Downton Abbey recap, Season 6, Episode 8

Well, finally. I have only been waiting since season 1, episode 1 for Mary to get the verbal smackdown she deserves. Here we have it, even if the ending is not entirely satisfying.

Bertie’s relative the marquess has died in Tangiers, and so he is going to see what can he can do to tie up loose ends there. Edith invites him to Downton Abbey on the way to Tangiers. It turns out that Bertie was not just the agent of his relative’s estate; he was the heir. Bertie will be a marquess! His wife would be a marchioness! Mary simply cannot believe it. She thinks that he must be lying. Everyone else laughs hysterically because, if Edith marries Bertie, then she will outrank Mary. Sourface Mary is, of course, extremely miffed by this. Added to it all, Henry shows up unannounced, and her family politely invites him to stay. Mary feels that she ought to have been consulted first, but it was only common politeness to allow him to stay for one day.

Things do not go well for Henry. He wants to know why, when Mary obviously loves him, she will not agree to marry him. She interprets his argument as him saying that she is a gold-digger. She says that she wants him to leave, and so he does, not waiting to see her the next day.

Edith has still not told Bertie the truth about Marigold. Of course I kept yelling at the TV for her to tell him, but it is entirely consistent with her character that she hesitates. She didn’t even tell her parents about Marigold; her father found out by accident and had to confront her about it. I think Edith is so used to the idea that no one will love her for who she is that she feels compelled to hide it. Everyone of course feels that Edith should tell Bertie about Marigold. Mary walks in on her parents and Aunt Rosamund having a conversation about it, and they deflect when she enters, still believing that Mary has no idea.

Bertie makes no qualms about the reason for his visit. He is merely there to get Edith to promise to be his wife. He secures the promise at night in the hallway. Edith is still hesitant. She does not tell him about Marigold, but apparently he has convinced her to marry him.

The next morning, Bertie wants to announce the engagement at the breakfast table. He waits for Mary for some reason that is beyond my and Edith’s comprehension.Tom offers his congratulations. And Mary? Well, she is being Mary. Instead of being happy for her sister, she tells Bertie how brave he is. Tom tries to get her to stop, but Mary goes on and tells him that not everyone would be willing to marry Edith with her past. Bertie asks what she means, and Edith tearfully tells him that Marigold is her daughter. Silent for a few beats, Bertie excuses himself from the table and begins packing to leave.

Outside, he and Edith say goodbye. Bertie says that it is not just about Marigold being Edith’s daughter, which I think is true, but it is at least partially about that. Bertie made it clear that his mother is harsh, a traditionalist, and he is very close to her. By extension, Bertie cares at least a little about the potential scandal of marrying a woman who had a child outside of marriage. He goes on to say that he could not marry someone he can’t trust completely and who doesn’t trust him. Sigh. I understand the reasoning, but I think he is wrong. Edith says how sorry she is, and he leaves.

Finally, after six seasons, Mary gets put in her place. Tom confronts her first. He tells her that when she’s unhappy, no one else can be happy. Like all bullies, she is a coward. She is a coward about Henry, and a coward who won’t let her own sister be happy. Mary tries to save face and says that she thought Bertie knew, which is a complete and horrible lie since we saw her walk in on the conversation between her parents and aunt saying that Edith should tell him. Tom completely and utterly takes her down a few notches. It was truly wonderful to see.

And so Mary is shamed by Tom into apologizing to Edith. She finds Edith packing to go to London. I don’t know what Mary is hoping to accomplish here. I certainly don’t think she is sorry, not at all. Edith is in no mood to humor Mary. Edith gives her the most epic, deserved verbal smackdown. After six seasons of watching Mary prance around like she is a princess and Edith is some lowly creature, it was very satisfying to see Edith finally grow a backbone and give Mary a what for.

Robert and Cora are both upset by what Mary did, and they wonder how she found out. Robert comments that Mary is smart. Is she? She certainly didn’t find out using her vast mental powers. She found out by eavesdropping. She would never have put it all together if she had not heard her mother and Violet talking about it.

In London, Edith meets with her editor (whose name I still cannot remember, but she is a lovely character). The new advice columnist, Miss Cassandra Jones, is coming. She wants a raise, and the column is very popular. Edith wonders if, since Miss Cassandra Jones likes the secrecy, she will send someone in her place to impersonate her. The editor and Edith agree that, if they think the person is the real Miss Jones, they’ll say bananas. It turns out that their visitor is Spratt, granny Violet’s butler! The editor and Edith both say bananas and burst out laughing.

