Downton Abbey Delivers A Perfect Finale

I don’t know about you, but yesterday sure didn’t feel like the end of Downton. Maybe that’s because it was Christmas Day, a time where tears are usually reserved for children who didn’t get a Tickle Me Elmo. Or maybe it’s because the introduction of Henry Talbot as a Downton resident has the series feeling rather fresh on the day of its finale. Perhaps it’s because of all the movie talk. Regardless, it’s generally a good sign when a series hasn’t outworn its welcome.

This episode managed to pull off the seemingly impossible task of providing closure for the entire cast, something that I wasn’t expecting. After all, Fellowes said that not everyone would get a happy ending. It’s hard to say that the audience didn’t get everything it could possibly want out of a ninety-minute finale.

The Edith/Bertie plotline was the dominant storyline, but it didn’t take over the entire episode. Their breakup last episode was a little clumsy and I was happy to see that there wasn’t much of struggle in bringing them together here. “Edith must suffer” has been one of the mantras of the show, but it was time to put that to rest, though I wouldn’t have necessarily objected to a late episode cameo from Sir Anthony Strallan during the “does anyone have any objections” portion of the wedding.3366 (1)

Brancaster Castle was also well incorporated into the story. The past three Christmas Specials have served as “field trips” of sorts with the main characters venturing off to other magnificient estates. Since this was the finale, it would have felt odd to spend so much time away from Downton. A few scenes at Brancaster was just the right amount.

With Lily James’ busy schedule, I wasn’t expecting much more than a cameo from Lady Rose. Instead, she was reinserted back into the narrative as if she’d never left. Having her help Donk understand Cora’s role in the hospital was a great way to put her right back into the action and shows us just how valuable her character was to the show. I’ve said in the past that I don’t think series six necessarily needed her, but having Lily James is always better than not having Lily James.

It was also nice to see Shrimpie, though I’m not sure why he gave the toast at Edith’s reception. Maybe Fellowes wanted to give him more lines? Since he wisely chose not to reintroduce the horrible Susan MacClare into the mix, I won’t hold it against him.

Speaking of insufferable, we got to see Larry Grey again! As much as I hate him, he’s a wonderful villain and gave the Dowager a few opportunities to deliver some final zingers. It would have been nice to see him ruin another dinner, but he made the most of his limited screen time.

The show was wise not to dedicate too much time to the Isobel/Dickie romance as it’s been kind of dragged along this series. Lord Merton is a fairly likable character and it gave proper resolution to Isobel’s story. The whole misdiagnosis bit is more than stale by now, but I suppose that’s okay.

I complained about the Dowager’s plotlines for most of series six, but she was used perfectly in every capacity in this finale. Nearly every line she spoke was a gem and reminds us all of just how important Dame Maggie Smith was to the success of the show. If only she hadn’t been tied up in the silly hospital plot for nearly the whole series. I liked that she made up with Cora at the end, but I’m also glad that their feud wasn’t at the center of the episode.

The Spratt/Denker spat was hilarious right up to its resolution. From his introduction as a saboteur to Molesley right up to his moonlighting as Miss Cassandra Jones, Spratt has been a highlight of the show’s second half. I only wish he’d been in more episodes this series.

Though I wish Molesley had received more screen time (that’s true of every episode), I liked his resolution. We didn’t need to see a Molesley/Baxter romance in this episode. Leaving the door open to one was enough. I’m sure he’ll make a wonderful teacher.

I wasn’t expecting to love Barrow’s resolution and was very pleased that I got my series long wish that he’d become the Downton butler. We’ve seen variations of “Barrow must leave” in four of the six series of the show, yet seeing Master George wish his friend farewell was still as heartfelt as could be. I like that he actually did leave Downton for a bit before returning as well, solidifying the notion that it was truly where he belonged.

This episode deserve a lot of credit for successfully maneuvering around the downstairs situation. Here’s a look at what needed to happen chronologically:

  • Barrow needed to have a job in place before Molesley could accept his position as teacher.
  • Barrow also needed to depart before Carson’s tremors became unmanageable so that he wouldn’t merely be asked to stay on, possibly creating an awkward underbutler/butler dynamic.
  • Tears needed to be shed when Master George said, “goodbye Mr. Barrow.”
  • Molesley needed to decided to take the teacher position before he could be considered for the butler position (not that the show has ever cared about Molesley’s professional status). Molesley himself mentioned that he didn’t think he’d ever make butler last episode to Baxter.
  • Enough time within a single episode needed to pass before it was clear that Carson had to retire.

I suppose Fellowes was referring to Carson when he said that not everyone would have a happy ending. Problem is, Carson has been insufferable all series. Who cares that he needs to retire? He’s been mean-spirited toward just about everyone besides Donk and Lady Mary for far too long.

