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‘Downton Abbey’ Series Finale Recap: Shake It Off

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It’s been two long weeks since Edith finally snapped and gloriously cussed Mary out! Will the series culminate in a bloody sisterly duel? Will Thomas avoid the sad, miserably alone gay trope and shack up with a hot dude? Will a sinkhole open up right underneath Carson and deliver him to H-E-double hockey sticks? Only one way to find out! On with the show!

The last Downton episode we will ever watch begins the only way it can: by getting our tear ducts warmed up with shots of babies Sybbie, George and Marigold frolicking alongside brand new adorable puppy, Tia'a. This is going to be a long, emotional 93 minutes! I'm guessing you and I will both ugly cry at least once.

The whole family is on a stroll. Lady Mary obviously doesn't read my recaps because, despite my strong opinions on the matter, she insists on using a parasol, even though there is no sun anywhere in England.

Edith has decided to move to London and enlist Marigold in a school (*pearl clutch*). Robert, whose only function is to represent dusty, out-dated points of view, is like But no! Everyone ignores him.

Cousin Isobel, ever the you-know-what-stirrer, asks, "Does [Marigold] have any relations who ought to be kept informed?" The Crawleys, who have won worst-secret-keepers-in-all-the-land six years running, all look at each other with expressions reserved for people who've just farted, but poorly pretend they didn't. Isobel doesn't catch on cause she's too busy gloating to herself over being right about that boring hospital merger thing that we spent SEVEN ENTIRE EPISODES on.


Edith ends the scene by accepting her fate, which has seemed inevitable since episode one: "Anyway, I'm a spinster, aren't I? And spinsters live alone." Poor Jan. And poor Marigold, really, who's in store for a life that resembles Grey Gardens. (OMG, it just clicked that Big and Little Edie's real names were...Edith!)

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Robert alludes to the Dowager being ill. So help me, goddess, if Julian Fellowes kills her off in this episode, I will buy a bunch of Tae Bo tapes, train for many weeks as a champion fighter, travel to England and kick his ass.

Henry smokes a cigarette as despairingly as possible to get Mary's attention. It works. Mary is like, Hey, sorry about your dead friend. Henry then reveals he's not so into cars and racing anymore. Mary thinks to herself that the money she paid that auto-mechanic to mess with Henry's friend's car was well worth it. Oh, come on, would you put it past her?

In the shoe polish room, where everything happens, Thomas approaches Baxter, Andy and Anna to thank them for saving his life post-suicide attempt. Baxter and Andy react like normal, empathetic human beings, by saying they were glad to do it and are glad he gets to stay a bit longer. Anna takes a different approach: "Why not use the time [you have left here] to try and understand what brought you so low?" Ex-squeeze me? Victim blaming? Really? Also, it won't take too much time to understand what brought him to slit his wrists: homophobic bullies like Carson, Robert, Andy and your very own husband. Get out of here, Anna.

Over at the Dowager's bachelorette pad, she is very much alive (*cancels Tae Bo order*) and gossiping with cousin Isobel. Apparently, Isobel's ex's rude son invited her to tea, but then flaked. Oh, who cares, we all know this is heading to Isobel getting back with Lord Merton, let's just fast forward to the wedding and spend this precious time watching the Dowager judge all the attendees mercilessly, give a boozy, barbed speech, and dance on a table to the beat of a rowdy quintet.

In Mrs. Hughes office, she and Anna discuss maternity leave. Carson comes in and, you guessed it, announces his disapproval of lady's maids being pregnant and/or married. He makes me so angry that I wish I had a prosthetic leg just so I could throw it at him.


Outside, Edith hears a cocktail shaker and says, "What a cheering sound!" Do you blame her? Before therapy stopped being taboo, drinking a sh*t ton was the only way to deal. And, boy, does she have a lot to deal with. Edith and all the other rich people enjoy their cocktails because all the dead relatives, burst ulcers and aborted engagements are behind them now. Or are they???

In the downstairs kitchen, Andy is bragging about how he can read and stuff now. Cool. Thomas comes by and jokingly tells him to stop the "love talk" with Daisy. Aw, I'm glad he's accepted Andy's non-gayness. Can't say the same for myself, though. #LetThomasMakeOut! Daisy is offended by the prospect of Andy as a lover because everything she does in this season has to make zero sense. Mrs. Patmore is like, Girl, please.

