“Downton Abbey” Season 6, episode 7 aired Valentine’s Day, and romance was in the air. One Crawley sister was presented with a proposal, but another wasn’t so lucky. There was also a devastating breakup in this episode, leading viewers to wonder whether all the Crawleys will be able to find happiness before the final season of the series is over.
The episode begins with the family going to Henry’s (Matthew Goode) race in London. Mary (Michelle Dockery) is nervous. She asks Anna (Joanne Froggatt) whether she approves of their relationship. Anna says she isn’t sure their lives really fit together, but she also points out that opposites attract. “But do they live happily ever after?” Mary wonders.
Edith (Laura Carmichael) brings her editor, Laura (Antonia Bernath), to the race, and she bonds with Tom (Allen Leech), while Edith hangs out with Bertie (Harry Hadden-Paton). Mary, of course, spends every second she can with Henry before he has to get in the car.
The race is a stressful affair for Mary. Henry attempts to calm her nerves before he races. He tells her to cheer and wave when he passes, and they share a kiss before he goes off. The race is all fun and excitement for everybody but her. Her worst fears come true when a car crashes. Charlie Rogers’ (Sebastian Dunn) car goes up in flames, leaving Henry distraught. He has to be held back from trying to enter the flames to save his dead friend.
Mary is relieved it wasn’t Henry in the car, but Henry feels guilty. He and Charlie were close. He encouraged his friend to race. Mary says Charlie would be blaming himself in the event Henry had died, too. Mary invites her boyfriend for dinner, but Henry says he has to deal with Charlie’s family. He appears as if he is about to tell her something heartfelt, but she stops him. “No, let’s not do any of that now,” she says.
Henry calls Mary later that night. He says he needs to know about their future, and Mary tells him not to have this conversation right now. “Today has made me realize something, too. We’re not meant to be together, Henry,” Mary says. She wishes him the best, but she can’t be with a race car driver after losing her first husband in a car accident.
Tom overhears the conversation and tells her she isn’t seeing straight. He understands her fear, but he tells her that she can’t avoid pain forever. Mary ignores him and goes to bed.
Bertie stays with Edith for quite a while after dinner. “I want to marry you,” he tells Edith. She’s shocked, but she has one request: Marigold must come. She claims she is closer to the girl than anybody else in her family. She conveniently leaves out the part where Marigold is her secret daughter. Bertie is more than happy to accept Marigold into their family. Edith says she must still think about it, but she seems very happy about the proposal.
Elsewhere, Isobel (Penelope Wilton) gets invited to the wedding of Lord Merton’s (Douglas Reith) son Larry (Charlie Anson). Violet (Maggie Smith) wants to confront the bride, Amelia (Phoebe Sparrow), to determine why Isobel was asked to come. Violet will be leaving soon, though. She wants to take a vacation until she is no longer angry with Cora (Elizabeth McGovern). Still, the dowager countess manages to find time for an interrogation.
“No one is always friendly,” Violet warns Amelia. The bride admits she has made Larry realize that Lord Merton will need to be cared for as he grows older. That’s not a job that Larry wants. The dowager countess tells Isobel of the engaged couple’s intentions. She also reveals she is leaving for France for a month.
When the family returns from London, Isobel reveals Violet has left. Spratt (Jeremy Swift) has brought a present on the matriarch’s behalf: It’s a puppy! Robert (Hugh Bonneville) names her Tiaa.
The downstairs staff wasn’t quite as dramatic this week, but there were still plenty of shenanigans. Mrs. Patmore’s (Lesley Nicol) bed-and-breakfast is ready to launch. She brings her first tenants breakfast and then leaves for the day. A man with a camera takes notes on her departure from the bushes. Does Mrs. Patmore have a stalker?
While the family is in London, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) wants to dine at home again, much to Mrs. Hughes’ (Phyllis Logan) disappointment. Mrs. Patmore has an idea to help Mrs. Hughes and Carson with their issues at home. Mrs. Hughes feigns an injured hand, forcing Carson to cook. He quickly learns it’s a difficult gig, and Mrs. Hughes isn’t worried about him anymore.
Meanwhile, Carson tells Barrow (Rob James-Collier) that he needs to find other employment as soon as possible. Barrow admits to Mrs. Hughes that this is the first place where he has “laid down some roots.” However, he is finding all of his relationships faltering.
During a picnic, Daisy (Sophie McShera) shows the group her exam, and Andy (Michael Fox) is asked to read a question aloud. He reveals he can’t read, and the school headmaster Mr. Dawes (Patrick Brennan) offers to help. Barrow is told to stop helping Andy so he isn’t confused by two methods of learning. The underbutler is clearly disappointed he can’t be useful anymore.
Later, Daisy makes a comment to Mrs. Patmore about Andy only wanting to read so he can learn about Mr. Mason’s (Paul Copley) farm. “If Mr. Mason makes new friends, it doesn’t mean he has any less love for you,” Mrs. Patmore says. She adds that Mr. Mason will always be there for Daisy, and the cook will be there for her assistant, too.
Mr. Molesley (Kevin Doyle) takes a general-knowledge exam alongside Daisy. Mr. Dawes tells him he passed with flying colors and offers him a job as a schoolteacher. Daisy tells him he deserves it. “I never think I deserve anything,” Molesley says. “Perhaps I’ve been wrong all along.” It looks like the Downton staff is getting even smaller.
“Downton Abbey” Season 6, the final season, airs on PBS Sundays at 9 p.m. EST.