Downton Abbey: The Finale

Book Cover A message from Sally: “Please talk about Downton Abbey. I just saw the season finale and am about to faint. And I’m not even wearing a corset. Must. Discuss.”

Well, I can’t write about my own reaction yet because I know of SO many people who haven’t seen it yet who taped it on their DVRs. LIKE ME. Heh. So how about this: Downton Abbey folks, this is your comment thread. Spoilers aloud. Spoilers also allowed. BUT if you haven’t seen it, DO NOT READ the comments! I’ll even take down the “Recent Comment” section in the sidebar for today so as to avoid spoiling it. But if you saw the finale last night, what’d you think? Are you still breathing? Did you faint? Are you ready for what should be another season?

And dude, how many of you will fly to the UK if they get it first before the US? We can charter a “Downtown Abbey” flight and go watch in a bar, like a sporting event only with extra cravats.


Random Musings

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  1. 1

    Liked Downton Abbey as much as the next person, I suppose, and will certainly miss it.  But…um…saw nothing remotely faint-worthy in last night’s season finale.  It’s been pretty predictable all along—gorgeous, well acted—but predictable. Last night was no exception.

    Oh. Wait. We weren’t expecting WWI?  My bad.

  2. 2
    Patti says:

    I loved this!  I was dying last night thinking of waiting a year to see the next season.  If they are going to leave so many story lines dangling, then I think a season should be more than four episodes :-)  There are so many interesting threads going all at once.  All of the actors are excellent too.  I was mostly shocked last night by Mary’s diabolical revenge on her sister.  So sad.  Great stuff though.

  3. 3
    Ana Farrish says:

    I LOVE the Bates/Anna budding romance! They are both so sweet—that’s a couple that deserves some happiness. Was anyone else REALLY annoyed when the people in the background ruined their (almost) first kiss? Grumble grumble…

    I can’t wait for next season!

  4. 4
    Trudy says:

    my sister and I had a ‘discussion’ about the sister’s behavior toward each other.  Am I the only one who thinks Mary is NOT NOT NOT or ever will be countess material? She has treated every man in her life like crap, esp. Matthew. And the things she and her middle sister have done to each other. Well, I am very close to my sisters so i simply cannot (i’m saying that with a brit accent!) tolerate such mean cruelty.  I only love the youngest daughter.  On the other hand, I love the Earl and the actor who plays him – he’s the same dad as Jane’s in Lost in Austen.  But I won’t argue that some of the plot lines are predictable.  However, there were many plot twists tonight.  I think it’s wrong of MP Classics to make us wait til next year. sheesh.  Probably the best plotline was dragging the dead body.  All I can say is, the she is a mother after my own heart.

  5. 5
    Footballerswife says:

    I’ve seen the finale some time ago (being from Europe and all) and I was a bit disappointed. Mainly it really irked me that they left so many threads hanging and additionally suggested some new ones. I didn’t even register in the previous episodes. The whole thing with Thomas going into medical training. Where did that come from? And the realtionship between Mary and Matthew simply puzzles me. They were so on in the previous episode. I expect the scripwriters want them to finally unite when he comes back in the warhero glory, but how many seasons is that going to take?
    Still, I don’t know how am I going to last untill September. Especially because of the whole lady Sybil- chauffeur romance. So cliche     … so delicious.

  6. 6
    Christina says:

    I love everything about this series. It is DELICIOUS. Like everyone else, I ship Anna/Bates but I think his vanished wife may show up soon! Also, DAYUM re: Mary/Edith shenanigans, O’Brien being the evillest evil that ever eviled. Loved the final ‘damn kids’ between Prof. McGonagle & Harriet Jones, Prime Minister.

    It’s so utterly unfair because you know that Thomas will come out on top and win everything while sweet William will probably end up killed during WW1.

    Can’t WAIT to see where this goes next season.

  7. 7
    Jazzlet says:

    Thomas had said to O’Brien, in one of their smoking in the yard scenes, something along the lines of ‘war is coming, poor schmucks like me will be expected to die for our country, well I have a plan to make sure that doesn’t happen to me’ hence enquiring about joining the medical core before the outbreak of war and therefore already being in the forces so not eliglble to be conscripted to a fighting unit.

  8. 8
    Footballerswife says:

    I understand why Thomas enlisted, it just doesn’t sit right with the character. He is utterly selfish. There surely are other ways to avoid fighting than actually signing up for sth that selfless. But than I’m sure that the small inconsistency is needed for some other plot development. Maybe he’ll have a change of heart during the war? Though that would totally spoil the character.

