Lady Edith is going to London again to deal with her insubordinate editor. This is precisely what happened last week. Granny asks her if she plans to stay with her aunt, but she is planning to stay in her own flat! Wow, actual progress. I think part of my frustration with this season so far is that most of the storylines have very, very low stakes, with very, very obvious conclusions, but they drag out week after week. Does anyone doubt that Edith belongs in London? That the hospital should be modernized? But, alas, I am getting off track. Granny seems to think it might not be proper for Edith to stay alone in London, but hasn’t her daughter Rosamund been living alone in London for years? It hardly seems scandalous, but maybe it is too much to expect consistency. It is a bad sign when I have to keep reminding myself to just enjoy the pretty costumes and forget about the plot and characters.
While in London, Edith runs into the nice agent, Bertie, from the shooting party at the end of last season. He asks Edith out for drinks, and they agree on a time. At the paper, Edith argues with the editor over some of his decisions. It seems he is recycling magazine covers and generally not doing a good job. Edith fires him, finally! Even the secretary, who is apparently called Audrey, sitting outside of the office barges in afterwards, glad Edith found the guts to get rid of him. They decide that they’ll pull together to get the issue done without the horrible editor. Edith leaves momentarily to inform Bertie that drinks won’t be happening, and he responds with an offer to help. Well, how wonderful. I can already see where this is going, and it is nice that Edith is getting a romantic subplot. They do an admirable job, and Edith realizes that she can do the magazine work herself. But she won’t do the job again. For secret reasons. Best not to ask, I suppose, but Edith should simply realize London and being more involved in the magazine would be the best thing for her.
Back at Downton Abbey, wedding plans continue. Mrs. Hughes informs us that Mr. Carson and Lady Mary won with their plans of having the reception at Downton with elegant, meagre food. Mrs. Hughes claims that she doesn’t care, but when did that happen? She cared a lot about it last week. Where is the consistency? This scene doesn’t even have a pretty dress to distract viewers since Mrs. Hughes is showing a rather dowdy outfit to Mrs. Patmore as the wedding dress. Mrs. Patmore is no fashion plate herself, but even she is not impressed. But not to worry, she has a plan to help her good friend.
Mrs. Hughes gets more help when Lady Grantham hears that Lady Mary has pressured Carson and Mrs. Hughes into having their reception at Downton Abbey. With Lady Mary present, Cora questions Mrs. Hughes until she finally admits that all she wants is a wedding breakfast at the schoolhouse. If she truly did care about it, I do not understand why she gave up and agreed to Mary’s plan. Maybe just so we could have another low stakes scene where Lady Mary is annoyed and embarassed in front of the servants. Carson agrees to the breakfast at the schoolhouse rather quickly, and after they leave the room, Mary starts sniping at her mother. That is interrupted when Carson reenters, but Mary is clearly very annoyed.
There is a very strange subplot in the Dowager house with Spratt and Denker. Spratt has a shifty family, apparently, although it has never come up before. His nephew has escaped from prison and Denker saw something. When the police come to ask questions, they both say that they did not see the escaped nephew. All you need to know is that Denker plans to hold this over Spratt’s head, but surely the moment she lied to the police, she lost her advantage?
Lord Grantham is still feeling a bit sick. Indigestion, he says, but this is another small thing that has been simmering all season, so it is bound to turn into big trouble soon.
Tom Branson has written Mary the most homesick, purple prose letter ever written. Dreams and strolls through the grounds of Downton Abbey. I suppose he’ll be back soon, then?
Anna is happy because she may be pregnant, but she tells Lady Mary instead of her husband. Why? Why doesn’t she tell Mr. Bates? Just tell your husband what is going on, Anna, so he can take the good and bad. That is the point of being married.
Molesley helps Daisy study for her exams, and it strikes me that he missed his calling. He is not a very dashing footman, but he is very invested in Daisy’s success and dedicated to helping her succeed. After hesitating a bit, he tells her that the Drewes will be leaving their tenancy, and Daisy reaches the conclusion that obviously Mr. Mason can take over. That is what I had assumed last week, too, so I don’t fault Daisy, but I only thought so because it felt very neat and tidy, narrative-wise. However, it seems it was a bit too neat and tidy because we are getting anvil-sized hints that nothing of that sort has been decided. Daisy meets Lady Grantham in the hallway, and poor Cora is so flummoxed that she can’t get out words to correct Daisy. If Mr. Mason doesn’t become the new tenant farmer at Downton Abbey, I wonder what sort of angry tirade Daisy will go on.
Thomas continues to be hated by the other servants, with the exception of Baxter, and to search for a new job. Another ad answered, another run down estate. You would think, after the first ad, he would realize being a footman or valet at a grand estate is no longer a viable job. He needs to look at shops. I think Thomas would fit in better in London, but he apparently has a soft spot for the Downton area and is resisting change.
Mrs. Patmore ordered a wedding dress for Mrs. Hughes from a catalogue, and, as with all orders from a catalogue, it looks nothing like the picture. When Anna tells Lady Mary about it, she says that they can borrow one of Lady Grantham’s coats. Just like that, without even asking, because she is entitled and presumptuous Lady Mary. So imagine, for a moment, Anna and Mrs. Patmore in Lady Grantham’s bedroom, helping Mrs. Hughes raid Cora’s closet, with the permission of Lady Mary. And let us leave them there to be dealt with soon, for this cannot end well.
The hospital issue has not been resolved yet, but Lady Grantham is becoming more involved with her opposition to the Dowager Countess. It is frustrating because it seems such a simple thing to resolve to the good of all, but the Dowager Countess is stubborn. Feelings are hurt and Cora is tired and it has been a long day and all she wants is some rest. And then she finds Mrs. Hughes in her bedroom trying on her clothes. She sends them on their way, wondering how dare they, but even when tired, is that at all like Cora? But then it gives Mary a chance to chatise her, just as she did to Mary earlier, but it was all Mary’s fault, so she really has no moral high ground to stand on. Cora apologizes to Mrs. Hughes and gives her the coat to keep, which is much more like her.
Wedding day! This is one of the better scenes so far this season. The perfect amount of being sentimental about characters we have spent five plus seasons caring about. Anna and Mrs. Patmore and Baxter help Mrs. Hughes to get ready. Tears, but not too many, during the ceremony. Mrs. Hughes was right about the schoolhouse. Everything looks very nice, food and table settings and decorations, though I wish, after all the trouble about it, that I could remember what the dress looked like.
We even have a wedding crasher. Tom Branson has come back with Sybbie to Downton Abbey and will stay for as long as they want him. They are his family, he says, amid the joyous reunion and the ending of the episode.
Way to upstage the bride and groom, Tom.