‘Downton Abbey’ recap: Mary makes a tough decision

This week, if you didn’t have a horrible secret or a pretty crafty lie, you really weren’t a part of the action at “Downton Abbey.” For all the sneaking around, swallowing of feelings and blathering of half-truths, you’d think you were watching “Falcon Crest.” There wasn’t a lot of justice to be had for some of the nastier secrets, but what little we got was a welcome relief, if a little too pat and easily resolved, if you ask me.

So yes, Branson’s little drunken escapade with Edna blew up exactly the way everyone expected it to blow up. Edna cornered Branson to demand that he marry her if she got pregnant, to which Branson didn’t exactly agree. Instead, he muttered about being filled with regret and went running to Mommy, I mean, Mrs. Hughes. While it all seemed like a pretty tidy resolution, and Edna played her hand a little too broadly (and confidently), Mrs. Hughes snappy dressing down of the tricky new employee was just plain fun to watch. It seems Mrs. Hughes is junior detective in her spare time, able to sneak through Edna’s things and put some pieces together to say, with confidence, that Edna’s game plan was to force Branson to propose, then get knocked up by any available male to seal the deal. Edna’s gone before we’ve even had a chance to revel in her devious plot. 

I’m not quite sure what happened between Edna and Thomas, given that they were fast friends at one point. Their last encounter is chock full of witty insults, but, given that Edna seemed like a budding O’Brien, I’m sorry she wasn’t a little more subtle so that she might stick around. This plot was quickly resolved, yes, but at the expense of logic and character development. 

Lord Gillingham was also sent packing a little too readily. I know, I know, he kept popping around to make sure Mary was really, really sure about kicking him to the curb, but you would have thought that hot (by early 20th century standards) kiss would make her reconsider her decision. After all, he did tell her she could take all the time she needed. When Mary sighs to Branson she might have made a decision she’ll live to regret, it was one of those moments that made you understand why Edith regularly wanted to give her pretty sister a good, hard slap back in season one. Yes, Mary will have other suitors, but how many of them will swoon over her the way Lord Gillingham does? Oh, wait, probably all of them. 

Of course, it’s a huge relief that Mary sends him packing, if only because Anna won’t have to see that horrible Green again (hopefully) for a while. Even though Mrs. Hughes (who is really the go-to therapist for this episode) urges Anna to talk to Bates, instead Anna wants to move into the main house again. She can’t stand for Bates to touch her, which is understandable but horrible to watch. Poor Anna can’t listen to a word Hughes is saying, sticking fast to her belief that Bates will kill Green, then be hung for murder. That might be true, but it doesn’t show a tremendous amount of faith in Bates. He did learn things in prison, after all, so who’s to say some spree killer doesn’t owe him a favor? 

Just as Hughes is the downstairs therapist/fixer/junior detective, Violet continues her tending to Isobel’s mental health upstairs. Although Isobel seems braced for Anthony to take Matthew’s place as Mary’s new love interest, it actually seems as if she might be moving on with her life a little more smoothly than her daughter-in-law. It’s a little strange to see Violet looking after Isobel like her new pet project, but I guess we need a few moments of kindness to convince us Violet isn’t the judgmental old bag she sometimes seems to be. 

It seems the judgmental old bag honors go to Aunt Rosamund, who gives Edith a stern dressing down when she tiptoes back to her pad after a dalliance with Michael. Her lecture about scandal and consequence seems a little too pointed not to be a Big Warning Sign of Plot Twists to Come. 

In other news upstairs, Rose discovers her handsome new boyfriend John can’t hold his liquor and is rescued from the horror of being abandoned on the dance floor (did not know that was such a grave offense, did you?) by equally handsome bandleader Jack Ross. The problem, of course, is that Jack Ross is black. Horrors! Scandal! Cue fainting! I’m guessing Rose will end up at the club once again, and Something Will Develop. Unless it doesn’t. “Downton Abbey” does have a tendency to set up storylines only to abandon them, or, as with Edna, resolve them so quickly you almost wish they hadn’t resurfaced at all.

One storyline that I had been resolved many, many episodes ago is the silly Alfred/Ivy/Daisy/Jimmy entanglement, which basically seems to revolve around Daisy moping around and Alfred getting ample evidence that Ivy isn’t interested in him but willfully ignoring it. So, this week, Daisy moped around and Alfred got ample evidence that Ivy isn’t interested in him. I’m not sure what’s going to happen with these angsty, lovelorn kids, but I just hope something happens. Period.