  9. 9
    jody says:

    What I love about DA is how much fun everyone seems to be having, especially Maggie Smith.  Such a great moment during the final ep. when the Dowager Countess asked Isobel, “What have I done NOW?”

    Predictions:  Thomas will get his just desserts in WWI.  William will wind up with Daisy and will get wounded in the war, Violet and Isobel will wind up as best frenemies and will maneuver Matthew and Mary back together.  Perhaps Bates’ wife will show up, but the downstairs folks will take care of that situation so that he and Anna can have a HEA.  Now that Thomas is gone, O’Brien will be a new woman. The look on her face when she attended Lady Cora at the garden party and her reaction when she found out it was Violet who wanted a new lady’s maid was so well done.  I loved it when she looked at her reflection in the mirror and said, “That’s not who you are.” 

    Love this series.

  10. 10
    jody says:

    How many times can I say “will”?

  11. 11
    Cat Marsters says:

    Aw, it’s been a while since it was shown here in the UK (yes! For once we get something months before the US, instead of the other way around!). I can’t actually remember all the details of it, but I do remember that the new series was commissioned almost as soon as the first one had finished (filming to begin in March, I think). Amongst TV critics there’s some fear it simply won’t be as good. Why? You can’t write something like Downton in a few weeks!

    I liked the more morally ambiguous characters, like Lady Mary. How she could be so utterly self-centred, and even when she thinks of others she doesn’t really take their wishes into consideration: her belief that William ought to know his mother was dying even when his mother had expressly said she didn’t want him to, for instance. And how she’s almost a perfect example of the constrains of the class system: with nothing else to do all day but dress up like a doll, occasionally go hunting, and tell other people how to grow flowers, she’s pretty much been shaped into someone who never has much to think of but herself. There’s a lovely line about her having nothing to do but wait, or something, but I can’t remember enough of it to look up.  A wonderfully complex character, Michelle Dockery must have had fun getting her teeth into her.

    Was it shown in four episodes in the US? It was seven in the UK, I wonder how they worked that! I’ve also been told that they have to have someone come on and explain British inheritance law at the beginning of every episode. Why on earth do you need that? The series explains all that’s relevant about it. I wonder if whoever made that decision figured all Brits are born knowing the details of aristocratic entails? For such an intelligently written drama, it’s a disappointing dumbing-down.

  12. 12
    Lady T says:

    I couldn’t help but feel a little sorry for Lady Edith when that poison pill that Mary landed in her potential fiancee’s ear went off,even tho writing that letter was a horrible thing to do.

    Edith knows just how least she is considered by both her older sister and her own mother(which hurts the most,no doubt) which is what drove her to this end. She did deserve some punishment for betraying Mary but the payback that Edith will deliver unto her is going to be the Queen Mother of bitches:)

    Also,I loved it when William finally had enough of Thomas and clocked him(thank goodness Daisy finally came to her senses on that one!) and all of Lady Violet’s scenes. Maggie Smith is beyond awesome in this role! So looking forward to season two,indeed.

  13. 13
    Karenmc says:

    I was on vacation for episodes 2 and 3, so I watched them in the afternoon and settled in for episode 4 last night. When it ended so abruptly I sputtered to the tv machine, “You’ve GOT to be kidding me!” Then I remembered that there was a second season in the works. Okay, I’m better now, but Julian Fellowes better be typing really fast.

  14. 14

    I came back from the Pro Bowl to unwind with Downton Abbey last night.  Maggie Smith steals every scene in which she appears, no matter how brief.  For example, the Dowager Countess (Smith) is having afternoon tea with Lady Grantham (McGovern) as they are discussing the girls.  The Dowager Countess offers pearls of wisdom (paraphrasing):

    - “She has read too many books,” regarding Sybil’s demonstrated independence.

    - “You can always find an Italian count who is not too picky,” regarding Mary’s marriage prospects as rumors abound about her virtue.

    It will be a long wait for new Downton Abbey episodes!

  15. 15
    Faye says:

    Cat Marsters:

    Was it shown in four episodes in the US? It was seven in the UK, I wonder how they worked that! I’ve also been told that they have to have someone come on and explain British inheritance law at the beginning of every episode.

