“Downton Abbey” Recap: Did You Drink At Luncheon?

As the wedding arrives, Downton is shaken by a fugly dress while Edith invents feminism and tampon commercials.

It’s the wedding of the millennium! Try to look excited! After nearly minutes of anticipation, we finally get to witness Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes as they join together to become Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes. (Because like hell we’re calling her Mrs. Carson.) It’s the happiest day of their lives. Totally kidding. This is Downton. Everyone is already miserable and everything is a disaster. Congratulations!

Dutifully adhering to Downton wedding tradition, Mrs. Hughes is spending the days before her nuptials trudging around the house like she just pulled a 36-hour shift at the landfill. Ah, wedded bliss. The cause of her advanced Edith-face is this reception, which in spite of all her best hating everything, is still slated to be entirely Lady Mary-themed, as per Carson’s only dream in life. Mrs. Hughes proceeds to roll her eyes so hard she accidentally makes all the beds.

Even worse, she doesn’t have a thing to wear! As she explains to Mrs. Patmore, “This wedding is a stupid jerk, so I’m just going to cram myself into a hideous tangle of poop-colored rags and be miserable.” Happy wedding to all.

Mrs. Patmore takes one look at Mrs. Hughes’s dress and dies of the pox, then quarantines it in the closet before it can infect the others. Make no mistake, the Mrs. Hughes poop dress is the most terrible disaster ever to befall Downton. It’s like Sybil dying, wrapped in the dog dying, and deep-fried in the apocalypse, except worse. It’s so bleak that even the Dowager using her cane as a sword can’t save it.

Downton Abbey Dowager Countess Cane
That’s a lie. Of course it can, along with curing cancer and discovering the lost city of Atlantis. What were we depressed about again? The Dowager is pretending to be a swashbuckling pirate now because she doesn’t need a reason. Can’t a dowager just accuse her daughter-in-law of being a dementia-riddled idiot, pretend to slash her with a rapier, and then disappear into the shadows like a cat burglar before Cora catches her?

Cora cannot apprehend the cat burglar because she’s too busy showing she’s down with the working class, yo. Using her intuition and that time Mrs. Patmore told her, Cora has this weird feeling that Mrs. Hughes would rather have her reception in a cardboard box under a bridge than at Downton.

So that evening, when Carson goes to spin the “Who’s Ruining Dinner Tonight?” chore wheel, Cora leaps up and volunteers as tribute. She summons Mrs. Hughes upstairs and says, “Please give us a class presentation about how this house is your eternal hellish prison. It won’t be uncomfortable. Lady Mary always looks like that.”

Downton Abbey Lady Mary
Repeating 150 times that the Crawleys are all beautiful saints who would never stupidly invest in any fictional railroads, Mrs. Hughes explains that she wants a wedding reception where poor people are invited and without any cakes shaped like a giant Lady Mary. This request seems reasonable enough to everyone. Except Lady Mary.

At the mention of poor people and cakes that aren’t shaped like her, Mary theatrically melts into a Wicked Witch puddle then comes right back to life to attack Cora for being a snob, in the process revealing that she doesn’t know what “snob” means. That’s weird because she has plenty of mirrors. Maybe it would do Mary some good to have the reception at the schoolhouse, is what I’m saying.

Still mostly dead, Mary retreats to her safe place with Anna to go, “Wait, the dress is what color?” and present some news that’s even more tragic than having to attend a schoolhouse wedding like a common scullery girl. In the post, Mary received some extensive foreshadowing poetry from Death Cab for Branson in which he describes pigeons cooing in their branches and how it makes him cry all day long. So that’s rough. Edith pops in to go, “Someone understands me!”

To cheer Mary up from Tom’s pigeon depression and the unbearable horribleness of everything, Anna says, “You know how I had that miscarriage earlier this morning? Well, I’m already pregnant again!” Speaking for all of us, Mary goes, “Daaaaaamn girl” and immediately concludes that Bates’ sperm must be enchanted.