Meanwhile, downstairs, Mrs. Patmore’s bed and breakfast has been labeled a house of ill-repute. It turns out her first two guests were adulterers, and the husband of the adulterer is suing his wife. Mrs. Patmore could be called on to testify if the case goes to trial. Understandably, Mrs. Patmore is very upset as booking after booking is cancelled. Everyone else in the house finds it hilarious, which is it, if you know Mrs. Patmore. The idea of her running a house of ill-repute is very funny. However, what is not so funny is the idea of her investment in a bed and breakfast being worthless. This is her retirement income we’re talking about. The upstairs folks are very amused, yet sympathetic, and decide to show solidarity by having tea at Mrs. Patmore’s. She is grateful for their support, and it seems that their visit helps her to escape scandal.

Mr. Molesley starts teaching, and the children are just as uncooperative as you might expect. He begins to doubt that he should be a teacher at all. Baxter suggests that he tell them all about his past instead of hiding it as something shameful. When he tells the children that he is in service in addition to teaching, a number of them say that their parents are as well. Molesley tells them that he wants to give them the head start that he never had. Education could open doors for them. At that, they give him their full attention. I adore Molesley, and I am glad that he is getting the sort of good ending that he deserves. Now just to get him and Baxter together.

Baxter sees Thomas behaving strangely. He has been depressed for a while, and a comment he made to Molesley makes Baxter feel dread for what he might do to himself. She grabs Andy and rushes up to the bathroom. When they knock on the door and don’t receive a response, Andy breaks down the door. Thomas has cut his wrists. Luckily, Baxter found him before he was too far gone. They rush to get the doctor, and Thomas will recover. When the news reaches the upstairs folks, Mary asks her father if he now feels bad for trying to get rid of Thomas to save money. Robert is rightfully appalled by this comment. Mary is just being awful this episode, which is par for the course for her.

In a nice moment, Mary brings George up to visit Thomas. George gives him an orange and says that he hopes Thomas gets better soon. Thomas observes that he seems to ruin his relationships with everyone and brings about his own unhappiness. Mary can, of course, relate to this very much. Before she leaves, Mary offers him wishes that he will be happy, and he says that, if it were not an impertinence, he would return the sentiment.

Tom, for reasons I do not understand, has called back Violet from her vacation. Apparently, he thinks that Mary needs to be talked to and comforted or something. Really, doesn’t Edith need it more? Anyway, Mary tearfully tells her grandmother that she can’t be an automobile widow twice over. She just can’t do it again. Violet comforts her and tells her that, while rank and money matter, love matters more. She loves Henry, and she should be with him. Mary is surprised to hear Violet tell her this, and she realizes that her grandmother is right.

Mary whistles, and Henry comes running. I was hoping that Mary would be disappointed and that he wouldn’t come back. Then, in London, Bertie would realize he was wrong and go back to Edith. However, that is not to be. Instead, Henry shows up and wants to hear Mary say she loves him. She does so in her own cold fashion. He then reveals that he optimistically got a special license to be married, with the wedding on Saturday. It is hard for me to feel happy for Mary here. She gets her happy ending when she was so awful the entire episode and really the entire series.

Anyway, the wedding day arrives. Edith shows up! No one was sure she would, and even Edith was not sure before she got on the train. She and Mary have a private word. It is clear that Edith does not forgive her, but she knows that someday Mary will be the only one who remembers Sybil and Matthew and Carson and all of their family, and so she has decided to be the better person in favor of holding onto that bond. Mary asks if Matthew would hate her for getting married again, but Edith kindly assures her that Matthew would want her to be happy. I think he would want Edith to be happy too, because that is the sort of person Matthew was. If he was disappointed in anything, he probably would be massively disappointed in the way Mary has continued to treat Edith.

Mary and Henry are married. Tom is the best man and observes that he was the best man at both of Mary’s weddings. Mary apparently has no maid of honor, which is not a surprise at all. Edith watches the children and seems resolved to carry on despite what happened with Bertie. We have one more episode for this to resolve itself for the better.

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Downton Abbey recap, Season 6, Episode 7

This was quite a good episode with plenty of action, definitely the most enjoyable so far this season. I cannot quite see how everything will wrap up neatly before the finale, but on with the recap.

