How are we already at episode seven of just nine episodes of the very last season of Downton!? It’s gone by so quickly, though not quite with the speed and finesse of one Henry Talbot: racecar driver on the fast track to Mary’s heart.
Henry and his BFF Charlie Rogers are getting ready for the Big Race. Everything is lubed up. Oh, and the cars are looking pretty good, too.
They’ve invited all the Crawleys (but especially Mary) to said Big Race, figuring that if they make a family outing of it, Mary will absolutely have to say yes! Despite the fact that she probably has some very legitimate Post Traumatic Stress regarding fast driving—since. that’s. how. her. husband. perished.
Downstairs, Mrs. Patmore has become something of a property magnate after all. She’s gone and turned her cottage into proper Bed and Breakfast. Mrs. Hughes-Carson feels like she’s the one running a B&B, what with all Carson’s demands!
“Doesn’t he appreciate everything you do?” chirps Daisy, who was not married to her husband long enough to know what a stretch that question is.
“Does any man?” replies Mrs. Hughes.
(Sheesh, this was a sucky episode to air on Valentine’s Day, now, wasn’t it?)
Village Professor Man drops by to inform Daisy that she has a date for her exams!
“OMG!” she exclaims!
Mrs. Hughes tells her not to take the Lord’s name in vain, to which Daisy responds, “I hope it’s not in vain!” Such cheek!
At the Sour Dower House, Isobel has dropped by to tell Violet she’s been invited to the wedding of Lord Merton’s asshole son.
Poor Isobel, she knows it’s a trap she just can’t quite figure out how. Violet thinks it’s probably the work of Miss I-am-not-a-Crook-shank. Having spent a few moments too long lingering on Isobel’s drama, Violet’s announces she’s going away—predominantly FROM CORA, but also to the south of France on holiday.
Back at Downton, Carson is putting the heat on Barrow to get a new job. It’s not even as though he’s saying, “So Barrow, I’ve heard you’re looking for a new job. How’s that going?” iIt’s quite literally in-your-face, “Are you employed elsewhere yet because I literally cannot wait for you to leave.”
Mrs. Hughes-Carson catches the tail end of the terse exchange and seems to be at a loss as to why Carson’s been so crotchety to everyone lately. Maybe it’s because she keeps making him sleep on the couch.
She tries to comfort Thomas, but … it’s kind of futile, really. The thing is, for better or worse, Thomas Barrow feels he’s put down roots at Downton. Despite the way he’s being treated, he actually seems very reluctant to leave. Maybe he’s not been scouring the job columns quite so closely after all …
Violet has found her way to Lord Merton’s and properly lays into Miss Crookshank, who appears to be shipping Isobel and Lord Merton super hard. Violet immediately finds this highly suspicious. She suspects, and eventually pulls out of the girl, that Crookshank and Lord Merton’s son only want to bring Isobel into the picture so that she can marry Lord Merton and take care of him in his old age.
Miss Crookshank, it seems, would prefer to reign without him cramping her style. For this Violet eloquently calls her a piece of shit and then heads off for France. Bon voyage, biach!
Robert’s out of bed, finally, and apparently drinking again, too. I guess it’s rude to decline a glass of port, despite your perforated ulcer!
Cora doesn’t think Henry Talbot is good enough for Mary. He’d’ve been good enough for Sybil, sure—she had a thing for car drivers—but not the Blessed Lady Mary.
In Mary’s bedroom/ladylair, Anna actually feels quite the same but wagers that perhaps opposites attract. Mary hopes so but wonders if love can last when forged along that path.
Mrs. Patmore’s got a plan for dinner at The Carsons’ while the family’s in London: She titters on with Mrs. Hughes, and they are legitimately scheming.
Edith’s in London checking in on her new editor at magazine. Some woman named “Cassandra Jones” seems to think an advice column would be good for the magazine.
Edith’s willing to give an “agony column” a go. After all, they’re all the rage in the States! Edith invites her chic editor to the race, because why not! Everyone else even vaguely affiliated with the Crawleys is going!
But first, they all dine at Rosamund’s instead of the London House, which they didn’t bother to open up. It seems no one is these days—all of them getting sold left and right! Oh woe! How hard it must be to have to sell one of your three large estate homes!
Henry Talbot shows up at Rosamund’s and wants to ~join the ladies~ after dinner, by which he means Mary. He wants to propose to her—wants in with the family—but Mary’s gonna make him work for it. Atta girl.
Aaaaand it’s Race Day! Mary is wearing glorious, tiny sunglasses, but she’s quite upset by this whole turn of events. Turning of cars. Possible turning over of cars. She’s so upset that she’s constipated.
Tom and Edith’s editor are introduced at the track and … oddly hit it off—um, I don’t hate it.
Before he runs off to his car, Henry kisses a very tense Mary, and then she makes this face, ‘cause she liked it but isn’t gonna give him the satisfaction of knowing that just yet.
The rest of the Crawleys stand at the sidelines trying to figure out how to behave like middle class people who would go to car-racing events. “I can’t yell, ‘Go Henry!’ They might all be called Henry!” Robert observes.
