Synopsis: Lord Grantham, Mrs. Hughes, and Miss O’Brien are called to testify in court and states facts that unwittingly lead to Mr. Bates’ guilt. Lady Mary is growing more and more tired of Sir Richard Carlisle so much so that everyone can see that she is on edge including her father. This prompts Lord Grantham to ask Lady Cora why their daughter feels obliged to marry such a man, and finally learns of Lady Mary’s secret.
Episode Summary: It is Christmas in 1919, and all at Downton Abbey are happily engaged in the preparation and celebration of such a joyous occasion except of course for Anna whose husband is on trial for his life. Although it will not erase her worries, Lady Mary’s generous gift did at least touch and bring joy to Anna’s heart. As it has always been, the servants celebrate Christmas at lunch with cheer, but Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson’s mind are with Mr. Bates whom Miss Shore, Lady Rosamund’s new maid, refers to as a murderer. With the servants having their feast at luncheon, the masters are left to fend for their food, which is a tradition Sir Richard Carlisle would not allow in his home. The Crawleys exchange gifts, and discuss their plans for the New Year Day’s celebration. Lady Rosamund’s request to invite Lord Hepworth appears to have piqued Lady Violet’s interest for she knew his father.
Matthew Crawley learns that Lavinia’s father is fatally ill, and has decided to go to London to see him. This news and Lord Grantham and a few of the servants having to testify on Mr. Bates’ trial cast a gloom over Downton Abbey. All are concerned about Mr. Bates that the conversation at the dinner feast revolved around his trial. Daisy finding an Ouija board, and O’Brien showing the other servants how to use it did not help brighten up the mood. However, the game of charades appears to have done the trick for the Crawleys, but not for Sir Richard who finds it ridiculous.
With Christmas over, masters and servants alike go about their daily lives. Mr. Carson decides to bring up the dreaded question of having to replace Mr. Bates, and recommends Thomas for the job. Although Thomas’ previous transgressions have been forgiven, Lord Grantham is not quite at ease with the idea of being dressed and undressed by Thomas. Meanwhile, Anna pays a visit to Mr. Bates who asks her to prepare for the worst to which she requests him to grant her to deal with it only after it has happened. With Lady Edith disappointed at Sir Anthony Strallan rejecting Lord Grantham’s invitation for him to come shooting with them, Lady Violet takes it upon herself to invite the man for tea without informing her granddaughter. Having been caught unaware of her grandmother’s guest, Lady Edith finds herself uncomfortable at receiving Lord Strallan. Moreover, she soon learns that Sir Strallan’s war injury resulted at his losing faculty of his right arm, which is the reason why he had refused to come to the shoot. Learning of this, Lady Violet regrets having set up the date between the two. She would not want her granddaughter to spend the rest of her life being Sir Strallan’s nursemaid.
Lady Cora receives a letter from Sybil who is now residing in Ireland after being wed to Tom Branson in Dublin, a wedding that only Mary and Edith attended. The letter brings news that Sybil is now with child, news that did not appear to please Lord Grantham. No matter how ecstatic Lady Cora is with the news, she agrees to her daughter’s wish to keep the news of her pregnancy from her siblings.
Lord Hepworth arrives at Downton on New Year’s Eve, and wastes no time to flirt with Lady Rosamund. Meanwhile, Miss Shore joins the other servants downstairs as they have a glass of wine to toast the New Year. With Lord Hepworth staying at Downton Abbey without a valet, Mr. Carson assigned Thomas to attend to him. Thomas senses Lord Grantham’s distrust, and gets advice from Miss O’Brien. She suggests that he hide something Lord Grantham loves, find it, and give it back for his act would make him a hero in their master’s eyes. With the servants celebrating downstairs, the masters are once again left to fend for themselves, a matter Sir Richard brings up once again. This annoys Lady Mary who finds that the servants deserve to have a feast after spending the whole year attending to their needs. Looking for a change in conversation she turns to Matthew who informs her that Mr. Swire has regretfully passed away, but he at least was there to accompany him in his last hour. And at the stroke of the midnight hour, it is 1920. Anna catches Lord Hepworth conversing with Shore, and although she says nothing about it, Shore shares the reason for their discussion. According to her, Lord Hepworth has asked her to speak up for him to Lady Rosamund, and Anna’s advice is for her to stay away from those matters.
