Last year, the Downton Abbey Christmas episode brought us the long-awaited engagement of Mary and Matthew. We found out Sybil (R.I.P.) was expecting and that Bates wasn’t going to be put to death. It was a hopeful time and we were all happy. But we must have done something to displease Julian Fellowes, professional life-ruiner, because this year, the bonus episode leaves us anything but happy. In fact, I suspect some folks will watch this episode and walk away like an angry girlfriend shouting “I’m DONE!” Let’s look back on what Fellowes has done, and weep for happier times.
A year after the last cricket-filled episode, the gang decides to visit Cousin Shrimpy, so the Crawley gang heads up to Scotland to stay with them. The biggest news is that Mary is pregnant with Jesus/ her cousin’s baby a potential heir to Downton. Though she’s eight months pregnant, she soldiers on and takes the train north with the rest of her family.
The Lord and Lady Grantham seem to have patched up their marriage which was more than rocky after Sybil died. But Shrimpy and his wife Susan are not on solid ground–their biting remarks and eye rolls speak volumes. They are headed to a sunny outpost in India to represent and act as diplomats of the British Empire. Young Rose is suffering at the hands of her mother’s comments, and it’s Anna and Bates who take the time to make her feel better.
The Scottish maids and valets are much different than their southern counterparts. Besides eating before the family eats, and they maintain traditional values. Plus, they have a bagpiper who plays outside every morning to wake everyone up–because that’s exactly what houseguests want to hear at dawn. O’Brien unintentionally steps on the toes of Lady Susan’s maid when she is asked to do a hairstyle in the fashion of Cora’s. Lady Susan’s maid decides to pull an O’Brien on O’Brien and offers her a very strong drink, but Mr. Mosely intercepts.
Anna decides to surprise Bates by learning to dance. She cashes in a favor with Rose and learns the traditional dance of Scotland and performs at the ball. Rose is kind of an annoying character, but it looks like she’s with us for next season as Susan asks Cora to watch over her while they are in India. We are so looking forward to her debut on the social scene next year.
Baby Sybil has gotten so big and adorable and Branson stays behind to care for her and or course, Lord Grantham’s dog. Thomas, Jimmy and Alfred still have their differences–they are all part of the crew not traveling with the Crawley gang. We meet the new housemaid, Edna, who is fascinated with Branson and the late lady-Sybil. Edna is interested in changing her station in life, just like Branson did. She openly flirts with him because she is the worst human being alive. Listen Edna, we JUST lost Sybil, and our boy Branson is a widow trying to raise his daughter right. She calls upon him while he’s changing so at least she gave us a shot at shirtless Branson, but they she ups and kisses him. Where was the Ouija board in this moment? Because I’m pretty sure Sybil’s ghost would have something to say about this and she wouldn’t be as nice as Lavinia. Edna gets canned and Branson feels bad, but then breaks down crying, and we know he misses Sybil as much as we do.
Mrs. Patmore meets the new grocer, Mr. Tupton, and he is a flirt. There’s a fair in town, and he invites her to join him. The other footmen and maids all hear about the same fair and Mr. Carson finally caves and gives them the time off. The whole gang arrives and sign up for a tug of war championship where Jimmy places a side bet on the Downton team winning–which they do. Jimmy flashes his winning about and ends up getting robbed. Thomas runs to his defense, and ends up taking a pretty bad beating. While the gang is at the carnival, Mr. Carson is at home. And this adorable moment happened:
Cousin Isobel decides to host Branson at her house for tea to help keeping him occupied. She reminds him that as the agent of Downton, he should be allowed to talk to anyone he wants. She also decides to host Dr. Clarkson who is consistently hinting that he’s totally into her, even going so far as to asking her if she’d ever considered getting married again. Isobel is so clueless, that she manages to turn down the good doctor without really having to confront his interest.
Sadly, the grocer-turned-suitor is a lecherous pig, and while he pledged his love to Mrs. Patmore, it’s clear he only wants her for her cooking. Mrs. Hughes has to break the news to Mrs. Patmore, and while others might be heartbroken, Mrs. Patmore had been looking for an out. No love lost here.
Back in Scotland, Edith is still sort of seeing her editor who has a wife in an asylum. He meets up with the family is Scotland and everyone is doing their best to try and find something wrong with him. As the men go shooting and hiking in the Highlands, Matthew brings Edith’s gentleman caller along and finds out that he does indeed, love her. Too bad though, because that’s not enough for Matthew, who is now so ingrained in Downton’s ways that he doesn’t want any scandal brought upon the family–this from the man who married a woman who once sexed a man to death and covered it up.
Mary leaves Scotland early to head back to Downton, and upon arrival she starts to have labor pains. The queen that she is, she calmly instructs those around her to take her the hospital. Michelle Dockery played this scene so perfectly with the dichotomy of her effortless declaration of control over the situation and the fear in her eyes. The look on her face reminds us that Sybil died during childbirth and that this occasion is as frightening as it is exciting.
Thomas has been resting from his beating, and finally Jimmy can forgive him for his misplaced advances. Jimmy realizes that Thomas was following him, out of concern and love. The two finally come to understand each other, and agree that they can in fact, be friends. Now can we get a real love interest for Thomas in season four? The guy has been through enough.
Though Mary gave birth early, her child is a healthy baby boy, an heir to the Downton throne. Matthew rushed from Scotland to be by her side and the two have a tender moment as a brand new family. And then the episode ended and we were all happy forever.
Sorry… but I WISH that is what happened but really, this is the part where Julian Fellowes ruined our lives forever.http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ma2gl4lNoW1rsw1yf.gif
As if losing Sybil wasn’t enough this year, reports did come out that Dan Stevens, who plays Matthew, would not be returning to Downton last season. And yes, Fellowes addressed this in a huge way, not by sending him on a diplomatic mission or having them fight and separate. NOPE. That wasn’t good enough. After all the joy that is the messiah that was born, Matthew gets in his car and speeds home to tell the family about the baby. He is in a car accident, and by the way he is crushed under the car and the blood pouring out of his ears, I’m pretty sure he’s dead and gone–closing the door on any hope that he might come back. Shame on you, Fellowes. SHAME. Also, why do only young people die on this show? Not a single old person outside of Lavinia’s dad has died on this show–what gives?
Now, I know Matthew has been difficult this year as his idealism turned into annoyance. But let’s face it, a Downton without Mary and Matthew is like a really good meal without flatware–it’s really uncivilized, but if you’re hungry enough you’ll eat it, but you certainly won’t enjoy it. Guess I’ll just have to live off of cousin incest fan fic for the rest of my life. [Side note: Can Mary and Branson get together now? Just throwing it out there!]
R.I.P. Matthew Crawley.