Okay, so this is going to be a slightly less detailed recap of Downton because I saw this episode a fairly long time ago and wasn't able to finish my recap before BEA and various other bloggy posts got in the way.
So the war is officially over, and everyone at Downton is Inexplicably Bummed about it because they are horrible people. This is especially true of the Menfolk.
Case 1: Branson. Branson being an asshole is par for the course this season, but he out-dicks himself in this episode thanks to Sybil's personal epiphany. The war filled Sybil (and Cora and Edith) with the Righteous Fire of Getting Shit Done, but the rest of her family seems content to return to the old days of Paying Sassy Gay Footmen To Get Shit Done For Them.
So Sybil pulls a Princess Jasmine and agrees to run off with Branson. Mary, Edith, and Anna rush off in hot pursuit, and thanks to Edith's Fast and Furious-style driving skills, they catch up to the eloping pair before any permanent damage is done. Branson spouts off a bunch of hot garbage about how if Sybil really wuvs him she ought to burn all bridges with the family that's Loved, Raised, and Supported her for her entire life to be with his Broke Irish Socialist Ass.
Thankfully, Mary convinces Sybil to come back and try to hash it out with the fams, but not before she also gives Branson a highly satisfying slice of Privileged Condescension Pie.
Case 2: Grantham. Remember how the Earl of Grantham wept so many Privileged Manbaby Tears that he couldn't go out to play at war with all the other boys? Now that the war is over, he's switched to weeping Privileged Manbaby Tears that the womenfolk are now too independent to pay attention to him.
Because Cora commits the Heinous Crime of forcing Grantham to Eat Lunch By Himself, he goes out and snogs Jane, the new maid whose son needs a ticket to a fancy grammar school. And it's about as gross as you'd expect, especially since the narrative very obviously blames Cora's "neglect" of Grantham for his attempts to suck face with the help.
Case 3: Sir Richard Carlisle. Now, I've rather enjoyed Carlisle up to this point because even though he's clearly The Villain of this season, he's just been so charmingly open about it. He missteps this episode and bungles an attempt to hire Anna to spy on Mary's comings and goings. Honestly, Carlisle winds up on this list because he was So Obvious about his Devious Plans in this episode when he's been pretty open and low-key about being a ruthless businessman up until now. Naturally, Anna rats to Carson, and Carson turns down Carlisle's job offer, even though it means abandoning Mary.
Honourable Mention: Matthew. Matthew earns an Honourable Mention because even as his actions and choices Ruin Things Even More for the majority of the characters involved, at least his intentions are in the right place.
Last episode, Matthew felt a tingle in his manparts when Not a Plot Device Lavinia returned to prove her non-doomed love. This tingle manifests when Lavinia spills a tea tray and Matthew miraculously leaps to his feet to save her gown. Nothing inspires the manly heart like the threat of stained silk!
Everyone is, of course, thrilled - except for the incompetent Dr. Clarkson who has to cover his ass by admitting he'd kept the other doctors' differing diagnoses to himself because he's a moron.
Matthew celebrates by renewing his engagement to Lucky Lavinia, even though his heart isn't in it. As he admits to Bad-Ass Mutha Violet, since Picture of Health Lavinia was willing to give up her life and marry him as a cripple, he's afraid he'll look like an asshole if he dumps her right after regaining his health. So Matthew gets points for Honour, but as Bad-Ass Mutha Violet rightfully points out, honour is not be enough of a reason to devote fifty years to a person.
Other Subplots I Missed:
- Bates reveals that the authorities discovered his wife poisoned herself with the arsenic that he bought, right after she wrote a letter to her BFF saying she was in fear for her life. This does not look good.
- Ethel's attempt to introduce her illegitimate baby to her dead babydaddy's parents backfires horribly.
- ..as does Thomas' foray into the black market business when he trades all of his life savings for tainted merchandise.
Things I Liked:
- O'Brien being surprisingly sweet and sympathetic with Thomas once his plan blows up in his face.
- Despite how silly it is, I admired Matthew's attempt to renew his feelings for Hypotenuse Lavinia.
- Anna and Carson having None of Carlisle's Spying Bullshit
Things I Didn't:
- Grantham being a Cheating, Entitled, Spoiled Asshole
- Branson being a Rude, Selfish, Oblivious Asshole
- Matthew's miraculous recovery - I know I should be happy for him, but it's such a ridiculously soap-opera-ish development.
Final Remarks: This episode merely continues the crazy that the previous episode started, with lots of overblown drama and obvious bungling and every male character going out of his way to act like a dick. I suppose it's better because there's no Assface MacKenzie, but we still had to watch Gratham try and get his 19th-Century Heirloom Mack On. Gross.
Rating: Five cans of fake flour out of ten.