Downton Abbey recap: Spinsters Get Up For Breakfast
It's full steam ahead on Edith's wedding preparations, while the servants cause their usual mischief in the bowels of the Abbey
Two big things happened — one good, one bad, on the latest episode of Downton Abbey. And no, neither of them involve Laura Linney’s opening narration.
Bad news first. As the middle Crawley sister, Lady Edith rarely has a moment to shine — unless she’s driving around a tractor or writing letters for wounded soldiers. Between Mary’s drama with men named Kemal, Carlisle or Matthew, Sybil’s rebellious job as a nurse and then her rebellious marriage to the Crawley’s chauffeur, Edith has been left in her sisters’ shadows to make googly-eyes. However, now that she’s marrying Sir Anthony Strallan, “something happening in this house is actually about [Edith].”
Genuinely happy about the upcoming nuptials, Edith prepares to take over as mistress of Sir Anthony’s house and for their trip to Rome, Florence and Venice where, presumably, she will lose her virginity. No wonder she’s ready to get married.
Lord Grantham and the Dowager Countess continue to disapprove of Edith’s choice of husband. (Funny, they didn’t seem to mind him when they tried to entice him with Mary back in 1913, or when he almost proposed to Edith then as well. I know he’s injured from the war, but still.) Yet, the two are resigned to having an old man as a son-in-law/grandson-in-law.
Unfortunately, Sir Anthony comes to the realization that he doesn’t want to indenture Edith for the remainder of his life. So the natural thing to do is pull a Mr. Big and leave Edith at the altar. Poor Edith doesn’t know what to do with herself, so the Dowager practically pries her away from Sir Anthony as he flees the church.
Back at Downton, Edith refuses any comfort from her sisters, because their presence reminds her that they are married and she is not. When Anna comes to wake her up the next morning, and offers to bring her breakfast in bed, Edith replies with the greatest Edith-line of the series: “Spinsters get up for breakfast.” Hopefully, there’s another, younger man in her future.
NEXT: The good news
Thankfully, the Great Reggie Swire Will Debate comes to an end. Matthew, who keeps beating himself up over breaking Lavinia’s heart, receives a letter from the late Swire. Matthew refuses to open it, because he’s just that stubborn. Oh Matthew, don’t you know that Lavinia was nothing but a plot device to prolong your inevitable reconciliation with Mary?
Mary, being Mary, opens the letter anyway, and finds that Reggie did know that Lavinia told Matthew to be with Mary before she died, and he still wanted to name Matthew his heir. Mary is delighted, but Matthew all but accuses her of forging the letter. He takes that accusation back, but I was expecting to her to be a little more indignant about that.
Determined to find out if anyone posted a letter the night Lavinia died, Mary interrupts the servants’ breakfast to inquire. To Mary’s dismay, none of them had. But wait! Daisy didn’t hear the question. It turns out she sent the letter for Lavinia. Huzzah!
Right before Edith’s tragic wedding, Mary tells Matthew that Lavinia did in fact write to her father. So Reggie’s letter was real and they can keep the money. Surprisingly, Matthew relents — on one condition. They don’t announce that they can all stay at Downton until after Edith and Sir Anthony leave for their honeymoon. When that doesn’t happen, Matthew informs Robert that he is giving Swire’s fortune to save Downton. In a boneheaded response, Lord Grantham almost doesn’t take the money. The two gentlemen then come to an agreement — they will both be masters of the Abbey. Let’s hope it will be a peaceful co-reign, and no one will have to whip it out and measure anytime soon.
NEXT: The servants’ quarters
In the land down under, a war is being waged between Thomas and O’Brien. After O’Brien hid Lord Grantham’s shirts last episode, Thomas gets even by telling Molesley that O’Brien plans to leave Downton. Molesley, being the ever-so-helpful gent that he is, wants Lady Grantham to hire his friend’s daughter. He asks her ladyship for a private word, and informs her of O’Brien’s plans to leave. Of course, Cora had no idea and is hurt that O’Brien would abandon her like this. Even when Cora learns the truth — that her ladysmaid was a victim of a prank — she is not amused, and is still angry with O’Brien.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Hughes awaits the results of her biopsy. Mrs. Patmore accidentally blabs the news to Carson, who tells Cora that her housekeeper might have cancer. Although Mrs. Hughes is upset that practically everyone knows, she is touched by Cora’s offer to stay with the family even if she is sick. Luckily for Mrs. Hughes, she receives good news — the lump was benign. She will live to quietly hate the Crawleys another day.
As for Anna and Bates, Anna visits a friend of Vera, hoping to find information of her husband’s innocence. The trip does not go as planned.
And Daisy flirts with Alfred, who is cute, but not as cute as her dead-husband William. Apparently, there’s no accounting for taste.
Here are the Dowager’s best quotes:
“At my age, one must ration one’s excitement.”
“Aren’t you a wild thing?”
“Vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”
“Edith is beginning her life as an old man’s drudge. I should not have thought a large drawing room much compensation.”
“He looks as if he’s waiting for a beating from the headmaster.”
What did you think of tonight’s episode? How does Edith ever recover? Will Thomas and O’Brien make up? Are you glad that the Crawleys get to stay at Downton?