‘Downton Abbey’ series finale: did everything get wrapped up too neatly?

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Spoilers for the finale of Downton Abbey

I know many of you lost interest years ago, and perhaps some of you don’t see the point of it all, but I genuinely enjoyed Downton Abbey and I’m sorry to see it go. Last night, America finally got to see the show finale, which British viewers got to see a few months ago. We got the ending we deserved… I guess. If you’re like me, you recognized long ago that Downton Abbey wasn’t so much “the best costume drama ever” as much as it was a perfectly enjoyable soap opera with fun costumes and period details. Like, I understand why DA won technical awards for costumes, makeup, set design, etc. But I’ll never really understand why it won Emmys, Golden Globes and SAGs for Best Drama, Best Ensemble, etc. It wasn’t the best, but it was fun. So here are some my favorite moments from the last season & finale:

Lady Mary & Lady Edith finally have a blowout. They needed to have it. That had been stewing for six seasons, and honestly, what Mary did – tell Edith’s fiancé about Edith’s daughter – was unforgivable. So Edith called her a bitch to her face. And I hoped Edith would cut her ties with Mary completely, but in the penultimate episode, Edith comes back for Mary’s wedding, blah.

Lady Mary ends up with Matthew Goode. I kind of hated this match-up. I can see how it looked good on paper, but Michelle Dockery and Goode didn’t really have that much chemistry together, plus they looked like brother and sister. Still, I loved that Mary needed to be taken down a few pegs and now the heiress to Downton is married to (LITERALLY) a used car salesman. Oh, and Mary is knocked up and she seemed to have a sense of propriety about NOT announcing it on Edith’s special day. My favorite part about this storyline? Goode’s character fits in well with the family, he and Tom get along well and we even got to see Goode’s character being a hands-on and loving step-father to George, Mary and Matthew’s son.

Lady Edith ends up with a Marquess. The Marquess seems like a decent enough bloke and I don’t mind that Mary made some machinations to get the two of them together. But the storyline with his mother was… weird. Like, she hated Edith and then she didn’t in a matter of hours. Will that marriage work out long-term? Will Edith get pregnant again at the drop of a hat? But after all of the drama and sadness of Edith’s life, I’m glad she got some kind of happy ending.

Carson is out as butler. Because he has shaky hands. But he’ll still be able to work for the house in some capacity, and Thomas is coming back, this time as butler.

Robert finally realizes Cora is capable. Like, Robert never wanted to see Cora as anything other than his wife. She’s always been capable and smart and he’s always been kind of an idiot about business and everything else. Does one “I’m sorry” negate the fact that he’s been underestimating her for decades?

Isobel ends up with Lord Merton.
Let me just say… of course he was misdiagnosed. OF COURSE. I feel like Isobel got tricked into marrying him, but she seemed happy – she had a patient to look after and she got him away from his terrible family.

Tom Branson is probably going to end up with the lady editor. I like that Julian Fellowes didn’t have to shoehorn in a romance for Tom, but they gave him hope that he would find love, etc.

Anna had a baby. I was over the Anna-Bates storyline like three seasons ago. The only thing I liked about Anna this season was how she and Mary acted more like sisters than Mary and Edith ever have. Anna is one of the few people Mary truly loves, and it was really touching to see Mary attend to Anna when Anna’s water broke. Anna had a boy, by the way.

Violet is still the best. What a crazy part for Maggie Smith, right? I could have used more quips from Violet in the finale, but we have six seasons of her magnificent bitchery to keep up ice-cold at night.

There were other wrap-ups of course but those were the main storylines I cared about. Did you watch? Did you hate it? Did you love it? My general feeling is… I’m kind of sad that the soap opera is over. It was fun and infuriating and silly, but enjoyable. I’ll miss it.

DA1

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Photos courtesy of PBS, WENN.

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85 Responses to “‘Downton Abbey’ series finale: did everything get wrapped up too neatly?”

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  1. Momoko says:

    Cora’s character was by far the best one in the series. She always brought chills…Too bad that they never recognized that power and used it. I felt screen time was somehow wasted on the two spoilt brat princesses (Mary and Edith.)

