Downton Abbey Season 6 Finale: Goodbye to All That

With the Finale of Downton’s last Season wrapping up the six-year serial, we’ve come to the end of an era. Ok, maybe not an era, but definitely the end of a saga. What exactly are we saying goodbye to? That’s a worthy subject to discuss.

The Finale on Sunday night (March 6, 2016: A date to remember) is the epitome of what Downton is all about.

Downton-Abbey-season-6

 

We’re saying goodbye to:

Multiple characters with multiple storylines told in equal appeal. Depending on your favourites, some of course are more appealing than others. Scribe Julian’s forte is in telling many tales at the same time. How did he do that? With the stopwatch on my iPhone, I notice that many of these fast-paced scenes are no more than one minute in length. More important scenes run longer. Take e.g. the one with Bertie and Edith at the Ritz’s surprised dinner, secretly arranged by a repentant Mary, lasted three minutes. Yes, only three minutes.

The old-fashioned goodness, kindness, honesty, courage, and even altruistic chivalry, are presented in a favourable light and not as acerbic laughing stock or shrouded with sarcasm. The value of overcoming evil with good is the prevalent virtue throughout. Why, even the once in-house villain, Thomas Barrow, can be turned around by the kindness of everyone; not only that, he can even replace Mr. Carson as the butler of Downton.

The retirement of Carson means we’re saying goodbye to an era of unquestionable loyalty. Think of the butler Mr. Stevens (Anthony Hopkins) in the film adaptation of Ishiguro’s The Remains of the Day (1993), where nothing interrupts his sacred duties as a butler, not even his own father’s death, needless to say, unrequited love from Miss Kenton (Emma Thompson). While scribe Julian captures the hearts of viewers by gratifying us with the union of Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, the surprised retirement of Mr. Carson in the last episode in a way is an end of that total devotion of a servant to his master. I’m sure Barrow won’t be as die-hard a Crawley loyalist as Carson is.

Even trite dialogues, when delivered by an expert actor, can be effective and even inspiring. Why, something like: “Make peace with your sister, then make peace with yourself” doesn’t sound like a contrived word of wisdom from a Kung Fu Master to Grasshopper, but from Maggie Smith’s mouth, becomes a genuine, heartfelt advice from a loving grandmother to a wayward granddaughter. That line is from the second last episode, setting the stage for Edith’s reconciliation with Bertie in the Finale. And the world is made peaceful as a result, with the rival sisters at peace with each other.

Grand mansions and castles as the setting for a TV series. I’m not saying there won’t be any more Highclere’s out there waiting to be used as filming location, but such an opportunity of using a classy, old mansion in situ sure doesn’t come by often. The Grand Finale shows us even that there are grander estates than Highclere. In a reversal of fortune, Edith gets to live in an even more magnificent property than Mary. Yes, Edith sure has found her Mr. Darcy and Pemberley. And I’m happy for her.

Old status quo being taken for granted. Downton is not about the maintenance of aristocracy, but the torrential changes that bombard traditions and social structure. The very first episode of Season 1 is a significant symbol. The thought-to-be unsinkable Titanic came to a tragic end; later, with WWI comes the break down of social status and yes, even the aristocrats suffered casualties. All men are equal in the face of death and destruction. In real life, that Highclere Castle was used as a convalescent home was an exemplar of how the war had brought about changes.

Are we also saying goodbye’s to traditional TV productions,  or the conventional platforms of broadcasting? The blurring of the line between movies and TV productions could mean  new kind of shows in the future. While the methods may be different, let’s hope the quality and values can be maintained no matter what change may come.

What’s your take on the last Season Finale of Downton Abbey?

***

Previously on Downton Abbey Season 6:

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Episode 5

 

Published by

Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

17 thoughts on “Downton Abbey Season 6 Finale: Goodbye to All That”

  1. I had inadvertently seen a synopsis of the the final episode in a British newspaper at the beginning of the season, so I knew that there would be several happy endings. Of course, no one forced me to read the review, but I just had to know whether Edith would finally get married. (I’m terrible about flipping to the end of a book to get clues. Sometimes, I’m completely surprised all the same.)

