“Downton Abbey” Recap: Mary Needs More Than A Hand On A Gearstick

Letting an insignificant shred of power go to his head? Thomas would never!

The glorious wedding of Mr. Carson, Mrs. Hughes, and Tsunami Of Hideous Dresses went off with only 613 hitches last week (a Downton personal best), so to celebrate, the happy newlyweds are hightailing it out of town for their dream honeymoon at a picturesque resort called literally anywhere that isn’t Downton.

Within four seconds, the house falls to the Germans, burns down, and slips into a black hole. Um, when are you coming back?

Because of wisdom and huh?, Thomas is magically in charge while they’re gone, a reward for his many years of dedicated terribleness, dog stealing, and being the worst possible choice for this job ever. Congratulations, Thomas! You did it!

Obviously, it goes great. As his first order of business, Thomas proudly gets alcohol-poisoned with power and converts Downton to totalitarianism, banning phone calls, visitors, speaking, thoughts, groups, opinions, Mrs. Patmore, and everything. He is positively “the first time Bates got arrested” thrilled that everyone has to stand when he enters the room. Thomas finally found his calling, you guys! He’s the Hepburn of evil dictators!

Downton Abbey Thomas
The storied reign of Thomas Ironfist begins in a period of great peace and prosperity. For the first time since Lady Mary was born, no one at Downton is a murderer this week. What? Where are we? Bates, pull it together! Grab that tire iron and get to work. Denker is still alive. Denker.

Downton’s murder recession is particularly unwelcome news for England’s Only Policeman since schlepping to Downton to question the staff about the recent murder is a solid 99% of his workload. Fearing he’ll be out of a job if this keeps up, he reaches into the bag of long-forgotten storylines and pulls out that time Baxter was a jewel thief. Oh yeah.

The cartoonishly wicked supervillain who tricked Baxter into it has finally been arrested for tying a woman to the railroad tracks and twirling his mustache, but since “mustache twirling” doesn’t hold up in court, the police want Baxter to burst into the trial at the last minute and go, “That’s the man right there!” Well, looks like someone has a new reason to stare into the middle distance anxiously before resolving to do the right thing and confront the demons of her past no matter how hard it may seem! It’s like Baxter Christmas!

Downton Abbey Baxter
Upstairs, Tom is going terribly. During his long, grueling several days in Boston, he forgot the first rule of Downton: breakfast is the most important life-ruining opportunity of the day. He doesn’t even bother to grab some toast and destroy Mary emotionally by snatching his job back from her! Just disgraceful. As punishment, we have no choice but to sentence him to the storyline about whether Drewe Farm should be given to Mr. Mason. Oh no! Not that! Anything but that!

Having installed a series of troublemaking antennas all over the house the moment Carson left, Thomas diligently overhears one-third of the Drewe Farm conversation and eagerly misinterprets it all the way downstairs to inform Daisy that the family hates her and wants Mr. Mason to starve in a gutter. This forces Daisy to remember what socialism is, sending Mrs. Patmore into a sass spiral: “I wonder if Karl Marx might finish the liver pâté.” BAM!

In That Hospital Whatever news, everyone except the Dowager is human garbage, so it’s the same. Desperate, and with her ranks rapidly dwindling, the Dowager has no choice but to call in her secret weapon, a family of vultures named Lady Shackleton. Sadly, Lady Vulturefamily is a worthless disaster and gives a truly Razzie-worthy performance in that evening’s episode of Hospital Shouting, helping exactly nothing. Does the Dowager have to do everything herself around here?

Downton Abbey Dowager Countess
Fortunately, she came prepared. She promptly reaches into her “emergency zingers” lockbox and, remembering that there’s nothing to save them for anymore, starts reeling them off like machine gun fire. “ARE YOU HERE TO HELP OR IRRITATE?” But no one should form an opinion without the facts. “THAT’S NEVER STOPPED ME!” Isn’t Isobel entitled to make an argument? “SHE’S JUST NOT ENTITLED TO WIN IT!” Golf clap. Beautiful performance. She’s still got it.

Trying to redeem herself, Lady Vulturefamily decides that her nephew is Henry Talbot starting today. Henry is the latest in Mary’s long line of completely interchangeable dark-haired hotties, the one who spent last Christmas being “that race car one.” Conveniently, he’s here now to continue saying, “Cars, cars, cars, cars.” Tom counters with, “Cars, cars, cars, cars.” Mary goes, “My husband died in a car accident.”

That’s good enough for the Dowager, who immediately begins picking out wedding invitations. That is, until she learns that Henry is abominably penniless and doesn’t even have a guest yacht or golden shoes. Cancel the ceremony. Totally crushed, the Dowager attempts to console herself with a game of car-themed sexual innuendo. “Mary needs more than a handsome smile and a hand on a gearstick.” Since when? Also, this is the best thing the Dowager has ever said.

Mary is less deterred by the lack of guest yachts than by the car situation, explaining that cars are vicious metal hell buckets and she hates them. Henry goes, “Yeah, but I could wink and teach you about them…in my pants.” Mary loves cars.

Downton Abbey Matthew Goode
At Downton, however, you’re only as valuable as the last meal you’ve ruined, so it’s already time for lunch. Rosamund announces that she supports educating women now because of the sea of idiots she sees before her, so she has invited Captain Women’s College and his wife, Ridiculous Coincidence, to lunch. This sounds promising.

It is! Ridiculous Coincidence’s birth name is Gwen. No one recognizes her until she pronounces the word “secretary,” and then we all remember her as that maid from season one who said “secretary” really aggressively a thousand times per day. Oh yes, Gwen. How’s your…hidden typewriter? The long-forgotten-storylines bag strikes again!

