Note: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 3, Episode 5 of PBS' "Downton Abbey."
Boil, toil and trouble. That's all that ever happens over at Ol' Crawley Manor these days. Ever since Lady Sybil's untimely death, there's been not a drop of joy in Mudville. The flags are at half-mast. Everyone's in black. The house has degenerated into a bachelor pad filled with empty beer bottles and takeout containers. The whole darn place is in a funk.
Bob Crawley recently became the recipient of a Free Lifetime Membership to the doghouse. Cora won't sleep in the same bed with him. He's been sleeping on the fold-out couch. He probably kind of secretly likes the couch, where he can watch HGTV at 2 a.m. and eat as many bowls of Honey Nut Cheerios as he wants. No wife around say things like, "Robert, do you REALLY need more cereal? What happened to that salad I bought you? Did you read that Paleo diet book yet? Have some self-respect." Eye-roll, turn over, resentful sigh, lights out, cue gust of frigid wind inside the bedroom.
To catch everyone up, this is because Cora thinks Bob caused Sybil's death by trusting an expensive doctor over the family doctor. She's all "You believed him because he's fashionable!" Well duh! That is how one shouldddd pick a plastic surgeon. Bob: "I'm sad too! Do you think I'm less sad?" Just being honest Bob? Let's count the facts. You have not cried. Cora has. You have not acted that sorry. Cora has.
You've probably been secretly semi-wondering if you can use your "grief" allotment of work leave to go golfing, Cora probably hasn't. Total kid death sad points: Cora three, you zero.
But what of the child? What of poor, forgotten baby Sybil II? Tom breaks the news to the family that "she doesn't know about her mom's death yet." OK. I'm sure once she's off this conference call with her firm's Tokyo office we can have her secretary slip her a memo. On top of this, Tom asks to move in.
It's not because he's in deep mourning and total shock, but because he doesn't have a job and is short on funds. The settlement he got when that commercial propane truck ran over his toe while he was on vacation in Tampa is pretty close to gone. So yeah, he'll be moving in. But that's nothing compared to the big bomb: he wants the baby to be Catholic. CATHOLIC! To quote Tom directly, "she will be part of my tribe." Indeed, Tom. Let's hope this secret "tribe" makes tinfoil hats for babies. You should buy her a plastic alien-proof caftan and book her passage on the moon mobile now, before the rapture starts.
Bob is predictably irate, and gets pretty fluffernutted over Tom's insolence. He's all "Humphhh. Gotta go start my morning!" which in Rich means "gotta go stare at my curtains for a bit while absent-mindedly eating Sausalito cookies."
Meanwhile, the votes are in, and Cousin Isobel has been voted all time Most Annoying Cousin in the history of all of Downton Abbey. She is still pushing this whole Ethel thing, this time by inviting Lady Grantham and the girls over for a luncheon. It's like freakin' Glengarry Glen Ross up in here, that's how desperate Isobel is to sell Ethel as something other than the estate's resident unfortunate. Isobel, please, stop this madness. You've organized. You've picketed. You've made posters. You've given this more than a fair shot. So just stop trying to make "Ethel" happen, it's not going to happen.
Mrs. Patmore has to come over and help cook. I almost feel sorry for Ethel, she is trying sooo hard, you guys. She's like Anne Hathaway hosting the 2011 Oscars! Throw her a bone. Luckily, lunch goes smoothly. It's a much-needed cheer-up for Cora. Even Edith's all "I should be a cook!" No, dear. No you should not. Ethel scores some points, despite the fact that Carson wholeheartedly disapproves of Mrs. P cavorting with an ex-prostitute.
Speaking of the servants, ol' cheddar-headed Alfred used to be so timid and nice and now he's becoming a bit of a bold cheeky-faced know-it-all! He's like the formerly nice plain girl at school who suddenly becomes popular over the summer and then gets super mean. He's hitting on Ivy HARD. Daisy does not approve. For some reason they are all discussing dancing, which Alfred thinks everyone loves. Not amputees, Alfred. Pretty sure they don't love dancing. He later asks Daisy to teach him how to foxtrot.
Cue Jimmy's entrance: "Did someone say foxtrot??" Turns out Jimmy adores dancing! And he is so good at it! He could give lessons. He has this amazing no-fail routine to a Robyn/Adele mashup that is 100 percent guaranteed to win with ladies. Middle aged rich ladies, that is, who like to drink wine and keep a harem of 20-something hairless boys to dance Beyonce routines with them at age-inappropriate clubs.
While this is going on Mary and Matthew, co-exec producers of the Bicentennial Boredom Appreciation Festival, are lying in bed amidst their 10,000 goose-hair pillows and lion's blood comforter. Matt's like, "this may sound awkward, but you know what the silver lining here is? Death reminds me how much I love you!" and Mary's like "Yes dear, me too! Oh, me too. Here, have some cold porridge." And then they paint each other's' faces with day old gruel and fall asleep on opposite sides of the bed. Those two! I'm telling you.
Back to downstairs, where Ivy is the latest to fall victim to Jimmy's flopsy haired boyish charm. She's in love and she doesn't care who knows it! Thomas pipes up that maybe he's not interested in you, Ivy!
You can't sit at our lunch table anymore! Thanks for the dose of reality, Gretchen Weiners. Then he places his hand on Jimmy and tries to give him a neck rub before flouncing out. O'Brien sees this and is none too pleased. Jimmy confides in her that "it makes him feel uncomfortable" when Thomas touches him. Sure it does, Jimmy.
Finally, the Dowager goes to the family doctor and asks him to save Cora and Lord Grantham's marriage by claiming that Sybil would have died regardless of medical advice. He consents and Cora seems like she's finally on the cusp of forgiving her husband. Which is great, because things have been rough for Bob. Cora hates him and his kid is dead and he's got nothing. Matthew's usurping his estate. He's like season five of Lost -- too little too late. Nobody is down with your outdated ways, Bob. Stop acting like the U.S. Congress! Whatever. Cora is warming up to him and maybe his lonesome nights on the couch watching Jack Lalanne infomercials are nearly over.
But what of Bates? To be honest, this is one story line that quickly groweth stale. Everyone is wondering when Bates is going to get busted out and leave this whole wretched "I'm in prison" storyline behind. At the jail someone says, "You seem downcast!" Bates is like, "YES ACTUALLY. I am in JAIL. I guess you could say that things are in a recession for me." Then Mr. Murray comes to visit him. There's been a twist in the story, a TWIST you see, and it's likely that Bates will be set free! This is awesome news.
Fucking finally. Let's hope this positive trend keeps going. Maybe Downton can finally start to return to its natural state, where the biggest questions are whether the bouillabaisse is hot enough and who will win the annual flower show (hint: it's going to be Molesley. Or is it!!??)
Tune in next week for more British tomfoolery from America's favorite historical fiction family!