“Downton Abbey” Recap: Sometimes It’s Good To Rule By Fear

Mrs. Patmore has the sex talk with Mr. Carson. Downton will never be the same.

The end of an era. The final season. We’ve been through a lot together at Downton over the years: Sybil’s parachute pants, that maid who was also a prostitute, Edith. It’s been tough, but saying goodbye to all the ruined dinner parties and beautifully disapproving scowls will be even tougher. What will we do without the Dowager Countess to remind us that one can always find an Italian who isn’t too picky? I shudder to think.

As is only fitting, we begin the final season with Lady Mary casually lounging on horseback while being presented with goblets upon goblets of the finest hunting wine, presumably as part of her photo shoot for LOL Class System Magazine. What, that’s not part of your normal Tuesday?

Mary is off to aristocrat the crap out of some disgusting foxes with His Lordship, the Donk. (Without Sybbie around to call him Donk, it’s our solemn duty to carry on the tradition.) Yet, horror of horrors, instead of riding side-saddle in a properly feminine fashion, Mary sits astride the horse like a common tramp. Donk is the usual amount of paralyzed with huffiness.

Downton Abbey Robert
Cora sees his paralysis as a prime opportunity to remind Donk that he absolutely should be attending Very Important Board Meeting right now instead of getting all drunk on hunting wine, to which Donk replies, “Oops, I can’t hear you over the sound of WHEEEEEE!” And away they ride. Good responsibility. It’s almost hard to believe Downton is on the verge of collapse literally every year.

Because Mary dared to imply the onrushing tide of women’s equality through her riding posture, she immediately face-plants into a pool of mud. 9.725. But what’s this?!? A mysterious sea witch is secretly rubbing her hands together like the Grinch and glowering at Mary from behind the foreshadowing music! So she’s probably not important.

Oops, I was wrong. Mary clops home through the village to bless the poor with her presence only to find the very same sea witch lurking by the front door.

Downton Abbey blackmail
Sea Witch proceeds to soil the pristine grounds of Downton with her working-class garbage voice as she reveals that she was the maid at Hotel Sexytimes when Mary went Full Gillingham there last season. Gasp! Apparently, Mary’s cunning plan of putting on that shawl didn’t fool her after all. Weird.

Now, Sea Witch wants £1000, otherwise she’ll tell the papers all about the adventures of Lady Mary’s demon vagina. Mary’s like, “Yawn. Child, this is season six. Just throw your blackmail on the pile with the rest of them and go get a job in a shut up factory.” Fixed!

While Donk was busy frolicking with all the pretty ponies instead of working, he missed the Dowager Countess descending from the heavens in a beam of light to present the mischievous and sarcastic conflict she’ll be having with Isobel this season. It has something to do with the hospital. Really, all we need to know is that the Dowager and Isobel have a new reason to snipe at each other, so everything is as it should be.

In downstairs affairs, Thomas the Tragedy Engine is still crushing on Andy and constantly offering to show him the ropes. Wink wink. Oh dear. This can only end in tears. He’s even trying to impress Andy by pretending to be a nice, non-vengeance-addicted person again and giving piggyback rides to the remaining children, Proper Son and Secret Trash Bastard. Oh, Thomas. We’ve been down this road before. Should I just call Dr. Clarkson now, or wait?

But really, the week’s main event concerns Mrs. Patmore, Mrs. Hughes, Mr. Carson, and all the sex. You had me at everything. Mrs. Hughes has a problem. She wants to marry Carson, but she’s concerned about whether their marriage will involve…all aspects of marriage. Mrs. Patmore goes, “This is 1925, so I have no idea what you’re talking about. You mean like playing checkers?”

Downton Abbey Patmore Hughes
She absolutely does not mean playing checkers. It takes approximately six lifetimes of polite innuendo, but Mrs. Patmore eventually realizes exactly what KNOWING NOD really means. Heavens! My delicate sensibilities! Mrs. Hughes is nervous and insecure about doing KNOWING NOD with Carson because she’s too adorable to live, so she goes, “Dear Mrs. Patmore, this is a normal conversation. Would you please ask Mr. Carson if he wants to do the whole sex thing? It will be really easy and not awkward.” Mrs. Patmore promptly turns to custard.

