Synopsis: The Crawleys except for Lady Mary return to Downton Abbey after the end of the Season. Lady Mary has stayed in London with her aunt, and receives some bad advice from Lady Rosamund after learning that Lady Cora is with child. Mary returns to Downton Abbey, but decides, much to the dismay of everyone, to postpone accepting Matthew’s proposal until after her mother gives birth. A few people at Downton receive some news, but it is the one Lord Grantham announces that will change everyone’s lives.
Episode Summary: It’s July 1914 and the Crawleys except for Lady Mary return to Downton Abbey after the Season. Lady Cora congratulates Lady Sybil for the great success of her Season making Lady Edith jealous yet again. William is also back after having gone home to see his mother in her last days.
Lady Mary has decided to stay in London with Lady Rosamund for a couple of weeks. Having heard the news from Lady Cora, Lady Rosamund could not help but ask Lady Mary about her decision to marry Matthew. Lady Mary hasn’t given Matthew an answer, but did promise him one the day she gets back to Downton. She receives an unexpected visit from Evelyn Napier, and learns that the man has called off his marriage, but the reason for his visit is not to speak about the unfortunate turn in his engagement. Mr. Napier, a decent and noble man, wanted to personally speak to Lady Mary to inform her that unkind rumors have been going around about her and the late Mr. Pamuk, gossip said to have come from Mr. Napier. Being a good friend of Mary’s, Evelyn wanted to assure his friend that he is not the one who has been spreading this rumor. This surprises Mary who now wonders who could be spreading the gossip. Imagine her shock to learn that it was the Turkish Ambassador and his wife, but hearing where they got the news from is even more appalling for Mr. Napier learned that it was Lady Edith who told them, which is also the reason why people have not doubted its legitimacy. Although the idea that her own sister would cause her ruin is unfathomable for most people, Lady Mary does not find this far-fetched at all.
Lord Grantham is surprised to see Dr. Clarkson in their home, and is even more surprised with the news Lady Cora has for him. Lady Cora is pregnant. After overcoming the shock of the news, Lord Grantham finally finds joy at the news of him fathering another child. Still Lord Grantham could not help but have a chat with Dr. Clarkson about it given the unusual circumstances he refers to as biblical, seeing as eighteen years has passed since Lady Cora bore a child. Dr. Clarkson assures him that there is no reason for the child to be unhealthy. Lord Grantham is also curious to know if he could have another heir, but Dr. Clarkson makes it clear that there is no way of knowing until Lady Cora gives birth. Mrs. Hughes unaware that the doctor is still there interrupts their conversation. She has come to speak to Lord Grantham about Mrs. Patmore whose condition and behavior has become worse.
News of Lady Grantham bearing a child has reached the servants, and like Lord Grantham they have mixed feelings about the news. Mrs. Hughes for one is concerned of Matthew’s fate if the child happens to be a boy. Much to her surprise, Mr. Carson who was not a fan of the new heir when he first arrived, shares her concern. Mrs. Hughes also wonders whether Lady Mary would not accept Matthew’s proposal given this new development. Mr. Carson is sure that the apple of his eye would not do such a thing.
Like Mrs. Hughes, Lord Grantham has thought about Matthew’s fate, and he speaks to the young man about it promising to make provisions for him if the child turns out to be a boy. Matthew who knows the strength of the entail understands that there is no hope for him if Lady Cora delivers an heir. Nonetheless, Lord Grantham offers him the Crawley House. The truth of the matter is there is only one that concerns Matthew, and that is Mary. Matthew has not heard from her ever since she left for the Season. However, he does relay the news to his mother who does not take it as well as he does. Looking ahead, Matthew begins thinking about what he will do if he is no longer the heir of Downton Abbey. He plans on going back to Manchester.
Miss O’Brien receives a letter concerning Mr. Bates. After discussing it with Thomas, the two wastes no time to inform Mr. Carson about it unaware that the butler already knows some of the story given Mr. Bates’ startling confession. Mr. Carson informs Mr. Bates about the letter that came from Miss O’Brien’s new friend who happens to work in the house of a colonel in Mr. Bates’ former regiment. Unwilling to believe that the contents of the letter are true, Mr. Carson shows it to Mr. Bates giving him the chance to deny it before showing it to Lord Grantham. Mr. Bates does not deny its contents, leaving Mr. Carson with no other choice but to inform Lord Grantham about it.
News of her mother’s pregnancy has reached Lady Mary and Lady Rosamund who ill-advises her niece to ask Matthew to wait for her answer until the child is born. Mary worries that if she does what her aunt suggests that Matthew will think that she is only interested with him because of his position. Mary is truly in love with Matthew for she confesses to her aunt that she wants him even without the title, but Rosamund’s bleak forecast of her future as the wife of a commoner gives her pause.
