Downton Abbey 2.CHRISTMAS EPISODE!

No, seriously, seriously go away right now if you’ve not seen the finale. Go!

Happy sigh, everyone. Happy sigh. And in keeping with that emotive beginning, let’s recap (organized according to the words and/or sounds my fellow-watchers and I most frequently interjected):

Awwwwwww! That sweet little brooch Mary gave Anna reminded me how much I’ve grown to love Mary. I mean, consider it: can you imagine the brittle, selfish heiress from season one, the girl who balked at the idea of going into mourning for her dead fiance, bidding Sir Richard farewell with genuine grace and goodwill after everything he’d done to her? Or instinctively offering a steadying hand to Anna in her moment of grief? Or opening her heart and her past to her father and Matthew? Or, frankly, thinking of anyone but herself? As much as I love a sassy girl, I hope this softer, kinder, more selfless Mary is here to stay.

Big “aww” when Sir Anthony Strallan came into the parlor for tea. Although, much as I love Sir Anthony, I do wish they wouldn’t keep sticking Edith with a string of men as interesting as dishrags and as attractive as landed trout. She is lovely, darn it! It’s only by comparison with the luminous Mary and the luscious Sybil that she looks plain, and it’s high time she had some beaux worthy of her in the looks department.

And speaking of Sybil, was anyone else a bit shocked that Lady G just came out and said “pregnant” rather than “expecting” or some other polite euphemism? Anyway, I can’t wait for next season when there’s a charming little Fenian toddling around in adorable period-appropriate sailor suits.

Dan Stevens (who plays Matthew) has been working overtime this season to make every woman in the English-speaking world fall in love with him. Those eyes, my gracious. And the way Matthew and Mary banter and flirt with each other is so companionable and charming, especially at the shoot when he tells her she must promise not to reveal his middle-class ineptitude with guns. The chemistry between those two says a lot about Michelle Dockery and Dan Stevens’s skill as actors — Matthew and Mary have gone from having as much spark as wet sawdust to their stolen glances being used as kindling for the Downton fires.

Probably the best “awww” of the night, though, was the scene in William’s father’s kitchen, Daisy looking awestruck and teary-eyed at the idea of being dear to someone. God love her. She’s got a mother-figure in Mrs. Patmore who, for all her bluster, is a big-hearted and wise woman, and it’s lovely to see her with a father-figure at long last. And she can finally come to terms with her marriage and her affection for William, thank God: “I were only ever special to William; I never thought of it like that.” *sniff, sniff*

Gasp! Y’ALL. Lady Grantham told Lord Grantham about Mr. Pamouk! SHE TOLD HIM ABOUT MR. PAMOUK! AND THEN LORD G TOLD MARY THAT HE KNEW! AND THEN MARY TOLD MATTHEW! What a wonderful few scenes, with everything I love and admire about Lord Grantham right at the forefront. He’s such a good man — a loving father, a protector, a man of ideals and humility, and incredibly smart. And the big revelation scene saw the return of the tough, canny, sensible Cora we loved from season one, in all her maternal glory, after turning momentarily into a snippy little baggage in the last couple of episodes. I think the scene where Lord G tells Mary to give Sir Richard the heave-ho might be my favorite scene from the series so far (topping last week’s favorite, Violet’s Little Chat with Matthew).

Also: FIGHT! Matthew finally socked Sir Richard right across his stupid jaw. Hallelujah.

(Also: Mrs. Hughes said a swear! In public!)

Hahahahaha! Basically all of Violet’s lines this week got a laugh. Spies? She’s a gem, and so wise with her advice to Daisy. She’s been quite the fixer the last few episodes. “I doubt we’ll meet again.” “Do you promise?” “Sorry about the vase.” “Oh, don’t be, don’t be; it was a wedding present from a frightful aunt. I have hated it for half a century.” Isobel got her fair share of sassy lines too — who better to give Matthew a much-needed telling-off for “invoking that poor dead girl’s name” and wallowing in his grief, martyr-like? And the ouija board scenes were a hoot, especially Mrs. Patmore’s transparent effort to ooga-booga Daisy into visiting William’s father.

Poor pathetic Thomas’s schemes were a source of laughter rather than anxiety — he’s almost become a parody of his former self. Seems he’s beginning to realize his own unimportance in the world, which is a good place to start for him! And the servants’ ball scene was hilarious as well.

[Edited for Language]! Sir Richard’s constant passive-aggressive (or just aggressive-aggressive) commentary about how no one appreciates him and everyone’s too easy on the servants and “Oh, suuuuure he’s innocent” and mocking The Game and slandering the poor late Lavinia and on and on just made me crazy. He has always reminded me of a spoiled overgrown child — capable of great charm, even kindness when it suits him, but equally capable of fearsome temper tantrums and ultimately utterly selfish. (Hm, you know, at the start of season one, Mary would have been his perfect match: selfish, thoughtless, superior, petulant…) Miss Shore would be a good match for him, that little social climber. Or even Rosamund herself.

