TV Review: The Final Episode of Downton Abbey

The end.

After six series of glorious period drama, our beloved ‘Downton Abbey’ showed its final episode (although luckily we still have the much-awaited Christmas episode to look forward to). And for a slow burner of a series, this episode had it all. Seargent Willis was back although (for once!) not for poor Anna. Instead, it was Mrs. Patmore whose recently opened B&B had, due to some shady customers, become a “house of ill repute”, a phrase which had everyone upstairs and down in fits of laughter. Mrs. Hughes suggestion of resolving this was to calm down and have some tea after they were chased by the Downton paparazzi upon visiting the cottage. As British as ever, Downton. Sadly that was the last laughter that was to be had for the majority of the episode.

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It was revealed that Bertie Pelham’s cousin has died and Lady Mary was only too happy to mull over what fewer prospects that would mean for Edith; that was, until it was revealed that that would make him the new Marquis of Hexham. “Golly gumdrops” puffed Robert upon realising that this would make his daughter a Marchioness who would outrank them all. “People will think you’re jealous, dear” was Cora’s cutting but fitting remark to Mary as she seethed silently. As such, it wasn’t a surprise when the joy was to be short lived as Mary, out of pure spite, told Bertie of Marigold’s true identity, as Edith was to-ing and fro-ing between whether or not to do so, and Bertie sadly left soon after.

This resulted in the most emotionally harrowing and critical episodes of the entire six series for Mary, as she was confronted about the nasty, cruel streak in her personality from almost everyone bar Carson, by whom she is revered. “Like all bullies you’re a coward” and “Shame on you” were just a few of Tom’s remarks to Mary this episode as even he could not accept her malice this time. “You’re a b*tch!” was Edith’s more direct contribution; even her darling Papa told her that a remark of hers was “below the belt”.

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Also distraught, although by different reasons, was Barrow, whose attempted suicide in the bath made for tormenting viewing. Luckily with help from the womenfolk and an adorable visit and the gift of an orange from Master George, he seemed to be on the mend, with Mary even acknowledging similarities between their situations. Mosely’s first day as a teacher went disastrously, with the class running riot and unsurprisingly not accepting the optional homework (100 years later it’s still the same), although luckily his fledgling career picked up as the episode went on.

An adorable scene featuring the children and a Punch and Judy was soured by Mary’s fuming reaction at Henry’s arrival. She spent the majority of the episode torn between emotions of jealousy, anger and love. Maggie Smith delivered a reinforcing pep-talk in a fantastically delivered scene in which she told Mary that Henry was perfect for her because if it was purely a society position she wanted, she could have gone for old Tony G a series ago, and consoled Mary when she worried about (yet again) being a crash widow. “I believe in love”, was her conclusion as she tenderly hugged her granddaughter. After a beautiful scene in which Mary consulted with Matthew’s grave (and Isobel), she told Henry that she would marry him after all, quoting what Tom said several episodes ago about couples matching each other in strength and passion. Carson’s almost interruption of their moment alone made it all the funnier, although he had his fair share of romance this episode too, with Mrs. Hughes proclaiming that “not only are you an old camujan, you’re my camujan”. Aww.

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In the village, Cora, Robert and Rosamund all visited Mrs. Patmore’s ‘house of sin’ in order to support her reputation, which Carson found hard to believe. Even more difficult to believe, however, was when Mary finally apologised to Edith, and they acknowledged that in the end, they are sisters, and share memories that will last a lifetime. Hopefully this will finally put an end to the bitter feud between the Crawley girls.

And then, mere minutes before the episode ended, was the wedding. After having endured even the most of tedious plotlines *cough, hospital, cough*, I have to say I was disappointed by this scene. Maybe because I’m biased towards Mary and Matthew’s snow dusted proposal and beautiful wedding ceremony after eight screen years of “will they, won’t they” tension, Henry and Mary’s wedding felt rushed in comparison. Admittedly, I was still clinging on to the hope that Matthew would be resurrected, but I felt that Lady Mary’s wedding deserved more of a build-up than the ‘let’s get married on Saturday, I have the wedding certificate with me’ approach that Henry took, making it sound as though shotgun weddings were a regular weekend activity for him.

Oh well. It’s happened and was at least visually spectacular, and I do very much hope that Henry and Mary will be happy. As for the rest of the Downton crew, our last chances to find out about their happiness lies in the Christmas special, after which point we will bid the Crawleys farewell forever. One thing is for certain; when the doors close on Downton, Sunday nights will not be the same again.

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