Synopsis: The preparations for Matthew and Lavinia’s wedding are underway, but masters and servants alike being hit with the Spanish flu causes the couple to delay their wedding. Moreover, Lavinia becomes witness to something she has been dreading. Lady Sybil’s decision to marry Tom Branson has been revealed infuriating Lord Grantham, and causing a stir in their family. Following Lady Sybil’s determination, Anna takes courage and tells Mr. Bates of her decision to marry him despite the trials and tribulations that are coming their way.
Episode Summary: Downton Abbey is abuzz with the preparations for Matthew Crawley and Lavinia Swire’s wedding. Matthew who a few months ago was told that he could never walk again is now on his feet. His having to rely on a cane, however, frustrates him. As if the whole household does not have enough to think of with the upcoming wedding and whatnot, Lady Sybil plans on telling her parents about her decision to marry their chauffer, Tom Branson. The urgency is due to Tom being offered a job as a journalist at a newspaper in Dublin. As the Crawleys wait for their dinner, Tom arrives surprising everyone, and soon it is revealed that he and Lady Sybil have fallen in love and plan to get married. Lord Grantham is infuriated with what he had heard, and at first dismisses his daughter’s plan to marry their chauffer as folly, but soon learns that Lady Sybil is serious about her decision. She is to go to Dublin to live with Tom’s mother while the banns are read, and soon after they are wed she is to work as a nurse, while Tom works as a journalist.
Mrs. Hughes receives a surprising letter from Mrs. Bryant telling her that she and her husband would like to see Ethel’s baby. Seeing the wrath of Mr. Bryant, Mrs. Hughes is having second thoughts about having them reenter Ethel’s life moreover her son’s, but the decision is not hers to make. She pays a visit to Ethel to deliver the news, and the young mother agrees to have them meet their grandson. Mrs. Hughes arranges the meeting to occur at Downton.
Thomas having lost everything in the black market finds himself begging for Mr. Carson to let him stay at Downton Abbey while he tries to find a job and a place to live. Gone is his air of arrogance, and also gone is Mr. Carson’s compassion for the man who once bragged about leaving the life of service. Little did he know that it was Branson who found his way out. Branson arrives at the servant hall with only Anna by his side for none of the servants except for Mr. Carson know of his plan to marry Lady Sybil. Mr. Carson finds him making the announcement to the rest of the servants, and derides him for it. As expected, Branson is no longer to work for the Crawleys, and he is asked to leave Downton Abbey. Branson makes it known that he will be staying at the Grantham Arms until Lady Sybil joins him for Dublin. Meanwhile, Lord Grantham speaks to Lady Sybil in a last attempt to dissuade her from marrying Branson, but his approach is shallow and his threats hollow. Lady Sybil could not care less about her status or money. In fact, she longs for the drastic change in her lifestyle. Lady Cora speaks to her husband on what their next step would be, but unlike Lord Grantham she knows that their daughter’s decision was not out of folly.
Mr. Carson has gotten ill, and if not for Mrs. Hughes urging he would still have served dinner. Having agreed to get some rest, Mr. Carson has Mr. Molesley help with the dinner service. Anna briefs Mr. Molesley about the dinner service starting with the wines they serve. Thomas who has served dinner at Downton Abbey numerous times wonders why he was not asked to help, and the answer comes bluntly from Mrs. Patmore who tells him that being helpful is not his character. Mr. Molesley takes everything seriously afraid to make a mistake, but it seems that he too has gotten ill. Matthew notices this when Molesley becomes unusually clumsy at dinner, and Lady Cora confesses to not feeling quite all right as well and excuses herself from dinner. Mr. Molesley soon finds himself to be unable to function, and is sent down to the servant’s hall leaving Anna to serve dinner. News of him being taken ill as well creates an air of concern, and Lavinia informing them that she too is not feeling quite well proves disturbing especially for Matthew. Dr. Clarkson arrives to check on the people that have fallen ill and diagnoses that the patients have gotten the Spanish flu except for Molesley who has only gotten himself drunk.
