Mary was in rare form during Downton Abbey Season 6 Episode 2, wasn't she?
Now, that's not all bad: Mary did do some good (taking command of Anna's infertility issue, for one).
But this Mary was, for the most part, the very worst version of Mary. That, of course, is the Mary who butts into other people's business and purports to know what is best for everyone.
The theme, all-around, was "meddling." Some of it for the good, some detrimental.
Robert offered up the servants' hall as a reception venue for the rapidly approaching Carson/Hughes wedding. Mary's and Edith's twin expressions of horror upon hearing that lame suggestion were just priceless. Mary immediately convinced her father to offer up the actual house for the venue.
Which would have been meddling of the positive sort – if only Mrs. Hughes weren't wholly uninterested in that idea.
Of course, her decision is completely fair. Mrs. Hughes has never been as close with the Crawley family as is Carson (particularly in his relationship with Mary). I loved seeing her teasing Carson about the idea of getting married without Mary present.
And heaven forfend we lowly folks should do anything to contradict the blessed Lady Mary.Mrs. Hughes
Elsie Hughes was not having any of it. Thank god she put her foot down and told Carson that under no circumstances would she be married at Downton.
Naturally, Mary still wasn't taking no for an answer. So we have however long the impending-nuptials arc will go on for to deal with this. I hope it resolves sooner rather than later, because there's really no nuance here.
Mrs. Hughes is right, and Carson is doing that typical Carson thing where he adheres to what is "proper" to the detriment of all else – in this case, his relationship with his soon to be wife. Oh, Carson. Get a grip.
One Mr. Finch visited Downton to speak with the estate's agent – that, in Branson's absence, being Mary, to Finch's shock and disturbance.
Mr. Finch: If you could just tell me who's replaced him...
Mary: Hold onto your hat, Mr. Finch, but I'm afraid I have.
That was a pretty excellent moment, and one of my favorite Maryisms of the season thus far.
Mary decided to enter the Downton pigs in the livestock show. Conveniently (for the plot, not so much for the Crawleys), the prized pigs were raised by the Drewe family. Enter Know-it-All Mary.
Mary announced her intention to enter the pigs to the family, and of course little George was all into the idea of hanging out with some livestock. (Side note: Mary's little George looks and is dressed very much like real-life baby Prince George, no? Or am I crazy?)
Mary decided to take George and Marigold to the Drewe farm to see the pigs. Edith, who was set to go to London to deal with her persnickety editor Mr. Skinner (perfect name), met Mary's suggestion with the face-fall to end all face-falls.
Cora, Robert, and Edith were all internally screaming at Mary's suggestion. Mary, being an incredibly self-centered person at heart, didn't notice her family's obvious discomfort and resistance (or simply didn't care).
Since Mary is the only member of the immediate family who doesn't know that Marigold is the biological child of Edith and Gregson, the family couldn't argue against the idea to parade the child in front of the adoptive family from which she'd been ripped away. In Mary's mind, she was doing the Drewes an obvious kindness.
So, credit to Mary for that. On the other hand, Marigold is Edith's daughter (biological or adoptive) and Edith really should have just been able to say, "No, sis, Marigold is not going to the farm."
But, for drama's sake and because Mary apparently has a preternatural sense of when something seems fishy, Edith allowed her daughter to go along with Mary to the Drewes, while she went to London and continued to ponder whether she'd rent her flat or move there herself.
At that point, predictably, Mrs. Drewe showed up unexpectedly while Marigold was over and fell to pieces at the sight of the girl she'd raised as her own.
The larger fall-out, here, was predictable: Mrs. Drewe impulsively kidnapped Marigold from the livestock show (the Crawleys were too distracted by their super exciting pig win to notice).
This wasn't exactly a high-stakes storyline (Mrs. Drewe isn't crazy, she's just sad). Mr. Drewe was able to retrieve Marigold easily and return her to Edith.
That said, it was genuinely moving. The Drewes' pain was palpable, and Mr. Drewe's sad resignation when he realized he would need to move his family away, for the sake of his wife's mental and emotional health, was upsetting. And not just to me – ever-impenetrable Robert looked mighty rattled himself.
