Mrs. Hughes shows Mrs. Patmore the brown dress she plans to wear on her wedding day. Mrs. Patmore's response is the 1925 version of this:
In the drawing room, the Dowager Countess checks to see if a side table is dusty. The scene could honestly end there and I would be happy. Instead, her ineffectual son strolls in and they talk about the hospital drama. She insists he stop talking to anyone who isn't her (not a terrible life goal).
Robert: You can't expect me to avoid talking to my own wife!
Dowager Countess: Why not? I know several couples who are perfectly happy, haven't spoken in years.
Hear that, unhappily married folk? Scrap those marriage counseling appointments and keep living it up in your separate bedrooms.
Edith comes in and her relatives notice for once. She's heading to London to get yelled at by her sexist editor some more. Granny is concerned about the propriety of a young woman staying in a city flat alone. Edith is like Don't worry. I'm middle-aged and repulsive.
Mary comes in and mentions her traitorous mother, Cora. The Countess is like Ew, I'm out of here.
Robert: Why not stay and say hello?
Dowager Countess: Oh, I have a feeling Cora and I will be saying "Hello" rather less than "En garde!" in the next few weeks.
The Countess then pretends her walking stick is a sword. I repeat, the Countess pretends her walking stick is a sword!!! Cora and Isobel better watch their backs.
Back at chez Countess, Spratt is minding his own business, playing with his stamp collection. Miss Denker shows up to tell him his pastime is stupid. Such a mean drunk!
Someone rings at the door and Spratt answers. He seems freaked and won't tell Miss Denker who it was. Here's hoping it was the horny Russian dude from last season so the Countess' storyline can be about more than just some dumb hospital no one cares about.
Upstairs in Mary's room, she and Anna wonder why Edith doesn't just fire the sexist. Good question! "Unless she enjoys racing up to London in a swirling cloud of crisis and drama." Ding, ding, ding! Sorry, Edith, I root for you always, but sometimes Mary is right.
Mary reads a letter from Branson aloud. He's depressed and homesick 'cause wouldn't you be if you moved to Boston?
Anna then shares some news: she might be pregnant again! Mary exclaims that Bates has really powerful sperm. Then, as if asked to sum up her entire existence in just six words, Anna utters the following:
Mary: How exciting!
Anna: I don't want to be excited.
Yep, that about sums her up!
Downstairs, cute Andy asks Thomas if he's looking for a new job in the paper. Thomas flirts back, "I might be. Would you be sorry?" And then they play spin the bottle and kiss for a really long time because rules are rules. Sigh. You know they don't, but I have a dream! Make it so, Julian Fellowes!
Upstairs in the dining room, cousin Isobel is gloating about her rivalry with the Countess because it's the only thing that makes her relevant. Her face has an upcoming date with a certain walking stick/pretend sword.
Cora asks Carson to bring Mrs. Hughes upstairs for a chat. Everyone is shocked. But she's poor and we're eating!
In the downstairs kitchen, Daisy is talking about Cora maybe helping her evicted father-in-law because Downton writers can't help but beat their storylines like decomposing horses.
Upstairs, Mrs. Hughes awkwardly is like Uhh, what do you want? Cora apologizes for putting her on the spot and then does just that. Mrs. Hughes is forced to explain why she doesn't want an hors d'oeuvres kind of reception in front of rich people who love hors d'oeuvres. It's awkward.
Hughes' list of demands:
- a proper breakfast
- tables and chairs
- a guest list that includes poor people
- the schoolhouse as the venue
- for things to turn into a "hooley" (I had to look this up; it's Irish slang for a rager)
It is decided Hughes will have her hooley, after all. Carson and Mrs. Hughes leave the room and Mary turns on her mom.
Mary: Why did we have to listen to that?!
Cora: I want you to stop bullying them and let them do it their way.
Mary: You think I'm a bully? I think you're a snob!
Isobel: How do you make that out?
[Carson walks back in just in time to hear:]
Mary: She didn't want the bother of a servants' wedding in the hall!
Everyone hides their faces in tiny tea cups.
