Downton Abbey
Episode One

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

Upstairs, Reed rounds a corner and sees O'Brien stealthily emerge from a room with a stack of shirts under her arm, an observation that puts a mischievous smile on her face. I'm getting the feeling she'd be a worthy co-conspirator here.

The tiara-sporting Dowager Countess has just arrived, and Mary excitedly runs out to collect her and show her the dining room, which is decorated with many large centerpieces and candelabra; when asked what she thinks, the Dowager Countess approvingly intones, "Nothing succeeds like excess." What an American viewpoint to take! They plot to get Martha alone after dinner...

...but that's if there is a dinner, as the oven is smoking like a dying dragon. Also, Thomas is expelling metaphorical smoke as he asks where Alfred is; when Daisy directs him to the servants' hall, he storms in and demands to know where they are, they being Lord Grantham's "bloody evening shirts," which are missing. Alfred's a blank, while his aunt convincingly lies that he wouldn't know anything about it and by the way, Lady Cora's already downstairs, so is he saying that Lord Grantham isn't even dressed? There's nothing for it but for Thomas to go rushing off...

...and try to explain to Lord Grantham that someone's trying to get back at him. Lord Grantham steps forward and asks if Thomas isn't popular downstairs, and Thomas manages not to choke on the words as he's like, oh no, I wouldn't say that, but people do like their little pranks! Lord Grantham instructs him to refer the culprit to him, should he discover him or her, but for now, "What are we going to do?"

Well, we don't get an answer to that yet, but the local lords and ladies are arriving and being shown in...

...while downstairs, the oven has indeed given up in protest. Daisy speculates that there's a block in the flue, but the why hardly matters when the dinner hasn't been -- and now can't be -- cooked. When Mrs. Patmore breaks the news to Mrs. Hughes, the latter looks as if death by cancer doesn't sound so bad after all.

Upstairs, Mary and the Dowager Countess almost faint away when they see both Matthew and Lord Grantham in black tie instead of white; Martha then appears and notes that Matthew and Lord Grantham are dressed for a barbeque, and Lord Grantham admits, "I feel like a Chicago bootlegger." Hee. Lady Cora then rushes up with the news about the oven, which only Martha finds amusing. Lady Cora then leads her inner circle out to the front, where they confer with Carson and Mrs. Hughes. Lady Cora wonders if they should just send everyone home, but Martha steps in to give new marching orders, Newport-style: She tells Carson to go to the larders and bring up any food there -- bread, fruit, cheese, chicken, ham -- for an indoor picnic and everyone can eat whatever and wherever they want. Carson is like, ummmmmmmmmm, but the progressives, Isobel and Lady Cora, back Martha's play, so the servants head off to get it done while Martha runs off in search of someone who can play the piano. Mary wrings her hands at the turn the evening has taken, but Lady Cora tells her to put a cork in it, while the Dowager Countess declares her need for a drink. Looking at her son, she then apologizes: "I thought you were a waiter." HA! I mean, I don't doubt that she needs a drink, but that was still an amazing set-up and execution.

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Downton Abbey




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