SPOILERS! SPOILERS! SPOILERS! DO NOT READ UNTIL YOU HAVE SEEN THE 2013 DOWNTON ABBEY CHRISTMAS SPECIAL (US SEASON FINALE.)
Ho ho ho and a Merry Christmas. Whoops. So, yes, this recap is a bit late but it was the festive season and I was being festive. However, as this episode wasn’t actually set at Christmas, I think I can get away with it. So welcome to the recap for the Downton Christmas special which is also the US season finale.

We open in the Downton kitchens with Mrs Hughes announcing that Mrs Bute has been taken ill and she will have to go to Grantham House in London to replace her. Mrs Hughes tells Daisy that she will also be going with her. Ivy will stay and cater for Lady Edith and Tom Branson who are still at Downton. All the preparations and plans are for Rose’s coming out ball which will shortly be happening. Thomas sidles up to Daisy in the kitchens and tells her to pass on a message to Miss Baxter that he is looking forward to hearing the stories she has for him. So he’s still trying to use Miss Baxter as a spy, the swine…

At the Dower House, the Dowager Countess is taking tea with Lady Edith. We learn that Edith has had her baby, a girl! They discuss their plans for going to London for Rose’s ball.

The rest of the family is at their London residence, Grantham House, preparing to go to a concert and dinner at Lady Winbourne’s. We learn that Martha Levinson, Cora’s American mother, is coming over for Rose’s ball. Carson and the other footmen have travelled down to Grantham House too. Lady Grantham tells Carson to arrange an outing for the staff as a thank you for all the hard work they will be putting in for Rose’s ball. How nice!

Back in Yorkshire, Lord Merton pays another visit to Isobel at Crawley House. He asks her if she will be going to Rose’s ball as, if she is, he’ll go too. She says that it’s not really her scene and he leaves, a bit disappointed. Isobel meanwhile looks very flustered.

Lord Merton seems to have taken quite a shine to Isobel.

Lord Merton seems to have taken quite a shine to Isobel.

In London, after the dinner at the Winbourne’s, Rose and her friend Madeline Allsop go on to the Embassy club. A jazz band plays and there is lots of dancing. Madeline spots her father at the same venue with the Prince of Wales. Madeline’s father, Lord Aysgarth, introduces the two ladies to the Prince and his companion Mrs Dudley Ward. The Prince knows Rose’s father, Shrimpy Flintshire, and tells Rose that he stayed with her father when he was visiting Bombay.

Back in Yorkshire, Mrs Hughes, Daisy and Lady Edith all depart for London. Thomas quizzes Branson, who is remaining for the time being, on what he wants for dinner. There is a tension between these two. Later, downstairs in the kitchens, a raging Thomas bitches and moans to Ivy about having to serve Tom dinner and call him “Sir.” This is Thomas at his petulant best and no good can come of it.

At Grantham House, Charles Blake has turned up to take Mary to lunch and an exhibition at the Royal Academy. Cora wishes them a nice time but reminds Mary to back in time for her Grandmother’s arrival.
As Mrs Hughes and Daisy arrive at Grantham House, they see two other new arrivals being greeted by Carson: Martha and Harold Levinson (Shirley Maclaine and Paul Giamatti.) Lady Edith goes to greet her Grandmother and to meet her Uncle Harold for the first time. He seems to be a very reluctant visitor to the United Kingdom who has clearly had his arm twisted by his mother.

 

Martha and Harold Levinson are greeted by Carson on arrival at Grantham House.

Martha and Harold Levinson are greeted by Carson on arrival at Grantham House.

Downstairs, Jimmy helps Mr Levinson’s valet,  Ethan Slade, with the suitcases.  Ethan spots Daisy and starts chatting to her and explains that they are looking for a new lady’s maid for Mrs Levinson but Mrs Hughes clarifies that Daisy is an assistant cook. Bless him, Ethan is like an excited puppy at being abroad, but is surrounded by British curmudgeons. Mrs Patmore is delighted to see Daisy and tells her that they are preparing for a dinner later that evening. Daisy passes Thomas’ message to Miss Baxter and she looks most distressed.

At the Royal Academy, Mary and Charles Blake are having a marvellous time looking at the paintings in the Summer Exhibition. They chat and laugh about their class differences until they bump into a familiar figure, dreamy Lord Gillingham, who is also there along with Lady Rose and Mrs Dudley Ward (the Prince’s friend from the Embassy club.) Between them, Mary and Rose end up inviting the whole party to Lady Grantham’s supper that evening and Mary explains the protocol of the evening to Charles Blake who is unaccustomed to such la-di-da occasions.

