We've made it! This is the SEASON FINALE of Downton Abbey. Okay, well, yes, due to the British habit of Christmas specials (do these all air on Christmas? How do they have time to do yearly reenactments of Love Actually?) this is the second to last episode. But it's still two hours! So tuck yourself in, remember the old SPOILER ALERT, and get ready for laughter, love, tears, and tradition. On to Downton.
We begin with the most hotly anticipated ending of the season! Bates is finally out of Downton Oz! His limp is back and his true love is waiting for him! Will she ever know the limp is just for effect and he uses violence to get what he wants? I think that Sherlock Anna knows and she doesn't care one bit! That's what true love means!
Downstairs, the footmen are in a dithery tither! What will happen to Thomas' career now that Bates is back??
Upstairs, angry old man Robert is angry again. Luckily his truest, dearest friend is home and he has that dog sidekick. Maybe things are looking up?
It's raining at Downton. Last time this happened Sybil and Branson had to escape by boat separately from Ireland. What does it mean this time? Maybe a different sort of disaster is coming. This one will be prostitute-based as it appears Lady Violet isn't as friendly to the ladies of the night as she once was. As she tells Isobel: "You've surrounded this house with a miasma of scandal." Not looking good for old Ethel.
In the background the nanny walks the baby much like one would walk a dog.
Mosely says something sad.
Downstairs, Ivy is going on daaaaaaaaaate with Aaaaaaalfred.
Upstairs, Robert and Matthew are getting IN TO IT re: how to run the whole estate. We haven't been treated to Matthew's yelly-angry face in a while and I, for one, am glad to see it back.
Grandma Violet is becoming more and more conservative as the episode goes on, this time telling Edith not to get too uppity and think she can write for a newspaper, even though Violet was the one who told her to get out of the house in the first place: "I meant run a local charity or paint water colors or something!" Obviously! How did you get that twisted, Edith?
Downstairs, the love triangle is just full of idiots at this point. I still want Daisy to get with Branson. Maybe they could run a nice little farm together and raise little Sybil who IS THE CUTEST BABY IN THE WORLD. GIVE ME THAT BABY.
Bates and Anna walk through the woods and I keep expecting the two troublemakers from jail to jump out of the bushes and start plotting behind his back.
I want to reiterate that the O'Brien evil matchmaking plot makes me feel dirty and not in a good way. Pause for shower.
At dinner, everything is falling apart: there is open talk of the prostitute and the footmen are throwing shellfish at the Dowager while Isobel mocks the very FABRIC OF LIFE by saying: "Yes, let's hear how a woman's place is in the home!" and Matthew and Robert are about to murder each other and Edith is running off to London, probably to become an old maid/prostitute herself. Finally, Robert gets drunk and everybody else turns Catholic. Or at least I think that's what happened. I blacked out from discomfort.
In bed with Matthew and Mary and as usual nothing happens. This is clearly starting to become a problem for them and not just us.
And now! An actual talking scene between Jimmy and Tommy! For a show that touted this year's "gay plot," this one moment of conversation is epically disappointing. But then again, they also featured Shirley MacLaine on all the posters so I guess this season is really about marketing and disappointment.
Utterly refusing to accept the fact that there will be no real gay subplot this season, Thomas tries to have a romantic tryst with the beautiful tease Jimmy but is unfortunately interrupted by a) Jimmy's screams and b) Alfred who's NEVER HEARD OF KNOCKING apparently. Thomas is now officially my favorite character. Everyone against him is now against me. Alfred: dead to me. O'Brien: if I had the chance I would tell Cora about the soap you dropped. Jimmy: YOU ARE A FOOL. Thomas could be yours! Have you seen his hair? Do you know the crazy, sneaky, illegal things he would do to get you whatever job you wanted? If you got with Thomas you could be PRESIDENT. Sigh. I hate you.
And then we are in London, with my other favorite: Edith. Speaking of president, I want her to be president of this newspaper. And definitely fall in love with this editor guy. Finally?
In the drawing room, the conversation is getting po-li-ti-cal for the riches while the poors, the footmen, are dealing with their masculinity issues. Who's gay? I'M not gay!
Reinstated in the bedroom, in the Crawley tradition of talking about your parents in bed, Robert admits that his mom is basically Machiavelli.
Back in London, finally Edith has both a job and a love interest. She's a real 80's woman!! Get this girl some shoulder pads!
In the library, a powwow between Jarvis the Guy I've Never Heard Of, Murray the Lawyer, Rob the Old and Matt the Young degenerates into a job opportunity for Branson.
Downstairs, we meet the "rough diamond," the older Mr. Branson, who is a much less tame revolutionary than little Tommy. Please let him get drunk at dinner. Please?
Because we are in their bedroom and it is not bedtime, we are treated to a little old-fashioned dirty talk between Mary and Matthew: "Come here." "You'll make me untidy." "Good." LET'S PRODUCE AN HEIR GUYS!
