The Battle for Downton Abbey divided characters by gender as well as social class, and came down to the upper crust’s ability (or inability, rather) to take an upper cut.
Men’s Upstairs Regional: Lord Grantham thought he would have it easy with Dr. Clarkson, but the good doctor took advantage of his medical knowledge to knock out the top seed. Tom Branson gave Richard Carlisle a thrashing; the newspaper magnate was stunned that throwing money is not a good defense. Branson then disposed of Dr. Clarkson, who it turns out could not take a punch.
The lower half of the bracket was decimated by death, with Tony Gillingham making it out alive because he was the only one that was. So much for the anticipation of the Matthew Crawley-Memal Pamuk “Mary Crawley as the Black Widow” bout.
However, Gillingham proved to be no match for Branson, as the battling Irishman kept begging his lordship’s pardon as he pummeled him to win the regional.
Men’s Downstairs Regional: The only upset in the opening round was Alfred taking down “Glass Jaw” Molesley. The longest bout of the tournament was between Thomas Barrow and Jimmy Kent, which was more of a wrestling contest for the better part of an hour.
The #2 seed, Thomas was upset in the next round by a rather upset John Bates, who gave his long-time nemesis a major ass-kicking, which he then repeated in slow motion for the benefit of the cameras.
Mr. Carsons made it to the regional finals by staring down his opponents, at which point Mr. Bates announced he was eminently satisfied with having left Thomas a puddle of bloody jelly, and let Mr. Carsons move on to the Final Four without ever having thrown a punch or even raised his voice.
Women’s Upstairs Regional: The Dowager Countess dispatched Rose by looking offended that anyone would attack Granny, but discovered her daughter, Rosamund, was immune to her withering commentary.
Rosamund advanced when Lady Mary withdrew after breaking a nail with her first punch and her arm with the second. Cora walked over Sybil, who, of course, is dead, while Edith took out two decades of frustration on an astonished Isobel Crawley. But neither Edith nor Rosamund was a match for Cora, who proved that Americans still remember how to turn the English upside down and became the only Crawley to make it to the Final Four.
Women’s Downstairs Regional: All the favorites won in the opening round, where the marquee match-up was O’Brien taking out her replacement, Baxter. Apparently, spending time in prison for theft does not prepare one for the old “soap” trick.
But then both Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore announced they were too busy for such nonsense, which set up the second bout with a Battling Bates, as Anna finally got to go toe-to-toe with O’Brien. The fight got ugly, but not as ugly as O’Brien’s face when it was over.
Final Four: Carson refused to fight Mr. Branson, much as he would have liked to, since it was beneath his dignity. Cora assured Anna that she would not lose her job for fighting her ladyship, at which point Anna pretty much swept the floor with her.
In the championship match, Branson figured he could just hold off Anna until she got tired, but it turned out Mr. Bates (pronounced “b-eights”) had told her a thing or two about defending herself against a male assailant. Better late than never. Consequently, Branson will never be able to give Sibby a sibling, and Anna Bates was crowned undisputed champion of Downton Abbey.