First, let’s get the Lady Mary storyline out of the way. She is still tactfully pursuing Henry. He is also pursuing her by asking her entire family to watch him race. Mary does not mind him doing so, but she is apprehensive about the car race. Robert and Cora talk about whether Henry is really a good match for Mary. The consensus seems to be that he is not an obvious choice for her, that he is kind of her opposite. I think that she seems to enjoy running the estate herself, so that type of man, one who wouldn’t want to take control away from her and wouldn’t think he knows how to run a grand estate, might be best for her. Anyway, when has Lady Mary ever gone for the suitable and obvious choice? When Evelyn Napier visited, she spent the entire time flirting with Mr. Pamuk. When Tony Gillingham was around (who, like Evelyn Napier, would have been very attractive on paper), she was more attracted to Charles Blake. Speaking of, I wonder what happened to Charles Blake? Is he the only man in England who met Lady Mary and failed to be pulled in by her charms? As I remember, Mary was quite keen on him at one point. Perhaps the actor could not come back this season? Since there are not many episodes left, unless things progress at an astonishing rate with a new suitor, Mary will end up with Henry or she will end up alone.

Lady Edith invites Bertie and her new editor (whose name escapes me) to watch the car race. The new editor and Tom have a nice chat. When the race starts, Mary can barely watch. There is a very big setup here, which foreshadows disaster, and it comes when there is a crash. Henry is involved, and Mary assumes the worst as she runs to the scene. Although Henry is unhurt, his best friend died. Later, Henry blames himself for constantly pushing his friend, but a very emotional Mary tells him that they both pushed each other and that it was not his fault. The family, including the editor and Bertie, go back to Aunt Rosamund’s house for a very subdued dinner. After the family disperses to various locations, Henry calls on the phone for Mary. Because of the accident, Henry realizes he wants a more serious relationship with Mary. However, the accident has had the opposite effect on Mary. She decides that she cannot go through that again and breaks up with him. Tom overhears and tries to convince Mary that she is wrong, but Lady Mary is never wrong and so she storms off to bed.

Meanwhile, Bertie and Edith are getting cozy together after dinner. She has her shoes off and feet up on the sofa while Bertie has his arm around her. Edith remarks that she feels so comfortable and how lovely it all is. Bertie tells her how mad he is about her, and Edith remarks that she never thought she was the sort of woman men would be mad about. Bertie takes that moment to propose! Edith’s first question is whether he would be willing to take in her ward (*ahem* really, Edith?). He seems surprised by the question, but willing to take her in, though he wants children of his own. Is Edith really not going to tell him the truth about Marigold? That was the opportune moment. Edith missed it. She says that she needs a bit of time to think about her answer because she was so surprised by the proposal.

Meanwhile, downstairs, Daisy and Molesley are going to be taking their exams. During a picnic lunch, it comes out that Andy can’t read, and the schoolmaster offers to teach him instead of Thomas. This gives Thomas one less kind deed, which he seems sad about. The schoolmaster later arrives with the results for Molesley, and he wants to offer him a job teaching at the school! He says that Molesley knows more than some fellows who went to Oxford and Cambridge. Molesley reflects that he was never going to be a butler or a valet. Besides, there aren’t many jobs left of that sort (as Thomas well knows), so he feels extremely lucky. Between this and Mrs. Patmore’s new bed and breakfast, it seems like the downstairs folks are getting a way out before the end.

Thomas continues to mope around, constantly being threatened by Carson telling him he needs to find other work. The funny thing is that Thomas has become extremely fond of everyone he works with, but he has not been shown much affection in his life, so he doesn’t quite know how to show it in return. He doesn’t like being an outsider, and he is trying, but not many people are willing to give him another chance. I do hope he gets the chance to redeem himself before the end of the series.

Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes have devised a method for making Mr. Carson more grateful for the work his wife does. Mrs. Hughes pretends to have hurt her wrist. As a result, Carson has to cook dinner and clean up the dishes after. The meal is a bit of a disaster for him, and Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes laugh about it later. I enjoyed this, too, even if it does seem like a passive aggressive way of enlightening Carson.

Finally, Violet visits Lord Merton’s soon-to-be daughter-in-law. Apparently, the woman wants Isobel to marry Lord Merton so that she can be a caretaker for him. She doesn’t want want to worry about caring for him as he gets older and his health deteriorates. I honestly did not know what to make of this particular plot twist, so I’ll just leave it at that.