Downstairs at Grantham House, Carson is delighted by the arrival of his old chum and comrade in arms Mrs Hughes. He mentions the outing that Cora has offered the staff which will take place after the ball is over. He suggests a couple of trips to London museums that Mrs Hughes is unimpressed with and she suggests he consult the staff.

Upstairs, Cora is reunited with her mother and brother and Martha explains that they will be travelling on to Madrid, Rome and Paris after their stay in London. Harold seems less than thrilled by the idea and one imagines that he would rather be back across the Atlantic, but Martha seems glad that he is away from his earlier Teapot Dome business woes.

In Downton village, Branson bumps into Miss Bunting, his political friend and the local schoolteacher, and helps her when she drops some school books (that old chestnut.) She accuses him of avoiding her and there is a certain froideur between them. He invites her to join him for lunch at the pub, at which point the Dowager Countess’ car pulls up. After confirming to the Dowager that Lady Edith got safely off to London, he introduces Miss Bunting to her. Violet goes into full on snob mode telling her that she is going to London to see her niece presented at Buckingham Palace to which Miss Bunting simply says “How nice.” Violet also explains that Tom will be joining them for the Ball in London and then takes her leave. Miss Bunting decides to take Tom up on his offer of lunch after all.

In the kitchens at Grantham House, Daisy is being very assertive and tells a grateful Mrs Patmore where they are up to with the supper. Ethan, the American valet, seems very taken with this and suggests she work for herself. Daisy does not appreciate his advice and snaps at him which only seems to leave him more in awe of her. Mr Carson comes into the kitchens and asks Ethan if he will stand in as a footman from time to time during his stay and he is willing. Bless.

In the pub, over their lunch, Miss Bunting and Tom discuss the earlier meeting with the Dowager and his adjustment to life as a member of the Crawley family. She asks him to show her around the house but he seems hesitant about the idea.

In London, it’s the soiree at Grantham House and the guests are all gathered in the drawing room. Rose introduces Martha and Harold Levinson to her friends from the Embassy club, Lord Aysgarth and his daughter Madeline Allsop. As Martha attempts to make small talk with Lord Aysgarth, he spots someone more important and walks rudely off. Martha is less than impressed as well she might be. Then Lady Rosamund turns up along with none other than Mr Sampson, the card sharp who tried to fleece all Lord Grantham’s guests in episode three. Robert fumes at seeing him but Sampson says that Rosamund insisted on inviting him and Cora welcomes him cordially. Mary chats to the dreamy Lord Gillingham and he makes it clear that he won’t give up his pursuit of her. Lord Aysgarth and Mr Sampson chat and seem to be old friends. Sampson tells Aysgarth that the Levinson’s are very wealthy and suddenly Aysgarth takes a keener interest in Martha.

Downstairs, Mrs Hughes and Anna chat about how the evening is going before Mrs Hughes asks her if she knows anyone who has clothes to give away as the Scottish church are collecting for refugees. A little while later, Anna reappears with an old coat of Mr Bates that can be given to the church collection as he has just bought a replacement. She gives it to a grateful Mrs Hughes. Once Anna has gone Mrs Hughes roots through the coat’s pockets and finds an old ticket. Cue ominous music…

 

Mrs Hughes is troubled by a ticket she finds in Mr Bates' coat pocket...

Mrs Hughes is troubled by a ticket she finds in Mr Bates’ coat pocket…

In the drawing room Lord Aysgarth’s daughter, Madeline, tries to make polite conversation with Harold Levinson but he makes his disdain for being in England clear. Not a good start, but then it’s time to go into dinner and Cora asks Harold to escort Madeline into the dining room. Poor Harold then comes over all self-doubting and tells Madeline that she doesn’t have to have to accompany him, but she wants to, and he seems thrilled by this.
Snake Mr Sampson overhears Mrs Dudley Ward and Rose talking about going to the Embassy club after dinner and inveigles an invitation.

Back at Downton it is evening and Branson is showing Miss Bunting around Downton Abbey. They walk through the dimly lit library and again she makes snarky comments about his change in status. I feel sorry for Tom. After Sybil he seems to have attracted nothing but harridans who subtly belittle him. They stand in the saloon and she asks him to let her go upstairs to the gallery and look down on it. Halfway up the stairs Tom has doubts about the idea, but she insists and marches on without him, leaving him to chase after her. They look down from the top of the gallery before a figure emerges from the shadows, Thomas. Branson immediately starts to squirm and tries to explain the innocent reason for Miss Bunting being found upstairs whilst Thomas grins like the cat that got the cream.