In the latest stop on Thomas’s horrible-job-interview tour of Yorkshire, he’s off to meet a whooping cough named Sir Blyechhhh who currently resides in a coffin from the 1840s.

Downton Abbey Thomas
He shows Thomas around all the cobwebs, piles of old newspapers, and implied cat skeletons, then enters the Tom Branson poetry slam (senile division) and dominates with a piece about twinkling women walking up staircases. Obviously, Thomas switches to light speed and burns his way right home. Yikes.

To his credit, Sir Blyechhhh does give good quote before being swallowed by the sands of time with “I can’t risk a Republican in this household!” So it’s not a total loss.

Still, nothing is going well for Thomas, even his foray into revisionist history as he tries to pretend that he has only ever been interested in Andy as a friend. Yeah. Sure. You know we all have eyes, right? Thomas accuses the rest of the house of turning Andy against him, to which Baxter goes, “Um, have you seen your personality?”

In Edith news, the editor of her magazine/newspaper/booklet/what-is-this? continues to be the star pupil at the Lady Mary School of Edith Is Awful, so Edith has returned to London to give him a piece of her depression. En route, however, she runs into Bertie Pelham. Yeah, me neither. Also, Edith neither. He goes, “Remember me? Last Christmas? We were both the saddest? I beat your record for loneliest person in England?” Oh, Bertie Pelham! Of course!

Downton Abbey Edith Bertie
Do you want to eat some oatmeal and discuss train schedules? My name is Bertie.

Someone actively choosing to speak to her is the best thing to happen in Edith’s entire life, and much like the Frog Prince, it instantaneously transforms her into a thoroughly modern woman. She’s making a drinks date with Bertie. She’s calling her editor an overweight tyrant. It’s a whole new Edith! Who knew that all it took was someone acknowledging her once? We could have solved this years ago.

Edith marches to the office and promptly fires her editor for being almost as incompetent as Anna’s cervix, at which point Lowly Typewriter Girl smirks, instantly realizes her potential, and then types an entire women’s rights manifesto. And that was how Edith Crawley invented feminism.

Still, inventing feminism won’t write and edit an entire issue of this pamphlet by the 4 a.m. deadline! But wait, Edith has a thought. Could she and Lowly Typewriter Girl do it themselves? Of course they could! If tampon commercials have taught us anything, it’s that strong women spend their days pointing at magazine mock-ups while nodding in a supportive yet businesslike fashion. It’s the part she was born to play!

Downton Abbey Edith
Nothing can stop her now! Not even a man! Edith heads to the bar to first-act-of-a-romantic-comedy at dear, sweet Bertie about how she has to finish the leaflet instead of falling in love with him, but then Bertie upsets the whole conceit by going, “This isn’t a real problem. Why don’t you work while I make you coffee like a person?” Solved! Traditional gender roles inverted!

So, what urgent breaking news does Edith have to get out by 4 a.m.? Why the big exposé on the “best clothes and prettiest faces” from Lady Monocleburger’s costume ball, of course! You know, hero’s work.

It’s going to be extremely impossible for them to finish this entire flier by the deadline, but thankfully, Edith places a single picture onto a piece of paper and then the magazine is finished. Hooray! We won the publishing!

Then, just as we’re realizing that Lowly Typewriter Girl stopped being a character halfway through this magazine and is probably dead, something truly insane happens. Edith says…wait for it…”Let’s not be sad.” WHAT. WHO IS THIS? Edith, you changed, man. You changed.

At least we can always count on the eternal constants, Isobel and the Dowager, and their weekly food fight of petty accusations and betrayal.

Downton Abbey Dowager Countess
Ah. Much better. This week’s skirmish comes to a head when Isobel points out that Dr. Clarkson only opposes the hospital merger because it would strip him of importance and reveal him as nothing but a sad, old drug pusher. Uh, yeah. I thought we knew that already. I guess we didn’t because it’s just the most shocking thing ever said. Cut to the Dowager calling Isobel an alcoholic. Our girl delivers again.

