Mrs. Patmore and Daisy decide to go on an outing to visit the farm (probably to point and laugh as Marigold's kidnapper, her husband and all their newly homeless kids move out). Andy pops out of nowhere to invite himself along. For once, Thomas isn't there to be brutally rebuffed.
Upstairs, Edith gets a letter from her newspaper deadline crush that makes her giggle as loud as she has to in order to get her dad's attention. Before Robert can get into the birds and the bees talk with her, the Dowager waltzes in with a new scheme to stop the hospital merger. She plans to use a Crimea war connection (sometimes I forget she's 2 billion years old) to get the Minister of Health to pay a visit and listen to all her reasons why the family should retain control. 1. Because. 2. Um...yeah, that's about it.
Robert doesn't think she can pull it off, to which the Dowager uses my new favorite insult: "Don't be jejune!"
Back in the kitchen, Mrs. Hughes wants to have dinner with Mr. Carson in their new cottage instead of with everyone else. Guess she's taken a liking to being naked around the hubster. Mrs. Patmore gives her a hard time and Daisy says she's just jealous. Mrs. Patmore is like Uh, duh! I'm a 50-year-old virgin!
In the dining room, Robert tells the fam that Mary's new husband who I should probably call by his real name at some point wants her to join him as he looks at a car. Branson invites himself because he's funemployed and then asks if Edith wants to come too. She declines because she's come to enjoy being the outsider martyr. Then...
Act MMXVII of Mary and Edith Almost Tear Each Other's Hair Out But Don't Because They're British:
Robert: Edith has a date.
Edith: No, I don't.
Mary: Of course not.
Edith: What do you mean, "Of course not"?
So much for that giggle-inducing letter.
Downstairs, sad puppy-eyed Baxter does not giggle while reading a letter from the Sergeant about her testimony. Bates comes in to mansplain that she should think about what she wants to say before getting on the stand. Thanks for the valuable intel, Sherlock.
Thomas comes in to hit on Andy for the zillionth time. Andy literally says "Thanks, but no thanks" and walks off. I CAN'T HANDLE ANY MORE OF THESE SCENES, JULIAN FELLOWES. JUST HAVE ANDY STICK A BUTCHER KNIFE IN THOMAS' HEART AND BE DONE WITH IT.
Okay, where were we? Ah, yes. The old people are upstairs scheming about how they can get the most out of the Health Minister's visit. Cousin Isobel's self-righteousness has officially become a supporting character.
Downstairs in the shoe polish room where everything always happens, Bates and Anna grill Andy about why he's so rude to Thomas. Andy says he's gotten to know something about Thomas, something he doesn't want to say "with a lady present." Bates and Anna are like LOLOL We've known he was gay since before you were born, bucko! Andy goes on to say No homo a thousand times in a row and Bates and Anna give each other a knowing look that says Does the closeted gay protest too much?
In the Carson/Hughes sex cottage, Mrs. Hughes serves Carson dinner like a good early 20th century housewife. He complains about the meat not being cooked to his liking, the plate being cold and the knife not being sharp enough like a typical early 20th century husband. Mrs. Hughes hates her life and regrets everything.
The next day, everyone makes Edith feel bad about her date.
Downstairs, Mrs. Hughes tells Patmore and Daisy all about how Carson is an entitled, sexist picky-eater who probably is one of those people who claim cilantro tastes like soap.
The Sergeant comes in because it's been more than an hour since he's bugged everyone. Baxter leaves with him as if she's walking to her own death. Molesley fumbles along because the Downton writers are trying to turn them into Bates and Anna version 2.0. Return to sender. The original version is more than enough.
Somewhere on the grounds, Branson and Mary talk about her new boy toy. "I don't mean to sound snobbish, but I won't marry down." A totally reasonable thing to say to the former pauper who married into your sister's wealth. Someone forgot to take their chill pill this morning.
In the village, Denker takes a break from blackmailing Spratt to intimidate Dr. Clarkson for switching hospital merger teams. Is it just me or does Denker's wig deserve its own SAG Award?
In a courtroom somewhere, Baxter tells Molesley she doesn't have to testify after all because criminal dude changed his plea. So the whole point of this anti-climactic storyline was for us to witness Molesley follow Baxter around and help her put on her coat so that when they get together in the end we won't be like That was undeserved!
At the farm, Daisy and co. are all unpacking her father-in-law's things and no one thinks about the fact that the only reason this place is vacant is because of a child abduction.
