Final Thoughts on “Downton Abbey”

Well, hello, yes, this blog is still active. Let’s just say there was a pile of paid work that I had to work through first.

In the meantime, I had time to watch all the DVDs I got for Christmas (and the many things that were on my Netflix list), so I now have lots of material for reviews. An no, I haven’t forgotten about Eliot the cat, he’s on my list of “stuff that needs to be finished”. Also, NaPoWriMo is around the corner, so this blog might get a bit busier in the coming weeks. Or not, looking at my work schedule…

So without further ado, here’s the SPOILER-filled review of the final season of Downton Abbey including a lot of speculation about what might happen to the characters afterwards (warning: not too optimistic).

Final Thoughts on Downton Abbey

Where were we? Oh yes, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Downton‘s seasons 4 and 5 after absolutely adoring seasons 1-3. Looking at it now, I suspect the reason was the rather heavy focus on Lady Rose, who is a very interesting character, but took away screen and story time from everybody else.

Good news for season 6: she’s in America now (and pregnant), so the story can finally focus on the “main” cast again. And mostly succeeds at being good again.

Upstairs, Lady Mary starts dating the car racer Henry Talbot, falls in love with him, rejects him because she’s either not convinced he’s good enough or convinced he’s going to die like Matthew. Either way, of course they end up together. Well. I’m not Henry’s biggest fan and I’m not sure Mary really has “met her match” as she puts it. I’ve watched the season twice and I don’t see where exactly he’s falling in love with her. Or was that in last year’s Christmas special? But at least she’s no longer single, which can only be good for everyone around her, especially –

Edith! Or “Poor Edith”, as we like to call her. Vulture did an article recently about every nasty thing that happened to her in the course of the series. Reading it in such condensed form, Downton Abbey really does sound rather silly… But at least she ends up with the more handsome (and, as it turns out, wealthier) one of the options available in the end. And I may finally be able to remember that a marquess is a man and the female form is marchioness. Yes, all very kitschy, but if anyone deserves a kitschy ending, it’s Edith. Also: her dresses are totally the most gorgeous this season.

The last upstairs couple to finally end up together is Isobel and Dicky Merton – which was also long overdue. And I find it very refreshing that she asked him to marry her and not the other way around. I love Isobel, and I’m glad that she and the Dowager (who else) got the final dialogue of the series.

Downstairs, things are complicated, mostly. Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes are trying to be a happy couple, but most of the time it looks more like on-the-brink-of-breaking-up rather than happy-at-last. Which is of course a screenwriting rule – happiness doesn’t make a good story. And it makes sense that Carson has higher standards for housekeeping than Mrs. Hughes. But it’s still rather unsatisfying. And amusing.

I really like Mr. Molesley’s story – he once was a butler/valet, then got thrown out and had to tar the street in order to earn money, he was saved by being offered the position of a footman (essentially a downgrade from being a butler/valet), and now he’s moving on becoming a teacher. Which totally makes sense because he’s been lecturing Daisy and especially Baxter over the years.

And finally – Thomas. Oh yes, I always have to write an especially long paragraph about you. I have a thing for crying male characters, and this season really delivered on that front. Not that any of the problems were new: he hasn’t had any love relationship since – well, yes, the-duke-who-went-on-to-become-Daredevil in season 1. Which might be realistic, but is totally unsatisfying. His job has been in danger ever since he wanted to be more than just a footman (also season 1, I believe). And his scheming and general nastiness have always defined his character. And this season it ends where it probably always had to end in – namely, attempted suicide. No, it’s not surprising, and maybe that’s what’s nagging me about it. Fellowes can write unexpected turns of events (Robert’s breakdown in the dining room, anyone?), but instead he opts for what was probably all too common back then. Not that it’s totally out of character – Thomas has always had a very gloomy side about him. But the fangirl in me wants him to find happiness, despite it being unlikely. Then again, so much on Downton is totally unlikely – Sibyl and Tom, Mr. Bates getting a job, Mr. Pamook… Pretty much every major event on this show is totally unlikely. So yeah, I’m frustrated.

Blind Speculation

This is the fun part of this article. What will happen to the characters, now that it’s 1926?

Lady Mary, Henry, George and baby (Crawley? Talbot? What’s their name now?): On the plus side, they’re the heir’s family. On the negative side, they’re the heir’s family. It will all very much depend on how well Downton gets through the financial crisis of 1929, I suppose. Especially Henry’s business might be in danger, although Mary can probably help out with some loans. What worries me most is the fate of little George. He will probably have to serve in World War II and I’m not too confident he’ll make it out alive (assuming he will stay as charming and cute as he is).

Lady Edith, Bertie and Marigold: Inevitably, they will have a second child in 1926. Edith will probably keep her paper and thanks to her money, it might even make it through to the 1930s. At one point, they will give up living in Brancaster (it’s just soo ugly and Middles Ages – plus the heating bills must be enormous) and move to London – only to lose the house in the Blitz and move back to Brancaster. Marigold will become a bit like Lady Sibyl, but she’ll have less to rebel against, apart from her teachers. I hope she becomes and adventuress, never wanting to stay long in one place.

Daisy: Will, of course, get together with Andrew, marrying him at some point in 1927. He will take over Mr. Mason’s farm, thereby solving Downton’s problem of still having too much staff. Mr. Mason will marry Mrs. Patmore and they’ll retire to her B&B. Question is: will Daisy be happy? She loved London, she has a degree, does she really want to end up as a farm owner? I guess she will value her relationship with Andrew more than a possible move to London, so maybe she will get a job in Ripon? Maybe open a cooking class (was that a thing back then?). Replacing Mrs. Pattmore might be the best option for Downton, but certainly not for her. Andrew will probably have to serve during World War II – and hopefully he survives, otherwise it would be a very bitter repition of events in Daisy’s life.

Mr. Molesley: will of course marry Mrs. Baxter. Or at least, start to seriously date her. That way, he can also stay in touch with all the rumours around the house.

Thomas: Fangirl heart says “some time in 1926, a handsome lord will stay as a house guest, fall in love with Thomas and they’ll be a happy couple”. Realistic heart says: rather bleak outlook. In 1927 or 28, Carson will finally resign and Thomas will reign supreme. Only, there won’t be much left to reign supreme over: Daisy has left, Anna will probably have left to care for her children, Andrew is gone, Mr. Molesley is gone, and who knows whether there will be any house maids or hall boys left. Which essentially means: he came back partly because he missed his extended family, but exactly that extended family will shrink to near non-existence within a few years. Of course, as the butler he gets more access to all the guest who are staying at Downton (although their numbers are likely to shrink over the years – parties are expensive), and he’ll also accompany the family to London (if they keep the house there – big if), but whether he’ll actually have the time to meet someone and fall in love is highly doubtful. Plus, even if he does meet someone, how on earth is he going to lead a working relationship? Giving himself the evening off sounds aluring, but I doubt that this would be accepted. At least he won’t be drafted once World War II comes around.

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