May 1920: As the episode opens, the family and staff of Downton are preparing for Edith's wedding. Edith is delighted that finally something in this house is for her.
Thomas tricks Molesley into telling Cora that O'Brien is leaving. The misunderstanding is eventually resolved, but the feud between O'Brien and Thomas has escalated.
Carson overhears Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes talking and realizes Mrs. Hughes may be ill. Carson talks to Mrs. Patmore as if he knows the situation, causing her to confirm the possibility of cancer.
The family decide to visit a property they own and where they might live after leaving Downton. On that morning Matthew receives a visit from the attorney handling Reggie Swire's estate, confirming that he is the heir and giving him a letter from Swire. Matthew shares this information with Mary during the outing and indicates that he will not read the letter. Later, Mary reads it and finds that Swire knew that Matthew did not love Lavinia and left him the money regardless. Once Mary confirms that Lavinia sent a letter just before she died Matthew agrees to accept the inheritance and save Downton.
Edith and Sir Anthony's wedding begins, but Sir Anthony interrupts to say that he can't go through with it. He leaves, the Crawleys return home and Edith goes to her room. Even though she fails to come down for dinner, the staff is instructed to remove all evidence of the wedding decorations and food. The next morning Anna wakens Edith and offers to bring her breakfast. Edith refuses and gets out of bed, saying she's a spinster and spinsters get up for breakfast.
Mrs. Hughes visits the doctor to receive her test results. When she and Mrs. Patmore return, she sends Mrs. Patmore to give the very worried Carson the good news that she does not have cancer. Carson, relieved, returns to work singing happily.
Complete Episode Description
Downton Abbey is being decorated for the reception to take place after the wedding of Lady Edith Crawley to Sir Anthony Strallan. Maids are carrying in huge bouquets of flowers and trays of glasses. As Edith watches from above, the large oriental rug is rolled up and the floor swept and polished. Edith greets her grandmother Violet, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, and she and the footman, Alfred, stand by to help her step over the rolled up rug. At Edith's comment that it is all so exciting, the dowager says that at her age one must ration excitement. Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, is stacking wedding gifts and they join her. Edith didn't believe that it could all turn out right and is amazed that an event in this house could be about her. The wedding dress had arrived. The dowager laments that she hadn't been allowed to pay for a more impressive clothing designer, Patou (Jean Patou), but Cora believes the Lucile (Lucy Christiana, Lady Duff-Gordon) was safer, as they didn't want Edith to look like a chorus girl. In answer to Violet's question, Edith says that Strallan is well, desperately excited, and that, just when he thought his life was never going to change, he is going back to the beginning. Violet calls it an invigorating prospect, but she shares a look with Cora that shows that they still have reservations.
Below stairs, Sarah O'Brien, Cora's lady's maid, is asking Thomas Barrow, Robert's valet, if he has his shirt ready for tonight (referring to the night when all his lordship's dress shirts had gone missing). Thomas replies that in case she is interested, he has hidden a couple of shirts so that he will never be caught out like that again. O'Brien pretends she doesn't understand and wants to know why that should interest her, but Thomas says it goes for her and Alfred. When Alfred asks what he has done, his aunt says to take no notice. Mrs. Elsie Hughes, the housekeeper, checks with Anna Bates, Lady Mary's lady's maid, as to whether the flowers are done. Anna says that they are, that she will check them Saturday morning for any that have wilted, and that she has kept back a few that are in bud. Anna is going out, but will be back for the dinner gong. Mrs. Hughes tells Mrs. Beryl Patmore, the cook, that there has been no news from the doctor (Dr. Clarkson who is awaiting the results of her medical tests). She is concerned with the delay and wonders if they should go back to see him, but Mrs. Hughes thinks that he would have told her if he had any news. Mrs. Hughes had waited for the door to close behind Anna, but she did not see Mr. Charles Carson, the butler, who overhears them, from down the side corridor.
Upstairs, an uncharacteristically friendly Thomas asks Mr. Molesley, Matthew's valet, how he is doing, and even picks up a vest that he drops. He asks if his friend's daughter is still looking for a job as a lady's maid. Mr. Molesley comments on the irony that the newspapers are filled with talk of a servant shortage, but she can't find even one situation and might end up a house maid, if not careful. Thomas says that he will tell him something, but makes him swear not to breath a word of it downstairs as Miss O'Brien doesn't want it known. He smiles to himself in anticipation of causing trouble for O'Brien.
In the library, Cora is asking Robert how the advertisement offering Downton for sale will be written. He says that he is not sure, but guesses that it will say "Desirable nobleman's mansion with surrounding estate and properties". To Tom's question of where they will go, Robert says that they have some property in the north at Eryholme, on the border with Durham, that came into the marriage with his great-grandmother. Robert describes the house as pretty and rented, but says that they can come to some arrangement with the tenant. It is a place they can make something of, and possibly rename Downton Place (for tradition). Cora proposes that they take a picnic and go there tomorrow, as a break from wedding plans on the last day of Edith's freedom.
Lady Mary Crawley comes in and says that Molesley is in the hall and wants a word. Matthew says that he will come, but it is Cora whom he wants to see. Molesley comes in and is reticent to talk before all the Crawleys at once, but asks if he can put forward a name as a candidate to replace O'Brien, when the time comes. Cora is stunned. Robert asks if O'Brien is leaving. Molesley says that he hopes that he hasn't spoken out of turn, but he thought Cora knew, and he didn't want to miss the chance. Cora composes herself and says that of course she knows and will be happy to listen to recommendations "when the time comes". After Molesley leaves, Robert says that he will watch O'Brien's departure with mixed emotions, Mary in a cold tone says that her emotions are not mixed. To Sybil's question of did she know, Cora says that she hadn't a clue that O'Brien wanted to leave her service, and it is very disappointing. Robert brings up the point that eventually they must tell the staff that the end is nigh. Mary thinks that sounds final, and Robert then confirms that it is. Mary says to let Edith have her day and then tell them. Matthew looks a bit preoccupied (perhaps thinking about having the money to change things) and shares a look with Mary.
