Halloween came a week early on Sunday’s episode of Downton Abbey, after the verbal sparring match at dinner took a decidedly gruesome turn.
Warning: Some images used in this article will feature bloody scenes from the latest episode.
There was little doubt that something major was going to happen on Downton Abbey Sunday night, as ITV issued a warning prior to the episode and following every ad break that viewers may find some scenes from the latest episode “distressing.” This resulted in one of the tensest viewings of an episode this series, as we all waited with bated breath for what was to come. But just what would cause wide-spread distress for Downton fans?
Would Lady Mary’s new suitor crash out in a horrific parallel to husband Matthew’s untimely demise? Would Anna lose her baby, despite medical intervention? Or would Mrs. Hughes be giving Mr. Carson what-for after his comments about her cooking?
Instead, we saw the shocking culmination of our multiple reminders of Lord Grantham’s ill health this series explode onto our screens. Or, well, all over Lady Cora.
One thing’s for certain, Downton wasn’t about to let Pride and Prejudice and Zombies outdo them on the period drama bloodbath stage.
But just what had caused Robert’s Tarantino-esque expulsion of blood all over the pristine white tablecloth at dinner? Luckily, Dr. Clarkson was on hand to inform us that Lord Grantham’s ulcer had burst, and react swiftly to give Downton’s patriarch the highest chance of survival.
Though he may not have always treated her as well as he should, and thinking himself on death’s door, Robert turned to Cora and murmured weakly, “If this is it, know that I have loved you very, very much.” And there was barely a dry eye left in the room, as we waited through an agonizingly long advert break to learn whether or not Lord Grantham had survived the blood loss. Either way, and as Lady Mary quite succinctly told Tom, things wouldn’t be able to continue at Downton as they had.
Downstairs, a visibly shaken Carson philosophizes to Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore, “Life is short, death is sure. That is all we know.” Even Barrow is white-faced and worried about Lord Grantham’s chance of survival, which is all the more heartbreaking due to his uncertain future at the stately house.
For now, however, Lord Grantham will live on — thanks to a successful surgery at Downton’s Cottage Hospital, which we’re certain the Dowager Countess will use as ammunition in her ongoing battle to “save” it — if irrevocably changed by the experience, both physically and mentally.
Elsewhere on ‘Downton’…
Mr. Mason moves into the recently vacated Yew Tree Farm, with a little help from Daisy, Mrs. Patmore and Andy. Whilst it was mostly uneventful, we’re pretty sure we detected a little flirting between Mason and Patmore. Love really is in the air this series, as almost everyone hurtles toward their happily-ever-after.
Lady Mary and Tom pop their heads around the door to talk pigs with Mr. Mason, and not-so-subtly suggest that he’s getting a little on in his years to be able to handle the physical demands of pig rearing. Some quick thinking from Andy deftly avoids any drama, after he volunteers himself to help on the farm.
This presents its own set of problems later on in the episode, as Andy can’t read. Barrow, in an effort to repair the rift between them, offers to teach Andy in secret to avoid the embarrassment, which we hope will see a shift in sentiment amongst the rest of the staff. We haven’t been huge fans of the shut-out attitude against Barrow this series, which was set to force Thomas back into his former habits.
Love also came calling for Lady Edith, as she shared a kiss with current suitor Bertie. Could “poor” Edith finally be catching a break? Or will the inevitable truth of Marigold’s parentage coming out see her jilted at the alter for a second time? She does have some pretty abysmal luck in her love life.
Speaking of love lives, Lady Mary’s latest prospect seems to be fizzling out and fast. Despite his racy and exciting career — which we still think is a little in bad-taste, considering how Matthew died — Henry Talbot is not an equal match for Lady Mary, at least in her eyes. She asserts to Tom that she doesn’t want to “marry down,” which causes a very touching recounting of Tom and Sybil’s (still not over it) whirlwind romance. They were a marriage of equals, despite their differing stations. Though Mary concedes in their case that may have been true, she doesn’t believe the same can be said for her and Talbot.
And finally, blackmail was abundant in the Dowager Countess’ household — both upstairs and downstairs. After Denker makes her rather outlandish opinions about Dr. Clarkson’s wavering loyalty to Lady Violet know in broad daylight, she’s dismissed from her position. She won’t go quietly into the night, however, and holds Spratt’s fugitive nephew over his head in order to get him to convince her ladyship to reinstate her. It works, but we have to wonder how long it’ll be before she makes a mess of things. Again.
As for the Dowager Countess herself, she has some dirt on none other than Neville Chamberlain, the Minister for Health, who she hopes to recruit to her cause. Of course, the dinner-table drama successfully derails any progress on that front and Chamberlain escapes into the night.
Next week on ‘Downton Abbey’
Lord Grantham is brought home to recover from his surgery, though the Dowager Countess won’t be dropping her hospital cause, despite her son’s brush with death. Downton is also opened to the public for the day, in order to raise money for charity. Could the lucrative experience prove a new way to generate income for the household?