Upstairs, the rich folk are talking about visiting the under-the-weather Dowager (*reorders Tae Bo tapes*), when Carson's body goes berserk for a second, causing him to spill a bunch of wine. OMG, did someone request another exploding, potentially fatal ulcer? Yep! That was me!


Downstairs, Andy approaches Mrs. Patmore and asks, "Is Daisy interested in men?" BA HA HA.

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Mrs. Patmore assures him that Daisy isn't a lesbian and Andy vows to date her. Series finales are always like this: throwing different characters together like spaghetti at a wall and seeing what sticks.

The next day, Thomas gets some good news for a change. He got a job! Carson gloats, but I'm not even mad about it cause his days are numbered, muahaha.

Across town, Denker paints her nails a scandalous nude color! Good for her.

Edith drops in to talk to Spratt a.k.a. Cassandra Jones about how awesome he is at writing about lady things. So awesome that he's getting a full page spread in every issue from now on! This storyline is amazing.

In town, Molesley tells Baxter he doesn't really get the point of shampoo (he probably doesn't like it cause it makes his shoe polish hair dye run). They bump into the schoolmaster, who offers Molesley a full-time position and an apartment. Another storyline, quickly wrapped lickety-split.

On a drive to London, Edith makes Henry promise not to tell Mary about Spratt's secret identity. He asks why not and Edith gives a loaded look like Uhhhh, remember the last time she found out a secret and got me de-titled and mercilessly dumped?! Yeah, so zip the lip, pretty boy.

Back at the Dowager's, Denker doesn't waste any time threatening Spratt in order to find out what he's hiding. Her wig really does deserve an acting award, or at least a prize for most attention-grabbing accessory.

Back at the Abbey, Andy asks Daisy to go on a walk and she's like:


Mrs. Patmore tells her to chill out.

A few minutes later, Carson interrupts a convo between Mrs. Patmore and Hughes. He takes a cup of tea and his hand shakes a bunch.


Mrs. Hughes follows him into his office to confront him about whatever is going on with his health, but he denies anything is going on until Molesley comes in to share his good news (bad idea). Carson obviously makes Molesley feel like crap about his new teaching opportunity because, even on his way to his death bed, it's important that he stay consistent in being the most miserable person to ever grace the moors of Yorkshire.

Over at the Dowager's, she still alive and hanging out with Mary and Robert. Edith's breakup comes up and Mary has a cat-ate-the-canary look about her; she either has a plan to get them back together or is just very pleased with how she broke them up in 30 seconds or less, a new record for her.

The topic switches to Cora taking over the Dowager's hospital gig because the Downton writers think we're heavily invested in that dead horse of a storyline (we're not). Then this exchange happens:

Mary: "Swallow it, Granny. It's stuck in your craw long enough."

Dowager: "Oh, don't worry about me. I gobbled it up long ago. It's your father who seems to have difficulty swallowing these days."

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Across town, Isobel drops in on her ex. Despite humming Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" to herself for weeks, she feels like Hmm, maybe we will? Well, it's too little too late because Lord Merton is suffering from pernicious anemia and is going to die pretty soon. Exes: use 'em or lose 'em!

Across town, Edith shows Henry her London digs and HE CALLS HER EDIE, further solidifying my Grey Gardens theory! He confesses that he's giving up driving, but has some concerns about how Mary will take it:

Henry: "She certainly won't enjoy the transformation of her glamorous ace of a husband into a man who sits about the house with nothing to do."

Edith: "Well, then, you must find something to do."

Another women's advice column, coming right up!

Back at Downton, a huge, scary hairdryer comes in the mail. If Chekhov's principle holds ("If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off"), then someone is getting a rad blowout by the end of this episode. Let it be Mrs. Patmore!

It probably won't be though because Daisy is complaining about how she's never changed her hairstyle (her age also hasn't changed over the 13 years we've known these people, but who's counting). Andy tries to flirt some more by telling her she doesn't need to change her hair. Daisy responds the only way she knows how:

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Back in London, Aunt Rosamund is taking Edith to the Ritz for dinner. They are talking smack about Mary cause what else is there to talk about really? They roll up to the table and - boom! - Bertie is standing there. Aunt Rosamund is like K byeee! Miles away, canary-in-the-mouth Mary smiles to herself.

