Downton Abbey Season 6 Recap: Episode 8

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.stream_img

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.


Downton Abbey Season 6 Recap: Episode 7

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.5207

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.

Downton Abbey Season 6 Recap: Episode 6

Series 6 has easily been Downton’s best in years. Episode 6 might be the second weakest of the series, after the premiere, but there was still plenty to enjoy. I certainly could not have said that about the past two years.

The pacing of the Mary/Henry romance is somewhat unnecessarily problematic. Mary was right to acknowledge that it was going fast, but she doesn’t need to be on the same page as the storyline its2DC5D7C500000578-0-image-a-119_1445817860767elf, especially when Fellowes can advance the timeline at his whim. It isn’t just going fast; it feels rushed.

I’d be more sympathetic if the upstairs character hadn’t been stuck in a bizarre holding pattern for the first three episodes waiting for Tom to return. He simply should never have left, or returned after the first episode. Looking back on it, Carson and Hughes should probably have married earlier as well, though I’m quite tired of misogynistic Carson.

Couple that with the Baxter drama and you have a decent amount of filler for a series that doesn’t necessarily need it. It could be because of Matthew Goode’s filming schedule, but it’s a shame that we only get Henry Talbot for a little more than half a series, especially when the first couple episodes were so stagnant for the Crawley’s social life.

This series has managed change quite well, recognizing that Downton is at its best when it weaves change into its storylines rather than use it as the storyline itself. This episode balanced that well, which was surprising since change was the storyline. The open house was a bit of a bore, but does hint at what’s to come for that lifestyle.

I was glad that several characters brought up how odd it was to have people pay to look around the Abbey. It didn’t help that no one really prepared. Watching Cora, Edith, and Mary stumble over their tours was mildly amusing, I would have been pretty pissed off if I was a paying customer. I definitely would have stolen some silverware, a snuff box, and Mr. Molesley. Donk being in bed all episode was kind of a drag, though I enjoyed his interaction with the boy.

I’ve been critical of the Dowager’s behavior throughout the hospital plotline, but she had a right to be pissed off in this episode. It makes sense that she should step down given her age and opposition to the takeover, but Cora, Clarkson, and Isobel didn’t need to go behind her back like that. Why couldn’t she kick off the ceremonies? It wasn’t like everything was finalized by then. Cora was deeply immature and disrespectful in this episode and continues to be one of the show’s least likeable characters.

Poor Barrow. One does have to wonder how hard it would be for Lord Grantham to secure him employment somewhere. Under butlers may have been a thing of the past in 1925, but butlers certainly weren’t, especially new ones who would be less expensive.

The other big problem I have with the whole downsizing thing is Molesley’s lack of role in it. Yes, we know he’s got his teacher storyline, but why does that mean he needs to be excluded from Donk and Carson’s discussions? Barrow doesn’t necessarily look like the obvious man out with a fifty-year-old footman running about.

It’s obvious that a Carson/Hughes retirement is around the corner and that Barrow is being groomed to be the next butler with Molesley teaching and Andy helping out part time when he’s not farming with Mr. Mason. The question really revolves around what to do with Barrow in the interim. It’s not too surprising to see that the show decided to go down the homosexuality route.

I wish it hadn’t though. Fellowes has always done a good job portraying Barrow’s homosexuality in a manner that respects history while catering to an audience that is far more sympathetic than the people of the time would be. But I don’t think it needs to be a plotline anymore, especially not in this slightly modified rehash of what happened with Jimmy back in series three. I’d much rather have the show confront Barrow’s deficiencies as a human being at this juncture in the show.

Molesley finally gets to do something! I hope his exam goes well. It’s time for the true hero of Downton to get a win.

Carson continues to be a terrible husband. Why did they even get married? Between that and his lecture with Barrow, he’s definitely the biggest stinker of the episode.

Fellowes really has done a fine job making Carson as unlikable as humanly possible this series. He’s been cold to just about everyone except for his Donkship. It’s hard to really see where he’s coming from in questioning Barrow when he’s been so cold to his under butler in just about every other encounter.