In Downton village, Dr.Clarkson is hailed by Mr. Carson. He comes over and says that he is aware of Mrs. Hughes suffering from a "condition" and wonders if he can do anything to help her. Dr. Clarkson says that he can lighten her duties, but other than that he can't discuss it. When Carson asks if he means that he cannot say how serious it is, Clarkson says that he couldn't even if he knew, which he doesn't, not yet. He leaves Carson standing looking concerned (as watching Clarkson, hearing what he said and didn't say, has confirmed to Carson that it could be very serious).
Anna is asking Lady Mary for time off (as she needs to question Mrs. Audrey Bartlett). Mary asks whether it can wait until after the wedding, but then realizes that it can't (John Bates' freedom is at stake) and tells her that she may go. Matthew says that he has had a telephone call from Mr. Charkham, Mr. Swire's lawyer. The death certificate for Clive Pullbrook has arrived from India, and Charkham was most definite that he must come to Downton to deliver it. Matthew says that he has told him to come tomorrow, which angers Mary, as they are to go to Eryholme, to see the house they are going to move into. Mary gives one of her many digs at Matthew by saying that she is surprised that he of all people can forget that. He says that Charkham is coming in the morning, and he will not put it off. Mary states that this is the moment when he receives his huge inheritance, but chooses to give it away rather than save Downton. Matthew asks her to help him choose where it is to be given, but Mary says that she will not, as she would give it to her father. Matthew wishes that she could understand, and she says that she is trying, just not doing very well. Cora is in her room being dressed by O'Brien. O'Brien asks if there will be anything else, and Cora replies that there isn't unless O'Brien has something that she wants to tell her. When O'Brien asks what would that be, Cora says that she will not prompt her, if she is not ready to say. After she goes, Robert asks if she said why she was going, but Cora supposes that she doesn't want to say until she settles where she is going. Still Cora feels as if O'Brien has let her down. Robert says that they should go as Strallan is never late. Cora knows that Robert is not happy, but there are advantages. Edith will be in the same county, Loxley is a nice house, and the estate will keep her busy. However, Robert still sees it as Edith starting out her life as a nurse, and, by the age of fifty, she will be wheeling around a one-armed old man. In the kitchen, Daisy Mason, the kitchen maid, is asking Alfred if he ever thinks of Miss Reed, Martha Levinson's maid. Alfred admits that he sometimes does. Daisy reminds him of how outspoken she was and how he liked that. Alfred describes her as modern, saying what she felt even though she was a woman. Daisy considers that maybe she should be outspoken and say what she thinks, but just then Mrs. Patmore comes over and looks at the dessert tray, questioning Alfred as to whether he plans to stand there until they come searching for the pudding (English slang for any dessert). Alfred quickly grabs the tray and heads for the stairs. Mrs. Patmore sees Mr. Carson hovering nearby and asks if she can do anything for him. He says that she can, and he confidentially tells her that he saw Dr. Clarkson today, and he is worried about Mrs. Hughes. Mrs. Patmore says that she is as well, but Clarkson should not have told him. Carson truthfully says that Clarkson has told him that it would help if they lessened her workload. Mrs. Patmore agrees, but says that she will not be pleased to find out that he had been talking about her, before it had been confirmed. Carson solemnly states, "So it is cancer." To which Mrs. Patmore says that it isn't until it is confirmed. Mrs. Patmore tells a visibly upset Mr. Carson not to say a word as Mrs. Hughes would hate it if she found out that Dr. Clarkson had told him. Mr. Carson reveals that Dr. Clarkson had not told him, that Mrs. Patmore herself had told him.
Robert is at the dining table with Sir Strallan, Tom Branson, and Matthew, and he says how nice it is to have men in the family at last. Strallan says that Lady Edith, he then corrects it to just Edith, says that Tom is interested in politics. Robert jokes that Tom is their tame revolutionary, and every family should have one. Matthew questions if he actually is tame, and Tom replies that he is tame enough for a game of billiards. Tom and Matthew drink their wine and go. Robert tells Strallan that they are getting used to Tom, and he hopes Strallan will too. Strallan says that he and Robert haven't spoken since the engagement, and he understands why Robert was against it. But he hopes that Robert knows that he will do his level best to make Edith happy. Robert says that he does and it was never at all personal, to which Strallan agrees and says that he understands that it was because of his arm and being too old. Robert tells him that the thing is done, and there is no reason to "rake it over". Sir Strallan asks him if he is happy, and Robert says that he is happy that Edith is happy and that Strallan intends to make her happy, and that is enough happiness to be going on with (in other words he is still not thrilled with the situation). Strallan looks unsure about unraveling that answer.
While walking to the front door, they are meet by Edith who wants five minutes alone with her fiancé. Robert agrees as long as they don't tell her grandmother. Edith says that she couldn't bear it if the whole evening had been spent talking about hunting and whether the Malboroughs were finally getting a divorce. Strallan agrees, but asks then if the Malboroughs are getting a divorce to which Edith says yes. He explains that he once met the Duchess of Malborough at a ball at Lady Londonderry's in '96 (1896), when she had first come over from America. He recalls that he thought that she was the loveliest woman that he had ever seen. He then says that Edith (possibly worrying that she is jealous) hadn't even been born yet. Edith corrects him that she had been born, she just wasn't walking very well. To which Sir Strallan remarks that before too long she will be wheeling him around, when he can't walk any more. Edith tells him, with a rub to his arm, that she doesn't love him despite his need to be looked after, she loves him because of it, and she wants him to be her life's work.
Mrs. Hughes is talking to Mr. Carson in the servants' hall. There has been a last minute change in the wedding dinner menu. Mr. Carson wonders if Mrs. Patmore can see to it. But Mrs. Patmore has also given Mrs. Hughes the new order list and its her job, not Mrs. Patmore's to do it. When Mr. Carson says that he just doesn't want her to get tired, she turns suddenly and asks him who he has been speaking to. Carson says no one and tries not to look guilty. He then asks her what she means, she says nothing and to let her get on.
