It’s kinda meta, really. Dear old Edith is just giddy with excitement, while everyone else disapproves of dottering Sir Anthony, while the kids watching at home are tweeting “Srsly? Another wedding?” Even Shirley MacMeemaw couldn’t be bothered to show up.
You can’t really blame the rest of the Crawleys for not being able to dredge up much enthusiasm for this wedding. It is Edith after all, the Meg Griffin of Downton. And, anyway, they’re all about to get sent to the poor house because Lord Grantham blew the family fortune on bubble gum and tiddlywinks and Matthew won’t accept his dead almost-father-in-law’s inheritance.
They’re all sitting around trying to help His Lordship post a Craigslist ad for Downton—going broke for like the fourth time doesn’t seem to have inspired any of them to, you know, get a job—when good old Mosley comes bounding in wanting to know if he can be Lady Cora’s new gynecologist now that Miss O’Brien is leaving. Except, she’s not really leaving—that was just a rumor Evil Thomas started to get back at O’Brien for recycling all of his old Tiger Beats. Now poor blundering soft-skulled Mosley is caught in the middle of what promises to be an epic season-long bitch fight.
Despite the fact that this is a heinous bitch who killed her unborn baby with a bar of soap, Lady Cora is distraught over the idea that O’Brien might leave her. So she gives OB a stern talking-to, because honestly, what right does a 54-year-old fag hag with a bird’s nest for a hairdo have to want anything more in life than a job stripping barnacles off Elizabeth McGovern’s hull? Of course O’Brien finds out that Thomas was behind all of this and vows revenge.
Also going on downstairs is Mrs. Hughes’ cancer scare: She and Mrs. Patmore are trying to keep it a secret, but Mr. Carson overhears them talking and manages to trick Dr. Clarkson and Mrs. Patmore into giving up private medical information about Mrs. Hughes’ case. Now that he knows Hughes is all backed up with black bile Carson’s worried that all the bloodletting and other cutting-age medicine will make her too tired to handle the wedding preparations. So he tells Lady Cora (quite the gossip mill, Downton Abbey) who summons Mrs. Hughes to her boudoir to let her know that if she’s going to die she’d best be quick about it because everyone’s so exceptionally bored with Edith’s wedding and the whole Bates thing.
Mrs. Hughes is obviously very moved, choking back tears of gratitude and coughing a bit of blood into her lace hanky as she continues about her drudgery.
As Lady Cora said, everyone’s so bored with Little Edie’s wedding plans that they all decide to go on a picnic to see the dump where they’re going to have to live—a grim old shack on the outskirts of town that they’ve decided to call Downton Plotz. No one’s very happy to be there, but Mary in particular is furious that her beloved Matthew won’t keep the fortune his late ex-fiance’s dead father inexplicably left to him.
And Matty-poo is just so hand-wringingly eaten up with guilt for breaking his dead fiancé’s solid gold heart that he can’t even bear the thought of opening the very important final letter her father sent him from beyond the grave. But Mary, that crafty minx, has a feeling this letter could explain away all her sweet, soft-bottomed husband’s reservations about the inheritance, so she reads the letter: Turns out the old coot knew all about their romantic fiddle-faddle and just didn’t care a wink who married whom.
Still, Matthew remains unconvinced, unsure of how his non-father-in-law could possibly have known about his indiscretion.“Maybe because Lavinia, the girl you almost married instead of me, secretly wrote him a letter when she was dying of Spanish gonorrhea? Yes! That’s it! There must be another secret letter that nobody knows about!” So Princess Mary descends to the bowels of Castle Downton to find out if any of the sewer dwellers belowstairs know anything about Vulvinia’s final moments. And sure enough, in swoops Daisy Ex Machina to reveal she mailed just such a letter!
Oh all the intrigue that stems from letter-writing! Now Cousin-Husband Matthew is finally convinced to keep the money, thus saving Doubletree Abbey!
Ugh, okay: so Bates, right. Does anyone really care about Bates and his boring prison storyline anymore? Well, Anna does, I guess, because what else is she gonna do with her time besides chip the frost off of Lady Mary in the morning? So Anna is off playing detective, paying off witnesses and trying to figure out how Bates’ mean ol’ ex-wife really died. Meanwhile, Bates’ cellmate hates him for some reason, probably because he’s as over this whole prison thing as the rest of us are and is sick of those dumb “Free Bates” t-shirts and the pretentious NPR-listening, PBS-watching tools who wear them. So he plants a bundle of drugs or something in Bates’ bed so that the guards will send him to prison jail—which is jail inside prison, the worst kind of jail of all! Except Bates is hep to that dank-ass jive and manages to flush the stash in the nick of time.
Later, Edith’s big day arrives. Everyone’s all dressed up and Sir Amferny look expecially dashing with his dead arm done up in a tasteful sling and his Zimmer Frame festooned with garlands of flowers.
“Edith, dahling,” Mary coos outside the church, “You know I do hate you immensely, and you did try to ruin my life that one time in Season One when you told everyone about how my vagina dentata killed that dishy Turkish fellow, but do try and have a smashing time getting jilted today.”
Because, oh yeah, Lady Edith gets left at the alter! Poor plain Jane, Jan-Brady-middle-daughter Lady Edith turns up at the church, all creamy satin and radiant smiles, and looking for realz so much better in her wedding dress than ol’ Proud Mary did last week. And Sir Entropy takes one look at her and is like, “Yeah, I’m gonna go.”
And off he totters, piddling into his Depends as he leaves.
Poor frumpy Edith is simply devastated—wailing from Downton’s turrets, gnashing her teeth and tearing at her hair. The great yawning void that is to be her life stretches before her like a pit. She will now only know a life bereft of love and warmth, as cold and lonely as the infinite darkness of space. She spends a sleepless night wandering the wild and windy moors, staring into the emptiness of her own heart, and the next morning, powerless to fight the cruel tides of her fate, she resigns herself to spinsterhood and goes down to breakfast.
But the episode squeaks in a happy ending after all: It seems Dr. Clarkeson’s Miracle Tonic has righted Mrs. Hughes’ humors and her breasts are cancer-free! We leave the folks at Downtrodden Abbey on a pink-ribboned positive note.
Well, two episodes in and Downton is saved, Mary and Matthew are wedded, Edith’s been jilted, and Shirley MacLaine is history. Where the hell do we go from here? What’s left to do in Season 3 other than sit around and play bridge after dinner?