TV Review: Downton Abbey Series 6 Episode 7

Two marriage proposals, one marginally more successful than the other, a horrifying motor death, but (most importantly) a new puppy!

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Shocks and surprises were not thin on the ground in this week’s Downton. The episode opened with Mrs. Patmore as the proud owner of a B&B, which led her to have a girly/middle-aged womanly gossip with Mrs. Hughes about how poor a house husband Mr. Carson is. This led to them surmising a slightly questionable wound which meant Mr. Carson had to take charge of the cooking for the evening, yielding hysterical results. “You mean I’m going to have to cook?” he spluttered indignantly, before proceeding to fall asleep at the table after having burnt the dishes and himself. A woman’s work is never done, is it Mr. Carson?

Violet the Dowager Countess did some investigating work into Larry Grey’s fiancée Amelia Crookshank. Whereas in last week’s episode she came across as timid yet charming, she was revealed to be, as Violet said, “a cruel little miss”. It was revealed that her sudden wish for Isobel to re-consider Dickie Merton was so that she wouldn’t be stuck caring for him in his old age, but rather have Mrs. Crawley to do that instead. Proving herself to be as nasty as her fiancé, it seems that they are a well-matched pair.

Violet meanwhile took off on a seemingly spontaneous trip to France, the main reason behind it being her discontent with Cora. Denker was gleeful to go with her, taking advantage of the holiday and gloating at Spratt as he sat in his chair sticking stamps into the collector’s book. Meanwhile, the majority of the Crawleys were in London to watch Henry Talbot racing cars at Brooklyn, after Robert had to endearingly ask Cora’s permission to go; it’s clear who wears the trousers in that relationship.

They spent the night (yet again) using Lady Rosamund as a hotel, where Cora and Robert mused over why Mary would prefer Henry to the ‘coronet and rolling acres that Tony Gillingham had to offer’. “Maybe he has sex appeal”, mused Robert, sounding as though the concept were totally alien to him. When even Anna expressed her doubts about his position, Lady Mary mused if opposites do really live happily ever after.

On the day of the race, Edith invited her editor along to introduce her to her complicated and rather extended family, and Henry and Tom continued to bond over cars. A visually stunning scene followed of a motor race and it seemed like another splendid Downton moment until a crash and a plume of smoke ripped through the crowd. As the spectators ran to the wreckage, Henry, showing his selfless side, was determined to dive into the burning wreckage to rescue his friend, although nothing could be done to save him. For Lady Mary, the event no doubt brought back memories of her husband Matthew’s death, and her expression of relief upon learning that Henry was still alive and unharmed displayed some excellent acting by Michelle Dockery.

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The tragedy was cruelly juxtaposed with a pleasant picnic back at the Abbey where the oblivious downstairs staff enjoyed a day in the sun in between Daisy’s exams. The secret of Andy’s illiteracy was finally revealed, although the schoolmaster said he would be happy to help him learn. In other academic news, Moseley was fittingly proudly surprised to find out that he had passed his exams and was given the opportunity to teach at the village school.

In London, the aftermath of Charlie’s death cast a gloom over the Crawley’s dinner, and Henry’s late night  consolatory phone call to Mary led to him calling her his “carpe diem” and asking her to marry him. Standing her ground, Mary argued that they just wouldn’t be right together, although graciously wished him all the best. In the drawing room, Edith lay sleepily against Bertie Pelham where he too asked her to marry him, saying that he was crazy about her. “Oh”, Edith gasped, seeming disproportionately surprised. Showing how genuine he is, he accepted to take Marigold, the Crawleys’ ‘ward’ as he put it, into the marriage as well, although nevertheless she said she wouldn’t give him her answer just yet. Keep him waiting, Edith.

There were two surprises for the Crawleys when they arrived back at Downton. The first was to find Violet having left for France and the second was the utterly adorable Labrador puppy waiting in the servants’ hall. After such a shocking death, it was a happy and joyous respite, even reducing the ever formal Robert to cuddling and cooing over the family’s latest edition. Here’s hoping that the new puppy helps to continue lifting spirits in next week’s episode.

All images sourced from Pinterest.

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