Everyone prepare for the shoot, and get their partners in order. Sir Richard declares that Lady Mary will be standing by him on the first drive, but Matthew contests this making up a story of how Lady Mary agreed to be with him for the first drive. Preferring to be with Matthew than with Sir Richard, Lady Mary joins in with the lie, and goes with Matthew. Matthew confesses to be a bad shooter, and Mary confesses that Sir Richard is getting on her nerves. The two find enjoyment in each other’s company. Meanwhile, Daisy receives a surprise visit from Mr. Mason, and informs Mrs. Patmore that it is time for her to make things clear with him. Mrs. Patmore begs the young kitchen maid not to push through with her plan saying that William would not want her to, but Daisy believes that William would not want her to lie to his father as well. Daisy serves Mr. Mason tea, and prepares to tell him the truth. Hearing how William felt so much joy at learning that she loved him too, Daisy could not bring herself to tell the man that she did not share the same love his son had for her.
Lady Edith foregoes the shoot to instead drop by Sir Strallan’s house to invite him to go for a drive. The man, however, rejects her offer, but invites her to have tea with him. His intention, however, is the opposite of what Lady Edith has in mind. Sir Strallan makes it clear to her that the two of them have no future together for he is far too old for her. Moreover, his disability is unfair to any woman who longs to be his wife for she will end up being his nurse. Lady Edith, however, rejects Sir Strallan’s reasoning.
The first drive is over, and so Lady Mary must stand by Sir Richard. The man has become more annoying than ever with him asking about what she and Matthew were laughing at earlier. He goes on berating Lady Mary for being happier in Matthew’s company. Matthew overhearing them arguing decides to go over to put a stop to it, and his presence did just that. All stop for lunch, and discuss their plans for the coming days. Matthew decides to attend Mr. Bates’ trial, and Mrs. Crawley asks Lord Grantham if she could come as well to which the man agrees. However, Matthew’s trip to London is not solely to attend the trial, but also to attend Reggie Swire’s funeral. The man has asked to have his ashes buried in Lavinia’s grave that is in Downton, and Matthew gladly plans to fulfill the man’s wish. Lady Mary offers to accompany him when he performs the request. Meanwhile, Lord Hepworth leaves the shoot to chat with Lady Violet who bluntly brings up the matter of his finances, and his plan to marry Lady Rosamund that he may partake in the fortune of her late husband, Mr. Painswick. Lord Hepworth insists that his intentions are genuine to which Lady Violet does not argue, but she insists that he inform Lady Rosamund of the state of his finances, and let her decide whether she is still interested with him. The man does as he is told, and asks to have a word with Lady Rosamund later than night.
After dinner, Sir Richard is once again in an awful mood, and having grown impatient demands that Lady Mary set a date for their wedding. The men including Matthew and Lord Grantham become witness to his threats to Lady Mary who walks out of the room, but only Matthew goes after her. Matthew tells her that she does not have to marry Sir Richard for she will always have a home at Downton Abbey as long as he is alive, but Lady Mary tells him that she must marry him for a reason she believes would lead Matthew to despise her.
Miss O’Brien and Thomas take out the Ouija board again, and have Mrs. Patmore as their patsy. The woman had asked to speak to her late nephew, Archie, and receives a message from him saying that she is too fat. Not a fool, she is convinced that Thomas has been deliberately choosing the letters. Mrs. Patmore leaves and orders Daisy to come with her, but Miss Shore says something to stir up her curiosity. Miss Shore has been dropping seeds of ambition in Daisy hinting that given her talent she can become more than a kitchen maid. Daisy, however, shrugs off her insinuations, and asks Mrs. Patmore to do the same.
