William and Daisy get hitched... just
So, after their close call last week, William and Matthew head back to the Front. But they're not going to be so lucky this time around - in fact, they're being forced to go over the top. In a bit of a clichéd moment, Daisy shivers and Mary drops her cup. Somehow it manages to avoid being too cheesy, though.
Anyway, a bomb explodes and William shields Matthew. They do survive, but they're not well, and the Earl of Grantham even has to be woken in the middle of the night to hear the news (he almost lets a "balls-up" slip out - oops).
William's not an officer, so he doesn't get to stay in the Downton hospital. This causes much muttering and consternation - even from Thomas and O'Brien - because his poor father can't afford to keep travelling over to see him. Well, the Dowager Countess isn't going to stand for that nonsense and uses her contacts to get William moved to the Abbey.
That's all very well, but Daisy's feeling absolutely terrible for pretending that she's in love with William - especially now he's ill. In fact, he's really ill. When the Dowager Countess and Edith go to pick him up from Leeds, it turns out he's actually dying - his lungs have been fatally injected. It's time to take him back to Downton to spend his last days.
Daisy doesn't really feel like going to chat, but Mrs Patmore is adamant that she must keep it up. That would be just about fine, except that William knows he's dying and wants Daisy to marry him now instead of waiting until after the War. Daisy isn't exactly good at hiding her feelings, bless her, but William's probably too preoccupied with the punctured lungs to notice.
Daisy is seriously very uncomfortable about the whole wedding thing, but she's getting pressure from all sides - Mrs Patmore thinks she should make him happy in his dying days, William wants to make sure she has a pension and is looked after (more romantic than it sounds, honest), and his dad guilt-trips Daisy by asking: "You won't disappoint him, will you?"
So Daisy goes through with the wedding, and there are tears all round (even from the Dowager Countess, would you believe?). Afterwards, she refuses to leave her new husband while he still needs her. "He doesn't need you no more, Daisy," her father-in-law says. "He doesn't need none of us no more." Yes, William appears to have passed away...
Matthew makes his move
Of course, William wasn't the only invalid to return from the Front. Mary is absolutely frantic when she hears that Matthew's been injured and when he arrives she offers to volunteer (even when Sybil warns that nursing can get, well, a bit "grim").
Unfortunately, it's not good news. Matthew's spine has been injured so badly that he'll never be able to walk again. This means it's time for a lot of stiff upper lips and jolly declarations of how this is just the start of a new life for him. But even the Earl's mouth wobbles when he hears that Matthew will never be able to have children.
A fantastic scene follows when Matthew acknowledges that he can't feel his legs and Mary desperately tries to conceal the truth, all the while maintaining a cool, calm exterior. Eventually, though, she confirms what he already knows (and then does what any good Brit would do and suggests a cup of tea). Matthew is grateful for her honesty, even though he's "blubbing". For her part, Mary sobs as she heads for the kettle.
Later, Lavinia - who does an awful lot of weeping this episode - comes to pledge to stand by Matthew. But Matthew points out they can never be "properly married". It takes Lavinia a while to realise he's talking about sex, but when she finally gets there she insists she doesn't mind. Matthew, though, refuses to steal away the life she should have and asks her to leave. It's all for Lavinia's good, of course. "Think of me as dead," he tells her...
Still, Lavinia is a bit upset about the break-up and Mary comes to comfort her (she hadn't twigged about the whole "not having children" thing either). They have a little moment of sadness together (it is quite lovely that Mary and Lavinia get on despite everything).
When Lavinia has gone, Mary goes to sit with Matthew, who explains that he couldn't marry any woman - even one who knew what she was getting herself into (poor Mary). Oh, and Isobel's back! Took her long enough. She's impressed with Mary-the-nurse, and when Mary insists it's "nothing" she replies: "It's the very opposite of nothing." What could she be seeing...?
Mrs Bates is back... and only Sir Richard Carlisle can stop her
Yes, Bates might be back - but he shouldn't be getting too comfortable. He and Anna go to the church to pray for Matthew and William, and end up naturally talking about getting married. All they have to do is wait for Bates's divorce to be finalised. Unfortunately, this is leaving Bates broke, but you can't put a price on love, right?
Uh oh! Who's this? It's only Mrs Bates who's turned up in the kitchen! She's a bit annoyed that Bates has returned and shacked up with Anna, so she's going to sell her story about Mary and the Turk anyway (ooh, not cool, Mrs Bates). The only thing that would make Mrs Bates better is if she had a moustache she could twirl. It's proper melodramatic fun - Bates accuses her of being angry that he's happy and she replies: "Maybe. But you won't be happy long..."
