‘Downton Abbey’ Series Finale: The End of an Era (SPOILERS)

'Downton Abbey' Series Finale Recap: The
(C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film

Spoiler alert: Do not read until you’ve watched the series finale of “Downton Abbey,” season 6, episode 9, airing March 6.

Edith got married! Anna and Bates had a baby! Even Barrow got what he wanted — the butler job at Downton Abbey. Happy endings abounded for all the residents of Downton, upstairs and below. “I love happy endings,” “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes told Variety. “I didn’t want to disappoint people. There was a wonderful quote on Twitter: ‘If Edith Crawley isn’t happy by the end of the series, Julian Fellowes better sleep with one eye open.”

Unlucky-in-love Edith had resigned herself to being a spinster, rejected by Bertie because of her deception about her daughter Marigold. But no other than Mary ended playing matchmaker, setting up a reunion dinner at the Ritz in London. “Would you believe me if I said I couldn’t live without you?” he says, as he proposes again.

The only stumbling block is his mother, who holds high standards of morality. But despite everyone’s advice to the contrary, Edith confesses to her. And lo and behold, she’s won over: “Should I turn down the daughter-in-law who in addition to having birth and brains is entirely and unimpeachably honest?”

Mary’s shockingly selfless act brings a welcome, rare peace to the six-season-long War of the Sisters. Edith still can’t believe it: “You’re such a paradox: you make me miserable for years and you give me my life back.” The ultimate irony: Edith will now outrank Mary in social status, given Bertie’s ascendancy to the marquess of Hexham.

Meanwhile, Mary and Henry are settling into married life, though Henry’s restless, having decided to give up racing. He finally decides to go into business with Branson, much to Mary’s delight. Even better: she’s pregnant. But she wants to keep it a secret. For once, she doesn’t want to steal Edith’s thunder on her wedding day. Times have changed.

Oddly, the couple having trouble is Isobel Crawley and Dickie Merton, who are being kept apart by his money-grabbing son and daughter-in-law. Now that he’s been diagnosed with pernicious anemia, they want to ensure they stand to inherit his money.

But nothing can stand in the way of true love — and the dowager countess, who storms Dickie’s house with her friend in tow. Of course, in the soap-opera world of “Downton Abbey,” it turns out he’s been misdiagnosed, leaving the two elderly lovebirds to spend the rest of their days in healthy, wedded bliss.

Romantic trouble is brewing downstairs, too, where Daisy rebuffs the advances of Andrew, only to be scolded by Mrs. Patmore. “You despise anyone who thinks well of you,” she chides her. But once he loses interest, of course she’s intrigued again. Finally they get back “in step,” as he puts it. By episode’s end — and after a hilariously unfortunate encounter with a hair dryer — she decides to move to Mr. Mason’s farm, and one presumes, he’ll soon follow. Looks like Mrs. Patmore won’t be long behind her.

The long-suffering Anna and Bates have been put through enough torture — the final episode brings them only joy, in the form of their long-awaited son. He arrives in typical dramatic fashion, in Lady Mary’s bedroom during Edith’s wedding. (Needless to say, Carson doesn’t approve.) And for the first time, we hear Anna call Mr. Bates “John.”

As for the stately butler, he’s developed “the palsy,” an inherited trait passed down from generations, which forces him to resign his post. “If there are changes that need to be made, we must face them,” Mary tells him, not unkindly. No one can find a good solution, until the wedding, when Barrow — who’s been banished to the Boring Butler Job From Hell —  steps up to help. Cue solution: Carson will become Butler Emeritus, and all is forgiven for the once duplicitous Barrow.

Lord Grantham had to do a big mea culpa himself, coming to terms with Cora’s job at the hospital. It fell to Rose, back in town for the wedding, to deliver the message: “If you want to keep her, you must let her go.” Having witnessed the ruins of her own parents’ marriage, she didn’t want to see another.

We get hints of a few more potential romances: Mr. Mason and Mrs. Patmore; Miss Baxter and Mr. Molesley, and even Branson and Miss Evans, who catches Edith’s bouquet.

And of course, Violet Crawley gets the last word, as all gather together to ring in the new year. “It makes me smile, the way every year, we drink to the future whatever it may bring.”

“What else could we drink to?” says Isobel. “We’re going forward to the future, not back into the past.” Counters Violet: “If only we had the choice.”

What did you think of the finale of “Downton Abbey”? Weigh in below.

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  1. Lady Ivey says:

    The series begins with a cousin dying on the Titanic, and it ends with a cousin dying in Tangiers. Both altering events for the family. Just adored this series.

  2. DENISE COCHRAN says:

    Very late to the scene, Downton Abbey wasn’t really even on my radar, although peripherally I was aware of a following. One night with nothing better in mind, I thought I’d investigate, with no expectation at all, I was drawn in immediately. I came to be completely in love with the series and the different characters. I found the finale sad, because the series for me ended way too soon. But it was so well done. There is nothing i hate more than when a series you’ve invested in and watched faithfully, ends leaving you feeling cheated. This delivered everything and even though it was obvious in certain outcomes, i was satisfied completely with those outcomes. Very sorry it’s done, but very satisfied by how well it was sewed up.