It seems that Downton will soon receive news faster than it has been getting with Lord Grantham deciding to install a telephone at their house. He claims that his daughters have gotten used to having one when they were in London, and with the murder of the Austrian Archduke causing a stir Lord Grantham finds that this new means of communication might come in handy. Somehow, Mr. Carson is not delighted with having a telephone in the house, but nevertheless agrees to attend to the telephone man. Mr. Carson then speaks with Lord Grantham about the business with Mr. Bates. Having read the letter, Lord Grantham is in disbelief to learn that Mr. Bates has been imprisoned for stealing regimental silver.
Lady Mary has finally returned to Downton, and Lady Violet is anxious to know if Mary has come to a decision about Matthew’s proposal. She informs her grandmother that her aunt had made a suggestion, but Lady Violet is already well-aware of her daughter’s advice and informs marry not to give it any thought. Surprisingly, Lady Violet’s advice to Mary is to take Matthew now when his whole future is at risk and he will love her more for her decision. This prompts a question from Lady Edith of what Mary will do if the new addition to the family turns out to be a boy. Lady Violet believes that Mary could always change her mind, but Mary truly loves Matthew and she would not drop him just because he is no longer an heir.
Lady Violet informs Lady Cora that her suspicions about her maid leaving her is true, but is delighted to tell her that her servant’s departure is due to her getting married and not because she maltreats her. Selfish as she is, Violet is still upset at her maid’s perceived selfishness for pursuing her happiness and leaving her without a servant. Cora could relate to being attached to their servants relaying her reluctance to let go of O’Brien despite Robert’s insistence. O’Brien in spite of her rudeness to the other servants has gained her mistress’ trust. Violet treats her maid’s leaving like the end of the world. She simply doesn’t know what to do. Cora recommends putting an advertisement in The Lady, which she will do for her mother-in-law. Though the woman is helpless when it comes to finding a new servant, Violet is decisive in matters that concern her family. She gives counsel to Cora telling her not to let Mary wait until the baby is born before giving Matthew her answer. Violet believes that if Mary turns Matthew down when he might be poor, Matthew will no longer want her when he will be rich.
War is looming, and even the servants are aware of it. One must be living under a rock not to know what is to come, which is why news of Lord Grantham wanting to speak with Mrs. Patmore was more of a surprise than the idea of the country going into war. Mrs. Patmore certain that she will be let go meets Lord Grantham ready to beg for him to keep her. Fortunately, Lord Grantham is truly a good and decent man and is not fond of firing servants. He asked to speak with Mrs. Patmore to inform her that he has spoken with Dr. Clarkson who recommended an eye specialist at Moorfields. She is to go to London accompanied by Anna where they are to stay at Lady Rosamund’s new house in Belgrave Square during her recovery. This is all good news for Mrs. Patmore. The only damper is that Lord Grantham has arranged for Mrs. Bird, Mrs. Crawley’s cook to take over in her absence.
Matthew and Mary finally meet again, and already they are arguing. Matthew does have a reason to be upset for Mary seems to have taken the advice of her aunt, and breaks her promise to give Matthew an answer upon her return. Matthew knows very well what has given Mary second thoughts. He believes that Mary is afraid to marry a man who has to work to earn a living, which is surely what he has to do if Lady Cora’s child turns out to be a boy. He finds it hard to understand why Mary finds it difficult to decide; if Mary loves him enough to spend the rest of her life with him then she would have decided by now. However, to Mary it is not as simple as that. She shares with him her grandmother’s suggestion of accepting his proposal now and turning him down later if he loses his title, and confesses that it is something that she cannot do to him. Hearing from Matthew of Mary’s choice to delay her decision, Mrs. Crawley could not help but be disappointed with her, but once again blames it on Lady Violet whom she believes has ill-advised Lady Mary. Matthew defends both Lady Mary and Lady Violet, and orders her mother not to start a fight with Lady Violet.
Still in disbelief of Mr. Bates having served time for petty pilfering, Lord Grantham discusses his crime with him hoping to learn the whole story since it seems that there is more to it learning that Mr. Bates only served two years for his crime. Regrettably, Mr. Bates is unwilling to share his side of the story. Moreover, Mr. Bates asks Lord Grantham to decide his fate solely on the information he has no matter how biased it is. Like everyone else, except obviously for O’Brien and Thomas, Anna does not believe that Mr. Bates is guilty of the crime he was imprisoned for. She is sure that there is more to his story.