Mrs Dudley Ward, Lady Rose and Madeleine Allsop all walk into the ballroom at the Embassy Club where Harold Levinson, Mr Sampson and Lords Aysgarth are waiting for them. The girls are all giggling over a letter that Mrs Dudley Ward received from an important sender. Sampson’s eyes light up at this piece of news. Lord Aysgarth insists that a reluctant Harold take his daughter, Madeline, to dance, then the good Lord whisks Mrs Dudley Ward off to the dance floor. Poor Harold and Madeline have been uncomfortably thrust together by a parental figure again. This leaves Rose and Mr Sampson alone at the table. He invites her to dance but she sees a friend and dashes off instructing Sampson to guard the ladies’ bags. Of course he can’t resist reaching for, and then going through, said bags. It was rather like leaving a fox to guard the hen house.

At breakfast at Downton the following morning, Tom struggles to relax with Thomas watching him like a hawk. Tom tries to explain about the innocent nature of his previous evening with Miss Bunting. His words are wasted on weasel Thomas who lives for an opportunity to cause trouble and is relishing this.

At Crawley House, Lord Merton has popped in to see Isobel again. Through their conversation we learn that Isobel has changed her mind about going to Rose’s ball and had written to Lord M to let him know of the change in her plans. She said that she thought her previous decision against going had been “smug and intolerant” and Lord M seems quite taken with this. She then asks if he will be going to the ball and he answers rather deliciously “How can you ask? Of course I will!” I love romance! A little while later the Dowager’s car pulls up outside to take the Dowager and Isobel to the station. Violet is shocked to see Lord Merton waving Isobel off. She also complains bitterly that Cora has forbidden her from taking a maid to London (the horror!) Isobel revels in this, leading to some classic bickering between the two of them as they head off to the station.

In London, Edith goes round to Lady Rosamund’s house. They discuss Gregson and also Edith’s baby, whom we learn is living with a Mr and Mrs Schroeder in Geneva. Edith seems to be having doubts about the way things have been left.

A beaming Daisy has exciting news in the Grantham House kitchens. She’s had a letter from Alfred and tells Mrs Patmore that he has been taken on permanently by the Ritz now that his training is complete. Ethan, Daisy’s new admirer, overhears this and Daisy takes great pride in extolling the virtues of her unrequited love to Ethan who seems very taken with Daisy.

The moment has come. Rose, Robert and Cora travel down The Mall, which is lined with crowds, to Buckingham Palace. Once inside the palace, Robert is separated from the ladies, who proceed to the waiting area for all the débutantes. Also there is Lord Aysgarth’s daughter Madeline. They wait to be presented to the King and Queen.

Rose and Cora arrive at Buckingham Palace

Rose and Cora arrive at Buckingham Palace

At Grantham House, a love-struck Ethan goes to speak to Mr Carson to enquire whether there is any romance between Alfred and Daisy. Carson explains to Ethan that there is no romance there but does not look best pleased when Ethan hints that he intends to pursue Daisy himself.

Back at the Palace it’s time for Rose’s moment of glory. Robert looks proudly on as Cora presents Rose to the King and Queen. Rose curtseys to them both. The Prince of Wales, whom Rose met at the Embassy club, mentions to his father that Rose is Lord Flintshire’s daughter. The King tells Rose that the Prince’s Indian tour was “a great success thanks to Lord Flintshire.” After a few further words Rose and Cora both curtsey again and move away as the next girl is presented.

Rose is presented to the King and Queen.

Rose is presented to the King and Queen.

Meanwhile, in the library at Grantham House, Mrs Hughes presents Lady Mary with the ticket she found in Mr Bates’ coat. Mary already suspects that Bates was in London on the day of rapist Green’s death but has not mentioned her suspicions to Anna. Mrs Hughes points out that even if Bates was in London on that fateful day, they can’t be sure that he was involved in the death. She also refuses to condemn him if he did kill him. Mrs Hughes leaves the ticket with Lady Mary for her to deal with.

At Buckingham Palace, a reception is taking place for the debs and their families. Violet, Martha and Harold have joined Robert, Rose and Cora. Harold wonders if he might meet the King or Queen later only for a caustic Violet to state “Hardly, his Majesty is not an admirer of the new world.” Robert suggests he might have more luck meeting the Prince of Wales. On the other side of the room, Lord Aysgarth is busy buttering up rich widow Martha Levinson. All of a sudden he is very interested in America asking Martha if she knows Newport. Flirt, flirt, flirt. The old seducer! When Martha confesses she has a home in Newport he feigns surprise but sharp cookie Martha, wearing a tiara and dripping in diamonds, is not taken in. I suppose one would have to be up very early to catch her out.

