In town, Mary comes out of a shop with a mystery package. More contraceptives? She and Branson notice a newspaper with the headline "English Marquess Dies in Tangier." Please don't let it be Edith's boyfriend's employer who spends all his time painting local Moroccan boys. He's supposed to come back and be Thomas' sugar daddy!
Ugh, it's him.
In the servants' rec room, Anna and Bates are laughing about Mrs. Patmore's predicament. They've replaced sulking and sobbing in the shoe polish room with reveling in others' misery. At least it's not us this time!
In another corner of the room, Terrible Self-Esteem #1 and Terrible Self Esteem #2 (cheat code: Molesley and Baxter) have anxiety about not being good enough, per usual.
Over at Isobel's place, Lord Merton stops by to discuss his son's wedding invite. Why is Isobel bickering with her ex when she could be on Spring Break with the Dowager in France? Merton brings up how nice his son's fiance is and Isobel takes a page out of Mariah's shade book and says:
In Carson's office, Mrs. Hughes tells him about Mrs. Patmore's Airbnb brothel. He forbids her to say a word about it to anyone else. Meanwhile, upstairs, Anna is cracking up while spilling all the details to Mary. Why is she so gleefully mean all of a sudden? Is her pregnancy a Rosemary's Baby type of thing? Bates is pretty devilish.
Mary changes the subject to another person's misfortune they can mock: Edith's boyfriend's possible unemployment due to the death of Thomas' almost sugar daddy. "My romance might not be the only one to come to an untimely end," Mary gloats, stopping herself just short of capping her sentence off with a hearty MUAHAHA!
Downstairs, Mrs. Patmore is still reeling over people having extramarital sex on her duvet cover. But there's no time to deal with her emotions right now cause the schoolteacher drops in to tell Daisy that she passed her tests. Every time a dragged out storyline comes to a close on this show, an angel gets its wings.
Upstairs, the family is sitting around tsk tsk-ing about Edith's misfortune. Did the three bubble bubble toil and trouble witches from Macbeth curse her or something? they wonder. But don't cry for Edith, Argentina, 'cause turns out her boyfriend is the heir, which means Edith will now outrank all these losers!
Everyone is super excited because this news will allow them to be even bigger snobs. Well, almost everyone. Mary's near-stroke reaction:
After six seasons of mockery, Edith a.k.a Jan Brady finally gets the last laugh. Good for her!
Downstairs, Molesley tries to be brave and ask for time off so he can become a teacher. Because Thomas hasn't been in this episode yet, Carson sets his bullying crosshairs on Molesley's sweaty little face and says, "And what makes you think you'll be any good? There are plenty of little boys who want to be famous cricketers. It's not enough to make them champions." Ughhh, next time Carson's on a walk, can lightning strike a tree branch, causing it to break and become a giant splinter in his torso?
Later that night, Robert and Cora talk about Edith's lucky twist of fate. "For poor old Edith who couldn't make her dolls do what she wanted, it is rather wonderful!" If I ever re-watch this entire series (I won't), I would like to make a drinking game out of it. Every time someone refers to Edith as "poor old Edith," take a body shot. Warning: don't try this at home unless you want to puke blood on your dinner companions from a burst liver.
The next day, Mary and Branson walk around the property, pretending to work. It isn't long before Branson repeats his desperate plea for Mary to marry what's his face: But he’s really cute and likes cars like me and I really need another dude in the family that isn’t Edith’s boring to an Olympic degree boyfriend so just marry him, damn it, marry him for me!!!! But he adds one thing he didn't mention last week: Oh and yeah, Marigold is totally Edith's real daughter.
Back at the house, Robert and Rosamund fight like only siblings can over whether Edith should tell her boyfriend about Marigold or not:
Robert: You haven't got children. You don't understand these things.
Rosamund: No. I haven't had children, as you so kindly remind me, but I hope I do have a sense of decency.
Robert: How long are you planning to stay? Your cold must have cleared by now.
Edith and her newly fancy boyfriend interrupt the squabbling. When talking about his dead cousin/employer, he uses coded language that makes me believe the Marquess really could have been perfect for Thomas: "He was...so delicate." That's 1925 talk for:
Cora makes Edith's man cry and he says, "Goodness. I'm afraid you've made me blub." First off, I'm stealing this line for my real life. And second, sure, he's boring, but there's something winningly naive about him.