Still largely unaware that sex is something, Carson is conducting his annual “oh no, these changing times!” mope-fest with Donk only to be unceremoniously wrenched into this web of sordid flesh by Mrs. Patmore. She tiptoes into his office to say, “Kindest sir, wouldst thou inform me about thy penis plans, please?” but instead downs all the port in the nation and immediately runs away and dies because it’s just too weird. Swing and a miss!

Meanwhile, Anna is crying a monsoon of devastation in the stairwell, so everything’s fine. She pretends it’s because of the Mr. Green murder which, against all odds, is still a storyline. Seriously? Come on! Didn’t he get murdered about 700 years ago? Cold case.

As she later admits to Bates, however, Anna is actually upset because her life is a constant swirling catastrophe of nothing but trauma, and she had another miscarriage this morning. You know, on top of the rape, and getting wrongly arrested for murder, and having to be married to Bates. At this point, the show is going to end with Anna contracting Ebola while inside a nuclear bomb. Bates tries to smile at her reassuringly. It goes horribly wrong.

Downton Abbey Bates
While Anna bemoans her dire existence, the Crawleys engage in their most hallowed of family traditions, ruining dinner by discussing a woman’s place. Hooray! Mary declares that she’s wearing a super cool jeweled headband now, so it’s time for her to take over the estate. Donk instantly vanishes into a puff of smoke because he’s totally in favor of women’s rights as long as they don’t wear out their delicate little birthing shapes with all that nasty thinking.

With the world spinning ceaselessly toward apocalypse, Donk escapes to the constipated-facial-expression corridor with the Dowager to reminisce about the 1720s and reveal that he’s going to have to fire every single person at Downton because of the future. (We all know it’s really because he sank the family fortune in an imaginary Canadian railroad again.)

Operation Y’all Fired stays secret for the usual Downton amount of time, none. Once Denker hears about it, she remains awful, gleefully walking on sunshine all over the estate to spill the beans to everyone. When is someone going to Vera Bates her? I nominate Spratt. At least, once he’s done going full “So Long, Farewell” on the staircase about how fired he’ll be.

Pish tosh! The Dowager would never part with her spirit-animal butler, so to teach Denker a lesson for needlessly giving poor Spratt the vapors, she stages a fantastic little skit about how entertaining it would be to fire Denker right in the face. As the Dowager explains to Isobel, “Sometimes it’s good to rule by fear.” The queen has spoken.

In Edith news, she has successfully overcome all her instincts and qualities to carve out a somewhat happy life with Secret Trash Bastard and that lucrative newspaper she just owns now. But, since she’s also Edith, she must find something to be miserable about.

Downton Abbey Edith
“I think the problem is me,” she declares. You got it! Edith solved the mystery! This season, she’s breaking into existential crisis all over the place about whether she would be happier living in London, where tons of people cry all day long while having secret bastard children. Her own kind!

Uh oh, now Sea Witch is back. This time, she marches right into the kitchen and informs everyone that she’s abysmal and has some obvious lies to tell about delivering a message from the Dowager. Mrs. Hughes goes, “Sure, suspicious stranger. Please go right up to Mary’s room and probably murder her.” Mrs. Hughes! These sexual distractions are compromising your diligence!

Sea Witch pops upstairs, eats a bite of Mary’s toast to demonstrate her nefarious lack of boundaries, then goes, “Remember blackmail? Tick tock.” In grave danger, Mary calls upon her knight in shining armor, Anna. Anna materializes instantly (proper maid), then grabs Sea Witch by the elbow, drags her down all the naughty steps, and shoves her outside. And stay out! Anna is basically the bouncer of Downton now, and nothing has ever been greater.

Conveniently for Sea Witch, she lives in the bushes outside and can therefore easily visit 28 times a day, so she’s already back and barging through the foyer see Donk. Carson is left to hurriedly track down Lady Mary and explain about this “young woman of most unappealing aspect.”

