Downton Abbey: Elsie and Charlie Getting Married (S6 E3 Recap)

downton abbey s6 castOnce again we open with the servants scurrying because standards must be maintained. It’s a couple of days before the Hughes/Carson nuptials. Mrs. Hughes is less than thrilled  to be having the ceremony at the Abbey, but she’s given up trying to reason with her intended about it. Instead, she’s complaining to her confidante, Mrs. Patmore.

Mrs. Patmore takes it upon herself to speak to Lady Cora and let her know the awful truth about Mrs. Hughes feelings because talking to other people about how Mrs. Hughes is feeling has become Mrs. Patmore’s thing. Poor Mrs. Patmore! Will Mrs. Hughes put her on the spot again after the honeymoon to critique Carson’s nooky technique?

Who will Mrs. P have to talk to on Mrs. Hughes' behalf next week?

Who will Mrs. P have to talk to on Mrs. Hughes’ behalf next week?

Violet has stopped by to make sure her son is on her side with this hospital thing. As if we didn’t get the whole “this means war” message last week, she raises her cane like a sword and says when it comes to her daughter-in-law, it will be “less hello and more en garde.”

Meantime, over at the Dower house, something is brewing on the Sprout/Denker front. Mr. Sprout may be hiding something, and Denker is determined to find out what it is. (And no I did not cut and paste that sentence from a previous recap, but I could have.)


Mary susses out that Anna is pregnant again, and she’s not telling Bates until she knows that the little procedure will work, which means that Mrs. Bates will again be hiding something from Mr. Bates. What could possibly go wrong?

Doesn’t it seem like everything this season is a variation on an already played out theme?

Speaking of which, Mary also mentions another recent letter from Tom because if they keep saying his name he’ll show up sooner or later.

Well, that was an exciting day! Now it’s time for dinner. Isobel is a guest at the big house, but Violet isn’t. Naturally, there’s more talk about the hospital. Cora asks to talk to Mrs. Hughes, and gets her to admit in front of Mary and Robert that she’d rather have her wedding at the schoolhouse so she could do things her way. Cora gets it. Mary doesn’t. With the servants out of the room, Cora explains she wanted Mary to hear Hughes’ declaration so she’d stop “bullying” her about the wedding. Mary snaps at her mother, accusing her of being a snob and not wanting the bother of a servants’ wedding in her house.

Over at Violet’s, Denker is simultaneously fishing for information while also making insinuations to Violet about Sprout. Violet at usual, acts as though she’s annoyed, but is totally enjoying the domestic drama.

The next day Thomas arrives for a job interview at a once great house. He soon realizes that the man who answered the door was not the butler, but Sir Michael himself. That can’t be good. What the inside lacks in furniture, it makes up for in dust, and it looks like Thomas might be doing some of the dusting himself if he takes the gig because the place isn’t exactly hopping with staff. Sir Michael is waiting for the old days to come back, and drifts into a very theatrical monologue about watching the ladies ascend the stairs after those long ago parties. Thomas tells the old man he may not be up to the job, and wishes him luck. At least that wasn’t quite as disastrous at Thomas’ last job interview.

Will Thomas’ visits to decaying estates become a weekly feature?

Meantime, in London, Lady Edith runs into that nice but maybe not quite up to the family’s standards (though in Edith’s case they’ll take anything) estate agent she met at Lord Sinderby’s party at the leased country castle last season. He actually remembered she ran a magazine! They agree to meet for a drink after she finishes some stuff up. Go Edith!

Then Edith goes back to the office, gets into another yelling match with her editor because nothing can happen just one time on this show, and finally fires him. She and her secretary/assistant will get out the issue themselves because girl power! Then she remembers the bloke she was supposed to meet and runs out to the restaurant. He offers to come back with her and make coffee and fetch sandwiches! Looks like he’s a keeper! How will Poor Edith Who Can Never Know a Moment’s Happiness mess this up?


Back at Downton, Moseley who’s still helping Daisy with her studies, let’s slip that the Drewes are leaving Yew Tree Farm. Daisy puts it together, and realizes that was probably the plan Lady Cora had in mind. She’s suddenly convinced there’s hope for Mr. Mason. But will her lack of discretion blow it again?

Sgt Willis stops by but this time he’s not out to arrest a Bates. He’s at the Dower House to ask Sprout if he’s seen his unfortunate nephew what escaped from prison. Denker is enjoying every minute of this. She denies seeing the young man to the police, but after the copper is gone, she asks Sprout if his nephew got away after he put him up in the potting shed, and makes it clear that she can use this against him at some later date. They’ve invented elevators by this time, right? Because maybe she Denker could go fall down a shaft.