Violet is still upset about the hospital mess, so she is going to France to calm herself so she doesn’t say something she’ll regret. She has a parting gift. Her butler, Spratt, has arrived with whatever it is, but he seems reluctant to bring it up to the drawing room. The whole family goes downstairs to find out what it is. A puppy! Lord Grantham is very pleased. He names the puppy Tio, going along with the Egyptian theme of naming his dogs. It was such a nice ending to a very good episode.

Review Fridays: A Paris Apartment

A Paris Apartment, written by Michelle Gable, is based off of a real-life event: an apartment in Paris that had been shut for decades, with rooms full of treasures. Although the apartment had been abandoned, the rent had been paid every month, so the items were left as a sort of time capsule. You can read more about it here, including an image of Giovanni Boldini’s portrait of Marthe de Florian that plays a prominent role in the book.

The excitement of the discovery does not translate as well to fiction. April Vogt is an American furniture expert for an auction house who is called to Paris to estimate the value of the apartment’s contents. April jumps at the chance to run away from her crumbling marriage and avoid having a much needed conversation with her husband. Once she arrives in Paris, she largely ignores her job after she discovers the diaries of the apartment’s previous occupant, Marthe de Florian. The lawyer managing the estate takes an instant, very strange liking to April and allows her to read the diaries before they are given to his client.

Those around her tell April again and again how much they appreciate her help, but she doesn’t do the job she was called to do.  For example, her assistant sends her a file to review and April promises to do it before the close of business in the United States. Rather than do her job, she reads the diary and gets drunk off of cheese and wine and falls asleep, missing the start of her next workday. Instead of rushing off to the apartment once she wakes up, she texts her Parisian counterpart to say that she is working from home (how? All of her work is in the apartment) and proceeds to waste more time reading the diary. Once she finally gets to the apartment, she spends all of her time complaining that no one consulted her when planning the auction and then sulks off to read the diary again. This happens early in the book and did not help to make me sympathetic to the heroine.

Admittedly, Marthe’s diaries are well-written, much more so than the detached third-person account April receives. Marthe has a glittering way of describing the world around her. She does not mince words. She is tough and funny and just a bit raunchy. Sometimes too raunchy for my taste, but that does not change the fact that Marthe was the most compelling character with the most compelling story. By comparison, April seems dreadfully dull, and she suffers from the contrast with the writer of the diaries.

I was personally dissatisfied with the ending. The way April’s marriage problems were resolved seemed too easy. I did not mind April’s avoidance of the problems she had with her husband. How many of us face issues in our lives in an honest and straightforward way? I thought it was one of the more realistic aspects of the book, and it was disappointing that it did not receive a more interesting conclusion. This wasn’t a terrible book, but I felt like the portions telling April’s story were missing something. In all, I would recommend reading articles about the actual apartment and taking a look at Marthe de Florian as painted by Boldini.

Downton Abbey recap, Season 6, Episode 6

Mary and Tom have decided to open Downton Abbey to visitors in order to raise money for charity. It is a wonderful idea, but receives mixed responses. A still-recovering Robert thinks that it’s a bad idea. Would anyone even show up? Violet cannot understand why anyone would pay money to see a dining room or a table or chairs. Isobel reminds Violet that even Elizabeth Bennet wanted to see Pemberley. Violet says that it didn’t work out so well for her, but she is forgetting that that visit to Pemberley is the whole reason Mr. Darcy and Lizzy got together in the end.

The hospital plot is wrapping up in a confusing way. The people from York have decided to replace Violet with Cora? I’m all for Cora getting more to do, but I wonder why, if they are really set on reforming the hospital system in the Downton Abbey area, they would replace one titled person who knows absolutely nothing about running a hospital with another. In any case, it is all done in secret, and Violet will not be happy when she finds out.

Meanwhile, Edith has invited Bertie to stay at Downton on his journey from London back to the estate where he is the agent. Mary has her own eye-rolls about this, and she keeps asking pointed questions about Marigold. She suspects that she might be the only one who did not know the truth about Marigold, and she is miffed about it, so she is going to keep asking until someone tells. The longer it goes on, the more angry she is going to be, and the worse the consequences for Edith.

