Oct 14, 2020
Downton Abbey: Mary Crawley's Icy Cold Heart (S6 E7 Recap)
Others will refer to this week’s Downton Abbey as A Day at the Races, and it was quite a day at the races, but the scariest moment was not on the track, but on the phone, when Mary Crawley shut the door on Henry and the possibility of love (on the worst night of his life) by telling him she hoped he’d have a happy life – with someone else. No wonder her entire family – and trusted servants, are lying to her about Edith’s foundling child. If she could so decisively end things with Henry, a man she seemed (despite her better judgment) awfully fond of, what might she do to a sister she despises?
Brooklands was mentioned so many times we should have expected it would be important. I’ll confess I always heard Brooklyn’s, and thought the place might have some kind of ersatz-New Yawk theme, maybe with giant foot-long Coney Island hot dogs, and a mermaid festival.
It should be noted that Henry’s invitation to all of the Crawleys was meant as a kind of preemtive strike, made without Mary’s knowledge or consent. Of course Tom wanted to go. He loves Henry so much, the shippers should be shipping them. Robert wanted to go even though he’s barely recovered from his stomach explosion. Cora didn’t think he could stand the excitement because each of them thinks the other is over the hill. Even Edith wanted to go because clever Henry invited Bertie. So with the entire clan planning to be there, how could we not have known the day would end in tragedy?
But back to that later. Before the younger Crawleys set out for the races, Violet decides to sneak away It’s the only way she can avoid continually spewing her anger at the family who betrayed her. Isobel is now siding with Violet, and agreeing that they treated her shabbily, which is a wee bit disingenuous given that Isobel was in on the whole, let’s not tell Violet she’s being replaced till she gets the letter from the board debacle. Isobel has news of her own – an invitation to Larry’s wedding. As if! Both ladies believe it was Miss Cruikshank’s work. (How Dickensian is that name?) Violet promises to scope this out before sailing away. Isobel feels disinclined to get involved in Dickie’s domestic drama again, even if he is the perfect man for her.
Violet stops by Dickie’s unannounced because a surprise attack is always best. Dickie and Larry are conveniently out. Did she stake the place out? Miss Crankshaft is home because she can’t wait till after the wedding to start taking over. Violet susses out that Miss Crockshunt is pushing the Isobel/Dickie reunion as a way of fobbing off the care of the old gent. Of course, before Dickie’s body would even be in the ground (men always die sooner) she’d kick Isobel out because a woman like Mrs. Crawley wouldn’t be happy there anyway. Violet, who’s lately been feeling the brunt of what it’s like to be pushed out of the way by a younger generation calls Miss Crackerjackprize a “cool miss” and accuses her of wanting a “free nurse to take a tired old man off [her] hands.” Violet was not only frank, she was frankly awesome. Let’s hope she makes it back, if not next week, then certainly for the Christmas Special.
Violet assigns Isobel the task of telling the family she’s gone. No sentimental good-byes for Granny.
And now let’s check in with those who serve:
Anna, Bates, and Baxter go with the family to Brooklands because Edith is the only one who can actually dress herself. This means that the rest of the staff have exactly nothing to do for a change. Molesley and Daisy will both be taking their exams. Because this is an all day event, and everyone else has a lot of spare time on their hands, the servants enjoy a lovely picnic lunch on the green outside of the school, courtesy of Mrs. Patmore (and the family larder). The schoolmaster, Mr. Dawes, joins them for the good eats. When Daisy asks Andy to read something aloud, the truth about his illiteracy is revealed. Barrow is also revealed to be his secret tutor. But does poor Thomas get any credit? No, he does not. Mr. Dawes offers to take over Andy’s education, and tells Barrow that their methods may conflict, so he should leave it to the professional now, and thank you very much for your service. Et tu, Mr. Dawes?
I hope Thomas has learned his lesson. Being good doesn’t pay. Therefore, it’s time to go back to being the sneaky, schemer we all loved to hate, instead of this guy we keep feeling sorry for.
Mrs. Patmore’s guesthouse has visitors. Her niece is taking care of the place, but she goes over to make breakfast, thinking that can be her specialty. Some bloke is lurking outside writing in a notebook. What’s up with that? Looks like we’ll have to wait to find out.
Charlie and Elsie (as they are known to no one but each other, and even then only in private) are still having problems of which Charlie is unaware. Elsie has had it with his snipes at her cooking and housekeeping. He’s demanding another dinner at the cottage. Elsie tells Mrs. Patmore that even if Patmore gives her a precooked goody bag, her husband will still find reason to complain. So Patmore comes up with a plan. Elsie fakes a hand injury. Her husband has to cook dinner, and even do the dishes. That’ll teach him! And then for the next eighty years, every domestic sitcom on radio and television will do some version of this shtick. Men in the kitchen doing women’s work! Comedy gold. Next week Carson brings Robert over for dinner and Elsie’s burnt the roast!
