Do you get a little giddy when Laura Linney shows up against the red backdrop to banter about the show, or is that just us?
Ah, the opening theme music. There’s the dog. Hey, where is that dog? We know it’s been eight years in show time, but let’s hope he’s lounging comfortably somewhere at the estate.
As they rehearse for their wedding, Matthew asks Mary about Sybil. Lady Mary sniffs that her sister won’t be coming because she and her husband can’t afford it. I detect a slight eye-roll. “Well, at least Lady Mary will never have to concern herself with the vulgarity of financial woe,” snickers the foreshadowing fairy.
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Downstairs at the Abbey, the servants dine and gossip. Thomas delivers some snark on Bates’s murder conviction and is promptly shut down by Carson.
Mary finds her father seemingly upset by a phone call, but he brushes off her concern.... Carson and Mrs. Hughes fret about managing wedding duties without a footman. O’Brien offers her nephew’s services, but Carson huffs that they are preparing for a society wedding and he has no time for “training young hobbledehoys.” Well, perhaps you could teach him a soft-shoe number for the reception? Not to be ignored, O’Brien goes to Lady Cora’s about hiring O’Brien’s nephew Alfred Nugent. A distracted Robert agrees and announces that he must make a sudden trip to London.
Anna goes to visit Bates in jail. Oh, Bates-y. Dreamy even in his prison grays. They discuss her efforts to get his conviction overplanned. Bates reports that he has a new cellmate and it seems, he does not care for him.... Alfred arrives at Downton Abbey where Carson gives the former waiter the once over and snipes that since the newbie is over 6’1, he’s too tall to be a footman. O’Brien points out that he’s already been hired.
Mary and Matthew stroll the grounds and talk about living at the estate for a while after the honeymoon. He’s uncomfortable about “taking [her] to bed with [her] father watching.” Don’t be creepy. He wants them to “learn about each other.” Uh, hasn’t it been eight years?
Lord Grantham has a meeting in which he learns that his railway investments have tanked and most of Cora’s fortune is now gone. He vows to save Downton Abbey.
Edith is in town strolling when she runs into Sir Anthony and hops into his car. She says she was trying to get away from “wedding panic.” He notes that “weddings can be reminders of one’s loneliness.” Well, that’s some loin-stirring flirtation right there. The fashions of the 1920s are charitable to Lady Edith.
Matthew dresses for dinner and chats with his valet, Molesley, who is taken aback to find that he won’t be joining his master at the manor. Matthew explains that he’d like to live more simply after the wedding and that his mother relies on the valet... Thomas helps Robert dress and mentions the new footman, who Lord Grantham had clearly totally forgotten about. He instructs Cora that there must be no new hires until things are settled. He then grumbles about the wedding costs.
In the kitchen, Daisy carps to Thomas that she was promised a promotion. A new kitchen maid would be hired and she’d ascend to Mrs. Patmore’s assistant. Thomas suggests that she go on strike. We don’t recall her being such a worker bee that anyone will notice.
At dinner, Mary announces that Sybil will be returning home. The Dowager Countess remarks on Alfred’s height and snarks that Cora’s American mother, who is set to arrive soon, reminds her of “the virtues of the English.” Alfred struggles to serve properly and Carson calls him out in front of the family. The foreshadowing fairy serves a heaping portion of comments about finances. Matthew again opines that he’d like to live “in a simpler way,” while the Dowager Countess maintains that it’s an aristocrats job to employ servants.
Matthew and Mary engage in some more veddy English naughty talk and she warns him not to make her blush, which, come on, that ship has sailed, but we’ll give it the old okey doke.
Sybil and Branson arrive and she immediately asks his dad if he sent the money. “What money?” he asks? Branson awkwardly greets his former employers-cum-in-laws and Carson, who is the Carsonest Carson, whoever Carsoned.
Matthew learns that he may have inherited a fortune from the late Lavinia’s Swire’s father. There was another heir, but he disappeared during a trip to India. Honest to God Show, if this involves another amnesiac Canadian, we will have some cross words for you.... Downstairs, Carson and Thomas refuse to act as valet to the former chauffeur, so the job falls to Alfred. No matter because apparently, Branson does not dress for dinner, he explains to the Dowager Countess that he does not own a set of tails or dinner jacket. And speaking of clothing, one can’t help but notice that Lady Edith has better outfits than Sybil. Branson rails about Irish politics making for a tense dinner. He visits downstairs to say hello to his former colleagues. Anna and Mrs. Hughes are polite, unlike Carson, Thomas and O’Brien.
Mary warns Sybil that the Gray family is visting the following evening. This includes Larry, who “used to be keen on” Sybil. She fills in her husband and asks him to pipe down with all the Ireland talk.
Matthew eventually tells Mary about the possible inheritance. He says that he can’t keep it because the will was written before he broke Lavinia’s heart. Meanwhile, Lord Grantham informs Cora that his bad investment has just about wiped out her fortune. He starts to weep and she comforts him, which is pretty sporting.... In town, Matthew finds Tom Branson outside a pub, the chauffeur says he’s thinking of lodging there. Matt suggests that they stick together as brothers-in-law.... Another visit to Bates-y. Anna is determined to prove that Vera killed herself.
