We made it, you guys! We made it to the end of the season!
Er, almost. We still have a Christmas Special. But we're so close to forgetting the Amnesiac Burnface Canadian even existed!
This episode begins with Matthew and It's Only Sniffles Lavinia's wedding gearing up to go forward, and no one is really happy about it except for Ninety-Eight Degrees Lavinia - although Matthew's wearing his cutest Manful Martyr Face.
Since everyone is already swallowing their various forms of unhappiness, Sybil decides it's a perfect time to invite Branson to Downton to announce their engagement. Grantham is loud and blustery, Branson is rude and confrontational, the sky is blue and the grass is green. Sybil stands her ground, however, and refuses to back down from her commitment. Her one concession: she'll stay the week in order to avoid ruining the wedding with her inter-class shenanigans, and then she's off to Dublin to wallow in her own Irish Socialist Wedded Bliss.
Sybil and Branson's announcement throws the house into turmoil and Carson is, literally, sickened by the news - which totally harshes the buzz he got after threatening to give jobless moocher Thomas the boot. Since Carson's unable to do his duties, Moseley has to sub in - but before too long, he's keeling over too.
When both Cora and Nothing Amiss Here Lavinia (and a bunch of unseen, nameless housemaids) follow suit, it seems there's a plague a-brewin', and Dr. Clarkson drops by and declares everyone has Spanish Flu - except for Moseley, who's merely drunk because while he was sub-butlering, he sampled all the table wines like a dumbass. It's not too serious, but Dr. Clarkson adds that Spanish Flu is a "strange disease" which is code for "I have no idea what the fuck I'm doing but if I sound important enough I can't be blamed if things go south." He recommends aspirin. Because he's a genius.
Grantham responds to this new stress by sucking Old English Face with handy housemaid Jane and it is gross and awful. They are cockblocked by Bates (hooray!) and Grantham belatedly realizes that, hey, making out with the help while your wife has the flu is kind of a dick move.
Apparently Matthew has the same idea (it must run in the family) when he and Mary meet up to exchange notes. Unfortunately, Still Alive Lavinia catches them smooching. And, okay, so I've not been the biggest fan of Innocent Lamb Lavinia this season, but she's not stupid, and she tells Matthew that the last thing she wants is to be "a nuisance," but Matthew, determined to out-martyr her, brushes her off.
The next day, because his Mary-Senses are suddenly tingling, Sir Richard Carlisle decides to invite himself over to Downton to "help out" now that they're severely understaffed - and, more importantly, now that the Lavinia-shaped barrier between Matthew and Mary's love appears close to vanishing. Of course, he won't actually work - that's for Thomas, who's swallowed his pride and slithered back into his footman's livery to save himself from having to swallow other things to keep a roof over his head.
Of course, Sir Richard's Mary-Senses are as accurate as always, since Still Doing Fine Lavinia's flu means the wedding will have to be postponed. Such a Bright Future Lavinia takes this opportunity to try and break off the engagement with Matthew, and as much as I've disliked her, this scene is rather sweet and heartbreaking, since she's resigned herself to Matthew leaving her because she's "a small person, an ordinary person." It's one thing to think it, but it's another thing entirely for the weak corner of a love triangle to be aware of it.
Continuing his series of Dick Moves While His Wife is Sick, Grantham heads to Branson's hotel to ineffectively attempt to bribe him back to Ireland, and returns to find his wife has taken a serious turn for the worse. Death swerves at the last minute, however, and COMPLETELY UNEXPECTEDLY strikes down Lavinia, who ruins her previous scene by being disgustingly doormat-ish about how her death will save Matthew from having to make a hard decision. For pete's sake, Lavinia, have some pride.
Then Lavinia kicks the bucket! SHOCKER! WOW! I NEVER COULD HAVE PREDICTED THAT OUTCOME.
Unfortunately for Mary, Matthew is now the Martyr King. Consumed with remorse, he's convinced Lavinia succumbed to illness because of his feelings for Mary and he rejects her on the basis that they're "cursed." Lovely.
Things proceed pretty expectedly from there. Grantham gazes soulfully at handy housemaid Jane until she quits in a fit of guilt, Thomas once again escapes being fired by the skin of his teeth (to the frustration of all his coworkers!), and Anna and Bates manage to get married and have some sexytimes in one of the fancy bedrooms before he's dragged off to prison for allegedly murdering his Crazy Wife Vera.
At least we still have a Christmas Special to look forward to!
Some Other Things That Happened:
- Ethel's grandbabydaddy tries to buy her baby off her, but she refuses.
- Daisy keeps getting invitations to visit William's father, which make her uncomfortable
- O'Brien's dedicated and repentant care for Cora in her sickbed - she comes this close to confessing to her season one soap crime.
- Anna ordering Bates to get off his Angsty Ass and marry her posthaste
- Mary and Matthew's long awaited kiss. About damn time!
- Thomas grovelling. Always a plus.
- Ethel. Ugh.
- Lavinia's deathbed martyr crap.
- Grantham + Housemaid Jane = GROSS AND AWFUL
Final Remarks: I liked this episode, but nothing was really a shock or surprise. We all knew Lavinia had it coming, Thomas is too Pretty and Deliciously Evil to get rid of entirely, and Bates and Anna were clearly too happy with their situation for it to last. I also found it rather annoying how easily Matthew keeps coming up with excuses not be happy - he's so cute when he's happy and so annoying when he's being Mopey Martyr Matthew.
Rating: Seven Jealous Fiances out of Ten