Feb 222016


Don’t demean yourself by trying to justify your venom.

Downton Abbey Season 6, Episode 8 was an incredibly juicy episode. Now, as the series comes to a close, creator Julian Fellowes is truly embracing the soapiness of it all, with tears, and shouting matches, and flat-out bitchiness, and name-calling, and a near-death. ALL THE THINGS. An episode of melodrama through-and-through, including the season’s second wedding (not, I predict, its last).

I said last season that Fellowes excels in these wrap-ups; now that we’re practically done, he’s pulling out all stops, and even the restrained British upper classes are letting loose! This episode was the official finale, but, as with last season, the real finale, and the real last episode ever of Downton Abbey, will be the Christmas Special, which airs in two weeks. 

I’m going to say that the theme this episode was “letting loose”, which everyone did, from Mary and Anna cracking up in laughter, to Mrs. Hughes expressing her love to Carson, to Carson being the world’s biggest bitch, until Mary proves she’s his better. Everyone’s tempers were wound up too tight, shouting, crying, visiting graves, and letting blood. Oh, my.

A tawdry local brouhaha.

Mrs. Patmore learns that her first bed and breakfast guest was doing a little letting loose of his own—it wasn’t Mrs. P. being followed, but her customer. The level of hilarity this causes all around is quite something. This show has been a parade of adultery, premarital tomfoolery, and quietly civilized acceptance of homosexuality, but apparently a quick weekender is too much. This is where Carson proves himself to be simply unacceptable in his meanness. He seems to believe that being in service means being a literal doormat; that one is expected to simply lay down on the ground and be walked over, rather than to have needs and problems. He’s lucky Mrs. Hughes doesn’t cut his throat as he sleeps.

Mary has gotten herself wound up into a proper tizzy, spilling bile anywhere and everywhere. Fortunately, we have Sainted Tom to calm her and intervene, over and over and over, her personal Jiminy Cricket. In what way does she deserve such kindness, and why is he such an old maiden aunt anyway? Kudos to Michelle Dockery, though; she killed at amping up the anger with each scene, just a little more intense, a little more haughty, a little more out of control. Until finally, she decides to calmly, coolly, destroy Edith’s life. There, that felt better. Except it didn’t, so she decided to punish her father for deciding to let go a servant who has betrayed the family multiple times. Edith is right, she’s a bitch.

Poor old Edith, who couldn’t make her dolls do what she wanted.

Edith’s beau, Bertie, is suddenly a marquess when his cousin dies. His “delicate” cousin, who certainly appeared very gay when we met him in Season 5, was apparently engaged to a woman, so a longer life would not have been a happy one. He comes to Downton to get Edith’s response to his proposal, giving Mary the opportunity for a face-to-face, which she uses to spill the beans about Marigold almost as soon as she says hello. This doesn’t go well. Robert was so excited at the prospect of his daughter becoming a marchioness that he uses the phrase “golly gumdrops”. Let me say it again: Golly gumdrops.

Since Lady Edith is not gay, I predict a happy ending for her, and a Christmas wedding. She and Bertie love each other, that much is plain. I wanted to yell at my TV, just beg him to forgive you. He’d have responded! She’s so lovely, and so diffident, and so pathetic, and he’s all in. Forgive her he will, I’m sure, and embrace Marigold as a daughter.

Mary does have sympathetic moments, especially visiting Matthew’s grave, but the best scene is Edith’s, when she gives a speech about them being sisters, and fated to be the last survivors of their family. It’s horrible and wonderful all at once. Mary’s finest moment may be the face she makes when imitating Edith, “Edith was so…” and trails off, simpering and grinning. Hilarious.

I never imagined the Dowager Countess would be the deus ex machina that would solve Mary’s romantic problems. By the way, Tom sent a letter (snail mail, you know, with paper), that got to Violet, and got her to come home from France, all while Edith is still in London for a few days. Little glitch in the timing there.

A suicidal footman in the attic.

Basketcases have been predicting Thomas’s suicide attempt for many weeks. I have to say it is so deeply rooted in the worst kind of clichés about gay people that it smacks of homophobia: For a century, LGBT people only appeared in the media if we were insane, evil, or tragically suicidal. Thomas hits two out of three, spending most of the series as a villain and then allowing that to turn to tragedy these past few weeks. “Tragedy”, because it involves us feeling sorry for a mean-spirited coward, a deserter, and a whiner. But as Fellowes resolves his series and marries everyone off to everyone, gives everyone the ending of their dreams: Mary married, Mrs. Hughes and Carson married, Anna and Bates expecting, Moseley an amazingly good teacher, and even Spratt secretly successful, the one gay character gets it between the teeth.


