Previously on Downton Abbey: Lady Mary faced a blackmail threat over her previous dalliance with Tony Gillingham and was saved at the last minute by the intervention of Robert, who decided to believe in his daughter for once. Carson and Mrs. Hughes realize that they are MFEO and finally decide to set a wedding date. A pointless fight is brewing between Violet and Isobel over the future of the village hospital. Daisy did something stupid and irritating. Violet’s ladies’ maid it the worst person on the show. And Anna and Bates are cleared of the various threats of murder charges hanging over them but are still miserable because Anna is now convinced she can’t have children. This show hates them.
Onward to this week, our last ever Downton Episode 2.
Wedding Planning Sure Seems Fun. Now that Carson and Mrs. Hughes have managed to verbally admit that they love each other, want to get married, and actually live as husband and wife, all they have to do to get their happily ever after is make it through wedding planning without killing each other. They’ve managed to set a date, and only have to choose a location for the reception.
Robert, upon hearing about this dilemma offers to let the soon-to-be Carsons have their celebration in the servants’ hall, promising that they can decorate it and make it “look really special”. Mary and Edith are embarrassed that their father suggested anything as obviously as lame as this, and argue that they can surely do better for their two most awesome servants.
However, Mrs. Hughes, as it turns out, is not really into the idea of having the wedding reception at Downton at all – she knows that Carson’s obsessed with the Crawleys and everything, but she’d really rather not be a servant on her wedding day at all. Carson’s anxious about turning the family’s offer down, but Mrs. Hughes tells him they’ll get over it.
Poor Mrs. Drewe, Right? Mary’s entering some of the estate pigs in a livestock competition and comes up with the great idea that it might be fun to take George and Marigold to see the animals down at Mr. Drewe’s farm while she discusses the Downton entries with him. Edith freaks out at the prospect of Mrs. Drewe seeing Marigold again, especially since she’ll be in London and can’t supervise. Mary thinks her sister’s overreacting, and since she’s still the only person that doesn’t know that Marigold is actually her niece, no one can tell her otherwise. This is clearly going to end well.
Edith’s in London attending to some issues with her editor, so Cora accompanies Mary to Yew Tree farm. The kids are both totally fascinated by the pigs and everything seems to be going well, until Mrs. Drewe returns to find the Crawley clan – and the child they took away from her – in her backyard. She looks stricken, but cuddles the child anyway, and everyone but Mary can tell what a hard thing this is for her, seeing the little girl again. Cora and Mr. Drew look at each other awkwardly, as he tries to rush the Crawleys out the door. Mrs. Drewe is still the only character I have any sympathy for in this Marigold debacle – sure, she’s Edith’s child, but it’s Mrs. Drewe who’s had to repeatedly – and thanklessly suffer for her, and the general attitude that somehow this woman who has suffered incredible heartbreak because of and for the Crawley family is the real problem for them here, well… it’s kind of hard to take.
Mary Can Be Pretty Awesome Sometimes Actually. Mary and Anna have a heart to heart while she gets ready for bed one night. She wants to know why Anna’s so down in the dumps, especially since our long national nightmare has ended and neither she nor Bates are about to be arrested for, or presumably planning to commit, MURDER anytime soon. Anna comes clean about her problems having children and her fear that she’ll never be able to do so.
Mary tries to comfort her, insisting that her comically stress and pain-filled life has surely contributed to her being able to have children up until this point, but Anna’s convinced she’s just doomed forever. All is not lost however, because Mary Crawley can sometimes be a remarkably good and kind person when she wants to be, and it’s a shame this show lets us forget that sometimes. It turns out that Mary has made Anna an appointment with that doctor she saw way back in Season 3, when she was married to Matthew and had that “mysterious” procedure performed to help her get pregnant. She says that this Dr. Rider is the best there is, and he’ll surely be able to sort out whatever the issue might be. Anna tries to protest that this will all be too expensive, but Mary’s not having it – she says her maid’s more than earned it keeping her secrets over the years, including the dreadful Mr. Pamuk incident. Anna smiles, and I feel like my heart grew three sizes watching this scene.
Awwww, it feels so good to not be irritated with Mary all the time! Can we keep doing this for the rest of the season, show?
