Downton Abbey
Episode Seven

Episode Report Card
Couch Baron: B | 14 USERS: B
YOU GRADE IT
Oy, Again With The Birth and the Death?

Wilkins asks the hunting teacher if she could trouble him for some whiskey from his flask, and when he expresses surprise if it's for her, she tells him no -- it's "for a guest from the south." Wilkins, you work for Susan in the Highlands and you don't drink? It's your own fault you're in such a bad mood. She pours the whiskey into a cup...

...while Carson is still dandling baby Sybil when Mrs. Hughes enters and smiles that while she has some stories to tell, "you've spent your day more productively, I see." Carson admits he was thinking about Sybil when she was a baby and Mrs. Hughes tells him all they can do now is cherish the child. "And it's lovely to watch you doing just that." He admonishes her for getting sentimental, but come on! I'm... I mean, "she's" not made of stone here!

The reeling has started and as the people dance, the Dowager Countess asks Lord Grantham where Shrimpie is. Lord Grantham sighs that he's hiding and he'll go in search of him in a bit. Meanwhile, Wilkins drops the drink off with O'Brien, but after one sip, it's clear she tastes the alcohol and I wonder if maybe we're supposed to imagine that O'Brien told Wilkins she doesn't drink now, because how else would you assume that someone named "O'Brien" wouldn't catch the taste of whiskey? (Honestly, I feel like some of this subplot must have been cut, because it's playing thin and weak, which are not adjective normally associated with O'Brien storylines.) She puts the thing down, whereupon Molesley picks it up and downs it in one gulp and I know he's only here to be the court jester, but haven't they done a plot with him getting unknowingly wasted before?

Lord Grantham has tracked Shrimpie to the billiard room, wherein he asks if things were always this bad. Shrimpie tells him no -- he and Susan weren't madly in love, but there was a job to be done and they both believed in it. Interesting that these two got together on ideological grounds and grew to hate each other, whereas Lord Grantham chose Cora purely for her money and then came to love her. Shrimpie goes on that their three children kept them busy for years, but with their rapidly emptying nest, they've realized how little they have in common and this, too, is an interesting contrast with Downton, where Sybil was the only one to leave and that didn't stick for long. Lord Grantham casts about for something to say before asking why Susan is so hard on Rose, and Shrimpie thinks perhaps Rose reminds her of him. "Me, when I had something to live for." Lord Grantham, of course, takes exception to that statement and starts to talk about what a wonder Duneagle is, but that's the wrong thing to say, as Shrimpie confesses the money to run the place is gone and laments the fact that he didn't follow Lord Grantham's lead and modernize before it was too late. Sounds like he should have invited Matthew up earlier. Lord Grantham tells him he's sorry, but Shrimpie turns the subject: "What are we going to do about Rose?" Lord Grantham looks at him, and I'm honestly not sure if his expression is saying "Wait, I have an idea" or "Oh, HELL no."

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Downton Abbey

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