On the other side of town, the Countess wants some hot chocolate before being tucked in. Instead of going off to make it, Denker attempts to gossip about Spratt's personal life. The Countess is like I don't know and I don't care! Now go make me a warm delicious beverage and don't you dare spit in it!
Back at Downton, Carson and Robert celebrate Thomas maybe getting another job. Okay, I know Thomas is sneaky and always up to something, but he's been pretty chill in recent years. Leave him alone!
In London, Edith runs into an acquaintance and says various glass-half-empty type things. Ugh, I have a magazine. Ugh, I miss my daught...uhhh, I mean, the random child who stays with my family for no reason. He is charmed for some reason and asks her out. Her super sexy reply: "Well, it will have to be near the office."
Somewhere in Yorkshire, Thomas is at his job interview. The place is Grey Gardens without the cats, raccoons and patriotic dancing. The only furniture is a table with a dead bear on it, two couches piled high with old newspapers and a fireplace grate draped with underwear. Employer dude is not all there because his wife died and his two sons never came back from the war, but he's kind of a poet:
"Do you know what I shall always remember? The women going up to bed at the end of the evening. Their faces lit by the flame from the candle. Yes, diamonds twinkling as they climbed up into the darkness."
After the moving recitation, T.S. Eliot starts randomly freaking out about Thomas maybe being a Republican. If we lived in an alternate universe where I had paid attention in my high school History class, this is where I would place this scene into context by dropping some early 20th century political knowledge. Instead, all you're going to get is this: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ .
At Edith's newspaper, Sexist Editor is going off again. Emboldened by her happy hour date, Edith fires him in a polite, British way. A random feminist secretary watches it all go down from the hallway and reacts like this:
Now they have to put together the magazine themselves in just nine hours! But -- oh no! -- Edith forgot all about her date! She runs to the bar and explains the situation. He's down to help. I wouldn't be surprised if they're married by the end of the episode.
Downstairs back at Downton, Molesley helps Daisy study and then spills about the Drews being run out of town because of that unsavory kidnapping business. Daisy is stoked. Her father-in-law can take their house! Let's hope that happens so we can put this dull storyline to bed.
At the Countess' pad, the police chief stops by. Apparently, Spratt's nephew broke out of jail and is now on the run. So I guess we're not going to get a sequel to the Dowager/Russian dude fling, like I hoped. Denker lies to the cop so that she can blackmail Spratt until the end of time.
Back at the London office, Edith learns how to collage and they meet their deadline. The magazine is saved! Baby's first 9 hour work day! Edith and her date take turns complimenting each other and then discuss how sad a future without servants will be.
Back at Downton, Mrs. Patmore shows Anna and Daisy a catalogue dress she secretly ordered for Mrs. Hughes. It's their turn to say:
Early the next morning, Baxter helps Cora get ready for the day, while Robert snores a few feet away (you know, 'cause it isn't awkward enough dressing a grown woman).
In the hallway, Cora runs into Daisy, who immediately goes into her Thank you m'lady for helping my father-in-law even though you haven't actually said you would routine. Mrs. Hughes eventually breaks it up and Cora holds herself back from screaming, Keep the riffraff away from me, goddamnit!!
In Mary's room, Anna tells her about the ugly effing catalogue dress. Mary offers to let Mrs. Hughes borrow an evening coat of her mother's (revenge for Cora calling Mary a bully earlier?). This should be good.
Downstairs, Mrs. Hughes complains about her lame dress some more.
In Doctor Clarkson's office, all the old people argue about the hospital merger again because we haven't already had 52 scenes of them doing that. Cousin Isobel, not content to just gloat for all eternity, insults Clarkson by suggesting that he's just sour because he won't be important once other doctors show up. The Countess does the verbal equivalent of striking Isobel in the face with her walking stick: "Did you drink at luncheon?" Pow!
In the servants' rec room, cute Andy still isn't gay.
Upstairs, Edith's editorial victory is celebrated by Robert and tolerated by Mary. Cora comes in to complain about her "ghastly" afternoon and runs upstairs in a fit before Mary can tell her about that whole business about a poor person wearing her clothes.
