Set in April, May or June 1920: With the future of Downton hanging in the balance, Mary and the Dowager Countess conspire to show Downton at its grandest, thereby persuading Mrs. Levinson to give Downton more money and save them from financial ruin. Their attempts are impeded by the oven breaking down, forcing Mrs. Levinson to throw the impromptu party herself. She reveals, when finally asked for help, that though she will "entertain them in New York" she cannot provide them money, as her own late husband has tied it up much as Violet's did, feeling the Crawleys had more than had their share. She laments their impending loss but tells them they have to adapt to the changing world, and states her intent to return to America. Meanwhile downstairs, O'Brien and Thomas wage war against one another due to Alfred's recent promotion to valet to Matthew, whilst Mrs Levinson's maid takes a shine to Alfred. Mrs. Hughes faces a cancer scare that she shares only with Mrs Patmore; and Doctor Clarkson, and Mrs. Isobel Crawley finds Ethel has become a prostitute.
A car carrying Matthew and Mary is speeding down the road toward Downton Abbey and they predict that Robert and Violet will both "howl at the moon", when they see the car, a fast two-seat convertible. Cora and Robert are indeed surprised to see the car that Matthew bought. When Robert asks Matthew about the honeymoon, Matthew says that his eyes have been opened. Cora hugs Mary, before they all go inside.
In the servants hall, Thomas sees Alfred with one of Matthew's shirts spread out on the on the dining table. Thomas is not happy that Alfred is dressing Matthew, as he thinks that, as Molesley hasn't come to the main house, that he should have been asked. O'Brien says that it was Carson's decision, but Thomas seems to imply that O'Brien had something to do with it. He than tells Alfred, rather stridently, not to bring the shirt into a room where it could get dirty and put the studs in it only in a dressing room. Alfred thanks him for the advice, then O'Brien very sarcastically seconds it saying that Thomas is always so helpful.
Upstairs Martha is asking about the honeymoon in the south of France. Mary says it was too hot, but Martha says that she likes the sun. Violet says that she can see that (implying that Martha has bad skin), and she and Robert wonder how much longer Martha is going to stay at Downton, she says that no guest should be admitted until their departure date is settled. Isobel tells Mathew that there is a stack of mail waiting for him and that she has a new occupation, but one that cousin Violet doesn't think appropriate. Violet thinks that it should not be talked about at the dinner table, which prompts Martha to wonder what could still be a forbidden subject in 1920. Cora agrees that there are subjects not for all ears, but Martha says that if she is referring to the servants that they probably know a lot more about life than their employers ever will. Robert and Violet despair about controlling what Martha says.
Mary offends Edith when she asks if she has still been seeing poor, old Strallan. Edith doesn't think of him as poor or old. Robert and his mother privately comment that they shouldn't let this relationship drag on. Robert doesn't think the impetus for the relationship is coming from Strallan, but Violet says that Robert should approach him and get him to end it. She thinks that it would be more effective coming from him than if they try.
Mrs. Levinson's maid goes into the kitchens and overhears Alfred talking to Mrs. Patmore about her mistress. She ate all the food, and Alfred says that she has such a gob that Mr. Carson wanted to put a bag over her head. The maid says that she knows they talk about her, but she makes fun of them too. Daisy is concerned that the chimney isn't drawing the smoke up, and the oven is not hot enough. Mrs. Hughes asks for a moment of Mrs. Patmore's time.
Matthew talks to Robert, and he has opened a fine bottle of wine to welcome him as his new son-in-law, while Isis rests her head on Robert's leg. Matthew tells him that he hopes they can be honest and tells him that he knows about Robert's financial difficulties, but also asks if Mary told him about Mr. Swire's will. Violet has been told by Robert about the bad investment and talks to Mary about how they must leave Downton. She asks if there is a source of income that has been overlooked. Mary starts to consider asking her other grandmother.
Martha is talking to Isobel about her new work helping former prostitutes start new lives and different employment. Cora describes them as women who had to degrade themselves to survive, and that there is a center in York. Martha tells them not to say the address as Alfred will be taking notes. Alfred is taking teacups and when Martha winks at him, he smiles back. This earns him a stern look from Mr.Carson. The women are sent for a rest and then they try to find them jobs, many have been forced to this as their husbands, fathers, etc. died in the war. Martha assumes that they want a donation, as she is a wealthy American. Cora says not every conversation is to ask her for money. Violet and Mary share a look.
