another Robert and Jane scene! Oh, wait. Jane’s giving in her notice and will be leaving. Robert gives Jane some information about a connection in London that can help her son find work after he’s out of school. Someone please explain to me his motivations for that? Jane and Robert kiss goodbye.
And now, for the nicest thing I’ve ever seen Mary do for anyone, ever. She’s made up a honeymoon suite of sorts for Anna and Mr. Bates. Or, well, she had Jane do so, at least. There are candles and flowers and it’s very sweet. They’ll have their wedding night.
Mr. Carson is up and about, sort of, and thanks Thomas for keeping things running. Jane says goodbye to Mrs. Hughes, and thinks it’s for the best that she’s leaving. The way Mrs. Hughes agrees with her, I can’t help but wonder if she suspects something. (“I can’t help but wonder?” Great, I’ve become Carrie Bradshaw.)
NAKED BATES NAKED BATES! Well, naked Bates’ arm, anyway. We see these people in their uniforms so much of the time that it’s confusing to remember that they’ve got bodies under there! Also, technically, Naked Bateses. It’s all firelight and cuddling and giggles and they are clearly, as Lavinia once said, properly married. Speaking of cuddling, though, what just-married immediately post-coital couple have a conversation in bed while lying a foot and a half apart from each other? You’re allowed to actually touch each other now, go ahead and snuggle! I am betting this blocking makes for easier camera angles, but it doesn’t feel realistic.
And now it’s Lavinia’s funeral. Instead of her wedding. Since she’s already at the graveyard, Daisy goes to visit William’s grave, where she finds Mr. Mason. Daisy cries, though at what, I’m not entirely sure. Mary offers to comfort Matthew, and Matthew tells her that Lavinia saw everything when they were dancing, and she wanted to cancel the wedding so Matthew could marry Mary. Matthew believes that Lavinia died of a broken heart–she stopped fighting and gave in to the disease. Matthew says they’re cursed, they could never be happy, and that this is the end of Matthew and Mary. Of course, Mary says.
Branson showed up to the funeral! Sybil says she’ll leave in a day or two, and she wishes they could part as friends. Robert FINALLY does the right thing, and gives them his blessing, and even shakes Branson’s hand! Violet has already started making over Branson in her mind–he’s political, and a writer, and there’s an aristocratic family in Ireland called Branson, perhaps they’re connected! So all’s well on that front, at least.
Coming back from the funeral, there are two men in very dodgy-looking hats waiting for Mr. Bates in the servants hall. They arrest him for the murder of Vera Bates and lead him off in handcuffs!
Now that Lavinia’s gone, what is the official consensus on her? Sweetheart, or useless plot-thickener?
Does Thomas deserve to come back as footman?
Do we think Bates actually killed Vera?
Why did Daisy cry at William’s grave?
Next week, the Christmas special! As Kermit says at the beginning of The Great Muppet Caper, “Gee, I wish I were you people, seeing this for the first time!” Call your friends, make some popcorn, next week shall be a treat.