Isobel’s romance with Lord Merton was inevitable. It’s not terribly interesting, but it doesn’t take up much time either. I am mildly excited to see Larry Grey again. Dinners with him are always exciting!

I wasn’t a fan of the Edith/Mary feud. It’s tiresome and Mary should’ve been able to figure out the Marigold secret by now. I assume it will lead to some sort of resolution between the two, but I can’t say that I care.

Daisy’s behavior was also unnecessarily odious. Spiteful Daisy has never been enjoyable. Why does she care if Patmore and Mr. Mason give each other vegetables?

Oh the Bates . Always something with those two. Why can’t they be happy?

It was nice to see Evelyn Napier again. He continues to be one of the show’s best longtime tertiary characters. I wonder if he’ll speak to Henry Talbot about a certain Turkish gentleman.

Despite some criticisms, I did enjoy this episode. It wasn’t as exciting as previous ones, though it was far less bloody. His Donkship appears to be in the clear, which makes me wonder who will have a tragic ending. Barrow looks to be the obvious candidate, though I wouldn’t rule out the hall boy who has to clean the Carsons’ silverware. Leave a comment if you’d like to share your prediction.

Downton Abbey Season 6 Recap: Episode 5

I hate to say it, but I was definitely okay with the idea that Donk was going to die. As soon as he started erupting blood, I was reminded of Nate’s death fromSix Feet Under (and no, that’s not a spoiler. The show is ten years old). Lord Grantham’s death makes a ton of logistical sense from a plotline perspective.3366

It seems unlikely that Mary could marry Henry Talbot with his Donkship still alive when he’d presumably need to move into Downton, especially after how Matthew objected to it at first even as the heir. It would also allow Carson to move on from Downton and pave the way for Thomas to become butler. Fellowes did say that not everyone was going to have a happy ending.

The blood spitting was completely comical, even for a show as soapy asDownton. How is anyone supposed to feel the emotion of losing a beloved character when he’s recreating a scene out of The Evil Dead? I expected something bad to happen to Lord Grantham, but I didn’t expect it to make me laugh out loud.tumblr_nwfsfxnQkU1swrlk9o3_500

The question is, will Donk join Isis and the Turkish Gentlemen up in Downton heaven? It’s certainly possible. I did think this episode would be a bit early, but he could certainly take a turn for the worse next week.

Counting the Christmas Special, there are four episodes left of Downton. If Donk dies sometime next episode, the characters could spend episode seven mourning the loss of one of the Canadian railway’s most ardent backers, which allows them two episodes to move on and wrap everything else up. With the time jump, it could be years later, making a happy ending possible.

The Mary/Henry romance is being handled wonderfully. Mary’s snobbery is expected and not exactly unjustified either. Even in today’s day and age, there are plenty of taboos associated with wealth and social class in marriages. This has also been a great opportunity to get Tom back into the narrative in a productive way.

We finally learned things about Andy! He likes pigs and he can’ t read, which is two more things we know about him than we’ve been told in the preceding six episodes. The whole “Andy is cold to Thomas” thing was getting a little old. He does seem destined for a pairing with either Daisy or Barrow, which should be interesting.

The farm stuff was good and served as a great way to get Andy and Mrs. Patmore involved. I don’t think a Mason/Patmore romance is going to happen, but I like that they’ve built a little group outside the main house. Mr. Mason’s arc this series has been pretty incredible for a longstanding minor character. The show has done an excellent job incorporating Downton’s earlier days into this series.tumblr_nwfsfxnQkU1swrlk9o2_500

Barrow’s storyline is the only one that didn’t move forward at all. That’s okay, especially if he ends up leaving Downton, but no mention of it at all was a little old. There wasn’t room in the episode for another awkward interview, but a passing mention would have been nice.

The Carson/Hughes scene was weird. I think we’re supposed to think that Carson is having trouble adjusting to an environment where his opinion isn’t the only one that matters, but he came across as too rude to really get behind him. I’d like to see a little more affection between the two.

