Raise your hand if you thought Tom or Henry was going to die in this episode.
Honestly the way series creator Julian Fellowes rolls, I thought for sure that Tom, with all his talk of how much he loves racing cars, was a goner. I mean, Fellowes is the man who killed off Sybil and Matthew in the same season. What was to stop him from killing off Tom and making Sybbie an orphan?
So, like Mary, I was relieved when it was Charlie who died in a fiery crash at the Brooklands race track. It seems so obvious, in retrospect, that Charlie would go to that great TV set in the sky. He was the happy-go-lucky kind of chap who had just enough character development to make us sad he died, but not enough character development so we’d actually miss him.
The entire Crawley family goes to see Henry race and everyone, even Mary, is enjoying themselves until Henry’s friend Charlie dies. Henry is despondent and blames himself. Mary decides she cannot date Henry because she can’t bear his love of car racing and she wouldn’t want him to give up racing for her. Tom tries to tell Mary that “being hurt is part of being alive,” but to no avail.
The staff learns the truth that Andy can’t read and the local school teacher who has been helping Daisy and Mr. Mosely agrees to help Andy. Poor Thomas is once again cut out of any involvement, because the school teacher advises him to stop tutoring Andy so as not to confuse him. Daisy takes her exam and Mr. Mosely is offered a job at the schoolhouse. “Service is ending for most of us, I just got a head start,” Mr. Mosely tells Daisy.
Isobel is invited to Lord Merton’s son Larry’s wedding, which makes Violet very suspicious. Violet pays a visit to Larry’s fiancée Amelia Cruikshank. Turns out Miss Cruikshank hasn’t been so nice to Isobel because Amelia doesn’t want to have to take care of Lord Merton as he ages. She wants that to be Isobel’s job. Violet admits that if Isobel doesn’t take Lord Merton back, she’ll be “abandoning him to his selfish and greedy children.”
Violet meanwhile is so angry with Cora that she decides to visit France for a month. She says she’ll return when she has “regained control” of her tongue. Violet leaves while the whole family is in Brooklands and leaves a note and a new puppy for Robert.
And everyone desperately wants Thomas to find a new job. “I shall be pleased when we learn the identity of your next employer,” Mr. Carson tells him. And Thomas is realizing that he’s burned one too many bridges at Downton. He tells Mrs. Hughes, “This is the first place I’ve found when I’ve laid down some roots.” But the affection he feels for Downton and its inhabitants is not reciprocated.
Bertie proposes to Edith and while she’s thrilled she tells him she needs some time to think about it. She goes as far as to tell Bertie she’ll want to bring her family’s ward, Marigold, with her if they do marry, but doesn’t go as far as telling Bertie that Marigold is her daughter. That’s something she’ll have to do before she says “yes,” don’t you think?
Mrs. Patmore opens her bed and breakfast and all seems to be going well except for the mysterious man who is lurking outside her establishment taking notes. Once again Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes are played for laughs. Tired of his constant nagging about the way she cooks and runs a household, Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes hatch a plan. Mrs. Hughes fakes an injury so Mr. Carson is the one who must prepare dinner and do all the dishes.
With only two episodes left—the finale next week and the Christmas special on March 6—Downton Abbey still has a lot of ground to cover as it moves towards its series finale. The Thomas situation will certainly reach a breaking point—how much of being ignored and cast aside can one man take? And it’s not just the show that’s ending but also, as the series is so fond of telling us, a way of life. Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Mosely have carved out new careers for themselves. What about the others?
I don’t know about you, but I have a running checklist of things the show needs to accomplish before signing off. I need happiness for Edith, romance for Tom, a baby for Anna and Mr. Bates, and peace for Thomas. I definitely don’t need any more deaths.
I’m thinking romance between Tom and Edith’s editor, how about you?
Nothing, not even a death, can stop a formal dinner.
I didn’t think Matthew Goode could become any more endearing but he really did in this episode.
“I don’t ever think I’m the sort of girl men go mad about.” Oh Edith!
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.