This episode was as excellent as one has now come to expect from the pen of the enormously talented Julian Fellowes. A tasteful, yet uncomplicated blemd of so many different scenarios worked well throughout and was never confusing.
It's good to see Cora coming into her own a little and standing out as a more modern-thinking woman, particularly when it comes to Branson and his wishes for his young daughter. By contrast, of course, Robert, Carson and the estate manager Mr. Jarvis, not to mention the Dowager Countess, are stuck firmly in an era which is quickly disappearing. Mary, on the other hand, whilst leading towards a more modern view, seems to have a foot in both worlds which proves difficult for her at times.
Poor Ethel is suffering a lot because of her past but I admire Isobel for being so tenacious in trying to help her out. It seems that there isn't much more for Amy Nuttall's character to do as I suspect I know what may happen in next week's season finale.
Well done to Branson for dealing with his brother so well and insisting that he treats the Crawleys with the proper respect, particularly considering the way tsome of the family have treated him in the past.
Bates finally being released from prison was a bit of a 'ho hum' for me as the whole storyline was boring me senseless anyway. Much more interesting is trying to figure out what will happen with Thomas next week as that doesn't appear to end well.
The visitor next week should stir things up a bit, we'll have to wait and see what to make of Rose when she arrives.