Robert is getting a bit argumentative as he tries to understand why Matthew is refusing to accept money left to him, when there is need for it, and he has done nothing wrong. Matthew tries to explain that the money was a reward for his fidelity to Lavinia, when in actuality he had broken her heart. Matthew would feel like a criminal if he kept it. Robert gives a heavy sigh and says that, if he feels that way, there is no help for it. The conversation ends when Anna comes in to clear.
Downstairs, Mrs. Patmore has confirmed that Mrs. Hughes has a lump in her breast. She says that they will go to the doctor tomorrow, as it is better to know for sure. She comforts a crying Mrs. Hughes saying that she will not be alone. But Mrs. Patmore's comment, that it is better to give the money to a doctor than an undertaker, makes Mrs Hughes question her bedside manner.
Anna brings breakfast up to Mary, and Matthew is in bed with her. He remarks that is a it shocking to be found in bed together. But Anna says that she is made of sterner stuff and gets on with opening the curtains. Mary asks her if she is going to go visit Bates. After Anna leaves, they kiss and say that being found together does seem shocking, but being together is still nice. Matthew wants to see Jarvis about houses in the area that he and Mary could move into. Mary doesn't want to leave Downton, as these are the last days she will live there. She had hoped that something would happen while they were on their honeymoon to save the estate, but nothing has. Matthew questions waiting until the last minute, when they have to go, and then trying to find a house. Mary reminds him that he is the one who is pushing them out, forcing them to leave Downton. Then she kisses him.
Isobel is walking through the street and several prostitutes stand by the walkway. As she passes one, the woman looks alarmed and turns away. It is Ethel, the former Downton maid who had been caught in bed with one of the soldiers when Downton was used as a convalescent hospital during the war. Isobel stops and looks back, but only gets a fleeting glimpse of the departing Ethel.
Edith is at Sir Anthony Strallan's house inviting him to Downton, even though he points out, with Matthew and Mary just back it's a family time. She again refers to him as one of the family, which he counters is not true. He says that he will be at the dinner next week. Edith says that she knows that it is unintentional, but it hurts her that he is always pushing her away. He tells her that he doesn't want to hurt her or push her away, but he is too old for her, and she needs a younger man with his life ahead of him. He wishes that things were the way she saw them. She tells him that his life is ahead of him and not to bring up his paralyzed arm again. She insists that he not push her away any more, that he comes to dinner tonight, and that he accept that that is all there is to it.
Anna goes to the prison and Bates asks her how she is doing with the list of names. Anna says that there were several responses to her enquiries waiting when she returned, and two letters were returned address unknown. One letter was from a Mr. Harelip, who was a cousin of Vera's from the north that she never saw, but the other was a Mrs. Audrey Bartlett, who Bates describes as a friend who lived just around the corner from Vera. Anna assures him that she will find her. Bates asks her to tell him about France and questions whether Anna ate frog's legs and danced the can-can, Anna says no, but quietly adds that she bought a garter. Bates responds with a large smile.
At the cottage hospital, Mrs. Patmore has come with Mrs. Hughes to see Dr. Clarkson. As he washes his hands in a basin, he asks her if she has had other symptoms, if she has felt ill or tired. Mrs. Hughes says that she does get tired, but no more than usual. He is going to do an examination and Mrs. Patmore asks if she can stay, which Clarkson says he would prefer.
Back at Downton, Alfred is walking through the servants hall carrying a tail coat belonging to Matthew. Thomas sees him and asks about it. Alfred points out an unidentified stain and says that he has tried everything to shift it, but nothing has worked. Thomas says that he can give him a tip. Alfred is surprised, but Thomas says he will. However he asks him to keep it to himself, as he doesn't want to give away all of his secrets.
Violet comes to Mary in the drawing room and asks if she was serious about the plan to approach Martha for help in saving Downton. Mary characterizes Martha as being made of money with only Cora and uncle Harold to inherit when she dies. Violet says that they cannot wait that long, as she will bury them all. But they need to make her feel that it is her duty to save Downton. They must get her to sense its value and role in the area. The future home of her granddaughter, should appeal to anyone with a heart. They agree to begin their campaign with tea that afternoon.