While I enjoyed its resolution, the set up to the Denker/Spratt throw down was a complete unrealistic mess. Are we really supposed to believe that Denker would stand up for the Dowager like that? Or that Dr. Clarkson would dare write a letter criticizing a member of her staff? If it wasn’t unrealistic enough already, we’re then expected to think that the Dowager would actually fire her lady’s maid over that. Why wouldn’t she use that as ammunition to prove to Clarkson that the people of the village are against the takeover?

The Dowager has repeatedly noted that finding skilled staff is increasingly difficult and at her age, it might be difficult to find a good one who wouldn’t be able to find better job security somewhere else. Beyond that, it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as Daisy’s outburst, which was barely even considered a fire able offense. I love watching Spratt and Denker feud, but Fellowes couldn’t come up with a far more believable buildup.

The Dowager is also back to being totally unrealistic and childish about the hospital. Her reasoning just doesn’t justify her behavior. Blackmailing Neville Chamberlain was mildly amusing, but seemed a little out of place withExorcist Robert.

The same is sort of true for Mary’s Marigold revelation. I get why it happened because of timing and all, but I’m really not interested in seeing a Mary/Edith feud this late in the show. Given how quickly Donk and Tom processed the information, I don’t see why she couldn’t have found out later unless they’re going to make a big deal out of it. I’ll hold off fully judging this until we see more. I didn’t like how much focus there was on other plotlines after Donk’s bloody emissions.

I haven’t liked how little we’ve seen of Spratt this series. I hated him for most of series 4 after he sabotaged Molesley’s audition, but Jeremy Swift is an excellent actor who really endears the character to the audience. Spratt’s spats with Denker have consistently been among the highlights of the show since her introduction last year.

Speaking of Molesley, he continues to shine in his supporting capacity. I am concerned that we’re more than halfway through the series and he hasn’t been given a plotline beyond being Baxter’s support system, but Kevin Doyle is always a treat to watch. The end of the Baxter plotline was a little anti-climatic, but that’s okay. It’s not a storyline that needs to last the whole series.

The Bates finally got to have a not so depressing scene! No harvest! No sadness!

That’s it for this week. Despite the Donk theatrics, it was a very strong episode. I hope next episode brings something good for Molesley to do, possibly another cricket match.

To end with a bit of self-promotion, the ebook editions for two of my books are on sale for .99 cents this week. If you enjoy these recaps and my writing, you may want to check out Five College Dialogues and Five More College Dialogues. Thank you for your support.

Downton Abbey Season 6 Recap: Episode 4

Henry Talbot returns and brings the old Downton with him. Tonight was the first night that Downton looked like anything other than a funeral home in far too long. The world is changing but that doesn’t mean we can’t have juicy upstairs drama along the way.

I think holding off on a return was a smart move. As Tony Gillingham and Charles Blake have shown us, a Mary romance is strongest when it favors brevity as opposed to the Mary/Tony/Charles failed love triangle over the past two series. Both of them were good characters, but they overstayed their welcome. I’m a huge Matthew Goode fan and I was very impressed with how well he meshed with the rest of the characters.Everything_you_need_to_know_about_Downton_Abbey_s_Henry_Talbot

The party was a big hit. Many ofDownton’s best scenes have come from the dining room, but this series’ dinners have been fairly depressing. Having a full boisterous table was one of many callbacks to the early days.

As was Gwen! Her reintroduction was handled quite well. I was skeptical considering how long it’s been when you consider how many people in the house never really knew her, which was also exacerbated by Carson and Hughes’ absence. I loved how Sybil was effectively woven into the narrative. It’s been a while since the characters actually reflected on her as a person rather than just bringing up how much they miss her and it was great to see her legacy factor into the Mr. Mason decision.

I was very conflicted about The Dowager’s behavior until the end of the episode. She delivered a few zingers throughout the episode, but her quest for power was very childish. I don’t love that Fellowes waited four episodes to divulge this fairly important detail. We’ve rarely seen the Dowager act without good intention and it was shocking to be lead to think that could be the case for this long.