As usual, dinner does not go Robert's way. Catholics and just general insubordination. Where is his dog? Get the man his dog!
In the after dinner room (drawing room? I have no idea which room this is), Violet's newest Machiavellian meddling activity is revealed: she's trying to move Ethel out of town "for her own good." Maybe it's time for Violet to start writing for a paper? Watercolors? She clearly needs a hobby. To avoid the whole situation, the older Branson gets drunk like a poor (beer?!).
When Alfred decides to turn Thomas in for gayness and I guess make-out rape, Carson's response is a bit confusing: "You are a man now and you must learn to take it on the chin." Um, take what on the chin?
Lady Violet Machiavelli returns to the house to get Branson the job we all knew he needed since he dropped the fact that his grandpa was a sheep farmer: Guy in Charge of Farm. Robert feebly attempts to retain power by accepting but adding the "conditions" (he does love conditions), that Matthew, Branson's BFF, has to say yes to the idea and that when Cora and Violet are shown to be wrong (how?), they have to admit it. Violet, the ever emasculating mother says: "That is an easy caveat to accept because I am never wrong."
In another difficult to swallow scene, Thomas admits to Carson that he is a boy who loves boys. Carson seems INCREDIBLY accepting of this whole thing. Maybe he is a friend of Dorothy as well?! Is this why he never makes the move on Hughes?!
At the christening, we learn an important fashion lesson: ladies wear lavender to christenings. During the pictures, Robert looks a bit squeamish about standing next to a Catholic priest. Cora says: "What's the matter Robert, are you afraid you'll be converted while you're not looking?" which begs the question: was Sybil christened by Thomas and is this the early '90s in Oregon?
Downstairs we find out Carson has VERY modern views on homosexuality and believes Thomas has no choice about being gay. This is especially interesting coming from a man who thinks prostitutes and electric toasters are abominations against God.
Apparently they have an annual cricket game at Downton. Since when?
Is Mary pregs? FINALLY?!
Mosely the Sad Panda is back to being sad, going on and on about how great he is at cricket. New theory: the guy who plays Mosely is a total jerk in real life, especially to the writers. Like he takes their parking spots and sleeps with their wives. This is their revenge.
On the other end of the spectrum, Branson won't shut up about how BAD he is at cricket. I guess they play other sports in Ireland? Bomb Hot Potato? Protestant v Catholic Red Rover?
Bates and Thomas glare at each other.
Back in bed Matt and Mar make out some more but THAT'S ALL, okay buddy? Is Mary pregs or is she just sick or maybe she has a disease of some sort? Oh no! Is eclampsia catching?
Downstairs, annoying Jimmy gets up on his high horse re: gay behavior. Hey Jimmy, you won't turn a blind eye to sin? I won't turn a blind eye to how un-cute you've become now that you are a total jerk face.
In a twist that can only mean T-R-O-U-B-L-E, beautiful young cousin Rose steps out of a car. Blondes! Am I right?
Unaware that such a beautiful treasure has arrived, Thomas is crying again, showing his romantic side, making excuses for Jimmy's bigotry and being my favorite again.
Back in their love nest, Bates shows Anna that he may still be limping but his other parts work! It's called romance. Maybe some other couples around here could take a class?
At the big house a road trip to London is brewing! Rose, Edith and Matthew seem like the perfect cast for a little buddy road movie action, as long as Edith is driving.
Mrs. Hughes, the only real total good person on the show, gives some love to Thomas, saying he can't possibly shock her. Oh really? That seems a bit like a dare but I think Tommy is too sad at this point to actually take her up on it.
Subterfuge-y Mary tries to pull a Lady Violet and dictate which train Matthew takes back from London. Nobody cares Mary.
Downstairs it is revealed that Hughes knows a HOMOSEXUAL! She's down with gays AND prostitutes? She might as well move to San Francisco!
I feel like Thomas and Bates should practice some Christian forgiveness. Maybe they could ask Hughes to mediate.
I don't understand the politics of cricket.
In London, we get to see Rosamund! In terms of pretty teams of troublemakers, I can see her and Rose being a great duo. Blondes! Am I right?
At the editor's office things are heating up between Edith and the man in the vest with the forelock. "Don't be afraid of being serious when it feels right." You said it brother. And don't worry, Edith is not afraid of that.
At the love cottage, Anna has her hair down. She is the PRETTIEST guys. Poor Mary.
In what is becoming a theme, Bates turns out to have a very kind view of gay people. In this way he is more open-minded than most of my neighbors were in 1992.
Back in London, Rose misses dinner because as everyone knew from second one, she is trouble! I love it! Is she taking HEROIN?! Oh no, she's just listening to jazz music. Luckily this means a family trip to the JAZZ CLUB where Matthew starts giving out conditions just like Robert. He will be the head of the household yet.