Edith gets the issue of the magazine out with help from her assistant Audrey, and her new beau who probably got married after they met last season, or has some other major issue she doesn’t know about yet.  She mentions that she’s going back to Yorkshire for the butler’s wedding, and they talk about servants who’ve stayed in voluntarily slavery forever, and how sad it is that way of life is dying out on account of people having real jobs with wages and all.

The next morning a thing that has never happened before happens! Cora is up and out of bed before anyone else in the upstairs world! Of course this means that Baxter also had to get up super early because it’s not like she can actually dress herself. She’s going to the big hospital in York.

It’s now the official day before the wedding. There’s some kind of crisis with the wedding dress. Apparently there isn’t one. Hughes hadn’t really been giving the matter much thought probably out of resentment about not having any control over the wedding. Patmore ordered her a catalog dress, but it’s awful. Anna takes the problem to Mary, who decides that her mother won’t mind at all if Mrs Hughes borrows her mother’s embroidered evening coat. After all, it’s not like her mother is a SNOB who wouldn’t want to lend it to a servant.

Cora goes to the local hospital after her meeting in York. Isobel, Violet and Clarkson are fighting. Isobel is of course being obnoxious in that totally direct middle-class way of hers. She tells Clarkson he’s just siding with Violet because he doesn’t want to lose his position of power. Lord Merton tells Clarkson, “Mrs. Crawley didn’t mean that.” But she totally meant it.

Tea time! Robert is seems proud of Edith who shows him the mock up. This causes Mary to make bitch-faces. Cora comes in to the room for a second, but is basically worn out from having to get out of bed before noon, and also traumatized by Isobel’s tantrum, so she rushes up to her room before Mary has a chance to tell her that the servants are all up in her room with Mrs. Hughes, checking out the wardrobe options. This leads to a DREADFUL scene. Cora yells at them! This only confirms Mrs. Hughes feelings of screw these people I work for who won’t let me forget for five seconds I work for them even on the day before my wedding.

The jig is up ladies!

The jig is up ladies!

Mary finds out about the brouhaha from Anna. She berates her mother because it wasn’t like she was going to let that bully remark stand, and she probably didn’t mention anything to Cora accidentally on purpose. Cora feels terrible and comes downstairs to apologize to Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore. She not only lets her borrow the coat – which she’s brought down with her, she tells Mrs. Hughes to keep it. Cora rocks.

It’s the wedding day! Can we even stand the excitement?


Baxter (Does she even have a first name?) and Anna come to dress the bride. Mrs. Patmore brings Mrs. Hughes her coffee. At least the servants aren’t going to treat Mrs. Hughes like a servant on her special day.

At the wedding, Isobel sort of apologizes to Clarkson while somehow blaming Violet for her own lack of tact. Clarkson is uncharacteristically gracious about this and admits to having second thoughts about his position. Later, Violet reacts to his treason. Mary apologizes to the bride for her interference. Mrs. Hughes tells her that Carson would forgive her if she attacked him with a brick. That wasn’t the least bit passive-aggressive. Denker tortures Sprout with her intel as expected.  Bates notices “something” about Anna. Moseley and the school master talk about Daisy. The school master suggests that Moseley may have “missed” his vocation. Moseley says, “I’ve missed everything but Daisy doesn’t have to.” But has he missed everything? Given that everything is changing and we still have about seven more episodes, is it possible that he too will find happiness?

The doctor's admission only confirms Violet's belief that the middle-class is revolting.

The doctor’s admission only confirms Violet’s belief that the middle-class is revolting.

Carson gives his toast, and just at the end of it, guess who shows up? Why it’s Tom and Sybie of course! Way to steal the bride and groom’s thunder, Tom! He’s come back for good because like Dorothy he had to leave to realize that your true home is the one with where you have to dress for dinner and only see your daughter five minutes a day.  I guess we won’t be hearing all of those “But where do I really belong?” speeches any more.

Even little Sybie can't help noticing how much the foundling child resembles her Aunt Edith.

Even little Sybie can’t help noticing how much the foundling child resembles her Aunt Edith.

So do those of us still unspoiled have any predictions? Will Thomas Barrow finally find another position or will he resort to arson in a misguided attempt to “save” another Crawley only to burn the whole house down? Will Violet and Isobel finally get into that fight the world has been waiting for? Because who doesn’t love a good old lady fight? But more importantly, how will Mary manage to snatch away Edith’s happiness this season?

Downton abbey s6 e3 mary evil

Don’t worry. She’ll think of something.

Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: Downton Abbey

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