Poor Barrow. His “outing” of Gwen was juvenile and quite frankly a little beneath him at this point. We don’t need nasty Barrow back, especially after his heart to heart with Baxter.

It was very interesting to see him as butler. Over the past three series, we haven’t seen much of what he actually does as underbutler other that serve things and open doors. The Barrow/Molesley dynamic has always been a bit awkward, but it worked here. I was sad to see Barrow tell Molesley he should save his pity for himself. How rude.

I see two possible outcomes for Barrow. I think he could kill himself once he’s finally forced out, but I do think that his lordship will die and Carson and Hughes will leave to start their Bed & Breakfast. The only thing that really complicates this is the Mary/Henry storyline, but I’m also not very convinced that they’ll actually end up together. A flirtatious subplot seems just as likely.

Molesley had a role in multiple storylines for a change. We don’t really know what his storyline is. There’s been hints of wanting to be a teacher and he is wooing Baxter, but he doesn’t have anything of substance of his own. It kind of undercuts Barrow’s search for a job since Molesley would presumably also want to find a more permanent position than as the oldest footman in England.

Andy showed some life for once. I imagine he might leave to help Mr. Mason and Daisy run the farm. I’m glad we got a little more screen time with him as it makes it easier to care that he exists.

Daisy’s outburst was a little over the top, but it kind of worked. If we assume that she’ll leave to help Mr. Mason, this does set up her exit. Seeing the whole downstairs staff try to talk 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 ROSE LESLIE as Gwen Harding & SOPHIE MCSHERA as Daisy Masonher out of it felt too soapy, even for a show likeDownton.

 Edith didn’t get as much screen time, but her character continues to shine. I like that they’re balancing her career and personal life better than previous series. It was smart not to have her fret over the Drewe’s departure since let’s face it, Edith spends way too much time depressed.

As does Anna. Was the miscarriage drama really necessary? Can the Bates go a single episode without having cause to cry? Please Fellowes, either kill them or let them be happy. This suffering needs to end.

This is a bit of side note, but I found it odd that Rosamund has a footman. Shouldn’t Mead (who hasn’t been seen on camera since series one) be able to run Belgrave on his own? IT just seemed awkward when Mary was there and earlier this series when Edith was visitng. I initially rolled my eyes when Rosamund was featured in yet another episode, but she was okay this time. She is a supporting character best appreciated in small doses.

Unlike Spratt, who should be every episode. Why was he missing? Unacceptable.

Cora continues to be fairly unlikable, though she earned points for supporting the farm. I didn’t like how she assumed Molesley was gossiping about Baxter, but she also admitted that she didn’t say a word to Gwen for the two years she lived there. I wish we could’ve seen Daisy ream her out. I’m sure she deserves it for one thing or another.

The Baxter storyline isn’t that interesting. Neither is she. I don’t think the show necessarily needs filler so I’m not a huge fan of the storyline.

Not a fan of the Carson/Hughes reception. Would calling her Mrs. Carson have truly been the end of the world? Sure it was slightly amusing, but they took it too far.

That’s it for this week. Another strong episode. We’re halfway through the regular series. So far, I’ve been impressed with the way the show’s balanced entertainment and wrapping things up.

US Downton Abbey Season 6 Recap: Episode 3

Two thoughts crossed my mind as Tom Branson entered the schoolhouse. What was the point of his departure and does it matter? While I can’t answer the first question, the answer to the second is rather obvious. It’s good to see old Tom back.

Given that Branson’s return and not his departure was the true resolution to this multi-series long storyline, it essentially mirrors the closure of the Greene murder. It feels odd that they’re both being resolved at the beginning of a new series when they should have been dealt with at the end of last year.downton-branson-1--z

I was critical of Hughes’ rationale last week and was happy to see a logical reason provided. Hughes doesn’t want Downton as a physical entity to encroach on her day. Considering how reverently Carson upholds the integrity of the house, I can’t say that I blame her one bit.