Downstairs, Jimmy is a mean mean meanie and my newest new theory is that he is actually deep in the closet. I almost feel bad for little Ivy when he yells her down at the table. She might be stupid but at least she isn't an insecure vindictive lunatic, JIMMY.
In the car, the old ladies have a chit chat about prostitutes.
In London, it turns out Matthew came to town get his sperm issues checked out.
Because they are peas in a pod of love, Mary is in town to get her egg issues checked out!
Lucky for them and for little Sybil who definitely needs a cousin, Mary was the problem and now it's all fixed! As she says: "So now we can start making babies." Subtle.
Everyone returns to Downton and Rose the Home Wrecker gets off with barely a scolding. SO SHE THINKS until Violet hears here about her bad badness.
Upstairs, Robert is SO CAVALIER about the issue of the gay in the house, saying: "If I shouted blue every time someone tried to kiss me at Eton, I'd have gone horse in a month." Really? This is the Robert that doesn't want his daughter writing for a newspaper, can't handle it that the woman who cooks for his son-in-law's mother is an EX-prostitute and can barely stand to be in a picture with A CATHOLIC. I guess things were different back then?
Due to his open and accepting feelings towards the gay rights movement, Bates no longer hates Thomas and decides to take revenge for him on O'Brien. Thomas says: "Prison's changed you." Yes it has, Bates. Yes it has.
During another fight in the library about how to run the estate, Robert suggests investing with a guy suspiciously named Ponzi. Old Robert. Was it just last episode when he mentioned that a fool and his money are soon parted and he has been parted with his money? Seriously, just walk your dog Robert. Let the lawyer and the farmer handle the details of things.
Later, Edith Googles her editor over the phone. Sometimes I feel like these writers really wish they were writing a show that happened in 2013. Maybe next season they can reveal that the whole family is actually working with Dr. Who and they actually live in modern times and just went back in time to set everyone straight about gay people.
Anna and Bates use teamwork to terrify O'Brien into making sure Jimmy doesn't force Thomas out with no references. They are basically Sherlock and Watson. Or maybe another dynamic duo but one that blackmails people?
Luckily for everyone, Jimmy is really easily convinced of things and he decides Thomas can have a reference.
Once again I am confused by the politics of cricket.
At breakfast, Branson is the wisest voice of wisdom ever. Even though he's a left footer, he convinces Robert to look to the future of Downton and let Matthew do whatever complicated thing he is planning on doing with the farm. Robert says okay but of course there are conditions and this time they are cricket-related.
Violet Machiavelli doesn't rest. Though she pretends to hate prostitutes, she apparently loves mothers and children and so she uses her powers to get Ethel a job close Charlie, her long-lost (for two episodes) son.
Theory: this episode is going to turn into an underdog sports movie. A ragtag bunch of ruffians from the house beat the stoic winners from town. Branson is somehow very important to this victory.
Back in London, Edith is looking very fetching in her green beret. This does a little to distract from the fact that she is going bananas on her editor who she phone-Googled earlier because he MIDLY flirted with her and HE'S MARRIED. Turns out this wife of his is a REAL nutcase, in an institution even. So Edith is basically Jane Eyre now. I always kind of knew it. Let's everybody try not to burn the house down!
On the cricket field (pitch?), the town team has a few hotties on it. However, cricket is still a ridiculous sport. And Mosely the Man Panda is going to make me cry just by existing. I mean, what is it about him?!
During a break in the play, I think for tea because they literally take tea breaks in cricket, Alfred shows his true O'Brien colors when it turns out he has called the police on Thomas for being gay. Luckily LGBT Allies Carson and Robert are here to smooth the whole mess over, giving the police the oldest excuse in the book for bigotry: "I'm very much afraid to say he was a bit squiffy."
In the end, at the idyllic cricket field, everything good is happening. Branson is going to stay at the big house, Rose is going to be shipped to Scotland, Robert is behind whatever the farm plan is, Thomas isn't going to prison and they are calling the baby SYBBIE. Um what could possibly happen in the Christmas special? I mean DID THEY NOT JUST COME FROM BEHIND USING TEAMWORK TO WIN THIS CRICKET MATCH? Oh wait, they didn't. I forgot cricket matches last days and there is probably a week left in this one. So stay tuned for the Christmas special! When Sybbie turns 14 and the cricket match finally ends!
5. Hughes: Hughes is just a GOOD PERSON. Remember when she almost had cancer? I'm glad that didn't happen.
4. Edith: Get it girl.
3. Thomas: Sure he got his heart broken and almost got sent to prison, but in the end he's getting a PROMOTION. Gayness pays off. And so does a great haircut.
2. Sybbie: OH MY GOD THIS BABY IS SO CUTE.
1. Violet: Whether she is using her powers for good or evil, Violet is clearly the man behind the curtain here. Not only is she a major shot caller, she is a first level joke-teller and a great grandma. Good work Violet. You may not play cricket but I'd pick you for my team any day.