Downton Abbey Recap: Upstairs Downstairs And In Each Other's Business

Welcome to Happy’s inaugural Downton Abbey recap! Previously on Downton Abbey: Matthew Crawley got kilt. The extreme bathos, the music, the hideously obvious tension-building juxtaposition of heir being birthed and speeding automobile …

Downton Abbey Recap: Upstairs Downstairs And In Each Other's Business

followed by his glassy staring murdered eyes …

matthew dead

I must have laughed 10 minutes. I know, supposedly that is “wrong.”


We come upon the abbey at night, with foreboding music and scurrying feet and notes left on the mantel and suitcases snapped shut, someone is absconding! Anna finds the messages and gives them to Carson the butler and Hughes the housekeeper, and they are soooo verklempt! They are all atitter and aphloomphered! Mrs. O’Brien has up and gone! Well they never! What shall they doooooo?

This is such a shock to the household that Carson is allowing the servants to gossip in groups in common areas! He mst have had a stroke from the shock of it all, for this running of amok! Cora, faced with the existential tragedy that is the decamping of her lady’s maid to a better offer, turns into a helpless whiny divababy. What ever shall become of us, she swoons!

Lady Edith and Lord Grantham are breakfasting and they are in High Dudgeon over the poaching of their property, the maid. Words shall be spoke, and angry brows furrowed! Here comes New Sybil, Lady Rose, to be embarrassed that her mother poached the maid. Does anyone remember why she is here? It seems like it has been four years since we were all at Downton Abbey together, and we can barely remember our original cast much less these interlopers. Well, we shall have two hours to put it all together with our poor put-upon short-term brains.

Lady Mary is Grieving. She does not even want to take a walk in the fresh air with the baby and the worried nanny, even though she has circles under her eyes, and if anything just her vanity should make her pull herself together. “Poor little orphan,” she says with detachment as she kisses her son, detachedly, and rubs his hair, with possibly even more detachment. Oh, I get it, she is Separated and Alienated from her son due to her overweening Grief, because she is Tragic.

mary and child

A moment to say that we never understood anyone who did not wish Lady Mary dead. We always rather liked Edith, bitchy and sniping as she might be. She at least had people say no to her once in a while, and didn’t wear a mask of pure entitled ennui.

There is some tsuris between Nanny West — there to care for both Lady Mary and Matthew’s son, Master George, and Sybil’s daughter, who apparently is called “Sippy,” ugh — and Thomas, and there is Evil afoot and also Servant Power Wrangling. Someone really should have warned Nanny West about him.

The servants start to spell it out, THANK YOU SERVANTS it is about time we got some explainering up in here, and “Nanny West” is neither servant nor family, and everyone laughs at Thomas for being a dick when she asked him to do his job, because fuck you Thomas you are totally a servant no matter how big you get in other’s britches. “You mean she mistook you for a servant?” Bates says, all, “you are beclowned!” “But he is a servant,” dumbsplains the big footman Daisy’s in love with. “Don’t tell him that, he’ll never get over shock,” Bates meows back. Julian Fellowes, you catty bitch!


Branson, the former chauffeur and Sybil’s widower, is apparently the estate manager now — did we know that before? — which, good for him, we’re sure he had lots of knowledge about crops and business from driving Lord Grantham’s car. He and Lord Grantham are walking in the country, and so ergo i.e. therefore are colluding. That collusion seems to involve Mary’s inheritance from Matthew, who of course was Lord Grantham’s heir. Hang on, gonna rewind and see if we can make sense of this nonsense garble.

Aaaaaaand no. All I got from that was the absolutely one hundred percent impossible plot point that Matthew had not made a will, as if they would have permitted the union between Lord Grantham’s eldest daughter and his heir without a metric fuckton of lawyers. Anyway, Grantham wants to manage Master George’s half or (math) of the estate, and as you may somewhat vaguely remember, that would probably be a Bad Idea, because of how he almost ruined the estate last time he got his fool hands on it, and that is why Dead Matthew owns half of it now, because he came in and rescued it somehow, we all forget how. The takeaway is that Lord Grantham is up to no good. As per usual.

Moleseley is getting fired because he’s not needed as Matthew’s valet or whatever he was anymore, because of how Matthew has now been dead for six months. That is sad. He is probably being outsourced by AI robots, or, like, “an electric iron.”


Lady Rose, the new blonde replacement for Lady Sybil, is already causing trouble with her Spark and Modernity, she is being declined rides by Edith into town (Edith super hates her), she is putting notices up in shop windows looking to hire a mystery person and she is being given Looks by the busybody shopkeepers, because that is some strange modern hussy ways!

Mrs. Crawley’s son is dead, she is sad and thoughtful and thinking feminist thoughts about her daughter-in-law while simultaneously acknowledging the lack of being “anything” once her son is dead and she’s no longer a mother. Interesting little bit, show, and true.

New Sybil’s notice was for a lady’s maid, and Someone Mysterious and From the Past is about to answer the call. If you can figure out which previous character this is, you are a better man than I.