Cora asks about the late call Robert received, and learns that it came from Mr. Murray who has asked permission to come to Downton to speak with the witnesses before the trial. Robert agrees, and is not bothered by it, but is concerned about Mary and Carlisle. Cora is not concerned about it believing that Mary has it under control, but Robert could not help but notice that his daughter is already unhappy with her fiancé. Robert could not fathom why her daughter would want to marry that man seeing that she clearly dislikes him, and is surprised to hear from his wife that there is a reason he is unaware of. Cora finally divulges to Robert Mary’s secret she helped cover up.
Mr. Murray arrives at Downton Abbey, and receives questions from Mrs. Hughes and Miss O’Brien as to why they have been called as witnesses for they claim to know nothing of the crime Mr. Bates is accused of. The day of the trial has arrived, and Miss O’Brien takes the stand to tell the court of having heard Mr. Bates blaming Vera for canceling the divorce. Knowing that her testimony would hurt Mr. Bates, she uncharacteristically tries to side with the man on trial. However, when the prosecutor asks about the gash on Mr. Bates’ face the night he returned to Downton after meeting his wife, Miss O’Brien is left with no other choice but to inform the court that Mr. Bates had a scratch on his cheek. Miss O’Brien tries to make an excuse for him having the gash, but is shut down. Moreover, she was asked to relay to the court what Mr. Bates had said to Anna when the woman had asked him how the meeting with Vera had gone. Miss O’Brien tells the court that according to Mr. Bates the meeting had been worse than she could possibly imagine. It is now Mrs. Hughes turn to testify, and becomes nervous at being asked to tell the court what she heard when she eavesdropped on Mr. Bates and Vera’s conversation. Mrs. Hughes reluctantly tells the court that Mr. Bates had called Vera a bitch, and that he had threatened to strike her. The court takes a break, and after hearing Miss O’Brien and Mrs. Hughes testimony everybody seems to have a dim prospect of Mr. Bates fate. Anna is surprised at Mrs. Hughes damning testimony, but Lady Mary and Mrs. Crawley comes to the governess’ defense telling her that it is difficult to lie at court and how Mrs. Hughes’ testimony appears to have pained her to tell. Lord Grantham believes that his testimony informing the court that the crime Mr. Bates is accused of is beyond the man’s character will help the poor valet’s defense. Lord Grantham takes the stand and speaks of Mr. Bates’ character and insists that he is a man who could not plot to kill his wife. However, the prosecutor was able to draw out from Lord Grantham his advice to Mr. Bates to show restraint when he goes to London to meet his wife. Lord Grantham could not remember having said so, but Mr. Bates has said it to the police in his interview. Moreover, Lord Grantham had to relay to the court the conversation he had with Mr. Bates that led to his advice. He had hoped that the reason for his needing to go to London is about a property he owned and not about the former Mrs. Bates, and he painfully tells the court that Mr. Bates had said “If only she was the former, or better still, the late.” So it appears, the most damning testimony came from the most unlikely source, and that is Lord Grantham. Both Mrs. Hughes and Miss O’Brien feel so guilty about their testimony though they had no intention of causing harm to Mr. Bates when put to the stand; they turn to Mrs. Crawley to impart to Anna that they meant no harm on his husband. The jury has reached the verdict and they find Mr. Bates guilty of willful murder. The judge then sentences John Bates to be executed by virtue of hanging. Anna is beside herself upon hearing the fate of her husband.
Lady Violet has tea with Lady Rosamund and brings up the matter of Lord Hepworth only to learn that her daughter is very much aware that the man has lost his fortune. Lady Rosamund, although unsure of Lord Hepworth, has not completely dismissed the idea of marrying the fortune hunter. In fact, she had asked Lord Grantham to extend the invitation to the Servants’ Ball to her suitor. Lady Violet is unsure if there will be a Servants’ Ball given the death sentencing of Mr. Bates. In London, all gather in support of Anna who receives word from Mr. Murray that the judge handing a death sentence to Mr. Bates is a matter of routine for it is a verdict given to any man found guilty of murder. Mr. Murray will work to change the sentence to life imprisonment to which Matthew adds that if they are successful in doing so then they may begin to build a challenge to the verdict. Mr. Murray adds that the flaw in the prosecution’s case is the question of premeditation, and that they can argue that Mr. Bates did not plan to murder his wife. Anna remains strong in her belief that John did not murder Vera, however, Mr. Murray honestly tells her that there is not a good chance that they will overthrow the verdict, but there still is a chance.
