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.