Anna helps Edith style her hair in a way that she hopes “Sir Anthony” notices. She confides that everyone thinks he’s too old for her, but he’s not and compares her situation to Anna and Bates, which—whoa there, Edith. Sir Anthony is no Bates-y, don’t get it twisted.
O’Brien asks her former bestie Thomas to help her nephew find his way about to help him get promoted to valet. Thomas declines.
At dinner, Larry in white tie sneers at Branson and his lack of formal attire. Edith invites Sir Anthony to the wedding and he notes that her hair is “quite jolly.” He is distracted from her jolly hair to something that Larry is doing and seems alarmed. Branson is loud and obnoxious at dinner. Larry snickers. Sir Anthony calls out Larry for slipping something in Branson’s drink and the Granthams are not amused. Things do not go well for unrepentant Larry and his own father denounces him. As Sybil escorts her hubby from the table, Matthew announces that he wants Tom to be his best man. Outside, Edith fawns all over Sir Anthony because he exposed Larry’s dastardly doping drama. Flirting ensues and she kisses him on the cheek.
Cora and her husband decide to fill in Mary on the financial problems, but keep it from Cora’s mother, who they suggest is a drama queen. As Mary models her trousseau, Robert notes that it looks pricey before suggesting that she start clipping coupons and obtain a Costco membership.
Tom Branson is summoned to Crawley House, Isobel and Violet offer him Matthew’s old morning coat. He protests dressing like the aristocracy, but the ladies make it clear, that this is an order.
A snazzy red car pulls up to the manor and out steps Cora’s American mother, Martha Levinson, filled with lots of cutting observations and bon mots.
Matthew grumbles to Mary about his potential inheritance. He thinks it unseemly to accept the fortune. Mary alerts him to the family’s financial problems and implores him to keep the money, a quarrel ensues.... At dinner, Sybil wonders who secretly sent the money to bring her and Tom to the wedding. The Dowager Countess confesses....
Matthew confides in Branson, who urges him to do as Mary wishes, saying that Matthew will never be happy with anyone else. On the eve of the wedding, Matthew knocks at her door to make up and get a kiss. She says that it’s bad luck to look at her. I’m sure Pamuk would have something to say about that. Matthew keeps his eyes closed, but Mary sneaks a peek. Well, that certainly spells doom.
Finally, the wedding day is here. That gown could use a little more bling. Where’s Martha? Surely, she’s got a glue gun and some spare rhinestones in her luggage.... After the off-screen honeymoon, Matthew and Mary return home in a convertible. “How was the honeymoon?” Robert asks his son-in-law, who responds, “My eyes have been opened.” Stop being awkward, Show.
Speaking of which, another family dinner where Martha and Violet trade barbs. Mary gets in some digs about Edith’s old man. Robert tells his mother that he thinks the relationship is one-sided and the Dowager advises him to put an end to it. Seeing as how Edith’s best prospects have been an amnesiac Canadian mummy and an indigent married farmer, we question the wisdom of this move. Poor Edith.
With Matthew refusing to use the Swire money to save the estate, Violet goes to Mary and suggests that they recruit Martha to help them financially.
As Alfred helps Matthew dress for dinner, he’s annoyed to find a hole in his tails. He’s rather fussy for someone who once scoffed at the notion of a valet. It turns out that Thomas sabotaged Alfred by advising him to clean the tails with something caustic. Thomas suggests to Lord Grantham that they bring Molesley from the village to act as Matthew’s valet. O’Brien is not going to let that go. Martha’s maid Reed comforts him with a kiss, which irks Daisy.
Robert urges Sir Anthony to give Edith the boot. He sends her a “Dear Jane” letter. She goes crying to Martha, who chastises Robert, proclaiming that Edith is “sad and lonely.” Poor Edith.
In an attempt to show Martha the importance of Downton Abbey, Mary orchestrates a grand dinner, which flusters the staff since they are shorthanded. Only Mrs. Patmore knows that Mrs. Hughes has something more pressing on her mind, a possible cancer diagnosis, which will take two month to confirm.
The night of the big dinner. Oh, the horror, Matthew’s repaired tails don’t arrive from London in time, he’ll have to wear black tie to the dinner. Thomas is in a panic, he can’t find Robert’s evening shirts and wrongly blames Alfred. Lord Grantham is not pleased to have lost his shirt in more than one way. Downstairs, there’s another crisis: The oven is broken, so there is no food. In the ensuing British freak-out, Martha orders the staff to bring up bread, cheese, fruit and cold chicken and ham for an indoor picnic. This does not please the Dowager, who asks her son for a drink, then eyeing his black tie says, “Sorry, I thought you were a waiter.”
The guests, including Sir Anthony, are confounded by, this wacky American-style casual dining, but the evening is a success. Sir Anthony makes a secret proposal to Lady Edith, who says they can have things wrapped up within a month. Martha even croons “Let Me Call You Sweetheart” to the Dowager Countess. She does not, however, fork over her money to save the estate and advises that the family downsize.
Next week, the family moves into a condo and the Dowager Countess becomes a greeter at Wal-Mart.