Rose’s mother, Susan, is concerned about Atticus’s Jewish heritage and how the difference in religion will impact their relationship. Meanwhile Atticus’s father, Lord Sinderby, is disgusted by Rose’s parents’ impending divorce, which he views as a shameful sign of failure. Everyone’s equally disgruntled, which makes for one of the most awkward fancy dinners in a show full of awkward fancy dinners.
As if Rose wasn’t fretting enough, she receives a series of photos of Atticus in a compromising situation with a sexy little tart from his bachelor party the night before. Apparently out-of-control pre-wedding shenanigans are far from a modern-day phenomenon, having a long and storied history dating back to post–World War I England. Rose genuinely trusts her husband-to-be and interprets the photos as a cruel prank—Tom assures her this is classic stag stuff—but she isn’t sure who could have sent them to her. Obviously one of the disenchanted parents is to blame, as they all seem interested in trying to sabotage this marriage, which makes it hard to discount any of them.
As Rose’s dad, Shrimpy, eventually discovers, it’s Susan who set up the incident, which is pretty damn low as far as attempts to thwart your daughter’s wedding go. Of course it’s unsuccessful; Rose and Atticus do get hitched—despite the litany of hitches their families insist on throwing in their path. These two have tenacity, or at least an ability to equally disregard the petty insecurities that weigh down their parents’ pasts.
As Rose prepares to leave Downton for what will hopefully be marital bliss, Tom also considers departing the estate and heading to America to work with his cousin in Boston. With Violet’s support, Isobel is also working up the courage to go through with her engagement to Lord Merton, despite his sons’ disapproval. In the servant’s quarters, even Daisy is debating moving to London, given her recent education.
In other words, life is changing and changing quickly, much to Mary’s chagrin. She of all Downton’s residents feels the impact of these losses. God forbid she be left alone to live with Edith. After breaking things off with various suitors, specifically Tony, Mary’s struggling to find direction and purpose beyond her childhood home.
Edith, meanwhile, is thriving (well, thriving by Edith’s standards), as she now gets to live in the presence of her child. Edith’s newfound delight and sharp change in behavior is so profound that Mary remarks that she’s carrying on as if she “invented motherhood.” In fact, Lord Grantham picks up on this obvious turnaround. His suspicions are confirmed when he confides in Cora that the child reminds him of Mr. Gregson, but he agrees to keep the knowledge to himself and—gasp—even love his illegitimate grandchild.
And then there’s one more bombshell—just when we think all the Mr. Green nonsense is over, Anna is arrested for his murder. Love may have conquered bigotry and family squabbles in other plot lines thus far, but will Bates’s love for Anna be enough to overturn an arrest? Here’s hoping next week’s Christmas episode puts a sweet end to it once and for all.