Dr. Clarkson tells Mrs. Hughes as she straightens her clothes that there are several stages to go through before becoming alarmed. He wants to have her come back the next day so he can remove fluid from the cyst with a syringe. If it is clear everything is fine. Mrs. Patmore wonders if this will hurt, but Mrs. Hughes wants to know what happens if it is not clear. Dr. Clarkson says that in that case it will be sent off for analysis. Mrs. Hughes asks it could be cancer, and he says that it might be, but he is fairly certain that it is not. Mrs. Patmore encourages her that it is very unlikely, but Mrs. Hughes reminds her that she is not a child, and the doctor hasn't treated her as one.
Daisy is still worried about the stove in the kitchen, Alfred leaves the room as Mrs. Levinson's maid comes in to say that she will be taking tea at the Dower House. She looks after the departing Alfred and pronounces that he likes her. Daisy insists, however, that Alfred is only being polite. The maid shrugs and leaves. Matthew is writing at the desk in the library. He tells Mary, when she comes in, that he wants to be caught up on his letters, when he goes back to the office. Mary asks if there is anything from Mr. Swire's lawyer, and Matthew hands her a letter. Matthew is the heir; only a death certificate from the Indian authorities for Mr. Pullbrook is required, which should take a little while. Mary is glad, because time might give Matthew a chance to change his mind. Matthew repeats that taking the money under false pretenses would be like stealing; he says that her father understands. Mary doesn't think that Robert does understand, he just doesn't want to beg. Matthew considers this statement. Mary drops the subject and says that she is off to tea at granny's. Matthew again tells her that he loves her, and she says that she knows.
At the Dower House, Martha answers Mary's questions about her uncle Harold who is working with yachts now, making them bigger or faster, she isn't sure. Cora asks if he is happy, and Martha says that he is much too busy to find out. Violet remarks that it is odd to remember that Cora has a brother, and it is explained to Martha that in England the fortune always goes to the eldest male heir and that there is no such thing as an English heiress who has a brother. In answer to why they never see Harold, Martha says that he hates to leave America, and Violet, not thinking, remarks how curious it is, as she would hate to go there. Mary then contradicts her and says that she and her grandmother are so drawn to America. Violet remembers the point of this tea and agrees, never more than now when the bond between the Crawleys and the Levinsons is so strong. Cora is pleasantly surprised to hear this and hopes it is true. Violet insists that it is, the way the the two branches support each other. When Martha asks if they are referring to the fact that the Levinson money kept the Crawleys on top, Violet is certain that they would not refer to it that way. Mary says that she hopes that Martha thought that the money was well spent, in shoring up an ancient line. To which Martha says, "Well, you have to spend it on something."
Alfred is helping Matthew dress for dinner, when Matthew realizes that a hole has been burned into his tail coat. When asked, Alfred says that there was a mark. Matthew says that he knows that, but there was no reason to burn it away. He says that it is all right, that he will send it to his tailor in London, and go down in his dinner jacket tonight. Alfred is looking so miserable that Matthew tells him to cheer up, as no one has died.
In the servants hall, Mrs. Hughes has been distracted with health concerns, and she has not put out the pudding (dessert) wine glasses. Carson, who is struggling with the house being understaffed and Lord Grantham who refuses to hire anyone, gives her an uncharacteristic dressing down. He tells her that she must carry her own weight. She sighs heavily after he stalks off. In the dining room, Violet is commenting on Matthew's informality (he is wearing a black tie and a dinner jacket). Matthew remarks on Alfred managing to burn a hole in his tail coat. Alfred looks miserable and Carson who is shocked almost forgets his surroundings as he turns to glare at Alfred and so pulls the dessert tray away from Lord Grantham who is trying to serve himself. Sir Anthony Strallan says that sometimes it is nice to be informal, and Edith chimes in that this would be especially true for a couple who want to be alone. Robert and Violet share a look at that. Mary, still on the campaign to persuade Martha of the values of Downton, says that it is their duty to keep tradition alive. Cora and Isobel counter that accepting change is as important as valuing the past. However Mary is saying that the role of houses like Downton is to protect tradition which is why they must be maintained. Violet asks Martha if she agrees, that we must do all in our power to keep it going, but Martha only says sure if you think it's worth it, and asks who is coming to dinner next week. Mary says that the will be local people to show her "Downton on parade" and the real point of the house to the area.
