This week’s episode could have been subtitled ‘subplots galore.’ The biggest drama in this episode was surprisingly whether or not Carson or Mrs. Hughes was going to get his or her way in regards to where their wedding reception would be held. Lord Grantham graciously offered to hold the reception in the servants’ hall but Lady Mary (of course) thought that they could do a bit better. She insists that the reception be held upstairs in the great hall or one of the many other rooms at Downton that we probably haven’t even seen. Mrs. Hughes doesn’t want to have her wedding reception at Downton at all. Number 1, she doesn’t want to be a servant on her wedding day and number 2, as she puts it to Carson, “It’s just not who we are.” Carson protests that he couldn’t possibly turn down Lady Mary’s generous offer which just annoys Mrs. Hughes. “I am the bride. We’ll be doing it your way for the next 30 years, I know that well enough. But the wedding is mine.” Unfortunately for Mrs. Hughes, Carson refuses to budge. He’s always been inordinately fond of Lady Mary and would rather disappoint his fiancée than her. Priorities, Carson, priorities!
Speaking of Lady Mary, she’s now the agent for the estate which comes as a bit of a shock to poor Mr. Finch. It was bad enough that he had to deal with a jumped up chauffeur, but now a lady? “It’s a changing world,” he tells Lady Mary, reminding us once again of the theme of the last two series of Downton. All this change is likely to give the poor man a heart attack. He’s come to ask whether or not the estate should enter their pigs in the fat stock show. Lady Mary tells him it can’t hurt and promises to bring little George and Marigold along while she talks to her ‘pig man’ Mr. Drewe. Edith, of course, wonders if it is a good idea to have Marigold hanging around near the Drewes, particularly Mrs. Drewe but of course she can’t tell Mary why she disapproves. As Cora points out to Robert, Edith is afraid that Mary will somehow use the information to hurt her and she’s probably not wrong. Ah, siblings, such a blessing. If only Mary and Edith could work together for good instead of finding ways to hurt each other.
Lady Mary may not be kind to her own sister but she certainly is a good friend to Anna. When Anna confides that she’s having fertility problems, Lady Mary reminds her that she too once had problems but a London doctor performed a minor bit of surgery and all was well. She not only offers to make an appointment for Anna to see the same miracle gynecologist but also to pay for any treatment/surgery that Anna might need. Of course, Anna being Anna tries to demur, but Lady Mary is good at riding roughshod over whatever the servants might want and insists. Which is a good thing too because I don’t think I can take another episode of Anna crying in the laundry room or wherever. Despite Mr. Bates insisting that he would be happy with adoption, Anna is sure that he is lying to her and he only wants children who carry his own DNA. The good London doctor informs Anna that she has an incompetent cervix but all he has to do is just stitch her up good once she becomes pregnant and a new little Bates can be born. Hurrah! Of course Anna is grateful to which Lady Mary replies that she seriously owes her since Anna hid her Dutch thing-a-majig for her last series, and helped her get rid Mr. Pamuk’s dead body in series 1. Anna is practically doing cartwheels when she arrives back at the house. As usual, she doesn’t bother to inform Mr. Bates of the cause of her newfound happiness. That would be too easy!
Poor Edith is not having a good episode. While Mary and Mr. Finch manage to come to an understanding, the editor of the magazine Edith owns won’t listen to her, and although she’s keeping the flat in London, she won’t stay there because it’s too lonely. And then there is the whole Drewe situation. Mrs. Drewe quite rightly still yearns for Marigold, the child she raised for several months. The whole situation is uncomfortable for everyone. Lord Grantham worries about how living so close to Marigold is affecting the Drewes but he can’t quite bring himself to tell them leave. After all, the family have been tenants at Downton since Waterloo! But when Mrs. Drewe makes off with Marigold while everyone is cheering Lady Mary and prize-winning pig, it’s clear that the Drewes can’t stay. It’s incredibly sad but understandable. Of course, Comrade Daisy, thinks the whole thing sucks and is another example of how horrible the aristocracy is, although the Drewes leaving mean that Mr. Mason can now move into Yew Tree Farm.
Thomas has been seriously off his game this series. After five seasons of back-stabbing, blackmailing, and crawling his way up from footman to under-butler, Barrow is now superfluous in the Downton household. Carson has nothing for him to do, Andy practically runs whenever Thomas offers to help him with something. When Thomas asks Carson whether or not he should start looking for a new position, Carson practically starts writing a reference for him! When he interviews for a new job, he discovers that he would be expected to not only be a footman but a valet as well as an under butler! Even Baxter has started to feel sorry for him, despite the fact that she was forced to confess her secret to Lady Grantham, because of Thomas.
In case you were wondering, Isobel vs. Violet, the Dowager is still at a stalemate regarding whether or not the local hospital should merge with the Royal York. It’s a question of more modern medicine versus a more personal touch. Dickie Merton is still supporting Isobel, and hoping that she will eventually change her mind and marry him. Dr. Clarkson is still on the Dowager’s side. Robert, who is the patron of the hospital, is trying not to get involved or to take sides. Good luck with that! Violet also convinced Robert not to tell his wife about a meeting of the trustees which didn’t go down very well. Cora is clearly supports Isobel’s point-of-view. Once again this sub-plot is yet another example of the old ways versus the new. And it’s not particularly interesting thus far, just regurgitating the same argument they had last week. Only one side can win, and while Isobel worries about whether or not her friendship with Violet will survive, Violet just wants to be right.
Next week it’s Carson and Mrs. Hughes wedding! Can’t wait to see what the bride is wearing!