Downton Abbey was full of surprises this week. After making her grand escape, Edith fairly easily acquiesces to returning to Downton. It was rather anti-climactic.
Violet and Rosamund decide they must tell Cora the truth, but they don’t get to her before Mrs. Drewe does. Cora has the grand plan that they will tell the family that the Drewes have decided they can’t take on another child, and that Edith has decided to bring the child to Downton and raise her. Frankly, I think Edith’s plan to go to America, change her name and say she was a widow was a better plan. I don’t see Mrs. Drewe going away quietly. This whole thing could backfire.
Cora is furious with Violet and Rosamund for keeping this secret from her. “You never thought to tell me I had a third grandchild,” she fumes. But Cora is the only one who actually considers Edith’s feelings and what Edith wants. Cora promises Edith she will not tell Robert the truth. For her part Violet sees no need to tell Robert what’s going on. “He’s a man. Men don’t have rights,” she tells her daughter.
The most hilarious part of the entire episode comes when Rose’s beau Atticus suggest that they look for Edith at the publishing company. This has occurred to absolutely no one. “It seems rather obvious to me,” Atticus says.
Isobel announces her engagement to Lord Merton and Violet looks devastated. Mary, like all of us, thinks it’s because Isobel will rise in the social standings and become Lady Merton. But that’s not it at all. Violet is losing her partner-in-crime. “I got used to having a companion, a friend to talk things over with,” she tells Mary.
A celebratory engagement dinner is held at Downton so that Isobel can meet Lord Merton’s sons, including Larry—the one who caused a lot of trouble back when Sybil was alive. The years have not made Larry any kinder. In short order, he insults Isobel, saying that the wide disparity in class and background between Isobel and his father makes for a doomed marriage. He also wonders what man will want Edith if she has a child, and can’t believe Tom, a former servant, gets to sit at the dinner table. “Why don’t you just get out, you bastard,” Tom yells. Lord Merton assures Isobel that his sons take after their mother, not him, and he hopes that she will still marry him, but Isobel isn’t so sure. On so many shows, characters over 60 are rarely seen or heard. I love that Downton Abbey gives both Isobel and Violet such rich and interesting story lines.
All this drama leads to Atticus proposing to Rose. The way he sees it, if their differing religious backgrounds are going to have the couple constantly defending themselves, they might as well have something to defend. I kind of love Atticus.
Mary was more insufferable that usual. “My dear, a lack of compassion can be as vulgar as an excess of tears,” Violet tells her when Mary doesn’t seem to care at all where Edith is or what she is doing. Charles hatches a plan to get Tony to finally accept the fact that Mary has broken up with him. It seems Tony won’t let Mary go because he doesn’t want to dishonor her. But then Charles stages it so he’s kissing Mary as Tony and Mabel are leaving the movie theater. Charles is off to Poland for a year, so I guess some new man is going to have to come along to entertain Mary. Or maybe we are supposed to root for Mary and Charles to get together, but I can’t muster the energy for that.
Robert’s dog Isis has cancer. In a beautiful scene, Robert brings her to bed between Cora and himself so that when Isis passes during the night she won’t be alone but surrounded by two people who love her. Cora says she hopes that she is that lucky when her time comes.
Other thoughts on episode seven:
• Once again there were no episodic pictures of Edith on the PBS press website. I demand justice for Edith.
• Anna and Mr. Bates appear to be having trouble conceiving. I wonder if this will be explored more.
• I’m still #TeamMrsDrewe.
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.