“Downton Abbey” Recap: I’m Quite A Tough Nutcracker

While Thomas remains trapped in a cummerbund of emotions, the Crawleys discover that car racing is awful. WHAT???

Car racing is super boring, and then sometimes you die. New NASCAR slogan, anyone? I think it’s catchy. It’s also what I learned from Downton forcing us to spend the month pretending to care about Competitive Car Circle, as if we’re campaigning for president in middle America or something. Unacceptable!

We begin this week with Henry Talbot and his BFF, Charlie Deadsoon, who are preparing for Important Racing Race by driving 784 mph through the countryside while whipping their heads back in a carefree fashion about how fun and safe this is. Charlie Deadsoon goes, “I’m the best at staying alive during car races!” Yep.

Downton Abbey Henry
Generously, Henry has invited the whole entire family to watch the cars go in a circle then explode. Even Edith! The men are excited because CAR GO VROOOOM, and Even Edith is excited because the venue allows guests to bring their pet Berties. Mary counters by sighing the house down and resolving to hate everything about everything. Hero.

Cora is gravely concerned, less because of the inevitable hail of fiery carburetors and more because Mary is a cold, stuck-up princess (we say with love) who could never truly be happy with a common oil-smeared handworker like Henry who’s unable mainline diamonds directly into her femoral vein like a proper husband.

As if the prospect of these caterwauling motorcars weren’t bad enough, the Dowager Countess is abandoning us! She’s still 98% lava about having her hospital kingdom seized by Cora I, Demon Usurper of England, and is now so discombobulated that she has misunderstood the point of herself entirely. Instead of telling Cora exactly where to shove her stupid tiaras, the Dowager is running away to France. Boo! She explains, “While angry, I say things some people find hard to forgive.” Yes. Exactly. More, please. Unless the next episode features the Dowager getting fanned by a series of young French housemen, this is a monumental miscalculation.

The Dowager better not be turning over a new leaf. Not face-stabbing Cora? Willingly associating with the French? I don’t even think I know you anymore! Thankfully, just before departing, she does bestow upon us one final gift to show she’s still our Dowager.

Downton Abbey Dowager Countess
Larry Merton and Evil Fiancée have been mysteriously sticking pins in Isobel-shaped voodoo dolls for a week now, so the Dowager graciously says, “Why don’t I pay Evil Fiancée a visit and rend her skin from her body with a single glare?” We’re all on board. Like a ridiculous fool, Isobel expresses skepticism, but it’s mostly an excuse to set the Dowager up to say, “I’m quite a tough nutcracker.” Pardon me while I die happy.

The Dowager embarks on her noble mission to cut a ho, taking exactly one millisecond to brush Evil Fiancée aside with a single pinkie and go, “Who is she?”

You guys, Evil Fiancée actually thought she could out-scheme the Dowager. Pitiful. Next week, she’ll be racing Usain Bolt and challenging Donk to a “managing the money terribly” contest.

As it turns out, Evil Fiancée is a bag of snakes who wants Isobel to take Lord Merton off her hands so that she can rule the estate herself without having to look at an old. The Dowager promptly whips out her to-do list and adds “tornado of knives.” All in a day’s work.

Downstairs, Thomas continues showing the audacity to have a face, so Carson goes, “AHHHH PLEASE LEAVE.”

Downton Abbey Thomas
Rather than actually firing Thomas, which would be gauche, Regina Carson decides to give him the old “you can’t sit with us” treatment, hoping to drive Thomas away. As if all he needed was just to hate life a little more.

Fortunately, Mrs. Hughes hasn’t let being married to Carson turn her into a bone-chomping piranha, so she meets Thomas outside to be a glorious ray of light and reassure him that one of these days he’ll meet another actual living gay character. (Tick tock…) She thinks a fresh start in a new house would be good for him, but Thomas knows (depressingly and probably correctly) that as much as Carson is a narrow-minded pile of thumbs, Downton is still better than any other house would be. It’s the only place that has ever felt like home. Also, Andy.

Meanwhile, the family is in London visiting Rosamund for a dinner of throwing piles of gold doubloons in the air while being all kinds of relatable about how much fun it is to have three mansions. So much fun!

Since she’s in London anyway, Even Edith decides to pop into her office to see Lady Editor, who’s busy lady-editing things. She says, “Edith! You haven’t been to work in months!” Making up for lost time, Edith approves a pitch for an advice column from Mrs. Cassandra Fakename in which she’ll give women really helpful guidance like “stop being ugly.” I’d read it.

Downton Abbey Edith
Well, that’s enough work for today! See ya!

Daisy is still a student, kind of, and it’s finally time to test her intellectual skills (D+) and also see if Molesley is qualified to say, “Come along now, boys! Spit-spot!” or whatever teachers do in England in 1925.

To celebrate no longer having to endure that one random scene every episode where Molesley goes, “we should study the Prussians tonight,” Mrs. Patmore organizes a lovely picnic for everyone. Andy says, “Hi,” and Daisy goes, “But enough about that, please grab my test and read it aloud to the whole group to show off that literacy you definitely have.” Whoops!

Downton Abbey Andy
Thomas tries to step in and play knight-in-shining-tuxedo, but it’s too late. Dear Sweet Andy is heartbreakingly forced to stutter his way through “Tsar Nicholas,” and it doesn’t go great. Still, everyone is very supportive, with the teacher offering to help him learn to read, adding, “Hey Thomas, I know your reading lessons with Andy are the only joy remaining in your life, so you’ll have to stop immediately.” If you need Thomas, he’ll be that ball on the floor.

