As Matthew and Isobel, the newly-arrived Crawleys settle into life in the village, Isobel offers her experience with modern medical techniques at the hospital, to the considerable consternation of Violet. Both Matthew and Mary bristle at the prospect of being matched to one another; still, Matthew indulges Mary's clever barbs even as a suitor in the form of Evelyn Napier is invited for a foxhunt, accompanied by the handsome attaché at the Turkish Embassy, Kemal Pamuk.
Downstairs, secrets reflect the ambitions, shames and desperate hopes of the servants, as housemaid Gwen tries to hide the contents of a heavy box set atop the wardrobe in her room; Carson abandons his customary dignity as he skittishly raids the pantry; and Bates refuses to share the source of his debilitating pain to his co-workers. Their concern and camaraderie markedly contrast the festering discontent of Thomas and O'Brien.
A sinister stranger barges into the house, demanding to speak to Lord Grantham, and an attractive stranger captivates Mary before setting into motion a chain of events that put the fate of Downton Abbey on even less stable ground.
Read full synopsis
Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers
Hide full synopsis
Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers
There is a flurry of activity, and secrets just below the surface, in the village and at Downton Abbey. Carson, without his usual dignified reserve, hurries to the village in response to a letter, and housemaid Gwen is flustered at running into Bates when she is trying to clandestinely post a letter. More baffling still is Carson's secret scramble in the pantry as he stuffs items into a bag then lies to Anna, who had observed him. Bates responds to an advertisement for a limp corrector, visiting the village to purchase what looks like a medieval torture device but is sold as a limp corrector. Nor are things going well for the ever-contemptuous O'Brien, who is maligning the Crawleys below stairs when Cora overhears, and reprimands her in front of the staff.
Meanwhile, Isobel visits the hospital to find a young family man who is suffering from dropsy and is certain to die. She knows of a cure, but as a modern medical technique it is unfamiliar to the doctor, who is reluctant to try it. Her determination to treat the man piques Violet's ire, and preparing for a showdown, Violet shows up at the man's bedside only to witness the barbaric procedure and its unmitigated success.
But Matthew is not finding his place as easily as his mother. At dinner, he endures Mary's barbed comments about "our kind of people." He bristles at having Molesely, a valet/butler, and then unintentionally humiliates the man. And with forced cheer, he suffers an afternoon of church-visiting with Edith, who is interested in him since Mary won't have him. In Robert, however, Matthew finds an advocate and mentor whose wise counsel helps the young man change his perspective about Molesley, and increasingly, about his new responsibilities at Downton Abbey.
Mary's cavalier attitude toward Matthew is not just a childish display of her opposition to a match; her fortunes are improving, and she knows it. She has a viscount's heir, The Hon. Evelyn Napier, in play, and he is due to arrive for a foxhunt, bringing along a friend, Kemal Pamuk, an attaché at the Turkish Embassy.
Bates has been enduring flashes of excruciating pain but won't share their source with his colleagues below-stairs, ever wary of their pity. Gwen cannot keep her secret any longer, as Anna demands to know what is in the heavy box stowed on top of the wardrobe: it is a typewriter, and Gwen has been taking a correspondence course in the hopes of becoming a secretary. But O'Brien discovers the typewriter, snitches to Carson, and Gwen is forced to reveal her plans to the staff, humiliated by her own ambitions.
Carson too must reveal his secret when a stranger forces his way into Downton, demanding to speak to the earl. It is Charles Grigg, who had been blackmailing Carson in order to keep quiet about the butler's distinctly undistinguished past as one half of the performing duo "The Cheerful Charlies." Robert comes to Carson's defense, handily dismissing the lowlife. Meanwhile, Mrs. Hughes will not see Bates suffering any longer, so she confronts him about it. Under threat of having the matter taken directly to Carson, Bates shows the limp corrector to Mrs. Hughes. Distressed at the suffering the device has caused, she accompanies him as he ceremoniously throws it into the lake. Together, they watch it sink.
The day of the foxhunt has arrived. To Mary's surprise, Evelyn Napier's friend Kemal Pamuk is a dashing exotic man, and a powerful attraction between the two is immediate. When Thomas, as Kemal's footman, makes an ill-fated pass at the Turk, he is forced in order to protect his job and reputation to agree to sneak Kemal to Mary's room later that night. During dinner, while a discussion of Gwen and her ambitions to be a secretary engage Sybil and Matthew (for) and Violet (unsurprisingly, against), Mary and Kemal's flirtation is not lost on anyone at the table. Indeed, Mary makes it perfectly clear where Evelyn and Matthew stand, following Kemal into a sitting room but rebuffing his advances. Yet Kemal does awaken Mary in her room, and his advances are not rebuffed for long.
A hand comes down over the sleeping housemaid Anna's mouth — it is a distraught Mary. Kemal has had a heart attack and died in Mary's bed. To avoid Mary's ruin, the women have to return his body to his room, but they need another's help to carry him, someone who has just as much as Mary to lose should word get out: Cora. Together they carry Kemal back to his own bed, not knowing that Daisy witnessed Mary in the corridor.
The next morning brings the horrible news of the Turk's death, and as Napier makes the necessary arrangements, Mary cannot conceal her sorrow. Napier realizes that he is not in the running for Mary's affection. Thomas confides in O'Brien that he took Kemal to Mary's bedroom, vital information for the scheming lady's maid to tuck away.
Time passes, brings a new chauffeur — the Irish socialist, Branson — and still, Mary's future is unsettled. Discussing the matter with Cora, Violet resolves to attack the entail anew, with the help of a lawyer who is decent.