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.

Downton Doings

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Not having read or heard anything about what will happen in the final two episodes of Downton Abbey, I venture the following predictions, some of them admittedly outlandish:

Barrow salvages his place at Downton by accepting a demotion from under-butler to footman, taking the place of Molesley, who becomes a teacher.

Molesley’s rather diffident courtship of Baxter* finally yields an engagement. Molesely and Baxter are unable to have children of their own, so they take up the cultivation of marrows.

Anna goes full term, and Mr. Bates jumps for joy (figuratively, of course). But they both end up in prison when Barrow discovers their clever plot to kill Green and place the blame on someone else. Molesley and Baxter adopt the Bates child, who later in life emigrates to America and manages a motel.

Andy learns to read so that he can become a pig farmer. He and Daisy get hitched and move in with Mr. Mason, who conveniently dies. Andy takes Mr. Mason’s place as tenant farmer. (Alternatively, Daisy reveals her secret passion for Mr. Mason and they wed. This is Daisy’s way of compensating for the unconsummated marriage to Mr. Mason’s son, William.)

Lady Edith tells Bertie the truth about Marigold. Mr. Nice Guy takes it in stride and they wed, after disposing of Michael Gregson (Marigold’s father), who (finally!) returns from Germany as an advance man for Hitler.

It’s a double wedding, actually. Lady Mary, having thrown over two dashing suitors, opts for (literal) solidity in the form of Tom Branson, who seems to have doubled in width since his days as a chauffeur. (I have said since the death of Lady Sybil several seasons ago that Mary and Tom would tie the knot.) This causes some consternation in the Crawley family because it smacks of necro-infidelity.

Lord and Lady Grantham — who foresee the Great Depression and its dire implications for Downton — sell up and move to America, where Lord G. breeds foxes. When that business folds, Lord G. sells vacuum cleaners door-to-door and Lady G. opens a tearoom.

Mrs. Hughes tires of Mr. Carson’s incessant carping about her inferior cookery and smacks him with a cast-iron skillet. Barrow helps Mrs. H. dispose of Mr. C.’s body.

Mrs. H. partners with Mrs. Patmore in the bed-and-breakfast — and other things.

Dr. Clarkson and Lord Merton vie for Isobel’s hand in marriage. A duel is averted when Dr. Clarkson spikes Lord Merton’s claret with digitalis, and declares the cause of death to be an acute myocardial infarction.

O’Brien returns as the Dowager Countess’s lady’s maid. The pair fade into the sunset exchanging acidic insults.
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* For those of you who aren’t devoted to DA, Baxter is a woman. Barrow is the only male character with an overt yen for same-sex sex.