With Lavinia in Mary’s room resting, Matthew finds a way to distract himself from worrying about his fiancée. He puts a record on the gramophone Lavinia’s cousins sent as a wedding gift, and Mary finds herself watching him. Mary then informs him that Dr. Clarkson has instructed them to have Lavinia stay for the night that he may see her tomorrow. Soon Matthew and Mary find themselves dancing to the song “Look for the Silver Lining” from the unsuccessful musical Zip, Goes a Million, which leads Mary to comment that their relationship too was a flop. This prompted Matthew to express how sorry he is for their fate, and confesses that Lady Violet had asked him to marry Mary instead, but he could not bring himself to discard even if it means letting the love of his life slip by because Lavinia was willing to sacrifice her life and future for him. Mary, although shocked at Matthew’s confession, agrees that he could not possibly follow his heart at the expense of Lavinia. Matthew passionately kisses Mary and she reciprocates only to be interrupted by Lavinia who is now out of bed and feeling much better. Although she does not say for sure, Lavinia hints of having seen them, and tells Matthew to never let her be a nuisance and begs him not to let her get in the way.
Jane finds Lord Grantham on his way to bed and takes the opportunity to tell him that her son has been admitted to Ripon Grammar. Lord Grantham finds himself once again confiding to Jane about him losing Lady Sybil, and Jane hints of her willingness to provide him comfort. Lord Grantham brings Jane to his room and the two passionately kiss only to be interrupted by Mr. Bates who have come to ask when Lord Grantham wants to be woken up. Lord Grantham makes it a point to hide Jane from Mr. Bates’ view, and the valet leaves without seeing her, but the moment is lost. Lord Grantham, although he confesses to want to be with Jane, comes to his senses and pushes her away.
Lord Grantham pays a visit to Branson and offers him money in exchange for Lady Sybil. Branson is insulted, but not the least bit threatened. Lord Grantham orders him to leave Downton, but the young man gives him fair warning that Lady Sybil will leave with him if he does so. He returns home with a heavy heart, and with more bad news. Lady Cora’s condition has gotten worse, and some of the maids have gotten the Spanish flu as well. With Downton Abbey not functioning in full capacity, and people including Lavinia still suffering the effects of the flu, Mrs. Crawley takes it upon herself to tell Lavinia and Matthew that their wedding needs to be postponed.
Lady Sybil’s courage and determination to live a life entirely different from what she knows gave Anna the strength to tell Mr. Bates that they are to be married in spite of the tough road they have in front of them. Anna will not watch on the sidelines as Mr. Bates defends his innocence, and she is determined to be by his side as his wife. Mr. Bates does as he is told, and has begun the process of acquiring a marriage license for him and Anna. They are to be married in the afternoon that Friday. Knowing that the house is in chaos with people being struck with the Spanish flu, Anna hesitantly informs Lady Mary of her and Mr. Bates having to take the afternoon off to get married. Lady Mary is happy for Anna and commends her courage to marry a man who may soon be put in prison for being falsely accused of murdering his wife.
With all the bustle at the house, everyone has forgotten about the Bryants dropping by to see their grandson. Mrs. Hughes receives the Bryants and receives the same rude attitude from Mr. Bryant she witnessed the last time he was at Downton Abbey. Ethel arrives, and presents Charlie to his grandmother who accepts him wholeheartedly as Major Bryant’s son for she knew he was his after seeing the undeniable resemblance with his father. Ethel soon learns the reason for their visit. The Bryants want to take Charlie with them consequently separating the child from his mother. Mrs. Hughes proposes having Ethel be Charlie’s nurse, and Mrs. Bryant is open to this idea, but Mr. Bryant is strongly opposed to it. Mr. Bryant does not want the child to know that his mother is a housemaid. He is to be raised by his grandparents as an orphan with his father being killed in the war, and his mother dying of Spanish flu. Ethel appeals once again to be Charlie’s nurse, and promises never to let the child know her real relationship with him. Ethel appeals to Mrs. Bryant, but she is under the control of her husband, and has no say to the matter at all. They leave the decision of what is best for Charlie to Ethel.
