You've got the Patrick thing all wrong. Burned guy shows up claiming to be Patrick _Crawley_, who survived the Titanic after all, got amnesia, wound up in Canada, and eventually joined the Army.
Later on, the family finds out that Patrick had a friend named Peter Gordon who immigrated to Canada prior to the Titanic. By the end of the episode, it's heavily implied that "Patrick" is actually Peter--no relation to the family and obviously not the heir; he's just a scam artist. And a rather obvious one at that.
It's still soapy as heck, but the plotline basically existed entirely so we could see Mary leap to Matthew's defense.
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