In this episode of Downton Abbey, Carson and Mrs. Hughes run into some roadblocks on the way down the aisle, Mary wins first prize for someone else’s pig, Edith’s daughter Marigold is kidnapped and there’s much more arguing about the hospital.
Despite the big kidnapping set piece, this is a much slower episode than the premiere. Downton Abbey has so many characters and juggles so many storylines that sometimes each individual story can only inch forward per episode.
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Thankfully, unlike the jail melodramas of previous seasons, most of the storylines being set up for the final season seem somewhat interesting. I can’t pretend that I care all that much about whether the hospital gets bought out, but I do love watching Isobel and Violet go head-to-head.
And finally free from the many terrible plotlines they’ve been given over the years, Anna almost smiles in this episode, which is probably the happiest she’s been since 1912.
Perhaps I’m feeling rosy about Downton Abbey because I know this is the end and I will honestly miss these characters. The actors have done such a great job embodying these people that no matter how repetitive or melodramatic or inane the plots have gotten, I’ve always wanted to stick around to spend more time with the people that populate Downton. Most of that is a testament to the performances, which have remained singularly excellent throughout the run of the show.
Maybe I’m just feeling generous because the end is nigh, but I’ve really been enjoying Downton‘s sixth season so far. It probably helps that we’re spending so much time on Carson and Mrs. Hughes’ wedding, instead of trying to track a bunch of boring suitors for Mary.
Also, it’s impossible to dislike any episode in which Mary and Anna reminisce, fondly, about the time they carried a dead body down the hall. I can’t even begin to describe how incredible this exchange is. Mary and Anna are just sitting around laughing about the time Mary sex-murdered poor Mr. Pamuk, and Anna had to help her move the body.
“Oh, the good ol’ days!” they giggle. If I’ve learned one thing from Downton Abbey, it’s that moving dead bodies really is the best way to bond with your servants.
Mary is loving the fact that she has actual responsibilities. “Imagine, having a job other than getting up in the morning and wearing clothes! It’s a whole new world!”
As the agent in charge of Downton, it’s Mary’s job to see to the pig fair. What’s great is that the pigs are obviously being raised by the Drewe family, not Mary, and yet Mary is the one that gets the first prize ribbon and all the congratulations. If I was the Drewes, I’d be in a kidnapping mood as well. The Crawley family has really ruined their lives on so many different levels.
Speaking of Mary and the Drewes, she unknowingly puts her foot in it when she takes little Marigold over to the Drewes’ farm to see the pigs. Once there, Mrs. Drewe looks at Marigold the way a dog looks at a juicy piece of steak. Obviously, she is still very much not over the whole Marigold situation, causing Cora to wonder if it wouldn’t be better for the Drewe family to move away.
Later, at the pig judging, Mrs. Drewe sees her perfect moment when no one is paying attention to Marigold and snatches her from the crowd. Everyone goes into panic mode except Mary, who just seems vaguely annoyed that this kidnapping situation is upstaging her pig-based victory.
I love how the show never really walks back Mary’s selfish, cold tendencies, especially as they relate to Edith. Mary seems more annoyed not to have a ride home than she is concerned that someone just walked off with her sister’s kid. “Ugh, now we have to walk home? Gross.”
At the farm, Mr. Drewe talks his wife down and realizes that Robert was right about them moving away. It’s way harsh that after doing a favor for Edith that emotionally ruined his wife and probably his marriage, now he’s the one that has to move away and find a new farm. This is what you get for trying to do a solid for Edith.
Meanwhile, there’s still a bunch of jockeying for position between Violet and Isobel when it comes to the issue of the hospital. Isobel thinks it will be great to have updated machines and new ways of doing things that will help save lives. Violet thinks anything changing is the worst thing in the world and opposes it on principle.
Also, she doesn’t want to give up local control of the hospital. Cora sides with Isobel, while Dr. Clarkson sides with Violet. This isn’t a terribly interesting storyline yet, but I love watching Isobel and Violet snip at each other, so I’m willing to see how this plays out.
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It’s all about the wedding of the century in this episode, aka the upcoming nuptials between Carson and Mrs. Hughes. Now that they’ve gotten the awkward sex talk out of the way, it’s time to plan the wedding. This seems like it should be a fun and exciting time, but nothing at Downton is ever simple.
First, Robert offers to throw their reception in the servants’ quarters, which is hilariously crappy for two people who have worked for his family forever and basically raised his kids. “Enjoy your poor person’s wedding downstairs!”
Mary swoops in and offers Carson the great hall because she loves Carson as much as she is physically capable of loving anyone. This seems like a great offer and Carson for one is totally down, as Lady Mary is his second favorite person in the whole world. The only problem is Mrs. Hughes, who understandably wants to escape Downton for at least her wedding day and not have to feel like a servant on her very special day.
This causes a little friction between the power couple, as Carson is still very much on Team Mary, and Mrs. Hughes wants to get married somewhere where they can make the reception more personalized and less stuffy. She says that because Carson will most likely get his way more often than not in their upcoming marriage, she should at least get the final say about the wedding. Carson’s magnificent eyebrows move together in a surly frown.
When not arguing about his upcoming wedding, Carson is really enjoying toying with Thomas’ emotions. Thomas knows that he’s next on the chopping block when it comes time for layoffs because of all his scheming and general bad behavior over the years.
He goes out for another job interview and learns that now there’s no such thing as a valet or footman or under-butler. He would have to be a jack of all trades, doing a little bit of everything, including being a chauffeur. Thomas comes back horrified and downtrodden, and still has to deal with Carson’s jibes and the new guy totally ignoring him. I don’t say this often, but poor Thomas.
Meanwhile, Anna finally opens up to Mary about her fertility problems, and Mary suggests that maybe she’s having a problem conceiving because she’s been under constant stress for, like, 10 years. “Nah, I don’t think it’s all the body carrying and incarcerations. That doesn’t make sense,” Anna says sadly.
When Anna tells Mary about her many miscarriages, Mary shares that she once had similar fertility problems and went to a doctor who helped. So they go up to London to see the doctor, who tells Anna that she has an incompetent cervix and there’s an operation he can do when she’s pregnant again that might be able to help.
Anna doesn’t tell Mr. Bates about the trip to the doctor’s office, but she is all smiles when she gets home. How much do you want to bet that something goes terribly, horribly wrong for Anna? Showrunner Julian Fellowes has a misery obsession when it comes to Anna Bates.
Elsewhere Around Downton Abbey…
— Cora thinks she might have solved the “Mr. Mason needs a farm” situation, since the Drewes will soon be moving out.
— Daisy is still studying for her exams, a subplot from last season that I had honestly completely forgotten about.
— Edith is still arguing with the editor of her paper and she’s still considering a more permanent move to London. In this episode, she decides to keep the super swanky bachelor pad instead of renting it out.
What did you think of the episode? Were you shocked that Marigold was kidnapped? Do you feel bad for the Drewes? And where should Carson and Mrs. Hughes have their reception? Sound off in the comments!
Downton Abbey airs Sundays at 9pm on PBS.
(Image courtesy of PBS)