Previously on Downton Abbey: Edith’s editor was grossly unprofessional, but she was too busy creating needless drama and screwing over the Drewe family to really do anything about it; Mary was made the estate agent, because of course she was; Branson moved to Boston and seemed to like it there; and Hughes and Carson were clashing over the wedding plans.
Patmore tries to run some wedding menu ideas past Hughes, who’s basically like, make whatever, IDGAF. She admits that this wedding she’s been saddled with is not to her taste even the teensiest bit. She had this idea of a big wedding with tons of food, which sounds pretty great to me (and was, in fact, one of the goals of my own wedding) but now that she’s being forced to have this thing in the Great Hall at Downton, she has to posh it up with a bunch of finger food. This sucks. Everything’s being done the way Carson wants it. Hughes is so checked out of this now she can’t even be bothered to dress up, she’s just wearing an ordinary brown dress. Patmore suggests they send for something from a catalogue. Hughes pulls her proposed dress out of the wardrobe, and damn, that thing’s drab as hell.
Violet comes by to lean on Robert to come down on her side in this hospital nonsense. Robert says that Cora thinks keeping the hospital independent is a bad idea and Violet thinks Cora is confused. Of course, because she doesn’t agree with you. Violet’s apparently become completely chicken, because she refuses to stick around and actually see Cora. Edith breezes through at one point and lets us know she’s off to London.
Cora’s down in the kitchen, going over the week’s menus with Patmore (which isn’t how things were done—Patmore would go to Cora, upstairs). Patmore tells Cora that Hughes is pretty down about the wedding.
Denker finds Spratt at work at his stamp collection. She’s a bit creepily in his personal space and dismisses his hobby as ‘silly’ even though what’s silly is that she couldn’t figure out why a British commemorative stamp would have a lion on it. I mean, come on, it’s kind of an important heraldic beast in Britain and someone who’s worked with aristocrats her whole adult life would know that. A doorbell rings and Spratt goes to answer it. Denker follows him and he quickly shoos whoever it was away and lies poorly that there was nobody there.
Anna helps Mary dress for dinner and Mary reads aloud a letter from Branson where he waxes all nostalgic about being at Downton, which apparently made him cry, even though just last week he was writing letters that seemed quite happy. Anna mentions Hughes’s sad, sad dress and Mary offers to lend her a brooch or something. Mary then asks Anna if she’s given any more thought to the doctor’s advice, even though that’s totally none of her business, but is basically just a setup for Anna to say that she might be pregnant again. Man, those two waste no time, do they? Mary gets very uncharacteristically excited and says that they’ll go dashing up to London as soon as the first trimester’s over. Anna confesses she doesn’t want to get her hopes up until she knows it’ll be ok.
Thomas is still looking for a new job, telling the others Carson’s hoping he’ll just resign so they won’t have to fire him. He’s hoping to stay local and Bates kind of teases him about having feelings for the Abbey. Thomas tightly asks if that would be so hard to believe. Well, yeah, kinda, Thomas, since you’ve shown some pretty callous disregard for the Crawleys in the past. Remember how he reacted to Cora’s miscarriage? But then, he’s all over the place, this guy, so yeah, ok, he’s fallen in love with the place, we’ll go with it.
Isobel’s been invited to dinner and thinks it’s because Cora wants to cement their alliance. Cora laughs that off, then asks Carson to bring Hughes to meet with her and Mary in the drawing room. Robert scrambles after them, not wanting to miss the show.
Belowstairs, Molesley offers to take Daisy through the exam papers. Carson comes down and snaps at him to get the coffee upstairs.
Hughes is brought to the drawing room and Cora gently says that she’s come to understand that Hughes doesn’t want to be married from Downton. This was pretty poorly handled, Cora. You really should have had a chat with Hughes one-on-one, instead of completely putting her on the spot and blindsiding her like this.