Downstairs, Alfred is trying to explain the jacket situation to Mr. Carson, who announces that Alfred embarrassed Matthew by forcing him to come downstairs improperly dressed. O'Brien says that he is making it sound exciting, but Carson says that he will not tolerate vulgarity. Anna says that she is sure that Alfred didn't mean it. Alfred then says that he asked Thomas for help and the stuff he gave him burned a hole in the material. Thomas tries to cut him off and then says that he just gave him soda crystals and it's not his fault if Alfred didn't use them correctly. O'Brien watches this exchange, and Thomas tells him that this is the result of her trying to make him run before he can walk (pushing for promotion before he is ready).
In the library, Robert is asking Strallan to stay away from Edith, and agrees if that is what Robert wants. Robert says that saying it sounds harsh, but Strallan, Robert points out, is even harsher when he says that he understands that he is a cripple who is far too old. He says that Edith drops by his house, and he can't refuse her admittance but supposes that he can write to her. Robert says that they can remain friends, and Strallan says that he will not attend the dinner next week. Robert thanks him.
Alfred is showing his aunt the bottle that Thomas pointed to him to take for the spot. It is next to the soda crystals, but Alfred promises that this is the one Thomas pointed to. O'Brien says that he doesn't have to promise, she believes him. As Thomas is dressing his lordship, he tells Robert that Alfred is not ready, and that while he may be capable of helping the odd visitor, is too young and inexperienced to be a permanent valet to Matthew. Lord Grantham thinks that if given the choice Matthew will dress himself, but Thomas doesn't think that the staff downstairs will like that. Robert says he was afraid of that, and asks Thomas what he suggests. Thomas has been warming Robert's robe in front of the fireplace, and as he helps him into it, Thomas says that Mr. Molesley can be asked to join them. It would be kinder to Alfred than asking more than he can give. As Thomas is folding clothes he gives a momentary self-satisfied look.
In their bedroom, a concerned Mary asks if the poor footman is all right as Mr. Carson looked as if he was going to eat him alive. Matthew says that he is glum, but he has been a clod and the coat will have to be sent to London. Mary tells him to do it quickly as the dinner must be the grandest. She says that she wants to show why Downton matters and cannot be allowed to fall apart. Matthew was of the opinion that Cora had her share and the rest of the Levinson fortune was meant to go to Harold, but Mary says that it is not so laid down in America, and Harold is already rich as Croesus. Matthew refers to them fleecing Martha, and Mary points out that as Matthew will not get them out of this hole, he has no room to criticize. When asked if Mary thinks that Martha will do it. Mary says that grandmother means to do it or die in the attempt. Mary then orders him to kiss her before she gets cross, which he enthusiastically does.
Mrs. Patmore is trying to talk Mrs. Hughes out of worrying about her coming medical procedure, when Mr. Carson comes in complaining about the maids who have broken a serving dish. Mrs. Hughes reminds him that they are short a footman, a kitchen maid, and an upstairs maid, as Anna is now being expected to act as a proper personal lady's maid to Lady Mary. Carson agrees that things must be done properly. However, Mrs. Hughes, getting a little flustered, says that they cannot do things properly, not until Lord Grantham allows them to hire the staff they need. She goes on to say that Carson and Lady Mary need to lower expectations, "get their heads out of the clouds and join the human race." Carson says that he can only assume that Mrs. Hughes must be over-tired, and he bids her goodnight. Mrs. Patmore starts to blurt out that Mrs. Hughes is not well, but Mrs. Hughes cuts her off to return his goodnight and say that they will discuss the dinner in the morning. After Carson leaves, she emphatically tells Mrs. Patmore that she cannot tell him about her health worries.
When Alfred comes down from finishing with Matthew, Carson tells him that he will not be needing to attend to him again, as Mr Molesley will be coming up from the village. Alfred asks if Matthew has complained and is told that he didn't need to. Carson says that it is not Alfred's fault, as they rushed him before he was ready, and he mustn't feel badly. O'Brien has been listening, and, when Carson leaves, she walks up to a despondent Alfred and insists that this is Thomas' doing. However, she tells Alfred not to fret, that she will make him sorry.
Alfred stands about after his aunt leaves, unsure what to do with himself. He walks down the servant's hall and slumps against the wall. Miss Reed, Martha's maid, sees him there, tells him that she is on his side, and kisses him. She walks away with a smug smile, leaving a stunned Alfred and a shocked Daisy, who witnessed it through the door.
