Downton Abbey taught us that the blue bloods of the early twentieth century don't divorce when their marriages seem irretrievably lost.
As Violet, the Dowager Countess told her son Robert:
"People like us are never unhappily married. In those moments a couple is unable to see as much of each other as they would like." Violet suggested that her daughter-in-law Cora might take a trip to New York to see her mother, or as she put it, "...that woman."
Stepping up her relentless pressure on Dr. Clarkson, Violet let him know in no uncertain terms that the right thing to do was to fall on his sword about his insistence that Lady Sybil might have been saved with a Caesarian section procedure.
There's a fine line between lying and leaving room for bad judgement and Clarkson wouldn't say he was completely wrong.
He felt comfortable calling it a "... little chance, an infinitesimal chance."
As Violet predicted, it allowed Robert and Cora to grieve together and get on the road to healing. That left plenty of time for Downton Abbey to tackle other stories.
Bates is coming home.
The murky intrigue of the Bates-in-prison story is finally over. It had come dangerously close to being an episode of HBO's "Oz" with prison guard corruption and convict violence. Will Mr. Bates return to his valet duties for Lord Grantham?
The women of Downton rise up.
In Robert's continuing fall from power in his own household, his wife, mother and daughters refused to obey his order to leave Isobel Crawley's home, when he learned that Ethel was serving them lunch.
Let's face it, with what that family has dealt with in terms of scandal, a former prostitute in the house is the least of the ladies' worries. Mary's affair, Sybil's marriage to a chauffeur and Bates' imprisonment taught them that the antiquated notions of their social circle can be ignored without their world crumbling.
The downstairs staff has taken sides as well and they are also split along gender lines. Mr. Carson is holding the line for his belief system while his female staff is lining up with the Crawley women. Is the vote far behind for British ladies?
The Crawleys will have a Catholic in their midst.
Branson has held strong to his intention to baptize the baby in the Catholic Church. "My daughter is Irish and she'll be Catholic like her father," the widower of Lady Sybil told her father.
Robert Crawley brought in reinforcements. An Anglican minister came to dinner and debated the Reformation at the table with Branson. Lady Mary dropped the bombshell that Sybil wanted her husband to get his way on the subject, a death bed request. That sealed it.
The only question left is if Branson will remain at Downton and if Matthew Crawley has his way, he will. There is plenty to do to refresh the many properties that Robert has let go to seed.
That leads to the big story for next week as Matthew Crawley puts pedal to the metal on his own reformation ideas about bringing Downton back to financial health.
PBS airs new episodes of Downton Abbey, Sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT. Image: PBS/Downton Abbey, Allen Leech as Branson