Downton Abbey S5E8 – Love Wins the Day

Downton Abbey S5E8 Anna

The best thing about this series finale is that the bulk of it is a story that hasn’t been dragging on redundantly for a season and a half.  The episode focuses on the wedding of Lady Rose and Atticus Aldridge, that is, the wedding that almost wasn’t. Though we’re also bogged down in the continuing misery of the Bateses, the wedding story is fun enough to make this a worthy close to the season.

Rose is to wed Atticus in London where her soon to be divorced father and disagreeable mother will meet them, coming in from India.  She will marry Atticus in a registry office and be blessed in a church, and she makes this concession to Atticus’ Judaism with aplomb. But Atticus’s father isn’t so ready to make concessions.  He’s angry that his son’s children won’t be Jewish (the coming war hangs over the subtext of this episode like a pall).  Rose’s mother isn’t so pleased either.  When Atticus is photographed half-naked near a lady of the night in a farcical little set-up at his stag party, Atticus suspects his father.  Yet no one but Shrimpie, Rose’s father, suspects Lady Flintshire (other than viewers like me who thought it was obvious), who goes a step further trying to stop the wedding by announcing just before the ceremony that she is about to to divorce Rose’s father.  Happily, Atticus’s mother is as fiery for the good as Lady Flintshire is for the bad.  Yes, it was Lady Flintshire all along and Shrimpie catches her out.  The only downside is that her now former lady’s maid, Miss O’Brien, didn’t help her in the scheme, and does not appear in this episode. Now that would have been fun.Downton Abbey S5E8 Rose

Miss Denker is the new scheming lady’s maid on the block.  But she’s more party animal than strategic villain.  In London, she takes the Crawleys’ temporarily hired footman, Andy, to a gambling hall where she has him lose his money while she scores free drinks.  That a hapless, young man freshly hired out of hallboydom would go the first time is believable enough, but he goes with her a second time and loses his money again.  He appears to be not only an easy mark, but a total push-over.  Thomas gets wind of the mischief, and in a move that appears to be a redeemed do-over of the Jimmy debacle, plays helpful older friend to little Andy.  He goes with them to gambling hall, wins back Andy’s money, and points out Denker to the gambling hall fuzz.  He doesn’t appear to be romantically interested in Andy, going so far as to say, “Next time, ask your uncle Thomas.”  This makes me think he’s doing with Andy what he now thinks he should have done with Jimmy to begin with.  The arc of Thomas this series is either him accepting that he’ll never find love (which is awful), or him becoming a nicer person. Personally, I just really want the snarky bastard to find a boyfriend before Hitler tries to kill him.

In the kitchens, the Miseducation of Daisy Mason has culminated in an existential crisis.  Daisy thinks she’s wasting her life, and in London she impulsively decides to give her notice.  It’s a false start, of course, as Downton has an addiction to pretending people are going to leave when they’re not leaving. Similarly, Branson claims to be leaving for America at Christmas.  We’ll see.   After finding Patmore sobbing alone at the thought of a Daisyless existence in a very sweet scene, and speaking to Mr. Mason on their way to the war memorial back at Downton, Daisy changes her mind.  It would be nice to think of Daisy taking on London, but on the other hand she does have a farm to inherit and she should probably get on that.  The picture Downton paints of Mr. Mason, Mrs. Patmore, and Daisy as a little family is also nearly tear-inducing, though we’re likely to forget the name of William, the naive footman who brought them together.  If you’d asked me in series one who would get the post-war existential crisis, I would not have guessed Daisy.  At the memorial, Patmore finds more peace in the form of a tribute to her nephew, Archie, who was shot for cowardice and thus was not included in the official memorial.  Robert sets it up out of his own pocket and it does seem a Downton tradition that Robert acts like an idiot for most of the season and becomes Mr. Magnanimous in the end.

Downton Abbey S5E8 Cora, Violet and Isobel

While Rose and Atticus battle their disapproving parents, Isobel fears disapproving sons.  She admits to Violet that the terrible behavior of Lord Merton’s boys has given her doubts about her engagement.  Violet encourages her, even as she fears being without her friend. Violet’s own Prince Kuragin wants a real romantic relationship with her and she thinks that at this late date, it’s too late for them.  She doesn’t want the same to happen to Isobel.  The romances of Violet and Isobel and their continuing friendship have definitely been the highlight of series five.

Down to the plots that have plodded on, seemingly without end.  Edith appears settled in raising Marigold as an adopted orphan, to the aggravation of Mary who, not knowing Marigold’s true parentage,  is baffled at her plunge into motherhood. But Robert eventually susses it out.  He won’t tell, but presumably this secret, like other Downton secrets, will bounce around perhaps til the end of the entire show.

And finally, the arrest of Anna Bates.  Of all the plots to repeat, Fellowes chooses to repeat one that no one liked the first time; a Bates being falsely accused of murder and serving time.  A witness has placed Anna at the scene of the crime and off she goes to prison. No viewer is enjoying this plot. I’m baffled. Hopefully, it will all be resolved in the Christmas Special, which actually takes place at Christmas this year.  I want Santa to bring me better writing.