At the servant's dining table, Mrs. Patmore consults a cookbook and asks Daisy if Baked Alaska is too ambitious for the dinner after the reception. Daisy asks how many people there will be and is told forty, as the rest will have gone home. She asks Daisy what is wrong, and she tells her that Mr. Mason (William's father) has invited her to come to the farm. Mrs. Patmore says that Daisy can use the wedding as an excuse, and that she can go when things have settled down. She then asks Daisy to come and sort out the preparations for the "benighted" picnic.
At her organization to help former prostitutes, Isobel is trying to teach sewing. She is sitting at a sewing machine demonstrating what she describes as a simple, but strong stitch. She describes it as "useful in a drama". One of the woman she is showing this to looks bored and asks very stridently to be told when are they going to get something to eat. Isobel ignores her and goes on, but then she sees that Ethel (the former Downton maid) has returned, and she goes to the door to greet her. She says that she hopes that Ethel has come for their help, and she would be most welcome. Ethel doesn't think that she would say that if she knew what she was, and that she is beyond help. Isobel tells her that no one is beyond help and if by that she means that she is a prostitute then that is true about every woman who has come there to rebuild their lives. She is helping them and wants to help Ethel too. The same strident prostitute sarcastically seconds the appeal for her to come in and help rebuild their lives, to everyone's laughter. However, Ethel says that that is not why she is here. She is what Isobel said, but she doesn't want help, not for herself. She suddenly realizes that she has changed her mind again and turns to run out, with Isobel calling please not again after her.
Mr. Charkham has come to see Matthew and has given him a letter, and says that it must be strange to receive a letter from a dead man. Matthew agrees. Lady Mary comes in and says that she must snatch Matthew away. Matthew quickly puts the letter in his inside jacket pocket and shakes hands with the departing Charkham. He says that there will be papers to sign, which Matthew accepts. Mary says that Robert has asked Strallan to meet them there so all of them can face the future together. Their father is bringing Isobel and Violet. Matthew realizes that this is hard for her grandmother, but Mary says that it is torture for all of them. Mary tells him that if it ever appears that she is finding it easy to lose her home then he must know that she is putting on an act. Matthew looks extremely uncomfortable.
Alfred is going to serve at the picnic. Carson instructs him as they walk back from packing the car. Alfred is sure he can manage it, and Carson says that it will not be hard like a shooting lunch. He tells him to give them all champagne which will allow him time to set things up. Alfred wonders what this place that they are going to is, and Carson says that it is to one of his lordship's houses. Though Carson does wonder why they are going today, but Alfred thinks that it is just that Lord Robert wants to keep a check on things.
As the Crawleys exit the house and are climbing into the cars, Carson asks Cora if he may have a word. He says that he has an awkward request, as the wedding is tomorrow. He tells her that Mrs. Hughes is very tired, and that he wonders if she can divert some of her work to him. Cora doesn't understand and, on further questioning, he relays the fact to a concerned Cora that Mrs. Hughes is ill, and may be very ill. He apologizes for having to trouble her at such a moment, but he says that he doesn't want the wedding to sink her. Cora agrees, but then exclaims how will they manage without O'Brien and Mrs. Hughes. A confused Carson doesn't understand what O'Brien has to do with this. However, just as Cora is starting to tell him what O'Brien has told Mr. Molesley (that she is leaving), Robert calls to her. Everyone is ready and the cars are filled, and they are just waiting for her so that they can go. Cora gives Carson a look to say that this will be continued. Carson closes the door behind her, and the picnic party sets off.
Anna Bates is walking through the streets of London looking for Audrey Bartlett 's address. She finds her taking dry laundry off of clothes lines in an alley. Mrs. Bartlett is folding a nightgown, when Anna calls to her and says that she has brought the money. She gives Audrey an envelope with cash inside. Audrey checks it and then with a smile says that it is her loss, as she has nothing to say. Anna begins to ask her about "Vera", to which Audrey sarcastically voices surprise that she and Anna knew each other on a Christian name basis. Anna starts again to ask if "Mrs. Bates" ever said that she was depressed or unhappy. Audrey replies that of course she was unhappy, as her husband had gone off with a trollop, and she gives Anna a pointed look. She remarks that John Bates had changed and that by the end Vera had been afraid of him, with good reason. As Anna asks about the last time she saw her, Audrey becomes aware of the other women in the alley who are hanging laundry and listening. She tells Anna that she better come inside.
In the prison yard, Bates is taking exercise. With the guards surrounding them, the prisoners walk in a large circle. Another convict (Dent) comes up behind him and whispers for him watch out. When asked what he means, Bates is told that his cellmate Craig and his mate (the guard Durrant) were triying to set him up somehow, and he advises him to search his bed and his room, before the guard yells for them to stop talking.
Anna is in Audrey's apartment, as she tells her about the last time she saw Vera. Vera's door was open, and Audrey had gone in. She said that Vera had been cooking, but had to post a letter and so they walked together down the street. Vera had told Audrey that Bates was going to be coming back later for his tea. She describes Vera as terrified, jumpy, fearful, but determined. Audrey recalls that Vera had made pastry and says that she was scrubbing it out from under her nails as if she didn't care if she took the skin off. In response to Anna, she says that Vera went home after posting the letter, and she never saw her again. Audrey has a very vivid recollection of watching Vera walk away down the street. She recalls that it was drizzling and the gaslight caught in the raindrops formed a halo around Vera's head. Anna is a bit taken back with the image of Vera with a halo, which Audrey is derisive about. It was the next day when she heard that Vera was dead, and she immediately knew that Bates had killed her. When she heard the verdict, she thought that he would swing, and remarks that he should have if the country hadn't gotten soft. These comments move her to tears.