The next morning, Robert comes down to breakfast. Matthew is there alone, as Mary, now a married woman, has a tray brought to her room for breakfast in bed. Robert goes through the morning's letters, and drops one by Edith's plate. Robert and Matthew discuss Matthew's tails which are being sent to the tailor for a new panel to be put in. Despite Matthew saying that he can get by on his own, Robert says that Mr. Molesley will be brought up from the village to be his valet. Carson tries to bring up the subject of the other staff that will need to be hired, but Robert doesn't want to talk about it. There is a clatter, as Edith has dropped her silverware on the plate. She is reading the letter and is visibly upset. She looks distraught and asks her father, how could he, before running from the room. Matthew asks if he knows what that was about, and Robert says that he is afraid that he probably does.
Cora apologizes to Mary and says they will not be asking her own mother for money as enough of her father's money went into the estate. Why should Harold pay for their folly? Robert's bad investment is not her mother's or Harold's fault. Mary says that she is still going to ask her. Cora wonders why Mary is afraid of selling and simply moving to a smaller house. She says it isn't as if they are going down the mines. The world has changed and now many people live in smaller houses. Mary says that Cora can't understand because she is American, but Mary proudly says that she is English, and will be Countess of Grantham, and as Countess, she should live at Downton Abbey. She acts as if this is obvious.
Ethel is in the streets of York. She goes into the door of the organization that Isobel has started to help former prostitutes. Isobel is asking a woman, who is wolfing down food, what kind of job she is suited for, as they are there to help her get a place in the world, not to just feed her. She sees Ethel and asks if she wanted to speak to her and invites her in to receive help. Ethel, calling her Mrs. Crawley, says yes, but then hesitates and starts to pull away. Isobel then remembers her as the maid that brought her child into the dining room at Downton. Ethel says that this is a mistake as she is not ready to ask her and runs out of the room, leaving Isobel to call after her.
Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore are back in Dr. Clarkson's office. Mrs. Patmore is anxious when Clarkson says that the results are not straight-forward, Mrs. Hughes says that she should be the hysterical one. Clarkson tells them that the test was inconclusive. There were not enough traces of blood to confirm the presence of cancer, but too much to exclude it. The sample must be sent off for analysis and can take up to two months to get the results. Mrs. Hughes calms Mrs. Patmore's outburst with a steady look. Clarkson tells her to take it easy and put her feet up more. Mrs. Patmore doesn't think that is going to be likely. Mrs. Hughes tells Dr. Clarkson not to tell Lady Grantham and that she will speak to her herself if she needs to.
Robert is walking Isis on the grounds, and comes upon Martha sitting on a bench holding a weeping Edith. Robert calls her "my darling girl" and asks what it is, but Martha says that since he asked Strallan to write, he knows very well. Robert says that he only wants what is best for her. Edith asks if he considers himself the best judge of that. He replies that in this area he is. Edith reminds him that Sybil married a chauffeur, and he was welcomed to Downton, but she loves a gentleman and he is cast into the outer darkness. Robert agrees that he is a gentleman and Martha points out that he has a house, money and a title, everything that their kind seems to care about. Robert thinks that this is making him sound shallow. Edith asks why must she be made to give him up, just because he has a bad arm, but Robert points out that he is 25 years too older than her. Martha says that Edith is sad and lonely, and that she doesn't mean to interfere, a statement which Robert questions. Edith announces that if Robert bans Strallan from Downton, she will simply go to his house and wait there until he agrees to see her. Edith points out the ridiculousness of not liking him because of his age when all the young men have died in the war. She asks if he wants her to spend her life alone. Robert insists that he does like Strallan to which Edith says so do I. She begs her father to please ask him to come back. After many "pleases", Robert relents and says that he will, to Martha's approval.
Anna is visiting Bates in prison, and says she has found Mrs. Bartlett by writing to the tenant at her old address with an explanation, and was sent a forwarding address. Bates is unsure whether she will talk to Anna as Audrey Bartlett was the nearest thing that Vera had to a friend and will not see her as she is. Anna says that it is because she was Vera's friend that she wants to see her and she doesn't have to like her, just be honest. Bates still doubts that she will talk to Anna, but Anna is going to write and ask for a meeting, and then go to London to see her. She says that with the money from the rent for their house, she can make it worth her while. Anna considers that if Vera was frightened by Bates' visit, why didn't she go see her friend rather than sitting down and writing the incriminating letter. But Bates wonders if she might not have done both.
