Don’t demean yourself by trying to justify your venom.
Downton Abbey Season 6, Episode 8 was an incredibly juicy episode. Now, as the series comes to a close, creator Julian Fellowes is truly embracing the soapiness of it all, with tears, and shouting matches, and flat-out bitchiness, and name-calling, and a near-death. ALL THE THINGS. An episode of melodrama through-and-through, including the season’s second wedding (not, I predict, its last).
I said last season that Fellowes excels in these wrap-ups; now that we’re practically done, he’s pulling out all stops, and even the restrained British upper classes are letting loose! This episode was the official finale, but, as with last season, the real finale, and the real last episode ever of Downton Abbey, will be the Christmas Special, which airs in two weeks.
I’m going to say that the theme this episode was “letting loose”, which everyone did, from Mary and Anna cracking up in laughter, to Mrs. Hughes expressing her love to Carson, to Carson being the world’s biggest bitch, until Mary proves she’s his better. Everyone’s tempers were wound up too tight, shouting, crying, visiting graves, and letting blood. Oh, my.
A tawdry local brouhaha.
Mrs. Patmore learns that her first bed and breakfast guest was doing a little letting loose of his own—it wasn’t Mrs. P. being followed, but her customer. The level of hilarity this causes all around is quite something. This show has been a parade of adultery, premarital tomfoolery, and quietly civilized acceptance of homosexuality, but apparently a quick weekender is too much. This is where Carson proves himself to be simply unacceptable in his meanness. He seems to believe that being in service means being a literal doormat; that one is expected to simply lay down on the ground and be walked over, rather than to have needs and problems. He’s lucky Mrs. Hughes doesn’t cut his throat as he sleeps.
Mary has gotten herself wound up into a proper tizzy, spilling bile anywhere and everywhere. Fortunately, we have Sainted Tom to calm her and intervene, over and over and over, her personal Jiminy Cricket. In what way does she deserve such kindness, and why is he such an old maiden aunt anyway? Kudos to Michelle Dockery, though; she killed at amping up the anger with each scene, just a little more intense, a little more haughty, a little more out of control. Until finally, she decides to calmly, coolly, destroy Edith’s life. There, that felt better. Except it didn’t, so she decided to punish her father for deciding to let go a servant who has betrayed the family multiple times. Edith is right, she’s a bitch.
Poor old Edith, who couldn’t make her dolls do what she wanted.
Edith’s beau, Bertie, is suddenly a marquess when his cousin dies. His “delicate” cousin, who certainly appeared very gay when we met him in Season 5, was apparently engaged to a woman, so a longer life would not have been a happy one. He comes to Downton to get Edith’s response to his proposal, giving Mary the opportunity for a face-to-face, which she uses to spill the beans about Marigold almost as soon as she says hello. This doesn’t go well. Robert was so excited at the prospect of his daughter becoming a marchioness that he uses the phrase “golly gumdrops”. Let me say it again: Golly gumdrops.
Since Lady Edith is not gay, I predict a happy ending for her, and a Christmas wedding. She and Bertie love each other, that much is plain. I wanted to yell at my TV, just beg him to forgive you. He’d have responded! She’s so lovely, and so diffident, and so pathetic, and he’s all in. Forgive her he will, I’m sure, and embrace Marigold as a daughter.
Mary does have sympathetic moments, especially visiting Matthew’s grave, but the best scene is Edith’s, when she gives a speech about them being sisters, and fated to be the last survivors of their family. It’s horrible and wonderful all at once. Mary’s finest moment may be the face she makes when imitating Edith, “Edith was so…” and trails off, simpering and grinning. Hilarious.
I never imagined the Dowager Countess would be the deus ex machina that would solve Mary’s romantic problems. By the way, Tom sent a letter (snail mail, you know, with paper), that got to Violet, and got her to come home from France, all while Edith is still in London for a few days. Little glitch in the timing there.
A suicidal footman in the attic.
Basketcases have been predicting Thomas’s suicide attempt for many weeks. I have to say it is so deeply rooted in the worst kind of clichés about gay people that it smacks of homophobia: For a century, LGBT people only appeared in the media if we were insane, evil, or tragically suicidal. Thomas hits two out of three, spending most of the series as a villain and then allowing that to turn to tragedy these past few weeks. “Tragedy”, because it involves us feeling sorry for a mean-spirited coward, a deserter, and a whiner. But as Fellowes resolves his series and marries everyone off to everyone, gives everyone the ending of their dreams: Mary married, Mrs. Hughes and Carson married, Anna and Bates expecting, Moseley an amazingly good teacher, and even Spratt secretly successful, the one gay character gets it between the teeth.