Mrs. Hughes and Miss O’Brien return to Downton Abbey with news of Mr. Bates’ verdict, but Mrs. Hughes stresses that she does not believe in Mr. Bates’ guilt. Miss O’Brien though she does not expressly declare it shares the same belief as Mrs. Hughes, and moreover she feels sorry to be a part of it. Thomas, on the other hand, could only think of him being Mr. Bates’ replacement as Lord Grantham’s valet, a thought so selfish that it disgusts even Miss O’Brien. Learning that Lady Cora would want them to serve dinner twenty minutes after Lady Mary and Lord Grantham arrives after having put Anna in an inn to give her time to grieve, Daisy complains of the added pressure of the uncertainty of the time to serve dinner. Mrs. Patmore scolds the young kitchen maid for ranting about something as shallow as preparing dinner when their colleague faces death.
Lord Grantham could no longer stand the chatter about Mr. Bates’ fate, and Lady Mary finds him sitting alone in the library. She is surprised to hear him ask her about the true reason as to why she is marrying Sir Richard as her father candidly asks her whether she is doing it so to prevent him from exposing the story of Mr. Pamuk dying in her bed. Mary admits that his supposition is partly true for she is damaged goods, and Carlisle is the one man who is willing to marry her in spite of the knowledge of what she had done. Robert still could not fathom how Mary could marry the man she appears to already be tired of, and is even more surprised to learn that the matter with Mr. Pamuk is not what split her and Matthew apart for Matthew is unaware of it. Mary informs her father that the reason for them not getting back together has to do with Lavinia, and the reason is final for Matthew so she has no future with him. Robert wanting her daughter to be happy tells her to break her relationship with Carlisle even though it would bring scandal to the House of Grantham, and suggests that Mary stay in America until the fuss dies down. Mary is brought to tears by her father’s intolerance to have her marry a man who threatens her with ruin.
Certain that Mr. Bates will not be returning to Downton Abbey soon or even at all, Thomas asks Mr. Carson if he has given any thought of him becoming Lord Grantham’s valet. Mr. Carson having already brought the matter to Lord Grantham informs Thomas that his lordship believes that he is more suitable in his present position. Thomas deduces that Lord Grantham’s decision stems from his distrust of him. Meanwhile, Mrs. Patmore is tired of Daisy’s disposition, and learns that the young kitchen maid feels that she is taken for granted even though she has been a very good worker. Moreover, Mr. Bates’ fate only reminded her that life is short, and that she is wasting hers. Mrs. Patmore suggests that Daisy take a day off believing that she is having these thoughts because she is tired. She suggests that she pay a visit to Mr. Mason’s farm. Soon after, Lady Violet finds Daisy by the fire in the library weeping, and learns that the young kitchen maid believes that she was false to William for not loving him the same way he loved her. Daisy did love William but confesses that he only married him to keep his spirits up when he lay dying. To Lady Violet, this only showed that Daisy loved William a great deal.
As promised, Mary accompanies Matthew and Mrs. Crawley as he brings Reggie Swire’s ashes in Lavinia’s grave. Mary hints of going away, which piques Matthew’s curiosity but says nothing more about it. Mrs. Crawley tells her son that Mary is still in love with him, and tells him that Lavinia would not want him to be unhappy. However, Matthew believes that he and Mary deserves to be unhappy to which Mrs. Crawley vehemently disagrees.
Anna pays a visit to John, and it pains her to hear her husband bid her and their friends goodbye. He asks that she find it in her heart to forgive the witnesses including Miss O’Brien whose testimony unwittingly led to his guilty verdict. Despite knowing his end, neither husband nor wife regrets having married each other no matter how brief a time they spent together. Anna returns to Downton Abbey and tenders her resignation to Mrs. Hughes. Mr. Carson is concerned about the scandal befalling the House of Grantham and Anna keeping it alive with her being the widow of a murderer, but Mrs. Hughes does not share the same worry. Mrs. Hughes rejects Anna’s resignation.
