Caution: Spoiler Alert. Do not proceed if you have not seen this episode. The earl feels better but he is bored. He wants to visit London and see Henry Talbot in a motor race, having been invited along with the family to Brooklands.
Racing is part of who Henry is, Mary realizes. She will have to go, despite her misgivings. Could she live happily ever after with someone of such low stature?
The two elder Crawleys wonder about that too. Cora does not think that a professional driver would make her oldest daughter happy. The earl wonder at her attraction to him. “Isn’t Mary too sensible?” he asks, forgetting that he’s had the hots for is common born (albeit filthy rich) wife these 30 years.
A Curious Wedding Invitation
Meanwhile, at the dowager cottage, Violet and Isobel discuss an invitation that Isobel received to Larry Gray’s wedding.
“Why would you want to be there and subject you to more insults?” asks Violet.
“But who would invite me…?” asks a perplexed Isobel.
“I’d say this is the work of Miss Cruikshank. Why don’t I pay a call to her and wink out the truth!”
When Violet talks to that young lady, she sees through her in a trice. Miss Cruikshank, it turns out, wants to fob Dickie off on Isobel, who would act as an adult day care provider for an ailing man.
Lady Violet, tired of losing her battles over the hospital, has a trip planned to the south of France, unbeknownst to her family. She gives Isobel a letter to give to her son after she is gone. “How will he know to get in touch with you?” asks her bewildered friend.
“Through Tom. He is sensible,” says Violet, confident that Sybil’s very capable husband can find her in case of an emergency.
Elsie and Charlie Prepare a Nice meal
Charlie has asked Elsie to make dinner for him on their free day when the Crawleys are all in London, and so she enlists Mrs. Patmore for help.
“Does he appreciate all you do?” Daisy says, listening in.
“Does any man?” Elsie says testily.
Mrs. Patmore, wise sage that she is, has come up with a brilliant idea and schools Elsie on how to teach Charlie a lesson.
When meal preparation time approaches, Elsie has seemingly injured her hand. A thick bandage prevents her from performing normal kitchen duties, or so she says.
Charlie is not at all pleased. “How did you come to do it?” he asks, carrying a large basket laden with food.
“I must have stumbled,” she lies. “I can’t cook! Not like this. You will have to help me.”
Since Charlie’s blood sugar drops precipitously when he’s had nothing to eat, he willingly takes on the cook’s role, as well as the role of scullery maid, footman, and butler.
Elsie guides her man though the process of making a meal, step by painful step.
“Fetch the stove wood. Prep the stove. Get the chicken in the oven, wash your hands, peel the potatoes, wash your hands, prepare the apple crumble, set the table, churn the butter, wash your hands, make the sauce, check the chicken, stir the sauce, boil the potatoes, bake the crumble, thicken the sauce, heat the plates, open the wine, pour the wine, throw out the burnt sauce and make new sauce, get more wood for the stove. Oooooooooooh! Watch the chicken! Watch the potatoes!”
Three hours later, Charlie serves burnt potatoes, forgets the apple crumble, and burns his fingers. He feels a tingling in his left arm, then falls asleep at the table with nary a bite to eat. When he wakes from his stupor, Elsie asks him to soak the dishes for the time being.
“You don’t have to wash up until the morning,” she says magnanimously.
Oh, how the mighty have fallen. How many of us, gentle readers, have wondered if upper level management ever truly understood the pressures their honey bee workers are under? I believe that with Mrs. P’s sage advice, Elsie has helped Charlie to discover a new respect for cook, maid, and bottle washer. I doubt he’ll give her much trouble in the future regarding nitpicky details after requesting a quiet meal in his cottage for two.
A Day at the Races
The Crawleys arrive in London for the motor races. Edith visits the staff at her magazine. Her new co-editor, Laura, a pretty woman Edith’s age, is excited about a new column submitted by a Miss Cassandra Jones. “It’s quite amusing,” she says. “We should give her a try.” Edith invites Laura to join them at Brooklands the following day.
Dinner at Aunt Rosamund’s house is not boring, especially when Henry Talbot drops in on dinner uninvited. Lady Mary finds his moves a bit obvious – which does not deter her attraction to him a bit.
