At some point during the Downton Abbey series finale/Christmas special, I realized that absolutely every beat would be an expected beat, and I had to just decide to lay back and let it wash over me. There was a point, indeed, where I admired Fellowes’s restraint in refraining from having absolutely everybody get down on one knee and propose to everyone else. Moseley and Baxter. Daisy and Andrew. Tom and Editor Person. Mason and Mrs. Patmore. Barrow and Young Master George. (Too far?)
Because everyone that the audience longed to see happy together ended up happy together. There was so much love we didn’t even have time for Dick and Isobel’s wedding to be on-screen, although doubtless it was a tastefully practical affair.
Swallow it, Granny. It’s stuck in your craw long enough.
In addition to the high level of romance, there was an enormous amount of peacemaking. No grudges were left grudgey, no enemies were left with enmity (except the extremely evil Larry and Wife, and the barely mentioned and off-screen Rose’s Mother Susan That Bitch). Everybody kissed and made up: Violet and Cora, Mary and Edith, Thomas and Bates. Also, everyone has babies! BABIES!
I confess to a bit of an emotional reaction when I suddenly realized that, wow, this really was the last ever episode, and I was going to miss the parade of pretty people doing tastefully melodramatic things wearing magnificent clothing. Kudos to Edith’s pink sequined number the night of the engagement announcement. Her wedding veil was also a garment for the ages, but why was it dragging on the ground? With three children in the household, shouldn’t someone have been carrying her train?
At the very last, I came around on Thomas Barrow. A failed suicide attempt is, in fact, enough of a motivation for a person to turn his entire life around, and his remark that he came to Downton a boy and left a man was, in its own way, eye-opening. Of course, the long drawn-out goodbye, with the slow, mournful filming of Thomas with his suitcase, was designed to broadcast as loudly as possible that his departure was Not Right and he’d Be Back. I think, indeed, that Fellowes doesn’t consider surprise to be one of the dramatic devices in his arsenal.
Has anyone else noticed that the downstairs staff on this show spends an enormous amount of time polishing shoes?
Edith’s meeting with her future mother-in-law was pure hilarity. “Everything is okay as long as we’re moral. Morality is so important. Bertie can marry anyone as long as she doesn’t have a secret out-of-wedlock child. Or as long as he’s not gay like his dead cousin. Otherwise, we’re good to go.”
For all the build-up about this difficult and formidable woman, she collapsed like a bad soufflé. I wanted more from her. I’m used to the Dowager Countess, dammit, if you tell me a high-born woman is hardcore, I want to see a CAGE MATCH.
Edith is a marchioness now, which apparently has all sorts of duties. What does that mean to her magazine? How will she have time to do both? No one discussed. It’s just a woman’s career, after all.
So, let’s review the events of this episode. Mary arranges a surprise reunion of Bertie and Edith, which went exactly as we knew it would, as those crazy kids were meant to be together. There was the wedding we expected, and because everything has to happen at once, during this wedding (a) Mary told Henry she’s pregnant, and (b) Anna gave birth. This was a very fecund event. (Look it up.) Isobel realizes she’s in love with Dickie, thanks to our own little cupid, Lady Violet, who helps her rescue him from Evil Larry, and they, too, get married. Thomas leaves, everyone is sad, Thomas comes back.
I thought Moseley’s departure would be enough to get Thomas back on-staff, or even prevent him leaving. Carson sits and complains that he’s painfully short-handed with Moseley out, but he does nothing about it, until a mysterious illness intervenes. This illness ‘doesn’t even have a name’, which, I think, is something like “Fuck you, Internet, you can’t look THIS ONE up!” Also, please note that Carson opined that no decent butler would accept having Carson hang around as Elder Butler Statesman, but once it’s Barrow, all bets are off. No need to worry about Barrow playing second fiddle to Mr. I’ll Just Be Over Here With My Tremor Carson.
You know your problem?
I bet I soon will.
I actually liked Mrs. Patmore’s read on Daisy, how deep her self-hatred runs that she hates any man who wants her. It makes Daisy seem less like a random mean person and more like someone self-protective and intensely defended. Daisy sure knows how to give shade, though. Her meanness to Andrew becomes believable, if not attractive, and her turnaround on him was about right—he loses interest, she gains interest, Mrs. P. is in her corner telling her to stick around long enough for them to overlap. But the fact that this makes her soften towards Mason and Mrs. P. getting together is a bit much. By the way, did you catch Andrew taking a lock of Daisy’s hair? Aww.
By the way, Wikipedia says “Pernicious anemia was a fatal disease before about the year 1920”. So, five years later, the English nobility still think it’s fatal? Also, the symptoms of pernicious anemia and iron-deficiency anemia aren’t the same.
What do you suppose makes the English the way we are?
Opinions differ. Some say our history. But I blame the weather.
Things I loved: Isobel and Dickie happy to be friends, and then Isobel realizing she was in love. Edith’s delirious happiness. Robert watching Cora kick ass. Violet’s infinite wit.
Downton Abbey has been maddening to watch, if fun to write about, but I’ll miss it.
What say you all?