Downton Abbey Season 6 Episode 7 Review: Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary

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There was a mix of tremendous highs and disappointing lows on Downton Abbey Season 6 Episode 7.

Things are looking way up for some characters, but others are about as down as they can possibly be at the moment.

Here's hoping Julian Fellowes & Co. pull it together in the one episode and special that we have left! 

The Race - Downton Abbey

Let's start with Mary, because she's in the title of this review and, well, she's Mary, after all.

All throughout Downton Abbey Season 6 Mary has been struggling with whether she ought to give herself over to love and allow herself a new start at life with Henry Talbot. And it's not just Mary struggling – everyone seems to have an opinion about whether Mary and Henry belong together.

Unfortunately, the majority opinion seems to be leaning on the side of "no." Cora and Robert even took a moment before bed to consider what it is that Mary sees in Henry that she didn't see in Tony, the Viscount Gillingham.

Um, maybe it's because Henry is more interesting than Gillingham in literally every way, Robert? Maybe that.

Robert: What's he got that fascinates Mary when poor old Tony's rolling acres and glistening coronet didn't? You'll say sex appeal, but isn't Mary too sensible?
Cora: We have a very contrary daughter.

Anna felt that the two were mismatched and reported as much to Mary, shaking Mary to her core.

It's a real shame because the family unanimously likes Henry as a person, but this being Downton, they are still consumed with things like "prospects" and whether two halves of a potential romantic match are of equivalent social status.

It seems a little silly from our perspective, because after all, it's not like Henry is a pauper or something. But at the very least, the Crawleys have progressed enough not to directly forbid Mary's involvement with Henry. She's at least able to safely make her own decision (unlike Sybil).

Despite Mary's doubts, she was clearly happy to be with Henry when he invited her entire family to the race at Brooklands. Their rapport has really grown on me and again, Matthew Goode is just made of charm and roguish grin. The sparks between Mary and Henry (while still not on Mary/Matthew level) have become undeniably apparent.

Henry: I want to surround you with people murmuring, "Isn't he divine?" or "You'd be mad to let him go."
Mary: Suppose they say, "I shouldn't have thought a racing driver was your sort of thing at all"?
Henry: They don't have to, you've already said it.

Unfortunately, Mary's fear of cars, coupled with Charlie Rogers' horrific fiery death during the race, crystallized all of her worries that they were incompatible. The timing was awful, but to be fair to Mary, Henry did push the point.

He insisted on a commitment for their future, and shaken Mary couldn't give that to him. She broke up with him on the spot, hours after his best friend died right before his eyes. Yikes.

Tom, forever the voice of reason, gave Mary a beautiful speech about taking risks and being willing to be hurt in the name of love.

Tom: You're frightened of being hurt again. But let me tell you this: You will be hurt again, and so will I, because being hurt is part of being alive. But that is no reason to give up on the man who is right for you.

I teared up, not going to lie. The history between Mary and Tom, paired with Tom's own romantic loss, made him the perfect person to deliver this message to Mary.

I'm sure that Mary will come to her senses at some point before the show wraps. There is literally no way that we spent all this time this season on Henry and Mary's romance only to have this be the end of it. Nope, no way. But I am looking forward to seeing their eventual (inevitable, in my eyes) reunion.

In other Upstairs romantic news, Bertie proposed to Edith! It was lovely, especially the sight of Edith just lying there comfortably in his arms. We never get to see Edith like that.

They're a great match, but Edith needs to tell Bertie the truth about Marigold. He seems like such an easy-going guy, though the effect of the scandalous nature of Marigold's birth can't be discounted.

Meanwhile, while the Crawleys were off at the race track, several storylines chugged along at Downton concurrently. Easily the most satisfying one was Mr. Molesley's success in his exam.

I love Molesley (may have mentioned that once, twice, maybe half a dozen times...) and I was thrilled that this storyline played out exactly as I expected it to.

Downton is a soap, so I'm not really watching for shocking or unexpected twists. But Molesley passing his teaching exam and being offered a position on Dawes' teaching staff was just a perfect moment. He was in so much shock and so emotional.

Daisy: Well, I'm glad. You deserve it.
Molesley: I never think I deserve anything. Perhaps I've been wrong all along.

Daisy also took her exams, but didn't yet get the results back. To be honest, Daisy has been acting like such a little horror this season that I can't quite make myself care about success or failure.