At Brooklands, the Crawleys are enjoying the races and refreshments immensely. Laura, Edith’s co-editor, has caught Tom’s eye, and even Lady Mary is caught up with the excitement of watching a group of cars race past them in a blur. But the race seems endless.
“When will it be over?” she asks, as do the viewers, who are accustomed to better music and faster speeds.
Round and round the cars go. Round and round. And then…..a CRASH. A plume of oily smoke rises up. And then, horror.
Henry and all the bystanders rush to the accident at the opposite side of the track. Mary fights her terror, until she discovers that Charlie Rogers has died, not Henry. She feels relief, anger, and fear at the same time. While she wants to support Henry, she is unable to. Her emotions are too raw and the accident reminds her too much of the loss and grief she experienced over Mathew’s death.
During dinner at Aunt Rosamund’s, the earl, Cora, — everyone — is deathly quiet and agree that it was a bloody awful business. A short while later, Henry rings up Mary, who breaks up with him when he is at his most vulnerable. She gives him the awful news over the phone, which is akin to breaking up via text message these days.
“I need you,” he tells her.
She realizes they are not meant to be together. “Give me up,” she tells him. “I wish you nothing but good.”
Mary is sure of her decision. Tom, after learning what she has done, reminds her that being hurt is part of being alive.
A Fine Romance
Meanwhile, Edith snuggles with Bertie’s on the sofa, discussing the sad events. She has never felt so comfortable with someone, and he feels strangely happy, even on a day like this.
“Is it wrong?” he asks.
“No. Today has been sad and wretched and having you here has helped me, that’s all.”
“I want to marry you,” he says, unexpectedly.
“Oh.” Edith is thrilled and delighted, and rather surprised about his proposal. “I’m not the sort of girl that men are mad about.”
“I don’t have much to offer … a penniless land agent,” he counters.
“Would you like me to bring marigold with me?” Edith ventures.
“Marigold? Your family’s ward?”
“You see, I’m much fonder of her than anyone else and I’d hate to leave her behind”.
“Of course. We’ll have children of our own.”
She tells him that she will have to think about his proposal.
“Kiss me and I promise I won’t keep you waiting too long,” she says.
And so Edith has skirted the topic of Marigold’s being her daughter once again. (Cue ominous music, please.)
Bed and Breakfast, Beryl Patmore Style
Mrs. Patmore’s bed and breakfast is coming along nicely. She has attracted her first customers, a doctor and his wife. Along with a lovely breakfast and two guest rooms, her cottage offers an indoor privy.
While Mrs. P. works at the main house, her niece, Lucy, will see to the guest house. Beryl’s goal is to have a reputation for good service and good food. In her mind, she could not have started out better as an innkeeper, even if she tried.
But the paying customers turn out to be a pair of skanks having an affair. The doctor is a mere mister and his so-called missus is another man’s missus. A photographer catches them out and the resulting publicity creates a local scandal.
In no time, Beryl’s pretty little rose covered cottage is regarded as a house of ill repute and she is gaining a reputation as the inn keeper of a tawdry bawdy house. Poor Beryl. In this instance, she can’t win for trying.
The Egyptian Connection
The Crawleys return from London downcast. They are greeted by Isobel, who hands over a letter to the earl from Violet, which tells him that his momma needed a change of air and that she’ll be traveling all over the Mediterranean. As a gesture of love, she has arranged a present for him, which Mr. Sprat has delivered.
His lordship must go below stairs, which all seems very rum to him.
“Her ladyship was most particular, my lord,” says Sprat, undeterred. “She chose the present herself.”
The moment Robert sets eyes on the yellow lab puppy, his demeanor changes.
“Ohhhhh, hello little one!” he exclaims, hugging the puppy.
He calls her Tiaa, in the grand tradition of naming all his dogs after famous Egyptians – Pharaoh, Isis, and now Tiaa (pronounced Teo.) Or, as the confusing matter stands, Tio or Tiy, another wife of Amenhotep III.
What a sweet ending to a rather sad episode. What say you, gentle readers? Can you believe we have only 2 episodes to go?