Welcome back to Downton Abbey! Where it's Christmas, because this show takes place in the past. You guys, we made it through the wilderness, and it wasn't easy. The show is just getting more and more absurd, and they're bringing on Shirley MacLaine on as Lady Grantham's American momma, so that trend is definitely not going to stop. You're probably better off with these awesome Downton trading cards than this abysmal episode. And no, the last five minutes did NOT save it, no matter how much of a romantic you are. Anyone willing to suffer along with us, let's get 'er done.
Lord Grantham almost gives us a peek of his chest while doing a strip tease for Carson. BARF. Makes a rude (racist?) remark about Sybil and Branson's baby-to-be. Flubs his defense of Bates because he cannot say "I don't recall." Wasn't there such a thing as witness prep in 1920? Has a come-to-Jesus talk with Lady Mary re: the Turkish Gentleman, in which he acts like a good man instead of the self-righteous, pouty dick he's been all season. Didn't we like him last season? One feature-film-length episode of him not being a jerk can't redeem the eight previous hours.
Lady Grantham is forced to tell her husband the truth about Mary and the Turkish Gentleman. Her face looks the same expressing joy, horror, dismay, sorrow, rage, suspicion -- how is someone with such a mobile face so bad at making expressions?
Lady Mary continues to hate Carlisle so much that she'd rather ship herself off to America, Lady Marry the Marlboro Man, and live in a teepee than suffer his creepy ass one day more. Gives Anna an Asprey ring for Christmas, because you know Bates hasn't given that poor idiot anything but a reason to cry. She comes clean to Cousin Matthew and Lord Grantham about the Turkish Gentleman, neither of whom reject her out of hand, so either it wasn't so scandalous or these two dudes are the most upstanding men in England. Matthew gets his shit together in the end and proposes to her, which Mary accepts -- after insisting he kneel down in the snow, because she is a boss bitch.
Lady Edith, having lost all her wounded-soldier admirers (they were only into her for her reading voice/ability to deliver mail only slightly damaged), is all, "Sir Anthony Strallan, I don't care if you're super old and have a hook for a hand, I still love you." Edith! Why not move to London or New York City and live it up, Bertie Wooster-style? Do it, Rockapella!
Lady Sybil is knocked up in Ireland. We learn that only Mary and Edith went to her Dublin wedding, the rest of the family having taken ill with a case of the snobs.
The Dowager Countess reveals that she was quite the little slut back in the day -- as if we could love her any more! Especially after she admits to having spies! Oh, to be wealthy and witty and powerful and acid-tongued. She advises Daisy that marrying William on his deathbed despite not being in love with him was a kind thing to do, and if we've mentioned this storyline 80 million times it's only because Daisy and the show won't shut the fuck up about it. The DC saves every scene she's in, but tragically can't rescue the entire episode.
Cousin Matthew appears to have developed a facial tick that involves constant squinting. Also, he's terrible at hunting; we choose to believe that's because, maybe even subconsciously, Matthew knows that hunting is the worst. Just like him! He is absolutely milquetoast! His only faults are that he's blindly noble and just a skosh too proud? He and Lavinia would've been perfect for each other -- keeping the nice and boring people together and out of our hair. Literally wrestles Sir Richard over Lady Mary's honor. Shudders at the thought of having to dance with O'Brien at the Servants Ball, all taking a big drink and saying, "Crikey!" Fuck off, Matthew, you're no prize pig! Your relatives' money is the best thing about you. Proposes to Mary, securing their status as English nobility through inbreeding.
Cousin Isobel, in the best moment of the season, gives the DC a nutcracker because BEST PRESENT EVER. She nearly completely redeems herself in this one move; she is great. If only her come-to-Jesus talk with Matthew about his not being a mopey little martyr for the rest of his life had involved more slapping.
Lady Rosamund brings a dude with her and turns out he's banging her awful lady's maid whom everyone wants to slap all the time, THE END NO MORE WORDS GIVEN TO THIS STUPID PLOT LINE.
Sir Richard Carlisle is disgusted that the help gets two meals off a year and hates parlor games because he is EVIL. His not being 100 percent assured of Bates' innocence is another sign of his evilness -- can't he see how GOOD BATES IS? He is the goodest, just as Sir Richard is the baddest. Welcome to Downton Abbey! He hates Mary interacting in any way with Matthew, which is understandable, considering how obviously in love with Matthew she is. Unfortunately, as a one-note character, he can only be a total dick about it. Promises to expose Mary's affair with the Turkish Gentleman after she dumps him, like the class act he is.
Branson (movin' on up!) got Sybil pregnant! Who's king of the people's castle? This Irish socialist, that's who!
Miss Lavinia Swire is still sainted, still dead. So is her father, on both counts. Done.
