Synopsis: Mrs. Hughes’ former boyfriend arrives at Downton Abbey and asks her to marry him. Lady Violet asks Matthew to find a way to challenge the entail putting him in an awkward position. Meanwhile, Lady Sybil is becoming vocal about her political beliefs as she voices her support for women’s rights.
Episode Summary: The Dowager Countess has become concerned about Lady Mary, unaware of what happened between her and Mr. Pamuk; she attributes her sullen disposition to the uncertainty of her granddaughter’s situation. Lady Cora, however, is resigned with the fact that the entail is unbreakable, which means that there is no chance for her daughter to inherit. Lady Violet has not given up on the fight, and believes that all they need is a decent and honor-bound lawyer, and she claims to know the right person for the job.
Mrs. Crawley notices a rash on Mr. Moseley’s hand, and begins to fuss about it. It seems that her success with correctly diagnosing Mr. Drake’s condition has given her fodder to continue playing doctor. She diagnoses Mr. Moseley’s rash as erysipelas, and is convinced that the butler must have cut himself despite the man denying having done so. Determined to have it treated, Mrs. Crawley insists that they pay a visit to the hospital. Mrs. Crawley seems to have overstepped her role as the chairman of the Downton Cottage Hospital when she orders the nurse to open the medicine cupboard for her that she may take the medicine that she needs. She prescribes tincture of steel, and a solution of nitrate of silver to Mr. Moseley.
A fair has come to Downton, and the servants have received permission to come see it. Meanwhile, Mrs. Patmore seeing how Daisy is uncharacteristically glum orders the young kitchen maid to take the night off to go see the fair. Even Mrs. Hughes has decided to take a night off, and seems to be looking forward to it. Unluckily for Anna, she has come down with a flu. Miss O’Brien reluctantly takes over Anna’s job as per the order of Mrs. Hughes. William unsure whether Daisy is going to the fair asks Mr. Bates within Thomas’ earshot if the young girl is going. Learning that she is, he begins to ask her on a date, but Thomas just to spite him cuts him off so he could get the young girl to go with him. Daisy who is smitten with Thomas could not be more pleased.
Matthew Crawley receives an announced visit from Lady Violet to speak about the entail. Knowing that Matthew would never want to benefit at Mary’s expense due to ignorance of the law, she has come to him for help. She would like to understand the exact terms of the entail, and the deed of gift when Lady Cora’s money was transferred to the estate.
Mrs. Hughes after a very long time has finally decided to take a night off, but she worries that Mr. Carson will be left all alone to manage the house with Anna out with the flu. Mr. Carson not wanting to keep her from her time off assures Mrs. Hughes that he can manage. His only concern at that moment is his discovery that they seem to be missing bottles of wine. Mr. Carson may have cause to regret letting Mrs. Hughes take the night off. Without Mrs. Hughes, the kitchen is in disorder. Despite all the commotion in the kitchen, Daisy seems to be back to her old cheery self for she is looking forward to going to the fair with Thomas much to William’s chagrin and Mrs. Patmore’s disappointment.
Night has fallen, and the fair has opened its doors to the people of Downton Abbey. Lady Mary finds Matthew at the Coconut Saloon, and he buys her tickets to play the game. He also takes the opportunity to ask Lady Mary if Lord Grantham is available for a chat that evening. His request is the consequence of his talk about the Great Matter with Lady Violet earlier that day. Seeing each other at the fair has given the two the opportunity to have a decent conversation that is free from angst. Lady Mary makes it known to Matthew that although she once remarked that his job made him very middle class she sometimes envy him for his work gives him purpose. She, on the other hand, does not really have a life for women like her do not do anything but wait for a husband. Matthew is somewhat relieved to hear from Lady Mary that her anger stems from her way of life and not from him.
Lady Mary informs Lord Grantham that Matthew is coming to pay him a visit unaware that Lady Violet is coming as well. Lord Grantham asks her daughter to keep Lady Violet from learning that Matthew has come to see him. Matthew arrives at the Downton House and sees that Lady Violet is there as well. Lucky for him, it is only Lady Mary who has seen him arrive. She tells him to wait in the library, while she informs her father that he has arrived. Matthew informs Lord Grantham of the meeting he had with Lady Violet. Matthew unable to come up with a reason that could challenge the entail asks Lord Grantham’s advice on how to break the news to Lady Violet. He is afraid that the woman would think that he intentionally failed the task, because succeeding would be a detriment to him. Lord Grantham does not deny that his mother’s opinion of him cannot be changed, but assures him that he and Lady Cora would not share Lady Violet’s judgment. It, however, surprised Lord Grantham to hear that Matthew is more concerned about Lady Mary’s resentment towards him.
