Had you fallen asleep for a week and missed an episode? No, don't adjust your set: Downton this week casually introduced two characters and a plotline with no storytelling backlift at all. Boom. Straight in. New lady's maid. New needy pauper for Isobel to mentor. And a dead, debt-ridden farmer whose tenancy at Downton would put the contrasting management approaches of Lord G and Lady Mary to the test.
It was bewildering for the viewer but remember, these are people who can survive a four-year world war without changing their hairstyles. Nobody batted an eyelid as Baxter carried on working as Cora's personal attendant as if anyone had ever clapped eyes on her before. Baxter is the downstairs area's new source of evil, working in tandem with Thomas, the man who brought her here.
Whereas he is a cackling cartoon bumbler who will probably burn down the Abbey one day without remembering to leave it first, she looks more likely to perpetrate some sort of advanced fraud, possibly using her knowledge of futuristic technology. Baxter thrilled and frightened everyone with her electrified sewing machine: the other servants gathered, agog, as Baxter attached one piece of cloth to another in less than a week and without heavy blood loss.
Mrs Patmore scented the occult and wanted to throw the contraption out, but she relented later when, on the day of Cora's annual state visit to the basement, a cataclysmic rip was discovered at the bottom of her best off-beige apron. After a quick whizz from Baxter's join-o-matic, M-Patz declared the garment to be in better shape than when she bought it, although as she probably bought it in 1837, this wasn't saying a huge amount.
Cora descended and slapped M-Patz with another enforced step towards the space age: Downton shall have a fridge. Once Mrs Patmore had been assured that her regular grocery deliveries would still continue - if she clocks up another 1000 Nectar points she can get those new hornbill-ivory teeth - she suddenly embraced modernity and threatened to throw off her corset. Next week: Mrs Patmore goes on a week-long miaow-miaow and karaoke bender with Lady Rose.
Patmore was also firmly behind Alfred as he tried to lift himself out of the filth of Yorkshire pauperdom by auditioning for a cooking job at the Ritz. The letter inviting him to try out had taken 10 days to arrive, which solved the question of what new line of work Molesley had moved into, but left Alfred with only one day to become a MasterChef. Daisy stepped in, hoping to bond with her beloved as she schooled him in the art of egg and cheese tartlets.
Cheesy puffs might be Alfred's true calling. Ignoring the heckling from Jimmy, who again questioned why anyone would be so boring as to make an effort at anything - unless Baxter hurries up and invents the electric guitar, Jimmy's super-cool grand plan remains a mystery - Alfred produced a tray of savouries so excellent, M-Patz sent him upstairs with them. The toffs enjoyed the food and did a decent job of pretending to recognise Alfred and wish him luck. He even got to ride in the car to the station with Edith, who had an unconvincing excuse for going "up" to London herself.
Carson entered Mrs Hughes's command bunker to unveil a plan: with Alfred possibly leaving, Molesley could be hired as a new footman. Offering someone a job without a rigorous interviewing process counts as extreme generosity in Carson's book, but Molesley threw it back in his face, having the nerve to remind Carson that he is "a trained butler" and that he'd have to think hard about making his reduced status permanent. Carson's eyebrows knotted and fell to cheek level.
In London, Alfred found that 1920s cooking DOESN'T get tougher than the assessment day at the Ritz. Having failed to answer any of the French recruiter's quiz questions - they were all about food, but not about cheesy, eggy puffs - Alfred was tasked with making a Vichysoisse. Ask him for a hot mulligatawny and you probably would get cold leek and potato, but making that on purpose was a stretch and a rejection letter soon arrived back at the Abbey.