This final two-hour ending reminds me of the beginning two-hour opener of Season 4, fast paced, short scenes, too busy to dwell deep. But here we have a plethora of characters and grander moments, the Prince of Wales with his parents King George V and Queen Mary joining the cast? A bit surreal I feel.
Interesting too that despite the spectacular scenes, these final two hours are relatively uneventful, not many threads leading to new story ideas. Mary will keep on being pursued. Now that she has found out Charles Blake is a much more eligible bachelor than she first thought, will that make a difference to her? That heart-to-heart talk between Mary and Tony, with her hand gently placed on his arm, welcoming whatever future life might bring is one of my favourite moments.
And Rose, after her débutante ball, will pursue even more.
Bates’s status quo will remain the same too. He won’t be investigated further as far as Mary is concerned. Mrs. Hughes has already released him. Bates’ loyalty to The Crawley family has exchanged a pardon from Mary, whereby she burns the train ticket, evidence proving his presence in London on the day Green was accidentally killed. So far of course. All things are in the hands of the powerful Julian Fellowes, who BTW, has thrown us a case of debatable ethics.
Bates has proven himself to be more resourceful than we first thought. Why am I not surprised? Now… that makes me think of Michael Gregson winning back all the poker money from Sampson in one night. Sampson should have learned his lesson by now. The Crawley household is his nemesis, even their guests and servants .
Eight months after Edith has gone to Switzerland and come home more tired than ever, she begins to have second thoughts. Having given birth to a baby girl and weaning her, she has put her up for adoption in Geneva with the Schroeders upon the persuasion of Aunt Rosamund. Back home, Edith misses her daughter and revives her initial idea of asking the tenant farmer Mr. Drewe to raise the baby incognito, to which Drewe agrees. But why would he agree though, and to keep it a secret just between the two of them? Now this could be the beginning of a dramatic storyline in Season 5.
Michael Gregson is still nowhere to be found, although we know what has taken place before his disappearance. And that just makes me tip my hat and raise a little respect for him. Although in Rosamund’s eyes, he’s just plain stupid. Why, to ‘take exception’ to what some men are saying, men wearing ‘brown shirts’? If he had known they were, exactly, ‘The Brownshirts’ (Sturmabteilung), Nazi goons, would he have shown his opposition so readily? But I say, kudos to him. Another case of debatable ethics thrown to us by Julian Fellowes.
Sarah Bunting turns out to be much more annoying. Her insistence to visit the Crawley home in their absence and going upstairs is more than a little imprudent. She sure has made a huge leap from Elizabeth Bennet in terms of social courtesy. Remember how uncomfortable Lizzy is in visiting Pemberley in the absence of its host. I sure hope Tom can stand his ground with this gal. Her seemingly innocent and assertive demeanour just may hide a more malicious intent. After all, Downton represents the aristocracy that she loathes.
The main attraction of this finale is of course Martha Levinson and his son Harold sailing the ocean blue to Downton Abbey. I first had high expectations for Paul Giamatti. MacLaine we had seen her in Season 3, so she keeps the critical face towards the British aristocracy, that’s consistent. Hers and Violet’s harsh and honest exchanges against each other add colours to the gentility that has prevailed the night of the ball.
But I must say, Giamatti’s constipated (can’t think of another word) performance is a surprise and disappointment. I had expected a much more animated screen presence. Even Daisy saying: ‘I’m never excited’ is funnier. BTW, that’s got to be one of my favourite lines in this episode. Back to Harold, he and his initial qualm with Madeleine Asslop is fine, having many fathers ‘shoving their daughters’ at him. But falling for her right after? Julian Fellowes is a master matchmaker, but we all hope to see compatibility, at least just in appearance.
Like, ah… Isobel and Lord Merton. Isobel is not interested, at this stage. When he asks her to dance and she says “I’m really not much of a dancer,” I like his prompt reply: “O all right. So we’re a perfect match.”
The most cinematic scene has to be the seaside relaxation for the staff. There are very few scenes in all Downton Seasons that are just composed of the downstairs characters alone in the great outdoor. Here by the seaside, mood changes. We love to see them enjoy themselves for a change, like Mrs. Patmore buying an ice cream cone, Molesley playing football, Anna and Bates finally taking a relaxing stroll (love their hats), and Baxter becoming brave. Daisy is sweet even when she turns down Levinson (ok, Ethan Slade); Ivy is excited to have the chance to go to America. But the final scene belongs to Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson:
“We can afford to live a little.”
Season 5: Something to look forward to. Just another year, that’s all.
Downton Abbey Season 4 Recaps: