Months have passed since we left off, and the family are all either already in London at Grantham House preparing for Rose's coming out or planning to come soon. Thomas is still trying to be the boss of Baxter, who seems like she's cottoning on to the Bates secret, but a talk from Molesley makes her stand resolute in the face of whatever it is Thomas has over her. Speaking of Thomas, he's unaccountably bitter at having to wait on Branson with almost everyone else in London. Branson then runs into Ms. Bunting, who accuses him of having been avoiding her, but that doesn't hold much water when he invites her to dinner at the Grantham Arms. She wrangles an invitation to see the Abbey, and of course Thomas catches them upstairs and smiles a reptilian smile – and soon he's blabbed to Lord Grantham, although nothing in particular seems to come of it.
With the two of them getting ready to go to London, Edith and the Dowager Countess discuss the baby, a girl as it turned out, who's with a "Mr. and Mrs. Schroeder" in Geneva. Later, Edith confesses to Rosamund that she's having second thoughts, adding that she's learned Gregson ran afoul of some brownshirts in Munich. With it seeming more and more likely that he's dead, she realizes that she's almost surely going to come into his estate, and as such wants to give half of it to the child. Rosamund counsels her to do so anonymously if at all, adding that exposing the kid now could mean the end of Edith's chances at another love and other children, but with a word from Branson later about how the two of them need to stand up to the rest of the family, she decides to revisit the Continent – with the plan to retrieve the child and set her up with Drewe as she originally wanted, and Drewe is so trustworthy he concocts a plan that won't even let his wife in on the secret.
Anna donates an old overcoat of Bates's for a clothing drive – and in it, Mrs. Hughes finds an incriminating train ticket to London from the day of Green's death. She brings it to Mary for judgment, but tells her that for her part, she won't condemn Bates even if he did have a hand, such as it were, in Green's death – but Mary doesn't have such an easy time accepting it, even letting on to Bates that she knows something, which looks like a dangerous game.
Meanwhile, Rose goes out jazzing with a friend, whose father it so happens is out at the same club – with the Prince of Wales, who's familiar with Lord Flintshire and takes an immediate shine to Rose, such that when Rose is presented, the King himself says a few words to her. Later, Rosamund turns up to one of the attendant social events at Grantham House – with Sampson, the card-cheater Gregson exposed. He invites himself out with the jazz group and stoops low enough as to steal an embarrassing letter from the purse of one of Rose's friends (the historical Freda Dudley Ward, mistress of the Prince of Wales; the letter here reveals same) when she's off dancing (and it was Rose herself who incautiously blabbed about its presence), and when Mrs. Ward tells Rose it's missing, she goes to Lord Grantham to let him in on the situation. Realizing the magnitude of the potential scandal, the unlikely pair of them recruit Bates to have "a friend of his" forge a letter that will gain them access to Sampson's flat.
They then pull Cora and Mary in, as Mary's going to have to go along to retrieve the letter – Lord Grantham will be diverting Sampson with another card game, while Rose, he seems to believe, is too young to be sent into the lion's den like that alone. It takes quite of bit of planning to (not entirely successfully) overcome all the social requirements going on without arousing suspicion, but soon the card game is proceeding apace and Mary and Rose, with Blake for protection, are in Sampson's very modest, as it turns out, flat. The excursion proves fruitless, however – except Bates thinks to check Sampson's overcoat and finds the letter in the inside breast pocket, which he passes to Lord Grantham. This move by Bates is enough to get Mary to back off him, and she tosses the ticket stub into her fireplace. Meanwhile, the aversion of the scandal prompts the Prince to show up to the ball and open it by dancing with Rose, which is something she'll probably find a way to rub in her mother's face.
Martha and Harold turn up, and in case you don't read casting spoilers Harold is played by Paul Giamatti. He boorishly blabs to one of Rose's contemporaries, a "Miss Madeleine Allsop" (whose father, to be fair, is working his mother with an eye on her purse) that when Martha dies, the capital of his father's estate will revert to him. Madeleine is crushed at his cavalier attitude, and he feels remorse over that, so he arranges to take her on a picnic that turns into a production with half the upstairs guests attending. They get to know and like each other while laughing at how much his mother hates her moneygrubbing father, which is in fact fairly hilare. Harold also takes a shine to Daisy's cooking and his valet to Daisy herself, and soon the valet gives her the news that Harold wants to bring her to America in his employ. Daisy turns him down, though, because of reasons I guess – but Ivy steps in to ask if she can take the spot instead, so we're finally shut of her and Alfred, praise be.
Finally, Lord Gillingham sits Mary down for a state-of-the-suitors talk, and when she expresses how she doesn't know about a future with Blake because of his being so anti-noble, Lord Gillingham reluctantly tells her that Blake in fact stands to inherit a rather lucrative baronetcy. The bad news for Lord Gillingham is that the news definitely elevates Blake in her eyes; the good news, as she tells him, is that she no longer feels committed to a life alone. If the lack of resolution means more Blake and Gillingham next season, I'm completely fine with it.
So as my college Italian teacher used to say, siamo in crisi right from the start, as Mrs. Hughes's counterpart at Grantham House in London has taken ill and won't return for some weeks, which is unfortunate timing given that everyone is either already in London or is going there for Rose's coming out, which I'm glad is finally happening so she'll be free to go to London whenever she wants and stop dragging the rest of us into it. So Mrs. Hughes and Daisy are going to head to London immediately, with Ivy staying behind to cook for Branson and Edith. Speaking of, Ivy asks how it is that Edith could go to Geneva for eight months and come back looking more tired than when she left, but Mrs. Hughes is like, don't talk to me about tired when I'm about to be working twenty-eight hours a day nine days a week. The finish line is in sight, Mrs. Hughes, believe you me!
Ivy's load may be even lighter, as it turns out, because Edith is thinking of going to London to sort some Gregson-related things out and asks Branson to go with her. He begs off, saying he's got things to do, and after she cautions him not even to think about getting out of the ball, he asks why Grantham House wasn't sold when Downton was in trouble. Edith replies that it would have gone on the block eventually, but the money wouldn't have been enough to save the estate. Seriously, how much was Lavinia's father worth again? Girl really should have just paid the Spanish flu to go away. Edith then talks about how she misses Matthew, and it's true he was always more in her corner than most. She could use some people in there!
In the kitchen, Thomas asks Daisy if she's looking forward to the trip, but she doesn't know why doing kitchen prep in London is going to be any more of a thrill than doing same in Yorkshire, which I suppose is valid enough. He then asks her to tell Baxter he's looking forward to hearing her stories once he arrives, which is just weird. I thought he was so proud of himself for arranging to have a secret spy in the house, and now he's dragging other people into lording it over her?
In her sitting room, the Dowager Countess tells Edith that she's going up to London in a few days, as Lord Grantham got her invited to the supper after the presentation. In answer to the Dowager Countess's question, Edith says she's going the next day, as she needs some clothes "now I'm back to normal shape." After an awkward pause, the Dowager Countess offers that while she knows they never talk about the baby, it must be on Edith's mind constantly. Edith doesn't seem to take this in the spirit it seems to be intended as she asks if they can refer to the child as "she" instead of "it," but the Dowager Countess takes no offense as she wishes Edith hadn't been away so long. Edith tells her that the theory is that the biological mother staying to wean helps the baby, and then the Dowager Countess tries to lighten the mood and gets slapped down again. I hope you served Edith decaf, milady.