Off to the big car race that everyone survives! It’s a disaster from the first second with the family failing miserably at dressing like common folk. (How many top hats does one wear to an automobile tournament?) The venue is all pavement and advertisements, and Mary and I faint at the sight of this monstrous juxtaposition to the lush countryside horseraces of previous seasons.

Downton Abbey Race
Fortunately, there’s a tent full of champagne, so everything’s going to work out. Mary downs a hundred glasses to distract herself, but that also means no one’s keeping an eye on Tom. Oh no! Apparently, he thinks he’s on Henry’s pit crew now and is just messing with the cars right before the race, which seems ill-advised.

Everyone wishes Henry luck and makes a point of saying a heartfelt goodbye forever to Charlie. He goes, “Wait, what?”

Gentlemen, initiate your motorcars! Or whatever. Meanwhile, inside our hearts, Cora and Mary compete to see who can hate this the most. The winner is both of them. “It feels as if we’re trapped in some witch’s curse for all eternity.” Another solid NASCAR slogan.

“When will it be over?” Cora asks, mid-hunger strike.

Downton Abbey Cora
Oh, only when someone dies. So, right now. We hear a distant screech, bang, and cat sound effect, followed by a column of smoke rising in the distance to indicate the inevitable tragedy has struck.

There’s been a crash! It’s Charlie Deadsoon! His car is instantly engulfed in a blazing inferno. What has the show become this season? Blood spewing? Car explosions? Excuse me, we’re the Downton Abbey audience. We prefer our explosions verbal and over luncheon.

Downton Abbey Car Crash
The crowd rushes to the crash site to get a good look at charred human remains because of entertainment, at which point Mary discovers that Henry isn’t the victim. “Oh, phew. I thought it was something serious. Who wants champagne?”

Later, Henry retreats to the harrowing wake-up call zone to blame himself for Charlie’s death. Ever the gem, Mary emotes her way past all the Emmy voters and up to Henry to perform a brilliantly near-tearful monologue of devastation, worry, and “of course it’s your fault, you reckless goon!”

Because of priorities, the dinner gala must go on. Neither rain, nor snow, nor friends dying in explosions will keep the Crawleys from a dinner party. Of course, no one feels much like zinging anyone about hospitals tonight. It’s a somber affair, only interrupted when Henry calls Mary to say that this seems like a good time to make important relationship decisions.

Henry has gone all carpe diem and wants to get married tonight because he’ll probably be on fire tomorrow, while Mary has taken a more “one dead husband is too many dead husbands” lesson from the day’s events. She breaks things off with Henry for fear of having her heart die in a car crash again. Also because of, like, poor.

Downton Abbey Mary
So this is cheery. I think we need some plucky comic relief. Remember that house Mrs. Patmore owns? Well, she turned it into a B&B, and the fact that we were denied a “Mrs. Patmore remodels a house” storyline will not soon be forgiven. Now, it has an indoor toilet. Amenities! Five stars! The main purpose of the house, however, is as a location for Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes to escape to concoct delicious I Love Lucy schemes that will teach Carson a lesson for being an insufferable lump. Eeeeee!

Mrs. Hughes returns to the cottage that evening to inform Carson that her hand has suddenly been injured in a serious can’t-cook-tonight accident, so he’ll have to make dinner himself. GASP!

Downton Abbey Carson
Obviously, Carson is awful at every possible task. He tries to crack an egg and immediately breaks every bone in his body and sets the kitchen on fire. Finally, just 74 hours later, he serves Mrs. Hughes one ratty little bowl of third-degree burns in exhausted-crying sauce. Bon Appetit! Maybe someone won’t be so “this plate’s cold, you whore” in the future. Now, on to teaching him a lesson about Thomas?

As is totally normal, the teacher skips over to Downton in the dead of the night to announce Molesley’s test results in front of all his coworkers, just like how you want to learn life-changing news. Drumroll please. Molesley scored one billion points and is Einstein! Now he can become a substitute teacher! Hooray! Feels!

Mrs. Patmore pops open some “congratulations on the first good thing to happen in your life” wine, and everyone toasts new beginnings while Thomas is left moping in the corner of the shadows, still waiting for the first good thing to happen in his life.

Downton Abbey Thomas
Suddenly, Thomas is the only Eeyore left at Downton with Even Edith getting to enjoy the bliss of Bertie love. As is customary when someone you know dies in an inferno, Edith goes, “La la la, I’ve never been happier.” Swept up in all this post-tragedy euphoria, Bertie proposes to her the usual amount of awkwardly. “I’d like to be trapped.”

Edith is bowled over by extreme romance, but she won’t give him an official answer yet because she needs more time to stare at a chair significantly while dragging out the Marigold storyline. She does ask if she could bring Marigold to the marriage for…no reason. Bertie goes, “That’s weird.”

Speaking of weird things, some guy is lurking in the bushes and taking notes outside Mrs. Patmore’s B&B. Uh oh, looks like someone’s getting a scathing TripAdvisor review!

Finally, the family learns that the Dowager left for France and didn’t tell them since that would require looking at them. Not worth it. Instead, she left a generous peace offering of IT’S A PUPPY!!!!! Our Dowager knows how to play the game. All is forgiven.

Downton Abbey Puppy
Donk instantly loses his mind, declaring the dog his all-time favorite daughter, well ahead of Mary, Sybil, and Whatever. Obviously, she’ll sleep with him tonight. Who cares if she’s not house-trained?

Cora goes, “…………”

Get ready for next week’s episode, “The Affair of the Dog Pee in the Bed.”

Dowager burn of the week:
“I expect they’ll have to drag you out as you break your fingernails catching at the door case.” – How to Ruin Cool Little Misses by The Dowager Countess

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