I stayed awake for this episode, mostly because Cora did a lot more talking than usual and Edith finally fired her editor (either that or he quit — I couldn’t quite tell) and as a result she, too, did a lot more talking. It perked me up, to see both of those ladies expressing an opinion. Usually, they spend each episode like well-dressed turtles: inert, lying in one place, until at unexpected moments a face emerges. The eyes become animated and finally, slowly, there is some movement. A walk across a room, say, or a gander at some pigs at a fat stock show.
But don’t get too excited, folks, as next week Cora could be sitting on a couch again, dully staring into the middle distance. And Edith could go right back to being her old self, arms dangling at her sides, watching helplessly as Mary steals Mr. LandAgent right from under her nose and Marigold goes to live with Mrs. Pigman.
And Mary might just do this, since she’s been lacking a man to emasculate since the season started (though Mr. LandAgent might not prove to be much of a challenge in this regard).
In this episode, the big news at Downton Abbey is twofold: a Wedding and a Comeback.
Missus. ‘ughes and Mister Carson tied the knot in what was a lovely ceremony. A lot of this and a little of that preceded the wedding, with Mrs. Hughes refusing to say Yes to a Dress™, forcing Mrs. Patmore and the female Bates and Baxter to come up with a solution involving mail order and embroidery.
After being accused of stealing Lady G’s third best coat and second best dressing gown, all was resolved (with a nice apology from Lady G for being a jerk) and Mrs. Hughes showed up for her wedding looking very fetching. Mr. Carson, as ever, looked like a starched sponge, which works for him. He made it clear he didn’t need any groomsmen or ushers or some such nonsense, removing all the ferns and folderol from the boutonnieres before handing them over to Molesley to disperse among the male servants. Thomas, his once-spectacular pride now shattered, begs for a boutonniere and Carson practically hurls it at him. Now take this flower and get out! Carson shouts. Or wants to shout. No one illustrates what a dirty word tolerance can be like Carson. It is a fate worse than death, to be tolerated by Carson. Which is why Thomas is desperately looking for another job.
Thomas had Job Interview #2 with a sad old feller, looking for a manservant to do a whole bunch of stuff at his decaying estate. It’s not the hard work attached to such a job that intimidates Thomas, it’s the fact that there would be no other servants there to stare at and make uncomfortable, no one there to beat at cards and skittles and scheming. There would be no Baxter, sitting across the table in the Servants’ Hall, giving him pitying looks. It would just be Thomas and Sir Lost-a-lot, wandering around that vast house, alone together.
Daisy Messes Up Again and Other Updates
Daisy is still hard at work, learning her sums. She has been working toward the Great Math Exam now for nearly two years. Molesley sits at her elbow, all his hopes and dreams wrapped up in Daisy achieving an A++ on that glorious day when she finally, finally takes her exam. Baxter sits at the other end of the servant’s table, languishing unnoticed. She doesn’t mind too much, as while Molesley eagerly awaits the news of Daisy’s educational achievements, Baxter eagerly awaits another chance to show Thomas how very much she cares for him. Why? is the question on all of our minds. Especially since Thomas tried his very hardest (which means that he failed) to ruin her life not so long ago in one of his strange, go-nowhere schemes. The Sainted Baxter doesn’t mind. The more irritated Thomas grows with her, the more she will spend her free moments staring at him, her face screwed up with concern, her eyes welling with tears of compassion.
Bates ‘n’ Bates are together again, and better than ever. The female Bates has a baby Bates in the oven, and it’s just a few weeks now until Mary — who loves Missus Bates like the sister she never had, and so much more than the one she does have — takes her to London for a secret surgery that is supposed to aid in having the baby, but won’t. At which point Missus Bates will come back to Downton, downtrodden and probably hemorrhaging. But she still won’t tell Mister Bates what’s bothering her even as she’s bleeding out, because she doesn’t want to worry him. As part of their marriage vows, the Bateses both solemnly swore that they would keep secrets from each other, ’til death do they part. Which has an ominous ring to it come to think of it, now that Missus Bateseses secret surgery is on the horizon.
Finally, li’l Daisy Snackcakes continues to make things worse for Farmer Mason, who probably rues the day back in 1918 when his son William participated in a sham wedding with this li’l gal. Daisy is determined to find another farm for her father-in-law, even if she has to humiliate and embarrass everyone to do it. You can take over the Drew’s farm! She shrieks at the wedding reception for Carson-Hughes, while Lady G and Farmer Mason panic.
It is always best to spread rumors and false information at full volume and in public. It is the Downton way.
The grand finale of the show comes when Tom Branson shows up at the wedding reception, lugging Sybbie and diverting attention from Daisy’s pronouncement. I’m back! haha! What a surprise, right? By the way, congratulations Mr. Carson! He says, while everyone expresses shock. You couldn’t even send a telegram, Tom? They seem to be thinking. While Mary, the one who received Tom’s letter expressing his loneliness but decided to wait until “after the wedding” to answer the letter (because she is so busy with the preparations, telling Carson what to do), now regrets her decision. Tom grins at the lot of them and tells everyone that he now realizes that a) America doesn’t necessarily love Irish socialist-revolutionaries, and b) that he belongs at Downton. Mary is secretly relieved that Tom will most likely be running the estate again, now that he is back. Though she plans to hang on to that ribbon she earned last week at the fat stock show. It’s hers, and she earned it, and nobody can take that away from her.
The three little cousins all embrace, awkwardly, and I caught a glimpse of the future: twenty years from now there will be a show called Downton Abbey: the Next Generation. The three kids will be all grown up and viewers will have the opportunity to watch George be cruel to Marigold while Sybil watches from the sidelines in sympathy.
Lord G’s gentlemanly indigestion becomes a full-blown heart attack. Edith installs Mr. LandAgent as her full-time magazine editor and part-time lover. Tom and Mary mud wrestle for job as estate agent. Mary wins, but graciously says that Tom can take the job as she never really wanted it anyway. Dr. Sensible finally convinces Isobel that she deserves to stop making other people unhappy and Isobel considers marrying him, maybe. Lord Merton turns his attention to Edith but finds that, shockingly, she is already taken. Tom wanders around the estate and wonders if he did the right thing in coming back to Downton, after all. Granny spends all her time at her beloved hospital, sitting at her son’s side while he recovers, and Danker the Oldest Ladies Maid in the World takes this opportunity to steal Spratt’s stamp collection. Meanwhile Cora rolls up her sleeves and helps the Pigman family move out of the farmhouse, due to some sort of misunderstanding with Daisy, who nobody has the heart to set straight about the matter, at least not before her big math exam.