THE BLOG
01/24/2016 10:38 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Downton Abbey Season 6 Episode 4 Recap: Mary Says Something Nice To Edith and the Gods Give Her a Treat

It's official. The Downton Abbey world we knew is over.

On Sunday night, in episode four of the sixth and final season, Mary said something complimentary about Edith.

Yup, that Mary. That Edith.

2016-01-25-1453692432-7489323-downtonmaryedith.jpg

Edith said she wanted a woman to edit her magazine. Mary said she thought that was a good idea.

What next? Will Violet renounce the monarchy?

Oh, Mary tried to downplay it. When Rosamund praised her for making a nice gesture - meaning everyone just about keeled over from the shock - Mary replied, "A monkey could type out the Bible if you leave it long enough."

Truth is, Mary was on a kindness roll. Earlier, when Anna started feeling ominous signs of another miscarriage, Mary hustled them both onto a late train from York to her doctor in London. The doctor said he was "cautiously optimistic" the baby had been saved.

Mary also told Branson it would be fine if they became Downton's joint agents, which would mean handing back half the job she had come to love. Branson said that sounded fine, though he seemed to indicate he also wanted to find something that wasn't specifically Downton-related.

The cosmos rewarded Mary for all this pleasantness by giving her a semi-new potential suitor.

When Violet invited Lady Shackleton to Downton so Violet would have another ally in the hospital fight, it had a pleasant unintended consequence for Mary.

Lady Shackleton brought along her nephew, who turned out to be Henry Talbot, with whom Mary was mildly intrigued when he made a brief appearance last season.

His primary occupation seems to be driving race cars, which leads the family to consider him a bit of a dilettante. He's not exactly a grease monkey, more like a connoisseur and collector of high-end new wheels, but still, it seems vaguely roguish.

The elders helpfully filled us in on his realistic position in the landed-gentry world, which is that he could become an earl if "40 strong men" ahead of him drop dead. Lady Shackleton summarized his prospects as "adequate but not overwhelming."

2016-01-25-1453692522-6407343-downtonabbey2015.jpg

Oblivious to this sideline commentary, Henry and Mary had a dance, figurative and literal. Next time she's in London, he said, give him a call.

And hey, how about that, the Anna rescue took Mary to London almost immediately, and also gave her a free evening while Anna rested.

So Mary rang up Henry and they had dinner, during which they resumed their figurative dance. She asked if he were going to make a pass at her and that while she would probably say no, she would enjoy the process.

It might seem ironic that Mary could fall for a car driver considering how Matthew died, but if she can forgive Edith, she can forgive the automobile. There's also the added bonus of a potential top-gear link between Henry and Branson.

In the broader picture Sunday, writer Julian Fellowes scurried all about the room, tending to small and large details the way one does when one wants to tidy up a place before moving out.

Much, however, remains in play.

Lord Grantham, for instance, keeps having those indigestion pangs. He suggested Sunday night that he can no longer drink port, but all of us viewers, being really savvy in such matters, know it's going to be more serious than that. Cora may be catching on, too.

The more unexpected mini-drama Sunday was the visit of Mr. and Mrs. John Harding.

He serves alongside Rosamund on a charity with which Rosamund wants to get Edith involved. So Rosamund invited him to Downton for what seemed like your basic polite luncheon, except that Mrs. John Harding turned out to be Gwen, the former Downton housemaid who learned to type so she could get herself a secretarial gig back before the war.

2016-01-25-1453692603-1015817-downtonseason6episode4.jpg

When Mrs. Harding was introduced, Mary asked if they had met before. Gwen said she didn't think so, which was technically true because the Crawleys rarely noticed the help back when there were so many of them.

Still, it clearly created a situation that was headed for the ditch, especially since Evil Thomas was also grumbling that Gwen had discarded "her friends" now that she had married up.

Anna pointed out that Evil Thomas and Gwen hadn't exactly bonded back in the day. But that didn't stop Thomas from lighting the fuse. As he was serving at luncheon, he volunteered that Mrs. Harding used to work as a housemaid at Downton.

Just as he hoped, Mary jumped in to wonder why Gwen was being a weasel.

