Wedding bells rang (again), on Downton Abbey Season 6 Episode 3. This time, it was Mr. Carson's and Mrs. Hughes' turn. Though to say their wedding went off without a hitch would be a tad disingenuous...
I truly can't believe that the drama over the wedding reception venue went on for as long as it did.
Clearly, Lady Mary was coming from a place of good intentions when she insisted that Robert agree to host the Carson-Hughes wedding in the big house. But she went about it all wrong, and she came off as incredibly grating over the course of the last few episodes.
As Mary said to Carson, she only wanted him to have the best on his wedding day. Being Mary, she couldn't fathom that what she was suggesting wasn't best. She's Mary! Of course she knows best!!
Luckily, voice-of-reason-Cora made a special guest appearance. When Cora is good, she is very good; when Cora has nothing to do, I honestly forget she's even a character on the show. She basically disappears into the gorgeous drapery, blending in with the house's decor.
Mrs. Patmore was smart to call Cora in on this one. She confided to Cora that Mrs. Hughes was unhappy with the wedding plans that she'd been backed into, and Cora immediately snapped into action.
Seeing Mrs. Hughes stand up for herself to Mary in the drawing room was so gratifying. Irritatingly, Mary immediately deflected and accused her mother of calling the meeting because she didn't want the bother of dealing with a servants' wedding in the house. Groan.
With the wedding venue debacle all settled, and the schoolhouse settled on as the site of the main event, the next issue to be dealt with was Mrs. Hughes' wedding dress.
Mrs. Hughes, being a domestic servant of advanced age, naturally didn't have a wardrobe full of formal wear at her disposal. Mrs. Patmore, again best the best friend ever, took it upon herself to order Mrs. Hughes a bargain bin catalog dress.
Unfortunately, that dress was equally as hideous as the dour garment Mrs. Hughes had originally been planning to wear.
Again, Mary got involved. She assured Anna that it would be a-OK to borrow one of Cora's evening coats. Of course, telling Cora about this ahead of time wasn't something that seemed terribly important to Mary. Again, groan.
Cora's reaction to seeing Mrs. Hughes, Anna, and Mrs. Patmore in her room, with Mrs. Hughes in one of her evening coats, didn't sit exactly right with me. When Mary later confronted her mother about the overreaction, both Robert and Cora tried to explain it away as Cora having been stressed out over the hospital merger.
That doesn't quite fit. Maybe if more time had been spent establishing what a grueling day it was for Cora (as opposed to one awkward conversation with Isobel, Lord Merton, Violet, and Dr. Clarkson), it would've made more sense. As it stands, Cora flying off the handle like that was odd and out of character.
It was a relief, at least, to see that Mary chastising her mother (inappropriate as that was) resulted in Cora apologizing to Mrs. Hughes and offering her the evening coat to keep. That was a sweet moment, and it managed to save the day for good old Elsie.
Elsewhere, Edith dealt with her crappy editor, Mr. Skinner, who continued to be 100% useless. She finally traveled up to London and fired him. (Woohoo, Edith!!) While there, she ran into Bertie Pelham, someone she'd met previously, at Lord Sinderby's Brancaster gathering, during Downton Abbey Season 5 Episode 9.
I wish I could say "sparks flew," but let's be real here: Downton Abbey has seen nary a spark since the days of Mary-Matthew and Branson-Sybil.
Regardless, Bertie seems like a nice enough guy. And he's really into Edith. I mean, it's not every day a man is offering to spend his evening in London getting your magazine ready to go with you, into the wee hours of the morning. Especially if you're Edith.
I'm sure that theirs will not be an easy road to romantic bliss, but at this point, Edith truly deserves it. She's been put through the ringer more than nearly anyone else on this show. Except Anna and Bates, of course.
Amidst Edith-drama and wedding-drama, Barrow was still trying to find a suitable new position in order to leave Downton with a bit of dignity, of his own volition. If Barrow's terrible job interviews weren't so incredibly depressing, they'd almost be funny.
Seriously, this ongoing subplot seems mainly designed to highlight how the big-house way of life is deteriorating ever more rapidly.
We'd already seen Barrow go to a dud of an interview at a woefully understaffed house where he would have been expected to fulfill several positions at once.
This time, Barrow's interview with Sir Michael Reresby of Dryden House was downright disheartening (for me, at least, if not for Barrow, who just seemed more annoyed at having wasted his time than anything else).
