It’s time to look to the future as “Downton Abbey” comes to an end. In episode 8, the penultimate episode of the PBS series, Mary (Michelle Dockery) finally learned Edith’s (Laura Carmichael) secret. Her discovery led to the brawl that viewers have been waiting years to watch.
Bertie’s (Harry Hadden-Paton) boss, the Marquess of Hexon, dies, and Mary worries that her sister’s suitor is unemployed. “My romance might not be the only one to come to an untimely end,” Mary says with just a bit too much glee. Her plans are dashed when Edith reveals that since the marquess had no children, Bertie will inherit the title. If Edith and Bertie marry, Edith will have higher status than her entire family. Almost everyone seems delighted, but Mary is irritated.
Still, she might not marry Bertie. Edith contemplates telling him the truth about Marigold being her daughter, not just a ward. However, Bertie tells Edith that his mother isn’t the warmest woman. She’s quite strict. It makes Edith even more nervous about telling him the truth.
Meanwhile, Tom (Allen Leech) tells Mary that he talked to Henry (Matthew Goode). He misses Mary, but she still doesn’t want to see her ex-suitor. She claims that aristocracy must marry “sensibly.” Tom encourages her to give him a chance and says he has always been honest with her. Mary says he hasn’t been honest about Marigold. Tom’s admission that it wasn’t his secret to tell confirms Mary’s suspicions.
Later, Henry drops by to say hi, but Mary ignores him. Tom admits that he may have told Henry to stop at Downton. Mary wants Tom to stop getting involved, but it’s Henry who has decided he won’t give up. “If you’re trying to get rid of me, I’m going to make this as hard and as horrible as I can,” Henry tells her.
Mary demands Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) send him away. However, her mother, father (Hugh Bonneville) and Aunt Rosamund (Samantha Bond) seem to know that she is lying to herself. She loves the race car driver, and they won't be rude to him.
Henry confronts her and says the only problem he can see is that she must want someone with more status. He believes that is just as bad a marrying someone for their money. Mary is offended that he basically just called her a gold digger.
While Mary runs away from Henry again, Bertie gets Edith to answer his proposal. She has agreed to marry him, but she still hasn't told him the truth.
The next morning, Mary seems upset to learn that Henry left without saying goodbye. Bertie wants to share his and Edith’s big news, but Edith says it’s not the right moment. Tom says that they’ll be happy for any good news, but Edith knows better than that. They all assume it must be news about their engagement, and Mary decides to commend Bertie on accepting Edith’s past and Marigold’s true identity. There is no turning back after that. “Marigold is my daughter,” Edith admits.
Bertie breaks up with Edith. He doesn’t think she has been fair. “You see, I don’t feel I could spend my life with someone I don’t trust, who didn’t trust me,” Bertie tells her. Edith knows that she has ruined their relationship. They both seem distraught, but they go their separate ways.
Tom confronts Mary, who claims she thought Edith told him. Tom yells at her and tells her to stop ruining lives to make herself feel better. “You’re a coward, Mary. Like all bullies, you’re a coward,” Tom spits.
Mary goes to Edith’s room to find her sister packing. She tries to say that she didn’t know that Bertie was still in the dark, but Edith quickly cuts her off. “I know you to be a nasty jealous, scheming b----,” Edith says vehemently. Edith tells her that Henry is lucky he got away from Mary, despite being perfect for her. The blonde leaves for London without saying goodbye to anyone but Tom.
Their brother-in-law does a little bit more meddling to fix the love lives of the Crawley women. The dowager countess (Maggie Smith) returns from her trip to France at his request.
She tells Mary that Henry is clever enough to keep up with her, despite not having a title. But it isn’t really status that’s keeping Mary away. “I can’t be a crash widow again!” Mary says. Violet tells her that love is one of the most important things in life. She won’t be truly happy without it.
Mary visits Matthew’s (Dan Stevens) grave. “The truth is, I love him,” she tearfully tells his tombstone. “I believe we are right together. But I so very much want to feel that you’re happy for me, as I’d be happy for you, my darling. Remember, however much I love him, I will always love you.”
Isobel (Penelope Wilton) catches Mary on her way out. She tells Mary that she can't speak for Matthew, but she’ll be delighted if Mary weds again.
Mary asks Henry to return to Downton and tells him that he was right. They’re in love, and she is done fighting it. He says he applied for a marriage license earlier in their relationship, and it’s still valid. If Mary doesn’t want to do a big society affair, they should get married right away.
They quickly plan a wedding, and Edith returns from London. Mary apologizes to her sister before walking down the aisle. Edith isn't so sure her sister has changed. “Now you’re happy again, you’ll be nicer ... for a while,” Edith says.
Mary asks why she came back. “One day only we will remember Sybil,” Edith says. Their memories and life together mean more than their arguments. Edith mentions that Matthew would be pleased with Mary’s new husband.
Henry and Mary wed in a church and take a carriage ride back to Downton. “There they go, a new couple in a new world,” Robert says.
Of course, the downstairs staff had their fair share of upset in episode 8 as well. Mrs. Patmore’s (Lesley Nicol) bed-and-breakfast has become “a house of ill repute” after her first guests turn out to be lovers having an extramarital affair. Everyone else finds it hilarious, but Mrs. Patmore is so upset.
Rosamund, Robert and Cora offer to visit the inn and be photographed there. Carson (Jim Carter) doesn’t want Mrs. Patmore to accept, and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) points out that they made the choice to help out. “I’ve always known that women were ruthless, but I didn’t think I’d find the proof in my own wife,” Carson says.
Mrs. Patmore asks the family if they really want to get involved. Robert insists that the cook has always been devoted to the Crawleys, so the family must be loyal to her now. Mrs. Patmore lets out a happy sob. They have tea inside the establishment and take a happy picture with Mrs. Patmore outside.
Not everyone found happiness this week, though. When Miss Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) walks with Molesley (Kevin Doyle) to school, he reveals that Barrow (Robert James-Collier) was surprisingly kind. He said he hoped the teacher does more with his life than the underbutler would ever be able to do with his own. Baxter knows something is wrong. She runs back to Downton, and Andy (Michael Fox) helps her break down the bathroom door. Barrow is lying unconscious in a bloody bathtub after receiving yet another rejection letter.
Carson tells the family about Barrow's suicide attempt, and they all seem shocked. “Do you still think dismissing Barrow was a useful saving, Papa?” Mary asks. It’s vicious, even by Mary’s standards.
Luckily, it seems Barrow will recover. Mary brings George in to visit him, and Carson and Robert agree to let Barrow keep his job for the time being.
Also on “Downton Abbey” Season 6, episode 8:
- Daisy (Sophie McShera) passes all of her exams with high marks.
- Isobel refuses to attend Larry (Charlie Anson) and Amelia’s (Phoebe Sparrow) wedding without Larry personally inviting her.
- Molesley was nervous about telling his new students about his service background, but it actually motivates them to learn.
- Spratt (Jeremy Swift), Violet’s butler, has been working for Edith’s magazine as the anonymous advice columnist.
“Downton Abbey” Season 6, the final season, airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on PBS.