Isobel and the Dowager are being taken to the picnic in the chauffeur-driven car of Sir Strallan. Violet thanks him, but he says that it was on the way. He tells Isobel that he wishes that she had let him sit in the front seat, but Isobel says that she prefers it and has ridden in the front many times. Violet calls her a "wild thing". Strallan assures them that there has never been a safer method of travel, to which Violet amends "or a faster one". He describes Edith as a "speed fiend who likes to go at a terrific lick". Violet asks if he thinks that he will be able to keep up with her, to which Strallan replies that he'll try. Isobel asks if Violet knows about Eryholme and what it is like. Violet answers that her late husband kept the shooting there, and they sometimes had luncheon in the house. She says that it is nice enough, as a retreat from the world, but that she wouldn't have thought it suited to much else.
The "picnic" is being set up on tables, in front of a fairly impressive three-story house. Cora and Robert look at the residence. Cora smiling, and trying to make the best of it, refers to it as "Downton Place" and calls it lovely, but an unconvinced Robert walks away looking grim. Mary and Matthew are walking with Tom and Sybil. Mary is asking whether the house won't seem cramped, to which Tom reminds them that to most people it would resemble a "fairy palace". Sybil points out that they can run it with a smaller staff, and Robert agrees that they would not need more than eight servants at the most, so it would be more economical. Robert is going to continue, but Alfred comes to the table with a covered dish, and Robert must stop talking, as the Downton servants have still not been informed. The picnic table is set with crystal glasses, multiple forks at each setting, vases with flowers, and stones, to prevent the linen tablecloths from blowing. Violet asks about herself and where she will be going. When Robert says that they still own most of the village, she facetiously asks if perhaps she should open a shop. Edith laughs and calls it a good idea. She asks what her grandmother thinks that Eryholme needs, to which Violet replies that, if it is like everywhere else, all that it requires is good manners and decent conversation. Isobel teases Violet that she will have a roaring trade. Isobel asks Edith if the plans for the wedding are going well and comments that it is unfair that Mary should have had an archbishop to marry her while Edith must have poor, old Mr. Travis. Edith says that she doesn't mind, as it was such short notice, and he was booked up. However, she says that she prefers to be married by the man that christened them.
Mary and Matthew are walking around the front of the house, when she asks why Charkham had come to see him. Matthew tells her that he gave him a letter from Reggie Swire, as he had left one for each of the potential heirs, when and if they inherited. Matthew's was the only one that was delivered. Mary asks him what the letter said, but Matthew says that he hasn't opened it and can't decide whether he will. Mary wonders why he wouldn't open it, but Matthew says that he knows that the letter will be filled with praise about how Lavinia could not have found a better man, etc. In response to Mary's question of why he wouldn't want to read this, he insists that Lavinia could not have found a worse man. He already feels guilty enough and, if he reads Swire's words, they will stay with him forever. Matthew stalks away from a concerned Mary.
At Downton, Isobel is going down the stairs into the servants' hall, where she meets Mrs. Hughes. She tells her that they are back from their delicious luncheon. She is there to ask about the former Downton maid Ethel Parks. Isobel reminds her that she was there the day that Ethel brought her child into the dining room. Mrs. Hughes comments on who could forget that. Isobel wants to know if Mrs. Hughes has an address for her, which she does though she is not sure if Ethel still lives there. After a maid goes by, Isobel lowers her voice and explains that she saw her that morning and she is afraid that Ethel "has fallen into a very bad way, a very bad way". Mrs. Hughes voices surprise and says that she is very sorry to hear that. She asks Isobel to come with her and she will get the address for her.
In prison, Bates is acting on the advice he received and is searching his bed. His cellmate Craig is asleep in the top bunk, lightly snoring. Bates pulls out his sheets and checks the pillow. On the far side of the bunk, he finds something wedged between the mattress and the frame. It's drugs. On the walkway of the prison, four guards can be seen striding toward the cell. Leading the way, Durrant comes into the cell yelling at both of them to get up and stand against the far wall. He then orders another guard, Mr. Turner, to search the bunk. Bates has the drugs in his hand and feels along the wall with his fingers. Turner strips the bed, but finds nothing. Durrant voices surprise and goes to search it himself. He immediately goes to the spot between the frame and the mattress, but there is nothing there. Both Craig and Durrant look confused. With an angry order to clean the mess up, Durrant leads the guards out of the cell. Bates and Craig look at each other, then Craig goes to his bunk and pushes the mattress back in place, commenting that the guards were bastards. As Bates leaves the wall to sit on his bunk, he responds that there are a lot of bastards in here. It is revealed that he has pushed the drugs into a crevice in the wall.
At Downton the servants are gathered at the table. Molesley asks Anna if she is tired, as it was a long trip all the way to London and back again. Mrs. Hughes asks if what she found out was worth the journey, but as Anna doesn't believe that the information that she received from Audrey Bartlett was very important, she replies that it wasn't really. Mr. Carson suddenly asks Miss O'Brien, in a firm tone, what she has confided in Mr. Molesley that she has kept from the rest of them, and at her uncertainty, he goes on to inform her that Molesley has given her ladyship the impression that she is planning a change of some sort. O'Brien doesn't understand, and Molesley apologizes, as he thought Cora would know that O'Brien was leaving. Everyone stops eating. An indignant O'Brien asks Molesley how he would dare make such an assumption. Mrs. Hughes observes Thomas looking worried. Thomas changes the subject by asking Mr. Carson if it isn't time for the dressing gong. Checking his watch and belatedly finding that it is, he thanks Thomas and rises. Mr. Molesley tries to talk to Thomas, but he excuses himself, as he has work to do, even if Molesley doesn't. O'Brien ominously says to Molesley that she will deal with him later. Daisy clearing the dirty dishes observes this and tells him that he is in the soup. She comments that she wouldn't be in O'Brien's black book for a gold clock. A frightened Molesley remains alone in the dining room looking as if he needs the table for support.
