A bar of soap and solidarity tied up episode six of Downton Abbey of Masterpiece Classic very neatly last week. It was an uplifting conclusion, until this week’s devastating final episode. I wish episode six had been the last of the season. Instead, the Crawley’s went to Scotland to visit Cousin Shrimpie, stalked deer, fished for salmon and danced a reel while the downstairs mice left at Downton Abbey played at the local fair while the cat was away.
My Recap (Major, Major Spoilers!)
Joy arrived with the birth of the long awaited heir to Downton Abbey—but into each life some rain must fall—and in this case, a monsoon hit Yorkshire and swamped our hearts. I will not pad the deep blow with my usual detailed recap but cut to the chase. After spending a very brief time with his wife and newly-born son, Matthew Crawley died in a car crash on his way back home from visiting her and the baby at the hospital. The happily-ever-after will never be possible for him or many at Downton again.
No cliff-hangers here by writer Julian Fellowes—at all—quite the opposite. More on this tragic, startling, ending in my review below, after I point out some of the happier moments during the episode that was called the Downton Christmas Special in the UK when it aired there.
“Have a bit of the tart if you like.” – Mrs. Patmore
“I don’t mind if I do.” – Joss Tufton
There is romance in the air at Downton upstairs and down. Many attempted hook-up’s for young and old added levity and humor for most of the episode. There are a lot of sexual innuendos planted throughout. Have fun catching them as they wiz by.
“I love reeling. If I weren’t pregnant I dance until dawn.” – Lady Mary
So, in the opening scenes we discover Lady Mary is pregnant. But, we are immediately distressed to learn that she is due in a month yet traveling with her husband and family to Scotland by train. This seems rather risky after all the couple went through to get in the family way, and how important an heir is to the future safety of the estate.
Duneagle Castle in Scotland
The destination vacation for the Crawley’s is Cousin Hugh ‘Shrimpie’ MacClare, Marquess of Flintshire’s estate Duneagel in Scotland. We first heard tell of him in season two when Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham placed a phone call to him at the War Office when Matthew had gone missing during combat. He is a diplomat and her cousin by marriage through her niece Susan, daughter of her sister. The MacClare’s are the parents of young Rose, the flapper we met in episode six.
“Edith. My basic fact is that I am in love with you…you know that already.” Michael Gregson
“Do I? Yes, I supposed I do.” – Lady Edith
OMG! I am getting peeved that poor Edith is being made into a naïve idiot again. No, please no.
“No man’s wanted to squire me since the Golden Jubilee. Even then he expected me to buy the drinks.” – Mrs. Patmore
The Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom was celebrated on 20 June 1887. Since this is 1922, Mrs. P. has been without a date for 35 years. No wonder she’s all giddy and girlish.
“Ten hours crawling through heather and nothing to show for it. Perhaps it’s a parable of life.” Matthew Crawley
There are a lot a parables, euphemisms and philosophy in this episode. Just watch Mrs. Hughes and Matthew Crawley very closely.
“Unless you want Rose married to a third rate colonial official with no money and bad teeth Susan better think again.” – Violet, Dowager Countess Grantham
The MacClare’s are being sent to some unknown colonial outpost. This remark is Violet’s way of letting us know what she thinks of the marriage prospects away from England. Considering that she was ready to pack up her granddaughter Mary in season one and send her to Italy or America to find a husband is a telling clue of Rose’s prospects unless she intercedes.
“You don’t want to go to the fair?” – Alfred
“I’d sooner chew broken glass.” – Mr. Carson
After all of the romantic hook-up’s, gambling, drinking and fighting, we are very happy that Mr. Carson did not go to the fair.
“A man of mystery. Edith could use some of that.” – Lady Mary
“You are horrid when you want to be.” – Matthew Crawley
Lady Mary was back to her old snarky remarks about Edith in this episode. We will cut her some slack since she is preggers and well, just Lady Mary.
“What’s going on in here?…you were just taking advantage of the cat’s absence. We’ll see what Mr. Carson has to say.” Mrs. Hughes
Mrs. Hughes catches the two footmen Alfred and James sitting on the settee in the parlor. She has a keen eye in this episode and catches inappropriate behavior all around. This usually falls to Mr. Carson’s watchful radar, so it was fun to see the Great Philosopher of Downton in action.