In other action, the Denker and Spratt Show is back from hiatus with the big reveal that Spratt has a stamp collection. It’s my new favorite character. Also, his nephew escaped prison and is hiding in the Dowager’s potting shed or something. Whatever. Stamp collection.

Downton Abbey Spratt Stamps
But, let me get this straight. Someone is harboring a fugitive in the Dowager’s own house, and that’s not the week’s main storyline? Right, because that wouldn’t be entertaining and hilarious at all. Back to that brown dress. Let’s talk about that a lot more.

Because Mrs. Patmore is such a good friend, she’s able to tell Mrs. Hughes that her poop dress is a microaggression and promptly takes it upon herself to order a better one. Obviously, it’s even uglier than the last. The new dress is so ugly that it physically punches Daisy in the face while Anna runs upstairs to warn Mary about Downton’s impending attack from a frump monster made of ugly fumes. Mary goes, “Oh, I know how to ruin more everything! You should sneak into my mother’s closet and steal some of her clothes without asking. She’ll love it. I promise.”

Unfortunately, Cora has chosen to pretend that the Dowager and Isobel’s behavior was offensive and unexpected, instead of perfect and weekly, so she huffily returns to Downton to take up chemical warfare as a hobby. Mary says, “Nothing’s happening in your bedroom. Go right up.”

Steaming into her room to anger-break a few hundred vases, Cora finds Sticky-Fingers Hughes and the rest of her gang of criminal masterminds playing an unauthorized game of dress-up.

Downton Abbey Hughes
Completely forgetting that she’s supposed to be the cool, fun aristocrat, Cora whips out her flamethrower and scorches everyone in the eyes yelling, “DIE PEASANT SCUM.” So, she’s mad. It’s unspeakably shocking. Even though, you know, stop stealing her clothes.

Mary continues penning her non-fiction debut, Fun with Lack of Self-Awareness, by bursting into Cora’s room shouting, “Tell me you weren’t rude!” Yes, tell me you didn’t pull a Mary. Having Mary accuse her of rudeness does, however, shock Cora into remembering that she’s the nice one and Mary is the flamethrower one, so she hurries downstairs to apologize for momentarily turning into a hell dragon.

As a peace offering, she also brings the invisibility cloak from Harry Potter for Mrs. Hughes to wear at the wedding. It’s absolutely the ugliest option yet. Mrs. Hughes is like, “Oh…” and Cora goes, “I SAVED THE WEDDING AGAIN.”

Now, is someone finally going to get married around here?

Downton Abbey Hughes Carson
Good. It’s off to the church, where Carson and Mrs. Hughes recite some wedding vows about the giving of the body. So it seems they worked that part out. And now they’re married! Cue the wedding bagpipes!

Next, everyone heads to the schoolhouse for the tables-full-of-a-thousand-pies reception of Mrs. Hughes’s dreams. Well played, Mrs. Hughes. It’s appropriately sweet and heartwarming. Even Mary doesn’t instantly vomit. It’s a wedding miracle!

And with that, it all turns out…NOT SO FAST. This is a soap opera wedding, after all, so you’re not officially married until someone bursts in unexpectedly at the last minute. As Carson’s big speech reaches a crescendo, old Pigeon-Tears Branson himself springs in to go, “SURPRISE! I’m on this show again!” We would have missed you, but you were only gone for two episodes, so…

Downton Abbey Branson
Still, the return of the Branson does allow for the most important moment of the season so far, Donk hugging Little Sybbie and saying, “Give old Donk a kiss!” Phew. Donk. Happy wedding, indeed.

Dowager burn of the week:
Dowager: Did you drink at luncheon?
Isobel: You know perfectly well I didn’t as you were with me.
Dowager: Not the whole time.

Committed TV addict, indoor enthusiast, and side-eye aficionado who loves long-lost evil twins and spies who are terrible at spying.