O'Brien is in Cora's bedroom, explaining the misunderstanding. Cora believes that she must have said something that Mr. Molesley misinterpreted. But O'Brien tells her that she never says anything to Molesley other than requests to pass the salt or get out of the way. Cora is unconvinced and feels let down, especially as it is right on top of the wedding. There in a knock on the door, as Mrs. Hughes has been sent for, and O'Brien is dismissed with a thank you. Cora gets right to the point and tells Mrs. Hughes that she understands that she isn't well. Mrs. Hughes questions whom Cora has been talking to. To her query Cora responds that it was not Dr. Clarkson. After a pause, Mrs. Hughes tells her that it is not confirmed that she is ill, but she admits that she has had a test, and she is waiting for a result. She goes on to insist that she is perfectly capable of functioning in her job, but Cora cuts her off to convey that there is only one thing that she wants to say. She lets Mrs Hughes know that if she is ill she is welcome at Downton for as long as she wishes, and Lady Sybil will even find her a suitable nurse. Mrs. Hughes is a bit stunned, but Cora continues to say that she doesn't want her to worry about where she will go or who will take care of her, the answer she says is here and they will. Mrs. Hughes has been moved to tears and doesn't know what to say. But Cora replies that there is nothing more to say until they know where they stand one way or the other. Mrs. Hughes sincerely thanks her.
In the kitchen, Daisy is putting cheese on a tray for Alfred to carry up to the dining room. She says that if they complain that it is old, that he should tell them that they are lucky to be getting cheese at all the day before a wedding. Alfred says that he will send for her, and she can tell them, as she wanted to be more outspoken, but Daisy, suddenly worried that he is serious, tells him that was not exactly what she meant. Mrs. Patmore ends the discussion by telling Alfred to get that cheese up.
In the drawing room, Edith is the center of attention. She is telling Cora, Matthew, Isobel, Mary, Sybil, and Violet about the honeymoon. Strallan believes that she doesn't know the arrangements, but she preens as she tells them that they are going to spend two weeks in Rome, then Florence, then Venice, and she couldn't be happier. Sybil asks if there will be "masses" of things to be done to prepare Locksley to be their future home. Edith tells her that it is not too bad; Mary agrees with this in regards to the downstairs, but describes the bedrooms as "killers". Isobel tells her not to do anything too fast, as it takes time to find out how a house works. Violet tells Edith that she should go to bed, as a bride doesn't want to look tired on her wedding day, which either means that she is anxious or has been up to no good. Edith comments that she will not sleep a wink, to which Sybil amends "tonight or tomorrow". Violet primly tells Sybil that "vulgarity is no substitute for wit", but an unrepentant Sybil just responds that Violet started it, while Edith chuckles.
Matthew has been looking preoccupied. Mary tells him that he must read the letter, but Matthew doesn't agree. He compares it to not looking at the body of someone you love that has died. You should not look at them when they are dead if you do not want that image to be stuck in your head forever, because it will never leave you. Mary poses the possibility of her reading it, but Matthew believes that he should "burn the damn thing". A frustrated Mary can only sigh.
O'Brien is going down stairs to the servants' hall when she is hailed by Mr. Molesley. He apologizes and asks her to understand that he didn't mean any harm. She accuses him of maliciousness by asking him why he made up the rumor in the first place. Molesley insists that he had not made it up, and, in response to her question, says that Mr. Barrows mentioned it, but Molesley believes that it was an honest mistake. After a moment of intense thought, O'Brien disagrees; it was not honest, and it was not a mistake. However, she tells him not to worry about it, as she can tell that it wasn't his fault, and they will forget about it. She adds however, that when he sees Mr. Barrow, he can tell him that O'Brien may make some honest mistakes of her own in the future. This puzzles Molesley as he follows her into the servant's dining room. Mr. Carson stands at the head of the table and waits for everyone to assemble at their places, before he leads them in sitting down. O'Brien stares at Thomas. Alfred asks Daisy to sit down and eat with them, to which Daisy replies that she can't do that. Carson informs Alfred that Daisy cannot sit down, and the invitation is not in his gift. Daisy will sit with Mrs. Patmore in the kitchen. Alfred asks Daisy if she would like to play a game of something after dinner, but before Daisy can respond, Mrs. Patmore turns him down for her, by saying that she is busy. Alfred then asks Anna, but she apologizes as she wants to write a letter. Molesley speaks up, with a smile, that he will play, but Alfred responds that they should wait and see how they feel. Molesley's smile fades.
In their bedroom, Matthew has just been told by Mary that she has read his letter. She tells him that she felt it was wrong to destroy a man's last words without reading them. When he says that it wasn't her decision, she replies that she made it her decision. In response to her asking if he wants to know what it said, Matthew responds that he doesn't. Mary informs him that Lavinia must have written to her father on her last day, only hours before her death. Matthew says that this is nonsense as there was no letter found in her room. Mary insists that she wrote a letter after she tried to persuade him to call off the wedding, and he would not. Matthew continues to say that this is impossible, until an exasperated Mary pulls the opened letter out from under her pillow and begins to read it aloud to him. "She loved and admired you for this sacrifice of your happiness, and she commended you to my care." Matthew doesn't want to hear it , but she says that he must , and she goes on. "I have few intimates and so have decided, in her name, to add you to my list of heirs. I think it unlikely that I'll outlive the first two, so there is little chance of you reading this letter. But if you do and the money has come to you, know it is with the full knowledge of what transpired. Please do not allow any grief, guilt, or regret to hold you back from its employment. God bless you my boy, Reggie." Mary watches Matthew wide-eyed as he stands deep in thought. Finally, he asks her if she is sure that she didn't write that letter. To her question of whether he knows Swire's hand, Matthew says that he does, but not well enough to test a forgery. Mary is stunned. Matthew is still insistent that Lavinia could not have written a letter to him without their knowing about it. As he is removing his robe and getting into bed, Matthew tells Mary that he is not accusing her of faking the letter, but he suspects that someone has. Mary can't believe that the letter hasn't changed his mind and he is still unconvinced, but he says that it hasn't, at least not yet.
