Thank goodness we were spared seeing Sybil’s funeral. Even seeing the family immediately after the funeral was difficult; surely if I’d had to witness the ceremony and burial I would have cried myself into a sinus headache. Everyone is crushed, and Cora is still blaming Robert, even continuing his banishment from the marital bed. She continues to blame him and treat him coldly through the entire episode.
Isobel, feeling helpless in the face of the family’s grief, invites the ladies of Downton to her house for a luncheon. In light of Ethel’s extremely limited cooking abilities (I think she can make ice), she asks Ethel to get some ham and make a salad. Ethel wants to actually cook something special, and asks Mrs. Patmore to give her a lesson. Even though Mr. Carson has given the word that everyone is to steer clear of the former prostitute (perhaps he thinks she’s holding hooker recruitment seminars at Mrs. Crawley’s house), Mrs. Patmore finds it in her heart to help Ethel. Isobel is so surprised by Ethel’s delicious food that she is almost rendered speechless. I think Ethel should try harder next time.
Thomas has been getting “touchy” with Jimmy, much to Jimmy’s mortification. When Jimmy expressed his desire to tell someone of Thomas’s behavior, O’Brien told him that it was a very bad idea and that he should feel flattered. O’Brien acted if nothing was amiss after seeing Thomas caress Jimmy’s neck while Jimmy was playing the piano, and I think we can all see that Thomas’s love boat is headed for a gigantic glacier.
Poor Mr. Carson is quite out of his element these days at Downton. He has to deal with toasters, radical Irishmen, buffet dining, people daring to put judgment aside to help a former prostitute, and dancing during a time of “sober dignity”. A man can only take so much, and when Carson discovers that Her Ladyship Cora, the young Ladies Mary and Edith, and the Dowager Countess are all attending a luncheon at Mrs. Crawley’s where they are being served by a former prostitute, he snaps, and throws the equivalent of a Carson hissy fit, and finds himself tattling to Robert. Robert, who is already feeling out of control Downton since he made Matthew his partner and Cora banished him to the dressing room, storms down to Isobel’s house and barges in on their lovely (and delicious!) luncheon. Full of sound and fury, he then attempts to make them all leave by telling them what Ethel used to do to support herself. Violet’s priceless response? “These days servants are very hard to find.” She has a point. (For the record, I would always insist on sitting next to Violet whenever there is any kind of argument going on, even though I’m sure she’d always make me giggle inappropriately.) You can practically hear Cora’s eyes rolling in their sockets, because she has had it with Robert. She refuses to leave, and dejected Robert is left to sulk back to Downton.
Couples therapy comes in the form of, wait for it, Violet. While at first she does suggest a trip for Cora to New York to see “that woman” (to give Robert and Cora a break from each other), she eventually turns to Dr. Clarkson for assistance. She meets with him to ask if he could explain to Robert and Cora that it is not certain that Sybil’s life would have been saved had they followed his advice. When Dr. Clarkson asks Violet if she would have him lie to Robert and Cora, Violet answers, “Lie is so unmusical a word”, which makes me almost choke on my dinner. However, after some research and thought, Dr. Clarkson and Violet later meet with Robert and Cora, and Dr. Clarkson explains to them that there was a chance, but not a certainty, that Sybil’s life would be saved had they listened to his recommendations. That bit of information is enough to let Cora let go of her anger towards Robert so that they can grieve together. That is something that Sybil would definitely have wanted.
There was one more thing…oh, yes, Bates will supposedly be freed from prison. I won’t believe it until I see it! It’d better be soon, there are only two episodes left!