What a fucking entitled asshole Lord Grantham is, with his insistence that nothing could go wrong if they put his grandson’s money in his hands, how dare they question him and no by all means they should not run it by Mary, George’s guardian, and Lord Grantham is Terrible. Lady Grantham is pretty much rolling her eyes in his face, like, do you hear you? But she is a Woman so it is not her Place to Say.

Yay it is Valentine’s Day so we can see the servants make eyes at each other (Anna and Bates) or be Valentine’s Day Sad, which is a special kind of sad that is really not fun. If it were 70 years later, Daisy could watch Sandra Bullock movies on Valentine’s Day, by herself, and cry. Oh she got one from whom? I don’t care. Mary black-clouds all over Edith’s trip to London. “Have a happy time,” Mary moans like seawitch.


Edith’s married-to-a-lunatic lover wants her to come to Germany with him so he can divorce his Mrs. Rochester who lives in the attic. So much more civilized than burning the whole thing to the ground. They almost kiss right at the party, WHAAAT, Edith you whore.

The Dowager is going to do something nice for Moleseley because she is not a bitch anymore. And that is sad. When did Season One’s Grande Viper turn into this “nice” lady who cares about anything beyond her heirs and telling them what to do? It’s always a shame when they neuter a badass into something less offensive and more “likable.”

Is anyone very interested in Carson’s old buddy in the workhouse? I for one am not.

Edith simply does not care for New Sybil Lady Rose, and will take the opportunity to be disgruntled that she put the notice seeking a lady’s maid in the window at the post office, since Edith herself had totally gone to London to put the notice in the magazine and not at all for the purpose of almost kissing her married lover right in the middle of a party, while wearing red flapper clothes like a common prostitute.

Branson is trying to fish Lady Mary out of her dreadfully elegant Tragic Ennui, and he is “smoothly” trying to evince that she might take an interest in, say, estate management! Lord Grantham, no fool he haha just kidding he is totally a fool, is there to insist that the pretty lady just concentrate on her smiles, like a total cockblocker. Five bucks says Branson and Lady Mary bone.

Here is the best drama so far tonight: “Why didn’t you give my instructions to Mrs. Patmore about the eggs?” Nanny West, you are very welcome on my television. You are sensible, calm and pleasant, and you are going to let this twerp know you have a role in this household, and that you speak for them when you need something for the babies.


Carson is having a heart-to-heart about how Lady Mary should take an interest in the running of the estate, even though he knows that is directly contra to Lord Grantham’s wishes! Maybe Carson should go to the workhouse for being an ungrateful wretch!

Luckily, Lady Mary is there to explain it to him. She is shocked and appalled that she led him on to believe he had the freedom to address her thus, and criticize his master, the one true lord of the estate all bow before him, at the same time. GOOD GOD CARSON, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE.

It is dinner and Mary freaks out. The dowager comes to see her in her room and is all sweet and grandmothery and this woman is nowhere near as fun as the old dowager. Why did they warm her up anyway? Smacks of focus group. Now it must be time for a “choose life” speech where Mary actually intones, deadly, “and you think I should choose life.” Lord Grantham continues to be the dumbest fucking man on teevee, as he mansplains to the dowager that their job is NOT to bring Lady Mary back to the world, but rather is to hide her away in a room full of cotton balls, because he has super good judgment about what people need.


Servant love quadrangle. They’re going to have to work harder to get me to care about Daisy, Ivy, Jimmy and the other one and who is sending valentines to whom.

Why are all the old ladies so busy taking a lifeserving interest in servants’ and workhouse prisoners’ affairs?

And now they have been taken in by this evil Mystery Maid. Oh noooo! Who is she? No telling! But definitely eeeevil!

edna braithwaite

Mrs. Crawley has been given a new lease on life by having someone to help, Bates’s old theatah buddy, Grigg, whom she’s rescued from the Dickensian workhouse. Will they bone? I bet they bone. Get some, Mrs. Crawley!

Edith is lookin’ goooooood, married lover in London life is agreeing quite nicely with her! He tells her that to divorce his loony wife in Germany he must become a German citizen. That seems … unpatriotic, since Britain just fought Germany in a war, like, last season or the season before? They kiss at the table, in front of God, the queen and everyone, like common high school sophomores.

edith kissing

Mrs. Hughes is perturbed to learn that Edna Braithwaite is coming back, and I still don’t remember who Edna Braithwaite is. She is not the one who became a hooker after getting knocked up by the officer, right? Mrs. Hughes carefully says to Cora that perhaps they should wait on the replies from the advertisement in London. Cora of course takes this bit of carefully deferential advice and gets her back up, turning it around on Mrs. Hughes for being a dick who doesn’t want to give anyone a helping hand, when she JUST got a guy out of the workhouse, and also helped that hooker that time! Cora, always so unfair.

Mrs. Patmore sent Daisy her valentine, which is a thing we are spending time on, because this premiere is two hours jesus christ. Mrs. Patmore is great.

Branson had Mrs. Hughes write the recommendation for this Edna person. Was he caught fucking this Edna person? Does ANYONE remember this at all? Help us out in the comments!