Mrs. Hughes is at the desk in her sitting room. Mr. Carson taps on the door and comes in to tell her that she should be in bed, as tomorrow is a big day. She says that she will go when she finishes what she is working on. When Carson asks if it is something that he can do for her, she gets a look on her face, turns to him, and asks if he said anything about her to her ladyship. He says that he doesn't know what she means and she tells him not to worry about it. She talks about Cora and says that she was very kind, and Mrs. Hughes says that she was touched. She says that, as he knows, she doesn't "worship them" the way that Mr. Carson does. Mr. Carson takes exception and says that he wouldn't put it like that. But Mrs. Hughes says that this time, she freely admits it that she was quite touched. Mr. Carson quietly leaves as Mrs. Hughes is lost in thought.
It is the morning of the wedding. Lord Robert enters his dressing room and tells Thomas that he will change for the wedding after lunch. He asks Thomas if it surprised him when he had learned that O'Brien was leaving, but Thomas says that it hadn't as she had always been a "dark horse". Robert says that it appears that she has changed her mind, but that they would recover if she left. A smiling Thomas agrees and says that it would take a lot more than that to drive them out of Downton. He leaves Lord Robert considering the irony of that statement.
Lady Mary Crawley has gone down to the servants' dining room where they are breakfasting. As she asks if she is interrupting, they all quickly follow Mr. Carson in rising to their feet. Mary makes a half-hearted attempt to tell them it is not necessary, and says that she wants to ask them a question. Anna quickly apologizes for not having come up yet. (Anna has become accustomed to Mary sleeping in and taking breakfast in bed, but to ask her question she got up first thing in the morning. Anna is appalled that Lady Mary is up and about and has had to dress herself. Her hair is still in a braid as Anna had not been there to fix it.) Mary tells Anna not to worry and that she will change properly after luncheon. She needed to catch them when they were all together. She explains that Mr. Crawley has heard that Miss Swire had sent a letter on the day she died, and subsequently someone must have posted it for her. Mary wondered if it was any of them. Everyone, except Alfred who hadn't been working there at that time, looks about at each other. Mr. Carson says that it is obvious that did not happen, as something of that sort would have been reported to himself or Mrs. Hughes. Mary thanks them and leaves just as Daisy is carrying in a plate of bread, and asks what that was about. People return to their seats, and Anna tells her that Lady Mary had wanted to know if anyone had posted a letter for Miss Swire. Daisy says that she did that. Mr. Carson voices surprise, and Daisy repeats her statement that poor Miss Swire had written a letter, and she asked Daisy to put it in the box in the hall. Lady Mary has heard this from outside the room and quietly comes back in. Seeing her, everyone as quickly as they can, again rise to their feet. Daisy asks Mary why she wants to know. To Mrs.Hughes' question of what she was doing in Lavinia's room, Daisy says that she had gone in to make up the fire, and they had started talking. She said that she had written a letter. Daisy says that she was ever so nice and she still gets sad when thinking about her. Mrs. Hughes wonders why she wasn't told, but Daisy wonders about what. Mary says that it doesn't matter, and she tells Daisy that she cannot know how grateful she is.
In the library, the Dowager is remarking to Robert that this is the last of his daughters to marry. Robert says that he is glad that they hurried the wedding, so that Edith can be married from Downton, but Violet questions the veracity of this. She thinks that a little reflection on the wisdom of this marriage would not have gone amiss. Robert is dressed and consults his watch. He tells her to be positive, as of all of them Strallan is the most traditional choice, but Violet disagrees. She says that Edith is beginning her life as an old man's drudge, and a large drawing room is not adequate compensation. Robert wonders why she is dwelling on this now, right before the wedding, and she tells him that it is so that later she can have the pleasure of saying that she told him so. He looks at her with amazement and she has the grace to look a little embarrassed.
Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore are walking down the servant's hall on their way to the wedding. Mrs. Patmore comments that one of the maids can supervise the oven and Alfred can manage the wine. (This is in contrast with Lady Mary's wedding, when Mrs. Patmore was unable to go). They are sorry for Alfred and the aforementioned maid who will miss the ceremony, but they are two members of staff who have not been there long and therefore don't know Edith. Mr. Carson tells Mrs. Hughes that the moment she feels tired she is to tell him so he could take over for her. Mrs. Hughes is curious about this. When he says that she doesn't have to go to the wedding at all and should have a nice lie-down instead, a seriously irritated Mrs. Hughes wishes that people would wait until it was confirmed that she was seriously ill before they boxed her up. Mrs. Patmore and Mr. Carson look at each other, and he tries again to say that he doesn't know what she means and that he is unaware of any illness, but this time she isn't believing it. She says that she sees, and after Mr. Carson goes she asks Mrs. Patmore who told him. Mrs. Patmore lies and says that she doesn't know, that he probably just picked it up somewhere, and that Mr. Carson is a good man who is worried about her. Mrs Hughes thinks that he is a hopeless liar, which Mrs. Patmore thinks is a nice thing. Mrs. Hughes has gotten a message from the doctor, and he will have the results tomorrow. She must pay a call on him in the afternoon. Mrs. Patmore tells her not to worry, and Mrs. Hughes leaves the room saying that she will try, though she will not succeed. A worried looking Mrs. Patmore follows.
In the bedroom, Anna has dressed Lady Mary for the wedding, and she is pleased with the results. She says that she will put the hat on later and sends Anna to go assist Edith (as she doesn't have a personal maid yet). Matthew comes in and says that she looks marvelous. She adds that she feels marvelous, because they don't have to leave Downton. She has discovered that Lavinia did write to her father and it was posted from Downton, so every word that Mr. Swire had written in the letter was true. Matthew gives a sigh and sits down. Mary goes on to say that Daisy, the kitchen maid, posted it. A shaken Matthew says that he sees, and Mary hopes that this is true. She jokingly threatens that if he tries to find one more excuse not to accept the money, she will be forced to beat him around the head. Matthew laughs with relief and says that he has one condition, which is that they do not steal Edith's thunder. He will tell Robert after the wedding, when she has left on honeymoon. Mary had asked that the condition be a good one and smilingly announces that that she that she can live with that, before they embrace and kiss.
