Downton Abbey: And They All Lived Happily Ever After

EMBARGOED_UNTIL_05_DECEMBER_DOWNTON_36Previously on Downton Abbey: Edith got engaged for about ten minutes before Mary completely ruined it out of spite, prompting a couple of characters to finally call Mary out for being a hateful, miserable bitch. She responded to that not by actually doing anything nice for the sister she’s abused for their entire lives, but by getting married herself to Henry Talbot. And apparently we’re all supposed to be fine with that. Cora’s now in charge of the hospital board, which doesn’t make Violet all that happy, and Lord Merton’s daughter-in-law, Amelia, is trying to unload Merton on Isobel. Isobel’s not playing that game, however, and tells Amelia the request to rekindle this relationship has to come from Larry the Jerk, which isn’t happening anytime soon. Belowstairs, Carson’s a jerk and a half, Thomas is on the hunt for a new job, Anna’s pregnant, Patmore might be having a flirtation with Farmer Mason, Molesley got a teaching gig, and Andy the footman has hopes of becoming a farmer someday.

This is it, folks, our last outing with the Crawley family! Will you miss them? I…don’t really feel like I will, which is a shame, because this show started off fairly strongly, but you never know, give me a week and I might be sobbing into my pillow or something.

It’s summertime, and the family’s out walking the grounds and playing with the kids. Edith plans to put Marigold into a school in London so she can, you know, actually get an education befitting a young lady living in the 20thcentury. Edith, it seems, hopes to move to London and set up residence there during term time so she can be near her child and also actually run the magazine she owns. Robert worries about her being all alone down there, but Edith, a little shortly, says she’s a spinster, and spinsters are supposed to live alone. I thought spinsters were supposed to go in sisterly sets. Or pairs, at lest.

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Downton Abbey: Truth and Consequences

3152Previously on Downton Abbey: Edith started dating a rather nice young man named Bertie whom nobody thought much of because he’s Edith’s boyfriend; Mary dumped Henry immediately after his best friend died in a fiery car crash, because she can’t even deal with all this; everyone was treating Thomas like shit for no apparent reason; and Patmore got her first guests at her B&B.

Edith and Cora take a walk in the garden and discuss Bertie’s proposal. Edith loves the man, but she’s concerned about how he’ll react when she tells him she’s Marigold’s mother. She doesn’t want to keep the truth from him, but she’s afraid that telling him will ruin everything. It doesn’t really seem like you have much of a choice here, Edith. Either you keep your secret and dump the guy, which’ll obviously ruin things, or you roll the dice and tell him the truth.

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Downton Abbey: A Day at the Races

Previously on Downton Abbey: Mary and Edith both got boyfriends, Carson is turning out to be a horrible douchebag of a husband, Molesley might have a chance to become a teacher, and Thomas can’t seem to find his place anymore. So we’re, what, two episodes from the end of this series and they’ve finally gotten around to giving us an interesting episode? Eh, better late … Continue reading Downton Abbey: A Day at the Races

Downton Abbey: Open House

3366Previously on Downton Abbey: Mary and Edith got new boyfriends and Robert’s stomach exploded all over a future prime minister.

Ok, having seen this episode, I have to conclude that either Julian Fellowes completely and utterly doesn’t give a shit about anything at all anymore, or he’s just taking the piss, because this single episode basically broke all the rules of storytelling and delivered up one of the most boring hours of nothingness I’ve ever subjected myself to. Was there tension? No! Were there storylines we cared about? Of course not! Was the plot advanced in any way? Nope! And this unbearable narrative carelessness was signalled early on: I kid you not, the first three scenes are different sets of characters having the exact same conversation. They nearly mirror each other’s words. I’ve seen padding, but this really takes the cake.

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Downton Abbey: The Hurl of Grantham

Previously on Downton Abbey: Carson and Mrs Hughes got married, Thomas’s attempts to become friendly with Andy were rather brusquely rebuffed, Matthew Goode wandered back onto the scene, Robert was having stomach pains, Violet was losing her mind over the damn hospital, Baxter will have to give evidence against the guy who got her stealing, Daisy secured the Drewe farm for Mr Mason, and Edith finally … Continue reading Downton Abbey: The Hurl of Grantham

Downton Abbey: You Know Nothing, Thomas Barrow!

Previously on Downton Abbey: Carson and Hughes got married, Anna got knocked up, Edith fired her editor, and lo, many seasons ago, teenage Sybil got all girl power and helped one of the housemaids get a better job. Branson walks around the estate, just checking things out, then goes in to breakfast and reassures Robert that he didn’t abandon America because he quarrelled with his … Continue reading Downton Abbey: You Know Nothing, Thomas Barrow!

Downton Abbey: Coming Home

Downton Abbey | Series Six We return to the sumptuous setting of Downton Abbey for the sixth and final season of this internationally acclaimed hit drama series. As our time with the Crawleys begins to draw to a close, we see what will finally become of them all. The family and the servants, who work for them, remain inseparably interlinked as they face new challenges and begin forging different paths in a rapidly changing world. Photographer: Nick Briggs PHYLLIS LOGAN as Mrs Hughes & JIM CARTER as Mr Carson

Previously on Downton Abbey: Edith’s editor was grossly unprofessional, but she was too busy creating needless drama and screwing over the Drewe family to really do anything about it; Mary was made the estate agent, because of course she was; Branson moved to Boston and seemed to like it there; and Hughes and Carson were clashing over the wedding plans.