Lord Grantham discusses the matter with Lady Cora. Though not a fan of Mr. Bates, Lady Cora is curious to know why even Mr. Carson is unwilling to let go of a man who has done time in prison. Lord Grantham informs her that Mr. Carson blames Thomas and O’Brien in this matter knowing that the two have been bent on making a case to have Mr. Bates fired. Lady Cora teasingly tells Lord Grantham of what she believes he wants her to do that is to sack O’Brien instead to which Lord Grantham does not contest. Regrettably, she has said this just as O’Brien entered the room. This puts O’Brien over the edge, and discusses it with Thomas. She is sure that Lady Cora is only waiting to find her a replacement before finally letting her go after ten years of service. O’Brien warns Thomas that he could be next. Thomas is not worried for he has already thought of a plan, taking advantage of the war that is to come.
Mr. Carson receives Mr. Bromidge the telephone man who is surprised to hear that he is to install two phones in the house, one in the outer hall for the family and another one in the pantry for the staff. Sir Strallan arrives just as Mr. Carson and Mr. Bromidge are at the outer hall. He has come to take Lady Edith for a spin. Lady Sybil is right behind her and meets Mr. Bromidge who confirms Sir Strallan’s supposition that the telephone business is expanding. Moreover, he informs them about his search for competent staff, and his trouble of finding a secretary. Hearing this delights Lady Sybil who informs Mr. Bromidge of knowing the right person for the job.
Mrs. Bird has arrived to get the lay of the kitchen, and already she and Mrs. Patmore are at each other’s throats. Afraid that Mrs. Patmore might lose her place at the Downton House, she instructs Daisy to make Mrs. Bird’s food taste bad just so the Crawleys will miss her cooking. A few days later, Anna and Mrs. Patmore arrive at Moorfields Eye Hospital. Mrs. Patmore becomes anxious upon learning that she is to go into surgery, but Anna tells her not to worry. Having to stay in the hospital for a week makes her even more anxious, but Anna promises to visit her every day. Anna makes the most of her stay in London, and decides to fill the holes in Mr. Bates’ story. She goes to the army office, and asks an officer about any information he might have about John Bates making a story of her being his cousin, and her desire to get in touch with him. The officer confirms that John Bates was imprisoned for theft, and adds that his case was odd, but says nothing more about it. The officer, however, gives her the address of Mr. Bates’ mother.
Mary finally confronts Edith about her letter to the Turkish ambassador. Edith confirms her guilt by asking her sister how she found out instead of denying it. Moreover, she finds no remorse for what she has done, telling Mary that the Turkish ambassador has the right to know that his countryman died in the arms of a slut. This seems to have shaken Mary easily losing control of the confrontation. Things appear to be going well for Edith much to Mary’s dismay. Ostensibly, Sir Strallan has hinted of proposing to her at the garden party. Meanwhile, Mary could hardly look at Matthew probably from both her shame and guilt.
Mrs. Crawley despite being told not to provoke Lady Violet with her belief of her being responsible for Mary’s having second thoughts tells the old woman anyway. She is surprised to hear to the contrary. In reality, Lady Violet told Mary to accept Matthew’s proposal, it was Lady Rosamund who advised otherwise. Lord Grantham speaks to Matthew after learning that he and Mary are having trouble. He informs him that he will be happy to be his son-in-law even though he is no longer an heir. He is, however, disappointed to hear that Matthew believes that Mary does not feel the same way.
Mr. Molesley barges in Mr. Carson’s office just in time to see Thomas taking the butler’s wallet from his coat. Thomas makes a story of how he found Mr. Carson’s wallet, and was merely putting it back in his coat. Mr. Molesley pries no further and joins the other servants in the hall for dinner. Mr. Carson invites Mrs. Bird to join them, and relays the praise Lady Cora has for her cooking. Mr. Carson is startled to hear Daisy’s disbelief for Lady Cora’s praises, and after a few sips of their soup quickly learns why. Mrs. Bird is the first one to spit her soup, and angrily confronts Daisy about it in front of the other servants. Daisy confesses to having added water and soap to the soup. Luckily, Mrs. Bird was already suspicious of the kitchen maid that she has switched the pot of soup that went out to the Crawleys. Sadly, this means the servants are stuck with dinner that tastes like soap. The poor kitchen maid is left to answer to the angry cook and governess for her actions. Luckily, her loyalty to Mrs. Patmore who has urged her to do what she did in order for her to keep her job draws pity from her superiors including Mrs. Bird who was first to comfort her. Fortunately, Mrs. Bird has prepared beef stew for tomorrow, and so they are rescued from having a foul tasting meal.
