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Downton Abbey Recap, Season 6, Episode 8: Bomb Explodes in Writer's Room, Plots Fly Everywhere....

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 22/02/2016 David Hinckley

If you only saw the last five minutes of Downton Abbey Sunday, it would have been a little like showing up for World War I on Armistice Day.
You'd look around, see all the relieved happy faces and think, "Well, everything seems fine. Nothing bad has happened, has it?"
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Well, yeah. Up until those last five minutes, the penultimate episode of Downton Abbey felt like No Man's Land. After an hour and 15 minutes of this, would anyone get out alive?
Mary blindsided Edith. Branson blasted Mary. Mary yelled at Henry. Bertie rejected Edith. Everyone rejected Barrow. Carson insulted Mrs. Hughes. Mrs. Patmore was gobsmacked. Edith roasted Mary. Lord Grantham told Rosamund to go home. Mary sniped at Lord Grantham. Lord Grantham snapped at Mary.
A classroom full of teenagers trashed Mr. Molesley.
What was going on? Did everyone think they were trying out for talk radio?
All this commotion also turned the world upside down. Mary got angry lectures from Branson, the consensus Mr. Congeniality, and a sympathetic ear from the Dowager Countess, who judges everybody and everything.
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Violet told Mary to put aside notions of aristocratic entitlement, which is the whole code by which Violet has lived, and follow her heart.
A few days in France and she comes home thinking this?
In the end, the turmoil ended with Mary marrying Henry Talbot and the newlyweds driving happily into the sunset as Lord Grantham benevolently smiled and said, "A new couple in a new world. It seems all our ships are coming into port."
Of course, a few of those ships have holes as big as the White Cliffs of Dover.
Take the Good Ship Edith.
Cora, Rosamund, Branson and everyone else who knew that Edith is really Marigold's Mum told her that before she gave Bertie an answer on his marriage proposal, he had to know the truth.
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She agreed, but being Edith, said she was afraid she'd blow it whether she did or not. So she didn't, and then when she and Bertie and Mary and Branson were sitting around the luncheon table, Mary outed her.
Bertie, said Mary, do you know about Edith and Marigold? Bertie looked at Edith. Edith 'fessed up. Bertie left the table.
Mary's gesture was as rotten as it sounds, and it seemed to come from a couple of places: Mary's resentment at being kept in the dark herself, Mary's frustration at just having sent Henry packing, and what Edith thought was the real reason: "The one thing she can't bear is when things are going better for me than for her."
Whatever the reason, Bertie told Edith he was withdrawing his proposal. Not because of Marigold, but because of the secrecy thing.
"I don't feel like I could spend my life with someone I couldn't trust," he said, "or who didn't trust me."
So it was bye bye Bertie - and did we mention that shortly before the breakup Bertie became a much better catch? Turned out he wasn't just a struggling land agent. The sixth Marquess of Hexham died suddenly while traveling in Tangiers, which upgraded Bertie to seventh Marquess of Hexham.
For those keeping score at home, a Marquess ranks higher than an Earl. So if Edith married him, Lord Grantham noted, "She would outrank us all."
But now, alas, Edith was left to lament yet another marital near-miss. As Lord Grantham had mused earlier, "Poor old Edith. She couldn't even make her dolls do what she wanted."
Branson had already been nagging Mary about rejecting Henry. "What a load of baloney," he said when Mary tried to tell him it wasn't really love.
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But Mary's Marigold move ignited Branson's full Irish fury.
"You ruined Edith's life," he yelled at Mary. "How many more lives are you going to wreck to smother your own misery? You're a bully, and like all bullies, you're a coward!"
And that was sweet nothings compared to what Mary heard when she popped into Edith's room and started to apologize.
"Shut up!" Edith said. "You're a nasty, jealous, scheming bitch. You're not content with ruining your own life, you try to ruin mine."
Harsh. But essentially accurate.
Edith also added a footnote as she left: "Henry's perfect for you. You're just too stupid and stuck-up to see it."
Edith then headed to London to help set up a perfectly placed moment of absurdist comic relief that we all needed desperately.
Edith's editor Laura had finally arranged for a meeting with their mysterious advice columnist Cassandra Jones, whom neither Edith nor Laura had met in person.
Sunday we saw why. Cassandra turned out to be Spratt, Violet's butler. Did not see that coming.
Meanwhile, back at Downton, the miserable Mary went to her room and snapped at Anna, which is one thin step away from waterboarding Lord Grantham's new puppy.
What pulled Mary out of this quicksand was the unlikely hand of Violet, summoned back from travel by Branson.
Like everyone, Violet knew Mary loved Henry. Better than most, Violet understood why Mary was reluctant to "marry down."
