This week: a wedding, a sisterly feud, a suicide attempt, a B&B-related scandal, and some excellent parasol game.
This week, I’ve had to expand my quota of quotes; five just weren’t enough. This second-to-last episode was quite the bouquet of Downton gloriousness, wasn’t it? In a mere 70 minutes, we experienced a sisterly feud, a wedding, a disaster at Mrs. Patmore’s B&B (and can I have some of those scones, please?), YET ANOTHER crisis for Edith, a revelation of Spratt’s secret life (!) as an agony aunt, Tom suddenly growing a spine and telling Mary exactly what’s what, Molesley becoming a fine teacher, Thomas attempting to end his life (but, being a butler at heart, he did it very tidily), a dramatic last-minute appearance by the Dowager Countess (who, of course, fixes everything), a cameo appearance by a very cute puppy, and several demonstrations of really excellent parasol wrangling. To the quotes!
7) Sergeant Willis: “A house of ill repute.” This phrase, repeated constantly in the episode’s early minutes by pretty much everyone downstairs, referred to Mrs. Patmore’s B&B, which was the location for an extramarital assignation. But it caused poor Mrs. P no end of anxiety — she’s trying to run a respectable establishment! I mean, does she look like a frolicker?
6) Robert, upon realizing that Edith, if she married Bertie (who’s now a marquess!), would outrank all the Crawleys: “Golly gumdrops!” (She would, for the record, become a marchioness, which sounds like something that should be served on a tea-table.) Runner-up: Robert’s casual observation, of his middle daughter: “Poor old Edith. She couldn’t even make her dolls do what she wanted.”
5) Tom, to Mary, after Mary destroyed Edith’s happiness by telling Bertie about Marigold’s parentage: “How many lives are you going to wreck? Just to smother your own misery? You’re a coward, Mary. Like all bullies, you’re a coward.” It was an impressive scene — Tom so rarely lets his Irish temper fly — made all the more poignant by the Sad Brown Vest outfit Mary was wearing.
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4) Edith, to Mary: “I know you to be a nasty, jealous, scheming bitch.” Oooh! It is perhaps worth noting that this was said by a character who once wrote to the Turkish Embassy to implicate her own sister in a scandal involving a handsome dead man in a Downton bedroom. (Can we have a moment of silence for the late, lovely Mr. Pamuk?) Nonetheless, we can all agree that Mary had it coming. And yet — how good was Michelle Dockery in this episode, managing to convey Mary’s pain (that scene at the graveyard had me tearing up), her lifelong battle with her sister, and her desperate attempts to build a wall of brittleness between herself and those she loves?
3) Mrs. Hughes, to Carson: “But you’re my curmudgeon.” Awww.
2) Henry, to Mary: “Are you always this cool and collected? I hope so.” I’ve been on Team Henry for a while, and this scene — in which Mary finally admitted that, yes, she loves him — was a delight. As was the wedding (with bonus Carson-and-Hughes hand-holding!), and Mary’s cool, collected comment as they drove away: “Well, Mr. Talbot, you have swept me off my feet.” I sense just a bit of that Matthew-and-Mary spark, don’t you? And am I alone in having a great fondness for Mary — despite her being, quite often, a nasty, jealous, scheming bitch — and wanting her to be happy?
1) The Dowager Countess, to Mary: “I believe in love.” Well, there you have it. Once, again, the Dowager takes the prize. (And manages to toss in, on her way through the door, that “a good butler should not need to be told” that one is returning unexpectedly from the South of France. I wouldn’t argue.)
Only one episode left! (Note that it will air two weeks from now, on Sunday, March 6.) What will you miss most about “Downton Abbey”?