Mary is aghast and asks Hughes why she wouldn’t want to be married from the Abbey. Carson pipes up that this is a great honour. Cora quiets them both and asks Hughes what she really wants. She screws up her courage and tells them, and Mary, of course, acts the bitch and dismisses what the bride wants because surely nobody has a sit-down reception anymore! God. Who cares if it’s fashionable, Mary? Also, this is not your wedding at all, and you don’t get a say here. Hughes also wants music and dancing and her own damn guest list. Mary breaks in and asks Hughes if Carson doesn’t deserve his wedding in the house he’s served in for so long? Jesus, Mary, listen to what you’re saying. Shouldn’t he want to get married in the house where he’s a servant? Does anyone want to get married in the place they work? No, not even people who work at actual wedding venues usually want to get married there! Also, doesn’t Hughes deserve the wedding she wants? Why is it all about Carson? Hughes reminds them that this is supposed to be about her and Carson, not about the grand house and family. Cora warmly agrees. Robert kindly asks where they plan to hold this shindig and Hughes mentions the schoolhouse. Carson’s fine with that so it’s settled. He and Hughes are dismissed.
No sooner are they gone than Mary rounds on her mother, who tells her that she wants her daughter to stop bullying them. Mary then accuses her mother of being a snob, which,
Come on, Mary. First of all, find a mirror, will you, you arrogant, entitled brat? Second of all, when has Cora ever been a snob? Never. Never. She is the least snobbish person in this whole damn family. And you level that against her, but not Robert, who definitely didn’t want this wedding in the great hall and suggested the servants’ hall instead? Again, I feel like Mary’s not actually all that bright. She doesn’t even seem to know what basic words mean.
Mary’s reasoning is that Cora didn’t want the servants having a wedding in the hall. Oh, whatever. That was so clearly not the case at all, and you know it.
Spratt’s acting all strange, sneaking around late at night, and of course Denker catches him. She goes to Violet and tells her that Spratt seems awfully preoccupied, and does Violet know what the deal is? Why would she tell you even if she did know, Denker? Violet couldn’t possibly care less what Spratt’s up to, she just wants her hot chocolate and warm bed, thanks. I’m totally with her on that.
As Robert’s heading up to bed, Carson tells him that Thomas is applying for a job at some estate near York. Robert vaguely knows it by reputation. He then grimaces a little and says he has indigestion. He’s got stomach cancer or something, doesn’t he? They’re pushing this ‘indigestion’ too much for it to just be that. Up he goes, and Mary comes in to say that she hopes Carson wasn’t upset by the business in the drawing room. He was not, and furthermore he tells Mary he’s pretty sure her mother was on the level. Mary complains about him being robbed of his ‘just deserts’, because apparently it doesn’t matter in the least to her what Hughes might want.
Thomas goes for his job interview and is met at the door by the owner himself, Graceby.
Edith’s walking through London when she’s waylaid by Reggie Pelham, the agent she met at Sinderby’s. What luck he just so happened to be in this part of London as she was passing by! They make a little small talk and she mentions both Marigold and the magazine. He gushes about how cool it is that she’s a businesswoman. He asks her out for a drink that evening and she agrees.
Thomas is taken through the house, which is huge but has clearly seen better days, by Graceby, who tells Thomas that both his sons died in the war. He asks if Thomas served and Thomas shows him the wounded hand. Graceby says he really needs someone who’s served his king and country. As they continue the tour, Graceby gets rather beautifully and sadly nostalgic about the good old days, and I’m briefly reminded that there are times that this show can be good. How about that? Also, seeing this sad, lonely old man clinging to his pride memories amidst the depressing, peeling, crumbling ruin of a once-grand mansion is a much more poignant and subtle way of illustrating the shifts happening in this particular world than everyone running around squealing ‘Change!’ all the time. It also drives the whole thing home much better than Robert toying with doing away with the under-butler, even as Bates tucks him in under a satin quilt, or the neighbour from a couple of weeks ago pouting about having to retreat to a ‘poky’ seven-bedroom mansion in London.
Graceby takes Thomas into a sitting room, which appears to be the only place Graceby’s really living. Graceby only has a part-time housekeeper, which means Thomas would be even more of a one-man-band than he would have been in the last place he interviewed. Graceby’s still clearly living in some fantasyland of the glory days and Thomas decides he’s not quite ready for this level of crazy and gets out of there.
Edith goes over the work the editor’s done while the man frets and tells her not to touch anything and I just start to wonder if the guy’s drunk or OCD or something, because he’s just starting to seem strange. Edith tells him that none of this is up to snuff, and furthermore, some of it isn’t even done yet and they’re supposed to go to press immediately. Woah, so this guy is not just unprofessional, he’s also incompetent? Great hiring there, Edith! She finally finds some balls lying around and fires the guy, to the delight of the secretary just outside his office. The secretary goes into the office and congratulates Edith, who’s prepared to get this whole thing done by herself. Does this magazine not have any other staff members?