In a lovely scene where Violet got to deliver more than a volley of one-liners, she told Mary that "I believe in rules and tradition and playing a part. I also believe in love."
Since Mary is going to grow up to be Violet, this was like a Papal dispensation.
"First you must make peace with your sister," said Violet. "Then you must make peace with yourself."
And, of course, Henry.
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Mary's last exchange with Henry had gone something like this. Henry told Mary that not marrying a man because he didn't have money was as snobbish as marrying a man because he did. Mary snapped, "You came here to call me a grubby little golddigger?" and marched away.
So it was slightly awkward for Mary to ring Henry. But she did, he drove over to her place, and within moments the air was a-flutter with bluebirds of happiness and Mary's coy assurance that this time it was mature love, not adolescent infatuation.
"I'm not 20," Mary said. "I don't tremble at the touch of your hand."
"I'm not 20," replied Henry. "I do tremble at the touch of yours."
"So do I," said Mary. "I don't know why I said that."
Neither did we. But of all the things Mary didn't know why she said on Sunday, this was the most excusable.
They decided to marry pretty much as fast as they could find a corsage for Branson, who noted he had now been best man at both of Mary's weddings.
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To Mary's surprise, Edith returned from London for the ceremony and drew Mary into a conversation that suggested Edith had decided someone needed to be the grownup.
Good thing neither of them thought of that years earlier. It would have made Downton Abbey far less interesting.
Edith said she had been thinking about the time when she and Mary will be "the only ones left" from their generation, and that "our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike."
Mary said, "Thank you," which she has said to Edith about as often as she has said, "Take an ax and cut off my ear."
As for Edith's more immediate future, let's guess that if she can arrange a truce with Mary, the Seventh Marquess of Hexham should be no match at all.
Conversely, we got no clear indication whether Isobel will buy the scheming Miss Cruickshank's assurance that Lord Merton's son Larry now wants Isobel to accept the Lord's hand. Lord Merton doesn't help his case by remaining rather uninteresting.
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Downstairs, Daisy passed her exams and two other dramas burst forth.
Barrow, rejected and isolated at every turn, settled into the bathtub and slit his wrists.
Baxter got Andy to kick down the door and Barrow was saved. Barely.
As he was recovering, Mary brought Master George down to see him and bring him an orange. Barrow said it was nice to see he had one friend.
When Mary asked if he was lonely, he refrained from saying, "Uh, duh," instead admitting that he had only himself to blame. Mary mused that she could say the same about her own life, which was either an odd fleeting moment of inter-class bonding or Mary illustrating again that it's all about her.
Shortly thereafter, Lord Grantham and Carson agreed Barrow should remain on staff, which assuaged a bit of their guilt.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Patmore's first bed-and-breakfast guests turned out to be an unmarried couple scandalously sneaking around under assumed names. Rumors spread - the 1925 version of viral - that Mrs. Patmore was running "a house of ill repute."
Anna told Lady Mary and they both broke into uncontrollable laughter. To be honest, that's how we all reacted.
Well, all except Mrs. Patmore. The notoriety caused all her upcoming guests to cancel.
So Lord Grantham, Cora and Rosamund stepped in to help out, telling Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes they would dine there and have their picture taken, to certify that the house was so clean-cut it was fit for aristocrats.
Carson was appalled, fearing it would stain Downton's reputation. He advised Lord Grantham not to do it, drawing an uncharacteristically sharp rebuke from Robert that this situation called for backbone.
Carson, perhaps smarting a bit, went downstairs and verbally kicked Mrs. Hughes.
"I always knew women were ruthless," he said. "But I didn't think I'd find the proof in my own wife."
Jeez, Charlie. Chill.
Mrs. Hughes, happily, seemed less bothered than viewers by this ongoing attitude from Carson.
"You're a curmudgeon," she told him. "But you're my curmudgeon, and that makes all the difference."
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Down in the village, Mr. Molesley began teaching. In his first class the students treated him like they treat all rookies, ignoring everything he said.
The second day he switched game plans and told them why education was important, and how even a servant like himself could be enriched and uplifted.
This time they all paid rapt attention, which was way less believable than their first-day reaction. Still, after everything else that happened Sunday night, that harmless little moment of fantasy might help viewers ward off a serious case of PTSD.

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