Thomas is Worried About His Job Security. Thomas asks Mr. Carson if there’s any further news about Downton staff possibly losing their jobs. Carson gives him a vague not-answer, and Thomas says he just wants to know if he should start looking for work. Carson sneers “What could it hurt?” because literally everyone except Baxter hates Thomas and no one understands why he’s even still on this show anymore. Thomas looks pained, but Baxter tries to cheer him up by saying there’s no way he’ll get sacked before he has another position.
Thomas takes all of this as confirmation that he needs to start job hunting ASAP, because he could be fired any day. He finds an advertisement in the paper with a Ripon address, and sets up an interview. Carson gives him the time off to go to it, and gets kind of snippy about it – and it’s unclear whether he’s irritated that Thomas is looking for work elsewhere or just eagerly anticipating the prospecting of getting rid of a troublesome employee ASAP.
During his job interview in Ripon, Thomas is somewhat taken aback that his new potential employer has made up a new position for him to fill – and basically wants him to be Superman, and perform about five different positions, including footman, chauffeur and valet, all for the wages of one. Thomas looks pained. Probably not a good fit, huh?
The Drewe Situation Escalates. Cora fills Robert in on the awkward family experience down at the Drewe farm and tells him that it’s obvious Mrs. Drewe isn’t over losing Marigold. (Honestly it’s not clear why any of these people would or should think she would be, but whatever.) Anyway, Cora’s nervous that Mrs. Drewe will never be able to get over losing Marigold as long as the child’s living so close under her nose like this. She says she wishes the Drewes would just move to another farm or something, but Robert points out that they’d never want to, what with their family having been at Yew Tree for 100 years. Cora just sniffs like it’s all really super irritating that other people have lives and thoughts and desires that are separate from her own. Robert volunteers to talk to Mr. Drewe, because for some reason he thinks that’s going to help things improve.
Of course, as soon as Robert arrives, the first thing Drewe asks is if he’s being asked to leave, because there’s sort of no other way to interpret his landlord’s sudden and vaguely unprecedented visit at all. Robert says no, but he just wants to underline what a difficult situation this is for everyone (but most especially for the Crawleys). Drewe wants to know why Edith didn’t control her family and keep them from dragging the child in front of his grieving wife, but Robert just says she was away and couldn’t. The real question here seems to be why can’t Edith just tell Mary the truth and suddenly force the entirety of the Crawleys and Drewes to be equally invested in avoiding each other, but no one asked me… Robert just says he wants everyone to be happy, and Drewe insists that he can “manage” his wife.
Daisy Rages Against the Machine. Daisy enlists the help of Baxter to try and convince Cora to intercede in the ongoing disaster she has created for Mr. Mason and his farm. Baxter asks her boss if she’d be willing to hear Daisy out and Cora says yes, even though it’s 1000% obvious that she wants nothing at all to do with this and doesn’t think her intervention with the new owners in control of Mr. Mason’s tenancy will help. Daisy doesn’t care, and tells Baxter she wants to talk to her anyway – and she rages on for a minute about the unfairness of the system, and how angry it makes her, and how she’s even angry at Cora, because she’s part of it, and it’s keeping good men like Mr. Mason down.
Baxter stays calm and reasonable, because that’s her brand, and just says that Daisy shouldn’t take it out on Cora, since she’s not the one who did anything wrong here.
Daisy tells Cora that she can’t bear the thought of William’s family being thrown off its farm when it’s all her fault. Cora tries to comfort her, saying that while Mr. Henderson was angry at what she said, she doubts it really had that much of an effect – no one would change their business plans for an estate just because he was angry at some kitchen worker. Daisy also tells her all about how great Mr. Mason is, and how hard he works, and Cora asks if he’d be open to starting over somewhere else. She says she has an idea, maybe, but won’t tell Daisy about it yet because she doubts anything will come of it.
Maybe They Should Just Skip the Reception. Before Carson can manage to figure out how to tell the Crawleys that his bride-to-be doesn’t really want to have her wedding reception in the servants’ hall, Lady Mary ups the ante even further. She tells him that Robert was being stupid, and of course, the two of them can have their reception anywhere in the house that they like – they don’t have to stay down below stairs like animals or something. Carson can’t figure out how to say no to this, because he is helpless against anything Mary might suggest, basically ever.