Harold has also noticed Lord Aysgarth’s attentions to his mother and mentions this to Madeline who giggles uncomfortably. In his American way, Harold bluntly points out to Madeline that when his mother dies everything will go to him, thus implying that her father is wasting his gold-digging time. Such home truths are too much for such a demure rose and Madeline flees the room with a look of horror on her face. Harold grimaces.

Rose talks to a flustered Mrs Dudley Ward who confesses that her love letter from the Prince of Wales, that they were discussing at the Embassy Club, has gone missing. It appears to have been stolen. Before they can discuss it further they are interrupted by Martha who walks over to join them. Martha is very unimpressed at meeting the Prince of Wales’ mistress and tells Mrs D W that she has read about her in the American newspapers. Awkward.

Mrs Dudley Ward (C) discusses her missing letter with Rose and Madeline.

Mrs Dudley Ward (C) discusses her missing letter with Rose and Madeline.

On the other side of the room, Harold spies the Prince of Wales alone and seizes his chance to talk to royalty. It doesn’t go well. A classic clash of American directness and English snootiness ensues. Not pretty. Let’s move on…

The next morning at Grantham House, Rose speaks to Robert about Mrs Dudley Ward’s missing letter. Rose asks him if Mr Sampson is “capable of something dishonourable.” Of course after the card shenanigans we know the answer is yes. After she explains the situation, Robert rants about the Prince of Wales’ relationship with Mrs Dudley Ward and complains that she should not have had such a sensitive letter in her handbag. Robert makes clear to Rose that the letter has been taken either for blackmail purposes or to be sold to the foreign press. When Rose confesses that it was through her that Sampson heard of the letter, Robert realises he must take action. He says that they must rifle through Sampson’s flat until they find it. When Rose questions how they will get in, Robert goes outside and asks Jimmy to fetch Mr Bates!

Romantic Harold sends Ethan down to the kitchens with a message for Daisy. After making Madeline flee the room with his home truths, he wants to take her on a picnic to make it up to her. Awww. Daisy makes it very clear however that Harold will need a chaperone and Ethan says that Martha and Lord Aysgarth will be going too. He suggests to Mrs Patmore that Daisy should come along to the picnic to help him serve – the smoothie. Mrs Patmore agrees that she can go.

Back in Yorkshire, Tom and Isis are preparing to go down to London for Rose’s ball. Thomas and Ivy are accompanying them. Ivy has a large basket to carry so cheeky Thomas suggest to Tom that he should sit with him in the back. Thankfully Tom stands his ground, refuses and tells Thomas to tie the basket on the back. Ooooh the tension!

In the Grantham House kitchens, Ethan checks on the status of the food for the picnic. It’s all ready and he says that Harold Levinson has been surprised to like English food (the cheek!) The Dowager Countess and Isobel are now going on the picnic as well, so Mrs Hughes lets them take Jimmy along to help. As Daisy, Ethan and Jimmy leave with all the picnic paraphernalia, Mr Carson points out to Mrs Patmore that Ethan has an interest in Daisy “that might not be proper.” Mrs Patmore makes it clear that she approves of Daisy having some fun, leaving fuddy-duddy Carson to “harumph.”

Upstairs in the drawing room, Lord Grantham asks Bates if he knows any forgers. Bates asks why and we learn they need a signed note to present to the porter to get access to Sampson’s flat to look for the missing letter. Bates asks for a sample of the man’s writing and says he will be able to “supply” the note by the end of the afternoon. He and Robert play this little game where they pretend “the forger” is someone else, but we all know the forger is really Mr Bates himself! Love it. It’s handy to have a valet with skills. I must keep that in mind when I advertise for my next lady’s maid. Bates leaves the room to fulfil his criminal duties for the aristocracy, don’t you just love the class system.

At Lady Rosamund’s house, Rosamund is freaking out over Edith’s plans to reclaim her child from Switzerland. Edith has also heard a bit more news about Gregson. We learn that he got into a fight on his first night in Munich with a gang of brownshirts. Poor Edith is very distressed at the thought that she might not see her love again. (Meh, I don’t know, I can’t get excited about this one. Bring back Sir Anthony Strallen!) Edith points out that if he is dead then she should give half of her inheritance to their child. (Hmmm wouldn’t his inheritance go to his lunatic wife?) Rosamund suggests she could give it anonymously and tries to counsel her to stay strong over the baby.