That said, the wedding was very underwhelming. The bride and groom showed very little in the way of actual love throughout the episode. Carson saying he was the happiest and luckiest of men considering he was usurped from that role a minute later by Lord Grantham when Mr. Branson and Sybbie walked in. Three cheers for Donk!

Do Carson and Hughes truly love each other? I’m not sure there’s ever been a point besides the last scene of the series 5 Christmas special where that’s actually been apparent. Their match is logical, but it isn’t as emotional as I would like.

Let’s talk about Carson’s ushers. Would it have really killed him to be nice to a single one of the male servants? His bride is being showered with affection and he names Andy as an usher before either Bates or Barrow.

Coatgate was a bit odd and put a damper tone on the episode. I’m not really sure what purpose it served other than to drive a further wedge between Hughes and Downton. When you look at how Barrow’s job search is going, I think there’s a good possibility that Charlie and Elsa’s Bed & Breakfast is going to be open for business sooner rather than later.

Barrow’s job interview fell flat once Barrow started sabotaging himself once again, this time going after the house rather than the occupation. Baxter and Bates hinted that he might have stronger feelings for the area than he’d ever care to let on, which could foreshadowing his rise to butler. I’m hesitant to say that definitively as the show wouldn’t want to lose Barrow this early anyway.

The dinner scene did look a tad ridiculous as there were as many servants as there were diners and Carson and his Lordship both discussed the Barrow situation. The pacing on this plotline is odd.

Speaking of odd, Andy. I’ve said before that I don’t care that he doesn’t get much screentime. While that’s still true, it does suck all the life out of the Barrow/Andy story. The audience just doesn’t know enough about him to really connect with his attitude toward Barrow.

What is Lord Merton doing in Downton? I forgot to bring this up last week and it’s been bugging me. Why should he get to go to the hospital meetings? I know his presence likely points to a renewed relationship with Isobel, but Fellowes could do a better job weaving the (eventual) romance.

Edith was enjoyable once again. I loved the magazine storyline and am happy that she found a match that isn’t a blatant disaster. Though I wouldn’t be disappointed if Sir Anthony reappeared.

I rarely mention Cora, usually because she does nothing of significance. She was oddly active in this episode, playing an active role in the majority of the plots. Her outburst at Mrs. Hughes and co. seemed forced, but I like where the Daisy farm plot is going.

The hospital continues to be fairly interesting. Violet delivered some first rate stingers this episode and Clarkson had some of his finest moments. It’s a plot we all knew the ending to already, but an entertaining one nonetheless.

We also saw a glimpse of a Molesley plotline. Personally, I hope he goes to help Mr. Mason and Daisy on the farm, but a Professor Molesley is fine by me. I do hope his future isn’t treated as a gag as it’s time Molesley got a win. The show missed a golden opportunity for a Molesley father/son heart to heart by having some stranger deliver the flowers. Hearing him say he’d missed out on everything brought a tear to my eye.

Very little of either Bates. That’s a good thing. I did enjoy Anna’s excitement over the wedding.

As much as I enjoy watching Spratt and Denker go at it, I don’t love the current power dynamic. We already saw corrupt Denker with Andy last series. Having Spratt as putty in her palm feels like familiar territory. I’m okay with him suffering considering what he did to Molesley back in series 4, but he’s at his best when he has some leg to stand on.

Overall this was a solid episode. It wasn’t as good as last week, but plots are all progressing quite well. I’m looking forward to seeing Gwen next week. I hope she brought her typewriter.

US Downton Abbey Season 6 Recap: Episode 2

I’m not entirely comfortable saying that this episode might be the best of the post Matthew era just yet, but I think there’s a good chance it might be. After last week’s mediocrity, I would have laughed if that thought had been presented before. Downton Abbey has always been a show about change and it’s been at its best when it embraces it. Part of the reason why the reception for series four and five has been lukewarm is that the most of the characters were kept in an awkward holding pattern with no clear direction.