A positive from this terrible situation is that clearly this vacant farm will fall right into the lap of Mr. Mason, Daisy's father-in-law.
Daisy was all in a tiff after torching Mr. Mason's chances of remaining on his current farm, both blaming herself and cursing the system that would allow for an old man to be evicted from the farm he'd tended for years.
Which is a totally fair assessment. That said, I could not possibly be less interested in a re-tread of "Daisy gets educated," even if it involved Mr. Molesley, whom I adore. (Give Molesley a romantic storyline with Baxter, you fools!!)
I do not care to see Daisy as a burgeoning Sarah Bunting-style activist. It feels very forced to have Daisy fill that role; it's just not who she is, in the slightest.
Between meddling in the Carson/Hughes wedding and meddling in Edith's parenting of Marigold, Mary did some good meddling. She grabbed the reins of Anna's infertility storyline and steered her towards a seemingly simple solution.
For that I can only say: bless you, Lady Mary. As I'd mentioned in my review of Downton Abbey Season 6 Episode 1, there was nothing more aggravating than listening to Anna weep and apologize profusely to Bates for not being able to bear him a child.
It got worse. This time around, there was more completely understandable weeping, but on top of that, Anna dismissed the idea of adoption because Bates "is tribal [...] and no substitute will do." What?!
I understand that Anna's mentality and behavior is apropos of the time, but it is seriously infuriating to witness. The show could just as easily have had Anna be distraught over her inability to bear children on her own account. I truly do not understand the reasoning for Anna's grief to be all about Bates.
Thankfully (see: bless you, Lady Mary), it looks like we won't need to deal with this for very much longer. Mary convinced Anna to see the doctor that cured Mary's infertility in a snap back in Downton Abbey Season 3.
That miracle doctor determined that Anna had an "incompetent cervix" but that a simple stitch would allow her to bear a child to term. Woohoo! No more Bates drama, right? Please? (My fingers are duly crossed.)
Meanwhile, the older upstairs folks' drama of the season seems to be revolving around the hospital. Part of me was hoping that this would be a brief arc (because it's boring), but it looks like it's going to be around for the long haul.
In one corner we have Violet and Dr. Clarkson, fighting to keep things just as they are, refusing to merge with the larger hospital. Cousin Isobel, Cora, and Lord Merton are in the opposite corner, pulling for the merger to go through because better funding, better machinery, and access to more sophisticated surgeons will be better for the townspeople (duh).
If you can't say anything helpful, Robert, please be silent.Violet
Robert, on principle and because he's a little bit scared of his mom, refused to get involved. Like I said, this hospital business is going to take a while to resolve, seems like.
Finally, we have Thomas, who is apparently the designated whipping boy of the season now that the Bates family is out of the woods.
Carson's cruelty towards Thomas seems to have sprung up out of nowhere and serves little purpose. Thomas senses the rest of the staff being chilly towards him and that they are turning new guy Andy against him.
Unlike the Jimmy situation, it really does seem like Thomas just wants a friend in Andy so I can't help but feel badly for Thomas. He's lonely and he still looks a little haggard from all that drug use in Downton Abbey Season 5.
This is also just a terrible, useless storyline for Thomas to get saddled with, relegated to the sidelines. Thomas used to be such an interesting, complicated character. Seeing him reduced to the resident sad sack is irritating.
- Mary's idea that Rose must be pregnant was quite the leap (adding "2 and 2 to get 53," indeed) but let's be real – she's probably right, much as poor Edith would hate Mary being right.
- "Let me discuss it with our pigman." It's Mary lines like this that I'll sorely miss once Downton takes its final bow.
- Mary's "But how will we get home?" after Marigold's kidnapping scare was grade-A obnoxious Mary. That was just awful.
- If Lord Merton and Cousin Isobel don't get together before the show is over, I'm going to riot.
- Speaking of getting together – the show is basically devoid of romance at the moment (Hughes/Carson wedding bickering doesn't count), and I'm really starting to feel it. We need some furtive, longing glances up in the abbey, stat.
What did you think of the second episode of the season? Is the final chapter of Downton shaping up to be a good one, or a let down? You can watch Downton Abbey online here at TV Fanatic to catch up on anything you may have missed!
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.