Downstairs, Thomas, who I was about to issue an Amber Alert for, turns up. A potential employer has written to tell him Yeah, no thanks. He internally screams.
Upstairs in the dining room, Edith's rich boy toy uses more coded language to describe his cousin. He apparently enjoyed watching the young fishermen do their thing. Mmhm. And he was "lyrical" and "an artist."
Mary interrupts to indecorously grill him about his intentions with Edith. He looks over at Edith and smiles in a way that suggests chocolate dipped strawberries and the kind of extracurricular activities that go on at Mrs. Patmore's Airbnb.
Meanwhile, inside Edith's head, this jam is cranked up at high volume:
Meanwhile, over at Patmore's brothel, a paparazzo is stalking her and Mrs. Hughes. And all the Airbnb-ers have cancelled their bookings. A mid-coitus Turkish death, a kidnapping, an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, several murders, and this is the big scandal of the century?
At the school, the schoolmaster shows up in a graduation cap (zero chill) and introduces Molesley to the kids who will surely eat him alive within the hour. Poor little Piglet doesn't stand a chance.
On a park bench, Edith and Moneybags talk about how everything has changed for him. He reveals himself to be quite the momma's boy, which is the perfect time for Edith to be like Sooooo....speaking of mommas, I am one! Surprise! Instead, she goes: Oh. Uh. Erm. Ummm. We should go inside. DO. NOT. MESS. THIS. UP. EDITH!
Later on, the whole family (even the never-there children) are hanging out in the living room when Mary's ex pops in unannounced (Branson's handiwork). Mary is not amused.
Robert: I'm afraid you've missed tea.
Henry (I remembered his name!): Oh, don't worry about that.
Mary: I won't.
All right, Mary, it's fine if you don't want to marry the guy, but his best friend just burned to death so chill out.
Over at the school, the kids are destroying the last shred of Molesley's dignity right on schedule.
Back at Downton, Mary roasts Branson for butting into her business (valid; that layabout definitely needs a hobby). And then it's Henry's turn:
Mary: Living in my family house? Working to preserve my estate and being outranked by your own stepson?
Henry doesn't even feel that kick in the pants and instead gets kind of sinister, almost stroking Mary's face with a creepy finger, while threatening: "If you're trying to get rid of me, I'm going to make this as hard and as horrible as I can!" This is all so romantic, isn't it?
Downstairs, everyone asks Molesley about his first day at school. His response:
Back upstairs, after a brief time out, Mary and Henry are fighting on the stairs again:
Henry: It just seems rather small to me. Not to marry a man for lack of money is the same as marrying him because of it.
Mary: Out of my way! You push in here, into my home, uninvited, in order to call me a grubby, little gold digger? You've got a nerve!
Henry: Mary! ......... Mary!
Mary runs upstairs and does that dramatic thing where you close a door and then despair lean all over it.
Downstairs, Bates tells Anna, "She's a bit of a bully, your Lady Mary." Takes one to know one, creep.
In an upstairs hallway, money is acting as an aphrodisiac.
Moneybags: Won't you send me to bed happy?
Edith: Sounds like an indecent proposal.
Steam it up, Edith! Actually, before you do, rip the bandaid off and tell him about Marigold. Come on! You're almost there! That's right!
And she misses...
At breakfast the following day, Mary comes down to find that Henry has gone back to London. She instantly gets cranky like a kid whose least favorite toy is missing. Everyone rolls their eyes.
Moneybags is about to announce the engagement to Branson and Mary, but Edith is like Nooooooooo cause she knows that, if Mary is unhappy, she will do whatever she can to make Edith even unhappier. Which is exactly what happens when Mary spills the Marigold secret. Moneybags leaves immediately and Branson thinks Maybe Boston wasn't so bad?
In a different room, the older rich people have some fun talking about Patmore's brothel and then decide to help out by being photographed visiting the infamous den of sin. B plot? More like zzzzz-plot.
In the Downton kitchen, Carson is very upset about Mrs. Patmore dragging the precious Crawleys into the mud by accepting their brothel visit. And it wouldn't be a scene with Carson without some sexist BS falling out of his mouth:
Mrs. Hughes: It's their choice, Mr Carson. They're all grown people, surely?
Carson: Well, I've always known that women were ruthless, but I didn't think I'd find the proof in my own wife!
