Downton Abbey, Episode Seven Recap
“My dear, all life is a series of problems which we must try and solve. First one, then the next, and the next, until at last, we die.” — Violet
Edith, Mary, and Branson are checking on the pigs, freshly recovered from their evening of being rescued by Mary and Blake. They are accompanied by Mr. Drewe (the tenant farmer from a few episodes ago who borrowed money from Robert to keep his family farm). Mary and Branson ask if he will help tend to them. He is thankful for the job, and says it’s the second good turn the family has given him. He hopes he can pay it back one day.
Violet is also on the mend, but tired of being in the house. Isobel visits, and they talk about Robert’s visit to America to bail out Cora’s brother, who is involved in shady dealings that have to do with private companies buying their way into drilling for oil on government land. (This is the historically true Teapot Dome Scandal). Violet says she met him once, at the wedding. “And once was quite enough.”
Rose is on the phone making plans with “no one — just a friend” as she quickly tells Cora. Cora say she’s going to need Rose’s help with the annual church bazaar since Robert is gone. (Apparently, those villagers can get quite rowdy!)
Downstairs, Molesley has a chat with Baxter. She implies she’s had some rough time in life, but she rose above it. Molesley says she’s got him curious, and she says she’s curious about something. Does he know of Mr. and Mrs. Bates have had a falling out? But she’s barking up the wrong tree here: Molesley is clueless.
Mrs. Patmore hands a letter to Ivy. She gasps and runs from the room. It turns out Alfred is coming to Yorkshire for his father’s funeral. Oh, and he asks Ivy to marry him! He wants her to leave downtown and join him in London, where there’s a job for her. (Hmm. If the first guy who proposed to me sweetened the deal by finding me a job in London, I might have gone for it…) Ivy says she doesn’t’ want to marry Alfred. “Even if I did, I don’t want to tie myself down yet. How do I know what life has in store?” “You’re a very optimistic generation, I’ll say that,” says Mrs. Patmore.
Upstairs, Isobel encourages Branson to get more involved in politics.
Mary is having tea with Mr. Blake. They acknowledge that the pig incident softened their opinions towards one another. The nanny brings in the kids. Blake holds Mary’s son, and Violet gives him the stink eye over it.
Anna is tending to Mary, and she tells her the Lord Gillingham is coming tomorrow to break up his journey home. Anna can’t take this any more: she breaks and tells Mary about Mr. Green. Mary is stunned. She says she must tell Lord Gillingham, but Anna says she must not — Bates doesn’t know it was him. But the more he is there, the more likely he is to figure it out. Mary says she will telephone Gillingham and tell him not to come or not to bring Green.
Anna finds Bates to see if he is done for the day and ready to walk back to their cottage. He asks her what she was talking to Mrs. Hughes about, and she tells him that Lord Gillingham is returning. They discuss Mary’s love life: that Gillingham likes her and she likes him but it’s complicated. “And then there’s Mr. Blake.” Blake says he thought she didn’t like him, and Anna says she didn’t at first.
Bates: “And Mr. Green. He’ll be coming back.”
Anna doesn’t respond. “Have you gone off him?” he says. “Why do you say that?” “You liked him so much when he first came. You though he was funny.” “Did I? I can’t remember.” She walks off and Bates looks after her with a set jaw.
At breakfast, the pigs are a topic of conversation. Edith says she thinks its noble that Mr. Drewe seems to want to make farming at Downton his life’s work. This is interrupted with Rosamunde calls on the phone. She’s coming for a visit, ostensibly to see how granny is. But it seems she wants to be with Edith when she tells Cora what’s going on. And they want to do it before Robert gets back.
Branson drives Isobel to Thirsk, and catches Rose and Jack Ross in a cafe together. On the drive home, he preoccupied and not sure what to do with what he’s seen.
Molesley’s trying to hand out with Baxter, but she’s wary. He says they don’t like Barrow, but they are all willing to make up their own minds about her.
Back at Isobel’s, Branson runs into Sarah Bunting, the woman he met at the rally. Sarah says Branson hadn’t seemed too enthusiastic, and now she knows why: “I know then that you’re the land agent and son-in-law of our local m’Lord.” Isobel defends Branson, and says he’s a keen political thinker. Sarah has to leave for work — at the local school. Branson is clearly interested. Isobel notes, “Well, she knows her own mind.”