When Bates asks for news of Downton, Anna is reticent about whether to tell him, as she hasn't told the other servants and it is breaking the code of a lady's maid, but ends up informing him of Lord Grantham's financial troubles which may result in the selling of Downton Abbey. Bates says that he doubted anything could touch him in here, but that makes him sad.
Mr. Molesley is running through the grounds to the house. Out of breath he enters Matthew's dressing room. The tailors had promised and promised, but the repaired tail coat had not arrived. Molesley had waited until the 7 o'clock train to no avail. Despite Molesley reminding him of the importance Lady Mary put on this dinner, Matthew says that he will just have to wear black tie and Mary understands that these things are just not as important as they used to be. However, Molesley looks unconvinced.
Miss Reed is in the upstairs hall when she sees O'Brien coming out of Lord Grantham's rooms carrying a stack of shirts. Violet has arrived and Mary rushes her to the dining room to show off the elaborate table setting and Violet remarks "Nothing succeeds like excess." They determine that they will confront Martha after dinner about Downton needing money. Mary is sure that she will not want to see all this go, especially knowing that it is for her own granddaughter. Violet says that Mary must not mistake a wish for a certainty.
In the kitchen the range is now smoking. Mrs. Patmore thinks that the wind is coming from the wrong direction and it just needs to be raked through. A very flustered and loud Thomas arrives in the kitchen demanding to know where Alfred is. He is insistent and Daisy says that she thinks he is in the servants hall. Thomas goes in and asks where are they. To Anna's question, he says his lordship's bloody evening shirts. He demands to know where Alfred put them. Alfred truthfully says that he didn't touch them, why would he? Thomas then confronts O'Brien and asks if she did this. To which O'Brien replies why would she know anything about his lordship's shirts. Thomas starts to threaten what he will do when he finds out who did this, but O'Brien forcefully tells him to keep his histrionics to himself as Lady Cora is already in the drawing room and his lordship is not yet dressed. Thomas looks around in impotent anger and then runs back upstairs.
Robert wears a robe in his dressing room and accuses Thomas of losing all of his shirts, Thomas insists that they were taken, possibly stolen, to get at Thomas himself. Robert asks if Thomas is not popular below stairs, but Thomas assures him that is not the case and says that someone is perhaps playing a joke. Robert says that this is unacceptable. If the culprit is uncovered, Robert wants the matter referred to him, but asks Thomas what they are going to do now. Thomas is at a loss.
Outside, cars begin pulling up, Alfred opens doors, and Carson invites people into the house. In the kitchens the range has now gone out completely, which Daisy suggests is a sign that the flue is blocked. Mrs. Patmore points to all the dishes prepared on the table, which haven't been cooked, the soufflés and the raw mutton. Mrs. Hughes comes in and Mrs. Patmore informs her that they have 20 lords and ladies upstairs and no dinner to give them. Mrs. Hughes says "Oh, my god".
In the drawing room, Matthew has appeared in black tie, as his tails did not come back in time, just as Lord Grantham also appears in black tie. Violet asks him why he is not in white tie either and what he has come as. Robert apologizes and explains that Thomas has lost all of his dress shirts. Violet sees Edith laughing with Sir Anthony Strallan and comments that she thought Robert had given him his marching orders. Robert explains that he had, but then his dear mother-in-law had intervened and he had a good mind to tell her. Violet interjects that he cannot do it tonight, as tonight Martha must be allowed to get her own way. At this moment Martha comes over, and is surprised to see Robert and Matthew looking as if they are dressed for a barbecue. Robert says that he feels like a Chicago bootlegger, a reference which Violet doesn't understand, but says sounds almost as peculiar as he looks. Cora then arrives to tell them that the oven is broken and they haven't any food. Mary and Violet are stunned. Martha is amused; with funny clothes and no food, she says that it will be quite an evening. Cora says curtly "Thank you, Mother", and leaves the drawing room to consult with Carson and Mrs. Hughes, as everyone else in the group follows. When Mrs. Hughes says that nothing can be cooked, Cora wonders if they must tell everyone to go home. At this point Martha takes charge. Everyone has come for a party, and they are going to have one. She tells Carson to clear the table and bring up everything from the larder that is edible: bread, fruit, ham, chicken, etc. They are going to have an indoor picnic, with everyone eating whatever they want, wherever they want, all over the house. Carson is unsure of this and Robert says that it is not how they do things. But Martha amends that it is not how they used to do things and is seconded by Isobel and Cora, who says that it if they all pull together it might be great fun. As Martha goes off to find out if anyone plays the piano, Mary tells Violet that this is exactly not what they planned, but Cora says that if this ends their undignified campaign, she will not be sorry. Cora leaves and Mary and Violet determine that that they refuse to give up. Violet asks Robert if she can have a drink, and then apologizes as she took him for a waiter.
