Much like the Great War, the Spanish Flu epidemic does not leave Downton untouched. Carson, Lady Cora and Lavinia fall ill, with Lavinia succumbing to her illness in a rather heartbreaking manner. After she catches Matthew kissing Lady Mary, she tells him he should leave her and choose Lady Mary because she’s “a little person, an ordinary person.”
If that isn’t sad enough, when she takes a turn for the worse, she says to Matthew that it’s better that she’s dying because now he won’t have to make such a hard decision. It’s a two-hankie moment.
But Lavinia is not the only victim of the flu. Matthew and Mary’s chances are well and truly over, as Matthew cannot bring himself to go running back to her after losing Lavinia, calling their love “cursed.” Mary very pointedly asks Sir Richard to walk her home after Lavinia’s burial.
In other upstairs drama, Sybil and Branson tell the family of their love. Branson has found a job in Dublin as a reporter and they intend to move there and be wed. Lord Grantham naturally loses his mind, while Lady Cora merely look stunned. Granny Violet takes it the best of anyone, honestly – we love her little monologue at the end:
“The Aristocracy has not survived by its intransigence. We must work with what we’ve got to minimize the scandal. He’s political, isn’t he? And a writer? Well, you could make something out of that. And there’s a family called Branson with a place not far from Cork. I believe they have a connection with the Howards. Well, surely we can hitch him on to them.”
And Lord Grantham is still dilly-dallying around with Jane the maid, which is a storyline we are not fond of. Not only do we hate seeing Robert have a midlife crisis, but Jane kind of throws herself at him too. Do we really believe they fell in love in the handful of interactions where they’ve made googly eyes at each other? No. So thankfully, they do not sleep together and Jane leaves. Let us never speak of it again.
Anna takes the most marvelous stand with Mr. Bates regarding their relationship:
“We’re going to get married … you’re going to Rippon tomorrow afternoon to take out a special license, I don’t care how much it costs, and fix a day. We’ll tell no one, but this you will do … I have stood by you through thick and thin … Mr. Bates, if we have to face this, then we will face it as husband and wife. I will not be moved to the sidelines to watch how you fair from a distance, with no right even to be kept informed. I will be your next of kin. And you can’t deny me that.”
You go, Anna. And it’s a good thing she did, since he is arrested for Mrs. Bates’ murder at the end of the episode.
Meanwhile, O’Brien is watching over Lady Cora like she’s Cora’s own mother. It really is beautiful to watch, what a lovely turn for O’Brien. We don’t think it’s all about the guilt over the baby. She’s grown truly fond of Lady Cora and she actually had her own two-hankie moment when she was trying to confess.
Major Mustache’s parents are back, but not to make peace. They want to take Charlie away from Ethel, to be raised as their grandson, telling him his father was killed in the War and his mother succumbed to Spanish Flu. But Ethel refuses, saying a baby needs his mother’s love.
In smaller news, Thomas is basically helping out around the house and being nice so they don’t turn him out on his ear. It’s funny to see sugar-wouldn’t-melt-in-his-mouth Thomas and the reactions of everyone to him.
And poor Daisy. Even if she is a bit of a broken record, it feels very genuine. Mrs. Patmore really railroaded her into everything and she was too nice to say no, plus it would’ve just crushed William. We hope she can just keep being nice to his father for awhile longer. Don’t break the man’s heart any worse.
Thoughts & Tidbits
- We loved this exchange between Lord and Lady Grantham about Lady Sybil: Robert: “She’s forgotten who she is.” Cora: “Has she, Robert? Or have we overlooked who she really is?”
- Not only are we so over Robert as the man lusting after the maid, but we also didn’t like watching him try to bribe Branson to leave. Thank goodness he came around and made peace with Sybil and Branson and was trying to bond with Lady Cora after she came through the flu scare. Please bring back the stalwart Robert we all know and love for Season 3.
- Lady Mary setting up the honeymoon suite for Anna and Bates was very, well, sweet. Though naturally Jane did the actual work – Lady Mary doesn’t do work.
What did you think of the penultimate episode of “Downton Abbey,” fans?