For years, the Dowager Countess and Cousin Isobel have butted heads over control of the local hospital. Now, the Royal Hospital in York wants to take over, and the board is split. Violet is dead-set against it since it will mean even more loss of her power. Naturally, Isobel thinks it’s a marvelous idea. Cora is the swing vote, and after playing it cagey for most of the episode, she confides to her husband that she’s going to oppose Violet – a prospect that is sure to aggravate Robert’s ulcer.
Having accepted his wedding proposal at the end of Season 5, Mrs. Hughes has apparently been obsessing over the prospect of Mr. Carson wanting to get freaky. So she does what anybody in her situation would do: She asks Mrs. Patmore to ask Carson about it. Mrs. Patmore does her valiant best to raise the topic of Carson’s erotic ambitions, but they’re all just so frightfully English. Larfs abound. Carson declares that he wants a “full marriage” not a “brother/sister” relationship (has he met the Lannisters?). But if Mrs Hughes is too scandalized at the thought of Li’l Charlie coming out to play, he will agree to call off the engagement. When Mrs. Hughes finds her words, she reveals she was only scared that she would disappoint him. Carson practically swoons, and the wedding is on! And you’ve spent the whole episode imagining Carson and Hughes getting busy!
Lady Mary’s Nethers: Everyone Has An Opinion
Last season, Lady Mary had sexytimes with the boring Lord Gillingham while sloooowly figuring out that she didn’t want to marry him. Now, one of the chambermaids from the hotel where they stayed turns up at Downton to blackmail Mary. They said her name, but she might as well be called Miss Evil Prole, since that’s about the extent of the her character. Mary is like, “Bitch please. I’ve survived worse,” while gesturing to the Force-ghost of Poor Mister Pamuk shimmering in the corner (we could only wish). No, in true Downton-style, Mary spends the entire episode fretting about what to do without making a decision. Finally, Robert steps in, forcing Miss Evil Prole to sign a confession of blackmail and paying her fifty pounds to crawl back to her gutter and leave decent folks alone.
This is the kind of storyline that drives me nuts about "Downton Abbey" – they set up a conflict, reiterate instead of escalate it, and finally solve it through some deus ex machina. It can be as frustrating as “Entourage” sometimes. The one upside of the whole affair is that it convinces Robert that Mary is sufficiently hard-nosed and capable enough to run the estate.
Daisy is devastated to learn that due to the sale of a neighboring great house, her father-in-law is going to lose his tenant farm. If only the budding radical socialist could do something to stop such an unfair treatment! So she tags along to the auction and takes the opportunity to Norma Rae in the face of the new owners. Do they see the classist errors of their ways and allow kindly Mr. Mason to stay? Of course not – Daisy’s outburst only ensures Mr. Mason’s ejection. Silly Daisy, trying to singlehandedly take down the British tenant farming system on her own. Robert tells Carson not to sack her, since he obviously believes she’ll be back someday at the head of a line of pitchforks and wants to get in some goodwill while he still can.
The Depressed Under-Butler Market
Robert and Carson discuss the impending need for more staff cuts, and the logical candidate is Barrow, since “who has an under-butler these days?” Sorry Thomas. Too bad only the viewers know you’ve given up your mustache-twirling ways. You can’t even try to be friends with young footman Andy without throwing the rest of the staff into a gay panic. At least the little kids like Thomas – and the surprise is that he seems to like them just as much. Rob James-Collier is doing fantastic work, giving Thomas so many shades and colors. Meanwhile, Denker takes the opportunity to spread rumors of the staff reductions and to torture Spratt. Those two should get their own spin-off web series.
Spinsters Have More Fun
Lady Edith has inherited a lot from poor, dead Michael Gregson: his magazine (although the chauvinist editor doesn’t want to listen to her), a swanky flat in London where he entertained literary society (“I met Virginia Woolf here”) and of course, little Marigold. At this point, it seems like everybody knows that Marigold is Edith’s daughter except for Mary – because if Mary knew, she’d never shut up about it. Edith needs to decide what to do next. This being “Downton Abbey,” she spends the entire episode fretting without actually making a decision.
The family gets some letters: Tom spent most of Season 5 talking about moving to Boston without actually, y’know, doing it, but he finally has, and it seems to agree with him. Cousin Rose extols the glories of her new life in New York.
Meanwhile, the whole saga of who killed Mister Green finally seems to be over. A random person confessed to doing the murder! Hooray! But Anna thinks she can’t have children and is distraught. Boo! Mr. Bates, having run out of things to do three seasons ago, persists in professing that everything will be fine as if he’s read a 1925 version of "The Secret." Remember in the first season when everybody loved Bates? Yeah, I barely do too.