I feel as if all six seasons of Downton Abbey had been leading to this moment.
Edith and Mary finally have it out. And just when I was thinking, “Hmmm… I wonder if I can used the word ‘bitch’ in a review of Downton Abbey,” Edith calls her sister “a nasty jealous scheming bitch. You’re a bitch.” I can’t lie. I actually clapped out loud and re-watched that scene at least three times. It’s high time Mary got her comeuppance.
The cause of their massive row? Mary came to breakfast and announced to Bertie that Marigold is Edith’s daughter. Mary’s upset because, not only was Edith’s love life going better than hers, but it appeared that Edith was on track to become the wife of the Marquess of Hexham. Bertie’s cousin died leaving Bertie the heir to Brancaster Castle. And almost everyone has had it with Mary’s behavior. (Mary’s parents still give her a pass). Tom is furious. “Like all bullies, you’re a coward,” he tells her. When Mary tried to claim she didn’t know her sister hadn’t told Bertie the truth, Edith says, “Don’t demean yourself by trying to justify your venom.”
So Bertie breaks up with Edith. Not because she has an illegitimate daughter (or so he claims), but because he can’t be married to someone who lies to him and doesn’t trust him enough to tell him the truth. So Edith’s love life is in shambles. But here’s the real rub: Mary behaved atrociously… but she’s still the one who gets married by the end of the episode. An intervention from the Dowager Countess (summoned home by Tom) makes Mary realize that she does love Henry. Like in a Disney movie, their wedding is thrown together in a few days and Mary is the glowing bride. Seriously, all we needed was some cartoon animals singing about true love. So Mary is a bitch, but she still gets her prince and gets to live happily ever after. Her comeuppance is way too short-lived.
Thomas attempted to take his own life, but was rescued by Baxter who realizes that something isn’t right with Thomas and rushes back to Downton to find him in a bloody bathtub. It is a harrowing scene and I’m not exactly sure Downtown is a show equipped to deal with topics as heavy as clinical depression and suicide attempts. Both Robert and Mr. Carson seem to think that just letting Thomas keep his job will be enough. “I didn’t credit him with any feelings. I though he was a man without a heart,” Mr. Carson confesses.
For comic relief in this episode we had poor Mrs. Patmore dealing with her bed and breakfast getting a bad reputation for being a place of ill-repute (a couple having an affair stayed there). Robert, Cora and Rosamund all go to have tea at Mrs. Patmore’s establishment to show that it is definitely not a place of ill-repute.
The other big reveal is that Spratt is the author of the advice column in Edith’s magazine. This is a little tidbit that probably would have been a lot more fun if the story line had lingered a bit more. I wasn’t even mildly curious about who was behind the column, but good on Spratt for finding a back-up plan to his day job.
Edith gives a great speech to Mary about how, no matter what they’ve been through, they are sisters and the only ones who will truly remember Sybil and their parents and all the people of their childhood. They will grow old together “until at last our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike,” she tells Mary.
The episode ends with a contemplative Edith watching the children play in the cemetery. It was an odd and anti-climactic ending to the series.
Next Sunday, PBS airs the special More Manners of Downton Abbey with the two hour Christmas episode (which will serve as the series finale) airing on March 6. At this point all I want are no deaths, a healthy baby for Anna and Bates and a romantic happy ending for Edith.
“Now you’re happy again you’ll be nicer for a while.” True that Edith, true that.
So glad Mr. Mosely turned out to be a good teacher.
It’s kind of telling that the show has absolutely nothing for Anna and Mr. Bates to do now that they aren’t in crisis or facing jail time.
“Poor old Edith couldn’t make her dolls do what she wanted.”
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.