Allen Leech has reportedly been unhappy with Tom’s resolution, but I think it was fitting. Branson hasn’t been given much to do this series besides serve as the third wheel in Mary and Henry’s romance. There wasn’t enough time for a romance with Laura Edmunds and that’s okay. I felt the same way about the Daisy/Andy and Mason/Patmore plotlines as well. We had enough romance for one episode.

I do wish that Mary had married Henry earlier in the series, especially since he didn’t appear in the first three episodes. Seeing him in Downton was very enjoyable. I sort of see why it played out this way, but it’s hard to argue that an earlier upstairs shakeup wouldn’t have been an improvement and that spreading out the weddings a little more wouldn’t have been a good thing.

Obligatory Bates mention. I’m happy they got their happy ending. Somewhat disappointed that Bates didn’t kill anyone this series though. Oh well.

I am glad that no one died. While the show went from tons of deaths early on to none at all. A death would’ve taken a lot of screen time and that wouldn’t have been a great note to go out on, unless Larry Grey came to the wedding and started spitting up blood. Can’t have everything.

This episode will likely leave many thinking that the show could have gone on. That’s because it could have. Should it have? Absolutely not.

The best finales leave the audience wanting more. Few shows improve into their seventh series and I doubt Downton would have been the exception. Having an end goal in sight gave focus to series six and this episode gave as much resolution as it could reasonably fit into ninety minutes. I didn’t give letter grades to these episodes, but this finale would’ve been a solid ten out of ten. If that’s not a good note to end on, I don’t know what is.

So we say goodbye to Downton, for now. With all the remakes/follow ups floating around TV these days, I doubt we’ve seen the last of some of these characters. Thank you for following along with me. Just like the Abbey itself, Downton World will go on with recaps of past episodes, memes, and features. We don’t know what the future will hold, but we will face it together!

Advertisements

Downton Abbey Series 6 in Review

The holdup for my review of series 6 as a whole can mostly be blamed on one difficulty I’ve had with Downton’s past eight episodes (plus grad school). I wanted to do a separate article on the series 6 “MVP,” but I had trouble coming up with one who fit the bill, which isn’t to say that everyone was terrible or that the series was bad. This conflict actually summarizes my thoughts on this series as a whole quite well.

The “MVP” candidate field was compromised of four candidates: Edith, Tom, Barrow, and Molesley. The latter two can (sadly) be eliminated simply because they weren’t given enough to do (more on this later). I’d pick Edith if I absolutely had to, but I can’t after what happened in the finale.dowton-abbey-0-1024

Edith’s storylines are defined by tragedy. With her magazine, Edith finally found an environment she could thrive in. For a character I’ve despised since Downton began, I was pleasantly surprised by how Edith carried the show in the first few episodes. Then of course, she had to get sucked into another horrible love plotline.

I can see how the Marigold dilemma made it tempting for Fellowes to want to give her another suitor. She didn’t need one. Most characters this series only had one major storyline and she already had the magazine. This isn’t to say that Bertie Pelham had to be a detriment, but he was. By making Bertie a Marquis and then leaving Edith in a rather hasty manner, Fellowes took the least interesting aspects of Sir Anthony Swire and Charles Blake’s arcs and tossed them right back in the audience’s face. No thanks.

I never bought into the Mary’s malice toward Edith either. Yes, Mary is often jealous and unhappy, but two of them haven’t really taken action against each other since the first series. We’ve seen plenty of sarcastic comments, but that’s about it.

Edith was fun to watch this series, which is rare for her. I almost always skip her scenes when I re-watch the show. I can’t call her the “MVP” when she ended the series in such a typical predictable Edith like fashion. Yes, we need some plot for the Christmas Special, but it didn’t need to be that.

Which takes us to Tom, who shined with every opportunity he was given. Problem was, he wasn’t given many of them. Whereas Edith received two plotlines, Tom had none. I can’t call him the “MVP” either when he didn’t do anything besides remind Mary that she doesn’t need to be unhappy for the rest of her life.

Series 6 had a split that we haven’t really seen Downton implement since series 3. Essentially, this series can be divided into pre-Tom (1-3) and post-Tom (4-8), which isn’t dissimilar from the series 2 World War I split or the Downton is bankrupt spell in series 3. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing either. Shifting the tone a bit helps keep the series fresh. The question we need to ask is whether or not this series needed that at all.

I’ve said it in previous recaps and I’ll say it again. Tom leaving was a mistake. It accomplished nothing and forced the show into a bizarre holding pattern until he returned. If Fellowes absolutely had to have Tom leave to reassure his loyalty to the Crawleys, fine, but he could have come back after the first episode, especially since the Carson/Hughes wedding was drawn out longer than it needed to be. Three was a waste.