    Apparently nothing was cut in the US version except the commercials, since our public broadcasting station doesn’t show those. And no one is coming on and explaining every episode. It’s an introduction to the episode, raising some points to consider, which is standard Masterpiece procedure. Not a “dumbing down” at all. For more info, see below:

  16. 16
    Jill says:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the finale although must admit that they closed out some story lines (such as that of Thomas) in surprising ways but allowed others to hang maddeningly (Mary and Matthew, for one, although one can see immediately that the Dowager and Matthew’s mother will be colluding together to get THAT straightened out as soon as possible).  I look forward to next season.

    Note: I’m going to go back and watch the DVD of season one as a marathon during my next snow day, just to see what hits me on another go-round.

  17. 17
    kkw says:


    Yes, lots of stuff is predictable, but in a good way, like knowing Maggie Smith is going to say something hilarious (she doesn’t even have to speak, I swear, that woman can do more with a head bobble than most people can do with Shakespeare).  And there’s also plenty of stuff I didn’t see coming.  The corpse.  The baby.  The letter to the embassy – or the subsequent retaliation. 
    I loved that Bates and Anna didn’t get their kiss, unlike Mary and Matthew, because servants have no free time and no privacy.  I did think it was a little thin that Bates was suddenly insisting that he should be fired because of his record.  I mean, he begged for the job in the beginning, why is he suddenly insisting on losing it, when he’s innocent of Thomas’s accusation, and he know’s that Thomas is just a trouble maker?  Daisy’s turn-around also seemed awfully abrupt to me, but I’m still delighted by it (I hope it doesn’t mean William is going to die now, but I’m afraid it might). I don’t have sisters, so I can’t speak to the rivalry, but I don’t care how realistic it is, it’s still riveting.  So is Sybil going after the chauffeur, or Matthew (or both)?  What is Edith going to do next?  Are Thomas and Gwen written out, as no longer belonging to Downton Abbey, or do we still follow them in season 2?  We have to have replacements for them – who are the new servants going to be, and what intrigues will result?  I think maybe Rosemary is going to be mucking things up now that the dowager countess is getting along with her daughter-in-law and Isobel.  I can’t wait.  Can’t.  Wait.

  18. 18
    Francene says:

    Have really enjoyed this series.  Now while we’re waiting for season two, does anyone have any good book recommendations that hit the same buttons as Downton Abbey?  I’ve been wracking my brain to think of some.  Any suggestions out there?

  19. 19
    Abby says:

    I am SUCH a johnny-come-lately- that last episode was the first I’ve seen, but I have to say, what a FABULOUS program, I cannot wait for the next series. Maggie Smith is stunning, and I would say that the best thing about it is the timing.  It would very easy for something like this to get slow and tedious, but they are keeping it moving remarkably well.

  20. 20
    Kristi says:

    Riveting is such a great word to use for this series. I just LOVE it, however, yes there were a little too quick about-face’s in the last episode.

    I obviously need to go watch the Tudors, which I have not yet. I know it’s right up my alley.

    I can’t wait for the next season though.

  21. 21
    jody says:


    Now while we’re waiting for season two, does anyone have any good book recommendations that hit the same buttons as Downton Abbey?  I’ve been wracking my brain to think of some.  Any suggestions out there?

    Yes!  The House At Riverton by Kate Morton (I think) strikes just the right notes.  She’s written two others that are probably just as good, but I haven’t read them.  Riverton is set just a little later, but it’s the right country house setting, and all the intrigue of Downton Abbey.  I remember comparing it to Upstairs Downstairs when I read it—Downton was as yet just a gleam in Julian Fellowes eye.

  22. 22
    jody says:

    And how many times can I say “just”?

  23. 23
    kkw says:

    As far as book recommendations, I’d love some too.  …Julian Fellowes has written other stuff – not exactly the same, but worth checking out.  Trollope’s books are earlier, Nancy Mitford’s are later, but they’re both good fun witty English drama (and good bbc/pbs series)…

  24. 24
    jody says:

    As far as book recommendations, I’d love some too.  …Julian Fellowes has written other stuff – not exactly the same, but worth checking out.  Trollope’s books are earlier, Nancy Mitford’s are later, but they’re both good fun witty English drama (and good bbc/pbs series)…

    Don’t forget dear P.G. Wodehouse.  His Blandings books as well as the Jeeves and Bertie books are pure delight.

  25. 25
    jody says:

    One more comment and then I’ll shut up. 

