Tonight’s episode, airing on Valentine’s Day, was the seventh of nine, and it looks like Lady Edith is our only shot at finding love.
By Matt Gurry
What happened upstairs…
Everybody’s off to the races! And the way they talk about it (“I’m racing at Brooklands tomorrow,” Lady Edith tells her editor), you’d think they’re the ones who will be driving. The first line of the episode is Charlie telling Henry Talbot he’s his superior. What could go wrong? Lady Mary isn’t very excited to go to Brooklands, ostensibly because cars makes her nervous. (See: Matthew, death of) She tells Henry before his race, “My digestive system has packed up completely.” That could be about her nerves, but it could also be because of that rich pre-race spread of petits-fours and champagne coupes because what are we, animals? (+1 Family)
But don’t be fooled by the world’s swankiest tailgating party. John Lunn’s bouncy “Posh Society Outing” leitmotif quickly crossfades to “Unstoppable Imminent Danger.” It’s that night, after Charlie’s death, that Mary makes sure Henry’s not only dealing with survivor’s guilt but also her rejection. Elsewhere in the London House of Odd Timings, Bertie Pelham decides this night of mourning is the best moment to propose to Lady Edith. She explains Marigold would be part of the deal, which Bertie doesn’t really understand but goes along with all the same.
Back on the estate, Amelia Cruikshank has upped whatever game she’s playing with Isobel, one that the Dowager Countess sleuths out very quickly. Her plan is to bring in Isobel to occupy Lord Merton while she plays house in his mansion. Violet reports this to Isobel then leaves all of us with a good news/bad news situation. The good: new puppy! (+1 Family) The bad: no more zingers; she will “vent my rage on the tacit air and return when I’ve regained my tongue.” (-1 Family)
…and what happened downstairs…
The Crawleys aren’t the only ones eating al fresco this week! With the family gone and the staff encouraged by Mr. Carson to use up their time off, some of the staff go on a picnic. The outing is an efficient roll call of downstairs plot points: Andy can’t read, Mr. Moseley and Daisy take their exams, and Thomas isn’t needed anywhere. The Thomas issue is getting more and more maudlin, with him confiding to Mrs. Hughes that Downton means something special to him.
Thankfully, there’s happier news for the senior staff. The trouble in paradise finally ends for the Carsons with Mrs. Patmore’s scheme to serve Mr. Carson his own medicine…and his own chicken and potatoes and cauliflower and bread sauce and crumble. After laboring through Patmore’s DIY instructions, he drops his campaign for Hughes to bear all the domestic work faster than most people give up their Blue Apron subscriptions. Patmore, meanwhile, is now the proprietress of a bed and breakfast, complete with an indoor privy and all. (+1 Staff) She even has her first customers! They’re a charming couple who enjoy her famous breakfast. Business with the Bates is also peachy for now: “It’s a bit early to shout about it,” Anna cautions, but she is indeed pregnant.
And finally, clutch your pearls because Mr. and Mrs. Carson sit on the library sofa. (+1 Staff)
…and how Julian bulldozed the door between them:
Maybe it’s just the hormones, but Anna gets a little familiar in her appraisal of Henry Talbot as a suitor for Lady Mary. Though in fairness to her, she was rather cornered for an opinion, and her opinion is that they’re not the best fit for each other. But no foul: “I’m not offended. I’m troubled because I understand what you mean,” concedes Mary. Still, something for Anna to think about when she’s made to take the train to Brooklands.
Just Checking: Are These Times of Change?
One Miss Cassandra Jones is being brought on for advice column. Apparently, the advice column went out of style in England, went into fashion in America, and now the old is in again. So in a roundabout way, their retro cool says that yes, these are times of change. (+1 These Changing Times) And let’s not overlook that all this was managed by Laura Edmunds, Edith’s new editor who is—in case you missed the dozen reminders this episode—a woman. (+1 These Changing Times)
Also, England is paving paradise and putting up parking lots—or, more specifically, “flats and offices and sale rooms,” Rosamund tells us as the family bemoans the fall of the great houses. (+1 These Changing Times)
Not a good week for gadgets. Just ask Charlie. Mo’ speed, mo’ problems, he’d probably say…if he weren’t dead. (-1 These Changing Times)
The only other thing I noted this week was Mrs. Patmore’s inside privy. Not incredibly exciting. But then, if I had to walk across a wuthering moor every time I needed to pee, I suppose it would be a big deal.
Who Was That Guy?
The Downton Dogs. If anyone wants a little backstory on Lord Grantham’s dogs, God knows I’m happy to provide it. Lady Edith asks Robert why he’s breaking tradition of pulling his dogs’ names from Egyptology with Tiaa, but Robert excitedly tells Edith that Tiaa was the wife of Amenhotep II. (“Don’t you know anything?”) Edith was referring to Tiaa’s predecessors, Isis and Pharaoh. (While Isis properly died, Pharoah disappeared with no explanation much like Kelly and Jesse did in the final season of Saved by the Bell.) (-1 Julian Fellowes for Pharaoh) All this is one of Downton Abbey’s few meta bits, a tip of the hat to Highclere Castle’s 5th Earl of Carnarvon who was a big Egypt fan and in 1922 with Howard Carter discovered King Tut’s tomb. (+1 Lady Carnarvon) This is all helpful information for anyone who visits the HIghclere and wonder what’s up with all the Egypt-y tchotchkes.
Questions and Comments
- Moseley and Baxter: friends forever or becoming more?
- Tom and Edith’s editor: same question.
- Mrs. Patmore’s scheme reminded me there haven’t been enough Patmore/Hughes scenes this season. That’s been a bummer. (-1 Julian Fellowes)
- Why would Anna’s pregnancy keep her from seeing what happened with the crash?
- And why does she have to?
- I was surprised to feel so proud for Mr. Moseley tonight. I didn’t know I was pulling for him as much as I was. (+1 Staff)
- Do we think Mary rejects Henry out of the “black mess” Tom suggests she’s in? Or is she just a snob with bad timing?
- I’ve been saying there has to be a death this season. Mary’s suitor’s friend isn’t who I had in mind. I’m suspicious about Violet deciding to go to France out of nowhere. Is anyone else?
Learn to Speak Fellowes
“Well, if that doesn’t just take the biscuit!” —Mrs. Denker, thinking about her upcoming sojourn to the south of France in service of her Ladyship
This Week’s Winner
Tiaa! (+1 Family)
This Week’s Loser
Amelia Cruikshank. How hard can it be to outsmart the Dowager Countess, thought Miss Cruikshank foolishly. (-1 Family)
The photographer lurking in the bushes outside of Mrs. Patmore’s B&B. If he was sent by Ed McMahon to surprise her with an oversized check from the Publishers Clearing House, I’m OK with it. But if he has any nefarious plans to put that woman through any more crap, I can’t guarantee he won’t have a car “accident” in his own near future.
Season 6 Leaderboard
Villagers: 0 points (no change from Episode 6)
Julian Fellowes: 0 points (-2 from Episode 6)
Duncan and Bobby: 1 point (no change from Episode 6)
Lady Carnarvon: 2 points (+1 from Episode 6)
Matt: 3 points (no change from Episode 6)
The Windsors: 3 points (no change from Episode 6)
Family: 10 points (+1 from Episode 6)
Staff: 12 points (+3 from Episode 6)
These Changing Times: 15 points (+2 from Episode 6)
Matt Gurry writes about Downton Abbey with an unhealthy enthusiasm at decantersandbanter.wordpress.com. Join us next week for our next episode recap!
Last modified: January 17, 2018