But wait! You may be wondering, didn’t I say that episode 2 might be best episode of the post Matthew era? I still think that’s true, but I think the first few episodes created a strain on the rest of the series that ultimately proved problematic with a certain plotline we all wanted to see.

There was one man everyone wanted to see since his appearance in the series 5 Christmas special. Why did it take until the fourth episode to give us Henry Talbot? I’ve speculated that Matthew Goode’s busy schedule may have been to blame, but he didn’t really have a lot going on in 2015 for that to have been a problem.

The romance felt rushed when it didn’t have to be. Tom played a useful role in the courtship process, which also shows why he shouldn’t have left in the first place. Five episodes wasn’t really enough time for them to become reacquainted, fall in love, and then marry when you think about how stretched out her relationships with Matthew and Tony/Charles (counting them as one) were. I get that maybe Fellowes didn’t want the final series to just be about Mary’s love life, but what alternative did he really put forth?

The hospital plotline was pretty underwhelming. There haven’t been many storylines that have involved the majority of the cast and there’s a reason for that. Downton is a show that thrives when its plotlines are diversified, which allows it to endure a few stinkers. I wouldn’t necessarily call the whole plotline a stinker, but it went on for far too long.

Beyond that, who looked good coming out of the hospital resolution? Cora was as unlikable as ever going behind the Dowager’s back, but even Lady Violet looked pretty petty refusing to give up control just because she hates change. Donk’s projectile blood spurting didn’t even really play a role in it at all in its resolution. The story shouldn’t have gone on longer than two or three episodes.

I don’t think there was a moment that fans looked forward to more than the Carson/Hughes wedding. Unfortunately, Carson decided to turn into the most unlikable character on the whole show, behaving nastily to just about everyone he interacts with. I loved the way Mrs. Hughes handled him, but the actual romance was sorely lacking throughout the series. I constantly found myself wondering why they were even together beyond the canned “it’s what the fans want.”

Oh Barrow. I mostly loved him this series, aside from his nastiness with Gwen, which seemed out of character by this point in the show. I dreaded the inevitable suicide, but felt that it was handled with grace by all the characters. Barrow’s hesitance to leave Downton shows the struggle that many in service had to endure, forced out of places that were their homes in every way except for the physical deed to the property. My only problem was that it was a little drawn out and prevented him from doing anything else this series. He could have done more with Master George!

The Mr. Mason storyline served as a nice contrast to Barrow’s struggles. I loved how he was integrated into this series after pretty much only making cameo appearances in previous series. He shows that while that way of life changes, it does so gradually and that there are happy endings.

The Mr. Mason farm dilemma also allowed Daisy to really come into her own. Her interactions with Cora were among my favorite of the series as they put Lady Grantham in her place and allowed Downton to do the right thing by one of its own. I didn’t care for her outburst at Mrs. Patmore, but the three of them plus Andy and Molesley have formed a refreshing dynamic in the show that I wasn’t expecting.

The Bates weren’t terrible, but it would have been nice to have them involved in something that wasn’t pure misery. Oh well. At least there wasn’t another murder.

I wish we’d seen more Molesley, especially while Barrow was looking for other employment. The show oddly ignored the elephant of the room of the 50 year old footman at a time, though Kevin Doyle shined with whatever he was given. Seeing him come into his own as a teacher was my favorite moment of the series.

Regarding Molesley and Baxter, I think Fellowes made the right decision not forcing a romantic pairing. I like that they’re “friends” in a way that doesn’t necessarily preclude them from taking it further. We’ll see what happens with the Special, but I won’t be disappointed if the two don’t get together.

Spratt and Denker have quietly become two of the best supporting characters in the series and I was disappointed to see their frequent absences. Denker only appeared in half the episodes and Spratt only did her one better. Considering how delightful their scenes were, this was a shame, especially when the insufferable Lady Rosamund bested her series high by two episodes (making the safe assumption that she appears in the finale).

The best part of the series is perhaps the fact that Downton isn’t closing. We know what’s coming for big houses, but we don’t need to see the end in 1925 just because the show is ending. The series lacked the depressing tone that I was worried about after watching that sad trailer back in August.

I could go on for another thousand words, but ultimately I did enjoy series 6 immensely. Having a clear end goal in sight helped focus the show and this has clearly been the best series of the post-Matthew era. The pacing problems prevented it from being the best series, which I genuinely think it could have been, but this has been a very satisfying conclusion to the show.

Downton Abbey Series 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 Series 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 Series 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 Series 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 from Six 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 as Downton. 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 with Exorcist 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 Series 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 of Downton’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 like Downton.

 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.