Downton Done

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Well, that’s that — I think. Everyone lives happily ever after, or for a while longer (in an imaginary world).

Well, not quite everyone. Remember the tenant farmer, Mr. Drewe, and his wife, who was insanely attached to Marigold, illegitimate daughter of Lady Edith, who had stashed Marigold with the Drewes when she was pretending that she hadn’t borne a child out of wedlock? (Whew, that’s a long sentence. And “illegitimate” is such an old-fashioned, judgmental word that I’m bound to get comments from the with-it, non-judgmental crowd.) Anyway, Mrs. Drewe’s attempt to snatch Marigold led to the demise of Mr. Drewe’s tenancy. So it wasn’t happily ever after for the Drewes.

Mr. Carson’s palsy, which suddenly emerged in the final episode, is probably a symptom of Parkinson’s disease. Given the state of medical science in 1926, Carson probably would be doomed to live only a few more years, and those not pleasant ones.

Mrs. Hughes-Carson presumably would be saddled with the care of her curmudgeonly husband, whose suffering probably would make him all the more curmudgeonly and less bearable (if such a thing were possible).

And how would the tattered remnants of Downton’s staff bear up under the butlership of Thomas Barrow? Was he really a reformed man, or would he revert to nasty type and become a less lovable version of Mr. Carson (if such a thing were possible)?

The final season was even more soap-operatic and definitely more perfunctory than its predecessors. But it was great fun while it lasted. (And I must admit that I liked Carson’s steadfast principles and sense of honor.) Better to have ended with (almost) all of the loose ends tied up (mostly happily) than to have ended in vagueness like a French film or in gloom like a Russian one.

I have long wished that I could have been an Englishman in the 1920s — an aristocrat, of course. Even as the aristocracy was crumbling under the assault of envious rabble-rouses, many of its denizens could afford the most stylish clothing, the most stylish automobiles, and the best popular music of any era before or since. Downton Abbey wonderfully captured those aspects of the 1920s.

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