In the kitchens, “the forger” aka Mr Bates is at work copying the letter when Mrs Hughes walks in and asks what he is doing. He explains that it is an errand for his Lordship. She queries him as to whether he is enjoying his stay in London and he states that he is and that he had not been there since his mother’s death, a long time ago. Such an awkward conversation, accompanied by the ominous Downton music, because it’s clear they are both role playing what they believe the other wants to hear whilst both knowing the truth.

In the drawing room, Robert, Cora and Rose are discussing the retrieval of the letter with Mary, who is most upset to be being dragged into the affair. Robert has planned it out. Rosamund will take Martha, the Dowager and Isobel to theatre. He will host a card game at Grantham House to which Sampson will be invited and Lady Mary will lead the burgling team! Sounds like a plan! Mary worries that Sampson will be suspicious but Robert cunningly plans to inform him that Harold will be joining the card game, believing the chance to fleece a wealthy American will draw him in. Cora is unhappy about Rose and Mary going to burgle the flat alone so they agree to draft in Charles Blake to be the muscle. When Mary is concerned that the police might be called, Robert gets on his high horse in defence of the monarchy and confessing the Crawley family’s partial responsibility in the mess up, before storming out and slamming the door as only he can. (My favourite of his storming out moments was when he tried to drag the ladies away from the meal at Isobel’s house cooked by “prostitute” Ethel, only to see them resist him in favour of a Charlotte Russe, forcing him to turn on his heal alone! Bless.)

Mary is not pleased to be dragged into the letter retrieving escapades.

Mary is not pleased to be dragged into the letter retrieving escapades.

At last the picnickers are picnicking! It’s a beautiful sunny day by the Albert memorial, perfect for some convivial dining au dehors.  Harold lounges on a blanket on the lawn whilst attempting to make things up with his English beauty. She is still miffed with him despite his heaping praise on the English cuisine. Martha grills Lord Aysgarth on his peerage and he explains it’s a quite a lowly barony. His poor daughter is only an “Honourable” and not a “Lady.” Oh the shame. But Harold doesn’t seem to mind and continues his charm offensive to win over the Honourable Madeline. Lord Aysgarth questions Martha on the plans for her European tour after leaving London, stating that he envies her, but, although she plays along, one figures that she has him all worked out and it’s just sport for her.

Madeline questions Harold on his playboy reputation! Poor Harold then shows his vulnerability as he talks of his preference for good time girls as he knows he won’t disappoint them. Oh dear, this poor man has been burnt, and he even claims that he “would find it hard to respect any woman who wished to marry me.” This is not what Madeline, who has started to fall for his charms wants to hear, but before she gets upset again he declares that “I like you very much, Miss Allsop, more that any, err, lady that I have ever known.” Awww so cute!

Harold and Madeline get closer at the picnic.

Harold and Madeline get closer at the picnic.

Rose and Mary go down to the servants’ hall to find Mr Bates. Conveniently “the forger” has already copied the letter and Bates hands it to Rose. Bates wishes them luck in their task. Rose scurries off to show Robert the letter leaving Mr Bates to have another awkward conversation, this time with Lady Mary. Mary suggests pointedly that “many people must regret things they got up to in London.” They stare at each other but then thankfully Mrs Hughes interrupts and Mary goes off to speak to her. Lady Mary is having second thoughts about covering up for Bates. A worried Mrs Hughes points out that Green was a vicious rapist and questions why Mr Bates should hang because of him, but Lady M is having a real crisis of conscience about it all.

In the drawing room, the Dowager Countess is unimpressed to hear about the proposed card game, not knowing the true reason for it of course. She and Isobel decline the offer of a trip to the theatre and the Dowager, like a dog with a bone, questions why “Mary’s men” are coming. It’s all very awkward with half of the room knowing the truth and the other half knowing nothing but Rose and Mary pretend that Charles Blake is taking them to see a show rather than burgling. Martha and Harold return having enjoyed the picnic. The Dowager is at her most caustic making endless jagged comments to Martha. Thankfully Martha agrees to go to the theatre with Rosamund meaning that at least they won’t be spending the evening together.

It’s time for Lord G’s surreptitious card soiree. The men have all arrived including dreamy Lord Gillingham, gold-digger Lord Aysgarth and letter thief Mr Sampson, but, before he can join his guests, Thomas grabs Lord G for a quick word. He tells him about Branson being with Miss Bunting on the gallery back at Downton. He heavily implies that they may have been in one of the bedrooms. Robert looks perturbed, thanks Thomas, and goes to his guests.