Anna is having pains, so Mary decides to bring her back to London to see the specialist doctor. And, since she is Lady Mary, she is going to use the visit to London for her own benefit. She has herself invited to a dinner Henry is attending and brings Tom along. Its nice that Tom is getting out, but I do wish he had an interesting subplot of his own. After dinner, Henry is going to walk Mary home. She tells him about Matthew and the car accident, but Henry already knows. They get caught in the rain, and, while they take shelter, Henry asks her to give cars another chance. They kiss, and it is kind of obvious that Mary is besotted with him despite the fact that he is not quite up to her standards. He is not wealthy or titled. He races cars. The fact that she is quietly pursuing him anyway just shows how much she is in love.

The visit to London turned out well for all because Anna is just having normal pregnancy pains. Even though the doctor said she was fine, I hope it isn’t a sign of something bad to come for her. Anna and Bates always have way too much drama surrounding them.

Later, Bertie arrives. Edith could not get the car started, so she meets him on the road to Downton. After they kiss, Edith remarks how natural and nice it feels. They are rather lovely together, but she still hasn’t told him the truth about Marigold. Something is bound to tear them apart because she is Edith, and Edith is never allowed to be happy for very long.

While at dinner, the family explains to Bertie their plan to open the house to visitors to raise money for the hospital. I use the word “plan” loosely because it seems to consist of taking money at the door and allowing everyone in. Mary and Tom have formed the idea without actually figuring out the logistics or getting advice from other people who have opened their houses to the public. Bertie is flabbergasted at this lack of organization because he is an actual competent agent. He helps them get a real plan together involving tour guides, a limited number of people at a time, and positioning servants in rooms to make sure no one steals anything.

It turns out that the family does not know a great deal about the house, a fact played for laughs. Someone points out the shields over the fireplace, and Cora says that she never noticed them before. However, during the open house, Violet storms in. She just found out about how she is being ousted at the hospital and that Cora will take her place. She has a right to be angry; it was all done by subterfuge. It would have been better to give Violet some sort of role but to make Cora more involved. Regardless, Violet storms off. When all of the visitors have left, Tom says that they made a lot of money for the hospital and suggests doing regular open houses to raise money for themselves.

Downstairs, Carson continues to be a demanding husband. He finds fault with the cooking and the way the bed is made and with Mrs. Hughes’s housekeeping. Robert can no longer drink alcohol because of his health, and Carson has decided that it would be disloyal for him to continue drinking. He says something ridiculous about standing by the family with the gesture. That seems a bit… excessive? I think Mrs. Hughes would like to box his ears, but she’s too polite to do so. Only a few more episodes left to make this marriage happy, but I don’t see any way to make Carson less of a curmudgeon before the finale.

Daisy is trying to keep Mrs. Patmore away from Mr. Mason, which is selfish and making her look infinitely immature. Out of all of the downstairs characters, Daisy has grown the least since the beginning of the show despite all of her book learning. She is going to sit her exams soon, and the schoolmaster has also devised an exam for Molesley to take! Molesley isn’t a good footman, but he is a good tutor and so invested in Daisy’s success. The schoolmaster makes a vague reference to giving Molesley something to do if he can pass the exam.

I shall end with Thomas. Poor Thomas just can’t get past his reputation as a villain. Only Lady Mary seems ready to jump to his defense because of how kind he is to the children. Robert has another chat with Carson about cutting staff, and that means Thomas. Carson spots Andy coming out of Thomas’s room. The viewer knows that Thomas is doing a good thing, teaching Andy how to read, but Carson raises his eyebrows. Mrs. Patmore overhears Andy and Thomas talking about meeting later. I am disappointed in Mrs. Patmore here because we have seen this season that she can have uncomfortable talks. She sorted out the Carson and Hughes pre-marriage trouble. Why would she automatically jump to a sordid rendez-vous? Surely, if something like that were happening, they would be more circumspect about it. Anyway, instead of having a chat with Thomas or with Andy, Mrs. Patmore tells Mr. Carson. Mr. Carson then accuses Thomas of taking advantage of a young and impressionable Andy. Thomas rightly protests against this treatment. Have all of his years of service meant nothing? Does Mr. Carson really think that poorly of him? But Carson has been awful this season and is not willing to give Thomas any credit.

The episode closes with Thomas sitting up at night, sobbing. Oh, dear.