Bates is on trial for his life! Everyone rats him out on the stand, fully disclosing his shady-ass behavior. We know we're supposed to know Bates didn't do it but honestly, he's looking pretty fucking guilty. Shares scraps of bread with rats; sad music plays forever. But he maintains his chipper demeanor, which is to say, he tells Anna he's doomed and she should move on immediately after his execution. His lawyer does seem entirely incompetent. Was this the English legal system? Zero cross-examination? The prosecution has his every conversation about the late Evil Mrs. Bates on record, because of course Bates just flat-out told them every single thing damning thing he has ever said and done, because His Life Is Eeyore. Ultimately his sentence is commuted to life in prison, so at least he doesn't ruin the servants' ball as well as Anna's life and Downton's reputation.
O'Brien loves the planchette board BECAUSE OF COURSE. God, show! Is it enough for her to be a spinster? Now she's a witch, too? What's next, lesbian?
Thomas very reasonably wants to take Bates' place as Lord Grantham's valet, but because he believes himself to be World's Best Schemer, he brilliantly decides to hide Isis and rescue her so that Lord G is all, "OMG Isis TRUSTS YOU AND SO I LOVE YOU" -- but then, just like he fucked up his career in black market baking supplies, the dumbass really does lose the dog. Thank God Isis is brilliant and gets herself found by a village child, who returns her for a reward. Thomas' apparent dedication to Isis' return (read: falling all over in the woods and ruining a suit) impresses Lord G enough that he does get the valet position, entitling him to the first dance at the servants' ball with the Dowager Countess. We'd like an entire episode of those two slinging insults at each other, that'd be great.
Carson spends his nights wanking to The Royal Families of Europe.
Anna spends the whole episode in shock or crying about Bates, when she's not declaring that marrying him wasn't a mistake and she'd do it all over again. Anna, you DOPE. Gets it together long enough to rat out Shaw and Sir Lord Fortune-hunter, in true Anna form -- she loves to narc!
Daisy is scared and excited by the planchette board, like a kitten with its first ball of yarn. Wears a new uniform, Miss Flossy Flossy, and through whingeing and moaning (understandable behavior for a 14-year-old) and finally listening to reason, gets a new outlook on life: She's gonna be a cook! Or maybe a "soo-tcheff," who knows what comes out of that mouth through all the marbles she's always got it in. Gets to hang out with William's old dad, the best little old man in the world.
Mrs. Patmore uses the planchette board to convince Daisy that William would've wanted her to visit his old dad at the farm. Typing that is almost as exhausting as having to watch it. She takes the whole episode to realize Daisy is sulking and moaning because she wants a new job, and though a hayseed, has become a competent cook worthy of promotion.
Lady Rosamund's new maid, Shaw, "make[s her] own fun" by being shadier than Jane and Ethel combined. Women are total sluts, right, Julian Fellowes? Her head looks oddly sized for her body, kinda like someone started shrinking it and then got bored and walked away. She's awful, as is her story, and we refuse to give her any more attention.
William's old dad is the sweetest old man in the world. He reassures Daisy that she didn't deceive William so much as make him love her by playing hard to get, or whatever. He misses his five dead children, and adorably asks Daisy to be his substitute child, which works out neatly because she's an orphan. We will be your adopted children, and follow all your advice, and drink your tea, and let you make us feel special, William's dad!
William is totally haunting Downton through the planchette board. Downton will still be awesome if it turns into Passions with accents, right?
And that's it for season 2 of Downton Abbey! Take a look back at all our Downton recaps (one, two, three, four, five, six). Will you be watching next season? Even if the Ghost of William starts actively haunting Downton, and we're forced to endure multiple Lady Mary-Cousin-Husband-Matthew love scenes? What if Mr. Bates really did murder the Late Evil Mrs. Bates? Or what if it was Anna? What if Thomas gets a boyfriend? Honestly, we'll be back no matter what nonsense happens. Its hooks are in us, and there's no escape. See you then? All right!
The Dowager Countess (opening a gift): "Oh, this is nice, what is it?"
Cousin Isobel: "What does it look like?"
The Dowager Countess: "Something for getting stones out of horses hooves?"
Cousin Isobel: "It's a nutcracker. We thought you'd like it. To crack your nuts."
Lady Grantham: "Sybil's pregnant."
The ever-supportive Lord Grantham: "I see. So, that's it then. No return, she's crossed the Rubicon."
"Lawyers are always confident before the verdict. It's only afterward they share their doubts." -- The DC is such a happy skeptic.
Daisy: "Don't you believe in spirits, then?"
Mrs. Hughes, voice of duh: "Well, I don't believe they play board games."
"Sir Richard, life is a game in which the player must appear ridiculous." WORK, DC.
"I don't know what's worse, the sorrow when you hit the bird or the shame when you miss it." THE SORROW, Mary. God, have a heart!
"If you think I'm going to give up on someone who calls me 'lovely' --" Edith, put that low self-esteem away.
"Alas, I am beyond impropriety." You're the queen bitch of our hearts, DC.
"Find a cow-boy in the Middle West and bring him back to shake us up a bit!" Lord Grantham, in rediscovering his ability to parent, has totally lost the plot.
"I'm Tess of the d'Urbervilles to your Angel Clare, I have fallen, I am impure!" Lady Mary slut-shames herself before anyone else can.