  3. kevin says:

    This is a view from a guy who is most definitely a fan-come-lately: I’d had no initial interest in “Downton Abbey” whatsoever. Truth be told, I was just about to put a “Lethal Weapon” DVD in the player one night, when at the last minute I changed my mind, feeling more in the mood for something mellow. Completely as a lark, I tuned in to the first episode of “Downton”. I’d heard good buzz about it, but honestly expected to be bored within the first hour, after which I’d probably go back to Riggs and Murtaugh and a few shoot-outs with drug dealers. Like millions of others, though, I was hooked from the get-go. The finale tied the series up just right. To those who feel happy endings are unrealistic, please be reminded that sometimes life does go well for people. And it does in the end for the upstairs and downstairs people of the Abbey. Thank you, Mr. Fellowes and all the astounding cast, and behind-the-scenes crews, for a series that stands head and shoulders above the ordinary.

  4. Derek says:

    anti climax. The characters lost their vibrance

  5. Gerald Masan says:

    Due to the less progressive attitudes in Edwardian England, Mr. Barrow was unable to marry the man of his choice, despite taking over the reins from Carson. Oh, well.. perhaps in some future incarnation of Downton, we will see how society has advanced regarding same-sex marriage. Of course, the recent BBC series “London Spy” was a wonderful tribute to changing attitudes concerning acceptance of gay men.

  6. David Miller says:

    Sad that there won’t be another Downton Abbey series. It has been fantastic for 6 years. Hard to think it has been that long. Congrats on keeping the story in line with the times and the proper decorum. Most of the actors have enhanced their careers by big margins.

  7. Susan Young says:

    What a total hoot. Lady Edith gets to be a duchess whilst Lady Mary ends up married to a used car salesman! Too funny.

  8. Rebecca says:

    If you truly think about it, the way it ended does leave an opening for it to return one day. So much was left out -Mosley and Miss Baxter – do they marry ? Daisy and Andrew, Mrs Pattmore and Mr Mason,Branson, plus there is always the second generation George, Sybil and Marigold. Won’t it be awesome if this really wasn’t the end ?

  9. Thank you Lord Fellows for bringing so much happiness and so many tears to my Sunday nights. Downton Abbey was first class from the very beginning with the excellent writing and character development. Highclere became a character unto itself that hopefully many of us will be able to make a pilgrimage to long into the future as we recount our favorite moments. Congratulations to the crews that worked so hard to be as authentic as possible in all areas. Bravo to a stellar cast who became like family to this viewer over these many years. The speech between Lady Edith and Lady Mary regarding the value of sibling relationships is so true. My brother and I have spoken of that very topic for many years, as only the two of us will remember out mother for the kind of wonderful mother that she was and all the joys for our childhood and growing up years. Again, all I can do is thank you for the wonderful journey the last 6 years has been for your viewers. Cheers!

  10. Pat says:

    MY TISSUES WERE READY, I ENJOYED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. AND DIDN’T CRY UNTIL I SAW HYCLERE COVERED IN SNOW AT THE END. I SHALL MISS EVERY MOMENT.

  11. Di-Ann Hand says:

    Good for you Lady Edith
    Good for you Mr Mosley
    Good for you Mr. Barrow
    Lady Mary-It’s lucky for you, you are not my sister.

  12. Chizz says:

    The bloody handprint as he sees his warped reflection in the meth cooker… brilliant!

    “I did it for me. I liked it.”

  13. A Cameron says:

    What a brillant ending to probably the best mini series there has ever been on TV. I am amazed at how perfectly Julian Fellows was able to wrap all the story lines so believeably and expertly. As most, I was so happy to finally see Edith happy and how fitting that her happiness would be instigated by her long-time advisary her sister Mary. I will miss Downton and all of its superb cast. Long live the Crawleys and may we see the return, one way or another, in the coming years.

    Thank you Julian for the most enjoyable 6 seasons of television. May you continue to see success in your writing.

  14. Donna Butler says:

    Perfect ending! If Downton had to end I am happy that it ended on a positive note for all of the characters. Thank you Julian Fellows for my all time favorite television series. I can only hope that there will be a movie.

  15. Lisa Karcher says:

    Brilliant. Nothing short of brilliant. Thank you to Julian Fellows and the phenomenal cast of Downton Abbey for delivering an escape to a better place. I shall miss you all dearly.

  16. Stephen Bulka says:

    I’ve been crying all night. Both relieved that things ended happily for everyone and mourning the end of the show. What a wonderful accomplishment. Congrats to all!

  17. BillUSA says:

    I thought it was an excellent way to end such a top-notch production. I’ve come to expect quality from our British friends, and despite Downton Abbey being so opposite of what I prefer (action, science-fiction) the attention to professionalism and detail drew me in during Season 4 and never let go.

    I know some will say it’s an unrealistic conclusion for almost all the characters to go out on a fine note. But I’ve learned that if one expects reality in a drama, they really aren’t cut out for entertainment. If they want total reality, they can watch the news and leave the fine entertainment for those of us who appreciate it.

    Kudo’s to all involved!

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