Mr. Bromidge is back at the Downton House to oversee the installation, and is confronted by Lady Sybil who expresses her disappointment upon learning that he did not respond to Gwen’s application. Mr. Bromidge informs Lady Sybil that he could not find any proof of Gwen’s work experience. Lady Sybil asks one of the maids to call for Gwen, and informs Mr. Bromidge that the reason why the young woman did not provide details of her work is because she is working at the Downton House as a housemaid. Gwen arrives and meets Mr. Bromidge who supposes that she had left out details of her current work, because she assumed that he would turn up his nose at a housemaid. Gwen confesses to have done just that, and is surprised to hear that Mr. Bromidge has a lot of respect for housemaids with his mother having been one. Moreover, he believes that housemaids know a lot about hard work and long hours. With Lady Sybil’s help, Gwen gets her interview with Mr. Bromidge right there in the Downton House’s library.
Anna pays a visit to Mr. Bates’ mother determined to find out the truth about the man’s incarceration especially after hearing the sergeant’s comment of the case being odd. Just as she suspected, Mr. Bates is innocent of the crime he was imprisoned for, because the real thief was his wife Vera. According to Mr. Bates’ mother, Vera worked at the barracks at times when there were some big dinners, and it is in one of those dinners that she committed the crime. Everybody knew it was Vera. In fact, there were even some witnesses, but Mr. Bates confessed to the crime anyway. He confessed out of guilt for ruining Vera’s life with him being a drunkard and a wounded man. Although he was never violent, he was harsh with his words. The African War has made John Bates a miserable man, and he blamed himself for his wife’s actions even though Vera was already a wicked woman even before his bout with alcohol.
The telephone has finally been installed at the pantry, and the servants are curious as to how it works. With Mr. Carson claiming to know how to use the phone, Daisy asks him to teach them, but refuses. Left alone in the pantry, Mr. Carson figures out how to use the telephone. Soon he learns the difference between the receiver and the handset, and he begins to practice his greeting. Much to his chagrin, somebody is on the other line, and the woman scolds him for shouting at the receiver, and finds what he was doing as stupid.
Thomas knowing that his time at Downton is nearing its end puts his plan in motion. He speaks to Dr. Clarkson about his interest in the medical field who then informs him that there’s a need for volunteers to train for the Territorial Force hospitals. Moreover, Dr. Clarkson will make inquiries for him. He is right to have planned for his immediate future for Mr. Molesley has informed Mr. Carson of having caught him with his wallet in his hand. Mr. Carson relays this information to Lord Grantham, and with the evidence they need from a witness who has no dispute with Thomas, there’s only one thing left to do, and that is to relieve Thomas of his duties at Downton. Lord Grantham who is not fond of terminating servants asks Mr. Carson to wait until after the garden party.
Mrs. Patmore is back from her operation, and she and Mrs. Bird are at it again. The two, however, seems to have found some common ground when Mrs. Bird refuses to let Mrs. Hughes order the ingredients for the dishes they are to serve for the garden party. With Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Patmore in agreement, Mrs. Hughes is left to accede to both cooks’ wishes. Anna is back as well and has decided to speak to Lord Grantham about the information she gathered in London about Mr. Bates.
O’Brien having heard from Thomas who misinformed her about Lady Cora looking for her replacement has made herself believe that his mistress is truly looking to replace her. She believes to have ascertained this when she hears Lady Cora speaking to Lady Violet about some candidates while she was preparing her mistress’ bath. Her anger seems to have clouded her judgment that when Lady Cora dropped the bath soap, O’Brien did not bother to pick up the other half of the soap and even kicks it out from under the tub. However, while she is sorting out Lady Cora’s clothes, O’Brien gets a surge of conscience, but it is too late. Lady Cora has stepped out of the tub, steps on the soap, and slips on the floor. With that, Lady Cora loses her unborn child. How Lord Grantham wept at their loss, and learning that the unborn child was a boy only made it much harder.
All feel for the loss of the Crawleys including O’Brien who is overcome with guilt. The only person who feels no sympathy for the death of Lady Cora’s unborn son is Thomas. The servants are appalled for his lack of respect, and when he turned on William for having grieved for his mother, the young footman releases his anger and attacks Thomas. Although, Mr. Carson does not approve of fighting, he feels for William and even gives the young man a pat on his shoulder when he and Branson finally manage to break the brawl apart.
