The Dowager Countess is just arriving with Carson in tow, and who do they run into at the foot of the stairs but Martha. If this scene was filmed in order, tell me that the crew wasn't shaking in anticipation of Shirley MacLaine and Maggie Smith doing their first scene together. I mean, it's all my mom could talk about for weeks. Dressed in a black dress and a festive matching hat with a smart bow on top, Martha pulls the Dowager Countess into an embrace that's clearly too long for Violet's comfort and then her face falls as she takes a good look and sighs that "the war has made old women of us both." These two in real life are only months apart in age so it might not be meant as an insult, but that doesn't stop the Dowager Countess from starting in anyway, saying she wouldn't say that, "but then, I always keep out of the sun." She asks how Martha found Downton on her return and Martha's reply is that it's the same -- too much the same. "But then, I don't want to cast a pall over all the happiness." Not for the last time, her flat accent and almost affectless delivery do the job in conveying the irony there; the Dowager Countess goes the other way, dripping false sincerity as she asks how Martha could ever do that. Hee. Martha asks if the Dowager Countess approves of "Young Lochinvar" (hee, again), and -- presumably referring to Matthew's relative lack of reverence for all things Downton -- the Dowager Countess smiles that she doesn't approve of Matthew as much as Martha will once she gets to know him.
Episode Report CardCouch Baron: A- | 320 USERS: B+
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