Edith and Bertie have a dramatic post-breakup convo in front of their waiter, who is internally eating popcorn and going Ooooo. Edith is being pretty harsh with Bertie. Memo to Edith: Hey, girl. It's me. Um, remember that whole thing where you lied to him about having a daughter and irrevocably damaged the trust between you? Yeah. Be nicer.

My memo must have been lost because she makes Bertie cry, while the waiter who's pretending not to be eating all this up, pours champagne. But all's well that ends well: they get back together! And no one has pernicious anemia! Yay!

Back at Downton, in the shoe polish room (where else?), Thomas tells Baxter he's going to try and be someone else at his new job. No, Tommy, it's not you, it's them!

Upstairs, Robert bursts into the bedroom with breaking news about Edith:

Robert: "You're not going to believe it!"

Cora: "She's pregnant again?"

Robert: "No!"

Cora: "She's been arrested for treason?"

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Best use of Cora in six whole seasons!

At the Dowager's, she and Isobel talk about how pernicious pernicious anemia is.

Back at Downton, the fam is taking off to meet Edith's mother-in-law. Thomas says his goodbyes and thanks Robert for his homophobia over the years. WTF. Then, Cora reminds me that Thomas saved Edith from dying in a fire! That makes the way people have treated Thomas all season even worse! I'm glad he's ditching these jerks once and for all.

Downstairs, Daisy plays around with Snapchat filters:



Daisy thinks she looks frumpy and unemployable. Andy says he would hire her. Daisy, once again, is not having any of it:

clueless ugh as if gif

In some other part of England, Cora and Robert drive up to the gargantuan castle that is set to be Edith's future home. Mary can have Downton. Inside, they walk through room after room after room to get to the one that holds Bertie and his mom. Then, Edith makes her entrance and Bertie's mom is like:

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Back at Downton, Henry is STILL talking about how he's decided to give up racing. Yes, we know! I gave up yoga and trying to learn French and drinking Long Island Iced Teas, but you don't hear me carrying on about it, do you? Get on with your life!

Carson goes to pour something again and shakes it all over the table.


Back at Edith's palace, Bertie's mom makes it clear that she is not moving out EVER! Everyone is like, Um, we didn't say anything. She goes on to ramble about how Bertie must bring morality and family values back to the title because his dead cousin was super gay and loved painting Moroccan boys. So now they have to tell her about Marigold and Thomas.

In the village, Isobel and her dying ex visit Dr. Clarkson who says Yeah, you're going to be dead soon. Sorry not sorry. (Remember their love triangle B-plot?) Then, Dr. Clarkson has to watch them make goo-goo eyes at each other, while he internally screams.

Outside of the doctor's office, Lord Merton's evil daughter-in-law is waiting to snatch him away. Isobel tries to have a Real Housewives moment with her, but she's bad at being taken seriously and is cut off mid-sentence by evil daughter-in-law: "Heavens, is that the time? Good day, Mrs Crawley!" Okay, time to call in reinforcements a.k.a. the Dowager.

Back at Downton, Henry is STILL moaning about not having a hobby. He sure is lucky he has a nice face.

Downstairs, Thomas says his final goodbyes and forgives everyone for making him so miserable he wanted to die in a bathtub. He even thanks Carson. Since we haven't ugly cried yet, the kids are brought in to say goodbye:

Baby George: "Please don't go."

Thomas: "Oh, I must go, Master George, but remember I will always be your friend wherever I am."

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Back at Fortress Edith, Edith decides to tell Bertie's mom everything. Eeeek!

Over at Thomas' new workplace, his super old employer confirms that there are only two other servants in the whole place. Thomas looks out a window and despairs.

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At Daisy's father-in-law's farm, Daisy watches Andy seductively hammer nails, while wearing a thin, sweaty laborer's shirt. Her father-in-law mentions Andy's "young man's muscles" and how he is a "crackin' lad," leading Daisy to have an epiphany:

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Back at Edith's British Versailles, Bertie has it out with his mother over Edith's secret illegitimate child. His mom calls Edith "damaged goods." *cue the Jerry Springer audience ooooo's*

At Lord Merton's, evil daughter-in-law slams the door in Isobel's face.