Gwen Typewriter neglects to tell the family about her secret identity, so Thomas goes, “OH I GOTS THIS.” Mustering all the jealousy in his arsenal over Gwen’s happy life compared to his horrible one, he springs into the dining room to perform his big dance number, “She Used To Be A Maid Here (Also She Sucks).” Oh, I’ve missed you, Mean Thomas. You’re so much better than Sad Thomas.

Everyone is furious and embarrassed. Nailed it! The family is particular ashamed for not recognizing Gwen, but why would they given the revolving door of wildly forgettable maids this house has seen over the years? I mean, remember Ivy? Of course not. Nobody does.

Downton Abbey Gwen
Regardless, lunch is an awkward affair (the Downton special) until the ghost of Saint Sybil descends from the ceiling whispering, “Talk about meeeeee. I’ll fix eeeeeeverything.” Gwen dutifully recounts the time Sybil helped her get a job while also ending poverty and rescuing 80 babies from an orphanage fire, and then everyone immediately forges world peace because of Sybil memories. Poor Thomas. Foiled again!

Returning to history’s fastest pregnancy, Anna is already starting to show. And now the contractions have started. Oops, she just gave birth to triplets. And now she’s pregnant again. She’s also embroiled in an intense showdown with Donk to see who can have the most dramatic abdominal pain to punctuate a scene. What a treat for everyone.

Sure, Donk is dying of increasingly severe stomach foreshadowing with every step, but he’s no match for Anna. While in Mary’s room lifting several large anvils, Anna’s uterus falls out. Clang! If she doesn’t get to Uterus Repair Shop soon, she’ll have another miscarriage. Rushing to her side, Mary goes, “We should come up with an elaborate lie about this for some reason. Also, I’ll take you to London.”

Downton Abbey Anna
Because Bates definitely shouldn’t know that his wife is in severe medical distress and needs urgent attention, Mary runs around proclaiming that it’s actually she who has a mysterious life-threatening illness and must go to London immediately, adding, “And I’m taking Anna with me because I might need to dress for a gala while I’m definitely dying. Shhh. This lie makes sense.” Donk and Cora go, “Dying? That’s nice dear,” then turn back to their nothing.

Downstairs, Daisy is spinning in circles of anger-socialism about Drewe Farm, but don’t worry, she has a plan. She’s going to storm upstairs and inform Cora that she’s a disgusting hell crone who should get beheaded in a class revolt. End of plan. Everyone runs after Daisy in slow motion to try to stop her from Thelma and Lousieing her job, but it’s no use. Her mind is made up.

Meanwhile, Cora is upstairs doing everything possible to help Mr. Mason get the farm. Like a monster. She even goes so far as to play the “What would Sybil do?” card. It’s a low blow, but we had to get this storyline resolved somehow. Fine, they’ll generously give the farm to Mr. Mason instead of planting a money tree there, as long as Daisy doesn’t run upstairs and murder everyone in a bloody rampage right now.

Downton Abbey Daisy
Drat. As Cora emerges from the drawing room patting herself on the back for saving the day and being beautiful, Daisy drops in to say, “Hello. My name is Daisy Montoya. You killed my fantasies about a farm for my father-in-law. Prepare to die.”

Just as Daisy is about to stab Cora through the heart and incite class warfare, Donk blissfully floats up to understand none of this and reveal that the farm is Mr. Mason’s after all! Daisy instantly forgets what socialism is (until next week) and turns to Cora going, “I’ve always loved you. What bag of grenades?”

Anna got to London just in time! Dr. Broken Uterus is able to sew her cervix into a much less incompetent shape, and now everything is perfect, at least for this millisecond. Anna has been through a tremendous ordeal today, so Mary goes, “I know! I’ll go out and get her a date with Henry for me!” You’re welcome, Anna.

Downton Abbey Mary
Henry still can’t stop talking about cars because he’s fine but insufferable, so Mary is forced to explain the rules again. “You see, around here we talk about me. I’m great and modern. I have no interest in marrying you or hearing about cars ever, but if you’d like to order the Full Gillingham package, we can negotiate.” To be continued.

Carson and Mrs. Hughes are finally home. PHEW. Please fix the everything. Donk is particularly relieved because now he can retrieve the King of Downstairs crown from Thomas and return sunlight to the kingdom. Thomas goes, “Welp, back to sad now! Do you ever feel like your whole life is a meaningless sham and everyone hates you so you have to go stand outside in the darkness about it?” Sigh.

Downton Abbey Thomas
The return of Carson and Mrs. Hughes is such an important occasion that it stops the Dowager Countess from plotting to overthrow the government in the name of That Hospital Whatever, so that’s a win. The Dowager even agrees to don her scuba gear and brave the depths of the servants’ quarters to wish them a happy…wedding probably?

Of course, it’s unlivable down there, so Dowager Cousteau only pops in long enough to disapprove of Edith and then resurfaces before her oxygen runs out. Close call.

Within sentences, Carson and Mrs. Hughes have already put everyone’s lives back together by announcing that Mrs. Hughes will retain the name Mrs. Hughes for “making Donk less confused” reasons. It’s the happiest Donk has ever been.

But just to make sure we all remember that joy is fleeting and everything must come to an end, Carson slips away to his bedroom to say a touching goodbye to his name card and horrible single bed in preparation for the big move to the marriage cottages.

Downton Abbey Mr. Carson
I love you too, name card. I mean Mrs. Hughes.

How will Downton survive without 24-hour Carson patrol? We saw what happened during the honeymoon. Shambles.

Dowager burn of the week, guest-starring Lady Mary:
Rosamund: That was nice of you to praise Edith’s plan.
Mary: A monkey will type out the Bible if you leave it long enough.

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