Patmore tries to run some wedding menu ideas past Hughes, who’s basically like, make whatever, IDGAF. She admits that this wedding she’s been saddled with is not to her taste even the teensiest bit. She had this idea of a big wedding with tons of food, which sounds pretty great to me (and was, in fact, one of the goals of my own wedding) but now that she’s being forced to have this thing in the Great Hall at Downton, she has to posh it up with a bunch of finger food. This sucks. Everything’s being done the way Carson wants it. Hughes is so checked out of this now she can’t even be bothered to dress up, she’s just wearing an ordinary brown dress. Patmore suggests they send for something from a catalogue. Hughes pulls her proposed dress out of the wardrobe, and damn, that thing’s drab as hell.

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Downton Abbey: Kidnapped!

Mary at the fair, photo by Nick BriggsPreviously on Downton Abbey: Anna was having fertility issues, Mary assigned herself the job of estate agent, Edith snatched her kid back from the farmer she handed her off to, then went on to kinda suck at this whole ‘career woman’ thing because apparently she left her spine behind at the Drewes’. Carson and Hughes are getting married, there’s some dreary nonsense with the hospital that absolutely nobody cares about, and Daisy stupidly mouthed off to her father-in-law’s new landlord and got him kicked off his farm. Nice going!

The music is super excited that it’s breakfast time and everyone belowstairs is really fakely rushing around and gathering breakfast trays and ironing newspapers and the like. Upstairs, there are letters from Tom and Rose that include absolutely nothing interesting, other than the fact that Rose may return for the series finale a visit in August, but it’s not settled yet. Mary assumes this means Rose is expecting, though she uses the far more anachronistic (for her class and time) term of ‘pregnant’. There’s some chatter about the hospital business, which Cora is being shut out of. Carson appears and tells Mary that there’s a Mr Finch there to see ‘the agent’. Apparently he has no idea that Mary is the agent now, even though she’s allegedly been doing the job for months. Mary tells Carson to have the man wait in the library while she takes her time finishing breakfast.

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Downton Abbey: Witness

downton-abbey-premiere-reviewPreviously on Downton Abbey: Mary considered marrying Gill seriously enough to enjoy a weekend bonkfest with him, during which they checked into the same hotel under their own names. I think we should all be grateful that this particular brain trust fell apart and didn’t breed. Speaking of breeding, Edith gave birth to a kid and handed her off to the Drews, which went so incredibly poorly that she took the kid back and offered up the feeble explanation that the Drews couldn’t care for her and now little Marigold (yes, Marigold) is her foundling. In one of the show’s more ludicrous plotlines, Anna was accused of and even jailed for the murder of Greene, all on the extremely shifty evidence of a witness who’s come out of nowhere after sitting on their information for over a year. Yeah, really reliable there. Anna’s now out on bail, waiting to find out what will happen to her. Branson and Rose both decided to pursue movie careers move to America, and Carson and Hughes got engaged.

Home stretch, everybody! Now, for our American friends just joining us, I feel I should warn you. Apparently, on this side of the pond there was a lot of talk prior to the season airing about how this was going to be THE BEST DOWNTON SEASON EVA! But let’s keep in mind that Fellowes said something very similar about his Titanic miniseries, and we all know how that went. So I guess what I’m saying is, if you’ve heard that…


If you’ve got ‘a hunt scene’ on your Period Drama Bingo Card, you get to tick something off early, because here we are knee deep in hounds and hunting pinks, and oh look, Mary’s finally decided to start riding astride. Her father sniffs about that, telling her that sidesaddle’s much more elegant, and she points out that it’s also far more dangerous, and she’s good with her neck unbroken, thanks. A crowd of locals has gathered to take in the sight of the hunt, and amongst them is a particularly smug young woman. This is Rita, our cartoon villain of the season. She has all the obnoxious classist outrage of Sarah Bunting combined with the maddening, buffoonish absurdity of Vera Bates. Fun!

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Red Grouse

Downton Dish: Casseroled Grouse with Marmalade

Like just about every member of the upper class, the Downtonians are heading north to start shooting some grouse. The 12 August–The Glorious Twelfth–was and still is the official start of grouse-hunting season, when eager sportsmen (and women) hit the heather moors of Scotland and the north of England to hunt this delicious bird which, as it flies low to the ground at up to 80 mph, also offers sportsmen a significant challenge. Red grouse is the type most commonly hunted in Britain (of the four species of grouse to be found here, one is protected, one so rare that most sportsmen avoid shooting them, and one lives in areas so inhospitable hardly anyone seeks them out), and its meat is flavoured by its diet of heather, blueberry, cranberry, and bog myrtle. All the grouse you find for sale is wild: attempts to rear it in captivity have all failed.

Wealthy people like the Sinderbys and the Crawleys would often rent shooting estates in the north from hard-up aristocrats, or buy one of their own and host lavish shooting parties that saw astonishing numbers of birds killed over just a few days. King Edward VII was a keen sportsman and made the rounds of the great shooting estates along with his son, George, who was known for his rather distinctive shooting style: one arm straight along the barrel, turning to shoot birds behind him with a quick, jumpy step. Shooting weekends were highly formal: after the morning drive the guns would meet up with the ladies somewhere on the estate for a multi-course lunch. After that, the ladies would sometimes join the drive, typically as observers, before returning to the house to change into gowns for tea. At the end of the day came dinner–tails and tiaras were de rigeur, and there was usually a ball the first evening. On other evenings, non-shooting guests would stage amateur theatrical performances rehearsed while the men were out on the morning drives.

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