In the last pre-Christmas Special episode of Downton Abbey, we nearly wrapped up a lot of the story lines the show teased this season, giving us some surprisingly sufferable moments from some frequently insufferable characters. And then there's Bates.
There was a lot of action at the house this week as the house prepared for the annual church bazaar, Rose's secret was exposed, and Robert returned from ghastly America. All we have left is to go to London for Rose's coming out ball, so let's see who was dreadful this week.
The Dowager Countess: As a character who endeared herself to audiences with her distinctly antiquated and snobby view of the world, it wasn't clear how the Dowager Countess would react to Lady Edith's out-of-wedlock pregnancy. The answer? She was relatively cool about the whole thing. This shouldn't come as that much of a surprise. Downton always loves to make members of the Crawley family more progressive—and therefore appealing to 21st Century viewers—than they actually might have been in real life. Still, Violet's decision to help Edith seems based more out of love for her granddaughter than Julian Fellowes' desire to pander to audiences.
Lord and Lady Grantham: Goodness knows we give Lord G his fair share of crap for his bullheaded ways, but his return from American last night made for a rather lovely moment. All through the episode, we got small hints of how his absence was being felt throughout Downton. Indeed, Cora—while expertly organizing the bazaar—expressed an antsiness that her husband was still not home. When Robert showed up just as the bazaar was ending, his and Cora's reunion reminded us that the pair at the center of this show are a formidable one.
Daisy: Speaking of characters we've given a rather hard time to this season (and deservedly so), Daisy managed to finally pull it together. Maybe it was her picnic lunch with her father-in-law Mr. Mason that gave her the necessary push to be an actual grown up about the Alfred situation and to see him off as a friend (a lifetime friend) once and for all. Now cut Ivy some slack, maybe.
Rose: We wanted to root for Rose's relationship with Jack Ross, but why did she have to be so frightfully annoying? Her confrontation with Mary says it all. She completely misreads Mary's intentions in talking to her, and then instead of ending her passionate speech about her love for Ross, she focuses on how excited she is to see how pissed off her mother will get. "I want to see her face crumble when she finds out," Rose said. Meanwhile, Mary proves herself to be—like her grandmother before her—quite wonderful in her conversation with Jack, worrying more about him than about Rose, who she (rightfully, we think) considers to be rather unserious about this whole endeavor.
Thomas: Not back from America for two minutes before getting all up in Baxter's business. Why does he care so much?? Honestly, this scheming for scheming's sake had better be going somewhere. Thomas either needs to be grand-plan evil or our snarky boyfriend. Not this irritating middle ground. Also, stop making us root for Baxter and Molesley in opposition, Thomas.
Mable Lane Fox: Oh, Mable Lane Fox. We've never met you. On one hand we feel bad for you. It must be sort of terrible to be engaged to a man—Lord Gillingham—who clearly has only has eyes for Mary. But without actually knowing you, Mable, you're just someone who is in the way.
Bates: Wayyyyy to go, Bates. I mean, this is assuming Bates did what it looks to us (and Anna, and Mary) that he did, which is take a quick jaunt to the city, shove Mr. Green out into traffic, and make it back home in time for the bazaar. Like, way to prove correct everybody's worst thoughts about you, Bates. "Oh, he would know better than to commit murder and risk life in prison or hanging, either way abandoning Anna forever, just to have his macho revenge," we said. Well, it looks like we were wrong. Live and learn.