Over in London town, Edith invites her editrix to meet her family and come to Brooklands because sure why not invite your underling to meet a bunch of people who don’t respect you. Maybe if Gregson does show up in the Christmas Special, the editrix can take Bertie off Edith’s hands and everyone will live happily ever after. There’s also mention of the magazine featuring an “advice column” by someone named Casandra Jones. Will we be meeting yet another new character at this late date?
The family is staying at Rosamund’s instead of that white elephant of a townhouse that’s probably pretty musty given that no one ever uses it. Some of us live in small apartments and have dreams finding a hidden bedroom. The Crawley’s have an entire house they never even use. This is why Bernie Sanders will be elected King of England. Before dinner is even over, Henry drops by unannounced. That night, Mary asks Anna what she thinks of him, and Anna tells her she just doesn’t see it, which is also what Cora is saying to Robert just about then.
The next day over at Downton, Dawes stops by with some good news. Both Daisy and Molesley nailed those exams. Molesley did so well he’s offered a teaching job and Dawes tells him he knows more than some Cambridge and Oxford graduates. You go Molesley! If Molesley goes, does that mean Thomas stays? Probably not. Molesley only a footman, and Thomas is an under-butler, and that’s like a totally different skill set, besides we’re reminded that all of them will be leaving service sooner or later.
At Brooklands, which looks nothing like Brooklyn – even the tonier brownstone sections, Tom seems to latch onto to the editrix, which is a good thing, as his obsession with Henry was starting to get creepy. Let’s hope she’s not a socialist.
Mary is very nervous, which makes sense given how her husband died, and raise your hand if you don’t get why Tom is pushing this ship so hard. But she does beam at Henry, despite the racing suit being a strangely geeky look for him.
Everyone is into the speed, even though all they do is drive around in circles and the show has to break this up with other story lines to keep us from falling asleep. Henry and his good friend Charlie are egging each other on, and it’s Charlie who crashes. Henry almost throws himself on the burning wreckage and it’s all pretty terrible. They make this early form of auto-racing look gladiatorial and primitive. Good thing it never caught on.
Dinner at Rosamund’s is bleak and tense. Henry isn’t there because he has to go to Charlie’s family. He telephones and Tom makes Mary talk to him. That’s when Mary tells him she doesn’t want him to give up racing – just her. To be fair, Mary’s right. They don’t belong together, except maybe on the pages of a magazine wearing nice clothes, but it was awful to tell him that after he just lost his best friend.
Tom has now turned into a greeting card, and tells her that being hurt is being alive, and that Henry is “right” for her, but I think Tom really means Henry is right for Tom.
While Mary is losing her chance at love, Edith is in another room, having a drink in Bertie’s arms. He proposes. They’ll live on his cousin’s estate. Edith asks if she can bring Marigold. Bertie’s like, “The little foundling child your family took in what looks just like you and you have an unhealthy obsession with? Sure, why not?”
Granted, this wasn’t exactly what Edith was expecting, but is she or isn’t she going to tell him the awful truth? Let’s hope she asks Cora for advice and not her aunt. Let’s also hope she saves her engagement announcement until Mary is a bit over her own trauma because it wouldn’t be the first time Mary’s broken up a potential Edith marriage. A long time ago she told Edith’s age-inappropriate suitor, Anthony Strallan, that Edith thought he was an old bore when Edith was in fact giddy at the idea that he might propose.
When the family gets back to Downton after their terrible, very bad, weekend in London, Isobel is there to greet them with the news that Violet’s taken off. But then Robert is informed by Carson that Sprout is in the servant’s hall and he’s brought a present from the Dowager. (And yes, I am aware it’s Spratt not Sprout, but I think of Septimus as something with roots in the earth, like a potato.) Robert and family head downstairs – an area of the house with which they are all becoming more familiar. Everyone is cooing over a puppy! Aw, Violet, you do have a heart! Robert names it Tia, not after the teachers insurance annuity, but in “the Egyptian tradition” which explains the unfortunate moniker of her departed predecessor.
So next week is the finale – officially. Will Poor Edith finally get married or will she get stood up AGAIN? Are Henry and Mary split for good? What about the other loose ends, including Thomas’ job search, and all those budding romantic pair-offs that aren’t baked yet? Plus Anna’s baby! It looks like this has to go into overtime – meaning that the Christmas Special won’t just be the usual joyous noel at the Abbey, but a real ending, and damn it, it better be a happy one!