    Cora was the true star of that show, the true underdog. At least Robert got it in his head before he died.

    • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

      Really? I thought she was so wooden. Tilting her head to the side, gushing “Oh Robert….Oh Edith…Oh Mary… More head tilting…

    • Ally8 says:

      While I take a liberal view nowadays, technically at the time the series began, Cora had ONE MAIN JOB which was to raise three respectable girls and get them married well. Instead, all three engaged in premarital shenanigans (Sybil booking into a hotel with a chauffeur) and causing various levels of scandal. Poor show, Cora.

      In this regard, Mrs. Bennett of P&P did much better, having produced only one wayward daughter. (-;

    • JenYfromTheBlok says:

      The biggest “resolution” in my opinion is when Violet concedes that Cora is now the Matriarch of Downton. That’s an huge role to takeover in the days of Aristocracy, when the women are the Bibles of their society if they prove to be respected behind the title.

  2. Amelia says:

    I’m just glad Edith finally got an ending she deserved. DA have been kicking her when she’s down for almost the entirety of the series, now.
    I was really hoping she’d freeze Mary out too, the spiteful thing that she is. But I suppose the high road would probably work out better for the family in the end.

    • Rhiley says:

      I am glad she had her moment as well, but I was hoping that Fellows had shown her becoming a completely Modern Woman with a flat in London, working as the head of a posh magazine, raising her child on her own, and that he had juxtaposed that with Mary becoming more and more of the old guard, unwilling to change, trying to hold on to tradition too tightly. There was that great scene a few episodes back in which Barrow interviewed at the once grand home of a gentleman who had entertained all of the British elites and then some, but that kind of grandeur could not be maintained, and so the house had become dusty, dark, and quiet, and the owner was fading along with it. I thought Mary could have fallen into the same trap as the old gent while Edith found her way out of Downton and into the world. I am going to miss Downton, though. It is an almost flawlessly shot television show, and it has been my favorite part of Sundays in January/February for the past six years.

    • Sabrine says:

      I liked seeing the girls end up happy at the end and reconciled as sisters. Mary tamped down her bitchiness once she knew Edith wasn’t going to take any nonsense from her anymore. I was sorry to see it end but it all ended well, including Tom returning and a baby for Bates and Anna. I hope they come up with another series soon as good as Downton Abbey was.

    • JenYfromTheBlok says:

      Edith really won in the end; Mary will be stuck keeping the anachronistic Leviathon that is becoming the estates houses of England. As an owner of a modern women’s magazine and as a Marchioness, Edith will surpass Mary in both forward thinking and in wealth.

  3. Mia V. says:

    Mary became an annoying bitch during the show, Edith kept being boring, the best ones were always Violet and Isobel, mention for Denker in the last season.

  4. Lucky says:

    I feel exactly the same way Kaiser. It started out with so much potential but slid into being a high class soap opera. But I loved it and didn’t miss a week anyway. I too, don’t understand why it was nominated (and won) so many awards. The actors were very good but the story lines were pretty ridiculous. I will miss it though

  5. lilacflowers says:

    I will miss the wisdom of Mrs. Patmore.

  6. lower-casedeb says:

    it’s finally over! i thought it was going down Coronation Street way, the way it dragged toward the end episodes.

  7. GoodNamesAllTaken says:

    I liked the fact that Julian Fellows didn’t throw in some horrible “surprise” tragedy at the end. Everybody pretty much got what they wanted, and it ended on a happy note. The last shot of Downton Abbey in the snowfall was beautiful, and I confess I had tears in my eyes. Yes, it was a silly soap, sometimes inexcusably so, but it helped get me through two very difficult winters in a row, and I loved it. I was glad to see Rose and Atticus again, and I was especially happy that Mrs. Pattmore seems to have found love. I agree that Mary’s love interests are all interchangeable except Matthew – tall, dark and handsome. I often had trouble telling them apart. I was so happy for Edith. Finally! I think her character was one of the more interesting on the show. I’ll miss Maggie Smith the most.

