RECAP: Scandal in Yorkshire on DOWNTON ABBEY - Ep. 6
Downton Abbey, ITV, PBS
It was double Downton this week on PBS. But for those of you who may have missed the two-hour episode, here is a brief recap of what happened!
At dawn, Anna waits anxiously in the Crawleys' car outside the prison in York. Inside, the guards unlock a series of doors for John Bates. When at last the front gates open, Anna gets out of the car and rushes toward her husband, embracing him without supervision for the first time in months. The wait is over; Bates is free.
Driving up the road toward Downton Abbey, the sight of the Castle is a welcome one for Mr. Bates. It means home and a future with Anna are finally within his grasp after months of injustice and anguish. In the house, his friends both upstairs and down are delighted to welcome him back. Robert Is particularly glad to see his old war mate. He is happy the whole mess is through and pleased to have his valet back. Which raises the issue of Thomas' future.
It seems Thomas will be out of his job, but perhaps not out of the house. That is, until O'Brien orchestrates his ultimate ruin. One night she happens upon a conversation between Jimmy and Thomas in the Servant's Hall. Though it was perfectly innocent (at least on Jimmy's part), O'Brien insists to Thomas that he was being flirtatious and further, that he is constantly hinting to Alfred that he is romantically interested. At first, Thomas refuses to believe her, but later that night when he is alone in his room, her words prey on his mind and he decides to take a chance.
Thomas creeps down the hallway and slips silently into Jimmy's bedroom. He is already asleep so Thomas approaches his bed carefully and sits down. He looks longingly at Jimmy's handsome face. Meanwhile, downstairs, Alfred has just returned from his "date" with Ivy (and a third or fourth wheel). Frustrated at being shot down once again, he makes his way back to his room, which he shares with his fellow footman. At that moment Thomas makes up his mind, leans in, and kisses Jimmy softly on the lips. Alfred opens his door to the shocking scene and Jimmy is violently stirred from his sleep. When he finally realizes what has happened, he flies into a fit of fury. This flusters Alfred further and he flees the room.
The next day, tension is high between the three men. Thomas is for once attempting politeness toward Alfred, and Jimmy wants nothing to do with either of them. But O'Brien has not finished meddling yet. She persuades her nephew to raise the issue with Carson. Always the staunch conservative, he is appalled by what Alfred recounts to him. His reaction is a harsh reminder of the intolerance that existed in Interwar England; it was in fact a punishable crime for a man to carry out acts of a homosexual nature. It is in this context that we must view Carson's resolution as lenient. Since Bates is set to return to his former position anyway and Carson wants to both avoid Scandal and give Thomas the prospect of a future career, he proposes that Thomas resign and seek employment elsewhere with a generous recommendation from him.
For Sarah O'Brien though, it is not enough for Thomas to simply lose his job. Therefore, she convinces Jimmy that if he does not take the punishment a step further, people might think "there's something funny about [him]" too. Jimmy, determined to maintain his good name, threatens to go to the police if Carson does not give Thomas a bad reference.
Thomas is devastated at the news. With Jimmy's ultimatum in the balance, Carson can do nothing but comply in order to keep another Downton valet out of prison. When Mrs. Hughes discovers Thomas crying, she insists that he tell her what happened. Bates also suspects trouble and goes to Mrs. Hughes for the scoop. Once Thomas' greatest adversary, Bates now has a new lease on life and wishes to help him out of his misery. He "[knows] what it is to feel powerless" from his stint behind bars, and does not wish it on anyone, not even Thomas. With a sneaking suspicion that O'Brien is behind this nasty scheme, an opinion he voices to Lord Grantham along with the rest of the story, he goes to Thomas to work out a plan for redemption. But Thomas has all but given up, reconciling himself to the idea of going abroad to seek employment. Bates is not so quick to quit. He asks Thomas for any information he could use as Leverage against O'Brien.
Armed with a single phrase, Bates arranges a meeting with O'Brien at his new cottage with Anna. Over tea, he confronts her about her involvement in Thomas' demise. Though she tries to deny it at first, when he whispers the phrase into her ear, she immediately changes her attitude. Later that day she speaks with Jimmy and convinces him to Grant Thomas clemency. In doing so, he will have both made a strong statement about his personal beliefs and proven himself to be a compassionate soul. Jimmy, who was against making such a racket in the first place, is relieved to leave the whole ordeal in the past and let Thomas move on to a new home. But Lord Grantham has a different plan in mind. Perhaps primarily because he wants desperately to keep the star of his cricket team, but also partly to keep the peace, he asks that Carson keep Thomas on staff. It takes some coaxing, but Bates finally agrees to the idea of Thomas being made under butler (though it may be a slightly higher position), but getting Jimmy to come around is a task left up to the Earl of Grantham himself.
Scandal leaves no class untouched this week. With the arrival of the vivacious Rose at the Dowager's house comes the trials and tribulations of youth...and then some. When Violet agrees to take her great-niece into her charge, she has no clue just how full her hands will be. At Rose's first dinner at Downton, she finds out that Edith will be traveling to London and asks to tag along. Despite Violet's protestation, she insists she must go, inventing a story that she is arranging a surprise for her mother. Edith is not duped and when Matthew asks to come along as well, she is glad of the extra support.
When the trio arrives at Aunt Rosamund's house Rose immediately slinks away to use the telephone to organize a mysterious rendezvous in Warwick Square. When she misses dinner, Rosamund is peeved, but when a taxi driver is brought into the dining room with information on the teenager's whereabouts, she is livid. Rosamund, Edith and Matthew find her at a jazz club, The Blue Dragon, making quite a shameful display with a married man. When they confront Rose, she comes up with the sub-par justification that her companion, Mr. Terence Margadale, is an old family friend who has a dreadful wife. Far from amused, Rosamund is about to unleash the sharp tongue of measured invective she no doubt learned from her mother when Matthew swoops in and carries Rose off to the dance floor to strike a bargain. Always the hero "on the side of the downtrodden", he does her a deal- be through with Mr. Margadale, at least until she is no longer the Crawleys' responsibility, and he will guarantee the two ladies' silence on her sordid affair. With all parties in (reluctant) agreement, Rose leaves London virtually unscathed.
But what the Dowager wishes to know, the Dowager will no doubt find out. Overhearing a conversation between Rose and Edith, Violet deduces that there may be a secret to uncover. When she learns what actually had transpired in London, she contacts Lady Flintshire, Rose's mother, and arranges a new plan for the young mischief-maker- she is to go to Duneagle, the family's house in Scotland, with her Aunt Agatha as a chaperone. Rose is horrified to find there is no way out of this situation. With her signature smug look of victory, the Dowager proves she can still keep the rebellious youth in line.