So my little Downtonettes, we’ve finally made it to the legendary Christmas episode that actually aired in the UK back in December. From everything I had seen on the web about the lucky folks who have already watched it, this special is the stuff of legends. Basically, it sounded so amazing I was pretty sure it was the unicorn of British television, because there was no way it was going to A) exist and B) actually live up to expectations. But yes Virginia, there is a Downton Santa Claus and he gave me everything I wanted for the series two finale.
A Wonderful Christmas Time
Nothing says “class disparity” like the holidays, and the Crawleys are experts at hosting an awkward work party. The family makes all of their employees have to show up and accept gifts from their employers, which seem nice, and they even give the staff the afternoon off to hang out together, because who cares if the have a family or a husband on trial for murder.
The whole gang is at Downton, except for Sybil and Branson who have made an Irish/English baby that will probably be the cutest thing to happen to babies since Blue Ivy Carter. Only Edith and Mary attended the wedding, and Lord Grantham is having a hard time accepting Sybil’s choices in life. He better get over it by season three, because the youngest Crawley sister and her Irish beau were surely missed.
Man’s Best Friend
Thomas wants a promotion, and he’s eyeing the valet position left vacant by Bates. Lord Grantham doesn’t really trust Thomas for such an intimate position, so our favorite footman schemes to win him over. If I had to cast Thomas as a character in the Archie comics (because you know that’s how I think) he would surely be Jughead in this episode. To win over the Lord, Thomas steals the beloved dog Isis, and locks her in a shed for the night in hopes of being the hero when he returns her to her owner. However, Isis gets loose, resulting in a search party. Yup, Bates is on death row, and the whole house is out looking for a dog (rich people problems).
Thomas goes off on his own, and I won’t lie, I laughed out loud when he fell in the woods trying to find the dog. It’s like he’s having one of those days where you spill coffee on a stranger and they give you the stink eye even though you feel really bad about it. I feel you, Thomas. I do. Especially when it turns out someone from the village found her and got the reward.
It looks like his folly paid off in the end, as Lord Grantham is impressed with Thomas and offers to give him a trial as valet.
He’s Just Not That Into Edith
Can somebody buy Edith a self-help book already? Since Freddy Kreuger the cousin imposter broke her heart, she’s back to drawing board and thinking about Sir Anthony Strallen. Mary ruined her prospects with him last season, but Edith is persistent even when she finds out he lost use of his right arm in the war. Which probably means she has a better shot, because they only men who have been interested in her have been Dropsy patients and burn victims.
Who Cares About Rosamund?
If there was one story of the night that was a throw away, it was Rosamund’s. Her new maid was suspicious from the start, and her gentleman caller looked like a moneygrubber. No surprise then, that the maid and the suitor were really only trying to get to her money. Yawn.
Daisy has been reluctant to collect any benefits from her deceased husband-of-a-hot-minute William. But William’s father is insistent on being a part of Daisy’s life, even if it makes her really uncomfortable. But she bites the bullet and spends the day with her father-in-law; only to find that she now has somebody she can consider a part of her family.
Speaking of Daisy, she’s due for a promotion. She’s been working beyond her permission for some time, but she has no idea how to negotiate. Girl, you can’t just complain about how you are treated, you got to give examples of your excellent work and then ask for compensation. Her father-in-law finally gets it through her head, and Daisy actually makes her case to Mrs. Patmore.
Mary Shot a Man Down
Who knew rich British folks had so much in common with Americans who live in the country? The Crawleys are hosting a shooting party, where they kill pheasants for fun. Mary pairs up with Matthew, because now that he’s claimed that they will definitely, positively never ever be together, they can pal around as besties. Richard, who is the worst fiancé ever (Total side note: Did you know it’s the same actor who plays Jorah Mormont on Game of Thrones? I was floored at that revelation.), isn’t happy about them being buds, especially now that Matthew’s penis is working and he doesn’t look like a complete zombie anymore.
Guys, I know Richard is the worst, but is he totally off base here? It’s totally obvious that Mary is in love with her cousin, and I can’t blame Richard for wanting her full attention. She won’t even set a date for the wedding, so I do understand his frustration… but there’s no reason for him to impersonate Chris Brown and get all grabby with Mary’s arm.