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Elsewhere, Branson and Henry plot something that probably has to do with cars. Next!

In Carson's office, Molesley arrives to give in his notice, but says he hopes to pitch in on special occasions since he'll still have his livery. Carson is unsurprisingly terrible: "Your livery stays here!" Even Mrs. Hughes is like Dude, give the evil thing a rest! 

Over at Thomas' new spot, he snuffs out dinner candles, just like his desire to live has been.

At Petite Trianon, the banquet where Bertie wants to announce his engagement is underway. They are serving things out of carved pineapples! Every time Bertie attempts to tell everyone about marrying Edith, his mom toast-blocks him. She eventually relents and everyone celebrates by getting wasted.

At Lord Merton's, the Dowager teaches evil daughter-in-law who runs sh*t around here by bursting in and creating a scene, which leads to Lord Merton finding out her nefarious plan, getting engaged to Isobel, and telling his son: "Larry, as my son, I love you, but I've tried and failed to like you." Check mate!

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Back at Downton, Edith is back from her castle and takes Mary aside to thank her for arranging the Ritz summit. Mary explains why she's being nice to Edith for the first time ever: "Look, we're blood and we're stuck with it. So, let's try and do a little better in future." Peace in the Middle East is possible!

Downstairs, Daisy is finally ready to make out with Andy, but he's over it:


Time leap to December 29, 1925, the week of Edith's wedding! Cousin Rose shows up from America without her three-month-old because what a bother that would be. She runs around, hyper as ever, greeting everyone and not being Sybil (nice try, Downton writers).

Over at the Dowager's, Denker threatens to reveal Spratt's secret identity. We're seriously wasting time on another Denker-blackmails-someone storyline?

At Downton, Cora tells everyone about her cool new job over dinner. Robert gets mad that she's a woman with something to do, other than doting on a man. He grumpily asks Carson for more wine, but Carson can't pour it. Later, he tells Robert that he must resign because he can no longer perform his duties.

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Across town, Henry and Branson finally let Mary in on their secret: they opened a used car dealership! She pretends to be excited and not at all bothered to her innermost core over Edith getting the castle and fancy title. Oh, and because it's the last episode and everything possible must take place, Mary's pregnant.

Across town, Rose forces Robert to visit the hospital so he can see Cora at work and realize that it's okay for women to do things. He blossoms into a feminist in 2.3 seconds. It's about time.

Back at Downton, Daisy is on a mission to upgrade her look. She sneaks into Mary's room and snags the hairdryer. This will not end well. Please don't get bangs.

At the Dowager's, Denker is still working on getting Spratt in trouble. The Dowager is not biting at all the hints she's dropping so Denker must resort to Plan B: just giving her a copy of the column and pointing at it furiously.

The next day, Daisy is wearing her bonnet all weird. Mrs. Patmore and Anna pressure her to take it off. Bates silently stands by, per usual (the lines they've given this character over six years could fit on a single double-spaced sheet of paper). Daisy reveals her crazy new hairdo just in time for Andy to walk by and point and laugh. Love (and hair care) is a battlefield.

Anna helps Daisy fix the damage and unfortunately gives her bangs.



Andy comes in and helps her clean up the hair. He then takes some of it to keep. Y'all haven't been on a single date yet so maybe cool it on the hair keepsakes for now.

At the church, it's time to get this wedding popping! Henry annoyingly talks about his unborn baby in a loud voice. Meanwhile, Branson flirts up a storm with Edith's editor because no straight character must be left uncoupled by the end of this episode.

Dr. Clarkson sneaks up on Isobel and Lord Merton to say that the anemia isn't pernicious after all! Lord Merton will die of old age in, like, five years instead of right away! Woo hoo!

On the grand staircase at Downton, Edith descends in a gorgeous wedding dress with a veil for days. Robert is there to receive her and reiterate what everyone has said all episode: OMG, I can't believe things worked out for you! Edith is like, Me neither! I was all set to live with Marigold, non-house-trained stray cats and grabby raccoons!

