It's 1917 and Matthew and Dr Clarkson have both been given higher ranks in the military. Thomas's wounded hand means that he is no longer fit for military service but with help from the scheming Miss O'Brien, he's able to find a place for himself, working with wounded soldiers at the cottage hospital. O'Brien also shows that she has a softer side to her nature when is sympathetic to Henry Lang, Lord Grantham's new valet, who is suffering the horrors of shell shock after being at the front. There is still no word from Mr Bates and poor Mr Carson is trying to run a household with only female, in light of William being about to enlist and Lang not being conversant with his duties.
Sybil meanwhile is now Nurse Crawley and is doing her bit at the hospital, facing things she never thought she would see and knowing that she will never be the same again. While Edith is driving a tracker at the Drake farm and getting involved in a romantic entanglement that she could never have imagined. For Mary it is a time of turbulent emotions, as seeing Matthew again is extremely difficult for her. After Carson suffers a collapse due to over work, he tells his beloved Lady Mary that she must be honest with Matthew or she will regret it for the rest of her life. But although determined to do so, Mary loses her courage and ends up saying nothing. Sir Richard Carlisle, newspaper magnate and man of great wealth, wants to marry her, envisaging them making a 'great team' but she is yet to give him her answer, as she feels conflicted given her feelings for Matthew. Meanwhile, Mary's Aunt Rosamund overhears a conversation between Sir Richard and Miss Swire which could spell trouble.
Some excellent acting in this episode, most particularly from Dame Maggie Smith as always, and from Rob James-Collier whose portrayal of Thomas was especially poignant. Can't wait to see what happens next week.