‘Downton Abbey’ recap: They’re all just wild about Mary

I get it. Mary is the prettiest girl in all the land (or at least the land surrounding “Downton Abbey” and maybe a few other places. But really, is there anything about her to explain why every single guy (and let’s remember, the ratio of women to men after the Great War was definitely in the guys’ favor) is absolutely transfixed by Mary? Edith hasn’t been on the market thanks to Michael, but with her new haircut she’s no slouch in the looks department and is more than capable of serving up some sparkling wit. Granted, we haven’t seen too many members of the upper crust outside of Downton, but man, Mary sure brings all the boys to the yard, doesn’t she? 

This week, Lord Gillingham is so transfixed by Mary (Michelle Dockery) he’s dumped his fiancee and informed Mary that he will wait for her until she actually walks down the aisle with another guy. But wait, there’s more! Charles Blake also pops by Downton Abbey after he’s officially packed up to let Mary know he’s hot on her trail, too. Mary is making it abundantly clear to all her suitors that she’s not on the market quite yet, but that seems to just make her more intriguing. Watching the other women at the church bazaar gaze at Mary walking out Charles and Lord Gillingham was a moment that begged for a snarky “What’s in that woman’s perfume?” comment. 

Still, I’m not about to bag on Mary, as she managed to find a solution to the Green problem that would have worked fine if Bates hadn’t gotten involved. When Anna (Joanne Froggatt) finally, reluctantly told Mary the truth about Green, Michelle Dockery delivered a gut-punched gasp that perfectly conveyed Mary’s horror. While Mary was a little slow to ask Lord Gillingham to give Green the boot, when she did she managed to keep Anna’s secret despite Lord Gillingham’s questions. Now, of course, she has to live with the suspicion that Bates killed Green by pushing him in front of a bus. I think if she can keep Anna’s secret, she can keep this one, too.

I do wonder, though, how Bates murdering Green (because, well, we all think that, don’t we?) will impact his relationship with Anna. Anna being Anna, she’ll feel guilty and will likely spin around in circles about this. But this being “Downton Abbey,” the plot line may simply be wrapped up. So many times I’ve expected lingering consequences when none have come. Still, Bates got more than his fair share of consequences when Vera committed suicide, so I think he should be in the clear. 

I guess all the lingering consequences are saved for poor Edith. Rosamund has definitely risen to the occasion with her suggestion that she whisk Edith away for a crash course in French in Switzerland, but the only ones fooled (so far) seem to be Cora and Mary. Violet is no dummy, and she knows a four month vacation coming out of nowhere (and on Rosamund’s dime, no less) speaks to a bigger problem than an incomplete education in conversational French. Edith thinks she has a brilliant plan to keep the baby, but both Rosamund and Violet convince her it’s reckless, which it probably is. Still, it’s horrible watching Edith’s face collapse at the thought of giving up this baby. If Julian Fellowes is going to throw us a last-minute curve and deliver a hale and heartly (and preferably divorced) Michael, he’ll have to do it soon — but I doubt it. 

Another doomed relationship was the one between Rose and Jack Ross, though that sputtered to an end pretty dully. After Branson sees the two together and tattles to Mary, Mary discovers what we all suspected — Rose might love Jack, but she’s  much more interested in watching her mom have a heart attack. When Mary goes to talk to Jack, the conversation is downright civil. He proposed to Rose, sure, but he’s breaking it off because he loves her too much for her to suffer the judgment of close-minded people. Mary didn’t even have to argue with Jack. Rose hates Mary, of course, but really, who cares? When is Rose going home, anyway? Given that all she seems to do is try to find ways to wheedle someone into taking her into London, she really can’t leave soon enough.

A storyline I’m happy to see end — Ivy and Alfred and Daisy, oh my — actually met a surprisingly satisfying conclusion. Instead of it being about Ivy or even Alfred, it was about Daisy finding the maturity to wish Alfred well and be the bigger person in the whole tortured triangle. Good for her to reject Alfred’s offer to give her a go, and wasn’t it nice to see Mr. Mason again? I’m not sure we ever really needed Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore clucking over these three, but it paid off in Mrs. Patmore praising Daisy for taking the high road. Her obvious pride in Daisy added another dimension to what the elder women clearly feel for the young ducks, making their involvement seem less like meddling (as it had seemed) and more like nurturing. 

Now that this tired triangle has been put to bed, maybe we can watch a Isobel get back out into the trenches. Sure, she shot down the good doctor when he proposed, but maybe he just wasn’t the right guy. I’m not entirely sure Lord Merton is, but I think Isobel deserves a distraction.

Branson certainly seems to have found something with Sarah Bunting, who knows her own mind — but might learn a little something from Branson as well. When she shrugs off Cora at the church bazaar, Branson is able to give her an education in who the Crawleys really are — and why she may not want to let her socialist bias cloud her judgment about them. Otherwise, Sarah seems well-suited for Branson. I’m guessing his plans to run off to America are back burnered — unless, of course, she wants to go with him.

Oh, and was that an actual spark between Molesley and Baxter I saw? Since Thomas (Robb James-Collier) seems to realize he doesn’t have the little spy he expected, I’m really hoping he doesn’t destroy whatever appears to be brewing here — but because this does involve Molesley, I can’t imagine there will be a happy ending anyway. 

While this episode covered a lot of ground — Green’s death being the biggest plot twist — it was a surprisingly low-key episode. I guess they can’t all be barn burners, can they?

What do you think of Bates’ decision? Were you surprised that Violet figured out what was up with Edith? Do you think Mary should choose Lord Gillingham, Charles Blake or none of the above?