Way to lay it on thick, dowager. Cora, for her part, doesn't think her mom should foot the Downton bill. Plus, she seems pleased to live in a more modest estate, telling her daughter that more people live in smaller houses and it will be fine. Of course.
Mary's weird plan is — wait for it — to create a very lavish dinner to show her grandma how great they are and make her feel as though she could never deprive her granddaughter of such awesomeness. I must agree with Cora when she calls this plan an "undignified campaign."
Unfortunately, nothing goes right with the dinner. Matthew and Robert don't have the "right clothes" (Robert says he looks like a Chicago bootlegger ... in his tuxedo ... while Martha says he looks like he's dressed for a barbecue. Oh rich people. So quaint.).
Martha takes charge, making it a modern sort-of potluck thing, calling it an "indoor picnic." One guest's wonderful response: "It's exciting, Lord Grantham. I feel like one of those bright young people they write about in the newspapers."
Lady, you're just putting bread, cheese and meat on a plate and sitting wherever you like. Settle down.
When the dust clears, Martha says she cannot save Downton. "It's a shame it has to go," but her late husband tied the money down in such a way that the Crawleys can have no more of it. She later tells Robert that she can't rescue the place.
Her sage advice: "Some animals adapt to new surroundings. Seems a better choice than extinction."
So we're left not knowing (until the next episode, perhaps) what will happen to Downton. It's their fiscal cliff! Must they be forced to live in a small estate?! Must they?!
CLASS WARFARE WITH BRANSON:
When we weren't dealing with money issues, we were dealing with Branson clashing with the family. "He strikes me as a very interesting addition to the family," says Isobel Crawley.
And he is. I kind of love Branson. He's interesting, fiery and irish — and devoted to Sybil in a lovely way. He stands up to those damned stuffy Crawleys from the moment he arrives.
Cora pauses a moment before she calls him "Tom," while Robert doesn't know at all what to say and Carson won't utter words to him. Off to a good start! Thomas and Carson even refuse to dress him for dinner. Come on, guys. The dude can't go all irish naked.
The first dinner with the Bransons is tense. Tom goes on about his country fighting for independence and how the king/monarchy is evil and how he won't change to please anyone!
"Is it true that Irish gardens have more variety than ours?" Cora hilariously says to break up the tension.
Carson is further infuriated when Branson uses Mary's first name, as in "Mary keeps us informed about Bates." Get off it, Carson. He's good guy.
Branson's done with it all (who can blame in?) and wants to move to the pub while he's in town. "Don't make it easy for them," is Matthew's advice. "We're brothers-in-law with high-minded wives. We've got to stick together."
But things don't get easier. At another Dinner With the Uber Upper-Class, Branson is introduced to Larry Gray, who we learn once tried to court Sibyl. Yikes, this won't be good. Larry is a clod. He says he never thought he'd meet Branson in person, to which Branson replies, "As opposed to what? Spirit?" Love me some Branson.
A few more insults, and Larry is off to spike Branson's drink with something that makes him angry and drunk. Did this exist in 1920? If so, what was it called? Was it common for rich folk to amuse themselves by going to a shabby bar and make lower-class folks seem drunker than usual? So. Many. Questions.