Mary is modeling some traveling clothes for Anna and her sisters when there's a knock at the door, and when Mary asks who it is, the answer comes, "Your long-suffering papa." Heh. Mary invites him in and after a little back-and-forth, he asks if he might speak to Mary alone for a bit to give her his blessing. The others duly leave, whereupon Lord Grantham tells Mary that he's going to do the blessing thing, but first he's got some news he wanted to sit on and can't. Mary replies that it sounds rather ominous, and given how many ways Lord Grantham could convey the idea that she just said a mouthful, I'm disappointed we don't get to hear his response.
Molesley opens up for Branson, who tells him he got a message from Isobel asking him to come; inside, we see that he's not the only invited guest, as the Dowager Countess is already there and she's asking Isobel if she's going up to the house "to welcome the Queen of Sheba?" Hee. Isobel thinks she will, but the Dowager Countess is going to wait to "pay homage" at dinner. Isobel thinks it's great the way "Mrs. Levinson" is never "overawed" by Downton and as true as it may be, I'm not sure how Isobel knows that, but it does give the Dowager Countess an opening: "Was Napoleon overawed by the Bourbons?" The mention of political conflict attracts Branson like a moth to a flame, as he's shown in at that moment. When he sees "Lady Grantham," he expresses his wish to apologize for his behavior of the evening prior and even though, as Isobel points out, he didn't do anything wrong, it still shows a desire to mend fences. Even if it's only for Sybil's sake it still does him credit. For her part, the Dowager Countess assures him that he was hardly the first drunk ever in that dining room (do tell); Branson smiles that he was merely the first Republican and she matches him, "Well, you've got me there." Branson then asks why he was summoned and Isobel tells him that they've asked Molesley to bring out Matthew's old morning coat, since they might be able to have it altered to fit Branson. Branson thanks them, but says he doesn't approve of "these costumes," and goes on about the uniform of oppression and whatever until the Dowager Countess -- in the most awesomely conversational voice -- asks him if he's quite finished. Thrown (I'm not doing it justice -- he looks like she just sprouted a second head) he says he has, whereupon, with the same sunny, unflappable smile, she asks him to remove his coat. Kind of stunned, he looks Isobel's way, but for once she's not inclined to rescue him from the Dowager Countess, so he can only comply in resignation. Matthew then enters and when Branson explains that "they're forcing me into a morning coat," Matthew asks if Branson has no say in the matter, getting this reply from the Dowager Countess: "No, he doesn't... and nor do you." Funny that Matthew and Branson weren't even considering the other generations of Crawley women when they affirmed their need to have each other's backs. The Dowager Countess and Molesley then chat about the alterations, with the Dowager Countess thinking the shoulders currently look odd and Branson realizing that he's not going anywhere for a while. Best way to avoid the radiator, my man.