Sisters Mary and Edith Crawley have given audiences countless snipes, snubs, and sneers as they have competed with each other in love and life over the course of Downton Abbey. Episode 8’s sister showdown had been a long time coming, but now that the air had been cleared, could there be a new beginning for Mary and Edith? Revisit some of the sisters’ most shocking moments, as we remember the terrible and touching highlights from Downton Abbey‘s own family feud.
Mary: Is it true you wrote to the Turkish ambassador about Kemal?
Edith: He had a right to know how his countryman died, in the arms of a slut.
After years of living in the shadow of her more popular sister, Edith uses a deadly secret as a weapon and writes to the Turkish ambassador, revealing the fate houseguest Kemal Pamuk. Not to be outdone, when Mary learns of her sister’s betrayal, she swiftly sabotages Edith’s chance at a marriage proposal from Sir Anthony Strallan.
Mary: Most of you won’t know how rare it is to see my sister Edith and I, pulling together in a double act…
Cora: A unicorn if there ever was one.
In a moment of snipe cease-fire, the sisters come together during wartime and perform a song for the troops. With Edith on the piano and Mary sweetly crooning, their battered audience receives some respite from the chaos and violence around them.
Edith: Oh, Mary, do you think we might get along a little better in the future?
Mary: I doubt it.
While sobbing on the deathbed of their beloved sister, Edith and Mary face the stark reality of their own doomed relationship.
But a glimmer of hope for the pair shines through when, in Season 5, they share a moment in the Downton nursery. As Tom Branson and the sisters take a moment to remember their dear departed, Edith comfortingly takes Mary’s hand–proof that even the most guarded of heartstrings can be tugged.
Edith: I am just amazed that even you would choose the day after I learn the man I love is dead to try out a new fashion…And if that weren’t enough, you’ve planned a jolly picnic for Saturday. Am I really expected to join in?
Mary: Hopefully not, as you usually spoil everything.
As the family learns that Edith’s love Michael Gregson is indeed dead (at the hands of the Nazis, no less!), Mary ignores her sister’s tragedy and takes the opportunity to debut a snappy new bob. For Edith, this is the last straw from a sibling who always gets the last word.
Edith: I know you to be a nasty, jealous, scheming b****!
Edith: In the end you’re my sister and one day only we will remember Sybil or Mama or Papa…or any of the others who have peopled our youth, until at last our shared memories will mean more than our mutual dislike.
Edith’s prodding at the dining table pushes Mary to a new low, as she reveals Edith’s biggest secret to her fiancé. The sisters finally have the nasty verbal brawl that has been brewing under years of resentment and calculated put-downs.
But just when we think their fragile bond may be forever broken, Edith extends an olive branch to Mary, making an appearance on her big day and reminding her that the sisters will soon be the last remnants of their forgotten era.