While Sybil and Branson make a big entrance back to England, Matthew finds more info about Downton that could lead to its demise.

A lot has happened to set up the storyline so for in the last few episodes (remember, I’m numbering the episodes as they’ve appeared in the UK) of Downton Abbey that will hopefully continue to set the scene for drama and excitement.

Matthew’s investment in the estate seems to have everyone reeling, including Mr. Carson who doesn’t know who to answer to. Mr. Carson and wants more staff but Matthew thinks that it’s not practical. While Lady Mary encourages her hubby to get more involved, Matthew seems to have baby on the brain, and judging by the uncomfortable look on her face, one can’t be sure if she wants children or if she can even have them.

Needless to say, conflict over the estate is definitely brewing. When Matthew decides to look over all of the estate’s books he notices that Downton is being mismanaged and it could lead the estate to ruin. He tries to speak to Lord G about the issue, but is quickly dismissed.

Matthew’s mother, Isobel is also involving herself in some scandal, but it’s downright courageous. Although Isobel has been a thorn in the sides of many over the last few seasons, you have to admit, she’s a force of nature and when she sets her mind to something, or someone, she commits to it. In this case, it’s with the former maid Ethel, who got knocked up by that douche bag of an officer who was staying at Downton a few seasons back. Isobel finds out that Ethel is working as a [gasp] prostitute. When Isobel tells Mrs. Hughes of Ethel’s plight as a prostitute she says, “Oh my, that’s a word we don’t often hear around here.”

Isobel and Mrs. Hughes later have a meeting with Ethel who tells him that she’s decided to give up her son Charlie to his grandparents. Isobel tries to discourage Ethel but she Ethel has made up her mind and gives Charlie away in a really emotional moment. So what will now happen with Ethel? Can anyone save her from prostitution?

Meanwhile, Sybil comes back in the picture and calls Edith, leaving her with a cryptic message that she’s on her way and that, “they haven’t managed to stop her.” Just after, Branson barges into Downton without Sybil. Branson tells the whole family later that he’s left Ireland and that he’s on the run from the police for being part of a secret Irish group who set a house fire. Basically, he’s abandoned his pregnant wife to save his own butt. It’s up to Lord G to get him off. But thankfully, Sybil makes it home safely. But what does this mean for Branson?

Edith finds direction. Finding out that the women have the vote in America sets her on a path to writing a letter to the Times. She finds unlikely encouragement from her granny, the Dowager Countess Violet. “You’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability, stop whining and find something to do!” While it’s great advice, something tells me that Violet may eat her words. Giving a strong woman like Edith this kind of encouragement can only lead to daring progression and in the ‘20s that would be considered scandalous. Of course, it happens! We later learn that Edith has written an article denouncing the woman’s suffrage bill, which infuriates Lord Grantham. Go Edith!

In downstairs news, the issue with Bates and Anna is reaching a climax. Anna is still distraught that she hasn’t heard from her husband. He decides to take a risk in jail by getting back at his cellmate when he finds out that he and one of the guards have been conspiring against him and stopping his letter and visits to Anna.

Mr. Carson hires a new footman who all of the women find handsome, including Thomas, who we catch getting a glimpse of James while changing. Can we expect some scandal with Thomas and this new young man? Let’s hope! But some drama will also follow Daisy who becomes jealous of the new kitchen maid.

Other notes: There’s progress at Downton. Mrs. Hughes buys herself something that is called a “toaster,” which, if it all goes well, she thinks would be a great appliance for morning breakfasts. When she shows Mr. Carson, he is stunned. “Is it not enough that we’re sheltering a dangerous revolutionary Mrs. Hughes, could you not have spared me that!” Mrs. Hughes later burns the toast. It seems there’s a dial on it and she had it up too high.

Next week on Downton Abbey: Isobel Crawley hires Ethel on as her cook, Sybil goes into labor and a new development in Bates’ case gives Anna hope.

Downton Abbey airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. on PBS/Masterpiece.



—Toni-Marie Ippolito

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