Literary insults, bloodletting, and evening coats: The week's best quotes from 'Downton Abbey'

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Now THAT, my friends, is how you end a dinner party. (Anyone tuning into this episode accidentally might have thought that “Downton Abbey” had been taken over by flesh-eating zombies. Very well-dressed ones, to be sure.) Other than Robert’s insanely dramatic near-expiration before the pudding course (will Cora’s bespattered frock survive?), here’s what happened in last night’s episode: the ever-resourceful Denker survived a near-sacking by blackmailing Spratt; sweet footman Andrew revealed himself to be an illiterate budding pigman, but Thomas stands ready to help him on that score (oh, Thomas); Carson is dissatisfied with Mrs. Hughes’ cooking skills; the Unending Hospital Drama might be finally wrapping up (with a surprise cameo — look alive, historians — from Neville Chamberlain) and not a minute too soon; Mary’s still Figuring Things About regarding dishy Henry; Edith had drinks — and a kiss! — with a nice man in her lovely London apartment;  the Dowager Countess wore a splendid pair of crimson gloves;  and everybody’s evening coats, even in crisis, were smashing. To the quotes!

5) Henry referring to Mary as “la belle dame sans merci.” This is a pretty impressive literary insult — look up the Keats poem and you’ll see this isn’t a compliment — but he explains it as “It means Lady Mary knows what she’s about.” Hmm.

4) Carson, exasperated: “Do other butlers have to contend with the police arriving every ten minutes?” No, my good man, I suspect they do not. But seeing as practically everyone below-stairs has had some sort of brush with the law (surely Mrs. Patmore has a questionable past?), Sgt. Willis’s frequent visits are inevitable. (Honorable mention here: Carson’s very precise pronunciation of “gastrectomy,” the meaning of which is none of our business.)

3) Mary: “I don’t wish to sound snobbish, but I won’t marry down.” Well, that sounded a tad snobbish, didn’t it? (On a related note, Anna observed, with charming understatement, “Lady Mary has quite a sense of her own importance” — and managed to make it sound rather sweet.)

2) Denker, tearing a strip off the very put-upon Dr. Clarkson: “Throwing over my lady, when she’s been running this village since you were eating porridge in the glen with your mummy!” Those are fighting words, Miss D. (By the way, watch David Robb, who plays Dr. Clarkson, who has a wonderfully way of subtly rolling his eyes in every scene. Dr. Clarkson is NOT having any of it, thank you very much.)

1) The Dowager Countess, who before being terribly shaken by the Great Dinnertime Bloodletting contributed this gem: “If I withdrew my friendship from everyone who had spoken ill of me, my address book would be empty.”