Episode 8 is the next to last episode of the UK-US period drama Downton Abbey. The episode was written by Julian Fellowes and directed by David Evans. This episode features on the romantic situations between Lady Edith Crawley and her sister, Lady Mary Crawley.
Lady Edith and her mother are walking along the Abbey grounds as they discuss her relationship with Herbert "Bertie" Pelham, the agent of Brancaster Castle, whom she has seen over several months.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Patmore, who had just opened a bed and breakfast in the nearby town of Haughton-le-Skerne (today a northeastern suburb of the County Durham municipality of Darlington), is told by Sergeant Willis, the local policeman of Downton, that her B&B (and Haughton-le-Skerne itself) was being thought of as a "house of ill repute" after a man took a married woman to the B&B, committing adultery.
Mrs. Patmore would be spared testifying, because the husband settled out of court. However, all her bookings have been cancelled, and the stress was driving her niece, Lucy, mad. Mrs. Patmore was even more irate when she heard that one of the cancelled bookers wanted to be compensated for damages because of the ridicule. She exploded, "Ridicule?! I'll give them RIDICULE!"
Bertie would visit Downton, after the death of his cousin, Peter, the sixth Marquis of Hexham. It would be revealed that Bertie was named by Peter to become the 7th Marquis of Hexham. He revealed this all to Edith and the rest of the family's delight, and Mary's disdain and jealousy.
Mary felt, as she was older than Edith, that she should be one of the leaders of the County, while Edith, who to her, was nothing more than a miserable failure who was only good for helping and wasn't deserving of any happiness, should be under her.
Eventually his unhappiness culminates into a suicide attempt, where he tries to slash his wrists. Andy Parker, a footman; Phyllis Baxter, Cora Crawley's lady's maid, and Anna Smith Bates, another lady's maid, come up to help him. To prevent scandal from coming into the house, the story was given out that Thomas had come down with the flu.
Mary's son, George Crawley, not knowing (and being protected from the real reason), brought his favorite servant and best friend, an orange to help him get better. Thomas, visibly touched, realized at that point that he had at least one true friend, that of little George.
Mrs. Hughes also comes up to help and gets him into bed.
To get even with everyone in her family for bringing someone whom she felt was way beneath her, she spitefully blabs at breakfast about Marigold's real connection to the family. Edith confirms that Marigold is her daughter, from another relationship. Bertie leaves, and he and Edith discuss what happens, before he leaves.
The smug Mary's antics leave the entire family angered and disgusted. After that, she is the target of three different confrontations, because of her perpetual ruining of Edith's life and happiness. First, Tom confronts her in the Estate office, ripping into her about what she had done to Edith. Mary refuses to listen, and Tom angrily replied, "You're a coward, Mary! Like all bullies, you're a coward!"
Later on, Mary and a furious Edith have a vicious row, (a row which Edith herself had said was a long time in coming) with the latter calling her sister a "nasty, jealous, scheming bitch". Mary began to insult her, but Edith screamed, "You're a BITCH!"
She then finishes Mary off by telling her, "And you're wrong, as you so often are! Henry's perfect for you, only you're too stubborn and snobbish to realize it! I suppose, at least he's gotten away from you. Which is something to be thankful for, I suppose!"
After her row, Edith talks to Tom and tells him what her plans are. He pleads with Edith to talk to him about what had happened, but she is determined to stay away from Mary after what she had done to her.
This wasn't the first time Mary had been insulted by Edith about her romantic life. Way back in the first series, Edith spitefully called her a slut after she wrote the Turkish Ambassador about what happened with Mary and Kemal Pamuk.
She heads off to London (Tom drives her car back to Downton), and she throws herself into her work at the magazine and her life in London. While there, she gains much needed support from her editor and her friend, Laura Edmunds. Laura told her that Mary was no help in this, but Edith explains to her that she and Mary had been in combat from their early years, and nobody, not even those in the family, can understand it.
As it turns out Laura had scheduled an interview with the new Agony Aunt columnist, an idea she had heard about being used in America. The person was called Miss Cassandra Jones. However, the name was a pseudonym. In a major shock, Edith and Laura discover that the columnist would be her grandmother's butler, Septimus Spratt!
Daisy Mason, Downton's assistant cook, finds out that she has passed her school exams with flying colors, thanks to the help of the former teacher, Sarah Bunting and by Joseph Molesley who took over for her; which makes Mrs. Patmore very proud of her subordinate and friend.
Mr. Molesley begins a job as a teacher at Downton village School, with his first day not being so good, but later on, once he shares his life with his students, especially his life as a servant, they are spellbound by his story and they gain a lot more respect for him.
Daisy, who overhears him as she takes a walk to the school, is pleased with him and how he did with his students. She tells him that not only were they spellbound, but they were totally paying attention to what he said. With Daisy's ringing endorsement of how he did, Molesley earns a rousing ovation from the staff.
Lady Rosamund Painswick is the next one to confront Mary about what she had done at tea. Even her father, Robert Crawley berated her for her flint-heartedness about her remarks about Thomas. It was clear that the family was infuriated with Mary for destroying Edith's chance for happiness.
Meanwhile, back on the B&B front, to squelch any of the rumors and to make her B&B respectable, Lady Rosamund, Cora and Robert would have their tea at Mrs. Patmore's B&B. The outing was a sure-fire success, it squelched the bad publicity and it solidified Mrs. P's reputation as a good business owner.
However, it takes Violet Crawley, the dowager countess, to get through to Mary. After receiving a letter from Tom (who to her is the most sensible member of the family), she compels her to confess why she did what she did to Edith.
Although she hid the reason under her veil of being grand and imperious, much like her Granny, the truth was that she was hiding her fear of not wanting to be another crash widow.
Mary confesses, in tears, that she would be scared to death over every race, every practice, every trial, and she did not want to lose Henry in the same way she lost her first husband, Matthew. Because of that fear, she lashed out at Edith, wanting to make her unhappy because she herself was unhappy.
Violet advises Mary to make peace with her sister, and then make peace with herself. She eventually does, bringing Henry back to Downton and then having Edith come back for the wedding.
After a heartfelt talk at Matthew's gravesite, and a blessing from Isobel, Henry and Mary would get married. Tom would serve as Henry's best man (just as he had served Matthew as his best man).
She would eventually get Bertie and Edith back together again in the next episode.
The episode ends with a smiling Edith watching her daughter and her cousins, Sybbie and George playing a game of tag around the grave of Edith's sister and Sybbie's mother and namesake, Sybil, and marveling in how close the three children are, as opposed to her rocky relationship with Mary.