Henry Talbot is having a practice race with his friend, Charlie Rogers. Rogers wins, but Talbot vows that he will win the race at Brooklanes.
At breakfast at Downton, Robert reads a letter from Henry Talbot, inviting the entire family to the race the next week. Mary tells her father that her mother will never let him go because of his health. For his part, Roberts says he’s fine. Talbot has also invited Bertie Pelham, which piques Edith’s interest. Despite her misgivings about racing and cars in general, Mary has decided to give it a chance.
Downstairs, Patmore is telling Daisy and Andy about her bed and breakfast, when Hughes comes in. Hughes tells her that Carson once more wants to have dinner at the cottage, but she knows nothing she does will be right. Molesly comes in to tell Daisy that Mr. Dawes has set the date for her exams. Daisy starts to freak out a little, but everyone tells her she’s going to do fine.
At Dower House, Violet and Isobel are discussing the fact that Isobel has been invited to the wedding of Lord Merton’s awful son, Larry Grey. Isobel has decided that she is not going. Both surmise that Lord Merton’s daughter-in-law, Miss Cruikshank, is behind the invitation. Violet says she’ll pay her a visit and get to the bottom of what is going on. Violet asks about the hospital and says she’s still angry about the way she was removed as president, and doesn’t trust herself not to say things she might regret later. She’s decided to go away for a while. Isobel agrees that this sounds like a good idea.
At Servants’ lunch, Andy asks Daisy about Mr. Mason, and she says she’ll pass along his well-wishes. Thomas tells Carson that he really is looking for a new job, he just hasn’t found one yet. Carson says he’d better hurry up, so things can be settled.
Robert makes his case for attending the race to Cora and the rest of the family. Cora doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but Robert says he’s fine and is in any case growing exceedingly bored. Cora says it’s up to him, which settles it.
Thomas is outside smoking a cigarette when Hughes comes out to talk to him. She tells him Carson doesn’t mean to be cruel, he just wants things settled. She tells him she’s sure that there’s a new job, new friends, and a new life out there waiting for him. Thomas isn’t so sure. He’s put down roots at Downton, and doesn’t want to leave.
Violet goes to see Miss Cruikshank, who doesn’t want to see her. Violet wins her way through by sheer force of personality. She ascertains that Cruikshank’s real reason for seeking a reunion between Isobel and Merton is that she wants Isobel to take him off her hands. Cruikshank does not deny this.
Carson informs the servants that since the family will be away, this is a good time to take any days off they will need. Patmore tells Hughes that she’s placed the ads for her bed and breakfast and is eagerly awaiting her first guests. She’s very nervous about it and is going to make one final check of the house on her days off. Hughes says she’ll go with her.
That evening at Dower House, Spratt is tending his stamp collection when Denker comes in going on about her ladyship’s plan to visit the south of France. Denker will go with her, while Spratt will stay behind.
At bedtime, Cora is making travel plans with Baxter when Robert comes in. They talk about the upcoming trip and wonder if Mary isn’t perhaps getting Talbot’s hopes up when in truth they wouldn’t make a very good match. Robert is still looking forward to it, as he’s never seen a race before.
In Mary’s room, she and Anna are going over their own arrangements. Mary is nervous about the whole business, but is determined to give it a chance for Talbot’s sake. Mary asks Anna if she approves of Talbot. Anna says she does, but wonders if their lives really complement each other. Mary says she wonders the same thing.
Molesly and Baxter are talking downstairs (is Baxter ever not sewing?) Molesly has been studying for his exam. Baxter still can’t decide whether or not she should go see Peter Coyle, and Molesly repeats his advice that she absolutely should not. But since she didn’t get to testify in court, Baxter never got closure, and wonders if a visit will provide that for her.
Andy visits Mr. Mason at Yew Tree Farm. Mason wants him to help him bring the books up to date, and Andy protests that he’s better with physical tasks. But Mason is keen to have Andy’s help on the books. Andy says he’s busy, and Mason is disappointed.