Mrs. Patmore and Anna are in the middle of helping Mrs. Hughes try on a long fur coat when Cora bursts in and goes berserk. Hell hath no fury like a rich person who hasn't had their afternoon nap.
Anna later tells Mary that her mom treated them like thieves and unnecessarily gave Mrs. Hughes yet another wedding-related thing to complain about.
Mary storms into her parents' room to ask WTF. Robert tries to use the fact that Cora had to watch old people fight about boring stuff that afternoon as an excuse for her behavior. Mary keeps it real: "Does that excuse insulting a woman who has served us faithfully for many years, who simply wanted something nice to be married in?" Mary does have a heart!
Downstairs, Thomas underlines the real trauma of the whole ugly incident: "Typical though, isn't it? 30 years of service, one wrong move, and snap, you're out on your ear." Carson, ever the aristocracy apologist, is like Nu uh!
And because she can apparently only hold one single thought in her head at a time, Daisy randomly brings up her father-in-law again. You were barely married to that dude! No one cares!!!
Downstairs, Mrs. Hughes and Patmore roll their eyes about Cora, which is Cora's cue to come in and apologize and hand over a free coat (Mrs. Hughes' poverty-stricken, oily fingers already touched it so it was ruined anyway).
The next morning, the girl servants excitedly wake up Mrs. Hughes who has her hair in a super long braid (what other secrets does Mrs. Hughes keep from us?!).
Elsewhere, Molesley presents Carson with white rose boutonnières for the wedding. They're meant to be worn by the ushers. Carson is like But I don't have any friends, except Lady Mary. Oh, F it, take one and give one to cute Andy and none for Thomas.
Cut to the church where we're finally getting this wedding over with. Part of Carson's vows are "With my body, I thee worship." Yeah, I bet you will the second your anti-hors d'oeuvre hooley reception ends, you minx!
At the reception, Mr. and Mrs. Carson receive their guests and pretend not to hate Cora.
A few paces away, Spratt is minding his business, when Denker comes up and whispers threats in his ear. Can I order one cane to the face please?
Elsewhere, Anna's happiness is darkened by her rain cloud of a husband. "You would tell me if you'd fallen in love with someone else?" Where did that even come from? So insecure and creepy!
Molesley points out Daisy to the schoolmaster and talks up what a good student she's become.
Schoolmaster: Have you missed your vocation?
Molesely: I've missed everything.
Daisy and her father-in-law go up to Cora and thank her so much for something she has no intention of actually doing. It's super awkward.
Carson gives a toast and the (for the most part) happy couple kiss, but everyone looks away and starts freaking out over something else because Tom Branson and Sybbie are back from their passage through hell a.k.a. Boston!!! Thunder: stolen.
The Carsons are Miss Colombia, Tom and Sybbie are Miss Philippines.
Branson explains how Downton rules and America drools. Everyone gets excited about his comeback because there haven't been any hot boys at the Abbey in a long while.
Sybbie, George and Marigold group hug. Everyone goes awwww!
After every episode, it's only right to reward characters who've impressed and diss the ones that haven't, so here goes:
PIECE OF COAL: Cora: Sharing is caring, especially when you own 5000 coats. Check yourself.
HONORABLE MENTION: Branson: Thanks for bringing your hot face back to Downton.
BRONZE: T.S. Eliot Interviewer Dude: His hard circumstances transformed him into a wordsmith butterfly. I hope Edith's buddy Virginia Woolf invites him to be part of her Bloomsbury clique so he doesn't have to spend the rest of his days sitting on that ratty couch watching his underwear dry.
SILVER: Thomas: Hang in there, buddy. If there is justice in this world, cute Andy is just severely closeted and you will eventually get yours. <3
GOLD: Dowager Countess: Everything she says is gold, everything she touches is dusty and every accessory she owns also can serve as a weapon in a pinch. She has it all figured out (well, except what weekends are).
Until next week!
Previous Season 6 recaps:
'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 2: All That She Wants Is Another Baby