The reason for this high praise is simple. We all know the end is coming. With only nine episodes in a series, the show does need to establish where it’s going, but t12042667_10206763092509513_6897481636038711571_nhat doesn’t mean it needs to be the only thing that matters. I initially rolled my eyes at the Drewe subplot as I thought it was harmful to Edith’s bigger picture storyline at the newspaper, which I highlighted as the strongest aspect of last episode. Once again, the Edith plot was the best part of the show.

It worked so well because it didn’t try to shy away from the fact that the Crawley’s have completely screwed over the Drewe family. I was prepared to slam the whole episode until Lord Grantham addressed the rather large elephant in the room. The Drewe’s did Edith a huge favor last season and they’ve been repaid by having their whole lives completely uprooted. This kind of aristocratic injustice has been quite rare over the course. It took guts not to sugarcoat the terrible situation.

The Daisy storyline also progressed well. It’s clear that Daisy is going to go work with Mr. Mason and the show can’t afford to lose her this early on, so there’s no need to rush. Mrs. Patmore once again served no other purpose than to be involved with other people’s sexual affairs, this time hinting that Barrow should avoid another Jimmy incident.

One thing that really bothered me was Carson’s coldness to Barrow over his interview. He treated him with pure contempt that made no sense whatsoever. We’ve seen little over the course of the show to suggest that Carson likes him, but Barrow has been under butler for five years now. There’s no way he would stay at Downton if his boss treated him like that on a daily basis.

Barrow’s interview was a little clunky as well. He knows the world is changing. Vocally expressing disdain for the workload involved with being an “assistant butler” was foolish. I wasn’t a huge fan of the homophobic butler and didn’t really see the need to make him dislike Thomas for that reason. We know Barrow’s entitled and the butler could simply dislike him for his words rather than his sexuality.

Why isn’t Molesley looking at these jobs? Surely he’d rather be an “assistant butler” than a footman. It’s a point that the show should address even if he doesn’t end up going anywhere because the show needs Kevin Doyle. I shall christen this the “Molesley Dilemma.”

I do wish Molesley could have more of a plotline. His humor won him a regular role on the show, but his sincerity was what won him the viewers’ hearts. There can never be enough Molesley and he should be awarded a spinoff.

Not a big Andy fan. He’s essentially a blander Alfred, which I didn’t think was even possible. I like that he’s at Downton, since the show benefits from having a young person in the house, but I never feel like I need to see more of him. I suspect that he’s gay and will eventually have some fun with Thomas so I’m okay with him doing absolutely nothing until then.

No Spratt or Denker. It took me a series to forgive Spratt for sabotaging Molesley’s shot at a dignified job, but he’s grown on me. He was probably in the kitchen critiquing Denker’s broth.

I criticized the hospital plotline last week because I thought it was too repetitive. It worked in this episode because the show was able to convey Violet and Dr. Clarkson’s passion without making them sound like power hungry elitists (though Clarkson is middle class). People don’t like to give up control and they’re not necessarily at fault for being reluctant here. The ability to control one’s healthcare is still an issue in the year 2015. This isn’t necessarily an instance where Isobel and modernity are completely in the right.

The Carson/Hughes wedding reception debacle was quite strong and showed a different side to Carson’s reverent idolization of the Crawley’s. Mrs. Hughes and Lord Grantham were essentially on the same page in acknowledging that while Carson/Hughes belong at the house, that’s not how they belong.

My only real complaint is that there wasn’t enough time spent justifying Mrs. Hughes position. We can accept that she feels out of place, but the schoolhouse simply wasn’t a good alternative. Like the hospital, it’s a case where the battle lines are a bit murky, but in this case, but Hughes just doesn’t look like she’s trying hard enough to express her feelings to Carson.

The low point of the episode is unsurprising. I hate the Bates so much I don’t even want to write about them. They makes frequent mentions of their suffering and do nothing about it. Why can’t they do anything besides be depressed? I wish Bates would drown in the pond he threw his leg brace into so Molesley could have his job.

Despite some criticisms, this was a very strong episode. The show felt more alive than it has in years. As long as they stay away from the Bates and murder, this should turn out to be quite a good final series.