It’s too late. Unappealing Aspect has already told Donk all about how Mary is a big fat slut-faced whore monster. Then, in the biggest twist of all, Donk doesn’t instantly ruin everything. Instead, he pays Sea Witch only £50 and threatens to turn her in to the police if she doesn’t disappear forever. Wait, that was an option? Pull it together, Mary!

Downton Abbey Mary
Mary is rendered utterly speechless that Donk actually solved a problem, so Donk immediately says something crazy to let her know that everything’s back to normal. Phew. Apparently, spending a week secretly banging the Gillingham and then getting blackmailed about it has convinced Donk that Mary is ready to take over the estate. Because that’s such an essential skill set? Qualifications: experienced at blackmail, slutty for the 20s, headbands. You’re hired!

Back downstairs, Mrs. Patmore has finally downed enough port that she’s ready to face Carson again. Compulsively smoothing her apron several thousand times, she finally chokes out the horrific expression, “wifely duties,” and Carson cryogenically freezes himself out of discomfort. Correct.

Downton Abbey Patmore Carson
Several months later, once Carson regains consciousness, he musters the courage to admit that he would indeed like to explore Mrs. Hughes’ wifely duties all over the house. But, you know, in a quaintly charming and respectful way about how beautiful she is. Oh, those two.

Continuing the theme of the future being terrible, the Crawleys head off to the estate auction of yet another family who must sell, their dear friends Lord and Lady Wompwomp. Lord Wompwomp slumps out of a raincloud to go, “My life is over and nothing matters and humanity is a joke, so I guess I’ll auction off this painting of my grandmother now. Womp.”

Just to complicate everything, Mr. Mason is tenant farmer to the Wompwomps, and because he seems like the kindest gentleman imaginable, he must be destroyed. When the Wompwomps sell, he might get kicked off his farm by the new owners, so he asks Daisy if she’d like to accompany him to the auction to ensure his entire livelihood is ruined. Daisy goes, “I’m in!!”

Downton Abbey Daisy
She spots the new owner, Mustache von Newmoney, and says, “I’m going to run up to him and shout in front of everyone about how mean and unfair he’s being to the working class. That will help!”

It doesn’t. Lord von Newmoney just expels a lot of offended rich-people burbling about it, then declares that Mr. Mason is evicted starting this millisecond. Daisy FTW!

Daisy should probably be fired for this, at least that’s what Carson proposes in a bid to remind us that he’s still horrible sometimes in spite of recently extracting a human feeling from himself. But come on. It’s Daisy. No one fires Daisy. Cora, ever the stern taskmaster, declares that Daisy’s punishment will instead be “maybe try not to do it again, girl, you’re the best.” Done and done.

That night, Bates and Anna walk arm-in-arm through the murky darkness to represent their constant misery, conducting a discussion group about how Anna can’t have children and how the Mr. Green murder is still a thing.

Not for long! Everyone on the planet is equally bored by the Mr. Green murder, so Nice Policeman runs up to say, “Some random woman did it! No further explanation! This isn’t anticlimactic!”

Downton Abbey Policeman
So, that’s it? Three years of this murder, and it’s suddenly over with “some lady or whatever, bye”?

Also, I still think Bates did it.

PAR-TAY! Because a thing happened, Donk breaks out the champagne and starts raiding the refrigerator in spite of not knowing what a refrigerator is (because Donk). He finds a chicken drumstick, which he takes one bite from and then PUTS BACK IN THE REFRIGERATOR. No you did not. These aristocrats, you guys. Now we need a whole episode about Mrs. Patmore finding that ratty little compromised drumstick in there and burning Downton to the ground.

To finish things on a heartwarming note and erase the memory of drumstick-gate, Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson finally speak to each other to discuss what a funny storyline it was to make Mrs. Patmore talk about sex. But now that it’s over and we’ve confirmed that everyone is sufficiently hot for one another, they should probably just get married.

Downton Abbey Hughes
And so they shall. Until something else goes horribly wrong. But it would never!

Dowager burn of the week:
“Does it ever get cold on the moral high ground?” Blamo. Isobel, you just got Dowagered.

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