First things first: an observation. Downton has fallen pretty far from grace, if I can make any conclusions based on the sort of response these reviews get. Gone are the halcyon days of yore, when Downton was a major pull in pop culture. These days, there are a few stalwart fans sticking with the show, but by and large, the rest of the world has moved on. Which is sort of fitting, I suppose, considering what the theme of this last season of Downton is all about.
That said, on to the episode!
I enjoyed it, overall. Nothing really gasp-worthy, but it was a fun enough way to spend 50 minutes of my evening, and there was really only one plot that grated me too much.
- Daisy is an idiot. Plain and simple. She’s like a bouncing Yorkshire terrier, yapping constantly about who knows what, without any real understanding of what exactly is going on. I swear. Each time she opens her mouth, I start rolling my eyes in advance. (Though she has given Mrs. Patmore the opportunity for some nice zingers: “You couldn’t be harder on those potatoes if you wanted them to confess to spying.” Zing!) I’m glad the plot is finished, and I hope it stays finished. Daisy is going to end up married to New Butler Boy, and they’ll be staying at Yew Tree Farme, where she can bake to her hearts content and never bring up politics and class warfare again. Or so we can hope.
- The writers remembered that Mary still is single! So they bring back the guy from the end of last season, tacking him on here because he didn’t fit in elsewhere, I suppose? (There’s a reason so few Downton-ites are left, people. The show is diverting, but it isn’t compelling anymore. It’s pretty to look at, but does anyone really care what’s going to happen to these people? The same way we used to care about what would happen with Mary and Matthew? Hardly.)
- Carson and Mrs. Carson decide to make things easy on the world and have Mrs. Carson remain Mrs. Hughes. And while the Crawleys are tremendously relieved, I’m sort of left wondering why it was a big deal?
- Thomas has somehow turned into Eeyore at some point over the years. Evil Eeyore, but still Eeyore. “Nobody likes me. Even if I’m a big jerk to everybody, they still don’t want to hang out with me. I think I’ll go have a smoke.” Okay. So maybe not exactly Eeyore, but you get the point. Still, props to them for making me care a little smidge about Thomas for long enough for him to go stab Gwen in the back.
- Speaking of Gwen, I completely forgot about her! And it slipped my mind that she’s Jon Snow’s Wildling from Game of Thrones. That’s right! It’s “You know nothing,” right here on Downton Abbey. That was entertaining, at least. (Have you ever been watching a show or movie, and entertained yourself by thinking about what if they switched one of the characters out with another character played by the same actor? Or is that just me? Think about it. Han Solo kicking around ancient archaeological digs? Forrest Gump trying to fix a doomed Apollo mission? How awesome would those be?
- Lord Grantham is getting some might suspicious pains in his tummy. Pains that (Denisa pointed out) might need to be treated at a hospital. A hospital with crummy services, because Violet is being Violet. Is there an actual chance the hospital plot might actually mean something before this season is over?
- To no one’s surprise but Anna’s, she’s keeping the baby! But hey, Mary had a chance to do something nice for a change, and we get a final litmus test for the Downton writers. If they’re human, they’re going to let Anna and Bates have the baby and be happy. If they’re child-eating monsters, they’re going to have Anna lose the baby and go all Prom Queen Carrie on everyone. Which could make for an entertaining Christmas special to round off the series, but still might not be quite satisfying. But hey! Ratings!
Anyway. That’s all I have time for today. Really, it wasn’t a bad episode. Fun times, just not enthralling. 3/5 for me. But if you’re looking for more witty repartee, check out the New York Times’ review of the episode. Way too much fun.