    Hard to find but so worth it are Susan Howatch’s family sagas:  The Rich Are Different, The Wheel Of Fortune, Penmarric, and there are a couple more I can’t recall right now.  Not so much her Church of England books, but check the description before you buy.

    Another author who writes of the rich and privileged of that era is Barbara Taylor Bradford.  Remember A Woman Of Substance? 

    R. L. Delderfield is a wonderful writer of the English countryside, and let me highly, highly recommend Anne Perry’s WW I series beginning with No Graves As Yet.

  26. 26
    jody says:

    I know I said I’d shut up, and this time I really will.

    Dorothy L. Sayers’ Lord Peter Wimsey books are gold. They’re set in the 1920s and early 1930s but you can’t beat Dorothy L. for a good country house mystery.

    OK.  That’s it, I promise.

  27. 27
    Sally says:

    This series was like pure clotted cream.

    Each episode beautifully laid the groundwork and upped the ante a little more each time, then last night was just a string of revelations going off like fireworks. I love how each character is complex (even O’Brien and her ‘this isn’t me’ moment), how at times I feel for Mary then despise her, how the sisters are so evil to each other, how the cooks ended up working together…

    By the end of the episode I was flipping out (partly from the revelations—most of which I didn’t see coming and partly because I wasn’t willing to have it end) and I was SO RELIEVED that a season 2 is in the offing.

    There isn’t much on TV that so completely captures me (how I miss you 24 and Buffy *sniff*) so this was a treacly treat that I want to go on and on!

  28. 28
    Courtney says:

    I loved loved loved this series!  The complexities of the characters mirror the complexities of the times—things are changing for everyone at an alarming rate.  The telephone!  Electricity!  And god forbid—women beginning to take charge of their own lives!
    I think Mary was my favorite character because At times I wanted to love her and then she would disappoint me.  WHY did she not say yes to Matthew?!
    I have to say I did not realize this was going to be a series that continues next year!  When there were 10 minutes left I was getting worried, thinking “wow, they better wrap this up quick!”. So bummed that I have to wait!  Was this a surprise to anyone else or was it just me?
    Ok one more thing that I loved—I loved that the servants were as much a part of the story as the nobles.  That doesn’t always happen in these stories, and when it does it’s not always this well done!

  29. 29
    Sharon says:

    Seconded for Lord Peter Wimsey, especially the earliest books as a set up for the next season.

    It is important to remember that no one expected ‘the war in Germany’ to take more than a few months – it was more like a FIFA World series than a war initially. It was only when the horrors of trench warfare were publicized (WWI poets etc) that people began to realize what they were in for. 

    Thomas isn’t being noble – he thinks it will be a bit of a lark driving a truck around the countryside for a few months, ripping corpses off for whatever he can scavenge, then disappearing to America and starting new. I suspect he is in for a shock.

    Speaking of shock: I can see one of the young men returning shell-shocked and incapable, and people at home trying to understand how a bright, intelligent, sensitive man can become such a snivelling coward (the concept of PTSD was brand new – remember Bates was ‘shocked by the African (Boer) War, his mother says, and ‘drank more than was good for him.’)

    There are lots of good books about the problems the men faced when they returned – off the top of my head The Wars and some short stories by Timothy Findley, the Sayers books, Rilla of Ingleside (for those Anne of Green Gables fans out there); Elizabeth Peters touches on it and I think Connie Willis’ time travel series. One of the BEST is Touchstone by Laurie R. King – amazing book by an amazing author.

    Ok, I promise – hobby horse is put away…

    Oh! Oh! Lady Chatterly’s Lover!

    Yes, I heard you.  I’ve put it away.

    captcha – took25 – it only took you telling me to be quiet 25 times…

  30. 30

    Here’s what I think about Mary and Edith, from my little blog:

    Lady Mary and Edith are the eldest and middle daughters of Lady Cora and Daddy Earl. Essentially, they are exactly like Marsha and Jan Brady. Lady Mary/Marsha is the beautiful eldest daughter who needs to marry well (and preferably to marry the heir to her Daddy Earl’s goods and holdings), but she makes Extremely Bad Choices in men. She’s not terribly smart, but she’s purty. Edith/Jan, while not unattractive, is not as purty as her older sister. She’s pathologically jealous of Mary/Marsha and is constantly looking for ways to stick a knife in her back. She’s also not terribly smart.

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