Everyone is in the kitchen working, including Alfred, Mr. Molesley, and Miss Reed. Daisy is still watching Alfred as he compliments Miss Reed. Anna comments on Mr. Molesley's new valet outfit. Alfred is sent to the larder to bring out the meats. Mrs. Hughes is worn out and Mr. Carson is telling her to hurry. Mrs. Patmore tries to chide him, but Mrs. Hughes says that he is right, there is not a moment to lose. Miss Reed has followed Alfred to the larder and whispers to him that she knows a secret. She saw who took those shirts that Thomas accused him of taking. He asks who, but she says never mind. She followed them and knows where they are, and she will show him. He asks her why she is being so nice to him. She tells Alfred that she likes him. He is surprised that she can just come out and say it, but she explains that she is an American and it is 1920, it's time to live a little. He thought that she had been trying to find things out for Mrs. Levinson, but Miss Reed finds that funny. She asks what would she have to find out, when she can read them all like the palm of her hand. Miss Reed further remarks that Mrs Levinson will not help them. When Alfred doesn't understand how she is supposed to help them, Miss Reed says never mind and tells him to kiss her again, which he does enthusiastically. Daisy, carrying a box, witnesses this and slowly backs away.
In the dining room, Martha is explaining that everyone can just take what they want to eat, buffet style, and go wherever in the house they choose. Anywhere, meaning that if they have ever wanted to explore Downton, this is their chance. Robert apologizes to Lady Randolph saying it may all seem very casual, but she thinks that it sounds exciting and makes he feel like one of the bright young people that the newspapers write about. Robert seems confused as he thanks her. Isobel comes up and tells Robert to cheer up as Martha won't be here forever. Robert however, worries about how much damage she can cause before she goes.
It is after dinner in the drawing room. Carson is carrying out dirty dishes and looking alarmed as people stand about with plates. Martha Levinson is leading everyone in singing "Let Me Call You Sweetheart". She walks through the room and sits in the chair next to the dowager, who seems to have been worn out by the excitement and is dozing. Violet seems a bit startled at first to be the object of this serenade, but then looks about and manages to smile politely. As the song ends, Martha takes Violet's hand while singing the last words "I'm in love with you". She then kisses Violet's hand, as Robert and Carson share a look and there is a smattering of applause.
In the servants hall, Mrs. Hughes is wondering if there is anything left for their dinner, and Mrs. Patmore tells her that she has hidden a veal and egg pie. Mrs. Patmore again asks Mrs. Hughes to let her talk to Mr. Carson, but Mrs. Hughes does not want to be seen as a sick woman for the next two months in his eyes, and possibly later a dying one. Mrs. Hughes begins to cry again, and Mrs. Patmore tries to comfort her that it will be alright. Mrs. Hughes says that she can't know that, but still appreciates the sentiment.
Sir Anthony Strallan has asked Edith to marry him. They are standing in the dining room, and he is asking Edith again if she is certain that she will not someday regret marrying a crippled old man. She says that she will only have regrets if he keeps talking like that. He asks if she knows how much she means to him, and says that she has given his life back to him. She says that's more like it, and kisses him on the cheek. He asks if she is certain that she doesn't want to wait, but she says that she doesn't want to give him a chance to change his mind, and that she can organize it all in a month. They decide that he will come back in the morning to talk to Lord Grantham.
Daisy runs into Alfred on the stairs. She asks him why he likes the American girl who is fast and will be going home soon. At first Alfred questions Daisy's assumptions, but then admits that he likes her and says that she made him feel good and good about himself, for the first time since he came here, and nothing else matters. Carson then comes down the stairs saying that he needs Alfred to carry round the claret. Alfred worries that, if he has to pour it all around the room, he might spill it on the floor, and Carson despairs that they are looking into the "chaos of Gomorrah". But he needs to give them more wine, and Alfred must help. Carson questions the covered bundle that Alfred is carrying, but when told that it is something that he has to take upstairs for his lordship, Carson just says to be quick about it.
