Hold on to your hats, folks, this is going to be almost as long as the episode but hopefully a little more logical. Got a lot to get off my chest! If you get bored after the first paragraph, why not try the backlog of Downton Abbey Blogs, which are a little more concise.
The feature-length finale did not, alas, pack a feature film punch. Being a super-fan, though, this was secondary to everything working out well. So we’re at least halfway there!
“If I’d cried blue murder every time someone tried to kiss me at Eton, I’d have gone hoarse in a month.”
It took some Indiana Jones calibre leaps of faith to work things out, mind. Like, for example, the Earl whose outdated world view has had him parroting “you’re all against me!” almost as often as Isobel relishes, “yes, she is a prostitute”, is fine keeping a gay valet. Did provoke the best line this series, though, so all can be forgiven yet.
Then there’s “Her Ladyship’s soap”, the elephant in the parlour. I’ve never missed a single Downton and I’ve watched most of them at least twice but I’ve never seen Mrs O’Brien mention it to Thomas. They might have been bosom buddies back before the electric toaster, but they’re scheming so-and-sos and I can’t see Mrs O’Brien letting that one off her chest. True, it’s a totally wasted juicy plot point, the like of which hasn’t been seen since Matthew snogged Mary while Lavinia got a snotty nose of death, but it doesn’t really make any sense anymore. It happened almost ten years ago in Downton land, there’s no creditable proof and Mrs O’Brien is far more respected than upstairs gardener Thomas (Wikipedia tells me this is valid gay slang, and I liked the “upstairs” reference, but apologies if it’s offensive).
Not that I’m not pleased Thomas is staying on. Downton without Thomas would be like toast without marmite – dry and missing a bit of flavour. Equally it was good that he got a gay storyline and is no longer the evil gay guy. But I miss him fighting with Bates, and, for that matter, hanging out with O’Brien. If only Bates had got out of prison sooner we could have had some great Bates v Thomas action before Thomas thought it would be a great idea to wake up a straight guy with a big sloppy kiss.
That’s probably enough ranting about soap and Thomas.
So, next under the TQS microscope is Tom without the –as. Jeez, you weren’t much of a Republican, were you? From blowing up the landed gentry to estate manager in about a month. Not only that, but not even a cottage is good enough for the great Branson now, who’s setting up shop in the main house. Turns out a taste of the high life is enough to cause political amnesia I guess. It’d work on me, anyway.
Right, I’m just about done with plot holes, but what about random developments? Well, it seems rather unfair for Edith that her new fancy man is a 1920s Rochester without the charm. But then, as he’s clearly Strallan’s lovechild she’s probably best off out of it.
What about Strumpet Rose and the debaucherous Blue Dragon Club? Well it’s not very Downton, is it? Quite apart from the blatant ridiculousness of introducing a new character in the last episode, which is essentially just Fellowes waving a flag saying “get ready for series four”, it wasn’t my cup of tea at all. The only benefit, and to be fair it was a big one in my eyes, was that for the only time this series we got to see Matthew be gallant and chivalrous as he saved Rose from scandal.
Don’t get me wrong, though, it was still thoroughly enjoyable, and if you’re still with me after 600 words of rant then you’re about to see why.
After months and months of dreary prison scenes, Bates is back and what a return. He’s kind, he’s doing the right thing by Thomas and ooooh Mr Bates, he’s a bit raunchy! He’s not the most conventional hottie in the Downton cast but Bates could sweep me off my feet any day. Although with the dodgy leg there’s a fair chance he’d drop me and that’s not quite so dashing.
You can’t beat a Downton tradition that brings the village, tenants and house together, either. The cricket match was almost as good as the flower show in series one, and could have beaten it if only Isis was allowed to participate. If Mr Molesley’s involved we’re guaranteed a good ride and he didn’t fail us. His facial expressions give the Dowager’s disparaging wit a run for its money every time he’s on the screen. Nothing is more entertaining than watching his unfailing embarrassed dismay.
The final slo-mo scene of the Downton fellas friends at last was sickening but lovely. This warm fuzzy nostalgia is the reason why Downton makes my Sunday nights delightful, though not even I can defend the writing and storylines for much longer. I’m sorry, Mr Fellowes, but it really is the actors and the production values keeping this series alive.
And so, it’s adieu for a little while, though not that long, as we still have to fill you in on when TQS met Branson and Thomas. Once we’ve got you up to speed we’ll see you again at the birth of Mary’s and Anna’s babies on Christmas day (no spoilers, just predictions).