However, even with the possibility of a location upgrade to the Great Hall, Mrs. Hughes still isn’t feeling Downton as a reception location. She says that while the house is splendid, it’s not who they are – they work there, sure, but it’s not them. She says she wants their ceremony to be about the two of them and the things they like, not the things that make Downton what it is. Carson huffs, but seems to understand and says he’ll figure out a way to tell the Crawleys the truth.
The next day, Carson does try, he really does, but Mary’s not having it, insisting that if anyone has a right to be married from Downton, in Downton, it’s the man who’s worked in it all his life. She tells him she’ll take care of Mrs. Hughes, and Carson looks skeptical.
Anna Sees a Specialist. Anna, accompanied by Mary, because she’s trying really hard to be a great person all around this week, goes to see a specialist about her problems having children. She’s pretty anxious about the whole thing, having already decided that she and Bates can’t adopt because she knows “no substitute will do” for him other than his own child. (Which is something that’s probably worth ranting about on its own, because seriously?) Anyway, everything turns out well, because the doctor explains to Anna that she has a condition called cervical incompetence that makes carrying a pregnancy to term difficult for her. Happily, the condition is very treatable, she just has to contact him and have a procedure the next time she gets pregnant. The doctor says it isn’t uncommon and has been treated for years. Anna smiles, suddenly hopeful again.
Oh, Carson. Mrs. Hughes pretty much figures out instantly that Carson has yet again failed at turning down the Crawleys’ offer of a reception venue. She’s pretty irritated about the situation – which Carson says is very unlike her. Mrs. Hughes says she doesn’t think it’s a big thing to ask that just once she be allowed to have something her own way – she says she already knows they’ll be doing everything his way for the rest of their lives, so she, as the bride, wants to do what she wants just this once, on her wedding day.
Later on, the two talk things out while out on a walk. Carson says it means a lot to Mary and the family that they get married in the house, and he can’t see why they shouldn’t. He also points out that Downton means a lot more to him than the school does, and it’s not like they have family nearby or a special place to use instead. Mrs. Hughes looks a bit surprised, but Carson looks stubborn.
Adventures at the Livestock Festival. The day of the local livestock show arrives and the whole Crawley clan and most of the Downton servants head out to enjoy the festivities and support the estate’s entries in the show. The Drewes are also present – since Mr. Drewe is the Downton pig man and all, but Mrs. Drewe seems apprehensive about the prospect of seeing the Crawleys and Marigold again. Mr. Drewe just tells her she had to have known they’d be there, and pretty much implies she should just deal with it.
Of course the worst possible thing happens when Mrs. Drewe decides that the Crawleys are neglecting Marigold during the show and grabs the girl off the street, taking her back to Yew Tree farm without telling anyone. The Crawleys and servants panic, assuming the girl has been kidnapped, until Mr. Drewe finally displays a hint of situational awareness and realizes what’s happened. He and Edith tell the Crawleys a lie about how his wife took her home, to get her out of harm’s way. Then the two of them, Robert and Cora all head off to fetch her. They discover Mrs. Drewe holding the girl and humming to her while she sleeps, and basically looking like she’s five minutes away from becoming a Bronte novel. She tells Drewe that none of the Crawleys were paying Marigold any attention at all or looking after her, and so she brought her home. Because she loves her. Mr. Drewe looks heartbroken and takes Marigold back out to Edith. He tells Robert that he will start looking for another tenancy immediately. Robert says he’ll help however he can. Which I guess is something, but, as he says, it’s a pretty poor return for all this family has done for – and given up for – his own.
Yes, Mrs. Drewe did a pretty terrible thing by taking the child, but it’s difficult to really hate her for it. No one – not even her husband – seems at all interested in even acknowledging her loss, and it must be such a struggle to have everyone seem so convinced that your pain doesn’t matter. It also seems deeply unfair that the Drewes must now be forced to give up their family homestead, and go make a new start for themselves somewhere else, because they did an epic favor for Edith, who then pretty much turned around and ruined their lives when she changed her mind. She certainly displays almost zero awareness of what she’s done to these people, at any rate. At least Cora and Robert seem to recognize that what they are asking of – and what they have taken from – the Drewes, and they at least have the grace to feel bad about it. Well done, Edith. Well done.
I guess I should just be happy this storyline is over. Ugh. Next week: It looks like Carson and Mrs. Hughes are going to get over the whole kerfuffle about reception locations, because it’s wedding time!
Thoughts on this week? Especially curious to hear reactions to The Marigold Saga. Hit the comments!