    Still, having seen the hints in the review, it was very satisfying to see all of the storylines play out in the actual show. I hope Julian Fellowes does make a movie with the characters. What sort of plot lines would you like to see and at what point in time? Or do you think that it ended at a good point and nothing would be served by making a movie?

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    1. Cathy,

      I’m always unsure about the effects of TV series turned into movies. Just think, the Finale is a two hours special, tying up all the loose ends, storylines that had been developed throughout the Season, if not Seasons. A movie is exactly that duration of time. In two hours it has to develop the plot lines, carry them into interesting heights, then resolve them to a gratifying end. However, if Julian writes the script as expertly as he did for his Oscar winning screenplay Gosford Park, and if they have the same cast of talents, I anticipate the production. Let’s hope that ‘spin-off’ is a worthwhile effort. To keep the same cast, the time frame can’t change that much, albeit I’d like to see Downton closer to the brink of WWII. How about you?

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I was so glad Edith got a happy ending. That poor woman has suffered enough through all the seasons. It ended unrealistically happy for everyone but I think we wouldn’t want it any other way. Nonetheless, with the way the times were changing, one wonders how long Thomas will actually get to be butler at Downton? It was a good show, unrealistically romantic but fun.

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    1. Stefanie,

      Same here. I think Julian Fellowes had decided to turn Edith’s life around and what an exciting future ahead of her; in comparison, Mary’s marriage to Henry is lacklustre, and an anti-climax. Yes, a good show, gratifying, esp. for Isobel and Lord Merton, as well as Robert and Cora.

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  3. What a thoughtful post — you seem to have really nailed much of what made Downton so special — a multitude of well-told stories, sumptuous visual design, a look at an era past. I couldn’t help but think as PBS showed some of the clips from past seasons that everything old is new again. Think about how a new invention will come along and are we Mrs. Patmore with the fridge (aka Jeanie and the iphone) or are we Edith, taking on a new challenge. While we may not have butlers and household staff, we still have the challenges and growth that our Edwardian/Georgian Downton friends did. And maybe that’s part of what worked for me — the total disconnect from my real life combined with the connection.

    I wish they could have edged into the last episode a little more gracefully. It was like “Boom! It’s the last one and we have to tie it all up in two hours! Yikes!” (I know what you mean about the 30 second scenes. My head was spinning for the first five minutes!)

    But that’s a picky bit. Mostly, I just settled in — and yes, will watch it again. To savor, to say goodbye.

    A movie — The only way I see it working is to advance the time frame — take it up ten years, the threshold of WWII. Maybe start a bit earlier. Focus primarily on Edith and Mary’s families — maybe Tom. In ten years most of the current men will be too old for war, probably and George, maybe a bit too young, unless he decides to sneak away and sign up. You have Marigold now a teen — maybe siblings, the issues of her parentage, perhaps? Atticus enlisting. If you could get those, plus Thomas, some of the others in support, you might be able to pull off a solid story with a lot of interest. Who knows… start writing the script!

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    1. Jeanie,

      A tall order for Julian if we want all stories to be told within the time limit and gracefully. You’re right in pointing out that. So hard to have it all. But I think they’ve all done a good job. I’m sure too, that this is one of the most fun (and maybe easiest) script to write. Like, the little suspense of Bertie’s mother throwing the hard nose front to us but actually appreciating the honesty and courage of Edith. I mean, everything is possible in the hands of the scribe. Your imagined scenarios for the movies are all interesting. Yes, I’d like to see more of Rose and Atticus too. All very interesting storylines. If there’s going to be a movie, I hope the main cast will stay, and nobody but Julian Fellowes to write the script. BTW, I thought he’s going to do The Gilded Age TV series in the U.S. Any news about that one?

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  4. I loved this series and the ending had almost no loose ends. LOL! I like closure… I hope to see lots more from Mr. Fellowes. In spite of it being a period piece, there is much to take from it. The world is changing just as fast and in more ominous ways.

    TV/movies and their delivery is definitely changing. Bring Marshall McLuhan to mind?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Michelle,

      Not just closures, Julian Fellowes has thrown in some Austenesque endings, tying romantic knots for almost all the characters, including Isobel/Lord Merton (this pair I like best) Mrs. Patmore/Mr. Mason, Daisy/Andy, even Tom and the editor (the one catching Edith’s bouquet), and rekindling Robert/Cora’s. What more can one ask for? 🙂

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  5. Oh my, I was so happy Barrow turned himself around and found a healthier place to be, emotionally. I do hope there will be some kind of reunion movie or TV special – I always am curious to know what happens next in the character’s lives.