The garden party pushes through in spite of the unfortunate loss of the Crawley’s unborn son. Thomas is first to get some good news with Dr. Clarkson informing him that he may have a place at the Division at Richmond. In fact, Dr. Clarkson already has the papers for Thomas telling him that he is to report to the local recruiting office that he may begin work under Colonel Cartwright. Moreover, Dr. Clarkson is being drafted back as a captain, and may be able look after him. Meanwhile, Daisy has realized that she owes William an apology, and chooses to ask for William’s forgiveness during the busy garden party. William has a lot of faith in Daisy, and believes that the young and sometimes foolish kitchen maid had been manipulated to do such unkind things. He accepts her apology and vows that they will always remain friends.
It seems like forgiveness hangs over Downton with Mrs. Bird and Mrs. Patmore working side-by-side. The ringing of the phone interrupts their work. None have heard a phone ring before much more answer it. With Mr. Carson away attending to the guests, and no one else bold enough to answer it, Branson takes it upon himself to attend to the phone. Upon taking the message, Branson rushes to Lady Sybil to inform her of the good news. Lady Sybil is ecstatic and excuses herself from the startled guests as she and Branson rush towards Gwen. Lady Sybil breaks the news to Gwen that she got the secretarial job at Mr. Bromidge’s company. The three could not contain their happiness and rejoice. Leave it to Mrs. Hughes to put a dampener in their celebration. Moreover, seeing that Branson has fallen for Lady Sybil, Mrs. Hughes warns the young man about it. Meanwhile, Thomas wastes no time to inform Mr. Carson that he had received news that he has been accepted for a training scheme with the army medical corps unaware that he just did Mr. Carson a favor for handing his notice.
Lady Mary is walking with Sir Strallan. Knowing very well what Sir Strallan is going to ask Lady Edith, she takes the opportunity to furtively dissuade the old man from proposing to her sister. Her malicious remark of how Lady Edith is trying to evade being cornered by some old bore who was to propose to her did the trick. Hearing of this, Sir Strallan decides to leave the garden party earlier than expected leaving Lady Edith disappointed. This is how Lady Mary gets back at Lady Edith for divulging her scandalous secret to the Turkish Ambassador.
Miss O’Brien fully aware of what she had done tries to compensate by being extra attentive to Lady Cora. Her mistress who has every excuse to leave the garden party chooses to put on a face unwilling to cast a dampener on a joyous event. Lady Cora showing her appreciation only added to her guilt, and to add to her already guilty conscience she learns from Lady Violet that Lady Cora was helping her find a new lady’s maid, which explains the advertisement on the newspaper. Lady Violet asks her if she could get her the applications they received from the ads, and even asks for her opinion about them.
Mr. Bates had learned from Lord Grantham that Anna had uncovered some facts about his case, which made him decide to keep him as his valet despite his record. Anna apologizes to Mr. Bates for investigating his case arguing that she only wanted to find out the truth, but Mr. Bates insists that she still does not know the whole truth for she only know his mother’s side of the story. She still has to hear his wife’s version of the truth. Although Mr. Bates tries his best to keep Anna away, he makes it clear to Mr. Molesley who has shown interest in the head housemaid that there is a man who is very keen on Anna. Matthew Crawley, on the other hand, has lost interest on Mary whose argument only supports his reason for ending their relationship. Mary argued that Matthew could not have known if she was going to turn him down even if her mother gave birth to an heir, and makes it clear now that she was not going to refuse him even if that had been the case. Matthew has grown tired of not being sure of anything. He has decided to leave Downton, which would allow him to take charge of his life again. Lady Mary asks a question whose answer only breaks her heart. Matthew would have stayed if she had accepted his proposal. Matthew bids Mary farewell.
Unbeknownst to Matthew and Mary, Lady Violet and Lady Rosamund had been watching them from afar. Seeing that Matthew had left Mary in tears, it is obvious that the two have ended their relationship. Lady Violet blames Lady Rosamund for her meddling that cost her granddaughter the only decent offer she will ever get. Lady Rosamund apologizes for expressing her opinion, but without any real remorse. Mr. Carson walks over to Lady Mary to comfort her in her time of anguish. Mrs. Crawley speaks with Lady Violet about the disappointing end of the young couple’s relationship. Lady Violet does not want to hear any of Mrs. Crawley’s scolding especially since she had wanted the two to be together, but she is pleasantly surprised that Mrs. Crawley puts some blame on her son too. Mrs. Crawley believes that Matthew may be making a mistake with his decision to leave Mary.
The only couple whose relationship is as strong as ever is Lord Grantham and Lady Cora with Robert checking on his recovering wife, and Cora being gracious for her husband’s concern. Mr. Carson delivers a letter to Lord Grantham, and happily informs him that Thomas has handed in his notice. Lord Grantham is relieved to hear Mr. Carson’s news, but the contents of the letter he had just received washes it all away. Lord Grantham calls everyone’s attention as he regretfully announces that the country is now at war with Germany.
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