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Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey: Lady Mary, in the Bedroom, with the Mattress

In Recaps on January 17, 2011 at 11:30 am

Poor Mr. Pamuk (Theo James) didn’t survive last night’s “Downton Abbey.” (Screen cap)

As the action got underway last night on Downton Abbey, PBS’s latest Masterpiece

soap opera, Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) was desperate to feel useful, so she began volunteering at the village hospital alongside Dr. Clarkson (David Robb).

Violet (Maggie Smith) discovered this and told the good doctor to “put an end to her meddling. … Get rid of her!”

Down in the servants’ hall, when lady-of-the-house Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) caught her maid O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) badmouthing Isobel’s son Matthew, Cora dressed down O’Brien in front of everyone.

“If we are to be friends, you will not speak in that way again about the Crawleys – or any member of Lord Grantham’s family,” Cora fumed.

“Friends! Who does she think she’s fooling? We’re not friends,” O’Brien huffed to Anna (Joanne Froggatt) after Cora left the room. “We’re servants, you and me, and they pay us to do as we’re told.”

As the Crawleys gathered for dinner, Cora’s eldest daughter Mary (Michelle Dockery) made it clear that she wasn’t interested in marrying Matthew (Dan Stevens) – no matter how badly her dear puh-pah Robert (Hugh Bonneville) needs a male heir.

Bitchy Mary announced she was brushing up on Greek mythology – specifically, the story of Andromeda, eldest daughter of Cerpheus, who tried to appease the angry gods by sacrificing her to a hideous sea monster.

Of course, as Mary noted, Andromeda was rescued by Perseus, son of a god.

“Rather more fitting, wouldn’t you say?” Mary asked.

After dinner, gallant Matthew defended Mary to Violet (Maggie Smith).

“I don’t blame her. Her father’s home and her mother’s fortune are to be passed to me. It’s very harsh,” he said.

When Violet asked how Matthew would feel if this arrangement was “set aside in Mary’s favor,” he said that he would “try to accept it, with as a good a grace as I can muster.”

Later, Robert (Hugh Bonneville) came to the rescue of Carson (Jim Carter) when he learned his oh-so-proper butler was being blackmailed by a smarmy stranger threatening to expose Carson’s past as a member of the “Cheerful Charlies” stage troupe.

Carson admitted he had been swiping food from “the kitchens” to buy the man’s silence. “I stole. I’m a thief,” Carson confessed to Robert. “You have my resignation.”

“Really Carson, there’s no need to be quite so melodramatic,” a bemused Robert responded. “You’re not playing Sydney Carton.”

Robert paid the blackmailer 20 pounds to go away.

“You think you’re such a big man, don’t you?” the man said. “Just cause you’re a lord, you think you can do what you like with me.”

“I think it,” Robert said as he handed the unsavory fellow the money, “because it is true.”

Badass!

Over at the hospital, Isobel Crawley, Medicine Woman, procured some adrenaline for Clarkson to inject into the heart of a poor chap suffering from dropsy.

Violet arrived and tried to stop the procedure, but the patient’s wife refused.

Smart choice, lady: The adrenaline saved the man – and Robert rewarded Isobel by making her the hospital’s chairwoman.

Everyone attended the investiture where Isobel’s appointment was announced – even head housekeeper Hughes (Phyllis Logan), who told Carson she was eager to see Violet taken down a notch.

“I want to see the old bat’s face when they announce it,” Hughes said with a chuckle.

Meanwhile, O’Brien discovered that housemaid Gwen (Rose Leslie) had a secret: She was secretly taking a correspondence class to become a secretary.

O’Brien turned over Gwen’s typewriter to Carson (O’Brien: “[Gwen was] trying to hide it, so I knew it must be wrong”); Carson didn’t make Gwen stop her studies, although he couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to “leave service.”

Later, Robert’s youngest daughter Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) brought Gwen’s attention to a classified ad for a secretary and encouraged her to apply.

“I think it’s terrific that people make their own lives – especially women,” Sybil said, offering to give Gwen a good reference.

While middle daughter Edith (Laura Carmichael) tried to get closer to Matthew on a tour of historic churches, Mary’s mysterious pen pal, Evelyn Napier (Brandan Patricks), arrived for a foxhunt and brought along his dashing Turkish friend Kemal Pamuk (Theo James), who set Mary’s heart aflutter.

Thomas (Rob James-Collier) was also smitten with Pamuk and made a pass at him that night – only to be brutally rebuffed.

Pamuk said he wouldn’t report Thomas – if Thomas agreed to take him to Mary’s room.

The virginal Mary was stunned when Pamuk entered; she initially resisted his advances but ultimately gave in – only to have him die in bed.

Panicked, Mary turned to Anna for help, and together they enlisted Cora to sneak Pamuk’s body out of Mary’s bed and back into his guest room, unaware that the scullery maid, Daisy (Sophia McShera), saw them carting the body down the hall.

“I can never forgive you for what you’ve put me through this night,” Cora told Mary, adding that she only assisted her daughter to shield Robert from shame. “I keep the secret for his sake, not yours.”

The next morning, word spread throughout the house that Pamuk had died in his sleep – confirming Violet’s worst suspicions about foreigners: “No Englishman would dream of dying in someone else’s house!”

Elsewhere, Hughes discovered why the crippled valet Bates (Brendan Coyle) always seemed to be silently wincing in pain: He was using a metal brace to try to correct his limp, but the barbaric device bloodied his leg.

Hughes accompanied Bates to a lake, where he tossed the brace.

“Good riddance,” he said with an air of resignation.

As the episode concluded, Violet and Cora wondered how to find Mary a new suitor.

Cora suggested sending her to visit Cora’s aunt in New York.

“I don’t think things are quite that desperate,” Violet sniffed.

What Mary really needs, Violet said, is a “decent and honor-bound” lawyer to help them break the agreement that prevents Mary from inheriting Downton Abbey.

“I think perhaps I know just the man,” Violet said mysteriously.

The countess and the lady (Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern) on last night’s “Downton Abbey.” (Screen cap)

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