As usual, this recap contains spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.
- The issue with the hospital is becoming rather tiresome. Cora (Elizabeth McGovern)/Isobel (Penelope Wilton) vs Violet (Dame Maggie Smith) is become too intense. Please Julian Fellows, tell me that this story line will be put to bed soon.
- Not that Tom Branson (Allen Leech) is back, he needs a job. With Mary (Michelle Dockery) running the estate, Tom has to once more find his footing in the world that is Downton Abbey.
- Speaking of Mary, the Dowager and Lady Shackleton (Harriet Walter) are playing matchmaker. This time it’s Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode), who Mary met at the end of season 5 at the rented country estate of Rose’s (Lily James) in-laws. While I have not been completely spoiled, I do know that Henry is more than a match for Mary.
- With the drama with her former editor in the past, Edith (Laura Carmichael) is looking to hire an editor, while her father, Robert (Hugh Bonneville) continues to deny that his health may not be what it once was. But Cora is beginning to suspect that a trip to the doctor is needed. Rosamund (Samantha Bond) returns to her childhood home to convince Edith become a trustee of woman’s college. Rosamund thinks she is playing matchmaker for Edith with the college’s treasurer, but something entirely different and wonderful occurs.
- In a mid-season surprise that made this fan very happy, the former Gwen Dawson (Rose Leslie) returned to Downton. Not as a housemaid, but as Mrs. Harding. Her husband, John (Philip Battley) is the treasurer of the women’s college. Of course the first one to recognizes Gwen out of her uniform is Thomas (Rob James-Collier), who got too big for his britches this episode. But let’s stay upstairs for a little while longer before we venture downstairs. As soon as the light bulb goes off for the Crawley’s, Gwen starts talking about Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay). Bring on the waterworks. As a result of this lunch, Mary begins to question what she is doing with her life. In case you need a reminder of Gwen’s time as housemaid, here it is.
- Back to Thomas. Now that Mr. and Mrs. Carson (Jim Carter and Phyllis Logan) are on their honeymoon, Thomas is in charge downstairs. He likes to be at the head of the table a little too much. Of course, it takes Robert to remind Thomas about the true nature of leadership.
- Mr. and Mrs. Carson return from their honeymoon at the end of the episode. The question is, what shall they be referred to as. For comfort’s sake, Carson and Mrs. Hughes. It’s nice to see that some things never change.
- I am thoroughly convinced that Julian Fellow’s sadistic streak has gone too far. Now that Anna (Joanne Froggatt) is pregnant, he decides to scare her, Mary and the audience by giving her what appears to be another miscarriage. Thankfully, Mary and Anna are able to get to London and confirm that Anna has not lost this pregnancy. The joy on Mr. Bates’s (Brendan Coyle) face that he is to be a father is contagious. I truly hope that we will see Baby Bates by the end of the series.
- The merry war at the Dowager house has quieted down, at least for this week.
- Miss Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) is approached by the police. Her former colleague who convinced her to steal the jewels years ago has been implicated in a similar crime. If Miss Baxter were to testify for the police, she might help them to put him away for good. Molesley (Kevin Doyle) tries to convince her to testify.
- Now that Yew Tree Farm is empty, Daisy (Sophie McShera) is convinced that Cora has gone against her word to give to Mr. Mason (Paul Copley). Against the recommendation of her co-workers, she nearly knocks Cora down, thinking that Yew Tree Farm is going to someone else, but just at the last second, Robert tells her that it is going Mr. Mason. That that was too close for comfort for me.
We are about halfway through this final series. That means that the loose ends will slowly start to be tied up. I like the potential of Henry Talbot and Mary. It takes a certain kind of man to keep Lady Mary Crawley happy. As for the rest of the plot this episode, the pacing is good, I hope I will be pleasantly surprised and happy with the final episode.
Dowager quote of the week: On the subject of Henry Talbot as a possible match for Mary, “She needs more than a handsome smile,” Violet says upon seeing Mary with Henry, “and a hand on the gear shift.” Who knew the Dowager was that dirty?
See you next week.