Hahahaha, Nanny West is RACIST at the BABIES! Calling Lady Sybil’s daughter “the chauffeur’s daughter” and a “wicked little crossbreed.” Whoops Nanny West, now it is right that Thomas fucked you over and lied on you about leaving the precious little nobles unattended. Whoever would have thought Thomas’s manipulations would turn out to have been in service of good? (Not Thomas, that is who not!) She is of course terminated with prejudice, and there would be higher emotional stakes if she had called the baby human garbage with any tone that could conceivably have been considered joshing instead of spitting evil, but oh well, Julian Fellowes is not really known for “nuance.”

Lady Mary is crying in the butler’s arms, she should totally kiss him like when Sally is snurfling into her Kleenex and totally kisses Harry, that would be hilarious.


The electric mixer in the kitchen has become the newest “gas lights” and “swivel chairs.” Oh, the threatening robot AI future, we shall all be put out of work making tallow and moving people’s chairs in circles for them!

Lady Mary goes to a luncheon with the tenant farmers, she is Alive.

Oh, a box from Matthew’s office arrives for Mary, with his will in it, tucked into a book or something. THAT IS NOT HOW YOU DO WILLS WHEN YOU ARE THE HEIR TO A GIGANTIC ESTATE JESUS.

By the terms of Matthew’s will, Mary is the sole heiress, “whether or not that’s legal.” Dude, that can’t be legal, come on. THE ENTAIL and whatnot — although, in Lady Catherine DeBourgh’s case, they never saw a need for an entail, but STILL.

The dowager tells Lord Grantham to stop being a whinyass tittybaby who wants all the estate for himself, she is going to have him put to bed with no supper. Why couldn’t it have been Lord Grantham absconding in the middle of the night due to his failure to properly negotiate a contract with Downton Abbey? Instead we are missing Matthew (no big), Sybil (no big), and Mrs. O’Brien (way big) and Grantham is never going away.

Moleseley is doing manual labor and he is sad. Anna will lend him some money to pay off his village debts. But he will not let Anna lend nor give him money to pay off his debts, because he has dignity or some bullshit.

Lord Grantham reads Crawley’s letter to the assembled family. It begins that he is a feeble idiot to not have made a will, considering he is a lawyer, and also the heir to a gigantic estate, and also Mary is pregnant. The dowager agrees, and SO SAY WE ALL.

Now they are having dinner and Grantham is pretending he wants Lady Mary’s opinion on stuff, but he is LYING. He starts listing boring stuff about crop rotation as if she couldn’t possibly get her head around it, and is all GOTCHA, even though at lunch the first thing she said was something about some tenant farmer’s sheep as if she actually did know about the tenant farmer and his sheep. Dick move, Grantham. Everyone gangs up on him, in a quite civilized gangbang, and beats him up, by disagreeing with him.

New Sybil Lady Rose wants Anna to chaperone her to a servants’ dance in the village. Anna is all NOPE. But then later Anna will be all YEP.

Edna Braithwaite is already fucking up her ladyship’s dresses, boo Braithwaite.

Now Bates has gone to visit with the Dowager to ask a favor for Moleseley, this is now like the eighth time the servants have gone to ask an audience with a noble, what are they even doing? What has become of decorum and knowing their place? I BLAME JAZZ.

Thomas, on a temporary high from having had the Evil Nanny West fired, is now working to get Anna fired for having supposedly done — something — to her Ladyship’s dress, out of jealousy over Braithwaite. If Cora falls for this, she is a worse idiot than we all thought. (She is a worse idiot than we all thought.)

Carson tells Mrs. Crawley to butt out his business with this Grigg fellow, whom we all know stole his gal, Alice Neal, because obviously. Everyone is all up in everyone this episode, servants up in other servants, servants up in their masters, nobles up in their servants. Good lord everyone, stop it. It is Unseemly.

Jimmy has discovered Lady Rose and Anna at the tea dance in York, there will be shenanigans! (Because Lady Rose is a slut and Jimmy is a social climber who sends valentines to noblewomen.)

Aw, Bates has forged a promissory note so he can “pay back” the 30 pounds Moseley “loaned” him, that is sweet.

Patmore, to Daisy, who’s still on about that one big footman she used to turn her nose up at: “Nothing’s as changeable as a young man’s heart. Take hope and warning from that.” Mrs. Patmore, killin’ it!

Anna is helping Lady Rose have a tete a tete with the man she danced with at the tea dance before the brawl broke out (oh, there was a brawl). This is very UN-ANNA. Rose is very hot in her borrowed maid’s drawers for this Mr. Thawley. She kisses him, in the French manner, because Downton Abbey is dull and she needs to harlot it up with someone.


Mary gets half the estate, Carson sees Grigg off to Belfast and get the apology for having his lady stoled, and Braithwaite and Thomas giggle evilly together over the fucktussle they are perpetrating on Anna, which Cora believes because why wouldn’t the sainted Anna, whom she’s known for years, be less trustworthy than the unknown lady’s maid who came to work for her, like, two days ago. If you are Cora’s lady maid, then you are an extension of Cora, and therefore perfect, obviously. Jesus what an asshole. She and Lord Grantham can keep each other.

[Robot by MonkeyWorks]

TV Show: Downton Abbey

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