Downton AbbeyAmerica, it’s that time of year again- that is for those who possess the wherewithal not to pirateshiptorrent episodes from the underbelly of the internet mere seconds after they’ve aired in the UK, that or we have no idea how to even do that. It’s time to put on our bird hats and top off the gin and settle in for a night of Maggie Smith Eyeroll Drinking games.

Season Three’s epic two hour premiere managed to make a mountain out of a molehill of a wedding that we didn’t even get to see and then spent the remaining one hundred and eleven minutes doling out a well choreographed mega-episode of TLC’s What Not to Wear but without the instant gratification of a makeover reveal at the end. Which is impressive, because no less than 70% of Downton’s male residents got the stink-eye from the Dowager Countess for dressing like a common waiter. But excepting this sartorial sideshow, this week’s Downton Abbey was all about the great equalizers: Death and Taxes, and Sluts.

Death: First of all, we should all be really worried about Mrs. Hughes. Job security’s up in the air, Lord knows what kind of health coverage she has to begin with, and Mrs. Patmore’s a terrible confidante for this type of thing. Does anyone know what kind of cancer treatment was de rigueur in 1920? Because as far as I know, doctors were barbers and leeches were the penicillin of choice- seeing as actual penicillin was still 8 years out. Mrs. Hughes should probably cut her losses now and go live out the rest of her days somewhere sunny with an oven that works.

Taxes: Lord Grantham never struck me as having a real head for business, and now we’re seeing this theory bear fruits. Apparently the Crawley family investment advisor was Sir Bernard of Madoff the First, and in between twirling his mustache and tying damsels to train tracks, he encouraged the Earl of Grantham to put not only his whole fortune, but his wife’s whole Jewish American fortune into a Canadian Railroad Company?

“Oh, trust me, Lord Grantham. Railroads stretching as far as the eye can see, from Newfoundland to Saskatoon! Miles of railroad traversing the Great White North… fresh, new, nary a damsel laid across the ties, virginal tracks calling for a lithe body… What was I saying? No worries, my good man. Have you seen the size of Canada? This plan is too big to fail!”

Now Downton’s in a hole, subprime mortgages run rampant, the bubble’s long since burst, the mind reels with real estate jargon. It’s got everyone a bit addled, because suddenly we see the demure ladies of the estate crawling on hand and knee, begging for scraps at the heels of Cora’s mother Shirley Maclaine Levinson, a real sassy broad.

Everyone’s sent into a tizzy at her arrival because for one, she’s insufferable with her American values and her questionable taste and insatiable appetite, but she’s also loaded and we could really use the money. Truly Lady Mary and her Granny the Dowager Countess make one hell of a team. If this doesn’t work out, the two of them should hit the road swindling the aristocracy the countryside over.

Lady Mary: “Off the top of my head, I’d say you’re looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald I’ve ever seen.”

Dowager Countess: Stirs her tea.

All this could likely be circumvented if Matthew could just drop the ethics act and take the Swire fortune coming his way despite the unfortunate turn of events with Lavinia. But he’s just so high and mighty- what with his refusing a valet, and buttoning his own coat- naturally he’ll risk pissing off the Mrs. by refusing the money and forcing Downton into foreclosure. Men!

Sluts: Edith! Cool it with the silver foxhunt. It’s so unbecoming of someone so… unbecoming. Lady Edith spends two hours throwing herself at an old guy, and I get it. Always a bridesmaid, never the sister anyone cares about at all. At some point, Cora actually rolled her eyes and groaned, “Oh Edith!”

Then there’s this slutty American maid, throwing herself at the giant footman, kissing him in the pantry, groping him amongst the meats. And poor Daisy, constantly walking in on such indecency!

And can we pause for a minute and consider the newlyweds, throwing decorum to the wind, eschewing chaperones before the wedding, welcoming a maid into the matrimonial bedroom whilst the couple is still indecent, talking dirty in the most post-Edwardian of terms. (Kiss me before I get angry.)

What is this world coming to? It seems we’re in the twilight of an era, made all the more obvious with the precarious situation in which the Estate finds itself: on the verge of ruin. A way of life is fading fast, but not our complete obsession with every blessed moment of it.

Next Time On:
– Branson recruits Lady Edith to Sinn Fein, but only because she thinks he’s signing her up for a matchmaking service.

– Mr. Carson moonlights as the forebear to Tim Gunn at a sweatshop in the village specializing in tea time linens.

– Lady Isobel starts rehearsals for her Ladies of the Night Circus. Their debut performance wows the crowd with parlor tricks and an indoor petting zoo at the next family indoor picnic.