Mary breaks the news to Anna that she couldn’t get in touch with Gillingham to prevent the visit. Branson knocks on the door. He is dressed for dinner.
Mary: “No tails? You know granny is coming.”
Branson: “Oh God, is she? I didn’t realize.”
He leaves to change, and Mary tells him not to bother. “It’s time she learns about the real world.”
Branson says, “Well, that’s a phrase with more than one definition.” Anna leaves, and then tells Mary about seeing Rose and Jack Ross together.
Anna is crying in the hallway. Mrs. Hughes finds her. “Don’t give me away Mrs. Hughes. I can get through it.”
Rosamunde finds Edith in the library, where Edith proceeds to confide her plan: She wants to have the baby, and give it to Mr. Drewe to raise. That way, she could still see the baby. Rosamunde does not like this one bit. (I can’t say I would imagine Mr. Drewe would like it, either. Looking after the pigs to raising Edith’s bastard child seems like quite a leap.) Rosamunde has a better idea: Go to a different country for the duration of the pregnancy, and give up the child to a couple. “But I wouldn’t be part of its growing up,” Edith says. “You wouldn’t be part of its life,” Rosamunde corrects. Cora bursts into the room, talking about the bazaar. Rosamunde offers to help, and says that while she’s there, they can discuss a plan: She has always wanted to get more fluent in French, and has decided to take a few months off and go to Switzerland and really learn it. And she wants Edith to join her. Cora thinks it’s a great idea! She leaves the room. “So we won’t have to tell her?” Edith asks. “I don’t think we need to,” decides Rosamunde.
At the dinner table, Blake and Gillingham spar over Mary. Rosamunde announces her impending trip to Switzerland with Edith. Mary asks if this is really about learning French, or any attempt to locate her man. Violet looks at her with great suspicion.
Downstairs, the vile Mr. Green is at the servants’ table. He is looking forward to getting back to London. Bates casually asks, “Where do you live when you’re there.” He tells him, bragging in his loud way. (You’re a dead man, Green.)
Cora walks with Mary and says Rose wants to go to London again, but she’s going too often, don’t you think? Yes, Mary definitely agrees. “The trouble is,” says Cora, “Parenting an adult when it’s someone else’s daughter is really a matter of mutual agreement.” (Don’t worry, Cora. Mary’s got this one.)
Mary brings Rose into her bedroom. Rose said she’s had a tiring day.
Mary: “Well, I’ve heard you had an interesting day. Whether or not it was tiring, you would know better than I.” Heard that!
Rose has a sharp intake of breath. “Who told you?” Mary says that all she wants is for her to not lose control of her life.
Rose: “I love him. And I won’t listen to any Imperialist nonsense about racial purity.”
Mary: “Don’t you know me better than that?”
Rose says she’s going to marry him, and that she wants to see her mother’s face “crumble” when she finds out.
Gillingham is giving Blake and Mr. Napier a ride home. Blake and Mary share a warm goodbye. Then she is left to say her farewell to Gillingham. He asks her, “Will you let me see you when you’re next down south?”
Mary: “What would be the point, Tony? I’m never going to be your mistress.”
He tells her he’s made up his mind to call off the engagement. She reminds him that she’s not free. “Sometimes I almost wish I were. But I’m not.”
As the car pulls away, the other women tease Mary about all of her suitors.
Ivy tells Mrs. Patmore that she sent her letter to Alfred. Ivy tells Daisy he asked her to marry him. “But she’s turned him down,” chimes in Mrs. Patmore, hoping to keep the peace.
Violet has asked Rosamunde and Edith to tea. At first, they gossip and Mary and Lord Gillingham. Violet says it’s very interesting, but that’s not why she invited them. She wants to know what Rosamunde is up to. “First you call and tell me that Edith is to be cherished, but you don’t say why. Next, you invite yourself to Downton and reveal at dinner that you and Edith are retreating to the continent for several months so you can improve your French.”
Edith say, “Yes.”
Violet: “Rosamunde has no interest in French. If she wishes to be understood by a foreigner, she shouts.”
She says, isn’t it time one of you told me the truth?
Edith: “If I told you the truth Granny, you’d never speak to me again.”