    • Lioness says:

      Edith was my girl from the very start. Though as the show went on the relationships between the older women were far more interesting than the “girls”.

      I really think JF didn’t do enough with Edith, as a feminist, as he could have. But in the end she got the best guy, sweet and protective, and the highest social rank of all of them.

      • GoodNamesAllTaken says:

        Yes, I thought she might end up being happy on her own in London with Marigold playing by her desk. I could have been happy with that as well.

      • AntsOffTheScent says:

        The shot of her looking over the children as they played in the graveyard is where I would have ended Edith’s storyline. You knew she was going to be just fine regardless of what the world was going to throw at her. I’m glad she got the wedding, guy etc., but I really thought that would have been a great place to leave her.

      • Lioness says:

        Yes Ants (nice name BTW), Eddie could have been the resigned yet resilient woman ahead of her time. I was thinking as this last season progressed that she could have a spin-off of her own about an independent literary woman of the mid-20th-century.

      • JenYfromTheBlok says:

        I agree. I would have been more settled with Edith as a working single mother. I feel anxious with the whole plot tethered to the “edith is now -happy-” because she’s a rich titled married lady”. Ugh. I thought the suffragettes protested against the Cinderella formula for ‘happiness’

    • Aunt Janet says:

      I was so glad when Edith got married, didn’t think it would happen. When Anna said she was hot, I thought she might go into labor during the wedding .

  8. Tig says:

    I’ll miss it too! And pls-Matthew Goode with ANYBODY- he is that gorgeous. I am hoping that the wine series he’s hosting with be on Netflix soon. I have no prob with all the ends tied up. Bravo DA!

  9. PunkyMomma says:

    For all Anna’s fragility, that baby was HUGE!

    It was a bit too neat for me, but enjoyable. And I howled that Lady Mary is married to a used car salesman. Call it poetic justice –

  10. Sixer says:

    Thanks to Mr Sixer’s total addiction to period drama, I watched it all to the bitter, bitter end.

    Go Violet, because Maggie saved my sanity through multiple hours of TV.

    Violet was the best. Mr Bates was the worst. How could Anna love such a misery guts? It’s beyond me. I did my level best to ruin Mr Sixer’s enjoyment by making the immature Master Bates pun multiple times in every episode, but it never worked. He still watched and I still suffered.

    Campest show ever made. I suppose we can say that for it!

    • ArtHistorian says:

      I like the first 3 seasons, then it just dragged on and on and on…. The last season was incredibly boring and IMO completely superfluous.

      Luckily, Maggie Smith made the bits of it bearable, even though got a bit to mellow in the last season for my taste and her zingers got rather limp.

      I’ll take Gosford Park anyday over Downton Abbey when it comes to the upstairs, downstairs story.

      The worst part is that I ADORE period dramas so it is disappointing to me when one that had a lot of potential (and a rather good start) turned out to be such a bore.

    • Carol says:

      Mr. Bates was the worst. He was so moody, whiny, brutish, and for almost the entire run of the show either he or Anna were running from the cops. Puuuhhhlleeeezze.

      I was sad that Mr. Mosley and Baxter didn’t go further. Or did they?

    • Ally8 says:

      I’ve been rewatching the original Upstairs Downstairs from the 1970s recently, and it’s a fun game to count all the plots lifted and re-shot, uncredited, on Downton Abbey. To cite just one of the most egregious examples, on that show, the local greengrocer woos the cook Mrs Bridges then turns out to be a lecherous, self-interested rube — they did the exact same storyline with Mrs Patmore on DA.

      In many ways, UD was bolder. The nobs were less noble, the servants less angelic. The footman on season 1 of UD was gay, too (a much bolder storyline then), hooked up with a high society visitor to the house (German, rather than Turkish) who was flirting with the daughter of the house, but Alfred actually got to run away with him and live the high life for a while — whereas poor Thomas will remain celibate forever, apparently.

