A peer in favor of reform? It’s like a turkey in favor of Christmas.
So, Branson is back. Woohoo, I guess. Welcome to Downton Abbey Season 6, in which all happy endings play out forever.
Branson is a good character, decently acted, good-looking, but his story has never been fully realized. Was the obnoxious teacher from last season supposed to have put his radicalism to bed forever? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Politics change over time, and the move from downstairs to upstairs is going to unavoidably give Tom a different perspective. But he went from radical to wishy-washy with little motivation other than he was living in a very nice house and then his wife died.
So Downton is his home and the gentry are his family. What this really says to me is that every feel-good moment that the fans have wanted will be engineered in the final season. I fully expect Rose to return pregnant and move in upstairs with her Jewish husband, Lady Mary and Lady Edith to each get married, Anna to give birth to twins, and Isobel and the Dowager to hug like the cuddle-bunnies they deep down are. Okay, maybe not that last one.
Despite the EXTRAORDINARY BOREDOM of Anna’s pregnancy storyline, I did enjoy the exchange with Mary. Mary’s so thrilled when she can run other people’s lives, because people don’t know how to run their own lives and Mary can fix that. Mrs. Hughes doesn’t understand that—Mary just needs to FIX HER. Mrs. Hughes is a peasant and yet she imagines she can run her own life! So silly. Who does a wedding breakfast anymore, amirite?
We must talk about the Carson-Hughes wedding. Poor Mrs. Hughes was truly dispirited by Carson and Mary usurping her wedding plans, and her drab feelings were behind the drab dress she chose. Her speech in the drawing room, telling the entire family what she wanted, was masterful. It was fully as diffident as a lifelong servant should naturally communicate to her employers, and yet she spoke her mind and her heart clearly, and didn’t allow herself to be bullied by the difference in class. You go, Elsie!
Lady Grantham was a bit of a bitch, but she wasn’t wrong. Mary didn’t try all that hard to stop her mother from going upstairs and finding everyone playing dress-up in her room. In fact, Lady Mary sort of half-heartedly said something, didn’t so much as get out of her chair when her mother didn’t hear her, and then just shrugged, safe in the assumption that she will get her way because she always gets her way and that is that. In fact, Tom Branson may have been pulled across the Atlantic by the inexorable power of Mary’s need to get her way, since she wanted him home. Meanwhile, Cora walks into her bedroom to find people messing around with her clothes. How would you feel?
Cora is a good woman, though, and apologizes when she’s mean. I’m going to say, not wrong, but mean. No, I wasn’t told, and Mary has no right to give away my clothes without my permission, are certainly good statements to make, provided they’re followed with, it’s not your fault that my daughter doesn’t give a shit about walking all over people, and hey, tomorrow is your wedding so TAKE ALL THE CLOTHES.
You know what I found maddening? That after all that fuss over the wedding dress, after three different outfits—four, actually, because the coat that Mrs. Hughes ultimately wore was not the one we saw her try on—we get to the wedding itself and we can’t see what she’s wearing. Seriously, the entire wedding scene she’s blocked by the priest, or we see her face, or we see the guests. We finally close in on the bride and groom after the ceremony, and we never get a full fashion shot of the new Mrs. Carson in her dress. WHAT THE HELL DOWNTON? Way to pay off all that build up! It’s not like they don’t know we watch for the clothes.
Lifelong diffidence seems not to have affected Daisy, who has now crossed from inappropriate outbursts to just crazy-level of saying any damn thing that pops into her head. But education! Mosley’s championing of her is sweet, though.
In other news, Spratt and Denker are still at it, and now she’s ready to blackmail him. That’ll end well. Barrow gets a job interview at Satis House. Has anyone else noticed that Rob James-Collier has smiled perpetually throughout this season? He complains and he smiles. He flirts with Andy and he smiles. He gets rejected by Andy and he smiles. This is a shitty performance of pathos. His face was less irritating when he was a villain.
All the machinations, though, are in service to the Happy Final Season events. Edith will marry Binky or Bertie or whoever and be fabulous with Marigold in London. Mary will marry either Branson or Matthew Goode (I vote Goode). Barrow will get some kind of happy ending too, I bet.
So, anyone still watching? Anyone still reading? You all are awfully quiet!