Edith is dressed in a beautiful wedding gown. Cora says that she looks beautiful, and Edith, looking at all of them, comments on how well things have turned out, with all of them married, all of them happy, and the first baby on the way. She wonders if they can get the photographer to take a picture of the three of them, when they get to the church.
At the church, Sir Strallan is appearing very nervous, and the Dowager tells Mr. Travis that he looks as if he is waiting for a beating from the headmaster. Travis wonders if he should reassure him, but Violet doubts the use of this, as he has married before and has all of the facts. Travis wonders if the first Lady Strallan was a difficult act to follow, or Violet counters to repeat, before Travis walks to the front of the church. Outside, Edith, Mary and Sybil get their group photo, as Lord Robert, checking his watch, comes over to say that they are almost past the point of fashionably late. Mary takes Edith aside and says that she knows that they have not always gotten along, and though she doubts that things will change much in the future, today she wishes Edith all the luck in the world. Edith sincerely thanks her, before Mary kisses her on the cheek and goes into the church with Sybil. Anna handles the train of the dress, while Edith takes her father's arm to walk into the church. All the servants are in the back of the church. As Lady Mary and Lady Sybil find their places in the front pew, the music begins and everyone rises. As a radiant Edith walks down the aisle, a still nervous Strallan looks miserable. As she comes to his side she greets him with "Good afternoon" and he responds adding "My sweet one". Reverend Travis has only gotten as far as "We are gathered together", when Strallan stops him by saying that he can't do this. Strallan says that Robert knows that it is wrong as he told him so several times. Strallan says that he should never have let it get this far, he should have stopped it long ago, and he had tried to stop it. Edith doesn't understand what he is saying, but he tells her that he can't let her throw away her life like this. She tells him that they are happy and pleads with him to think of how terribly happy they are going to be. Strallan prays that she is going to be happy, but not if she wastes her life on him. Robert tries to reason with him that it is too late. Travis tries to intervene and tells everyone to take a step back (possibly to have a private discussion with the couple). However, the Dowager comes over and tells Edith to let him go. She says not to stop Strallan, as Edith knows that he is right, and doing the only sensible thing he has come up with in months. A rather confused Strallan thanks her (even though this is an insult). Edith tries to explain to her grandmother, but Violet says that it is over, and not to drag it out. She tells Edith firmly to wish him well and let him go, as she looks Strallan up and down in disgust. Edith says that she can't, but Strallan calls her "my dearest darling", asks that God may bless her, and says goodbye. He turns and walks quickly up the aisle, trying not to meet anyone's eyes. Mr. Carson glares at him as he passes, with a look bordering on the murderous. Violet and Cora are partly holding Edith back and partly supporting her as they lead her from the church. Mary and Sybil are shocked. Strallan runs from the church in tears to his car, where his chauffeur and another are chatting and smoking and rush to return to their duties. When they return to Downton, Edith comes in first, crying as she runs up the stairs. She startles Alfred who had heard the cars arriving, and had begun to pour champagne into the glasses. At the head of the stairs, Edith rips off her veil and throws it over the railing, to flutter to the floor. Arriving at her room, she falls on the bed, removes the diamond laurel branch head piece from her hair (this seems to be traditionally used by Crawley brides as Mary used it as well), and collapses on her bed in tears. Robert tells Alfred downstairs that when everyone has returned, servants included, he wants everything cleared away - flowers, glasses, etc., before Lady Edith comes downstairs. Alfred throws a sympathetic look up toward Edith's room (Mrs. Patmore had said earlier that it didn't matter if he went to the wedding, as he hadn't been there long enough to know or care about Edith, but she is apparently wrong). He tells Alfred to get the outside staff to replace the carpet and the furniture. Cora, Mary, and Sybil come into Edith's room, as she lay crying. Cora asks if there is anything that she could say to make it better, but Edith says that there isn't. She sits up and looks jealously at her sisters and comments that they are both married, and Mary is probably pregnant as Sybil is. Edith tells them to just go, and Cora thinks that they should. Edith collapses back down on the bed and Cora bends over her daughter and holds her hand. In an impassioned voice Cora tells Edith that she is being tested, and being tested only makes you stronger. An inconsolable Edith says that she doesn't think it is working with her, and all Cora can do is hold her as she weeps.
Downstairs, the trays of champagne glasses, flower arrangements, and the wedding cake are being carried away, while the carpet is being unrolled back onto the floor. Matthew sees Lord Robert pacing on the lawn behind the house. His head is bowed, and he clasps his hands behind his back. As he pauses, looks upwards, and takes a deep sigh, Matthew joins him. Matthew wants to know what they will do now, but Robert says that there is nothing they can do, beyond removing all signs of a wedding and holding her hand while she recovers, which he assures Matthew that she will. Meanwhile, he says that it is time to face the business of leaving Downton, as the wedding is no longer an excuse to not get on with it. He dreads the world's astonishment at the depths of his wretched failure. Matthew however tells him the he and Mary had intended to make an announcement at dinner. He tells Robert that they don't have to leave, and that he will explain the details later. He says that he is going to accept Reggie Swire's money and is going to give it to Robert. Robert is stunned, but fearing that Matthew has decided to to do this against his principles, he declines. But Matthew insists that he will. He knows that Robert doesn't want to leave, and Matthew tells him that neither does Mary nor do "any of us" (including himself in the statement). Robert is still nobly refusing, but as he gazes at his home, he moderates his statement. He says that he will allow Matthew to invest in the estate. Matthew will share ownership of the estate and house equally with Robert, and Robert tells him that if he won't agree, then he will sell and it will all be his fault. Matthew smiles and shakes his hand. A much unburdened Robert clasps Matthew by the shoulder as they walk back to the house.
