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.

Later, Henry smokes and looks pensive, so Mary goes to ask him what’s up, noting he seems a little down. He apologises and she says she just wants to help him. She knows he’s still low about the crash and he says it took all the fun out of driving. Yeah, I guess it would.

Thomas finds Baxter, Andy, and Anna in the boot room and thanks them for saving him from his suicide attempt. He seems much happier, which, I have to admit, is rather nice to see. Anna suggests he take some time to figure out what’s been depressing him so much. I’d think the abuse from Carson and the general feeling of helplessness and displacement had something to do with that, Anna.

Isobel reports to Violet that Larry invited her to tea, only to then suddenly renege, which Violet thinks is a little strange. She suggests Isobel go right to Merton and find out what’s up.

Carson complains briefly to his wife about Anna being pregnant, because in his day ladies’ maids simply didn’t go about in that condition.

The family has pre-dinner cocktails on the lawn and Edith mentions heading up to London to meet with Laura, her editor. Henry offers to drive her, vaguely explaining he has some things to do in the city.

Andy makes some small talk with Daisy before taking dinner up, and Mrs Patmore suggests Daisy go ahead and hit that. Daisy scrunches up her face at the thought.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Andy makes some small talk with Daisy before taking dinner up, and Mrs Patmore suggests Daisy go ahead and hit that[/cryout-pullquote]

Upstairs, Robert suggests visiting his mother the next day. Cora can’t, because she has a hospital meeting that she doesn’t want to miss, though Robert, of course, doesn’t see why it’s so important that she be there. Carson goes to pour Robert a glass of wine and slops the stuff everywhere. He apologises while Mary looks questioningly at him.

After dinner, Andy goes to see Patmore and asks if Daisy’s into men. Not that he thinks she’s a lesbian—he’s not sure she’s interested in any romantic entanglements. Patmore explains that Daisy’s had her heart broken, but he might have a chance yet, if he puts a bit of work in. Aww, he’s rather sweet and earnest.

Thomas has a new job! And it’s not too far away. Carson actually manages to be fairly gracious when he hears the news and Thomas seems really happy.

Spratt finds Denker doing her nails and tells her that Violet won’t like the nail polish. The bell rings and Spratt goes upstairs, followed by Denker, and lets Edith in. Edith says she’s come to see Spratt, who quickly gets rid of Denker so he can learn that Edith is considering expanding his advice column to a full page. He’s really pleased. Denker, of course, is listening at the keyhole.

Molesley and Baxter walk through the village, having been sent on some errands, and run into the schoolmaster, Dawes. Dawes announces that one of the teachers is retiring and offers the job and the man’s grace-and-favour cottage to Molesley, who’s so shocked he can’t even accept. Baxter steps in, thanks Mr Dawes, and urges Molesley to think it over and make a sensible choice. She also really sweetly congratulates him.

Edith tells Henry about Spratt being the magazine’s agony aunt while they’re driving to London. He laughs and thinks that’s both great and hilarious. She asks him not to tell anyone, including Mary.

Denker sits down with Spratt belowstairs at the dower house and asks him what Edith was doing there, meeting with him. She says she hopes he’s not keeping anything ‘wrong’ from Violet. He practically laughs in her face and then goes out for a walk.

Andy mentions to Daisy that he’s going to the farm that afternoon, if she wants to walk down with him. She shortly tells him she’s not sure if she’s going yet. A bit disheartened, he leaves. Patmore tells the girl to chill, he just wants to go for a walk.  Carson and Hughes come in, and when Carson picks up a cup of tea his hand trembles really badly, a fact that does not escape his wife’s notice.

Later, she finds him in his office and asks what’s up. He tries to play it off, but she reminds him that she’s his wife and should really be in the know. Before she can really push, however, Molesley comes in and tells him about Dawes’s offer. Carson asks if this is him handing in his notice, but Molesley’s not really sure yet, he actually just wants some advice and to keep Carson in the loop. Carson gruffly thanks him for that and dismisses him without actually giving him any advice. Once Molesley’s gone, Carson pouts about both him and Thomas leaving, which will mean only Carson and Andy will be left. What, you guys couldn’t hire another footman? Jesus, Carson, stop being so dramatic.

Robert and Mary go to visit Violet, who gets a bit passive aggressive about how long it’s been since their last visit. The conversation immediately goes to Edith and Bertie’s break up and Mary gets a funny look on her face for a second. Robert apologises for Cora having to miss their tea and Violet bristles a tiny bit. Mary urges her to just get over this whole hospital thing already, because god knows everyone else has.