Upstairs, Mary and the dowager have asked Martha for the money. She says that she will help them any way she can. Violet goes off about the Crawleys owing the Levinsons for saving Downton not once, but twice. However, Martha says that they misunderstand, she cannot rescue Downton. She goes on to explain to Mary that her late husband, Mr Levinson had tied up the money, as he thought that the Crawleys had gotten enough. Her help would be in the form of entertaining them in her homes in Newport and New York, or adding to Cora's dress allowance. Her income is generous, but she cannot touch the capital. Besides, she tells Mary, the world is changing and these old houses were built for another age, and asks if she is really sure that she wanted to continue with the bother of it all. Mary insists that she does. Martha says that she should look on the bright side. She says to Violet that both of their husbands tied up the money before they were taken, but Violet says that her husband, Lord Grantham was not taken, he died.
In prison, Bates sees his cellmate Craig talking to prison guard Durrant. The guard passes him something. Bates walks by and sees them as they do it.
In the servants hall, O'Brien is wondering if they will have scrap sandwiches for their dinner, but Anna says that Mrs. Patmore kept something aside. A withdrawn Thomas enters and cryptically says that "they put them back". Anna asks what, and Thomas announces that his lordship's shirts were returned. O'Brien, who is reading a book, accuses him of just overlooking them in the first place. Thomas takes umbrage with this, and tells her that he is warning her. She compares his tough talk to Tom Mix in a Wild West Show and tells him to stop with his warnings and go lay out his lordship's pajamas. There are scattered chuckles and Thomas leaves. Alfred comes in and asks what people are laughing at. His aunt tells him that the shirts that had taken a walk had come back. Alfred voices surprise, and Miss Reed smiles at him.
In the prison, Craig is telling Bates that he didn't see anything. Bates agrees, but then Craig says that if tells anyone he will cut him. Bates turns and stands. He then punches Craig in the stomach, throws him against the wall, and squeezes his neck. Bates tells Craig to never threaten him. Craig says that he had forgotten that he was here in a cell with a murderer, and Bates says not to forget again.
Robert goes into his library and pours a drink. Martha says that the evening has made her homesick for America and it is time she was leaving. He says that he doesn't suppose she wants a whiskey, but she says that she would love one, and adds "no water". Martha explains that Mary asked for money and she apologizes that she will not be able to save Downton. Robert looks surprised that she knew of the sitiation, but says he understands. Martha tells him that the way to deal with the world is not to ignore it - do that and it will hurt you. Robert says that at times he feels like a creature in the wild whose natural habitat is gradually being destroyed. Martha says that some animals adapt to new surrounding and it's a better choice than extintion. Robert doesn't think that it is a choice. He says it depends on what is in you. Martha makes a toast that what is in him will carry him through these times to a safer shore. Robert holds up the glass and seems uncertain what to do, and Martha clinks glasses with him.
Mr. Carson has come to see Mrs. Hughes in the upper servants sitting room, and asks if everything is alright. She say yes and asks if he needs anything. He tells her that his lordship sent his thanks and compliments that the kitchen managed well tonight under difficult circumstances. Mrs. Hughes asks if the evening was a success and Mr. Carson says that he believes it was. For his part seeing everyone sprawled out on the floor eating like beaters during a break in the shooting is not a party. He calls it a work's outing. He laments the lack of style and show. She says that people are tired of all that. Carson says that if one is tired of style then they are tired of life (to misquote Samuel Johnson). He starts to go and then turns back to ask if she would say if something was wrong. He says that he is crabby, but he is on her side, and she thanks him.
She follows him after he leaves, and turns out the light. Outside she meets Mrs. Patmore, and conveys the compliments to the kitchen. Mrs. Patmore asks if she told him (Mr. Carson), but Mrs. Hughes says no and goes on to say "What is there to tell?" One day each of them, and everyone in the house, will die, and she has come to terms with it. She says, as she walks Mrs. Patmore down the darkened hallway, that now, she can put it in proportion.
- ↑ Episode 1 was set in Spring 1920; the end of Spring is June, and Mary and Matthew's honeymoon lasted a month, so as it is still spring, it cannot be after June.