Thomas proves himself to be useful as he goes an extra mile helping out at the house without asking for anything in return; he considers his service as payment for his stay at Downton Abbey. Miss O’Brien displays genuine concern and loyalty to Lady Cora as she stays with her at all hours. She expresses her concern to Daisy and Mrs. Patmore who are astonished to see her uncharacteristically genuinely worried about someone. O’Brien worries that Lady Cora is at the end of her life, and there is something she wants to tell her. O’Brien is left alone with Lady Cora, and asks for her forgiveness for something she had done to her that she bitterly regrets; the guilt constantly hangs over her head. Unfortunately, Lady Cora is too delirious to understand what she had confessed. O’Brien’s guilt continues to gnaw at her, and Lord Grantham sincerely thanking her for looking after Lady Cora only adds to her troubled conscience.
With Lavinia and Matthew agreeing to postpone the wedding until Lavinia is up and about, Matthew takes it upon himself to inform all their relatives and guests. Matthew speaks privately with Lavinia to discuss the new date for their wedding, and shamefully learns that Lavinia had seen him and Mary dancing. Moreover, she heard what he said, and saw what he did. Goodhearted Lavinia does not feel any anger towards Matthew, in fact, she finds that it is noble of him to keep his word. Lavinia, however, could not bear to deprive Matthew of a chance at true love even though he is hers. Lavinia has long ago felt that she might not be right for him, and seeing them together only made it very clear to her. Overcome with guilt, Matthew tries to convince Lavinia that they are to be married, and there is no point in sending him off to pursue Mary for she is already marrying someone else.
Sir Richard Carlisle arrives at Downton Abbey with the pretense of lending a hand to the Crawleys. Lady Mary sees right through him when he starts asking about Lavinia’s condition. The man has come to ensure that Lavinia and Matthew’s wedding will push through, and to ensure that Matthew will not fall into Lady Mary’s arms if Lavinia succumbs to the Spanish flu. Sir Richard does not deny this. It is not Lavinia whom they should worry about, but Lady Cora for her condition has gotten much worse with her hemorrhaging. Dr. Clarkson cannot do much about it aside from hoping that the medicine he gave her will work, and his conclusion is that if Lady Cora survives through the night then she should be out of the weeds. Mr. Carson’s condition has improved, and he worries about Lady Cora and Miss Swire, but Dr. Clarkson is confident that Lavinia is not doing too bad at all. Lady Mary pays a visit to Mr. Carson, and with a few words have their fences mended. She does warn him about Thomas who although has recently been obliging and has been acting like the perfect servant might have an ulterior motive.
Lady Sybil runs to inform them that Lavinia has unexpectedly turned for the worse. Everyone runs to be by her side, but Sir Richard stops Lady Mary who then escapes his grip. Unlike Lady Cora whose gruesome symptoms have manifested early, Lavinia did not show any until now. Dr. Clarkson finds that the young woman is now fatally ill, and there is nothing that can be done. Matthew stays by her side, and speaks to her; the only thing he could do to give her comfort. Lavinia tells Matthew that her dying makes it better for both of them, and she tells him to be happy for her sake. She asks Matthew to promise to her that he will be happy for that is what she wants. Matthew filled with guilt tells her that he cannot be happy without her, but his words failed to reach Lavinia for death has come to her.