Edith suddenly remembers she promised to meet Reggie for a drink and dashes off to tell him she’d love to join him, but she can’t because she has to get the magazine to the printer’s by 4 am. He grabs his coat and offers to go back to the office with her and make coffee and sandwiches and whatever else she needs. Wow, he’s really working overtime here to impress her, isn’t he? Since it’s an all-hands situation, Edith agrees.
Molesley helps Daisy with her studies and then mentions that the Drewes are leaving the farm. Daisy gets all excited, figuring Cora’s going to hand it right to Mason. Molesley warns her this isn’t a done deal and Daisy calms down a tiny bit.
The back door bell rings at the dower house. It’s Sgt Willis, who’s come by to ask Spratt a few questions about his nephew, Wally, who has apparently recently escaped from prison. Someone who looks like this Wally was seen in the area, so they want to know if Spratt’s seen him. He denies it (poorly). Willis asks Denker if she has any reason to think someone’s been hanging around and Denker lies (much better) that she does not. Once Willis goes she comments that Spratt has a very interesting family and asks if this nephew got away safely after Spratt put him up in the potting shed. I’ll appreciate this if it ends up being some sort of blackmail thing she holds over him. Now it just feels like another there-and-gone side plot, like Mary’s blackmailer.
Reggie gives Edith some editorial suggestions while serving up coffee and running proofs back and forth. Edith frantically lays out text and images. It all gets done and is sent off just in the nick of time. She and Reggie flop onto the sofa in relief and she thanks him for all his help. She says it’s nice to know that she can do it, but she’s not actually going to continue being the editor, because that would make too much sense. Instead, she’s just going to retread her old mistake and put someone in charge ‘as a caretaker.’ Sigh. Edith, every time you take a step forward, you go back at least three. You disappoint me terribly. Remember when she used to write articles that challenged people and was all politically engaged? Now she’s just a pile of goop muttering ‘Marigold’ all the time, which is kind of offensive because it suggests women become sort of useless once they become mothers. Well, once they become engaged mothers, that is. If you’re a fairly disengaged parent like Mary you can still be useful.
She tells Reggie that she knows now that she needs a purpose. Didn’t she know that before? Isn’t that why she started writing for this magazine in the first place? Reggie says she’s inspiring. This guy is seriously about one step away from actually kissing her feet. She plans to stay in town long enough to settle in the new editor, and then she’ll head back in time for the wedding that Saturday. Uh, how fast are you going to advertise, recruit, and train a new editor, Edith?
Patmore gets a delivery. It’s a dress for Hughes that Patmore ordered as a surprise. She opens it with Daisy and Anna and it’s kind of terrible. Not as terrible as the brown frock, but pretty bad.
Cora’s heading out early for a tour of the hospital in York. She runs into Daisy on the way out and Daisy thanks her for arranging things for Molseley to take over Yew Tree Farm. Before Cora can say anything about that, Hughes hustles Daisy on her way.
Anna tells Mary about the Hughes dress issue and Mary suggests they borrow one of her mother’s embroidered evening coats, figuring Cora won’t mind.
Carson meets with Hughes downstairs and, rather cutely nervous, asks if everything’s going to plan. She reassures him it is but admits she wishes she’d made more of an effort with her clothes. He reassures her she’ll look great. ‘Well, I’ll look tidy,’ she says. Heh. They make arrangements to avoid each other that night.
Cora has returned from York and gathered Clarkson, Isobel, Merton, and Violet at the Downton hospital for a meeting. Violet is aghast that Cora ‘went behind their backs to the enemy.’ Excuse me? The enemy? Oh, for heaven’s sake, this is so ridiculous. This woman’s become such a petty tyrant, and this is so obviously about control and not what’s best for the actual villagers. Cora says she likes what she saw and Clarkson really condescendingly tells her that he’s disappointed. Eff off, Clarkson. I’ve been disappointed with you since we first met. Isobel correctly accuses Clarkson of opposing this move purely so he can remain powerful and Violet accuses her of being drunk. No, Violet, what she is is frustrated with you and Clarkson and your selfish nonsense. Merton tries to call a truce here and Cora asks everyone if they can try and act like adults in the future.
