Downton Abbey Christmas Special this year fortunately had spared us from dramatic farewells and unexpected deaths (exception made to some poor ducks). It also didn’t have any really big surprise: we all knew that Branson could leave or could stay and both storylines would be acceptable; also, the only unexpected thing (Carson’s marriage proposal to Mrs. Hughes) was leaked in the day before through a promotional trailer for a Swiss TV Channel. Spoil sports.
Anyway, despite it didn’t put an end to that horrible Mr. Green assassination storyline and never showed us as much as it should about Princess Kuragin, was a really nice episode that, I am sure, had left most people with a light heart.
I just though that maybe all that shooting party could have less screen time. I had fun watching the Crawleys conspiring together to help Rose’s father-in-law and save everybody’s party. I laughed hard with Robert’s clueless face pretending to recognize the poor Miss Clark as and old friend of Rose and watching Thomas coming back to his old form and showing his claws once more to put Sinderby and his butler at their right place. But it could have been shorter in to favor stories that were not enough attention: the end of the romance between Isobel and Lord Merton; the Kuragins and Violet; Mrs. Patmore, Daisy and Mr. Mason; or even to give more screen time for Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton, whom, by the way, won every scene in which they had appeared this season.
Nevertheless, it was quite interesting watching Matthew Goode and his Henry Talbot challenging (or annoying? or impressing?) Mary. Of course, the bantering didn’t reach the same level of those we had witnessed between Mary and Charles Blake, but it is undeniable that Mr. Talbot caused his impression on Mary. I hope to see him back next series, as well as Charles Blake, because for me the last one and Mary still has unfinished business between them. But, despite my hopes, this can be a risk to make Mary story too repetitive with two suitors (or possible suitors since Charles had stepped off and Talbot hadn’t given any signs of being interested in it).
The trip Lord Sinderby’s rented castle also brought moments of happiness to Edith, not only in the lovely father-and-daughter moment between she and Robert, as well as all the attention she had received from the gallant estate administrator. Maybe we will see more of him next season too? He is just the type of Edith, a hardworking guy, and maybe a future aristocrat who could become the sole heir of his uncle? And why not, there would be a really turn around for Edith. That is, if the man accepts Marigold first … Well, that’s speculation. Let’s go back to the facts.
Tom Branson is leaving for Boston and Rose and her adorable Atticus will go to New York, which leaves us with a sense of loss, mainly by the exit of Allen Leech, who had done a good job in the last seasons. Fortunately we were spared from a dramatic farewell scene and the family seems to have assimilated Tom’s decision to leave very well. And with the charismatic Sybbie Branson leaving with her father, at least Robert had given permission for Marigold call him Donk too, and so we will not lose the lovely moments between him and his grandchildren. My guess is that is not the last time we will see Tom and Sybbie, I think they will come back if not to stay, at least to visit their family.
Robert Crawley drunk was something we had never seen on-screen, but I had imagined many times. Yes, the man drinks. A lot. But Robert is a nice and fun kind of drunk, and now that things between him and Cora are back to the good times, it was funny watch her amused by his so relaxed husband.
I would not be fair if I not talk about the amazing performance of Michelle Dockery singing “Silent is the Night”. We had already heard her beautiful voice before, but this time it was really remarkable.
Too bad that one of the highlights of this episode had already leaked on the day before the screening of the episode: Carson marriage proposal to Mrs. Hughes. After years of slow burning, the stoic butler finally had the courage to put into words what everyone already knew and wished for, and judging by her reaction, Mrs. Hughes included. Now I’m dying to know how and when they will break the news to everyone, since it was not common at the time that a butler and a housekeeper remained working being married.
And speaking of slow burning relationships, Molesley and Baxter are folowing Carson and Hughes’ steps, and are slowly walking toward each other. It seems that Downton Abbey is really a place for downstairs romances. Fortunately Robert and Cora are generous and understanding employers, so everyone can have their happy endings. And I also hope that Lord Fellowes don’t forget the always misunderstood Thomas Barrow in his list, allowing him to also find his happiness in the end.
The episode could not have finished in a higher note, all gathered to celebrate, singing Christmas Carols, and Bates and Anna together again and finally happy, at least until the beginning of the next season.