Matthew still overcome with grief returns to Downton Abbey in a daze and finds the servants taking down the décor put up for his and Lavinia’s wedding\. Lord Grantham informs him that he already took care of the arrangements for Lavinia’s funeral, which made her death a reality. Matthew purposefully refuses to see Mary, but is careful not to reveal his reasons. Lavinia’s goodness did not pass unnoticed that even Mr. Carson feels sorry to learn that she passed away despite him not wanting her to be the wife of the future Earl of Grantham. Lady Cora who survived the Spanish flu in spite of her ordeal learns of Lavinia’s passing, and tells her husband that she wants to pay her respects if she can. Although unaware of Lord Grantham’s affair with Jane, Lady Cora asks her husband if their marriage is all right. Moreover, she apologizes for having neglected him.
Ethel pays a visit to Mrs. Hughes to inform her of her decision. Hearing of the death in the house, Ethel has come to a realization that life is too short. She has decided to keep Charlie for she cannot imagine life without him. Ethel believes that what’s best for Charlie is his mother’s love. Mrs. Hughes seems to approve of her decision, and volunteers to write to the Bryants in her behalf.
John Bates and Anna May Smith arrive at the Ripon Register Office and at long last are wed. They return to Downton Abbey as husband and wife, but no one else knows except Lady Mary. They have decided to keep it secret until after the funeral. Lady Mary has a surprise for the newly weds, and she brings Anna to a room with fresh flowers on the bed. She with the help of Jane prepared for them a honeymoon suite where Anna and Mr. Bates can be a proper husband and wife.
Lord Grantham calls for Mr. Carson forgetting that he is ill, and gets Jane instead. This gave him the opportunity to speak to her privately, but learns that Jane has tendered her resignation and has already packed her bags. Lord Grantham does not ask her to stay this time, and instead gives her the name and address for his man of business that her son may have a start in life. Jane accepts it gladly for Lord Grantham tells her that it will make him happy. Lord Grantham believes that he has no right to be unhappy, which is almost the same as being happy. Jane asks permission to kiss him, and the two kiss one last time.
Daisy keeps receiving letters from Mr. Mason who asks her to come visit him at the farm to talk about William. Daisy who has not gotten over the guilt of marrying William under false pretenses no matter how noble the reasons were cannot bring herself to visit her father-in-law. Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore urge her to accept the old man’s invitation, but Daisy puts her foot down and refuses. She, however, sees Mr. Mason by William’s grave, and decides to join him.
Lavinia is laid to rest at Downton. Everyone leaves except Matthew, and Lady Mary asks Sir Richard permission to give her a moment with him. Mary offers help of any kind to Matthew, but he tells her that there is nothing she can do. Moreover, he informs her that Lavinia heard what he said, and saw everything that had happened between them. He tells Mary that Lavinia had asked him to cancel their wedding for she believes that he belongs with her. Matthew believes that Lavinia gave up on life, because of what she saw. Lavinia died of a broken heart, and it was he and Mary who killed her. Because of this, they can never be happy, and therefore it is the end for them. Mary agrees, and to show that she has accepted her fate, she goes away with Sir Richard leaving Matthew behind. Lord Grantham sees Lady Sybil speaking with Branson, and finally accepts her daughter’s decision to marry Branson. Moreover, he gives them his blessing. Lord Grantham shakes Branson’s hand, and watches as her daughter walks away with him.
The servants return from the funeral, and Mrs. Patmore hesitantly delivers some grim news for Mr. Bates. The police have arrived to arrest Mr. Bates, and charge him with murder. Anna, of course, tries to stop the police from taking her husband away much to the surprise of the servants who knew nothing of their marriage. The police cuff Mr. Bates and lead him out of Downton.
Watch Episode 8 of Season 2 of Downton Abbey
Next Downton Abbey Episode Summary: Christmas at Downton Abbey
Previous Downton Abbey Episode Summary: Episode 7 of Season 2
More Downton Abbey Episode Summaries
- Downton Abbey
- House of Cards
- Mad Men
- McLeod's Daughters
- Mr. Selfridge
- Orphan Black
- Pushing Daisies
- Remington Steele
- The Tudors
- Three's Company
- White Collar
- Wild Card
- Canceled TV Show
- TV Show Trivia
- TV Show News
- TV Quotes
- Watch Full Episodes