Isobel goes to visit Merton, who regretfully tells her that he’s been feeling pretty tired and unwell lately, so he went to see the doctor and had some tests done in London and it turns out he has pernicious anaemia. Oh, man, that sucks. So, he’s on a ticking clock now, but being Lord Merton, he’s still pretty cheery. He admits he’d really like to marry Isobel, still, but he doesn’t think that’d be fair. He’s glad they’re friends again, though. She readily agrees to that.

Edith and Henry arrive at her flat, which Henry thinks is really nice. She gets a note from Rosamond, inviting her for dinner at the Ritz that night and comments that’s quite a treat. She and Henry then talk about what he’s up to in London and he says he’s considering giving up racing. I thought he already had. She asks if Mary knows and he says she knows he doesn’t enjoy it anymore. He worries that he’ll just end up sitting around the house with nothing to do, so he needs to find something to do.

At Downton. Anna takes delivery of a hairdryer for Mary. Daisy comments that she’s never changed her hairstyle. Andy tells her she doesn’t need to change her hair and Daisy briskly and cluelessly shuts him down by saying she’s out of fashion now.

There’s a little chatter about Thomas leaving, which is now imminent, and nobody can quite believe it.

Edith and Rosamond arrive at the Ritz, only to be taken to a table where Bertie’s already sitting. Rosamond, who was in on this plan, of course, kisses Edith and bids her good night, then leaves.

Edith and Bertie sit down, a little awkward, and he says that Mary tipped him off that Edith was in London. The whole thing was set up with Rosamond because he was afraid Edith wouldn’t come if she knew Bertie would be there. Why wouldn’t she come? Does she hate Bertie now?

‘They were right there,’ she says sourly. Woah, what’s with the hostility, Edith? Yes, he broke up with you, but his reasoning was fairly sound: it wasn’t because of Marigold’s existence, but because of your lying about her and apparently having no immediate plan to tell him the truth, even after he proposed. You seemed to understand at the time, so why are you being such a bitch to him now? He’s being totally nice!

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]Woah, what’s with the hostility, Edith?[/cryout-pullquote]

He begs her to stay and then orders two glasses of champagne from the waiter. Well, that’s a pretty celebratory drink, Bertie. Also, this dinner seems like a fairly terrible idea. It would have been better to meet up at Rosamond’s house or something, where you could both keep the meeting short, if necessary. If this starts to go south, you’ve got a whole meal to sit through.

Bertie abruptly tells Edith that he wants her back. She reminds him that nothing has changed. He looks pained, especially when she accuses him of having done fairly well without her over the past few…weeks? Months? How long has it been? That was a bit mean, Edith. She says she doesn’t know what he wants and he tells her earnestly he wants to marry her. Man, I love these two together. And these two actors are really killing this scene. He’s so earnest and she’s so brittle and barely holding it together and it’s really quite touching. Edith asks if they’ll tell his mother the truth, if she agrees to get back together with him. He says that would mean breaking with his mother, which he’d rather not do, if they can avoid it. She reminds him that there are still people who know the truth, so it could come out eventually. Bertie’s prepared to face it, if they have to. All he wants is a life with Edith. Edith, GO FOR IT!

Baxter brings some shoes to the boot room and Thomas asks why Edith was telephoning so late. Baxter has no idea. Thomas says he was thinking of trying to be more human in his new position. She totally supports re-inventing oneself. He also offers her some advice: don’t go see Coyle in prison, because that might inject some actual drama give him power over her. Whatever.

Robert gets off the phone with Edith and reports upstairs to Cora (who guesses, first, that Edith is pregnant again, which seems like an odd thing to say, even in jest) that Edith has gotten back together with Bertie. She came to that decision fairly quickly. All the same, hooray! They’re heading up to Brancaster to meet Mrs Pelham, Bertie’s mum, that Friday and they want Robert and Cora there too. Cora frets that she has a meeting on Friday, but Robert puts his foot down and reminds her that this child has had almost nothing go right in her life and the least Cora could do is support her now. Cora laughs that she doesn’t need the Gettysburg Address, which is a line that makes basically zero sense here. Robert pouts that he feels like he’s in competition with the hospital for Cora’s attention. Oh, you poor darling. Also, I thought this conversation was supposed to be about Edith. God, these people can’t focus on this one daughter even for the duration of a short chat.

Belowstairs, all the servants are chatting about the now-impending wedding. Carson tells Thomas to say his goodbyes to the family soon, because he’ll be gone when they return from Brancaster. That puts a huge damper on the mood.

Isobel reports Merton’s diagnosis to Violet, who sincerely tells her she’s really sorry. Isobel admits she feels horribly about it and keeps crying. She doesn’t even know anymore why she broke off their engagement. Go have tea with Larry, Isobel, and you’ll remember.

Before she leaves for Brancaster, Baxter tells Molesley that she’s decided to cut off all ties with Coyle, so that’s a plotline that was a total squib. She also urges Thomas to remain strong in that resolution to be better in the new position. He thanks her for always having faith in him and holds out a hand to shake. She goes for kissing him on the cheek instead, which is sweet. Bates strolls over and shakes Thomas’s hand, agreeing for the two of them to part as friends.

Robert and Cora come out and call Thomas over. He thanks them both for everything he’s learned there and asks them to give his best to Edith. They wish him luck and Robert shakes his hand.

Robert and Cora set off, leaving Tom and Mary behind. Tom comments that he hates goodbyes and Mary notes that there seem to be a lot of them nowadays.

Daisy pouts at her reflection in a pan and says she’s a frump. Andy tries to talk her up but she’s not having it. When he leaves, Patmore tells Daisy she seems to despise anyone who thinks well of her and assumes that anyone who likes her must be rubbish.

Robert and Cora arrive at Brancaster, now looking around with a rather proprietary eye. Before dinner, they’re taken in to meet Mrs Pelham. Bertie’s already there, and a moment later Edith comes in and greets her parents.

Henry tells Mary over dinner that he won’t be racing anymore, so he needs to find a job. Carson’s hand shakes as he goes to pour some wine for Tom and Molesley immediately steps in. Mary urges Carson to go downstairs and rest, then asks Andy to locate Mrs Hughes. The younger set all look at each other, puzzled.

Hughes makes her husband some tea and again asks him what’s up. He says his father and grandfather had the same problem and called it ‘the palsy.’ Is it just a palsy, then, or does Carson actually have the beginnings of Parkinson’s or something similar? He knows this means the end of his career.

Mary comes in to check on him and Hughes leaves them to it. Carson reassures Mary that he’s not ill and she needn’t concern herself. She earnestly says she is concerned because he’s dear to her and if changes need to be made, then they need to attend to them together.

Tom joins Henry in the library and talk again about Henry’s need of a job. He wants to stick with cars in some way, and do something local so he can be based at Downton. He asks Tom to keep him appraised of any opportunities he might know about. What the hell would any of these people do without Tom around to get things done for them?

At Brancaster, there’s some small talk about Mrs Pelham’s future living arrangements (she has her own suite of rooms and is cool with that). She then announces that she and Bertie want to rebuild Brancaster as a moral centre of the surrounding area, with a strong, upstanding moral man leading it. Wow, this isn’t heavy-handed at all. Or strange. Really—what a bizarre goal to have, especially in the 1920s when there were, frankly, much more important things to worry about with big estates like this.

Edith’s looking a bit nervous, as well she might. Bertie tries to cut his mother off but the awkwardness is already heavy in the air.

Merton and Isobel go to see Clarkson, who says that the symptoms Merton describes do sound like pernicious anaemia. Merton’s not surprised; apparently this visit was at Isobel’s insistence. As they leave, they’re intercepted by Amelia, who bundles poor Merton into the car and basically tells Isobel to stay out of it. Isobel guesses that Amelia only tolerated her when she was worried about being saddled with Merton for years, but now that doesn’t seem to be the case, she can be shunned again.

Henry tells Mary that he’s got to find something to do, because he wants to be worthy of her and not just be some guy supported by a rich wife. She’s really pleased to hear that. It’s nice to see these two happy, but I feel like this is about the fourth time we’ve heard this exact same conversation and I’m sick of this padding.

Robert meets Edith on a parapet of the castle and she admits she’s not sure she’s doing the right thing, keeping the truth from Mrs P. She’s worried about what’ll happen when the truth gets out, which is pretty much inevitable, considering how far it’s spread so far. Robert agrees this is a chance, but she should still take it and be happy with a man she loves who also loves her. He urges her not to overcomplicate things.

Thomas is ready to leave and being seen off by the other servants, who are all really nice as they say goodbye, even Carson. Mary brings the kids down so they can say goodbye as well. George asks him not to go but Thomas says he has to and urges him to be a good lad. Little Sybbie hugs him and Thomas almost loses it, because he’s not made of stone, after all. He’s off.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]George asks Thomas not to go, little Sybbie hugs him and Thomas almost loses it, because he’s not made of stone, after all.[/cryout-pullquote]

Edith goes to see Mrs P and announces nervously that she has something to tell the woman, before the engagement is made official. Wow, Edith, this is pretty ballsy. Mrs P invites her to sit so they can talk.

Thomas arrives at his new place of employment, which is smaller than Downton but still quite lovely. It seems there are only three servants, including Thomas, which appears to disappoint him.

Daisy goes to the farm and sees Andy hard at work repairing a roof. She calls out to him that he should have said he was coming, because they could have walked together. He says he didn’t want to bother her again. Ouch, though well deserved. Mason says that Andy’s a nice young man. He also asks if Daisy’s reconsidered moving into the farm. She’s still thinking about it. Mason invites Andy to join himself and Daisy for a cup of tea, but Andy says he knows very well that Daisy’s not interested in spending time with him. Mason whispers to Daisy that she could do worse than Andy. She looks up at him, back on the ladder, and seems to be thinking so too.

Bertie joins his mother, having just learned from Edith that she’s spilled the beans about Marigold. Mrs P is not pleased about this or Bertie’s secrecy. He’s more committed to Edith than ever and says he won’t be dictated to on this matter. His mother reminds him he has a tough task ahead and he needs a wife of high morality and strong character. He agrees. She calls Edith damaged goods, proving she truly is of her generation. She does add that she doesn’t dislike Edith, but she’s clearly taken herself out of the running. Bertie will only say he’s glad his mother doesn’t hate his fiancée.

Isobel goes to visit Merton and is left waiting on the doorstep while Amelia is fetched. She tells Isobel that he’s resting and refuses to let her in to see him. Wow, this is incredibly rude. The door is basically slammed right in Isobel’s face.

Tom and Henry have cooked something up between the two of them and they’re both super excited about whatever it is.

Isobel goes to Violet and the two of them get some nonsense from Denker about Spratt being so distracted these days. Violet is shocked to hear what’s going on at Merton’s, with his family basically keeping him captive. She won’t hear of this continuing. Good thing Isobel has Violet around, because Violet’s basically her Tom now. Can Isobel get nothing done on her own here?

Molesley goes to see Carson and announces he’s accepting Dawes’s offer. Carson whines about that, of course, but Molesley offers to come back and help out when he’s really needed. Carson continues to pout like a child so it’s up to Hughes to accept and give Molesley her best wishes. Once he’s gone, she mildly scolds her husband for being kind of a selfish jerk just now.

The grand dinner that’s been planned for the engagement announcement is going forward. Cora tells Edith that she’s proud of her for telling Mrs P the truth, while Robert wonders if the revelation was really necessary. Worried you’ll be saddled with Edith forever, Robert?

Thomas finishes serving a boring-as-hell dinner with just two elderly people who don’t want cheese, and then we cut to the huge crowd gathered for Bertie’s and Edith’s engagement dinner. Mrs P rises to welcome them all and thank them for being good friends. As she takes her seat, Robert, sitting next to her, urges her to do a bit more, or she’ll lose Bertie forever. She gets back to her feet and graciously announces the engagement, proposing a toast to the couple. Bertie looks grateful, Robert looks relieved. Mrs P actually manages to smile.

Daisy comments that it’s really nice of Andy to help Mason so much. Hughes swings through the kitchen to say goodbye and make it clear that all is not well in the lives of the Carsons just now. But despite being Mrs Hughes’s best friend, probably, Patmore just lets that go.

The guests at Brancaster leave, and Mrs P sort of apologises to Edith for freaking out, when really she should have been applauding her honesty. She believes they can make a success of this situation, seeming quite sincere. How refreshing to see an in-law who’s not an asshole.

[cryout-pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left” width=”33%”]How refreshing to see an in-law who’s not an asshole.[/cryout-pullquote]

Violet and Isobel go back to Merton’s, and nobody keeps Violet on the doorstep, so in they come so Violet can put Amelia in her place and accuse her of trapping Merton upstairs, alone, just waiting to die. Merton hears Violet’s voice and comes downstairs to say hi and ask why Isobel hasn’t been to visit. Violet tells him that she’s been denied entry, which does not make him happy at all. Isobel takes command and says that they’ll have Merton’s valet pack up all his things, because he’s moving in with Isobel and they’re getting married. Well, ok, then! Larry tries to intervene, but Merton shuts him up and tells his jackass son to just take the house, for god’s sake, and leave him alone. Yay, weddings for everyone!

The Crawleys arrive home and Edith announces the wedding will be on New Year’s Eve. She pulls Mary aside and asks why she bothered to intervene. She doesn’t really get why Mary, who’s committed herself for Edith’s entire life to making Edith miserable, has suddenly performed such an about-face. I don’t really get it either, to be honest, and I don’t find it all that credible, but eh, whatever. Mary reminds Edith that they’re stuck with each other, so they need to try to do a little better in future. Mary, you need to try to do better in future. Edith’s been trying to meet you halfway for years now.

Daisy thanks Andy for all the hard work he’s been doing at the farm, telling him she’s really grateful for everything. He murmurs that he knows she doesn’t like him the way he likes her, and they should really just be honest with each other about that.

Molesley tells Baxter that he’s accepted Dawes’s offer but promises he won’t be losing touch with Baxter. She’s already certain of that.

The 29 December rolls around and preparations are well underway for the wedding. Flowers are already being placed (won’t they be dead by the next day?) and Rose and Atticus arrive. Yay, Rose! Turns out Rose had a baby after all, just as Mary thought, but she didn’t bring the baby along because their nanny insisted she be left back in New York. Uh, what? Said Nanny apparently thinks England is still mired in the dark ages or something and convinced Rose the kid would pick up all sorts of diseases on the trip. So, Rose got to miss her daughter’s first Christmas. Atticus dismissively reminds his wife that the baby doesn’t know it’s Christmas, which doesn’t actually matter, Atticus. Rose knew it was Christmas, and you already know that Christmas is important to her, so maybe show a little sympathy there? His attitude seems oddly out of character for him.

Rose shows some pictures of the baby (Victoria Rachel Cora) to the servants. Patmore asks if she didn’t throw a ‘Susan’ in the name soup, in honour of her own mother.

‘No,’ Rose responds. Ha! Serves Susan right!

Rose gets caught up on everyone’s news, including the fact that Anna’s due in about 10 days, so now we know that baby’s totally going to be born during the wedding.

Denker comes across Spratt writing his column and asks what he’s up to. He tells her to mind her own business. She tells him she knows his secret and wonders what Violet would think of his double life. Why has she waited so long to bring this up when she’s known since Edith’s visit, which was at least three months ago? Spratt thankfully asks just that and she offers up the weak excuse that she thought she might spare him, but now she’s just annoyed for no reason whatsoever, so she’s going to tell Violet everything. Whatever.

Over dinner at Downton, we learn that Isobel and Merton are, in fact, married now and Merton’s doing pretty well. Cora mentions a meeting at the hospital she has to preside over the following day. Robert points out that the next day is the day before Edith’s wedding but Cora shrugs that it’ll only be a couple of hours, and it’s not like she’s ever really given a shit about Edith anyway, right? Edith says she can manage, but Robert pushes and Rosamond tells him to drop it. Robert calls for more claret and Carson asks Andy to pour it, even though he’s closer to the bottle.

Another quiet dinner at Thomas’s new job. He reminds his employers that he’ll be away New Year’s eve because he’s been, fairly inexplicably, invited to Edith’s wedding. Seriously, there’s no way a former servant would be invited to a wedding this grand. It’s not like he and Edith were close or anything.

Back at Downton, Cora apologises to Edith for missing the flower delivery, but Edith apparently doesn’t care and says that Robert’s just sulky because he resents how much time Cora spends at the hospital.

Henry and Tom tell Atticus that they’re reinventing themselves.

Mary and Robert go downstairs to talk to Carson and hear about his palsy. Carson says he has to offer his resignation, since he can’t perform his duties anymore. Carson offers to place an advertisement for his replacement just after the wedding. Mary urges him to stay on the estate and keep an eye on things and manage grand events, but Carson doubts his replacement would accept that condition. Yes they will, because his replacement is obviously going to be Thomas.

Isobel unexpectedly runs into her husband at the hospital the next day, and he admits that he thinks it’s a bit strange that he’s not dead yet, or even feeling poorly, so he’s having some more tests run.

The flowers are safely delivered and Robert’s still sulking about Cora being at the hospital. Rose asks him to drive her into the village, insisting Robert do it, to her husband’s confusion.

Tom and Henry take Mary to York to show her their big surprise: Talbot and Branson motors, a used car dealership they’ve apparently already set up without her suspecting a thing. Henry will be doing this full-time while Tom splits his time between the dealership and the estate. Mary doesn’t seem to quite know what to make of this. Tom urges her not to be snobbish, and after a few moments of wide-eyed silence, she tells Henry that she’s super proud of him. Again, this seems like quite the personality transplant for her, but I’m not going to make waves here, because it’s the last ever episode and I’ve still got about half an hour to go. She chooses this moment to tell Henry that she’s pregnant. She asks him and Tom not to tell anyone, because she doesn’t want to steal Edith’s thunder. Wow, she has come a long way.

Rose takes Robert to the hospital so he can see Cora in action. She handles the public meeting really well, seeming to be in her element, and now Robert admires her, remembering what she was like when she was running Downton as a hospital during the war. Well, thank god Rose was around to set him straight, right? Glad she could make the time to show Robert what a jerk he was being. She tells Robert he’s got a good marriage going and he needs to not spoil it by making Cora choose between him and what makes her happy.

Daisy stresses a little about what to wear for the wedding. She’s going to be a guest too? Who’s going to be preparing the food, if she’s hanging around upstairs with Patmore? She talks about Rose’s hair and Patmore suggests she try a new style. Daisy heads upstairs and ‘borrows’ Mary’s new hairdryer.

Denker shows Violet Spratt’s column, expecting Violet to fire him immediately, but Violet’s amused by the column, so Spratt stays.

Daisy goes into the bathroom and starts cutting her own hair. Yeah, this is going to end well.

Edith’s wedding day has arrived. Daisy comes down with her cap strangely covering her head and says she’s not going to the wedding. Anna notices the strange cap placement and Patmore has her take it off. Her hair’s a disaster. Andy, passing by, sees her and starts laughing. Daisy bursts into tears and rushes out. Patmore scolds him for laughing when Daisy’s done this for him.

Edith can’t believe this is actually happening. Cora tells her that she’s spoken to Mrs P and arranged to bring Marigold to Brancaster so she’ll be there when Edith returns from her honeymoon. Edith beams.

Anna fixes Daisy’s hair, smoothing it out with the hairdryer. Andy wanders in and says she looks like Clara Bow. She does, a little. Bates and Anna take off and Andy and Daisy clear up the hair dropcloth. He tells her that he thinks they’ve been out of step with each other and maybe they should try and sort that out? He takes a spare lock of her hair and walks out while she blushes and looks pleased.

Guests take their seats at the church and talk about how happy they all are.  Tom shows Laura to a seat and flirts with her a little bit. Aww. Clarkson takes the opportunity to tell Merton and Isobel that he doesn’t have pernicious anaemia at all—he’s got a far milder, garden-variety anaemia and should lead a nice, long life. Yay!

Thomas sits down beside Anna and she asks if he’s getting on with everyone at his new job. He admits there aren’t many people to have to get on with. She wonders if this isn’t better than being at war with the whole world.

Edith comes downstairs to meet her father and I’m happy to say that she has, once again, rocked the wedding dress choice, though her headpiece is a bit odd looking. Robert sincerely tells her she looks amazing and that she’s always surprised him. They have a sweet little moment as he tells her he’s proud of her, though the way the line’s structured it seems like he’s really only proud of her for having formed a brilliant match, which is actually a little shitty. We’ll move on.

Edith walks down the aisle to the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba, which—heh. Happily, this time, her intended does not dramatically dump her at the altar.

During the reception, Mrs P gets to know little Marigold, which is sweet, and Robert tells Cora that she’s doing a great job at the hospital and he’s proud of her. She’s quite touched.

The kitchen is super busy as food is sent up to the wedding guests. Anna comes through for some Epsom salts, saying she has an upset stomach, then leaves to put the hairdryer back. When Andy comes through, Daisy tells him she’s going to move to the farm after all, and it looks like it’s a go for the two of them as well.

Upstairs, Andy goes to fetch more champagne flutes, but when Carson tries to fill them, his hand trembles and he completely freaks out, causing a bit of a scene. Robert asks if he’s ok and Henry offers to pour, but Thomas steps in and says he’s ready to help. Apparently the sight of him kicks off Robert’s brain and he suggests he come back as the new butler, while Carson continues directing things, as he and Mary suggested earlier. Thomas gets an immensely relieved look on his face and accepts the job as soon as it’s offered to him. So, that’s settled, then. Carson looks a bit devastated, though. Let’s try not to think of what it’ll be like for this man, who’s worked his entire life, to suddenly have endless stretches of nothing-filled days ahead of him. Like his marriage to Hughes wasn’t difficult enough already.

Anna finds Mary upstairs in her room. Mary’s fussing over her hat, but she’s quickly distracted when Anna’s water breaks right there on the carpet. Because this is a TV labour, this means there’s absolutely no time at all for Anna to get to any other room than this one, so Mary helps her get undressed and puts her in her own bed.

Henry is sent to fetch Bates and rushes around the subterranean areas until he finds him and tells the father-to-be that he’s about to be…a father. Carson, of course, is scandalised by this.

Violet finds Spratt amongst the wedding guests—ok, hang on here, because this is the strangest wedding reception guest list ever. Why would Edith invite her grandmother’s servants as her guests? That’s completely absurd. I could imagine, maybe, inviting Spratt, since he does work for the magazine, but Denker? No. I know this show likes to peddle some sort of fantasy of masters and servants being besties and all, but this is ridiculous. Edith doesn’t even know Denker! And while we’re on the subject, why was Mason a guest at the church? She also doesn’t really know him! This just feels like a lame excuse to get all these people in the same room together.

Anyway, Violet tells Spratt she knows all about the column, and even though she’s already been shut down, Denker comes rushing over to insert herself in this situation and brag about having told Violet all about this. Violet continues that she’ll be coming to Spratt for advice on her clothes and things from now on, since he’s apparently an expert. Spratt smugly tells Denker that she miscalculated by failing to realise that Violet hates being predictable. I’m no Spratt fan, but Denker’s so relentlessly horrible I’m entirely on his side in this and really wishing Violet had just shown her the door.