Violet: “Then you have told me the truth. But I would like to hear it enunciated more clearly.”
The servants are getting ready for the bazaar. Mrs. Patmore is upset that Alfred is going to be visiting. They think the best thing would be to give Daisy the day off.
Rose tells Mary she’s engaged.
Violet enlists Isobel to join her for lunch with Lord Merton, Mary’s godfather. “I’m a feeble substitute for the entire Crawley family.” “Yes,” says Violet. “But you’re better than nothing,”
Anna tells Bates she has to go to London tomorrow with Mary. She apologizes, but he says don’t be silly. He then goes to Carson and requests time off to go to York.
The bazaar is almost up and running. Mrs. Patmore tells Ivy she can stay away and avoid Alfred’s visit is she’d like.
Tom runs out to do an errand, and driving along he sees Sarah, with her car stalled. He helps her out, and admits that he used to be the family chauffer. She asks if he was still the chauffer when he married. She says, “I know she died. I’m so sorry. She must have been a very unusual and independent person.” “You can say that again.” Sarah says it’s nice that they asked him to stay. Still, she says as a rule she doesn’t really warm to that type. Branson says he doesn’t believe in types. He believes in people.
Isobel, Violet, and Edith are talking with Lord Merton. He offers to take Isobel home — his car is outside. She says she can walk but he insists. Edith says she should be going, too, but Violet tells her to stay — she wants to talk to her.
Outside, walking in the lush and beautiful gardens, Violet says she must agree with Rosamunde. While she doesn’t know this Mr. Drewe, the situation would be “a permanent sword of Damocles inches from your head.” Edith can’t imagine giving it up. “And is it right that it should grow up Swiss?” Violet: Switzerland has everything to offer. Except, perhaps, conversation. (Why didn’t I have an aristocratic, snarky British granny to guide me through my twenties?)
Violet offers to pay for everything. (Again, where was this woman when I needed her?)
Isobel and Mr. Merton stroll outside, they discuss their sons. Merton has forgotten that her son died — he’d forgotten the connection to the family. Isobel says Mathew and Mary had been happy, which makes the parting more difficult, but gives you strength in the end “as you know.” Merton say you, maybe — but not me. His marriage had not been a happy one. “I envy you your wonderful memories. But I can’t pretend to match them.”
Mary goes to pay a visit to Jack Ross at his rehearsal studio. He doesn’t seem entirely surprised to see her. Rose warned him. He offers her some tea. He says he supposed Rose’s father would be shocked to find her engaged to a black musician — and that Mary’s father would agree.
Mary: “To be fair to Papa, he would find your being a band singer even harder to swallow than your color.”
Jack Ross laughs.
Mary asks him if he’s sure of this. Marriage is a challenge even when you have everyone’s support. Mary says, “Tell me, do you think she loves you?” He asks don’t you believe in us. “I believe in you,” Mary says,” I’m not so sure about her. She may love you a bit, but mostly I think she wants to shock her mother.” Jack Ross says that’s what his mother said. He tells her he’s not going to go through with the marriage. He doesn’t want to “spoil her life.” He says he loves her and he wants her to be happy. “I wouldn’t have given in if we lived in even a slightly better world.”
Mary: “It might surprise you, Mr. Ross, but if we lived in a better world, I wouldn’t want you to.”
(Frankly, they are both better off without each other because they had zero chemistry, and I hope Rose goes back to live with her mother.)
Back at the house, Mary tells Anna she’s decided to talk to Lord Gillingham about firing Mr. Green. She won’t say why. Mr. Green simply won’t be back at Downton again. It makes Anna very nervous. “Is Bates going to challenge Lord Gillingham about why he had a different valet?” Anna says probably not.
Cut to Bates walking away from the house.
Molesley tells Baxter the whole village gets behind the church bazaar, and invites her to join with his friends. She says she’s lucky to have grown up in place like this.
Outside, Sarah is setting up her table when she sees Branson carrying things around. She says they’ve turned him into a beast of burden. Cora comes by, also carrying flowers. He introduces Sarah to Cora, and when Cora leave she says, “So that’s the great Countess of Grantham.” “It is,” Branson says. “Another beast of burden.” She is a mirror image of who he was when he worked as the chauffeur — cynical, completely socialist, and disapproving. It shows how much he has changed, and makes for an interesting new person in his life.