We had such fun in those days. Do you know what I shall always remember? The women going up to bed at the end of the evening. Their faces lit by the flame from the candle. Yes, diamonds twinkling as they climbed up into the darkness.Sir Michael Reresby
Oh, man. Sir Michael wasn't exactly a kindly old fellow, but that speech really got me. Absolutely heart-breaking and beautifully done.
Sir Michael is a disturbing glimpse into the near future of the Crawleys, I'm certain. As much as I still enjoy Downton, it's hard not to take notice of the growing dark cloud that's about to completely overtake them.
I only hope that the Crawleys acquiesce to the changing times gracefully, instead of living in a perpetual state of denial like lonely old Sir Michael.
The hospital drama also continued. I'll confess that it's less boring than I assumed it would be. It seems obvious that Cora, Lord Merton, and Isobel are all in the right – the merger is what is best for the villagers.
I mean, come on. Violet, regal and grand as she is, does have a tendency to be an old fossil when it comes to accepting change, to the detriment of all around her.
As uncomfortable as it was to see Isobel verbally eviscerate poor Dr. Clarkson by accusing him of resisting the merger because it would put a damper on his power, it had an unintended effect. Isobel's harsh accusation caused Clarkson to re-think his position, leading to this gem of a line from ol' fossil Violet –
A peer in favor of reform. It's like a turkey in favor of Christmas.Violet
We also had a few minor subplots thrown our way, to fill the time between Edith-drama, hospital-drama, and wedding-drama.
Spratt was randomly hiding away his fugitive nephew. Denker, being Denker, figured out what was going on in record time but covered for bumbling Spratt in front of Sergeant Willis – clearly with the intention of holding it over Spratt's head in the future. Poor, stamp-collecting Spratt.
Anna is pregnant! Again. She only told Mary, who immediately made a crack about Bates' virility (scandalous!). They planned to keep quiet about the news until after the London doctor performed the operation to keep the pregnancy viable, in three months' time.
Mr. Molesley continued in his attempts to educate Daisy. Daisy, unfortunately, remained completely preoccupied with the Mr. Mason situation.
Molesley mentioned to Daisy that he'd overheard the news about the Drewes vacating their farm, and Daisy immediately assumed this was part of Cora's plan to help Mr. Mason.
Daisy misunderstanding something and jumping to conclusions is one of my least favorite Downton tropes of all. It's right up there with the Sadsack Bateses trope.
We also got this completely tragic snippet of conversation between Molesley and Mr. Dawes, the local headmaster –
Mr. Dawes: You seem to have been an excellent influence in all this.
Mr. Molesley: Well, I believe that education is the gate that leads to any future worth having.
Mr. Dawes: Have you missed your vocation?
Mr. Molesley: I've missed everything, Mr. Dawes. But Daisy doesn't have to.
Heartbreaking! Molesley is one of the most consistently good-hearted and kind characters on Downton Abbey. He should have been a teacher, but due to the various circumstances into which he was born, he was a servant instead. He missed out, and is now trying to help Daisy so that the same doesn't happen to her.
Mr. Molesley is great. I really want him to end the series with at least a bit of happiness. I also wish he had a better student, but alas, there's just Daisy.
Finally, the Hughes-Carson wedding went off without a hitch. Carson gave a heartwarming speech, and two very special guests surprised everyone at the reception – Tom and little Sybbie!
Not to be crass, but did anyone else notice that Branson looked significantly heavier? I mean, Allen Leech is still a total fox, but his face just looked – bigger. A lot bigger.
Regardless, everyone was thrilled to see the two (though I'll say it was a little weird that he had to interrupt the festivities – once again making a servants' affair all about the Crawleys).
He gave a great speech to the Crawleys, cementing his place in their household and their family.
Edith: So what happened?
Tom: It's quite simple. I had to go all the way to Boston to figure something out. But that's what I did.
Mary: Well, go on, what was it?
Tom: I learned that Downton is my home. And that you are my family. If I didn't quite know that before I left, I know it now.
Welcome home, Branson and Sybbie! We missed you. I'm still holding a torch for a Mary-Branson hook-up but I completely acknowledge that it'll never, ever happen.
What did you all think of the Carson-Hughes wedding? Was it everything you'd hoped for? What do you think the focus of the show will be now that the wedding drama is done with? Remember that you can watch Downton Abbey online here at TV Fanatic to catch up on anything you've missed.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.