Getting Ouija With It
The staffers found an Ouija board, and O’Brien and Thomas are having a grand old time using it to mess with Daisy. I don’t think O’Brien read the instructions, because she thinks she can contact ghosts by raising her voice. The ghosts are dead, not deaf. This whole bit of storyline was very silly until the very end, when it appears that Lavinia is sending her blessing to Mary and Matthew. Hokey, sure, but I’ll buy it, only because I am scared to death of Ouija boards.
Law & Order: DVU (Downton Victims Unit)
Everyone is talking about Bates, who is spending the holidays in jail. Most of the gang is worried about Bates, but Richard and Lady Rosamund’s new maid could care less. Matthew volunteers to help Anna and the gang translate the British judicial system.
O’Brien, Mrs. Hughes and Lord Grantham have been called as witnesses and the prosecution is pretty amazing. Apparently, they were privy to private conversations that nobody ever really repeated, and they are using every word Bates has said and making him look guiltier than Winona Ryder shoplifting on camera.
I was pretty sure that Bates would magically get out off the charges, considering it worked for O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony. But in the “Julian Fellowes, what did I do wrong for you to give me the heap of coal?” moment, Bates is found guilty and wait for it, sentenced to death! By hanging! What kind of Christmas miracle is THAT?
Anna’s outburst in the courtroom is heartbreaking (and reminded me Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games trailer). But the Brits aren’t totally barbarians and they do have an appeals process. Anna goes to visit Bates, and they share a moment that is intended to be their final goodbye. The moment the guard allowed them to touch, my heart jumped out of my body and begged me to change the channel because this was just too sad.
Anna decides to leave Downton with Mary once Mr. Bates is hanged. But just in time, Bates gets a reprieve and his sentence is commuted to life imprisonment, causing Anna to take back her resignation to be close to her husband and fight for his innocence. Which I gather isn’t much better because I’ve seen Oz. Somebody give that man a shiv ASAP.
The Incest Bells are Ringing
There can’t be anything more awkward than having to sit with your dad and find out that he knows you sexed a man to death and then covered up the incident. Also that your fiancé knows all about it. As much of a douche as Lord Grantham was last week, he is more understanding and kind than I thought he would be, partially because he made his own mistakes.
He suggests Mary leave Richard and go to America to stay with Cora’s family. (Side note: how much did you love it when he said “middle west?”). Mary plans on doing just that… until she talks to Matthew.
Matthew is still punishing himself for his fling with Mary right before Lavinia got sick. He refuses to let himself actually feel anything for his cousin (yes, let’s remember they are related) and plans on living a life of solitude. Just when I’m wondering why Matthew doesn’t just become a priest, his mother tells him that Mary is still in love with him.
Matthew doesn’t want Mary to marry Dick, I mean Richard. He begs his cousin to tell him why she is intent on causing her own misery, and Mary finally owns up to killing Mr. Pamuk with her sexy times. Matthew asks all the weird questions that one would expect, and Mary explains that she was just horny and it was just lust. Matthew finally comes to accept her past, and insists that Mary call off her wedding and brave the gossip storm ahead.
Mary finally breaks up with Richard, with a little help from Matthew’s fist and her father’s intervention. Richard says the Crawleys will never see him again (Best response from the Dowager Countess: “Do you promise?”). Mary, ever the queen of etiquette, gives Richard one last apology and a goodbye, because he has to go be with Daeneyrs Targaryen and her dragons.
So how do the Crawley’s celebrate a commuted sentence and a broken engagement? By dancing with the help. I had a glimmer of hope that Thomas would do that funny bear dance with the Dowager Countess, but all we got was a waltz. At the ball, Mary and Matthew start to dance and renew their friendship by having a chat in the freezing cold snow.
I’ll get to the good bit in a second, but why was Mary outside without a jacket? And why didn’t Matthew offer his to her? She was clearly freezing and it was snowing! But I guess incest makes your blood go hot, because these two are in love, and M&M and ready to start their lives together. Mary gets Matthew to get down on one knee, and for the second time, he asks his cousin for her hand in marriage. Read that last sentence back. Yup, sounds creepy but don’t act like you didn’t love it! Mary accepts, and we have a satisfying wrap on season two.
Now I’m just going to help Julian Fellowes write the tagline for season three: Incest is coming.
What did you think of the famed Christmas special? Are you happy with the engagement? Did you miss Sybson as much as I did?