The wisdom of Pride and Prejudice

-What are men to rocks and mountains--

I spent the week re-reading Pride and Prejudice, so I have no book for Review Fridays this week. It was nice to take some time to stop and read something at a leisurely pace. The re-read reminded me of why I loved the book so much the first time I read it and why I went on to devour the rest of Jane Austen’s books. There is no author whom I adore more, and a re-read feels like a very relaxing treat in the midst of a busy world.

On a related note, I am taking the “Literature and Mental Health” course through the University of Warwick on FutureLearn. The first week has been all about how reading poetry can help to manage stress. I cannot recommend this course highly enough. Next week, the instructors will be discussing Sense and Sensibility in the context of heartbreak, which should be interesting for Janeites. Best of all, the course is free. I love doing online courses, even if I don’t get credit for taking them.

Downton Abbey recap, Season 6, Episode 5

As Lady Mary would say, golly! This week, there was plenty of blood and gore and drama. The health crisis finally bubbled over, but we shall get to that soon.

While Tom is still trying to figure out his new role upon returning to Downton Abbey, Mr. Mason is preparing to move into the Drewes’ farm. Mary is a bit miffed that she wasn’t consulted before the decision was made, but she thinks he is a good man and anyway he knows a lot about pigs. Her only concern is that he physically may not be up to all of the tasks required of a farmer, so she and Tom are going to visit to ask him. This confused me because, if he isn’t strong enough, what will happen? They’ve already offered him the farm. But this gives Andy, who, along with Daisy and Mrs. Patmore, is helping Mr. Mason move in, a chance to say he has always longed to learn more about pig farming and will help with the more physical tasks. Well, of course. Mr. Mason gives Andy some books to learn more about it, so it seems Andy the footman will also be a pig farming apprentice. Andy also seems a bit sweet on Daisy, which heaven help him. Anyone who ends up with Daisy is going to need a few prayers and then some. Daisy, after their visit to Mr. Mason, wants Mrs. Patmore to be a bit less interested in her father-in-law. So, there are a lot of convoluted romantic subplots going on downstairs.

Just a few episodes ago, Mr. Carson was assuring Mrs. Hughes, through intermediary Mrs. Patmore, of the extent of his love for her. However, that love does not seem to extend to her cooking. Mrs. Patmore packs some food for them to enjoy at their cottage, but Mr. Carson finds much to criticize in the way it is prepared. Before the end of the episode, he rudely asks Mrs. Patmore to give his wife some cooking tips, but perhaps Mr. Carson should learn to cook instead.

Mary’s flirtation with car racing Henry continues. She and Tom go to watch Henry race cars, which still makes Mary nervous. Afterwards, they all go to a pub to celebrate Henry’s win. Mary mentions something about never having been in a pub, how Matthew wasn’t all that into that sort of thing, so does Henry know all about what happened to Matthew? It wasn’t entirely clear to me. Henry makes an excuse to see Mary another time, and Tom calls them both out on their evasive techniques. If you like each other, he seems to be saying, just say so and make plans to see each other again. Mary is the queen of playing coy, though, so I expect this to continue until the last episode.

In London, Edith interviews a new woman editor, who seems lovely and is Edith’s age and whom Edith decides to hire. She also sees Bertie again, inviting him to see her apartment before dinner. He calls this racy, but Edith is a woman of the world and downplays it. That evening, she talks about Michael Gregson, how the apartment was his, but it’s not entirely clear how much Bertie knows about Edith’s relationship with Michael. He has to know that they were close enough that Michael left everything to Edith, but he clearly does not know about Marigold being Edith’s . I think he should be able to connect the dots (Edith has a ward whose birth coincides with the relationship to Michael, who left her everything). Edith also finally has the realization she should have had episodes ago: that Downton is Mary’s realm now and that she would be better off spending more time in London. Goodness, it’s only taken her five episodes to reach the obvious conclusion. Before they leave the apartment for dinner, Bertie and Edith kiss in a sweet moment. Finally, Edith gets a love interest, though I know something is going to happen to tear them apart. No one on Downton Abbey can be happy for long.

Baxter is prepared to testify, but it turns out that she doesn’t have to when Coyle changes his plea upon seeing the list of witnesses. She calls this anticlimactic, which it definitely is. Molesley jokingly asks if she wants him to go ask Coyle to change his plea back. Well, that plot went nowhere. I think there were better ways of developing the character than convincing poor Baxter to testify, and then it never happening. It is just a rehash of another old plot. Sigh.