  22 Responses to “Downton Abbey Season 6, Episode 8: House of Ill Repute”

  1. Thanks for another astonishing summary.
    I wondered about the very last scene where the children are playing as Edith looks on…was that at Matthew’s gravestone?

  2. Thomas’ suicide attempt wasn’t successful, and he’s going to get to keep his job after all. So it wasn’t all bad for him, though admittedly worse than for anyone else. Well, Mrs. Patmore was let off too. I guess. in the end.

    I must admit I was hoping, when they saw with Mary did to Edith, that Lord and Lady Grantham would disinherit Mary and adopt their grandson and heir. But then Matthew gave her half his worldly goods, didn’t he? So that wouldn’t have been so satisfying anyway.

    • Mary’s son Master George is next to inherit the title and Robert’s interest in Downton Abbey.

      Remember Matthew loaned Robert a substantial amound of money to save Downton Abbey. Matthew’s will leaves the bulk of his estate to Mary as his widow. Functionally Mary is Robert’s business partner in Downton Abbey.

      Therefore even if Robert and Cora were angry with Mary, they cannot disinherit her.

      Apparently when Mary was a child Cora did not punish her physically, although that would have been the common practice in those days. Perhaps there have been times when Cora regrets not giving Mary a smack bottom.

  3. Would the Dowager run interferance for Edith and convince Bertie to come back and marry? It was neatly established that he has no one in the world but his mother…he is accustom to taking recommendations from an older woman…
    Can Edith be left to hang loveless?


  4. The Dowager Countess may be an unexpected intervener – having offered clarity to Mary’s romantic perplexity – but she is at least consistently principled when it comes to love. Did she not similarly intervene with sage-yet-unconventional love advice early in the drama with another grand-daughter (Seasons 1-3)? Hard(er) to check when a show bible is not at hand.

    Not unexpected was Edith self-flagellating when finally forced to confront her “un-trustworthiness” with the man who needed a gentle push to forgive if not forget. Less expected was her calling out her bitch-sister – though as she said, that was long overdue.

    Least expected of all was Edith and Mary’s rapid reconciliation – if Edith can forgive so readily and quickly, than surely her beau will, too.

  5. I did a fist pump at that Verbal Smackdown. My only regret is that they should have gone full krystle and alexis.

  6. I am a day or two late to the party as I was out Sunday evening and caught up last night. I don’t post often and while I found the pace and tidiness of this episode totally unsatisfying, I am glad things came to a head between Edith and Mary. although it was a little excessive, in my opinion.

    I am writing because I was totally taken by Edith’s unbelievably stylish, colorful and even unique wardrobe in this episode. I had to rewind and look at that beautiful dress and coat in the final scene and her floral jacket during the break up. Of course, it fit well with her coming into her own and also outgrowing her place in the family. Did not work so well with the Bertie break up. A total contrast with Mary’s buttoned up dull plaids and suits. Mary still got the better evening wear.

    I am hoping some others noticed this too.

    • Mary’s evening gown KILLED.

    • I think the clothes have been spectacular this season. Even the accessories have been outstanding. I would love to see a traveling exhibit and get an up close and detailed look at the craftsmanship. I think Mary’s look reflects her primary base in the country and Edith has a “town” or work place basis. But the evening wear is killer, of course they both have the body type to pull off this era.

  7. It would be nice if Mary was the one to reach out to Bertie and help the two reconcile and marry in the end.
    I’m not sure that the message “attempt suicide an then everyone will feel sorry for the way they treated you and be nice to you” is the best message!

  8. The series finale, Episode 609, is scheduled to run between 9-11 PM ET on 6 March on PBS in the usa. The episode (308) we just saw re-runs on 28 February from 9-10:20 PM ET.

    Apparently most questions about the future of DA characters will be answered in that finale.

    I am also sure all of us will have lots to discuss about Episode 609!

  9. I like how Edith has a nice working relationship with the new woman editor. Did she tell her the whole truth of Bertie the break up? It seemed a cryptic conversation they had…something about “your sister is no help” but I did not DVR it so cannot look back to see.

    Does the new editor know the full story of Marigold, Bertie and Mary?

    And what about that freaking Spratt!!!!

    Love that twist! What advice would he give Bertie about the break up? Forget the Dowager or Mary writing the letter…get Spratt to patch this mess up!

    Remember, he observed Mary having a wicked weekend with that fellow she was test driving…

  10. Why do you believe Spratt is gay? I believe I have watched all episodes and must have missed some reference or clue?

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