While admiring the flamethrower, Mrs. Hughes is approached by her old friend, Joe Burns. The two have dinner together to catch up on things. She learns that Joe’s wife has died, and he is left alone in his farm for his son has joined the army. Learning that Elsie Hughes has come to call herself Mrs., Joe asks about it, but Mrs. Hughes explains that it is a salutation used by housekeepers and cooks. Joe seems delighted to learn that Elsie has never married. She brings her back to the fair, and wins for her a prize, a token to remember him by. Joe Burns who once asked Elsie to marry him asks her one more time, but requests her to give it a long thought for he does not want her to come to a decision that she will regret. Elsie promises to think long and hard before giving him an answer. The other servants see her with Joe at the fair. Thomas informs them that Mrs. Hughes seems to have gotten herself a boyfriend for the man could not be her brother since she only has a sister. Daisy is impressed with Thomas that upsets William, but it is Daisy who upsets him more when she tells him to go home for being a spoilsport.
Branson, Lord Grantham’s new chauffer, is unlike his predecessor. Aside from showing interest in history and politics, the Irish lad is vocal about his opinions of the aristocrat’s idea of charity. Meanwhile, Miss O’Brien is still griping about being ordered to take over Anna’s job. Learning that Anna is still out sick, Mr. Bates returns the kindness she once showed him. He brings her a tray of food to eat putting a smile on the young woman’s face.
Mr. Carson unaware that Lord Grantham’s meeting with Matthew is to be kept from Lady Violet lets it slip that the two are in the library. Lady Violet makes her presence known and more so her anger. She finds it hard to understand why her son seems glad to have his own daughter disinherited. Lord Grantham argues that he has merely accepted her daughter’s fate for the entail left them with no other option. Worn out, most likely from Lady Violet’s fury, Lord Grantham goes to bed, but instructs Mr. Carson not to inform Mary and Matthew until the two rings for him. Matthew informs Mary that the only way to break the entail is for Parliament to pass a private bill, but this can only happen if the estate were in danger, which it is not. It surprises Mary that Matthew is genuinely concerned about her, and is even more startled to find herself attracted with the young man.
Mr. Bates seeing that William is upset tries to speak to him, but the young man wants to be left alone. Thomas fully aware of what he has done shows no remorse, and is even proud about having trampled upon the young man. Mr. Bates takes Thomas by his collar and threatens him, but the footman is unfazed. Thomas continues to embarrass William, and he seems to be rubbing on to Daisy.
With Anna still sick, Miss O’Brien is left to manage the young ladies of the house. Gwen makes a lie about Lady Cora sending her a message for Lady Sybil in order to get Miss O’Brien out of the room. Gwen has come to see Lady Sybil to show her the letter she received from one of the firms she applied for. Learning that Gwen was not permitted to take a day off, Lady Sybil advises her to feign sickness sure that nobody will notice that the housemaid is not at the house just as nobody asks for Anna knowing that she is ill.
Lady Mary confronts her father about his laissez faire attitude towards the entail. He explains that if he had made his own fortune and bought Downton for himself then he surely would fight for her to the teeth, but unfortunately he did not. He believes that his fortune is the work of others who labored to build a great dynasty, and it is not his place to destroy their work for the sake of his daughter. He is merely the custodian of Downton Abbey and not the owner of it. He does have the option to take Lady Cora’s fortune out of the estate, but this would be the ruin of Downton for it would have to be sold to pay for it. Such are the options they have at their hands, and so Lady Mary must find a way to accept it even though it would mean that she is to get out of the way and only concern herself with finding a husband. Lord Grantham gives her another option, and that is to marry Matthew Crawley. Lady Mary reminds her father that she will never agree to an arranged marriage for she is a stubborn woman.
Branson drives Lady Sybil to Ripon to get her fitted for a new dress. Overhearing Lady Sybil’s support of women’s rights, the young chauffer is curious to know whether Lady Sybil will succumb to her mother’s taste or if she will insist her own style. Seeing her as an open-minded young woman, Branson gives her some pamphlets about the matter of giving women the right to vote. Knowing that her father and grandmother disapprove of this, she warns Branson to keep his political interests from them. Lady Sybil is pleasantly surprised to find the young man to be a socialist with dreams of getting a better life for he is sure that he will not always be a chauffer.