In the servants’ hall, Mr Carson informs the staff of Lady Grantham’s offer of a day out for them. He suggests his science museum idea but no one is keen. He reels off a few further suggestions which go down equally badly. Cue an awkward silence.
Anna speaks to Mrs Hughes and asks if she has given Mr Bates’ old coat away. Mr Bates is upset he didn’t have the opportunity to empty the pockets – yes, and we know why! – but Mrs Hughes denies there was anything important in them.
Thomas sits next to Miss Baxter and asks her what has been happening, but heroic Mr Molesley, seeing the strain etched on her face, drags her away under the guise of looking at a book they had been talking about.
Ethan has a bombshell for Daisy. He tells her that Harold wants her to go back to America with them and be his cook. Ethan nobly offers to meet her in New York when she disembarks. Daisy is taken aback by the offer whilst Ivy, who had earlier been dreaming of a more exciting life, looks rather crestfallen.

At the card table, Mr Samson expresses his relief that Gregson is not at the table this time whilst Lord Aysgarth tells Harold that he is disappointed that Martha isn’t there. Robert speaks to Tom about what he has just heard about Miss Bunting from Thomas. Tom explains that he brought Miss Bunting up to show her the house but they are interrupted before he can explain further…

At Mr Sampson’s flat, the forged letter has clearly worked as Rose, Mary and Charles Blake are let in by the porter. You have never seen more glamorous burglars in your life. They claim to be collecting things for Sampson whom they say has been struck down with illness. Once inside the rather sparse flat they rummage around for the letter. Their search is not successful and Lady Mary is soon back at Grantham House. She walks into the room where the card game is taking place and shakes her head at her father. To the disappointment of Sampson, Lord Grantham then declares the card game finished. It does give Mary the chance to have a few minutes alone with dreamy Lord Gillingham. They bemoan the fact that the letter was not retrieved before Charles Blake interrupts them. Mary and her men! Blake is going home but tells Mary the fact that she leaned on him for help has encouraged him in his hope of a chance with her.

Carson takes a message to Mr Bates from Lady Rose telling him that although his letter got them into the flat, they could not retrieve the letter they were after. Mr Bates then offers to hand out the coats to the guests when they leave.

Upstairs in the drawing room, Lord G asks Lady Edith, who looks miserable, if she is okay. Edith then starts an ominous spiel of “whatever I do, I would never want to hurt you” leaving her father looking perplexed and us viewers anticipating the arrival of a baby from Switzerland.
Mr Sampson thanks Lady Grantham for a lovely evening and seems genuinely touched by her inviting him. How will he feel when he gets home and finds out what they have really been up to?
Harold thanks Madeline for coming along for the evening and checks that she is coming to the ball. Ahhh it’s so nice to see romance bloom even if they are a rather unlikely couple.

In the hall, Carson and Bates help the departing guests with their coats. Bates takes Sampson’s coat from Mr Carson and helps Sampson put it on. Sampson then leaves. As the other guests say their good-nights, Mr Bates walks towards Lord Grantham with a letter in his hand. Sneaky Mr Bates realised that it was in Sampson’s coat pocket all along and relieved him of it. Lord Grantham presents the letter to Mary and Rose who are delighted.

As Anna helps her get ready for bed, Lady Mary impresses upon her how grateful they are to Mr Bates for his help in getting the letter back. They share a moment discussing how loyal they are to each other before Anna leaves. Alone, Mary, having overcome her earlier moral scruples, throws the train ticket implicating Mr Bates on the fire.

The following morning and frantic preparations are under way for Rose’s ball. It all looks sumptuous. Come the evening, the guests all arrive and mingle. Harold spies Madeline and edges his way towards her. Cora tells Robert to have the first dance with Rose. Just as they are about to start dancing, an illustrious figure walks into the room – the Prince of Wales. Mrs Dudley Ward, who has accompanied him, suggests that the Prince should start the dancing with Rose and all look delighted. It’s not often a Prince asks you to dance and Rose is thrilled. They start to do what looks like a pacey Viennese Waltz to me. Don’t quote me on that though! The family join in the dancing, including Mary and dreamy Lord Gillingham and the Dowager and Tom. Charles Blake watches Mary as she dances, whilst Mrs Dudley Ward explains to him how she had persuaded the Prince that he owed a debt of gratitude to Rose and the Crawleys, which had lead to their presence that evening.

The Prince of Wales opens the dancing with Rose.

The Prince of Wales opens the dancing with Rose.

On the other side of the room, Lord Aysgarth is stunned that Martha has just turned down his marriage proposal. He cannot comprehend that any woman would not want to be Lady Aysgarth. Martha explains that titles mean nothing to her and that she does not want to try to fit into a society in which she does not belong. He realises that he has been played by a better player but Martha does offer to be his wingman in Newport and find him a rich widow he can bestow his title on.