Thomas and Miss O’Brien are at the Ouija board again with Daisy intently looking on, but this time Mrs. Patmore is showing a rather keen interest on playing the game. She takes Miss O’Brien’s place and asks who is out there. The board points to the letter W, and when Daisy asks if it is William the board confirms it. William’s apparent message for Daisy is for her to go to the farm and make his father happy. Although it is clear that Mrs. Patmore made up the message, Daisy appears to have taken the request to heart. Daisy confides in Mrs. Patmore about the message, and informs her of her decision to go to the farm to see Mr. Mason.
Confirming Lord Grantham’s distrust of him, Thomas sets out to gain his trust. He brings his lordship’s beloved dog Isis in the woods, and traps her inside an old shed. Matthew learning of the missing dog suggests that they organize a search party to go look for her. All the men and his daughters join the search for Isis in the woods, but they are out of luck for the dog could not be found. Seeing the shed where he trapped Isis, Thomas is anxious to get to it, but Lord Grantham calls it a night before he gets a chance to get to it. Moreover, Mr. Carson instructs him to run back home and have Mrs. Patmore heat up some soup for the searchers. On their way back, Matthew takes the opportunity to ask Mary the reason why she feels obliged to marry Carlisle. Moreover, he is curious to know why she believes it will cause him to despise her if he found out. Matthew learns Lord Grantham is aware of Mary’s reason and that he is very disappointed with her daughter, but even so he begs Mary to tell him. Matthew is shocked to learn of the reason, and is caught off-guard by it. He, however, insists that she should not marry Carlisle for doing so means that Mary will have to endure a lifetime of misery, the cost of buying off a month of scandal. Moreover, he tells her that he could never despise her.
Daisy wastes no time to fulfill William’s supposed request and pays a visit to Mr. Mason’s farm. The old man welcomes her as if he is his own child. Daisy learns that William had siblings, but all died at an early age. Moreover, Mr. Mason shares with her his belief that William married her just so he will not be alone for all his family are gone. Mr. Mason asks Daisy if she would let him take care of her like a father. Daisy confesses that she does not have parents, and have never been special to anyone to this Mr. Mason replies that she was special to William. Daisy relishes in the thought that she was special to William, something she never realized before. Furthermore, she is now special to Mr. Mason thanks again to William. And like a real daughter, Daisy confides to Mr. Mason her grievances at work, and receives advice from him telling her to simply make a case with Mrs. Patmore explaining why she is worth more than she is getting. Moreover, she should stop listening to the unsolicited advice Miss Shore has been giving her.
Thomas runs to the shed in the woods first thing in the morning to retrieve Isis only to find the shed unlocked. His worst fear has happened, Isis is nowhere in sight. He goes deeper into the woods and frantically looks for the dog. A downtrodden and disheveled Thomas returns to Downton Abbey and is genuinely delighted to learn that Isis has returned. Lord Grantham informs him that a village child found the dog trapped in a shed, and brought her home. Although he did not actually find the dog, Lord Grantham is impressed at learning that Thomas took it upon himself to search for Isis.
So it seems that Thomas’ plan worked after all for Lord Grantham to the shock of Mr. Carson decides to give Thomas a chance to be his valet. Lady Rosamund and Lord Hepworth return to Downton Abbey just learning that the Servants’ Ball has been canceled due to the uncertainty of Mr. Bates’ fate. Anna having her resignation turned down and learning that Lady Mary has decided not to marry Carlisle and to go to America instead asks Lady Mary permission to come with her. Lady Mary approves of her coming with her to America, but asks Anna not to give up hope just yet. Anna informs Mrs. Hughes of her being allowed to go to America with Lady Mary, and the governess is relieved that Anna is not entirely leaving them. It still, however, pains her to see her go and be in such grief for she has high respects and compassion for Anna and Mr. Bates.
