First off, congrats to the whole Downton cast for winning the 2016 Screen Actors Guild’s Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series last Saturday night (Jan. 30). What a wonderful farewell gift. They’ve won this category four times in the past five years. A nice wrap indeed.
Now, to Sunday’s Downton episode. Scribe Julian of this mild and pleasant final Season has dropped a shock bomb so sudden that the surprise element is no less than Matthew’s car accident at the end of Season 3. This time it’s even more graphic. You haven’t seen so much blood gushing out of a person, not even in the WWI battle scenes in Season 2.
That’s what happens if your ulcer bursts. Among the horror and chaos, kudos to Robert that he can utter the endearing last words to Cora, “if this is it, just know that I’ve loved you very, very much,” which Cora firmly repudiated, “This isn’t it, darling.”
So we take her words for it and not worry too much. Just a ploy our scribe Julian uses to make sure we haven’t fallen asleep in this mild and uneventful episode. I mean, what we’ve been looking at, so far, is Mr. Mason moving into Yew Tree Farm, Mrs. Patmore preparing food baskets, Mary watching her first car racing, Edith going on a date, and yes, Neville Chamberlain, yes, that Neville Chamberlain, brought into the battle of the local hospital and then the shocking scene happens.
Let me just recap these mundane events of the evening, albeit I must say, I love the change of scenery for them all. First to Yew Tree Farm. So the Landlord Duo Mary and Tom come to inspect and declare Mr. Mason too old for pig farming. Good Andy comes to the rescue. He’s not only willing to help out but wants to change his career path to become a pig farmer. Daisy is looking at what her future will be like with this ambitious young man and the aging Mr. Mason. Looks like Yew Tree Farm will be handed over to the young soon. But of course, Andy has to start learning to read and write in order to raise pigs. So Mr. Barrow steps in. Is it a good thing I wonder.
Mary Crawley and Henry Talbot, those two are quite incompatible, aren’t they? One craves cars and racing; one loves pigs and property management. One ignores social gaps, why of course, the race track is on pretty level ground; the other esteems her higher position and ‘won’t marry down.’
In contrast, Edith and Bertie, ‘evenly matched’ and ‘balanced’, relating as equals. Those are all Tom’s words reminiscing on his own courtship with Lady Sybil. “Real love means giving someone the power to hurt you.” Tom tells Mary.
And now Edith. Two exemplars for Mary to emulate, or, is she too high up on the horse to see clearly. I’m sure Henry Talbot has his ways. Why, the motor car is the perfect vehicle invented for modern romance, seating two side by side. Look, he’s much more relaxed now than in previous episodes.
So glad to see Edith finally enjoying herself and being genuinely happy. A cozy and elegant London apartment she has, mostly Michael Greyson’s taste. No matter, it’s a place she can call her own now that Downton is Queen Mary’s dominion. A new editor found to manage the magazine, everything under control… except her secret about Marigold. Would Mary her dear sister sabotage that hard-to-come-by peace in her life?
Miss Baxter’s brave move of coming out to be the witness for the prosecution reaps great results as the accused changes his plea upon hearing her name on the witness list. No trial is needed, what a relief. Don’t we hate to go through another Downton trial to see justice done, or undone? Wait a minute, maybe yes, there should be a trial, this time for Miss Denker for defamation and uttering threats.
What I like about this episode is the variation of sceneries and setting. The park where Edith and Bertie take a stroll, the race track, the Yew Tree Farm, and the new home of the Carsons. Yes, even the messing up of the elegant dining table and everyone’s formal attire with splattered blood. Some alternatives for the eyes.
Your take on this episode?
Previously on Downton Abbey Season 6: