This episode had an unusual job to play. Past penultimate Downton episodes have wrapped up their series quite well as the Christmas Special tends to have more of a “field trip” type setting. Tasked with wrapping up the entire show, this episode had to figure out the balance between story and finale, knowing that the special wouldn’t be able to wrap it all up.
While the resolution to the Mary/Henry romance was overshadowed by her cruelty with Edith, the episode navigated through that mess admirably. The Mary/Edith feud has been trivial since series one, popping up sporadically to remind the viewers that the two still dislike each other, even though they continue to live under the same roof. I never cared much about Mary learning about Marigold’s past and don’t think it was completely necessary here.
Did Bertie need to be a Marquis? If the Marigold nonsense had been settled already and it was merely the cherry on the top of Edith and Lord Hexam, I’d be okay with it. We’ve seen the “I’m actually nobility” card played already with Charles Blake and a similar twist with Matthew inheriting the Swire fortune. Here, it seemed kind of unnecessary.
As did Mary’s involvement in their falling out. It was almost anti-climatic after Donk, Cora, and Rosamund all argued about whether or not she should tell for several scenes. She should have just told him herself and been done with it.
Edith’s plotlines have (surprisingly) been among the best of the show this year and it does make some sense that her resolution would be held over until the Christmas Special. If the show is committed to weddings for both Mary and Edith, it makes sense that they’re in separate episodes. Edith’s wedding would take her away from Downton itself while Mary’s would not. It wouldn’t make much sense for the finale of Downton not to primarily take place at Downton.
Initially, I was annoyed that the show was spending time with Edith’s magazine since so few characters have ever had two major plots progress in the same episode, but Spratt was priceless. Or should I say, Miss Cassandra Jones. Spratt hasn’t received much screen time this season, but Jeremy Swift has made the most of every opportunity he’s been given.
I see why Mary is Carson’s favorite. They’re the two most selfish people on the whole show. Why on earth would Carson give Molesley a hard time about trying out teaching or object to Donk, Cora, and Rosamund wanting to bail out poor Mrs. Patmore? Doesn’t he realize that these people have futures to look out for and won’t be his to boss around for the rest of eternity? Carson has easily become the least likable character on the show.
Barrow lives! His suicide attempt was way too predictable to carry much of an emotional impact, but the scene with him, Mary, and Master George was one of the highlights of the whole series. Mary and Barrow have always lived by similar philosophies toward others and it’s a shame that they haven’t had more scenes together.
Given what Mary had done in the episode, it might be easy to agree with Donk in saying that her criticisms of him getting rid of Barrow were below the belt, but she was completely on point. It’s important that Donk and Carson felt remorse over their handling of the situation as it reaffirms the value of Downton to everyone who lives there, not just the upstairs residents. The show has to address the changing world, but it doesn’t have to send Barrow away before the show ends. I still hope he takes over for Carson as butler though it seems possible that he’ll go work for either the Dowager or the Marquis of Hexam
Mr. Molesley the teacher was perfect. Beyond that, it was dignified. Unlike Carson, most of us want to see Molesley live up to his full potential. For once, Bates said something I agree with. Molesley is a kind man indeed.
The Patmore and the “house of ill repute” saga was mostly well handled. I hated how much the characters laughed about it for the first half of the episode as the situation was one that could ruin Patmore’s entire retirement, but it all worked out in the end. Beryl’s House of Ill Repute has a nice ring to it!
Not enough Dowager this episode. While her presence would’ve naturally affected the Edith/Bertie situation, sending her away until the final part of the show wasn’t a great solution. She’s too good of a character and too important to Downton as a show to leave her out of so much of the penultimate episode.
I’m not sure I’d ever complain about not having enough Isobel in this episode, but her scenes were all excellent. The show has done a great job dealing with the potential awkwardness between Isobel and Mary and their meeting in the graveyard was a great way to honor Matthew and solidify the case for Henry. I’ll be very upset if Larry Grey isn’t in the Christmas Special.
It’s hard to argue that there was too much Rosamund in this particular episode since she had a role to play, but there’s been too much of her this series in general. Assuming she’s in the Special, Rosamund will have been in six episodes this series. Her episode breakdown for the other five is one, three, one, four, and three episodes. She isn’t a terrible character, but this has been too much of a fairly okay thing.
Tom might be the MVP of this episode. He’s shined this series despite being given little to do. I’m glad the show chose to acknowledge that Tom was the best man at both of Mary’s weddings as that was exactly what I was thinking when he stepped inside the car. I was also glad he acknowledged how much he’d meddled in the Mary/Henry romance. Transparency is certainly rare at Downton.
This was a pretty good episode that mixed story and finale quite well. I am excited to see Rose in the Special and to see how it all wraps up!
Just a programming note for the site, I will post a review of series 6 as a whole and some character analysis articles in the coming weeks. Thanks for reading! Just as a side note, my books Five College Dialogues and Five More College Dialogues are still .99 cents on amazon if you’d like to check them out here.