Lady Mary now has the daunting task of breaking her engagement with Sir Richard. She meets with him alone, and as expected receives the wrath of Sir Richard who promises her with ruin. The man is furious that he is being cast off after all the favors he had done to protect the House of Granthams from scandal for it was him who bought the story of Lady Mary’s indiscretion and prevented people from linking Mr. Bates with the Crawleys. Matthew hears the shouting and comes to Mary’s rescue, which only adds to Carlisle’s anger. Carlisle taunts Matthew with a claim that Lavinia had long known that he did not love her, and how the poor young woman hoped Matthew would just admit it that the four of them may have a chance. Matthew is beside himself at hearing this, and throws a punch at Carlisle; the two of them engage in a fistfight until Lord Grantham arrives to stop it. Carlisle then derides Lord Grantham and holds over his head the scandal that will soon befall his family. Sir Richard as planned leaves first thing in the morning, but in spite of the threats and insults Lady Mary genially bids him farewell. She admits to having used him, and asks for his forgiveness. Moreover, she does so without begging him not to expose her secret for she is prepared to weather the storm that is to come. Gone is Sir Richard’s fury, and although he does not promise to keep her secret, he does tell Lady Mary that he loved her more than she would ever know. Lady Mary prays that the next woman Sir Richard loves deserves him more than she did, and with that Sir Richard leaves Downton Abbey for good.
Anna sees Miss Shore chatting with Lord Hepworth once again, and the woman insists that the man has been bugging her to press his case to Lady Rosamund. Meanwhile, Mr. Bates receives a telegram and hastily hands it to Lord Grantham who reads it and shares the good news that Mr. Bates has been reprieved. Mr. Bates gets life imprisonment instead of being executed. Lady Cora instructs Mr. Carson to get Anna at once that they may share the news with her. Moreover, Lord Grantham believes in Mr. Bates’ innocence, and is certain that they will be able to prove his innocence in time. Mr. Carson shares the good news with the rest of the servants and all rejoice including Miss O’Brien. Moreover, Mr. Carson adds that they will be holding the Servants’ Ball that night. Meanwhile, Anna rushes to London to see John, and informs him of her decision to stay at Downton believing that she may be of help in overturning his conviction. Knowing that it would take years to prove his innocence, John makes Anna promise to live her life for his sake.
The Servants’ Ball has finally come, and the servants dance with their masters and mistresses. Daisy takes the opportunity to take on Mr. Mason’s advice, and tells Mrs. Patmore of wanting to be made a proper assistant cook. Mr. Mason’s advice worked for Mrs. Patmore has no objections to her demand, and is willing to bring it up to Mrs. Hughes and Lady Cora. Anna not yet quite up to the task of living life sees Lord Hepworth and Miss Shore making their way up the stairs. She informs Lady Mary of what she saw who then informs Lady Rosamund. The three of them go up to Lord Hepworth’s room to find him on top of Miss Shore. Though there is no denying his guilt, foolish Lord Hepworth scrambles to make excuses, but it is made clear that he and Miss Shore has been playing Lady Rosamund all along. Lady Rosamund seems to have taken a blow at this discovery for although she would not admit it she appears to have fallen in love with the fortune hunter.
Matthew asks Mary to dance with him, and asks of her plans to go to America. All are pleased to see the two dancing together especially Lord Grantham and Lady Cora. Cora tells Robert of her regret at not attending Sybil’s wedding, and her plan to go see her daughter in Ireland and bring her and her husband back to Downton. Robert finally agrees. Having taken a moment to ask Lord Grantham permission to withdraw her resignation, Anna is relieved to know that his lordship has been hoping she would. She joins Daisy downstairs with the Ouija board and takes the first step in living life. The two receives a cryptic message of “May they be happy. With my love.” Both are startled at the realization that neither one of them was pushing the pointer. Matthew finds Mary outside watching the snow fall, and he joins her. Matthew with all certainty asks Mary for her hand in marriage, and she accepts.
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