Lady Violet who is speaking with Dr. Clarkson is surprised to see Mrs. Crawley arrive with Mr. Moseley. Mr. Moseley’s rash is the reason for their visit for the medications Mrs. Crawley prescribed do not seem to work. This piques Lady Violet’ curiosity and so Mr. Moseley informs her that he has erysipelas, and shows her his infected hand. Seeing it, Lady Violet makes her own diagnosis. She believes that Mr. Moseley merely has a rue allergy knowing that he has been helping his father turn his late mother’s herb garden into grass. Lady Violet’s recommendation is for Mr. Moseley to wear gloves when helping his father, and believes that his rash should be gone in a week. Moreover, she advises Mrs. Crawley to leave diagnosing patients to doctors.
Lord Grantham and Matthew visit some old cottages that need repairing. Matthew is pleased to hear that Lord Grantham expects her mother to be done with her scheming and that the time has come for everyone to accept that the entail cannot be broken. Lord Grantham is equally glad to hear that Matthew has finally seen that his future is with Downton. The young man confesses that when he first arrived that he could only see the absurdities and not the possibilities so much so that he was determined not to let it change him. Now he has come to realize that a man will die if he refuses change.
Daisy confides with Mrs. Patmore her love for Thomas, but the cook tells her that they are not right for each other not that Daisy is not good enough for him, but because they are not a match. Mrs. Patmore knows that Thomas is a troubled soul and not a ladies’ man, but Daisy seems to like him more because of it.
Lady Sybil begins chatter among her sisters about her beliefs starting with why women are expected to wear corsets. She then moves on to the matter of women’s suffrage. Anna seems to share her beliefs with her acknowledgement of the women’s courage to stand up for their rights. Later after dinner, Lady Mary finds it difficult to sit and listen to her father talk about nothing else but Matthew. Lord Grantham is very pleased with his heir for starting the cottage restoration project that has a goal of restoring old cottages every year. Even Lady Sybil is pleased with it knowing that the people of Downton will benefit from it. Lady Mary excuses herself feigning illness, and Lady Cora follows her to her room only to find her weeping. Her distress comes from the realization that her father has found a son in Matthew, and it is for this reason that he has not bothered to fight for her. Lady Cora explains that the only reason Lord Grantham did not put up a fight is because he knew that he could not win. This seems to anger Lady Mary even more seeing that her mother has turned against her as well, believing that her mother now thinks less of her for having taken a lover without any thought of marriage. Lady Cora seeing that her daughter cannot be consoled leaves her alone, but not without advising her not to quarrel with Matthew for she may someday need him. Lady Mary once again takes it the wrong way and finds that her mother’s remark was born out of her knowing that she will eventually be ruined, and Matthew is the one person who can protect her.
Mrs. Hughes having observed how Thomas has shamed William gives the young man advice. Moreover, she tells him that the only reason Thomas has been picking on him is because he is jealous of him. Everybody likes William, but unfortunately the one person who matters most to him likes Thomas more. Mrs. Hughes informs him that the girl is foolish and does not deserve him. William is grateful for Mrs. Hughes’ kind words, and in return praises her by telling her that he could not imagine how the house will function without her. This seems to have reminded Mrs. Hughes of the decision she made. She confides to Mr. Carson about Joe Burns who turned out to be her boyfriend before she started work at Downton. Learning that she had taken the job, Joe asked her to marry her. Joe, a farmer, and Mrs. Hughes a farmer’s daughter seem to be a good match. Moreover, Joe is a very nice man. However, Mrs. Hughes has grown to love her work, and would not want to give it up, which is why she turned down his marriage proposal. Joe was left to marry someone else, but then three years ago his wife died. Joe never forgot about Mrs. Hughes that he wrote to her asking that they meet again. Curious to know how the man has been, she agreed to meet him, and they had a lovely time at the fair. Mrs. Hughes is delighted to see that Joe continues to be the nice man she met years ago. Moreover, he had once again asked her to marry him. Although Mrs. Hughes wanted to accept his proposal, she is surprised to learn that she has changed. She is no longer the farm girl that Joe once knew, and it is for this reason that she once again turned him down. Mrs. Hughes has decided to stay at Downton.
Lady Sybil’s new frock finally arrives, and she is very excited about it. Moreover, she has prepared a dress for Gwen’s interview, but learns that the firm has cancelled her interview for they have already found someone who is more suited and better qualified for the job, which explains why the young housemaid has become sad and dejected. Gwen begins to once again doubt herself, but Lady Sybil comforts the young woman telling her that they are not to give up. Later, the Crawleys including Matthew and Isobel anxiously wait for Lady Sybil who has taken a lot longer than usual to dress. She is upstairs with Anna who dresses her, and who is equally excited about her master’s new frock. Lady Sybil surprises everyone for she is wearing a pair of pants.
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