Violet tells Isobel that she’s leaving that very day, and fills her in on her travel plans. She’ll cruise the Mediterranean, then stay with some friends in Cannes. She doesn’t want the family to know she is leaving until she is gone, and she gives Isobel a letter to deliver to them when they return from London. She’s given her contact information to Tom in case there’s an emergency. She also tells Isobel what she learned on her visit to Miss Cruikshank. Isobel must now decide if she wants to rescue Lord Merton from his children. Isobel still isn’t sure she wants to get involved in the family drama.
Hughes and Patmore leave Patmore’s house. She’s had a reservation for the next night. She’ll be offering breakfasts and wants to make a good reputation on that. She’s also had an idea for how Hughes can handle Carson at their next dinner.
Edith visits her magazine, and Laura Edmonds. They’ve had an offer from a Miss Cassandra Jones to write an advice column for them. Edmonds had enjoyed the samples and thinks it might be a good idea. Edith invites her along to the race.
At Rosamunde’s, the family is having dinner. As dinner ends, Henry Talbot arrives uninvited, but not unwelcome. He tells Mary he came because he wants to be a part of her family. They flirt a little, and she says she hopes he was serious about the invitation because they’re bringing a lot of people to the race. She invites him to stay for coffee.
At servants’ dinner, Daisy and Molesly report that they’re ready for their exams. Carson comes very close to saying he’s proud of them, but doesn’t quite get there. Patmore will be bringing lunch down to the schoolhouse for them and Mr. Dawes, and Andy says he’ll come along to lend a hand. Thomas says he’s spending his day off looking for a job.
The next day everyone arrives at the race. Tom is helping Talbot tend to his car at the last minute. Edith introduces Laura Edmonds to Tom and Henry, then to the rest of the family. Charlie Rogers arrives and is introduced to everyone. Rogers and Talbot tease each other about who’d going to win. Mary talks to Talbot and tells him how nervous she is, but he tells her everything is going to be fine.
Bertie Pelham arrives to be greeted by Edith as she introduces him to Edmonds, who is talking to the family about her experiences as a woman editor. To everyone’s surprise, Robert expresses his admiration. Edmonds and Tom have a moment talking about how each of them have broken through barriers in their lives and there seems to be a spark there.
Talbot and Rogers are summoned to begin the race. Talbot kisses Mary as he leaves. As the race begins, Talbot and Rogers wish each other luck. Talbot starts off in the middle of the pack, but makes good progress, staying even with Rogers. The family cheers on Talbot while Mary gets more and more nervous.
Patmore, Daisy, Molesly, Andy and Mr. Dawes are having a picnic lunch. Patmore is upset that she’s forgotten the lemonade, when Thomas arrives with it in hand. Molesly and Daisy are talking about their exams and Andy asks how hard they were. Daisy responds “see for yourself” and hands him a paper, which everyone urges him to read out loud. Andy tries, but it’s obvious he’s struggling, and he admits to everyone that he is illiterate and Thomas has been helping to teach him. Dawes says he’ll teach him to read, and Andy is grateful. Thomas pipes up that he’ll keep helping too, but Dawes says it’s best if he doesn’t, so they don’t confuse Andy with different teaching methods. Thomas is crestfallen.
The race continues. Some cars have trouble and are out. Rogers and Talbot are very close, and cutting each other off dangerously.
Carson and Hughes are alone in the house and Hughes scandalized Carson by sitting down on the couch in the library. Despite himself, Carson joins her. She asks Carson if he’s ready for their dinner and he asks her if she’s sure she knows how to cook it. Hughes tells him not to worry about it, and the two are interrupted by Thomas’ return.
At the race, Rogers has taken the lead with Talbot close behind. Talbot overtakes him, but makes a mistake and soon surrenders the lead. They are neck and neck as they pass the stands. Mary is telling Tom how she can barely stand it when there is an awful screech of tires and a loud boom. They look over to see a plume of smoke rising in the air.