      I think Eileen Atkins and Jean Marsh, the co-creators of Upstairs Downstairs, mentioned being annoyed about this “lifting” when DA first appeared, which is why they relaunched UD, but by then DA was too much of a juggernaut and was pulling focus/audiences. Also, Fellowes has mentioned that the BBC, which aired the second iteration of UD after DA’s success became apparent, is overly concerned with being politically correct and up-with-people and down-with-nobs, ruining everyone’s period drama fun. This might also have played into why UD was less appealing the second time round (the original series was a huge hit in the UK and on PBS and won multiple awards, including Emmies); at that time it aired on ITV, which the Beeb notoriously despised [for producing fun shows, I think -- as a small example, there's an absurd throwaway line on an episode of BBC's Miss Marple with Joan Hickson (1986), where a character randomly announces, "I'm dying to see ITV. I hear it's ghastly."]

    • JenYfromTheBlok says:

      I’m hopelessly addicted to anything Masterpiece theatre. I need a methadone program to wean me off of Downton. What’s my next??

  11. Nev says:

    I will miss it dearly. Hope they do a movie down the road!!!!’

  12. Jane says:

    With this season I simply cannot get out of my head Lord Grantham’s violent illness scene at the dinner table. OMG…

    On the other hand, I’ll miss Violet’s quips; verbal or non-verbal. She could steal a scene with a look alone. Love, love, love her.

    • Esmom says:

      Ha, that’s the last episode I watched, I just couldn’t stomach it anymore after that (no pun intended). That was a crazy scene that just would. not. end.

      I watched the series as a fluffy soap opera with amazing costumes and a beautiful setting, but this season has felt just so contrived to me. Hence my not even watching the last few episodes. Maybe I’ll get to them eventually but I’m not really feeling it now.

  13. tracking says:

    Mary and Speed Racer have zero chemistry, nice that Edith and Isabel got happy endings. Though I mainly just watched for the costumes at this point.

  14. rosalee says:

    I watched it because I wanted to see Edith stand up to her bitch of sister..

  15. Sarah01 says:

    I think the series really suffered from the fact that they had to get everything into 6 episodes each time. To do characters and plot line justice it should have been 12 episodes for each season.
    I enjoyed the series I really did, Thomas was my favourite and I’m glad he got the Butler job. The clothes were my second favourite. It was too neat with a bow on top, but it gave you closure and a happily ever after. I guess that’s what you want for Christmas viewing Branson was annoying. I wanted Edith’s wedding dress to be magnificent and it was awful. My favourite seasons were the first 3 maybe 4.
    It was good entertainment I enjoyed it.

    • WTW says:

      Thomas was my favorite, too, but I don’t like how he spent much of the series being the evil gay guy, than the tragic gay guy. I also think his character should have had a transformation after the Jimmy incident, two seasons ago. It made no sense that he continued to treat Anna and Bates poorly after that.

  16. Luca76 says:

    Yeah I quit ages ago because after Cousin Matthew died I really really couldn’t stand Mary and it got to maudlin and soapy for me…

    But help a girl out what happened to Daisy???

  17. evie says:

    The ending was satisfying for me. I’d much rather have it wrapped up nicely like that. My favorite part of the show this season has been Spratt. OMG, he was hilarious and the fact that Denker tried to oust him to no avail was delicious! I’m really glad it wrapped everything up neatly. It would have been disappointing any other way.

    • ArtHistorian says:

      Spratt was hilarious! I loved that he was the secret advice lady on Edith’s paper. He and Lady Violet (even though she wasn’t up to her usually acerbic form) were the only entertaining parts of this last dull and dreary season.

  18. Duchess of Corolla says:

    I just loved the series, and I will miss it terribly! It had a sort of magic about it that kept me coming back every season.

  19. Kate says:

    Call me crazy but if Mary ended up with a used car salesman why couldn’t she have ended up with Tom? They had great chemistry and crazier things did happen on that show.

  20. Olenna says:

    IMO, the finale lived up to the last few seasons. That is all. I lost my enthusiasm after season 4 (thanks, Bates), but I continued to watch for the gorgeous costumes, Violet’s quips and her verbal sparing with Isobel. I’ll miss it a little, though, at least until Poldark comes back for season/series 2.