Assuming that next week’s episode follows past trends and runs over an hour, we’ve just had our final “regular” sized episode of Downton Abbey. Feels like just yesterday we were wondering how Tom and Sybbie were getting on in Boston. Time flies, especially with change in the air.
Rather than jump into the main plotline, I’d like to start with Molesley. Downton’s finest first footman hasn’t had much to do this series and there’s been little need for comic relief, but Kevin Doyle has quietly shined with the material he’s been given. As the show starts to wrap up some if its storylines tonight, it was great to see Molesley given his moment of triumph.
The Dowager’s interactions with Lady Cruikshank were vintage Violet. It was hard to fully appreciate her zingers during the hospital storyline since she was so clearly in the wrong, but watching her pick apart Larry Grey’s fiancé almost made up for his absence in the episode. I do hope we’ll be treated to one more Larry Grey Downton dinner before the series is over.
I do think it’s possible that The Dowager is lying about her whereabouts so she can be with Prince Kuragin. I hope not. Separating the Dowager from Downton this late in the series feels like a mistake. He wasn’t that interesting of a character either. Who really wants to see him back?
I’ve felt the same way about the Isobel/Dickie romance, but it’s less of an issue. Lord Merton’s presence doesn’t really take away from the rest of the show. I don’t really care if the two of them end up together, but it hasn’t really dragged on at all.
The Mary/Henry breakup was a big miss. It’s understandable that Mary should have cold feet after witnessing a horrific accident, but it’s too predictable. I’ve said this before, but I really wish their courtship had begun earlier since it’s been far too rushed. I understand the need to have some tension in the relationship, but there’s only two more episodes.
I’m fairly undecided as to whether or not they’ll get married. I hope they do since I’m a big Matthew Goode fan and it makes sense for Mary to want to settle down. The Talbot/Downton dynamic seems a bit odd, but at least Donk approves of the relationship.
The drama in Edith’s relationship with Bertie is also fairly predictable. It looked like he wouldn’t care since he didn’t object to her having Marigold live with them, but that initial lack of concern could also be the reason why he might when she reveals the truth. Fellowes does enjoy making Edith suffer.
Tom continues to play a supporting role, but he’s been quite entertaining. His role in the Mary/Henry relationship has been surprisingly well executed. Allen Leech recently gave an interview criticizing Tom’s resolution, which makes me wonder what’s going to happen to everyone’s favorite upstairs chauffeur.
Why was Donk so rude to Rosamund? Does anyone care? I don’t. I wish he’d spit up more blood at that dinner, which felt like a funeral already.
Baxter’s absence was understandable given the needs of the other storylines, but it did feel a bit odd not to have her there with Molesley when he received his big news. The two haven’t really had a “romance,” but their relationship has been a consistent high point over the past few series. I don’t think they’ll get married, but I hope I’m wrong.
As inevitable as it was, the whole Carson telling Barrow to get a move on moving on feels so tired. They’ve had the same exchange twice before in series two and three only to have him stick around. Barrow’s heart to heart with Mrs. Hughes/Carson was nice and all, but we get it. He doesn’t want to leave. We the audience can feel for Barrow since many of us like him, but it hasn’t made for very interesting television.
While it may be a little unnecessary to point out, I’ve found it odd that both Lady Rosamund and Lord Merton employ footmen. Footmen were becoming increasingly rare by 1925 and it undermines Downton’s supposed need to downsize, especially when Lord Merton is supposed to be a fairly simple man. If Lady Rosamund can have a footman, why can’t Downton have an under butler?
Molesley’s departure also complicates the Barrow situation. It’s natural to assume that Barrow could be allowed to stay, but it seems like an anti-climatic way to wrap up a major plotline. I do suspect there will be more to it than that.
Andy’s revelation was awkward, though I’ve mostly liked him as a character this year. I’m not sure why Patmore didn’t tell Carson that she’d been mistaken about what she saw with Andy and Barrow, though the two didn’t interact for the rest of the episode. It will be interesting to see if that factors in to the Barrow employment situation.
Obligatory Bates mention. They weren’t miserable, though they didn’t seem too happy either. I’m not sure why Anna felt it necessary to try to go down to the wreck.
Carson finally gets put in his place! Good riddance. I hope he got many blisters washing the dishes. Why does he even care about eating in the cottage anyway? Is he suddenly too good for the servant’s hall?
I was very critical of the Daisy outbursts at Mrs. Patmore last week. This episode did little to persuade me that they were necessary. Daisy appeared in several scenes before the matter was even addressed and when it was, it felt like nearly every other Daisy/Patmore fight we’ve seen in quite some time. Completely pointless.
As was the man outside Beryl’s B&B. Why do we need more policemen? Downton Abbey is not a detective show!
Great use of Spratt this episode. I’m surprised he didn’t request an additional puppy for Dowager House. Denker could feed it with some of her delicious broth. His Donkship may want to move his dressing room downstairs since he seems to love going in the servant’s hall this series.
That’s all for this week. A decent episode, though a bit somber. Let’s have a moment of silence for Charlie Rogers.