Lady Edith is absolutely thrilled that at last something is happening at the abbey for her. She is engaged to be married to Sir Anthony Strallan. While the family is happy and that Edith is finally hoping to have some happiness after all the times that she was dismissed as the failure of the family, there are others who don't think the idea of Lady Edith marrying someone of the age of Anthony is a good idea. Most especially, Violet Crawley, her grandmother. She believed that Edith would only be an old man's drudge.
Below stairs, the staff is waiting for Elsie Hughes to hear about the results of her biopsy. And the waiting is reaching a zenith. With Mrs. Beryl Patmore joining her, she goes to see Dr. Clarkson. It was later revealed that it wasn't cancer, to the joy and happiness of all, especially Charles Carson who was worried about her.
In other below stairs news, Sarah O'Brien is again the target of lies by Thomas Barrow. This time, the manipulative footman/valet manipulates Joseph Molesley into lying about O'Brien leaving Downton for another establishment. At first, O'Brien is furious with Molesley, until he states that Barrow was the one that told him this. O'Brien forgives him, and tells him to tell Barrow that he is on her hit list. She then later pulls Barrow aside with a veiled threat that she was going to make his life miserable, and to beware of that!
Meanwhile, the family goes to take a trip to Eryholme, where a smaller estate which came from Robert Crawley's great grandmother could be where they might live (after Robert's disastrous investment wipes out the entire fortune) but that is stayed once it was revealed that Matthew Crawley would take the fortune that was willed to him by his late former fiancee's father, and would eventually use it to buy half of Downton.
The wedding begins, but astonishingly, Sir Anthony gets a massive case of cold feet, and turns around and jilts Edith at the altar. He is encouraged in this by Violet, who was at her most ugliest in this story. She felt that she knew what was best, but she didn't in this case.
Led away by her mother, Cora Crawley and her sisters, Lady Mary Crawley and Lady Sybil Branson, Edith flings her veil off and, in one of the most defining moments of the whole show, it flutters down to the floor of the Great Hall below. She storms to her room and sprawls on the bed, crying heartbrokenly.
After sending Sybil and Mary out of the room, Edith is comforted by her mother, who tells her, in one of the more classic and defining lines of the show, "You are being tested. And you know what they say, my darling? Being tested only makes you stronger." Although Edith answered that she didn't think it was working with her, it showed that it WAS working for her, and the results would be shown in later series.
Meanwhile, below stairs, the servants are not happy with what Strallan had done to Edith. Alfred Nugent especially was so angered at Strallan that he called him a broken down old crock.
Carson, although he knew that Strallan had insulted a daughter of the Earl, was not thrilled with Alfred's opinion, but Mrs. Hughes agreed with Alfred's assessment, stating that Strallan was deserving of the insult and much worse, given what he had done (and was encouraged in doing so by Violet) to Lady Edith. Carson concedes that Alfred was all right in saying it, just that once.
The wedding food was taken by Mrs. Hughes and Anna Smith Bates to the parish's vicar, Reverend Travis, for the poor (although Violet crassly stated that if the poor didn't want the food, then she would want it). This was due to nobody wanting Edith to see any of the wedding food.
The next morning, Anna goes in to wake Edith. When offered Breakfast in bed, Edith states that as she is strictly a spinster, only good for being helpful to everyone, spinsters get up for breakfast.