This week at Downton Abbey, everyone's happy Tom's back. "Funny, isn't it?" Robert asks Cora, presumably referencing his previous irritation at a lowly chauffeur muscling his way into the family. Season 6, episode 4 moved a bit more slowly than usual, but sowed a few seeds for the rest of the series, so let's take a look at five talking points from the episode.
Robert's pains keep recurring
Is Robert's mystery pain purely induced by port? I could be way off the mark, but I'm sensing a shock death at the end of the season, which could spark the family's decision to move out of Downton. The strongest foreshadowing of this came when Rosamund joked to Robert, about their mother, "who says she won't be at your funeral?" That would be a cruel twist, but Julian Fellowes has proven before that he's helpless to resist a good shock death. We'll see how this one pans out.
Gwen is no longer a secretary
Rosamund invites John Harding, treasurer of the college for women of which she is a trustee, to Downton to meet Edith, and who should Harding have married but Gwen (Rose Leslie, taking a well deserved break from bellowing "You know nothing, Jon Snow!"), the former Downton housemaid who left to pursue the grand career of becoming a secretary, and is now a teacher at Hillcroft.
Gwen's return, this time as an upstairs-er, causes quite a stir downstairs, and Daisy, who appears to be even closer to the brink of a mental breakdown than usual, gets on her soapbox about life as an undervalued kitchen maid. "I wonder if Karl Marx might finish the liver pate?", chides Mrs. Patmore in the episode's best line.
At dinner, Gwen gives a stirring speech about the role Sybil (RIP) played in her grand escape from Downton, giving Mary food for thought. "When she was talking about Lady Sybil I had one of those moments where you look at your life, and I realised how much better Sybil was than I am. It was quite chastening." It's always a little surreal to see Mary thinking of anybody other than herself.
Another day, another soiree to London...
Perhaps the tectonic plates of the English countryside were moving particularly rapidly in 1925, because the distance between Downton and London appears to shorten with every episode. This time it's Anna and Mary hopping "on the late train" from York to see the pregnancy specialist about the pains Anna fears might be yet another miscarriage, because presumably a city like York doesn't actually have any doctors who know about delivering babies.
...and another suitor for Mary
But as it happens, Anna's baby is going to be fine, and the entire subplot was in fact just an excuse to get Mary down to London (or "up to London", in Downton speak), to meet with the rather dashing Talbot (Matthew Goode), her pro racing driver suitor. She looks a million dollars, but still gives a classic humble-brag apology for her "shabby" appearance.
Talbot, of course, knows her game, and their thinly veiled flirtation over dinner makes it pretty evident that Mary will soon have yet another man in her thrall, although Violet doesn't think much of the idea, telling her friend Lady Shackleton that "Mary needs more than a handsome smile and a hand on the gearstick."
"I'm surprised you know what a gearstick is," Robert chimes in, to which his mother responds that she knows "more than you'd think". The real question, though, is does she know what a weekend is yet?
A chapter of Carson's life is over
Carson may be newly and happily married to Mrs. Hughes-not-Carson, but the experience of moving out of his room in the servants' quarters at Downton and into his house with his wife, effectively closing the door on by far the most enduring chapter of his life, proves to be a bittersweet one. Unlike Thomas and Daisy, Carson has no resentment for the privilege of the upstairs brigade, only devotion to service, which in some ways is a bit sad, but in others admirable. Hopefully married life proves an adequate consolation for the butler.
Are you enjoying season 6 of Downton? Is Robert going to survive the finale, and exactly how fast is that journey to London? Comment below!