During the ceremony, everyone is paying attention, except for Henry, who insists on talking throughout about his unborn baby in a creepy whisper. Edith withstood being left at the altar by an old dude, being spurned by her burn-victim cousin, having her fiance killed by Nazis, almost dying in a fire, having to give birth in secret, having her daughter kidnapped, etc. etc. etc. so do shut up, Henry, and let her have her moment!

The priest asks for anyone who has a problem with Edith's happy ending to speak now or forever hold their peace. Stay seated and quiet, Mary! You too, Bertie's mom! An interminable silence passes. And, phew, we made it! Go on and celebrate, beleaguered Team Edith!

At the reception, Robert comes out to Cora as a feminist and tells her he's proud of her for being good at her job. Cora makes a mental note to cancel her next rendezvous with her London art dude side-piece.

Downstairs, Daisy's ugly bangs tell Andy she's moving in with her father-in-law and that's she's down to go on a date at some point. If the rest of Downton's relationships are anything to go by, they'll be married and pregnant with twins in two weeks, three tops.

They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results. So consider Carson really freaking insane because he tries to pour something AGAIN and it, of course, goes all over the place. He turns into Gollum and spits out, "I CANNOT POUR THE BLOODY STUFF!!!" Robert rushes up and is like, Okay, that's it. Someone keep Carson away from bottles from now on please! Oh, and Thomas, you're butler now. A victory for gay rights...kinda.

Upstairs, Anna is returning the hairdryer when her water breaks on the floor. Mary doesn't smack her with a hairbrush like she probably would have six years ago. Character development!

Elsewhere in the house, the Dowager commends Spratt on his awesome fashion and entertaining advice in front of Denker. Why keep employing such a troublemaking drunk? Eh, not enough time to care about this anymore.

Downstairs, Daisy's father-in-law comes onto Mrs. Patmore because, like I said, no straight person shall go uncoupled.

Upstairs, Edith throws the bouquet before going on her honeymoon. No surprise here: her lady editor friend a.k.a. Branson's future wife catches it. Sybil's ghost will hopefully take over this woman's body as a vessel and Branson and Sybil can be together again! Hey, if Edith can have a happy ending, anything is possible!

In Mary's room, Anna has a healthy baby, zero preeclampsia. Everyone pretends to not be grossed out by a servant having had a baby in an upstairs bedroom. Mary will have the soiled bed put into Edith's room in the morning.

The clock strikes midnight and a new year begins. Everyone kisses and drinks and sings "Auld Lang Syne." The Dowager has the last word, as she should, and is still kicking as the camera pans away from the Abbey, blanketed in snow. And I can rest easy knowing that I don't have to travel halfway across the world to Tae Bo Julian Fellowes into the next dimension.

After every episode, it's only right to reward characters who've impressed and diss the ones that haven't, so here goes:

PIECE OF COAL: Lord Merton's evil daughter-in-law: Seeing as it's the last episode, I was going to pardon everyone, but then I remembered this piece of work.

HONORABLE MENTION: Cora: Still laughing at her "Is she pregnant or arrested for treason" joke. And props for rocking it at her first job ever. Way to surpass my very low expectations of you, sister!

BRONZE: Thomas: He didn't get a make out buddy and will probably die alone, but he got his coveted butler position so that's something.

SILVER: The Dowager: Mathematically speaking, she should be dead by now. But she's not. Because she's perfect and immortal. May she continue living until the planet is snuffed out by global warming.

GOLD: Edith: After six years of Marcia, Marcia, Marcia, for once, the people sang Jan, Jan, Jan!


That's all, folks! It's been a pleasure watching along with you this season. If you want to keep up with my work, I write daily for KQED Pop. You can also hear my opinions on all things pop culture on The Cooler podcast. And if Twitter is your thing, follow me!

Previous Season 6 recaps:

‘Downton Abbey’ Season 6 Episode 8 Recap: Tears Dry On Their Own

'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 7 Recap: Off to the Races

'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 6 Recap: I Get So Lonely

'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 5 Recap: Sunday Bloody Sunday

'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 4 Recap: I Will Remember You

‘Downton Abbey’ Season 6 Episode 3 Recap: Chapel of Love

'Downton Abbey' Season 6 Episode 2: All That She Wants Is Another Baby


‘Downton Abbey’ Season 6 Premiere Recap: Let’s Talk About Sex

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