Harold and Madeline dance. He feels that his trip to London has changed him. She asks for his forgiveness for her father’s behaviour in chasing his mother and he is understanding about it. She then tries to convince him that he deserves a better class of woman and he appreciates her words. He tells her that he will be hiring an English cook and asks her to write to him when he returns home. *swoon* It’s delightful!

A green Charles Blake watches as Mary and dreamy Lord Gillingham leave the room. Once alone, Lord Gillingham asks Mary if she is any nearer making a decision on his marriage proposal. She is still hesitant. They discuss Charles Blake and the class difference between them before Lord Gillingham comes out with a surprising revelation. Charles Blake is another aristo who has been pretending to be one of the regular folk. He’s actually the heir to a large estate in Ulster! Mary is stunned. The sneaky so-and-so. Lord Gillingham even implies that ultimately Blake will be wealthier than him. Now that’s what you call a shocker! Mary reassures Gillingham that she can see herself marrying again and she never thought she would feel that way after Matthew’s death. He seems relieved to hear that. All I will say is that if she does not marry this man she is mad!

More romance back in the ballroom, Lord Merton comes along and whisks Isobel off to dance. She tries to get out of it claiming to be a bad dancer but he claims to be equally woeful. He truly is the most charming and genteel man on the show, young or old.
Mary and Gillingham come back into the ballroom and Blake grabs his chance to dance with Mary.
A determined looking Edith, after a few words from Tom, tells her mother and Rosamund that she will be returning to Yorkshire the following day. She also says that she will be going to Europe again. Rosamund realises what this means…
Finally, there is a last time for Violet and Martha to verbally spar in the corridor. Their mutual antipathy as strong as ever.

Downstairs all the staff have gone to bed except for Carson and Mrs Hughes who discuss the outing plans once again. Finally Carson picks up Mrs Hughes’ hints that a trip to the seaside is what is in order and she is delighted.

The following morning comes and a few of the revellers have not made it to bed at all. Lady Mary bids farewell to Charles Blake. She questions him about his inheritance and why he had hidden it. He says that he wanted to know if she would like him without the title and the estate. It seems there will be a battle for Lady Mary’s hand although, in my view, this doesn’t reflect that well on her. I hope she is not going to string the two of them along for too long next series, that would be rather unfair and unbecoming.

Back in Yorkshire, Lady Edith has invited Mr Drewe, the pig farmer for tea. She has decided to ask him to raise her baby after all. They try to come up with a cover story. Edith tells him that the child is her friend’s baby and as her parents disapproved of that friend the child can’t come to the nursery at Downton. Whether Drewe can see through this fabrication, as her voice becomes choked with emotion, is unclear but he offers up a more plausible story to keep the child a secret. He says that he will tell his wife he is taking in an old friend’s child and says his wife won’t question it (she must be one of those obedient wives they had in olden times.) Edith is comforted by this and so we can expect to be seeing Edith’s baby next year, but what of the child’s father? Will the truth ever be revealed?

The staff are at the seaside and the sun is shining! The men play football on the beach except for Thomas who sidles up to Miss Baxter. She finally stand up to his threats and he walks off upset. Mr Molesley comes to sit beside her and she expresses her gratitude to him for giving her the courage to stand up to Thomas.
Ethan and Daisy are sat with Mrs Patmore and Ethan tells them that they will be leaving for the continent the next day. Daisy declines his offer of moving to America, he admits that romance was one of his motivations but she isn’t going for it and he looks rather sad. Ivy, who has overheard Daisy’s refusal, then begs for the opportunity to be Mr Levinson’s cook. Ethan is not keen, after all, it was Daisy he wanted, but after much persuasion, and with Daisy’s encouragement, he acquiesces. So Ivy is off to the new world and she is thrilled.

Ethan's hopes of taking Daisy home to America are dashed.

Ethan’s hopes of taking Daisy home to America are dashed.

Anna and Bates go for a stroll along the beach and she apologises again for having given away his coat before he had checked it. She buys him an ice cream to try to atone and things are cheery between them despite the coat business.
Carson and Mrs Hughes have a paddle in the sea and Mrs Hughes lets the anxious Mr Carson hold her hand. Awww. And that is how we end for another year.

The episode ends at the seaside.

The episode ends at the seaside.

I’d love to know what you thought of this episode and what you would like to see for next year. I would like:

1) Lady Mary to marry Lord Gillingham
2) A resolution to the Gregson storyline
3) Isobel to become Lady Merton
4) The truth of Mr Green’s demise to come out.
5) Another visit from Martha and Harold.