I also rather wanted to take Bates’s defense attorney by the neck and throttle him for presenting such a pathetic case for his client. I’ve seen better defenses on Ally McBeal, and most of those involve hallucinations or musical numbers.

Noooooo! Bates in prison! Bates in leg irons! Bates in the dock! Bates being convicted! Bates getting a death sentence!

(Before we wrap up the wrap-up, just one extended parenthetical, to any ITV/PBS bigwigs who might be lurking about: please, for the love of everything that is good and right and holy, air season three simultaneously everywhere! Not just to satiate your multitudes of American and Australian watchers, but so you can actually make money from the show! In this day of squishy international copyright laws and ubiquitous torrent-ripoff sites, far, far too many people who wouldn’t otherwise have taken your property without paying for it did so, because of the absurdly long wait between the UK premiere and the others! For crying out loud, American fans could buy season two in bookstores before it showed for the first time on television. That’s just stupid. For the sake of your bottom line and your fans’ sanity, please, just air it at the same time in both places. Thank you for your kind attention to this matter.)

OH THANK GOD FINALLY YES. People, I don’t have a caps-lock capsy enough for the proposal scene. Three of the four of us watching may or may not have been crying, and clutching on each other’s hands, and covering our mouths, and whispering, “Oh my gosh, oh my gosh” under our breath. There’s our Mary, looking unbelievably beautiful in the snow, small-talking with her beloved, who says plaintively, eyes aglimmer, “Would you stay, if I asked you to?” They quickly address the problems of Mr. Pamuk and Lavinia, and then Matthew GETS DOWN ON ONE KNEE AND ASKS MARY TO MARRY HIM AND SHE. SAYS. YES! And then they kiss and laugh and embrace and are as jubilant and relieved as they ought to be having fought through years of heartache and confusion to arrive at that triumphant moment, the last moment of this season of Downton Abbey.

And so on that happy note we bid adieu to our dear friends upstairs and down, until season three!

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8 thoughts on “Downton Abbey 2.CHRISTMAS EPISODE!

  1. Loved all the bits you mentioned, Laura. Plus the scene with Edith and Sir Anthony, when she says something like “You can’t imagine for a moment I’m going to let slip away a man who tells me I’m lovely!” It’s the best line she’s ever had, and she delivered it brilliantly.

    I wondered too when Cora said “pregnant”, but now I think it was intended to show she’s American. Whether American rich people were any more inclined to say “pregnant” over “expecting” or “in the family way” I don’t know, but it wouldn’t be the first anachronism to makes its way into the script.

    Thanks for another great recap!

    Tim

  2. I’m pretty sure I squealed for a solid five minutes after the last of the credits disappeared. The proposal scene was absolutely deliciously perfect. The way Matthew directs those blue eyes sideways to look at Mary… the brilliant smiles on both of their faces as he spins her around… it just couldn’t get any better. I was pretty much hyperventilating when Matthew got down on one knee and starts into his endearing “Lady… Mary… Crawley…” speech.
    In fact I have not a single complaint about the whole episode. The heroic Mrs. Patmore with her to-die-for look of innocence as she “communicates with the other side.” The deadpan lines from Violet — “Do you promise?” Best ever. I was also taken with the heart-warming conversation between Daisy and Mr. Mason and the whole change that came about in her demeanor after that. She looked so adorable telling O’Brien how “William loved a ball.” And Mary’s talk with her father about Mr. Pamuk was so perfect as well. Mary looked especially lovely and Lord G. was especially kind.

  3. So I’m pretty bummed that Downton is over for a while, but I’m curious to know if ya’ll have seen the BBC’s “Larkrise to Candleford.” The show, which aired on PBS, is finished now, but all four seasons of delightfulness are available on YouTube. It is a charming show, set in early 1900s England, and focuses on the people of the small town of Candleford and the neighboring hamlet, Larkrise. It stars a host of familiar faces from BBC-land and it’s right up there with D.A. for my favorite show ever.
    So I thought I’d throw that out there…

    • I haven’t! Thanks for the recommendation, though! I need all the help I can get to make it another YEAR without Downton (obvious caveat: part of my strategy is to watch through both seasons… probably several times… ;))

      There are several BBC and/or ITV miniseries that I just love, but the only one I’ve found that approaches DA for swooniness is the BBC North&South. Brendan Coyle’s in that one too, along with Anna Maxwell-Martin who played Esther in the new BBC Bleak House.

      • Yes; I am a big fan of North&South as well. It’s the perfect combination of Jane Austen romance and the working-class element. And of course, Richard Armitage is the show’s major wow-factor. 🙂
        You will find Brendan Coyle playing one of the main characters in Larkrise also…

        • Oh huzzah! I love Brendan Coyle.

          But oogh, Richard Armitage. I think if you look up the word “smoldering” you’ll find his picture next to it. *waggles eyebrows*

          • He also played the head of the Gestapo in Conspiracy. Thuggishly evil alongside Branagh’s Heydrich. Looked good in the uniform though. Hugo Boss does that.

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