Happily for Gwen, she had a card to play.

She had already confided to Branson - who else? - that she wasn't trying to hide her past from the Crawleys. She was trying to hide it from her husband. She had not told him she was a housemaid when they met because she was afraid it would seem just too lower-class.

Mr. Harding didn't seem bothered when Evil Thomas outed her. But that was nothing compared to the grand slam she scored with the Crawleys when she explained that she owed all her upward mobility journey to the late Lady Sybil, who encouraged and abetted her at every step.

By the time she finished, she had reduced the whole table to a puddle of sad, joyful tears. Forgiving her was easier than anything they'll ever do again.

Moments later, in her room, Mary confessed to Anna that it also made her realize that Sybil was a much better person than Mary is. Anna said Mary was being hard on herself. Anna didn't say Mary was wrong.

Gwen later completed her absolution by going downstairs to catch up with all her old compadres there.

And speaking of downstairs, Branson also helped prevent Daisy from blowing herself up.

The Crawleys had decided they would work the Drewe farm themselves - well, okay, we don't mean Lord and Lady Grantham would be mucking out the pig stalls - rather than bringing in a new tenant farmer.

This reinfuriated Daisy, who saw Mr. Mason being crushed by the ruling class and went on at such length that Mrs. Patmore addressed her as "Madame Defarge" and "Karl Marx."

Daisy appealed to Branson, who said he would "put in a word." He didn't mention that he had previously agreed to the plan even though for Mr. Mason it seemed like a freezeout.

When the Crawleys were finalizing the decision, Branson changed his vote and joined Cora in persuading Lord Grantham that even if it meant a little less revenue, offering the farm to Mr. Mason was the right thing to do.

Daisy, unaware of this eleventh hour reprieve, marched upstairs ready to verbally shove the Crawleys into a wood chipper. Happily, she paused just long enough for them to tell her she had won. It was kind of a buzzkill in a way. But a good way.

If Daisy and Mr. Mason ended up happy, things were not quite so cozy in the hospital fight upstairs.

Violet's recruitment of Lady Shackleton, for starters, didn't go as planned. Lady Shackleton clearly didn't buy the party line even when Violet briefed her on it, leading Violet to say, "Are you here to help or to irritate?"

Lady Shackleton assured it was to help, but when the full group gathered, she said she couldn't make a decision when she didn't understand all the facts.

Violet snapped, "That's never stopped me," a splendid line if slightly out of character.

Overall, the hospital battle continued to feel like the Hundred Years War. When it came up at dinner, again, it triggered everything short of a food fight. After Isobel reiterated her side and Violet cut her off again and someone said Isobel was entitled to make her argument, Violet said, "Of course she is. She's just not entitled to win it."

2016-01-25-1453692842-6622485-downtonabbey6.jpg

Sensing the growing odds against her, Violet later delivered an impassioned warning about the dangers of large governmental organizations everywhere swallowing smaller local operations. She invoked, among other antecedents, the Magna Carta, which in its own way was as striking as Branson earlier confiding to Mary that he now saw merit in capitalism.

Personal growth. Heartening at any age.

There were a few other contentious moments Sunday as well. Sgt. Willis - are there any other policemen in all of Yorkshire? - dropped by to ask Baxter if she would testify against Peter Coyle, the awful man who enticed her to steal the jewels all those years ago.

Despite the strong urging of Mr. Molesley, she declined, saying, "You don't know what you're asking." She said Coyle had "ruined" her, or at least changed her.

She finally was persuaded by Sgt. Willis's argument that she could help stop Coyle from harming others. But her mood seemed as black as her dress.

On a happier downstairs note, it was agreed that everyone in the house should keep calling Mrs. Hughes "Mrs. Hughes" rather than "Mrs. Carson." For some reason, this produced a tremor of relief that could be heard in Liverpool.

And in the end, after Fellowes kept everyone in motion for 45 minutes, he finished with a charmingly evocative silent vignette.

After everyone had retired for the night, Mr. Carson walked up the stairs to his old room. It had been emptied and cleaned. He took a last look around, closed the door, slid off his old name tag and walked away.