Downton Abbey 6:8 Review

Hard to believe that this was the last regular season Downton left. (There’s just the traditional Christmas episode to go, and that comes for us next week.) Downton certainly seemed ready to go out with a bang, however. A Lady Mary-infused she-harpy bang. There was a lot to like about this episode (as well as some stuff to strongly dislike), so let’s dive right in:

  • First up, I have to talk about Lady Mary, because it was the piece of the episode that was both the most compelling and the least well handled. My big problem with it is that it felt to me like the show suddenly decided to have her shift gears and go into full beast mode in this episode. True, she’s been catty to Edith all along, but this was above and beyond that. This was much more like the Mary from the first season, even while she’s being her new self with everyone *but* Edith. All in all, it didn’t feel true to the character for me. It was like the writers were forcing her to do and say things that the character now simply wouldn’t do. That said, I get that she was upset, and so maybe she wasn’t acting rationally. Still . . .
  • The marriage. In a hurry much? All it was missing was Elvis and a Las Vegas setting, and you’d be good to go.
  • Car Boy. As I said last week, I haven’t been a big fan of Car Boy. (Henry? Is that his name?) But the episode made me actually root for him a little. He showed some spine and stood up for himself against Mary in her angry mode, and that says something. I just wish that the show had spent the time on his character that we got with Matthew. It’s hard to care about a character you barely know, and yet the show has treated all her suitors that way. They come in, hang around for a bit, and then exit stage left. The focus has all been on Mary, and who cared what face was behind each suit? This approach really cheapened the plot for me.
  • Edith. I don’t for a moment seriously believe Edith and Bertie Bott aren’t getting together in the Christmas episode. I could be wrong. I’ve been wrong before. But this all felt so contrived, and so final. Or did the upper class really make their mind up so quickly and permanently?
  • Thomas. All of the sad Thomas scenes finally culminated in this one. Kind of interesting to see the parallel between him and Mary, but overall, this felt like a bit of a cop out to me. Carson and Lord Grantham both decide to let him stay because of it. Problem solved! Not that they shouldn’t have been understanding and all that. It’s just that it felt to me like a vast oversimplification of a complex problem. But again, perhaps that’s just how they approached suicide attempts back in the day.
  • Mrs. Patmore’s House of Ill Repute wins the award for best potential novel title. I felt bad for her, but it was a fun subplot that didn’t really endanger anyone or anything. Amusing.
  • Carson showed that he’s still capable of being a big fat jerk, even after he did all the cooking. He’s very much a part of the old school, and he wants nothing to do with the new school at all, thank you kindly. He managed to be mean to just about everyone downstairs this week, which about wraps it up for him. Sad that one of my favorite characters gets such a lousy exit. “And he was a grouch for the rest of his days” just seems pretty lame.
  • I was pleasantly surprised with Molesley’s teach experience. I was worried they were gearing it up for him to be a colossal failure after last week’s high point, but they didn’t go there. Huzzah! Still good to see him get his moment in the sun.
  • Spratt is the advice columnist? This was funny, but I wish they’d set us up for it a bit better. Maybe dropped some hints here and there throughout the season that alluded to it. As it was, it felt like they decided at the last minute to pick the most unlikeliest character to be found in that chair, and then stuck him in it. The only way it could have been more bizarre is if it had been Carson.

I’m nitpicking in a lot of these examples. I did enjoy the episode (minus the out of character Mary stuff). I’ll say that the show’s final season has been a solid one. Lots of great stuff, and so much better than some of the previous seasons. I’ve been looking forward to the episodes, which wasn’t always the case.

Next week we finish it off!

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