Everyone rushes to the scene to see Charlie Rogers’ car engulfed in flame. Henry is trying to get to him, but can’t because of the fire. In any case, it’s too late. Rogers is dead. Henry has to be bodily pulled away from the crash.
Mary and Edith arrive, panicked that it is Henry in the fire. But Bertie delivers the news that it’s Rogers. Mary is relieved, but dismayed to see Henry, covered in soot, a dark look upon his face.
Later, Mary finds Henry sitting beside the track, utterly destroyed. He tells Mary that Rogers was his best friend, and he feels responsible for encouraging him. Mary tells him that they encouraged each other and he shouldn’t feel so guilty. It doesn’t seem to do any good. She tells him dinner is still on, since Rosamunde thinks they should all be together, but Henry begs off, saying he needs to go talk to Rogers’ family. He wants to say more to her, but she tells him, “Let’s not do any of that stuff now.”
That evening, Mr. Dawes arrives at Downton with the results of Molesly’s exam. He passed with flying colors, and Dawes wants him to join the teaching staff at the village school. Everyone congratulates Molesly, and he says he’ll think about Dawes’ offer. Patmore breaks out the wine and Daisy asks Molesly if he’ll leave service now. He says most people will leave service soon, and this seems like a good way out for him. Thomas does not join in the celebration.
At the cottage, Hughes says she’s hurt her hand and can’t make dinner, but she’ll talk Carson through it. He gets a panicked look on his face, but really has no choice.
At Rosamunde’s, the family is having a very sedate dinner, ruminating about the awful events of the day. The phone rings, and it’s Henry, who wants to talk to Mary. She doesn’t want to speak with him just yet, but follows Tom’s urging to do so anyway. Henry tells her that what happened has made him think about his life, and how fleeting it can be. He seems to be getting ready to propose when Mary stops him. She didn’t want to do this now, but he’s forced it. They can’t be together. Their lives are just too different and she just can’t take another day like today.
When she hangs up, Tom is there, telling her that he thinks she’s making a mistake. She’s just scared of being hurt again, the way she was when Matthew died. But the risk is worth it.
At the cottage, Carson has found the cooking to be an arduous task. He serves the dinner, which is burnt and incomplete. This amuses Hughes, though she tries to hide it.
Patmore and Daisy are tidying up for the nights when the conversation turns to Mr. Mason and Andy. Daisy minimizes their relationship and Patmore zeroes in on the core truth when she tells Daisy that just because Mason likes Andy, it doesn’t mean he has any less love for her. She can count on Mason, the same way she can count on her. Patmore dismisses Daisy before both of them start to cry.
Carson and Hughes are eating dessert when Carson, exhausted, falls asleep at the table. Hughes wakes him up and tells him he can wait until morning to clean up.
Baxter meets Anna in the hallway, from an exchange between Anna and Bates at the track, she’s determined that Anna is pregnant. She congratulates her.
Bertie and Edith are relaxing in the parlor, Edith remarking on how comfortable it feels to be held in his arms. He says he wants to marry her, and she is taken aback, but thrilled. He says he knows he doesn’t have much to offer, but he loves her. She asks him if he’d let her bring Marigold with them, and he says he would. She says she has to think about it, but won’t keep him waiting long.
At her house, Patmore serves breakfast to her guests, a doctor and his wife, and they seem very pleased with it. As she leaves, a man emerges from the bushes and writes something down in a little notebook.
When the family returns to Downton, Isobel is waiting for them. She delivers Violet’s letter telling them about her trip. Everyone is alarmed, and Cora, in particular, feels guilty. Carson announces that Spratt has brought them a gift which is downstairs. Curious, everyone goes down to see what it is. It’s a puppy! One the same breed as Isis! Robert is delighted, and immediately names her Tio, which was the name of an Egyptian queen.
Hughes asks Patmore how it went with her first guests, and Patmore is gratified to report that it went very well indeed. Hughes says Carson has survived his dinner ordeal, and will have much more respect for her efforts in the future. They are laughing about it when Carson comes in and wants to know what’s so funny. Hughes responds, “Just life, Mr. Carson … just life.”