Mary and Branson stop by to tell Daisy's father-in-law that he's old and how they're concerned he won't be able to take care of the pigs. Andy randomly lies about how he and Mr. Mason have made an arrangement for Andy's young limbs to counterbalance Mr. Mason's feeble ones. Everyone's like Ok cool.
In London, Edith is on her date. They talk about how his boss is not married and likes to spend all his time in Tangier painting portraits of young men. Ummm, I think we found a boyfriend for Thomas! You had your chance, Andy!
Edith makes a sexy (for Edith) proposition: "Come to my flat for a drink, I'll show it to you." Her date replies: "What a racy plan." He seems like he would be a really good texter and emoji user. I hope he doesn't have any plans to hang out in Germany anytime soon. #RIPMarigoldsDad
In the middle of nowhere, Branson and Mary watch her new dude race cars. Branson gives her a hard time for not enjoying the speed and spectacle. Uh, did he forget that this is triggering because her last husband died while driving too fast?
In London, Edith interviews a woman who was born in 1892 like herself. They commiserate over being Victorian babies who grew up into modern women. New bestie alert (since it doesn't seem like Virginia Woolf is going to let Edith join the Bloomsbury clique)!
Back at the farm, Mr. Mason wants Daisy to come live with him. Seems kind of creepy, but she'll probably do it. Mr. Mason looks at Daisy and then Andy in a way that makes me worry the Downton writers are going to put these two together. I should start doing eye exercises now, just in case, so that I can eye roll as hard as I want when the time comes.
Back at Downton, Cora and Robert are baby sitting. Baby Sybbie says something problematic about "red Indians." Kids say the darnedest things, don't they? Robert's side pain is back and he has to sit down. Will the Grim Reaper's scythe be more sharpened than Carson's dinner knife?
At the Dowager's house, she receives a tattle-tale letter from Dr. Clarkson about Denker, who is fired on the spot. Spratt's lucky day. Her going away party is going to be so boozy.
In a pub (!), Mary throws a few back. Her new boy brings up Evelyn Napier (former suitor -- until Mary told him he was boring -- and bestie of the Turk who died in Mary's bed). They make plans to have dinner with him soon, which won't be awkward at all.
In the servants' hall, Andy and Thomas have the most boring conversation about pigs and books about pigs. Oscar Wilde would be so disappointed. All the words in the world and they use these.
In Edith's single lady flat, she and her date drink fancy cocktails. Her forehead is wearing jewelry. She explains that she's over Downton and dawdling in Mary's wake and wants to be a hipster in London forevermore.
Her date is a good listener. He also knows how to pick the right cafes for dinner so Edith green-lights a make out session before they head out. Unlike Mary, Edith tells her date that she doesn't care about his whole I-don't-have-money-and-work-for-a-living thing. Mazel tov, you crazy 1892 babies.
In the Downton kitchen, Daisy is apparently jealous that Mr. Mason is making new friends because she hasn't been crazy enough this season.
Carson walks in on Daisy, Patmore and Mrs. Hughes chatting and asks Patmore: "I wonder if you might go through the cooking of [dinner] with Mrs Hughes. It's been a while since she's played with her patty pans, and she's got some catching-up to do."
Mrs. Hughes, this is why annulments are a thing. Time to drop this sexist dud and go back to your blissful celibacy immediately!
Back at the Dowager's, Denker is complaining about being fired. Spratt wins me over for the first time with this response: "How did it happen? Were you drunk?" Boom! But he's not done!
Denker: Am I to blame if I have a very passionate nature?
Spratt: Any more of that talk and I won't be able to sleep.
Go in, Spratt, go in!
In Cora and Robert's room, they both take turns complaining about how annoying this Health Minister dinner is going to be. Then Robert complains about his side pain again, but refuses to skip the meal. Is he going to croak at the dinner table? Is that the only thing that will shut up this dumb hospital debate once and for all? If so, so be it.
Downstairs, Thomas hears a crash and investigates. Andy threw a book because he's dyslexic. So his big secret isn't that he's gay, but that he can't read??? Seriously?!?
Thomas promises to help him learn how to read and Andy apologizes for being super homophobic these past few months. Then, Thomas wins an award for Most Melancholic Smile Ever to Grace Lips. And I win an award for Best Continuation of a Recap Despite Wanting to Never Watch Downton Again.
Back at the Dowager's, Denker has decided to (shocker!) blackmail Spratt into convincing the Dowager to unfire her.
