So, tonight’s Downton Abbey finally had something worth celebrating, the delightful Mr Bates is back!!!!
The very first scene of tonight’s amazing instalment showed Anna (Joanne Froggatt) off to meet John Bates (Brendan Coyle) at the prison gates at dawn, where he is brought home to a hero’s welcome at Downton Abbey!
Of course, not everyone is pleased to see him back, in particular his old arch nemesis, Thomas Barrow (Rob James Collier), who has stepped quite nicely into Mr Bates shoes during his absence, but for once Thomas does not have the back up of his former partner in crime, Ms O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran)!
O’Brien has been getting increasingly annoyed at the attention new footman Jimmy (Ed Speleers) is receiving, not only from the female staff, but also Mr Carson (Jim Carter) and the Grantham family upstairs. Having seen that certain twinkle in Thomas’ eye when he reveals an almost obvious attraction to Jimmy, she actively encourages the new footman, who Mr Carter believes should be first footman over her lanky nephew, Alfred (Matt Milne), to encourage his new admirer, or else lose his job.
O’Brien’s plan works marvellously when, after convincing Thomas that Jimmy is interested in him, she then persuades Alfred to report the pair when he walks in on a rather compromising situation between the two (the audience, however, know that Jimmy was asleep and knew nothing of the situation until Alfred walked in and woke him to the reality of what was happening).
Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) receives another job offer from the editor who approached her shortly before Lady Sybil’s death. Unsure at first, but after a huge display of no confidence from her father, she agrees to meet the editor in London where she accepts his offer of employment.
Tom (Allen Leech) finally gets his own way with the funeral, and little Sybil is christened a catholic, much to Lord Grantham’s (Hugh Bonneville) disgust, but he has little room to oppose as he has only just been allowed back into Lady Cora’s (Elizabeth McGovern) bed.
The happy occasion brings with it the introduction of Tom’s equally stubborn brother, Koeran (Ruairi Conoghan), who manages to ruffle the feathers of not only the Grantham’s, but Tom’s as well!
However, this is pretty much the least of Lord Grantham’s worries, as Matthew (Dan Stevens) arranges a meeting with the Crawley solicitor behind Roberts back to discuss the future of Downton and its estate. Lord Grantham is horrified to think that he is being undermined, but as Matthew is the only reason he didn’t lose the estate in the first place, is forced to keep a lid on it and listen.
Matthew’s plan is clear, increase productivity, decrease waste and pull in the purse strings a bit. Lord Grantham is enraged, especially when one of his longest and most loyal employees hands in his resignation, but it is ok, Matthew has a plan, give Tom the farmer’s job, which makes all the women happy at least!
Meanwhile, after last week’s showdown between the Earl and the prostitute that is Ethel, the Dowager Countess (Dame Maggie Smith) shows a much more human side when she drives past a clearly upset Ethel in the street, after just being turned away from service in a shop.
Realising the struggle the girl will have re-fitting back into society, she arranges for interviews for her out of town, with the thinking that with a good reference she may well be able to leave the past behind her.
Unfortunately not everyone can see the reasoning behind this, something I am sure we will all agree would not bother the Countess Dowager too much in the slightest!