Downton Abbey
Episode One

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: A- | 13 USERS: A+
YOU GRADE IT
Blame Canada

At night, we see cars pulling up to Downton that presumably contain the Grey family; inside, we learn that Matthew's best man has been taken ill, so he's going to have to ask someone else, but he's not sure who. Elsewhere, the aforementioned and rather oily Larry Grey has cornered Branson and tells him his curiosity was piqued when he heard he'd be there, and he never thought they'd meet in person. Branson: "As opposed to what? In spirit?" Hee. Larry's meaning, however, is that when Sybil married him, it felt like she was leaving Downton Abbey forever, and Branson -- not without a bit of heat -- takes his point. Larry then makes a crack about Branson's attire, expressing false sympathy that his suitcase must not have arrived, but Branson's like, it arrived just fine. "Along with my manners." He stomps off, leaving his drink behind and across the room, the Dowager Countess notes that he's still "dressed like the man from the Prudential" (um, hee, but of course Isobel won't play, saying how nice it is to have someone from the real world there. Lord Grantham then greets his mother and asks if she'd like "one of these new cocktails," but she declines: "They look too exciting for so early in the evening." Heh. Isobel is chatting with Sir Anthony, saying how lovely it is to see him out and about as Edith beams next to him. Isobel goes on -- referring to his injured hand -- that she was going to see if he needed any help, but he seems to be doing just fine. She asks if he's coming to the wedding and Edith jumps in that of course he is. Sir Anthony, more cautious, smiles that he will if she really wants him to and she assures him she does. "I really do." If it makes Isobel uncomfortable to be witness to this conversation about how hard up Edith is, she keeps it to herself. Sir Anthony then smiles that Edith looks very nice and even compliments her "jolly" hair, but his face falls when he sees Larry apparently putting something in Branson's unattended drink. Before he can make anything of it though, Carson steps in to announce that dinner is served...

...and when we cut to downstairs, Alfred comes in to give the report that Branson is "well away" and Sybil isn't thrilled. He adds that he doesn't get it, given that Branson has only had one cocktail, but Daisy theorizes that he had a few before he came down to calm his nerves. It's as good a theory as any...

...or it would be if he weren't sweatily bawling out the entire table about Ireland and the Black and Tans and God knows what else. The Dowager Countess asks her son if there's any way to "shut him up," which is a fairly strong expression for her to use but not one that's inappropriate at the moment. Lord Grantham sniffs that if he could control Branson, he wouldn't be there; Matthew tries to calm Branson down, while Mary catches Larry mid-smirk and sternly asks him what's so funny. This gets Sir Anthony back on his earlier train of thought, as he realizes that Larry put something in Branson's drink and accuses him of same. It's no laughing matter, but I feel obliged to point out that this may be the only time someone's used roofies to get someone else to express his political views more freely. Edith is horrified, but Larry meanly tells her that she could always take a joke, which Mary rightly terms "a bully's defense." She loudly tells the table what Larry did and Lady Cora asks if everyone will please forget Branson's behavior given what happened. Lord Grey -- who seems like a mensch from what little we've seen -- is stunned and asks Larry if it's true, whereupon Larry tells everyone he's not sure what they're on about, given that Branson is just "a grubby little chauffeur chap." That gets Lord Grey, Matthew and, surprisingly, Lord Grantham (although I suppose it would be bad form in front of everyone to fail to do so) to their feet, and Lord Grey apologizes handsomely to Branson, who looks both ill and shaken up, but still nods his acknowledgment. Matthew does him one better by announcing to the table that he'd like Branson to be his best man and it's a contest between Lord Grantham and Carson to see whose eyes bug out further at that little bit of news. And Matthew, you may be a mouth-breather and kind of an idiot sometimes, but you're all right, kid. As usual, Isobel is the first to recover, giving her customary "Bravo," and Sybil, Branson and Mary are equally enthusiastic, although Branson can be excused for expressing it less vociferously.

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Downton Abbey

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