Bates witnesses his cellmate doing something that appears shady. Surprise!
In the servants' hall, Thomas trudges in and asks who put the shirts back. I don't know if O'Brien heard what happened, but either way, she runs with it as she sniffs that Thomas obviously overlooked them in the first place as Reed smirks to herself. Thomas tries to menace O'Brien, but she only scoffs that he sounds like Tom Mix in a Wild West picture show. Just another reason why O'Brien will win this conflict -- superior command of pop-culture references. She condescendingly dismisses Thomas, who slinks off just as Alfred joins the group and asks what's so funny. O'Brien: "Seems those missing shirts went for a walk and now they've come home." When you put it that way, it is pretty funny. Alfred's like, you don't say, and soon he and Reed are both trying not to giggle.
Back in the cell, the roommate tells Bates he didn't see anything and Bates agrees. Roommate: "'Cause if you did, I'll cut you." Again, to use an anachronistic term, this is an example of over-closing. Bates gets to his feet, gut-punches the guy and shoves him against the wall. I don't have much use for the character, but Jim Carter does some nice work here as, just for a moment, he lets some real bloodlust come through that carefully controlled façade. He breathes for the roommate not to threaten him and the roommate replies that he forgot he was sharing a cell with a murderer. Bates: "Don't forget it again." Convenient use of his conviction to cultivate cred... or something more sinister?
Lord Grantham enters his study and pours himself a drink when Martha, from the couch offscreen, tells him that the evening has made her homesick for America and it's time for her to go. Lord Grantham offers her some whiskey, which she happily accepts, and then, sounding sincere, tells him she's sorry she can't help him save Downton. His face betrays his lack of knowledge of the plan, so Martha clarifies that it's what Mary wanted from her before telling him that in order to deal with the world today, you can't ignore it -- if you do, you'll just get hurt. And it does seem obvious that a big theme of the season is going to be the conflict between those who long for the past and those who embrace the future. It's always been there on the show, but the war has understandably thrown it into much sharper relief. Lord Grantham admits that sometimes he feels like "a creature in the wild whose natural habitat is gradually being destroyed," but Martha isn't afraid to pick up the metaphor and run with it as she points out that some animals adapt, which seems preferable to extinction. Lord Grantham wonders if that's dependent on what you're made of rather than your conscious choices, so Martha expresses her hope that what he's made of will serve him well. They hold up their glasses and then there's a funny moment in which Martha's waiting for him to clink her glass and he's not doing it, and then she finally does it herself. Hee. Despite the closing eye-roll, I'd bet it's the most conciliatory scene these two characters have ever shared.