Back in the village, the servants have some time off. Mrs. Patmore has brought lunch for Andy, Molesley, Mr. Mason, and Daisy. Barrow brings a basket she’s forgotten. Daisy shows one of her papers to Andy, and he tries to read it aloud for the group, but he can’t. Barrow makes a noble attempt to cover for him, but everyone quickly figures out that Andy’s illiterate. The Village Professor insists that Barrow not keep teaching him, but instead, he shall be charged with the task. Barrow is visibly upset. He rather liked helping, in spite of himself.
With the family gone, Carson and Mrs. Hughes meet in the library and have a sit-down on the settee. Good God! They’re sitting on the furniture! They’ve worked in this house for 30 years and have never so much as looked sideways at that couch! Now they’re sitting on it!
Before they have a chance to dig through the cushions for coinage, Thomas catches them out, looking rather pleased to have embarrassed Carson, who was probably thinking he’d like to scoot a lil’ closer to Hughsie on that loveseat.
James Bond-y music plays as the men drive their cars dangerously fast around the track … How many days have they been going around now? Then—firey disaster strikes! A car crash! Oh sweet baby Jesus, Mary’s worst nightmare has come true! She runs into the fray; Anna runs after her—much to Bates’ dismay.
But it’s not Henry; it’s his best friend, Charlie, which is sad but Mary is SO GLAD IT WASN’T HENRY. She looks to have suffered a mild heart attack. Henry’s beside himself with grief and nearly gets himself killed trying to pull his BFF from the flames.
If Mary didn’t know before that she loves Talbot, she sure as hell knows now.
Mr. Molesley has passed his teaching exam! He’s been offered a job as a teacher! He’s gonna cry! Oh my God, his dreams! They’re coming true. You can do anything if you just believe, kids.
“There are Oxford and Cambridge graduates who know far less than you do,” says Village Professor. All this time, bumbling Mr. Molesley was Einstein.
At the Carsons’ cottage, it appears Mrs. Hughes-Carson has “hurt her hand.” Therefore, she can’t cook dinner, meaning that Mr. Carson will have to! :O
Not to worry, of course: she assures him that she will talk him through it. Because it’s not like it’s hard—right?
Rosamund is hosting a very somber dinner party. Robert keeps saying, “Bloody, bloody awful,” and I’m not sure if he’s talking about Charlie’s death or his own near-death. Then he tells Rosamund to shut up in her own house, at her own table, because he’s a grumpy shit.
Cora sends him to bed with no chocolate biscuit.
Henry calls for Mary. She’s quite dazed and confused. He’s got a stiff drink. He’s worried about the state of their relationship. Charlie’s death has made him realize that he must seize the day! (Read: Seize the Mary!) But the day has also made Mary realize that she can’t stand to be with Henry, worrying he’ll die in a car crash every other day!
Tom is bummed because he ships it so hard.
The struggle is REAL for Carson; he is destroying the entire house trying to cook, and Mrs. Hughes-Carson is lovin’ every damn minute of it. And when he presents the sorry supper?
Well, instead of poking fun, Mrs. Hughes-Carson reacts kindly, finding something nice to say even about his lame apple crumble—oh! But Carson’s fallen asleep at the table! What an oaf.
And he still has to do the dishes.
MEANWHILE IN LONDON, BERTIE CASUALLY PROPOSES TO EDITH!
He asks if she’s offended, and she’s like, um, no? Why would I be offended?
(Is it just me, or does this sound *exactly* like the dialogue exchange in the last proposal we had: Carson & Hughes? Don’t believe me just listen. )
Rather, is Bertie offended that Edith wants to bring Marigold? You know, the ward that she’s ever-so fond of? He’s like: “ … Okay, it’s a little weird, but … sure. If it makes you happy.”
Oh Bertie, you sweet, sweet cinnamon roll.
And at Mrs. Patmore’s Hothouse & Patisserie, she’s serving breakfast for her first guests, which seems to go swimmingly, but when she heads off to the house … there’s a mysterious man in the bushes! Paparazzi? A hitman? Intrigue abounds!
Isobel has come to meet the Crawleys upon their return to Downton to let them know Violet has flown the coop! She needs … less Cora in her life.
But Spratt’s downstairs, and he’s brought Robert a present. Violet sends it with love. TO HIM. NOT CORA.
It’s … a damn puppy. Robert is literally all of us whenever we see a dog.
At last, a little something sweet: Carson catches Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore giggling as she un-bandages her miraculously healed hand and asks what’s so funny.
“Just life, Mr. Carson,” Mrs. Hughes beams. “Just life.”
Minor but possibly relevant plot points:
- Denker makes a point to rub her trip with Violet to the south of France in Spratt’s face. He’s bitter. Probably all the stamps he’s been licking. Is he always licking stamps in these scenes?
- Baxter still can’t decide if she ought to go see Coyle or not. Maybe seeing him would be closure. Who ever gets closure on this show?
- Anna’s still pregnant—yay! And she’s got two episodes to have this baby.
Abby Norman is an author and journalist in New England. Her work has been featured on Medium, The Huffington Post, and Alternet and recommended byTime Magazine and NPR. Her first book, FLARE, a chronicle of chronic illness, is forthcoming from Nation Books/Perseus. She is represented by Tisse Takagi. Follow her on Twitter @notabbynormal.
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