Elsewhere, Bates and Anna gossip about Mary's love life. Then, Bates says he wishes everyone was as happy as he is. So he means he wishes everyone would skulk in the shadows, grumble sinister things and continuously get away with murder?
Spratt got Denker her job back so we can put this whole blackmailing/bullying thing to bed, right? Not so much:
Spratt: Oh, and Miss Denker, I don't want to hear another mention of my unfortunate nephew.
Denker: Oh, well, that rather depends.
Spratt: On what?
Denker: On whether or not I need to mention him again.
This show is exhausting.
In the rich people hangout room, the Dowager arrives just in time to witness Robert have more side pain. The contractions are getting closer and closer together! Sybil's ghost's revenge for messing up her delivery and killing her in the process?
The Dowager has Carson change the seat assignments for dinner. Robert warns that she's switched to "a very junior seat." The Dowager's reply is in French -- "Il faut reculer pour mieux sauter" -- but fear not; I have a French minor (*cough*and access to Google Translate*cough*) and can tell you that it means: "You must step back to jump further." Let the games begin!
The Health Minister arrives and everyone is trying to grab him. He totally dyes his mustache.
Downstairs, Daisy criticizes the Minister's lack of support for unions and Carson congratulates him for it. Can someone explain to me why the Downton fandom likes Carson so much? His opinions are terrible and he's not funny or charming or fun.
Upstairs, all the old people fight over the hospital and the Health Minister is turned way off. Robert puts an end to the fighting by grabbing his side, standing up AND SPEWING BLOOD ALL OVER THE TABLE AND EVERYONE AND COLLAPSING AND VOMITING ON THE CARPET.
Okay, I thought he was going to die, but damn! Color me shocked. Also color me red 'cause I think some of his spewed blood went through the screen into my gaping face.
Once I write Downton off as a predictable bore, something like this happens! It reminds me of when Mad Men featured a lawn mower amputation:
Compare and contrast:
So I feel kind of bad because I think all the mean things I've written about Robert (albeit valid complaints) may have contributed to him getting an ulcer and that ulcer blowing up all over Cora. Did I do thaaat? (in Urkel voice).
Anyway, Robert is not doing well. He keeps puking up blood. He chokes out a proclamation of love for Cora while everyone screams.
Downstairs, the servants are freaking out too. Carson tells the maids to get coats for Cora and Mary. "Don't forget Lady Edith." Even in times of crisis, the writers can't help but crap all over poor Jan Brady.
Upstairs, the Health Minister tells Cora: Ummm, I think I'm gonna go... Then Cora and the Dowager argue over the hospital some more because this seems like a good time for that.
The Dowager brings up the secret of Marigold and Mary overhears and realizes Wait a second...Edith's 9 month vacation and the random mute baby that hangs out with my son all day just might have something to do with each other! By George, I think she's got it! (Took her long enough).
The medics arrive and cart dazed, confused and blood-soaked Robert off. Everyone follows...except for Branson who is straight up chilling and doesn't seem to be bothered one bit as he leisurely gossips with the Health Minister. Looks like I'm not the only one who holds a grudge against Robert for killing Sybil.
Some time later, the servants are all hanging out downstairs waiting for news. Andy is not reading.
Carson gets a phone call and delivers the news: Robert had surgery and is going to be fine. Yay, I guess.
Upstairs, Mary and Edith get back from the hospital. They're finally alone and no one is around to stop them from finally having a duel once and for all, but enough blood has been shed this evening. Plus, Mary's too weirded out by Edith being someone's mom.
After Edith goes to bed, Branson rolls up wearing a casual robe because he's been kicking back with zero worries since Robert spewed his insides all over the mansion. Mary tells him that they should take over all control from her dad so he doesn't worry and get another ulcer. Branson rightfully proclaims this The Age of Queen Mary.
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: Carson: Make your own F-ing dinner.
HONORABLE MENTION: Mary: She was very chill about hanging out at a dirty pub. Also, she wore a tie for much of this episode.
BRONZE: Thomas: So sorry Andy's dyslexic instead of gay. Classy move teaching him how to read anyway.
SILVER: Cora: She handled having blood puked into her face pretty well.
GOLD: Robert's Exploding Ulcer: It did the impossible: revived this lackluster final season and almost killed one of my least faves. Good work, blood-filled combustible!
Until next week!
Previous Season 6 recaps:
'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 4 Recap: I Will Remember You
‘Downton Abbey’ Season 6 Episode 3 Recap: Chapel of Love
'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 2: All That She Wants Is Another Baby