Daisy tells Mason she’s moving to the farm, and he’s quite pleased. He then takes a minute to flirt with Mrs Patmore, and Daisy smiles when she hears it.

Rose’s father gives the wedding speech, which is strange, because shouldn’t Robert be doing this? Considering Edith’s his daughter? Cora’s mother couldn’t make the trip because, well, she basically just didn’t feel like it. Nobody makes an effort for Edith. But she’s all married and happy, so she doesn’t care.

Laura wishes Tom luck with his new business, adding that he probably doesn’t need it.

The newly married couple are ready to leave on their honeymoon. The servants rush topside to see them off. Edith and Bertie come downstairs, dressed to travel, and pause by his mother. Edith says she’ll try not to disappoint Mrs P. Mrs P urges her to just love Bertie, and everything will be fine. Edith’s next stop is her parents, and she tells them that, strangely, she feels completely happy and she doesn’t think she’s ever felt that way before. That’s a really sad line, actually. Edith throws her bouquet, and Laura catches it, of course.

Edith leaves, and Carson looks a bit sad. Robert comments that he hopes Carson won’t be sad about this impending change. Carson basically shrugs and is like, ‘change, amirite? It’s basically the entire theme of this show.’

Anna’s had a son. As she snuggles him, with Bates at her side, she tells Mary she’d like to keep working. Mary says the kid can spend his days in the nursery with the Downton offspring. Early 20th century aristocrats were totally cool with having their servants’ children raised alongside their own. Robert comes in to summon Mary and Henry downstairs to see in the New Year and to deliver some celebratory champagne to Bates and Anna.

On their way back downstairs, Robert and Cora talk about how wonderfully things have turned out. Robert actually directly compares Edith to Cinderella, though I’m not sure he fully grasps the strong ties of parental neglect between those two characters.

Downstairs, Violet fully cedes her local throne to Cora, telling her daughter-in-law that after, what, 30-some odd years? the hospital and village are finally hers to essentially run. She does sweetly add that Cora’s doing a great job, and Cora, touched, kisses her on the cheek. The clock chimes and the family upstairs and the servants below wish each other a happy new year. Mrs Hughes, appropriately (considering she’s the only Scot) starts everyone in a chorus of Auld Lang Syne.

And that’s it for Downton! Now that the whole series has aired, I feel like I can go ahead and weigh in on series 6 as a whole.

Sigh. A mess. Sorry, but it was. This last episode was all right, so it was nice that we could end on a high note, but the rest of the episodes felt like a dreadful slog, for the most part. That hospital business! My heavens, who cares? What a terrible attempt to create drama, which was made all the more frustrating by the fact that situations that were actually dramatically interesting, like Baxter possibly having to face down Coyle in court, just fizzled out completely. And Mary’s romance with Henry felt a bit forced. They were pretty together, don’t get me wrong, but I didn’t really feel like they were as meant for each other as everyone insisted they were. Their marriage felt as thrown in there as Mary’s sudden heel face turn. Are we to really believe that marriage to Henry suddenly made her this nice person, willing to put herself out for Edith and be super supportive of her husband’s new career as a used car salesman? If marriage to Matthew didn’t alter her personality one iota, I find it hard to swallow that her relationship with Henry would have done it.

But I’ll admit, it was nice to see some of these people finally paired off. Isobel and Merton? I’m all for it! Edith and Bertie? Hell yes! And it was nice to see Cora, Robert, and Violet come to an accord and finally seem to find their places in this new post-war world and family dynamic.

And the series as a whole? Well, I think I’ve made my position on that clear. The first episodes were fun, but to be honest, I don’t think Julian Fellowes is good enough to sustain a multi-year series. Downton swiftly became an exercise in how not to write a story: characters were inconsistent, dull or unbearably ridiculous storylines were given prominence for far too long while more interesting ones were swept under the rug. Characters were disposed of in absurd, sometimes unintentionally hilarious ways, plots  repeated and were recycled endlessly, dialogue dragged and all the best lines were given to Violet. And it was clear that Fellowes didn’t trust his audience to have two brain cells to rub together, because everything had to be rubbed in our faces again and again ad nauseum. I’m amazed the whole last batch of episodes didn’t just feature everyone running around, waving their hands in the air, bellowing ‘Chaaaaaaaaange!’ because that’s pretty much all they kept banging on about. Which is stupid, because of course the world is constantly changing—that’s how history and progress work. That’s how we moved away from burning people at the stake and making education widespread, allowing former slaves to become full citizens and permitting women to vote and own their own property. Evolution in society is constant and expected. Yes, sometimes it seems a bit accelerated, but people don’t generally go about constantly intoning about how things are changing, as if that’s somehow surprising.