Well these recaps have been a bit of a marathon effort but very enjoyable and I would like to thank you all for sticking with me. See you again in September…

Images © ITV

About The Author

I'm a gardener, knitter, seamstress and geek. I blog about this and that at http://rareenglishrose.com/

  • CreepyThinMan

    IS THAT ELIZABETH MCGOVERN OR DID SOMEONE MAKE A WAX SCULPTURE OF HER AND LEAVE IT NEAR AN OVEN BECAUSE THAT WOMAN HAS AGED HORRIBLY!!!FACT!!!

  • detectivedee

    Well, did not read it in its entirety to stay unspoiled… but writing comes easy to you, I guess ?

    • http://rareenglishrose.com/ Lady Mary Crawley

      I just enjoy waffling on about Downton! :)

      • The Willard

        You waffle on with the best of ‘em! (I don’t mean that badly, I mean you’re a terrific writer.)

  • golfalonepeach

    Inveigle, froideur, pacey waltz, some other French word. This was an absolute masterpiece. Who is this woman? All from memory? What?! How? Who? Rose retains the crown as writer in residence. I mean good Lord! Did you people read this? What the hell is going on? That was better than The New Yorker. I’m gobsmacked.

    • http://rareenglishrose.com/ Lady Mary Crawley

      Wow, thank you Peachy, you are very kind.

  • Ernest Rister

    I don’t want Bates in trouble — that guy and his wife have suffered enough. It’s starting to become pointlessly manipulative.

    • http://rareenglishrose.com/ Rare English Rose

      I think the Bates storyline is probably dead now but I feel frustrated by it. They put us through the ringer with that harrowing rape scene and I feel like we didn’t get a proper resolution to that at all. It’s disappointing.

      • Ernest Rister

        The fact they are leaving it open for exploitation for next year is my biggest issue. Enough already with the torture of these characters. They may have already jumped the shark and just don’t know it yet.

        • http://rareenglishrose.com/ Rare English Rose

          I really don’t want that storyline to come back next year. I mean the guy is dead so they can’t show us him getting his comeuppance unless it’s a flashback, which I’m not sure they would do. Hmmm.
          It needs to come back with a bang next year. I enjoyed the Christmas special but I felt it was a bit like Downton treading water. I also want the Lady Mary love triangle resolved pretty quickly or at least not dragged out all season.

  • MisterManReturns

    Wow, that was long…….didn’t read it, but have already watched the episode.

    • Bossk Tweed

      It is the longest book ive read in ten years.

      • MisterManReturns

        Have no idea what you are talking about. I was referring to this article.

        • Ernest Rister

          It was exceptional, and an act of love and service to this community. Rose didn’t spend all that time to come back here and see someone say, “Wow – that was long! Didn’t read it!”

          I read it, and I thank the author.

          • MisterManReturns

            “Act of love and service to this community”? Good grief.

          • Ernest Rister

            How would you know, since you didn’t read it, and from that, I deduce you haven’t read the rest of her work?

          • MisterManReturns

            No, she doesn’t seem to understand the meaning of the word, “recap.”

          • http://rareenglishrose.com/ Rare English Rose

            If you don’t enjoy my Downton articles then why don’t you submit your own? Anyone can. We all do this for free and for the love of the site. I look forward to reading your work.

          • MisterManReturns

            The point was the length, not the quality.

          • Bossk Tweed

            That’s what HE said.

          • MisterManReturns

            LOL

          • http://rareenglishrose.com/ Rare English Rose

            I love to write about this show. For me, it is something to be savoured. I’m sorry you don’t enjoy my work. This is the last one I’ll be writing until next September now anyway.

          • The Willard

            I’m pretty sure that what she’s doing is the very definition of “recap”. And it’s great stuff, you should read it before you criticize! We differ from AICN in that we are not paid geek elites, we are just talkbackers like you. And Rose is one of our best writers. Do up an article, man, it’s a lot of fun! It’s nicer than slamming other people for their hard work that they offer up for free.

          • MisterManReturns

            Wow, you folks are sensitive. Also, recap = a summary; covering the main points succinctly

          • http://rareenglishrose.com/ Rare English Rose

            Thank you Ernest. Your words mean a lot to me. I wrote this for people like you. :)

        • Bossk Tweed

          is your sense of humor broke?
          you dont have to answer that.

          were glad your here.

          • MisterManReturns

            Broken? No.

          • Bossk Tweed

            Oh, you just didn’t like my joke!

            Still glad your here.