Mary is having lunch with Lord Gillingham in a beautiful atrium for lunch. (Seriously, they need to have a wedding in this place.) She tells Gillingham that she can’t tell him why he has to fire Mr. Green, except that he’s done something he would find “abhorrent.” “You win,” he says. “It does seem mean even if I didn’t like him very much.” But he believes her, “I love you, and I believe you.” Lord Gillingham tells her that he won’t give up — not until she walks down the aisle with another man. “And perhaps not even then.” Mary replies, “I find that both irritating and beguiling in equal measure.”
Isobel shows up at Violet’s. “You sent for me?” She shows her a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Lord Merton. “She sent some for me two,” But hers is clearly a smaller arrangement. Violet comically looks back and forth between the two arrangements, as if she can’t quite believe the disparity.
Bates is back. Carson asked if he had a productive day in York. “What were you up to?” Anna asks. “This and that,” says Bates.
The bazaar is in full swing. Mary sits down with Rose. Rose says she’s disappointed in Mary, and says she’s just like her mother. Mary says no, she is not.
Robert arrives. “His Lordship’s back!” Everyone is excited. Uncle Harold got a reprimand, but nothing more. Barrow tells the staff New York was interesting and very modern. How were things here? “Not very interesting, and not very modern,” replies Jimmy.
Alfred shows up. Ivy says she’s sorry if she hurt his feelings. He says it’s not your fault. Let’s be friends. He asks for Daisy, but find out she’s not there.
Edith tells Violet she feels God does not want her to be happy.
Violet: “My dear, all life is a series of problems which we must try and solve. First one, then the next, and the next, until at last, we die.”
And then, to everyone’s surprise, Lord Gillingham arrives! He has some shocking news for Mary: Mr. Green is dead. He was in Piccadilly, and slipped and fell into the road. He thought, given their conversation yesterday, he should bring her the news himself. “Can you explain to me now why you wanted him sacked?” “No.”
Mary immediately goes to tell Anna the news. She explains that he was hit by a bus or a lorry. “Did anyone see this?” Mary says yes, it was crowded. Lots of people saw it. “That’s a relief,” she says. She looks across the lawn at Bates.
Another arrival: Mr. Blake! The church bazaar is turning into a sausage fest. Mary says to him, “If you thought a man was involved in a crime or an incident but didn’t think he was wrong, what would you do?” He says he suspects he would say nothing.
Thomas wastes no time grilling Baxter about anything that’s happened since he’s been gone. She says no, and he leans in to pressure her but Molesley tells him to back off and escorts her away.
Inside the house, Daisy arrives home just in time to catch Alfred. She offers him a basket from her visit to her friend’s farm. He says “You know Ivy turned me down.” He wonders now if he hasn’t been a fool. Daisy has been so good to him all along. She says that’s kind of him, and good to hear. She loved him, she did. But that’s behind her now. It’s time for him to go his way, and hers to go her own. They part as friends. Mrs. Patmore follows Daisy outside. “If you were my own daughter, I couldn’t be prouder than I am now.”
The bazaar is being broken down. Blake and Mary are strolling along as tables are dismantled.
Blake: “You do know why I came today.”
Mary: “To see the Bazaar?”
Blake: “To see you. I find, to my surprise, that since I left, I can’t think of anything but you.”
Mary: “To your surprise and my surprise.”
Blake: “I’m only asking for a chance.”
Mary: “I’m flattered Charles. And even moved. But rather than add to the list of men I’ve disappointed, it might be kinder to refuse you now, and let you of the hook.”
Blake: “I’m afraid I couldn’t allow that. Not without putting up a fight.”
Speaking of fights, inside the house, Anna says to Bates, “I wish I knew what you were up to yesterday. Why did you go?” He says he wanted to get away. “You’d never do anything foolish, would you?” He says of course not. When he does something, he has a very good reason for doing it. And he walks away.
Back on the lawn, Mary walks out both Lord Gillingham and Mr. Blake. Robert watches, and wonders what’s been going on since he’s been away.
As this season winds down (just one episode left) it’s clearly a two-man race for Mary. Are you Team Gillingham, or Team Blake?