But Fellowes was never interested in reality here. These were never meant to be real people, they were caricatures depicting a sanitised fantasy view of turn-of the-century England. In this world, masters are benevolent, putting up with their servants’ shenanigans and taking care of them and being their best friends. And naturally those servants are content and endlessly loyal. That’s not really how it was. There’s a reason why that class structure doesn’t really exist anymore, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that servants were not very well treated, that they were poorly paid and worked to the bone, and eventually people are going to kick back against that. It wasn’t just the changes brought about by the war and women shortening their hair and skirts and new appliances being brought in that undermined the upstairs/downstairs world, a lot of it was the changing attitudes of all the people involved, not to mention increased opportunities for education and for more varied and better paid employment. Some of these things were touched on a little (with Gwen and later Daisy’s continuing education, which seems to have gone nowhere, ultimately) but never really explored, which is a shame, because there’s a lot of meat there. There was also a lot of possibility to explore Tom’s story, and his struggle to reconcile his political beliefs with his feelings for and marriage to Sybil, and later his life at Downton. But he was never all that consistently handled, and most of the time his story was made secondary to whatever fairly absurd nonsense was happening with everyone else. So many good stories were sacrificed so we could continue to be bored with Mary’s waffling (did Julian Fellowes have an obsession with that character or what?) or watch Edith get screwed over for the tenth time or watch Carson become an impossible curmudgeon. Not that interesting!

Oh well, it’s all done now, and like I said, there were some things to enjoy. I think I just find this all frustrating because there was so much possibility, and so much of it was just completely missed. There needed to be more writers, and Fellowes needs to be humbled, because he truly seems to believe he’s this amazing talent, but he actually isn’t. I hope, for the sake of his next project, that the powers that be on it insist he get some writing help, because otherwise it’s just going to be Downton in America, and I have a feeling that the audiences won’t stick around for that for too long, because frankly, we’ve already seen it.

6 thoughts on “Downton Abbey: And They All Lived Happily Ever After

  1. That Gwen (the servant-turned-successful-modern-woman) and Bertie (the semi-reluctant marquiss) were my two favorite characters over the course of the series fully supports your point about Fellowes’ lack of ability to develop characters over time. And then he chose to pair Mary up with the suitably English and titled version of Tom (who couldn’t figure out how to open his own garage/car dealership before Henry showed up because, why…?) in a nod to the shippers and took us all off the rails. But it was fun while it lasted (most of the time)!

  2. And the series as a whole? Well, I think I’ve made my position on that clear. The first episodes were fun, but to be honest, I don’t think Julian Fellowes is good enough to sustain a multi-year series.

    I’m afraid that you’re right.

  3. Ugh, dissapointed with Thomas’ ending. The only member on the staff trying to get out of the service at any cost and be his own boss is stuck in a house in decline, house in which he has tried to kill himself. And he doesn’t get laid like everybody else. But historical accuracy! Thank you, Fellowes!

    Anyway, your reviews are hilarious and well spot on

  4. To be honest, all I wanted from this special was to see Edith and Bertie get together. Everything else was totally secondary (though Merton + Isobel made me super happy too).

    I still stand by my opinion that this show should have closed shop about three seasons ago, because, as you said, Fellowes just couldn’t sustain it. It stopped being interesting after season 2, quite honestly. And the later seasons just couldn’t match the brilliance of the first.

    All that said, this special made me feel all happy and warm, which is just what I wanted after the trainwreck that was season 6. Thanks for your wonderful recaps. They’re always a pleasure to read, especially the snark 🙂

  5. I’m watching it on Amazon Prime right now for the second time. (What else do we do during “lockdown?) I do like the series still after the 3rd season but thought it was a little out there when Lady Rose as a rebel gets with the band leader and entertains running off with him. I felt it was gratuitous at best. Also, how many times does Edith have to lose a man? The way they all treated Sir Anthony was appalling. Yes, he was quite a bit older than Edith but he was a good, honest and caring man…with status and money. They were fine when Mary was to marry that nasty barb newspaper man who was holding things over her head, but Edith who they said would be an old maid taking caring of them in old age, they interfere with? OK, ok, it’s the very reason a person like myself keeps watching — I want to see Edith win. I also hated seeing Lavinia die…I thought that was a very poignant scene, as the camera rises high above the bed almost at ceiling view. But my biggest disappointment was in whom Mary actually ends up with. I mean talk about NO chemistry! Sorry, but the guy comes across as the biggest fop of all. No personality, scrawny sporty aristocrat — my goodness THAT’s the new heir of Downton??!! But despite the protest of the disappointed, I do believe Julian Fellowes is an expert at portraying aristocratic hypocrisies, and showing also that sometimes downstairs people do make their way in life and are to be respected. either way.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.