Mrs. Patmore did put Daisy's attitude in some kind of perspective, at least. She assured Daisy that just because Mr. Mason was making new friends, he wouldn't have less love to give to Daisy.

That was a sweet moment, and it did remind me that Daisy is an orphan and emotionally vulnerable, but also she's a grown woman! She should know how to control and confront her own emotions by now. She shouldn't need Mrs. Patmore to act as her psychologist and analyze what feelings are behind her actions for her.

Daisy is, in my opinion, one of the more inconsistent and poorly-developed characters on Downton Abbey. She veers back and forth between being a petulant child and a hardworking servant trying to climb her way up far too often for it to be believable or organic.

On the flip side, once again, Barrow tugged at all of my heartstrings. The poor guy just wants to belong, and that's been his theme all season. There were several examples in this episode alone that demonstrated how ostracized he's been, while underlining that he is honestly trying to be a part of the household. All his efforts are just smacked down.

He brought lemonade to the group lunching between Daisy's exams and was gently pushed out of the whole teaching-Andy-to-read thing by Mr. Dawes. He sat apart from everyone and watched the festivities from afar when they were celebrating Mr. Molesley's success.

Heck, he even tried to jokingly join Mrs. Hughes and Carson on the Downton couch upstairs, but they just looked at him, irritated, and went off.

So, this can go one of two ways for Thomas before the series wraps, in order to satisfy his redemption arc: he can go off and find a house where he makes a fresh start and everyone appreciates him, or he can make some big gesture and win the hearts of everyone at Downton.

Right now, I'm thinking the former is more likely, though it would be sad to see him leave Downton.

By far the most satisfying storyline was Mrs. Hughes' trick on Carson. At Mrs. Patmore's suggestion, Mrs. Hughes faked a hand injury and gave Carson a taste of his own medicine.

Carson worked up a sweat rushing around and preparing dinner for them, to Mrs. Hughes' undisguised glee, which was hilarious. He clearly realized what a tough job cooking and housekeeping is, but it remains to be seen whether this little taste of it will have been enough to actually get through that thick, backwards skull of his.

Fingers crossed for yes.

Other thoughts:

  • As much as I love Tom playing cupid to Mary and Henry, I don't really understand why a few scenes here or there couldn't have been spared to set Tom up with a love interest (or at least the prospect of one) of his own. He and Laura, Edith's editor, might be a good fit, but we know almost nothing about her so far. She seems cool though.
  • I loved that Edith ran after her sister without hesitating when Mary dashed towards the scene of the car crash in a panic, thinking it was Henry. Edith and Mary may have their differences, but when push comes to shove they are there for one another. Hope that holds up.
  • Anna, on the other hand, was an idiot for running after Mary at the race track. I get that they're BFFs and everything, but lady, you have a super high risk pregnancy! Don't be dashing off towards burning cars! Yeesh.
  • Woohoo for Mrs. Patmore's B&B being up and running! But who's that guy lurking outside, taking notes and holding what I think is a camera? Is Mrs. Patmore inadvertently doing something sketchy by operating a B&B?
  • Miss Crookshank, Lord Merton's soon-to-be daughter-in-law, was only encouraging Isobel so that Isobel would marry Merton and take him off of their hands. She is awful and I love that it was Violet who shot her down. Violet and Isobel have such a unique, fun bond and it's great to see Violet be protective of Isobel.
  • Welcome new puppy Tiaa! That was an adorable moment and well-timed after the darkness of the car race debacle.

What did you think of Mary breaking up with Henry? Will Edith and Bertie successfully make it down the aisle? How long will Violet be able to stand being around the French before she hightails it back to the Abbey? Let us know your thoughts by commenting below and remember to watch Downton Abbey online here at TV Fanatic if you've missed anything!

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Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Downton Abbey Season 6 Episode 7 Quotes

Violet: You're a cruel little miss, aren't you? I'd feel sorry for Larry, if I didn't dislike him so much.
Miss Crookshank: I shall forget you said that, but you should go now. Much more, and we may feel awkward when we meet. Which we are bound to do.
Violet: I think not, Miss Crookshank. Not if I see you first.

Isobel: I suspect she's quite a tough nut.
Violet: And I'm quite a tough nutcracker.