After all the tragedy of the last fortnight at Downton Abbey, there was some good news to be had both upstairs and downstairs.
While Anna and Bates were all smiles with his return to the fold, love was proving more complicated for the others, with hearts all looking in the wrong direction. Alfred took Ivy to the pictures, much to Daisy's disgust, and James' mischievous delight. It looked like Alfred had the upper hand, temporarily - being allowed to carry in the MEAT, no less! - until it went all over the Dowager.
Thomas gets the wrong idea about James, and it lands him in a whole lot of trouble
All of which paled beside Thomas's bad week. There's nothing so dangerous as a desperate man, and with the valet's - that's Mr Barrow to you! - job looking increasingly fragile with Mr Bates' return. he got himself in a right old spin. What with O'Brien's meddling, Alfred's untimely appearance and even the distinctly Poirot-esque soundtrack as Barrow trod the dark staircase, it seemed that his unrequited adoration for James was going to get everyone into trouble, or worse.
Rob James-Collier stole the episode with his confusion and angst, surprising Thomas doubters into unexpected compassion as he pointed out to a befuddled Mr Carson, "It's not against the law to hope, is it?"
Meanwhile, upstairs, Branson - that's Tom to you! - found a way to be a tradesman AND stay in the drawing room, while Edith replaced Sybil as the family's resident suffragette with an unlikely supporter in the Dowager - "Edith isn't getting any younger" she helpfully pointed out.
Lady Edith - jolly all over, these days
This brought Edith into contact with 'Downton's latest eligible gentleman, ANOTHER newspaper editor who promptly treated her like an emancipated young woman, and checked on her marital status over a nice lunch at Rules. Hopefully this one will notice more than whether she's done something "jolly" with her hair, and Edith's blossoming has been one of the joys of this series.
And in other upstairs news… zip. The less said about Mary and Matthew's bedroom banter, the better. Please get pregnant soon, and spare us any more of such chat.
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