Thomas finds a frustrated Andy looking over his pig farming books. Thomas has been trying for weeks to befriend Andy, but Andy apparently doesn’t want to be friends because he thinks it will give Thomas the wrong idea. Gigantic eye roll at that; maybe he and Daisy would be a good match. Anyway, Thomas asks Andy the title of the book he is reading, and, rather than answering, Andy hands him the book. Hmm… Thomas seems to think this is strange too, and, later, when he hears a lamp crashing in Andy’s room, he goes to talk to Andy. Thomas has rightly deduced that Andy can’t read, and he generously offers to help him learn to read and write. Andy apologizes for the way he has treated him, and Thomas tells him that he has heard worse. This has been the Thomas redemption season thus far, and I have to admit that it is working.

The hospital fight continues. Dr. Clarkson is changing his allegiance, so Denker confronts him on the street, calling him a traitor. Clarkson writes to Violet about Denker, and she quickly dismisses Denker. Spratt asks Denker if she had been drinking before she yelled at Clarkson, and I rather think she had (remember what happened in London with Andy?), but Denker chooses to use this moment to enlist Spratt to save her. If he doesn’t, she will bring him down with her by revealing to the police that Spratt hid his prison escapee nephew. Spratt talks to Violet and saves Denker’s job. I do wish Denker would go away; she is so tiresome. This show needs a villain with O’Brien gone and Thomas being nicer, but Denker isn’t interesting enough to do the job properly.

Violet invites Minister of Health and future Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain to Downton Abbey to try to get him on her side in the hospital fight. She gets him to be there through some sort of mysterious scheming, but she clearly hopes that she will be able to convince him despite the fact that staunch opponents Cora, Isobel, and Dr. Clarkson will also be at dinner. Robert is not feeling well, and Cora feels that this could be an excuse to put the dinner off, but Robert says that Violet will just make them do it another time and he would rather get it over with. The hints about his health are not so much anvil-sized as a whole parade of elephants stampeding right at Robert. This cannot end well.

During dinner, fighting goes back and forth, but I didn’t catch any of it. I could only notice how ill Robert looked during the scene. The makeup department did a top notch job of making him look very sick indeed. Robert tells them to lay off the arguing and gets up from the table. He doesn’t get very far. Instead, he projectile vomits blood everywhere and, convulsing, falls to the floor. Dr. Clarkson says to put him on his side and keep him very still until the ambulance arrives. Robert tells Cora how much he loves her, and Cora tells him to stop because this isn’t the end.

While they are transporting Robert to the ambulance, Cora and Violet have an argument, during which Violet wonders if Cora is talking about Marigold in the context of the evils of concealment. Mary is within hearing distance, and she finally gets it. Finally.

Tom talks with Neville Chamberlain until a car can be brought for him. You would think that Tom, being well aware of politics, would have a whole bevy of things to say to this conservative man. A younger version of Tom would have anyway, the more interesting Tom, but the current Tom is very mellow and does not seem to care that he has a moment with a highly influential politician, one whom another character even said could eventually be prime minister. Tom has changed a lot over the course of the show, but I’m not sure if it is for the better. The only topic Tom, who was once obsessed with the need for political change, has to discuss with Neville Chamberlain is how Violet convinced him to come to dinner. The answer is sort of disappointing, as is the whole exchange. I think that Sybil would be disappointed, too. She was all about change and equality despite the world she was born into, but this current Tom has turned into a very establishment, status quo person.

The servants wait for news about Robert. Mr. Carson takes a call from Lady Mary, and his face is so grave that it could mean anything. He announces that Robert has had an operation and is expected to recover. Cora is going to stay at the hospital with him overnight, but Edith and Mary will return. They start to scramble to get things ready for them. Upon their return, Edith goes off to check on the children, and Mary remarks that of course she is going to. Tom and Mary have a conversation in the hallway. Mary concludes that she and Tom will have to do everything. Robert’s illness was caused by stress, so he won’t be able to be involved in the day-to-day tasks of running the estate anymore. I thought Mary had already taken over a majority of things? But I suppose it is even more necessary that they should do everything.

In her room, Mary asks Anna if the servants gossip about Marigold, and Anna seems clueless about it. That was a rather ill-advised question. I know Mary trusts Anna, but what right had she to ask it? It implies more than just the question. In any case, Mary guesses the truth. What evil she will do with this knowledge I don’t know, but we shall undoubtedly find out very soon.