In the kitchen, Daisy is taking canapés off of a serving dish and is telling Anna that she never thought that she would feel sorry for an Earl's daughter. Anna says that all God's creatures have their troubles. Daisy asks Anna if she thinks it is right for women to speak out and say what they think about romance and everything. Anna says that things are changing for woman and the vote will be theirs soon, so men must get used to them speaking their minds. However, she believes that most of the men that she has met would run a mile in terror if a woman tried to court them. Alfred comes in, grabs a snack off of the table, and shoves it in his mouth. Anna, with a knowing smile, watches as Daisy watches him leave the room. In the dining room, everyone is quiet and dressed in somber colors, as if they have come from a funeral. Edith has not come down to dinner, so there had been no need to rush in getting the wedding decoration out of sight. Isobel asks if she has eaten. Mary tells her that Anna took up sandwiches, but Edith hadn't touched a thing. Cora is reminded to tell Carson that she doesn't want Edith to see any of the wedding food. Carson informs her that Mrs. Hughes and Anna are taking what is left down to Mr. Travis tomorrow, for the poor. Mary stares at Violet, when she comments that if the poor don't want it they can bring it over to her. Matthew wonders how they can help Edith, and his mother says that they can help her by finding something for her to do.
In the servants' dining room, the table is loaded with gourmet food and hors d'oeuvres. Alfred asks if this is all there is and refers to it as "piggitty bits". Thomas and Mrs. Patmore correct him and name the dishes on the table, starting with the truffled egg on toast and ending with asparagus salad with champagne saffron vinegrette. Mrs. Hughes regrets the pains Mrs. Patmore went through to make this meal, but Mrs. Patmore says not to mind her, compared to what that poor girl upstairs is going through. O'Brien says that if she was jilted at the altar, she would not be able to handle the shame. Thomas makes the nasty observation that it's a good thing that nobody has ever asked her. Anna wonders where Edith will find the strength to hold up her head. Daisy comments that she would have to run away to a place where no one knew her. An angry Alfred however, states that he thinks Edith is well out of it (better off that the marriage hadn't happened). Molesley asks him how he could say this. But Alfred goes on to say that she is young, not bad looking, and can do much better than that "broken down old crock". Carson reprimands him by saying that Sir Strallan may have betrayed a daughter of this house, but he still does not deserve to be addressed in that manner by a footman. Mrs. Hughes says that she thinks that he does, every bit of what Alfred said and worse. Carson agrees, that maybe just this once. Mrs. Patmore asks Alfred what he wants - lobster, duck, or asparagus, and Alfred asks if Mrs. Patmore has any cheese.
The next morning, Anna goes into Edith's bedroom and finds the diamond head piece on the floor. Edith lies on the bed, but looks as if she hasn't slept. Anna asks Edith what she wants her to bring her (for breakfast). Edith says "a different life". Anna says to let her bring Edith some breakfast, but Edith, rising from bed, refuses. She says that she is a useful spinster, good for helping out. That is her role, and spinsters get up for breakfast. Mrs. Hughes is ready to go out to see the doctor. Mr. Carson enters her sitting room and observes that she is going out. When she tells him that she needs to fetch something from the village, he offers to help, as he is going down later. But she tells him that this errand she must do herself. Mrs. Patmore enters, ready to accompany her. When she asks if Mrs. Hughes is ready, she answers as ready as she'll ever be, and they walk out leaving a very worried Mr. Carson. They stand outside the cottage hospital, afraid to go in. Mrs. Hughes says that they can be sure of one thing, that the cure for nothing is standing here. They walk across the road and through the gate. Mr. Carson sets up the tea service and keeps checking his watch. Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore sit in the waiting room. However, when the nurse comes out to fetch her, Mrs. Hughes chooses to go into the doctors office alone to receive the news. Thomas is in the servants' hall before the summoning bells, when he sees Miss O'Brien walking past the door and he hails her and asks if everything is alright. She pauses and then comes to him. She tells him that everything is alright with her, but mark her words, it will be all wrong with Thomas before too long. Thomas asks how that is. She says ominously that she doesn't know, not yet, but it will be, and he can be sure of that. She turns and walks away, leaving Thomas introspective.
Isobel is in a shabby tenement, looking for Ethel's address. She comes to a door and prepares to knock, but before she can, the door opens and a middle aged man comes out. Giving her a blank stare, he puts on his cap and hurries away. Ethel then comes to close the door wearing a robe. Ethel asks how Isobel found her, and Isobel replies that she asked Mrs. Hughes. She tells Ethel that she would like to help her, and to please let her. Ethel says that she doesn't understand, she never came looking for help for herself as she is past all of that. Isobel asks why she did come, but then a child can be heard inside. Ethel say that she has to go and she thanks Isobel for trying, but it is over for her, she is done, and she closes the door on Isobel.
Mr. Carson goes up to the recently returned Mrs. Patmore in the kitchen and whispers, "is it or isn't it". Mrs. Patmore tells him that it is not cancer, it's something benign. Mr. Carson gives a deep sigh of relief and tells her not to mention that she has said anything to him, as Mrs. Hughes doesn't know that he knows. Mrs. Patmore says that she won't say a word. As he leaves, she smiles, then Mrs. Hughes comes through the doorway and asks if she told him. Mrs. Patmore was told not to say that she told him, so instead she says that she would prefer to say that she put him out of his misery. As Mrs. Hughes walks out of the kitchen, she hears singing coming from Mr. Carson's butler's pantry. It's Mr. Carson polishing silver and singing "dashing away with the smoothing iron, dashing away with the smoothing iron, she stole my heart away". Mrs. Hughes must bite back her laughter.
- ↑ We can infer this from two sources; Mary and Matthew's honeymoon in "Spring 1920" is a month long and Edith and Anthony's aborted wedding is, in Edith's words "ready in a month". Knowing that Sybil's birthdate is Early June, if we count back two months we get to Mary and Matthew's return from their honeymoon in April of 1920, making their marriage in March, right at the start of "Spring" and places Edith's wedding in May. It cannot be any later as Robert expressly states that Sybil is "twenty four years old" when she died; she would be twenty five if the episode was set any later.