(Weekly reminder to GO AWAY if you haven’t seen this week’s episode.)
I live next door to a nursing home, and one of the less-pleasant things about it (apart from the constant partying, you guys) is the fact that they have a giant, massive trash compactor at the back of their parking lot, and they have no compunction about running the darn thing at, say, 11:30 at night in the early summer when everyone has their windows open. Not bitter. Anyway, it’s run by hydraulics from what I’ve deduced, and when the compacting arm has smashed all the trash down as far as it’ll go, it kind of jumps back on itself and makes a loud, repetitive, thudding G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G-G followed by a groaning beeeeeeeeooooooooow noise.
That was the sound my brain was making after episode four, or as I like to call it, THE ONE WHERE MATTHEW DID NOT DIE THANK GOD. (Subtitle: ALSO WHAAAAAAAAAAA???) Holy cow, where do we start? SO MUCH PLOT. I apologize in advance for how scattered and craze-balls this recap is. The episode was a bit that way. I blame Julian Fellowes.
All right. Battle sequence, with the most unbelievable sob-inducing score under it ever, and Matthew giving a convincing “Once more unto the breach, dear friends” speech. AFFIXING BAYONETS, which is basically NEVER something you want to do or see or hear or experience because it means you are either going to stab someone in the face or get stabbed in the face and both of those things SUCK. OR SO I HEAR. Things explode and then we get a Meanwhile, Back At The
Ranch Estate, in which both Mary (unsurprisingly) and Daisy (reeeeeeeally!) get that “a goose walked over my grave” spooky premonition at the same moment. How about that! And then Matthew and William are in a bloody heap and then O’Brien is waking up the Lord and Lady with a telegram saying Matthew’s been badly wounded. OH NOES!
BUT TO THE DOWAGER COUNTESS high fives all around. You have to love her sallying forth at full sail to stand nose to nose with both the British Army and the Church of England because she will have her way, by heaven! What’s a few Generals or Bishops here and there when we have a second footman to collect and a kitchen maid to get married off? And calling her nephew the Marquess of Flintshire “Shrimpy”?! That phone conversation?! Amazing!
I won’t lie, I’m a little worn out with this back-ing and forth-ing between Bates and Anna. What IS Vera’s problem? Why does she care so much? Great balls of fire. She’s got her money, why go around ruining it for everyone else? And if dear Valet and Housemaid exchange one more throaty, threadbare platitude about being grateful for what they have and I’ll never give you up John Bates and Come, pray symbolically with me at the altar of a church GEDDIT IT’S LIKE WE’RE UP HERE GETTING MARRIEDLOL and blah blah blah I might need Mary to hold an emesis basin for me. I mean, I want them to end up happily ever whatever, but E. BLOODY. NOUGH. Also, pro tip: don’t propose to a chick if you’re married to a different chick. Mmkay?
Also a big fat E.B.N. to Branson’s “you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet” overly-socialist nonsense. Honestly. I like Sibyl, I do, but I wish she would grow enough self-respect to tell him off. He needs a very firm kick in the seat of those natty green chauffeur’s britches and a Get-A-Grip friend to tell him that the best way to get the girl of your dreams to run off with you is not to insult her life, her family, and her work at every possible opportunity, nor to act like she’s not committed enough to her political convictions AS YOU CHAUFFEUR HER AROUND IN HER CAR, you loathsome hypocrite! Not a fan.
Now what do y’all think about Daisy going through with the wedding? I do love William, and I think Daisy was lucky to have a man like that after her and stupid to push him away all that time. BUT, I also completely understand where she’s coming from. No amount of Him Being Great means they’re meant to be together. BUT, I also think it’s rarely a bad thing to give a dying man his last request. BUT, I also totally get the fear of living a lie however well-intentioned the lie is. BUT, was she falling in love with him as she was dying? Or was that just sympathy? UGH SO CONFLICTED HELP! (Amazing, amazing score during the wedding scene too.)
OK so reversals:
Thomas, a bit. Mr. Heartless has a heart? Takes William’s side? Scolds O’Brien for being too vindictive? WHAT IS GOING ON HERE? And speaking of O’Brien: her regret last season was bitter indeed, but her regret over calling Vera back to Downton seems to be a mobilizing force. Vera has made a couple of bad enemies, including the powerful and unscrupulous Sir Richard, so I think we haven’t seen the last of her, in a good way.
Lady Grantham. She was, last season, purposeful but kind and gracious, and she’s turned into a snarky, dismissive Dragon Lady YUCK NO. Is she having an affair or something? Bleh. She’s out-cold-fishing all the cold fish around her, and that’s saying something.
Mary, although hers is an arc more than a reversal: she’s continued to transform from an impulsive, vain, snobbish cat to a thoughtful, selfless, resolute woman of character who sits at Matthew’s bedside dabbing bits of vomit away from the corners of his mouth — a sadder-but-wiser girl who surely must turn out to be the girl for Matthew. And yet again we have a character with a Terrible Choice who must Fall on His/Her Sword for the Sake of Honor — it’s nice to see Bates get a moment’s rest from being the show’s resident martyr, but I hate to see Mary take up the mantle.
O’Brien (see above).
Predictions for next week? Here are mine: O’Brien decides to use her horrible scheme-y powers (combined with the powers of the other Downstairsians; looking at you, Mrs. Hughes) to bring Vera down once and for all, possibly getting her to confess to the crime Bates went to jail for that she actually did. Lavinia will either wimp out or die of Spanish Flu. Mary will realize that Sir Richard doesn’t love her, and in fact despises everything she’s grown to understand about her truest self. She’ll also realize that Matthew loves her too much to care about The Turk, so she’ll tell the world, and divvil take the hindermost. Given that there’s a war on, and a global pandemic about to break out, nobody will have time to care about her stupid affair and it’ll become part of the quirky Grantham Family Lore. Matthew’s injury will turn out to be not as bad as previously thought, so he’ll still be wheelchair bound and unable to produce an heir but also get to be “really married,” to Mary, of course. Then in 1925 British laws will change to allow daughters to inherit (this is actually historically true; whether this season makes it to 1925 remains to be seen), whereupon Lord Grantham will of course make Mary the full heir.
SOMEONE is going to die though. I know it. They’re going to kill someone off. JUST NOT MATTHEW. Kill Sibyl. Kill Isobel. Heck, kill John “Harshing Everyone’s Buzz Since 1877” Bates. JUST. NOT. MATTHEW. I cannot TAKE another entail scandal, another shot of Mary looking stricken, another montage of Lord Grantham reading newspapers and telegrams determinedly, another round of Downstairs gossip about the chimney sweep fifth cousin twice removed who’s NOW set to inherit. PEOPLE. NO.