Ethel approached Mrs Patmore, who snuck into Crawley House with some recipes and a lot of brusque encouragement. Carson, who thought he'd made his views on ex-prostitutes quite clear last week, clocked Mrs Pat sneaking out and tried to dress her down back at the Abbey, only to find himself undermined by Mrs Hughes, who stayed firm throughout the episode despite Carson's eyebrows disappearing up into his hair. Touchingly, they concluded by reaffirming their platonic devotion, despite each thinking the other has lost it vis-a-vis lunching with loose women.
Ideological debates were raging upstairs too, as Tom announced over breakfast that his baby daughter, whom he bravely wants to name Sybil, would be raised as a Catholic. Lord G was about to have a sip of tea but the cup went straight down again and may never, I am sorry to report, have been drunk. Later, at dinner, Tom repeated his wish, despite Carson standing nearby wielding a lethal-looking decanter full of sherry, and despite the presence of creepy local clergyman, Rev Travis.
Travis always looks as if he's come straight from a hard day eating children and burning witches at the stake, but he really overstepped the mark here by telling Tom that God loves Anglicans more than Catholics. This argument fell to pieces when Tom, Matthew, Edith and Mary piled in to ask whether God hates the French, the Italians, the Portuguese, the Spanish, South America and, widening the debate to any non-Anglicans, the whole Indian "sub-continent". Travis was holding his own when it was just the French and Italians God might hate, but he faltered after that. Mary killed him off by deciding now was the time to drop the bombshell that Sybil Snr's dying wish was to let the baby be, in Lord G's phrase, "a left-footer".
The undercurrent to this was Cora's continuing fury that Lord G might have stopped Sybil being saved, leading her not only to keep him out of the marital bed but to attack him for his old-fashioned attitudes. Her disloyalty was the only thing souring proceedings as the Downton ladies lunched at Isobel's – she urged Edith to ignore her dad and write her newspaper column, but the shock of this was cushioned by Ethel's food. Under Mrs Patmore's tutelage, she'd triumphed.
Lord G ruined the day, however, bursting in to reveal that Ethel is or was a fallen woman. Already livid about the baby Sybil debate, and about Matthew finally broaching the fact that Downton is run about as efficiently as a week one Apprentice task, his Lordship angrily demanded that everyone come straight home.
Cora stood her ground. Blaming Lord G for his daughter's death was one thing, but openly and knowingly chowing down on a prostitute's salmon mousse? Surely their marriage was over!
The Dowager Countess already had a plan in train. She'd spoken to Clarkson, the reassuringly Scottish doctor, and now he told Lord and Lady Grantham that Sybil wouldn't have survived even if Lord G had sent her off for surgery. Clarkson slightly gave away that this was a kind pack of lies by glancing at the DC throughout, but it seemed to do the trick: his Lordship has his wife back, if nothing else.
>> Series three, episode five: Anna cracks the case, Lady Sybil gives birth