“Love to be in love, any time any place. I’ll not deny it Mrs. Hughes. I love to be in love.” – Joss Tufton
Telescoping I’d say.
“Does the law expect me to have no life at all until I die? Would Lord Grantham?” – Michael Gregson
“You can’t expect that he would want you to involve his own daughter, what when all you have to offer her is a job as your own mistress.” – Matthew Crawley
“No, I love her. I’m offering my love.” – Michael Gregson
“You’ve been misled by our surroundings. We’re not in a novel by Walter Scott.” – Matthew Crawley
Mr. Rochester/Michael Gregson is corrected by Matthew with a literary euphemism. What irony. This new plot with Edith’s faux beaux really stinks. I know that is not very professional, but there you have it. Edith deserves much better than a married man with a mad wife in the attic. Lady Mary, Lord Grantham and Matthew are all very suspicious and for good reason. We are all yelling at the screen!
“Either way it was the cooking he was after and not me.” – Mrs. Patmore
What a relief that Mrs. Patmore’s romantic incident with the gross grocer ended in laughter and not heartbreak.
“Are you proud of your handy work?” – Miss O’Brien
“Well, I don’t know what you …” – Miss Wilkins
“Never mind Miss Wilkins, it might do him good to let it all go for once.” – Miss O’Brien
We knew “every savage could dance” but Mr. Mosley? Hysterical!!! I felt that we had met O’Brien’s evil twin in Scotland with fellow lady’s maid Miss Wilkins, but she had obviously not earned her evil bangs yet and was no match for her. Touché!
“…be your own master and call your own tune.” – Mrs. Hughes
Great advice to Tom Branson from the Great Philosopher of Downton, Mrs. Hughes.
“There are rules to this way of life Edna, and if you’re not prepared to live by them, then it’s not the right life for you.” – Mrs. Hughes
Again, brava to more Mrs. Hughesisms. New maid Edna gets the boot for having the hots for Mr. Branson and not being able to contain it.
“Love is like riding or learning French. If you don’t learn it young, it’s hard to get the trick of it later.” – Lord Flintshire (Cousin Shrimpie)
Young, wild Cousin Rose is going to live with the Crawley’s at Downton while her dueling parents are away on diplomatic duty. I thought this was very touching of her father to say this to Lady Grantham. He wants the best for his daughter who is always fighting with her horrid mother Susan, who will hopefully be eaten by tigers in India.
“Just think. We’ve done our duty. Downton is safe. Papa must be dancing a jig.” – Lady Mary
Ahhh…another baby for Downton. This one gets to be the Little Prince for about ten seconds and then, tick tock, tick tock, he is Prince Regent.
“Yet, here we are with two healthy heirs, an estate in good order and I wonder what I’ve done to deserve it.” – Lord Grantham
“I agree. But then, we don’t always get our just deserts.” Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham
Just deserts? Oh Granny, please do not mention levelers of life right now as Matthew is so happy and we are riding along with him on the road to Downton and doom.
I saw this episode when it aired in the UK on Christmas Day. It has been almost three months and I am still angry and sad. The writer/creator Julian Fellow offers this explanation. It didn’t help.
I have been an advocate for Downton Abbey from day one. I have blogged about it and reviewed every episode. I have co-moderated three years of live twitter parties hosted by Masterpiece Classic. I have cheered and laughed and reveled in it glorious success for PBS and period drama. I am about as big of a fan girl as they come—but I still do not agree with how this season ended so tragically for Matthew and the fans of the series.
Unfortunately, Dan Stevens who portrayed Matthew Crawley wanted to move on and do other work. He may be remembered as the bloke who ditched the mega-hit series Downton Abbey, or he could win some fantastic role that might save him and move him to the next level. It is all a crap shoot. I try to be philosophical like housekeeper Mrs. Hughes whose advice to Tom Branson was spot on “…be your own master and call your own tune.” Obviously the writer Mr. Fellowes planted that for us to just chew on.
Season four of Downton Abbey starts production in England this month. Fellowes has dug himself a big whole to fill. We shall see if the series can crawl out of it.
Images courtesy © Carnival Film & Television Limited 2012 for MASTERPIECE; text © Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose.com