Robert and Cora: Considering where they were a few episodes ago -- The Earl and Countess of Grantham have come along nicely. And Robert isn't such a boor, he actually appreciates his wife, and Matthew for saving the estate. "You always knew how lucky we were in Matthew, and now I give thanks for him as I give thanks for my home and my family. And most of all, I give thanks for my wife," Robert says as he tenderly kisses Cora. Finally, he has some sense.
Shrimpie, Lady Susan Flintshire, and Cousin Rose: The hosts have a rough go of it. You can practically feel how much Shrimpie and Lady Susan hate each other through the TV screen. (This relationship was clearly meant to be juxtaposed against the more loving Robert and Cora. And as a friend of mine said, did we really need to spend so much time on a couple we just met?) Furthermore, Lady Susan and her daughter Rose don't get a long at all. And their castle -- Duneagle -- will be sold, since Shrimpie lost most of his fortune. To top it all off, they are moving to India, as Shrimpie must accept an outpost in Bombay. But not Rose, she's being sent off to Downton, presumably to breathe a little life -- too soon? -- into season 4.
Edith and SASYB: Sir Anthony Strallan's younger brother just happens to be visiting Scotland at the same time as the Crawleys. He basically wants Edith to be his mistress, which is gross. The desperate Edith, however, pretty much agrees by the end. Come on Edith, you were filling in the progressive female space left empty by the death of your sister so well. Why do this to yourself?
Mrs. O'Brien and her Scottish Doppelgänger: At first, you think that O'Brien and Susan's ladysmaid Mrs. Wilkins would become BFFs -- if it's possible for O'Brien to even have a bestie. Their severe looks and rigid ways make them a perfect match. "It's a treat to have a kindred spirit come to stay," Flintshire's ladysmaid says. That fantasy quickly dissolves. When Lady Susan asks Mrs. O'Brien for help, Wilkins is hurt. In turn, Wilkins spikes O'Brien's drink at the ball. O'Brien being O'Brien, however, knows better than to drink the punch laced with whiskey. She sets it down, but Molesley swoops in and accidentally drinks it all. Oops. Molesley puts on a drunken show, and the rest of the party is amused -- as are we.
Anna and Bates: Anna learns to dance in order to surprise Bates while they are in Scotland. Seriously.
Branson and Edna: Branson has adapted to his new life as Downton's agent quite well, but there are those who make him feel ashamed. Specifically, the new housemaid, Edna. Edna likes Branson, and she berates him for being a traitor to his class. She even kisses him -- which gets her fired. Branson feels responsible for Edna, but Mrs. Hughes assures him that Edna wasn't suited for this lifestyle.
Isobel and Dr. Clarkson: Dr. Clarkson gets thisclose to asking Isobel to marry him. Isobel discreetly stops him -- allowing the good Doctor to retain his dignity. My only question is this -- why wouldn't Isobel want to him for a husband? He's a good looking doctor, she's a good looking widow and a former nurse to boot. It makes sense to me. Alas, it's not to be.
Mrs. Patmore and her fancyman: Mrs. Patmore has a new food supplier. He becomes enchanted by her cooking, and asks her to marry him. But Mrs. Patmore finds out that he just wants her for her skills in the kitchen, and she turns him down. Another old-people romance has been killed before it even begun.
Thomas and Jimmy: All the servants travel to a fair in Thirsk, where Jimmy drinks a little too much and ends up being attacked by some locals. Thomas, who had been following Jimmy, stands up for his unrequited love, and gets the crap beaten out of him. This valiant -- and yet somewhat creepy -- act allows the two to form a friendship.
Daisy and Ivy: There isn't really much to talk about with them, except for the fact that they have turned into friends. Daisy must be over Alfred.
And now for the Dowager Countess' best quotes:
Well I know he's housebroken, more or less, but I don't want freedom to go to his head.
Oh dear, you flatter me, which is just as it should be.
Edith, dear. Stop fascinating that young man and come make a four at bridge.
My dear, no one will accuse me of being modern, but even I can see it's not a crime to be young.
That is the thing about nature. There's so much of it.
But then, we don't always get our just deserts.
That's it for this season, my fellow Downton Abbey lovers. Was this "Journey to the Highlands" particularly boring to you, save for the end? How are we supposed to watch old episodes, knowing that Matthew dies? Will Downton ever be the same? Will we?