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    1. Barbara,

      Yes, there’s talks about a movie. And with the ripples still fresh, they should get right to it instead of letting it cool down. As for Barrow replacing Carson, that just might be the most unexpected ending. Of course, we all like to see Barrow redeemed. 😉 But just too bad for Mr. Carson.

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  6. Alas, Anna and Mr. Bates had a wonderful blessing, finally !! A son born on the last day of December — a blessed event. This warmed my heart. i Loved the bob of Daisy’s hair; it spoke volumes about the changing times. I definitely like all the happy marriages wrapping up this saga (should we tell them what decades can bring to relationships?) Nah. . . and of course, the ending with Cora and Robert making a warm promise of love, closeness and friendship. Worked for me.

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    1. Heather,

      Yes, a Christmas baby for the British viewers. For N. Americans, a spring baby. Well, Anna and Bates deserve a good one. Julian knows how to gratify his viewers. You’re right, lots of interesting little stories like Daisy’s bad hair day and the uncontrollable laugh from Andy. Robert and Cora rekindling their love, good stuff. Everyone seems to come to a happy ending except… yes our Matriarch the Dowager. What’s her prize? Seems a bit of a let down for her to abdicate her authority in the village hospital and not getting much in the end. (this just suddenly came to me as I type)

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  7. Now, here’s the irony of it all. While I saw only the first episode of this final season, your summation here has finally made me eager to go back, and start at the beginning. What caught my attention was this:

    “The old-fashioned goodness, kindness, honesty, courage, and even altruistic chivalry, are presented in a favourable light and not as acerbic laughing stock or shrouded with sarcasm. The value of overcoming evil with good is the prevalent virtue throughout.”

    I’ve been wondering how I was going to make it through the rest of our election cycle. Here’s one solution: letting the politicians do their worst, while I spend some time with Downton Abbey. It’s sounding quite appealing, especially since it’s available on Amazon Prime. 🙂

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    1. Linda,

      Glad you’ve changed your mind. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. With so many characters, a spectrum of personalities and storylines, I’m sure there’s at least one that appeals to you. It’s a top-notch TV production. Many in the cast are veteran actors. Specifically, I’m sure you’ll like the writing of Julian Fellowes.

      As for the election, I’ve to use this cliché acronym: OMG. Michelle Hendry above mentioned this: “TV/movies and their delivery is definitely changing. Bring Marshall McLuhan to mind?” Well, I’d just love to hear what Mr. McLuhan has to say about the U.S. Election 2016 if he’s around to watch the debates and all the campaigning. (BTW, both Michelle and Arti are Canucks, albeit she’s living in OK now.) Would we some day have a Great Wall of North America separating us, you think?

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  8. My mother said that was a bit saccharine wasn’t it? But she and my dad hadn’t watched any of the rest of the season so I don’t think their opinion counts really! I think it ended just the way it should have. I liked the way the series addressed social change, but it was never meant to be a gritty, social realist sort of show, so while we saw the impact of the economic and social changes occurring, the show was romantic enough to convince us that our much loved Abbey-ites were going to continue to manage it all with aplomb (with some pain, yes, but with sense and flexibility that would see them through the phases to come!)

    I enjoyed your analyses of the various characters and their situations here. Nicely done Arti.

    Not, on another matter, have you seen Rams?

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    1. WG,

      I think it’s hard for anyone to jump into the later episodes and appreciate fully DA. It’s a saga, and the long six years are significant in the development of its characters and storylines. Things have changed, times have changed, people sure have, while some totally passed and were no more. Non-DA fans just wouldn’t share the same feeling as those who have followed the show from the beginning. Mind you, I started in Season 2 but was quickly hooked and binge watched S1 to catch up. But coming late into the game won’t do.

      Similarly, a blogger advised me to read the first Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels My Brilliant Friend before reading the Booker shortlisted fourth one The Story of the Lost Child. I’m not sure I’ve the energy to follow through such an arduous endeavour. Have you read any of them?

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