My feelings can be best expressed in the form of this Xena gif:
Outside, Moneybags and Edith are assessing the damage. It's not looking good. He doesn't want to marry someone he doesn't trust so, with a "Good luck" and a tip of the hat, he leaves her standing there, all alone on the precipice of the altar, like always. Mary must pay.
Inside, Branson lets it riiiiiiiip on Mary, saying everything anyone has ever wanted to say to and about her:
"Don't play the innocent with me. Don't lie! Not to me! You can't stop ruining things! For Edith, for yourself! You'd pull in the sky if you could! Anything to make you feel less frightened and alone! You ruined Edith's life today! How many lives are you going to wreck just to smother your misery? You're a coward, Mary. Like all bullies, you're a coward!"
In the servants' hallways, Baxter and Anna are being chummy because they were born straight and don't have too much to worry about. Saddled with tons of gay shame, Thomas sadly walks past them to his room. I'm 99% sure he's about to kill himself. Julian Fellowes, don't you dare.
Upstairs, it's Edith's turn to unload a lifetime of real talk on Mary:
"Just shut up! Who do you think you're talking to? Mama? Your maid? I know you! I know you to be a nasty, jealous, scheming bitch! You're a bitch! Not content with ruining your own life, you're determined to ruin mine! Don't demean yourself by trying to justify your venom. Just go. And you're wrong as you so often are. Henry's perfect for you. You're just too stupid and stuck up to see it! Still at least he's got away from you. Which is something to give thanks for, I suppose."
Meanwhile, unaware of all the juiciness going on all over the house, the old rich people tell Mrs. Patmore they want to help her. Carson can't help being a monster:
Carson: I wouldn't like to see this family dragged into a tawdry, local brouhaha.
Mrs. Patmore: [crying] He means me.
Robert shuts him down. A small victory, but I'm still waiting on a falling branch or a boa constrictor or an exploding ulcer or a dash of arsenic or a very heavy anvil to take care of this problem.
On a boring walk, Baxter tries to pep Molesley up for his next match against the ruthless 8-year-olds. That's when Molesley mentions something weird Thomas said about hoping he would make more of his life than Thomas ever did with his. Nooooooo. Baxter runs back to the house, while Molesley keeps derping along.
Back at the house, Baxter races around, looking for Thomas. Andy says he went for a bath. Ughhhhhh. They break down the door and, sure enough, Thomas is in a bathtub full of his own blood.
In the kitchen, Daisy decides to...oh, who cares! Thomas might be dead! :-(((
Meanwhile, Edith is driving through town and is pretty open to hitting pedestrians, if she has to. Thankfully, she spots Branson before she mows anyone down. They talk about everything but the fact that Thomas might be dead!
Back at Downton, Thomas is not dead (hallelujah!). Mrs. Hughes, Andy and Baxter work together to get him out of the tub. Baxter says, "I hate to think he was so unhappy." Translation: I hate to think that all the homophobia and intolerance administered by you two and Mr. Carson and, like, everyone else made him want to die. Good work, a-holes.
At the school, Daisy eavesdrops on Molesley's lecture, which is basically a Bernie Sanders stump speech. Nut shell: Billionaires aren't better than us. Learning should be accessible to all and should be free and stuff. Marxist Daisy melts into this:
Across town, the family is about to lay into Mary for destroying Edith's life, but Carson interrupts with the Thomas news. Mary doesn't even flinch. Instead, she slowly gets up, walks over to pour some tea and then super casually hurls a grenade into Robert's face: "Do you still think dismissing Barrow was a useful saving, Papa?" Ka-blooey! She is hateful, but she's not wrong.
Downstairs, everyone is pretty much over that whole Thomas-tried-to-take-his-own-life-because-of-us thing. Instead, they talk about how awesome Molesley is.
In Mary's room, she is feeling like maybe she overdid it a smidge today. Her blind rage is replaced by tail-between-the-legs contrition. Until it switches back to rage again when Anna brings up Henry. Old habits die hard.
In London, Edith and her lady editor bestie briefly process the breakup and then get back to business because Edith has been there done that in the sob-over-a-breakup-and-almost-accidentally-burn-the-house-down department. They have a meeting with Cassandra Jones, their mysterious advice columnist. They vow to say "bananas" if they think the real person behind the pseudonym shows up.
Back at Downton, Thomas looks a lot better, as he reads in bed. Mary brings in his only friend in the world, baby George, who gifts him an orange. *chokes back sob*
Mary and Thomas bond over how they both have Tourette's and always blurt out the worst, most hateful things, leaving devastation and misery in their wakes. Things could be worse, guys. Y'all could be married to Carson. Or Bates. Or Robert.
Downstairs, Carson makes Mrs. Patmore feel bad about her brothel again and then brings up how shameful having a "suicidal footman in the attic" is. I've run out of clever ways to say that I want this garbage human being dead so I'll just say: It's high time Carson took a bath. (Too soon?)
Out front, the Dowager is back from France at Branson's request. Before she can get to work at fixing everything that's gone wrong in her absence, she takes some time to complain about Spratt not being home when she got back. Maybe he went to get some more stamps for his collection or a new magnifying glass. Let him live!
Downstairs, Carson is still mumbling cruel things about Mrs. Patmore bringing scandal upon the house. GET OVER IT. Then this Stockholm Syndrome-y exchange happens. I think it's meant to come off as cute and charming, but I just mourn what Mrs. Hughes could've done with her life, if she hadn't saddled herself with this sexist piece of work:
Mrs. Hughes: You're such an old curmudgeon.
Carson: Don't say you're going off me.
Mrs. Hughes: No, because you're my curmudgeon and that makes all the difference.
Yeah, good luck with that.
Upstairs, the Dowager and Mary have a heart-to-heart. They agree that being snobby is fun, but that sometimes you have to let it go to make way for some love in your life, even if the guy you like is kinda sorta poor.
Outside, Robert and Carson take turns quoting Steve Urkel's famed refrain Did I do thaaaaat? over Thomas' suicide attempt. They vow to be less homophobic in the future, or at least for a few days.
Back at the London office, Edith finds out the Cassandra Jones is.....[drumroll please].....Spratt?! LOL. Edith and her editor bestie look at each other and say:
In a graveyard, Mary tells Matthew's grave that she's getting married.The grave takes it pretty well.
Later, Mary invites Henry over and they get back together. And he's not messing around; he brought a marriage license and wants to get hitched that weekend. Mary is like Sure, let's stop beating this will-they-won't-they dead horse and gallop off into the sunset on a living one.
Fast forward to the wedding day and everyone is getting ready to head to the church. And in comes Edith. Surprise! Being the butt of every joke and being bullied and abandoned at the altar and spurned by burn victim cousins etc. has apparently made Edith super wise and way existential. She spreads these bits of truth in a let's-agree-to-disagree talk with Mary:
- "I assumed you would be fairly sorry, unless you're actually insane."
- "Because you were unhappy, you wanted me to be unhappy, too. Now you're happy again. You'll be nicer...for a while."
- "In the end, you're my sister and one day, only we will remember Sybil...or Mama or Papa or Matthew or Michael or Granny or Carson or any of the others who have peopled our youth...until, at last, our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike."
Edith is really bringing it home for all the fans who rooted for her over the last six years. Brava!
Later, Mary gets married without a hitch (because she didn't ask to borrow one of her mom's coats).
After the ceremony, Robert, the Dowager and Cora tie the episode up with a neat little bow and tease the next and final piece in the puzzle:
Robert: It seems all our ships are coming into port.
Cora: And Edith?
Robert: Of all my children, Edith has given me the most surprises.
The Dowager: Yes, surprises of the most mixed variety.
Robert: A surprise is a surprise, Mama, and I'm sure we haven't seen the last one yet.
Oooo! The Christmas special is going to be lit!
But we get one last scene first: Edith creepily watching her kid play in a graveyard. Oh, Downton Abbey, you're so weird and terrible and great. I will miss you.
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: Are you surprised?
HONORABLE MENTION: Spratt: I love a good side hustle. Good for him!
BRONZE: Thomas: He's a survivor, he's not gon' give up, he's not gon' stop, he's gon' work harder!
SILVER: The Dowager: She only needed to be in this episode for 10 minutes to snag second place. Her pep talk about being a snob, but not being stupid was wonderful. So glad the Dowager is immortal and will never ever die.
GOLD: Edith: The speeches! The cursing! The not giving a hoot about losing a really fancy title and a husband and a happy life! The work ethic! The cool "bananas" bit! Hands down, the gold medalist of the penultimate episode.
Until next week!
Previous Season 6 recaps:
'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 7 Recap: Off to the Races
'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 6 Recap: I Get So Lonely
'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 5 Recap: Sunday Bloody Sunday
'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