‘Downton Abbey’ s2/ep7 – the finale

1 Mar

Hooray for the Downton Abbey season two finale!  Boo that it has to end!  I’ve taken my sweet time getting this post up because I’m trying to savor every last morsel of the series.  After all, we’re going to have to make a meal of it to last us until season three is broadcast.  Sigh.  But still, I’m grateful that we know for sure there will be a season three.  Hooray!

This episode was night and day different from the last in tone.  It was slower paced, and I never felt like I was drowning in details.  I had time to catch my breath in the beautiful pauses between dramatic moments.  And, of course, it’s centered around the most wonderful time of the year.  Even the opening credits were built around the erecting of the Downton Abbey Christmas tree.  Which would not fit in my living room — sideways.

Did you see the Christmas cards on display?  Lovely, lovely details.

It’s been eight months since we last saw the Crawleys, which makes me inclined to agree with Miss Wisabus how hard it is to keep up with the passing of time in this series.  They roll the calendar forward so gently you never feel the speed bumps of time along the road.

The servants are assembled and presented with gifts from the family — another lovely detail of upstairs/downstairs life we’re allowed a peek at.  Anna’s gift from Mary is precious, and it was fun to watch Anna wear it in the episode.  These servants are given Christmas luncheon off, and New Year’s Eve night.  But I doubt they could ask off for the holidays to go visit family.  Sounds a lot like retail Christmas.

But Sir Richard insists that’s “not how we’ll do it at Haxby.”  And when Mary is appalled he tells her she’s never had to earn what she has.  Seriously.  Who is it with the silver spoon in their mouth?  Remind me not to apply for a job with him.  Or subscribe to that newspaper.  Was anybody else thinking the same thing I was when the men went out on the shoot?  With all those guns around, don’t tell me Sir Richard wasn’t tempted to shoot Matthew right there.  The man deals with scandals for a living.

Mary’s own scandal is finally out.  Cora shows herself to be a time lord, I mean, master of timing and plants it on Lord Grantham at just the right moment.  He doesn’t seem to mind Sir Richard manhandling his daughter at the dinner table, but it’s the truth about why they’re together that finally gets him worked up.  He earns the Father of the Year 1919 Award with me for how and why he tells Mary not to marry Carlisle.  “You’re not the first Crawley to make a mistake…I want a good man, a brave man, for you.”  He made me cry.  And now that she’s faced the worst of it, Mary’s ready to tell Matthew the truth when he asks for it.  Another Award, please.  I could have kissed Matthew myself when he tells Mary “it isn’t worth a month of scandal to have a lifetime of misery.”  Except for packing her steamer trunk, Mary’s set to jilt Richard and head for the New World.  Almost.

Aunt Rosamund has returned, with a new beau in tow.  He’s a fortune hunter who’s smart enough to find himself a filly who no longer wants to be alone, but not smart enough to keep his pants zipped.  In her family’s house.  Dude.  How did you think you would not get caught?

Rosamund’s new maid wasn’t kidding when she said she “makes her own fun.”  She made it clear from the moment she walked on screen that she was even more interfering than Rosamund herself, but she’s still no match for Anna.  Check mate.

Watching Bates in a prison cell on Christmas was painful.  But the trial itself was even more so.  I kept wondering how did the prosecution know all these things?  Until I realized Bates had told them everything.  And then I began wondering when is the defense attorney going to do anything at all?  Murray left the entire defense up to Lord Grantham rather than being one step ahead of the prosecution.  Where were the character witnesses against the late and former Mrs. Bates?  You know that woman left a wake of bodies a mile wide behind her.  What was Murray doing with the Earl’s money?  Leaving him to look like a fool on the witness stand, that’s what.  Sheesh.

While Bates is in despair and struggling to keep his head above water, his new bride is on a terrible roller coaster.  Good thing she’s got Mary and a good job to hold her up.  Well done, Team Downton!

Thomas will keep tying nooses around his own neck.  Only this time he’s tying one around Isis.  Bad, Thomas, bad!  No food or water for the dog when he leaves him.  He didn’t even check the shed for holes in the wall…or things the dog could eat that would kill him overnight.  But I also hold Lord Grantham to blame a bit for the outcome.  He’s far too unassuming.  Definitely not a trait he inherited from his mother.  Don’t Earls always have to watch their backs socially and politically?  I’ve got a great idea!  Let’s trust Thomas!  Sic ‘em, Isis.

Speaking of our esteemed Dowager Countess, were you rolling on the floor with me when Isobel gave her a nutcracker for Christmas?  The woman who has never and will never crack a nut in her life?  I laughed so hard my sides hurt.  And, of course, the Dowager’s dialogue throughout the episode was glorious as well:

“Life is a game in which the player must look ridiculous.”

“Do you promise?”

“Alas, I am beyond impropriety.”

Her character continues to propel the story forward romantically.  She sticks a foot in the door of Rosamund’s romance by refusing to let the fortune hunter pull the wool over her daughter’s eyes (in spite of the fact Rosamund deserves it), and she also takes a hand in reuniting Edith with her former suitor.  Poor Edith.  The door slams shut on her just 20 minutes into the episode, and then we don’t hear another word about it.  Hopefully, that’s a story line that will resume in season three.  “If you think I’m going to just give up on a man who calls me lovely…”

Everyone both upstairs and down is breathing a sigh of relief over the diminished sentence of Mr. Bates, so it’s on with the Servants’ Ball.  My favorite moment was Mrs. Patmore’s jazzy little dance with Matthew.  And the quick, proud look Carson gives Mary as she steps out on the dance floor with Matthew.  Is it possible the most relieved person in the entire manor that Mary dumped Richard was Carson?  Just wondering.

Of course, Christmas isn’t Christmas without a ouija board.  At the end of her wits, Mrs. Patmore sits down and takes over the game board to convince Daisy to go to the farm to visit William’s dad.  So Daisy goes.  Finally.  And there she learns the true meaning of Christmas — the grace, love and mercy of God.  Daisy has never been special to anyone in her whole life.  Socially she ranks at the bottom of the bottom.  William didn’t have to marry Daisy.  He could have said his goodbyes and gone to meet his Maker in peace.  But quite deliberately, in full knowledge of what his death would mean for the living, he married her — to make a better life for her, yes, but even more so, to leave a legacy of love by pairing Daisy and his lonely father together.  The look on Daisy’s face is priceless when she realizes, “I were only ever special to William,” and that William wanted them both to be loved even though she’s done nothing to deserve it.  William may be gone, but his love will live on because he was selfless enough, even through his pain at the end, to give his father a daughter and Daisy a special place in someone’s heart.  Basically, he found another way to make me cry.  William’s gift has haunted me every day since I’ve seen this episode.  I hope if you watch it, even if you come away with nothing else, you will come away knowing you are special to God and that He went to a great effort to let you know how much.  We’re Daisy.  And William is the reason for the season.

Looking ahead to season three, we know that Mary won’t have to go to America because she has been saved from scandal by Matthew’s proposal.  So we will have at least one wedding to look forward to — hopefully minus a lethal epidemic.  Will P. Gordon return to challenge his inheritance?  Will we see Freddie or Charlie growing up?  I guess we’ll find out next January.  My calendar is already marked!

Until then, keep yourself entertained watching Picture Shows & Petticoats for more period drama chat.  🙂

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