I was having a gay ol’ time at a Super Bowl party last night, especially the part where Madonna returned from the sea with her sex slaves and all that pirated gold, but around 8:30 I heard one of my friends whisper, “Heather seems really anxious; I didn’t know she was this into football.” And I realized I was kind of rocking back and forth in my chair, chewing on my fingers and shouting, “LADY MARY CRAWLEY” every time people got excited about the game. By 8:45, I was pulling fistfuls of my hair from my head. Finally, I had to abandon the party altogether and come home for my beloved Downton Abbey. I heard the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl was the stuff of legend, but did Eli Manning discover he had a magic penis? No, he did not. Did Tom Brady lose his memory, his native accent, and half his human head? No, he did not. Did any one of the zillion people playing in or watching that football game have a face that looks like Michelle Dockery’s face? No, they did not. And so my choice to abandon America for England was obviously correct.
We will start, as usual, with the non-Mary things so we can conclude, as usual, with the Mary things, including engaging in one half-hour of reflection on her beauty and fury, and one half-hour of thankful prayers to our God for her existence on this earth. Followed by tea, of course. And then an hour of worship songs in her eyebrows’ honor.
Upstairs, this week, Lady Edith is in a pickle. Remember in the pilot episode when Patrick Crawley floated away on an iceberg with a flock of penguins after the Titanic sank? Well, that iceberg eventually docked in Canada, and Patrick disembarked to start a new life as a leather hide and beaver pelt tradesman. Never you mind that his previous work experience included letting someone else dress and undress him, and also, presumably, writing letters and frolicking through the English countryside in various tweed vests. Well, he lost his accent for one thing. And his face, for another. Also his voice sounds remarkably like Darth Vader without the emphysema, and he’s the rightful heir of Downton, etc.
At least that’s the yarn he weaves for Edith. At first she’s like, “In terms of bulls–t, that’s a pretty spectacular story.” And Darth Patrick goes, “You’re so pretty.” And Edith, immediately: “OMG, COUSIN!” She champions his cause, presents it to Lord Grantham, and promises to make out with his mutilated face as soon as he is restored to his rightful position as heir of the Grantham fortune.
On a normal day, the Dowager Countess would march into the infirmary, strip the bandages from Darth Patrick’s face, administer a single dose of Veritaserum, and uncover the truth. Three minutes, it would take her. Tops. But she’s got her hands full with Cousin Isobel, the martyr’s martyr. Isobel wants to leave Downton open after the war. The services they could provide in such a castle! Mental health counseling. Physical therapy. More true love concerts performed by Mary and Matthew. Ping-pong tournaments. As lovely as the proposition sounds, Cora and Violet are ready to get back to the good old days, when the only hiccups in their lives were occasional diplomats dying mid-pelvic thrust in the Ladies’ bedrooms in the middle of the night.
Oh, the scaffolds the Dowager Countess uses to entice Isobel: Malaria in Africa, post-Revolutionary starvation in the Caribbean, sunburn in the Grecian isles, refugees all across Europe. Won’t Cousin Isobel bring peace and prosperity to the whole world in the wake of the Great War? Of course she will! While impotency is the cause nearest her heart, she knows a few more protective outbursts from Mary and an impromptu nip-slip or two over pudding will be just the thing to get Matthew’s crawler to stand at attention once more. So, off she goes to the mainland to build homes with her bare hands and produce food from thin air.
The Dowager Countess and Lady Grantham do a high-five as they watch her drive away.
Speaking of driving, did you know automobiles in the early 1900s required engine rebuilding every single day? Branson is doing just that to the Grantham’s Model T when Sybil arrives in the garage for her daily schooling and scolding in the ways of Socialism and weddings. Last week Branson made the case for their marriage thus: “The Bolsheviks slaughtered Tsar Nicholas and his family over there in Russia. Sometimes you have to do uncomfortable things to change the world. Like marrying me. The analogy I am trying to make, Sybil, is that slaughter is to innocent children as I am to you. Won’t you be my wife?” It’s an alluring proposition obviously, but she still needs some time to think about it.