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.