  21. dawn says:

    I was smiling at the end and to me that is all that matters. He wrapped it in the same way Jane Austin would have in my opinion! I always enjoyed the downstairs characters a bit more anyway.
    I can’t wait to see what Masterpiece Theater comes up with next.

  22. Murphy says:

    It was very tidy, Julian was probably still scarred from the reaction he got from killing off Matthew Crawley as he did.

  23. frankly says:

    Overall, yay, everything was happy and tidy.

    But -

    What did the Bateses name the baby?

    Is there no way to make Carson “the butler who does everything but pour things”? (“You can’t pour champagne into flutes? Then you are of no use to us!” I mean, ok, they kept him on for whatever, but still.)

  24. dawnchild says:

    Forget Violet…I want to be Maggie Smith…working when I’m 80 and still blowing ‘em away!!!

  25. I like that they tied everything up with a happy ending. I especially liked that Edith finally got a wonderful wedding with a man who loves her. She went through so much tragedy and unhappiness. I also thought Mary was a b*tch, but I was glad when they finally had it out (as well as Tom telling Mary what he thought of her). Mary was just so immature in the way she constantly sniped at Edith who kept trying to rise above it and be mature and friendly.

    I think they should have a show set 15-20 years in the future and have all their kids as the main characters and having to deal with WWII and the bombings and so on! Then some of the characters could actually appear now and then, and we’d get to hear what happened to them all in the intervening years. It would be an interesting time to see how Downton Abbey makes it through another war.

  26. Giddy says:

    I have no shame that I have loved Downton. I have loved the settings, the clothes, and the characters. I saw an article a couple of years ago about this fabulous rental place in England that supplies clothes to movies, series, etc. That was where many of the dresses came from. They would have been prohibitively expensive to make. The best part of the article was that they showed specific dresses, and pictures of them being used in various movies etc. I also enjoyed a blog I found about the lamps of Downton. There were so many gorgeous ones. But most of all I loved Violet and lived for her bitchiness. I’ll miss Downton.

  27. Carmen says:

    Happy endings all around, just the way it should have ended! I bawled several times.

  28. Lilacflowers says:

    Poor Mr. Pamuk. No mention in the end

  29. Baba Ganoush says:

    I watched six episodes in one sitting (2nd or 3rd season) and that’s when you realise how ridiculous this show is!

  30. AtlLady says:

    Edith was never one of my favorite characters but I must admit, I tensed up when the pastor asked if anyone objected to the union during the wedding ceremony, and then got a bit misty-eyed. I must say I found it stunning when Mary told Anna that her baby would be spending its days in the Downton nursery. Just what sort of issues could that present down the road? The entire series belonged to the delightful Maggie Smith and her delicious barbs. I am glad that Violet and Cora made up at the end with Violet conceding that Cora was in charge of everything, the family, the Abbey, and the hospital, as it should be. Spratt has always been loyal to Dowager Violet while Denker has only been loyal to Denker. Loved that the Dowager had Spratt’s back.

  31. Reece says:

    Yeah that scene at breakfast was the one time in the entire run of the show where I could have smacked Mary in the face. I was glad she aided in getting them in the same room at least if not back together.
    Not gonna lie the best part about Edith’s story line to me was that it was filmed at Alnwick and I was staring at the library, mouth gaping, THE WHOLE TIME! I kept pausing in the scene between the mom and Edith’s fiance.
    I’m probably alone in this but Daisy was always the one I could not stand. She was whinier and more irritating than Bates, Denker and Carson’s Rules combined! Although I did like that finished her education (thanks to Mosley).

    I’ll miss the costumes most of all.

  32. kate says:

    I feel exactly the same as you. It was a soap opera but a beautiful one. I’m sad to see it end.

  33. hayley says:

    I wish they’d make a movie showing all of them a few years down the road. I wouldn’t want to see another war-centered show. We could see Mrs. Pattmore happily married, Daisy married and helping run the farm, maybe Tom settled and remarried, Barrow actually running the place efficiently, Anna and Bates smiling once in a while, Carson and Mrs. Hughes, etc. They could throw in a funny crisis and make it a lighthearted film, and I would be first in line. I’m going to miss it.