Of course, it turns out O'Brien's the one that invited Mrs Bates - but now that she's heard of her plans to sell her story she's regretting it just a smidge. Meanwhile, Anna's filling Mary in on the situation and Mary decides there's just one thing for it - to get Sir Richard Carlisle involved.
Ugh, Sir Richard is horrid. Mary goes to see him in London and he positively relishes in her scandal. But he agrees to still get wed - apparently the whole Turk fiasco puts their marriage on more equal terms - and agrees to spike the story. Still, if I was Mary I'd be a bit concerned when he says that as his future wife she's entitled to be in his debt. Yuk.
Sir Richard invites Mrs Bates to come and visit him and agrees to buy her story, making her sign a draconian contract so that she won't speak to anyone else (and he threatens her with court if she breaches the agreement).
Of course, it's all an elaborate ruse! The next day, Sir Richard and Mary's engagement is printed in the paper (and the Earl practically spits out his toast when he reads it). Mrs Bates is furious when she realises she's been tricked and can't take her story to a rival newspaper. Sir Richard warns that he will "hound" and "ruin" her and have her locked up if she does, but what does Mrs Bates care? She properly hams it up as she storms out, announcing that Bates won't get away with this...
Ethel's no longer expecting...
... because she's had the baby! Yes, we've skipped the whole pregnancy nonsense and Ethel is now a mother living in a little cottage (with messed-up hair, so we know she's poor). Mrs Hughes has at least some pity for her - she's been bringing her food from the household (naughty).
Ethel's been desperately trying to get in touch with baby daddy Major Bryant, but he's been having none of it. So when she discovers that Major Bryant is planning a visit to Downton, she begs Mrs Hughes (who is still very disapproving of Ethel) to pass on a message.
Mrs Hughes reluctantly does so, but Major Bryant's a scoundrel and wants nothing to do with his child. And while all this is going on, a new housemaid called Jane joins the staff - and it causes all kinds of palaver because she's a married mother, and war widow.
Ethel also calls herself a war widow to hide the truth, but Mrs Hughes sniffs that everyone at Downton believes Jane's story, and that's the difference. But should they? Is Jane a genuine war widow or is she really in an Ethel situation? I suppose all will become clear...
The Dowager Countess has a heart!
We've kind of covered this in the section about William, but it bears repeating. The Dowager Countess - who basically speaks in one-liners - has only gone and got a heart!
Yes, the Dowager Countess fought for her former footman all the way - making sure he was transferred to Downton, persuading the vicar to carry out the wedding, and even shedding a tear as William got hitched. Oh, and if every episode of Downton Abbey could now contain a scene of Violet on the telephone, that would be grand.
The Dowager Countess's best lines
- "I am no Jacobean revolutionary. Nor do I seek to overthrow the civilised world. We just need one bed for a young man from this village."
- "It always happens when you give these little people power. It goes to their heads like strong drink."
- "Is this an instrument of communication or torture?"
- "Sometimes we must let the blow fall by degrees."
- "I hope it's not vulgar in me to suggest that you find some way to overcome your scruples."
- "I have a cold."
- Bates and Anna need to stop saying how happy they are. It always brings on a severe attack of bad luck (or bad ex-wives).
- Branson's still chipping away at Sybil. Do we think she'll give in and go for him? I'm guessing yes, considering this is a cosy Sunday night show.
- "I'm fed up of seeing how our lot always get shafted." - Thomas feels some kinship with William! He does have a heart buried in that chest of steel somewhere.
- "I'd rather have the right man than the right wedding."
- "I led him up the garden path with all that nonsense. I'm ashamed, I'm so ashamed."
- Thomas speaks sense. "I'm not standing by while she brings misery and ruin on my lady," O'Brien huffs. "You started it all," Thomas responds, reasonably.
- Mind you, O'Brien can give it back. Thomas wants to shake William's hand before he dies. "Is that sentiment or superstition in case he haunts you?"
- "Have you got a handkerchief? I never seem to have one in moments of crisis."
- New maid Jane. Discuss.
- Mrs Bates calls Anna a "floozy". Amazing.
- Understatement corner: "We're not on good terms."
- "I don't think asking permission is his strongest suit."
- It was a nice touch to have flowers on William's bed during the wedding.
- Speaking of William, how do we think Daisy will react now?
- "That's one word for her. I can think of a few others."
- Is the Earl getting a bit annoyed about Cora being so busy?
- "It seems such a long time since I turned you down and now look at me - an impotent cripple stinking of sick. What a reversal. You have to admit it's quite funny." Yeah, hilarious.
- Did anyone else think Mary would drop Matthew's sick bowl when she saw Isobel?
- "Silly mare."