Carson asks Thomas how his interview went and snarls, ‘pity,’ when he hears it didn’t go terribly well. Dick. Thomas complains to Baxter about everyone turning Andy against him and whines that he can’t fix it now because the damage has already been done. Totally a reason not to try, Thomas!
Anna catches up with Mrs Hughes and tells her Mary has a surprise for her.
Robert proudly greets Edith as ‘the famous editor’, which is awfully sweet. Edith shows him the mock-ups of the magazine while Mary rolls her eyes and is just generally unpleasant, as always. Cora pokes her head in and says her afternoon sucked and now she’s going upstairs to rest.
She arrives in her bedroom to find Patmore and Anna fitting one of her coats on Hughes. She asks what the hell is going on and is really pissed off about this all being worked out behind her back. Everyone scurries.
That evening, Anna tells Mary what happened. Mary goes to take care of it and, instead of explaining what was going on, accuses her mother of being an ungenerous bitch. Well played, Mary.
Belowstairs, Carson notes that Thomas seems a little down. Yeah, maybe because you keep making him think he’s going to be fired any second, you asshole. Thomas sighs that he can’t seem to see the future. ‘But then, I suppose, none of us can,’ he says. Is that supposed to be deep? Yes, Thomas, you’re right that nobody can see the future. That’s kind of the nature of the beast. Being able to see the future makes you magical.
Hughes has a sad cup of tea with Patmore, pouting that she feels like a child who got smacked. Just before she goes up to bed, Cora comes in and apologises for getting upset earlier. She gives her the coat as well. For keeps, even. There’s your snobby mother, Mary.
Hughes goes to bed, Carson packs a suitcase, and Baxter fits the coat to Hughes’s measurements.
The next day, buttonholes are delivered for Carson while Patmore, Baxter, and Anna go to dress the bride. Carson’s pacing back and forth, practicing his vows when Molesley brings in the buttonholes, which, strangely, confuse Carson, like he’s never been exposed to this ‘wedding’ stuff before. It hadn’t even occurred to him to assign ushers. He swiftly ropes in Molesley and Andy, and when Thomas swings by and asks if he can be an usher too, Carson’s like, fine, whatever. Molesley fits Carson’s buttonhole.
Carson and Hughes get married with all the Crawleys and servants present. They head back down the aisle as a bagpiper plays outside and two completely random little girls step forward and hand Hughes her bouquet. Outside, some of the villagers throw flower petals.
Isobel catches Clarkson in the church and says she feels badly about how she spoke the previous day. She puts it down to being exasperated by Violet. Clarkson admits she might have been right after all. Violet throws herself into the discussion and says she hopes he’s not reconsidering his position. Oh, but he is. She refuses to accept that. And so this bullshit goes on.
Reception. That is one fabulous looking spread, Mrs H. Oh, sorry: Mrs Carson. The family offer their congratulations to the newlyweds and Mary apologises for having made things awkward about the reception. Wow, that was nice of her. No, really, it’s so unusual of her to actually realise when she’s been wrong, it’s rather refreshing.
Off to the side, Denker tells Spratt she can keep a secret, if she wants to.
Bates notes that Anna seems rather cheery. She just tells him she loves weddings.
Molesley talks Daisy up to the schoolmaster, who wonders if Molesley missed his calling. Molesley sadly says he ‘missed everything, but Daisy doesn’t have to.’ Wow, that was sad.
Carson proposes a toast to his new bride, and it’s all very sweet. As everyone raises their glasses, Tom and Sybbie come wandering in and join in, to everyone’s shock. He offers his congratulations to the Carsons and the family ask how long he’s staying.
Tom: Have you been to America? That place is nuts! Guns everywhere, but they’ve outlawed booze! Also, it turns out one gets used to having every whim catered to by paid employees of an enormous estate. Also, there aren’t as many movies in the pipeline as I expected after The Imitation Game, so I was available for filming after all! Hooray!
Yes, Tom and Sybbie are back for good, and the Crawleys couldn’t be happier. Also, congratulations, Crawleys, you just managed to make this wedding all about you after all. Robert cutely scoops up Sybbie and asks her to give ‘old donc’ a kiss. Hee! Little George runs over and gives Sybbie a hug, and then Sybbie hugs Marigold, which is perhaps the cutest thing on this show ever. And everyone enjoys the warm glow of Crawley family happiness.