Downton Abbey – Series 6 so far…

*Updated: It seems I was rather confused when writing this post in saying that there was only one episode left of this series. I stand corrected, there are eight episodes in the series, not six. I apologise for the mistake!*

After 5 weeks of drama, romance and classic Downton Abbey one-liners it’s not long before before the show takes temporary leave until its final bow at Christmas.

I cannot hide my despair that one of favourite television shows is approaching its final episodes but, as they say, all good things come to an end.

A few weeks ago I published my predictions for the final series and with only a few episodes to go, it’s time to check in. Where are our beloved characters after five weeks and where might the series leave them before the break until Christmas?

Needless to say, spoilers ahead.

Violet vs. Isobel: The battle between the two matriarchs continues as Violet and Isobel have clashed over the potential acquisition of the local hospital by the hospital in York. Violet fears the loss of control  whilst Isobel values the advanced treatments that could be gained from such a merger. The battle lines are drawn early on and both have spent most of the series desperately trying to bring everybody down with them. Violet nabbed Dr Clarkson, Isobel took Cora, until Dr. Clarkson appeared to be switching sides, prompting Violet to convince Minister for Health, Neville Chamberlain, to come to dinner at Downton. Demonstrating that she will truly stop at nothing to win an argument the dinner is bubbling over with tension until it is shockingly interrupted – more on that later.

The everlasting woes of Lady Edith: The series started with poor Edith’s illegitimate daughter, Marigold, being abducted by former adoptive mother, Mrs Drewe. Whilst she was unharmed and successfully recovered, the Drewes were practically forced to leave the Downton estate for pastures new. Meanwhile, series 6 has seen Edith become a feminist icon, successfully running the magazine inherited from dead lover Gregson, even firing her cantankerous editor and agreeing to co-edit the magazine with… another woman! Things are definitely changing at Downton. There’s also some signs of Edith’s woeful romantic life picking up as she became reacquainted with Bertie Pelham. Last episode saw their romance blossom into a brief kiss in Edith’s apartment. Will Edith finally walk down the aisle (successfully) in the final episode of the series?

Lady Mary: The series started quite slow for Mary. With all the promise of new romance for the sisters I spent the first few episodes expecting the dashing Henry Talbot to make a grand entrance but alas, this was delayed until the fourth episode. Was it worth the wait? He certainly has much more chemistry with Mary than Gillingham or Blake. However, with only one episode left I wish we’d been able to see a bit more of him before the series ended. After all, we had to wait two series for Matthew and Mary to get their happy ending – and whilst the path to their reunion was beyond contrived, that final kiss in the snow made it all totally worth it –  yes, even Matthew’s ‘miraculous’ recovery from a paralysing spine injury. Mary and Henry have been dancing around their potential flirtation until finally Tom stepped in to force the two to admit that, shockingly, they did actually want to spend some quality time together. Aside from her romantic life, Mary has taken on the job of agent at Downton, and will soon be taking on the entire control of the estate with Tom after a certain horror-inducing event last episode.

Bates and Anna: This series looked set to be dominated by further misery for the long-afflicted couple. However, fortunately another woman came forward in the murder case of Mr Green, thus clearing both of their names and finally ridding us of this tedious storyline. However, don’t be too quick to assume this was the end for the misery as Fellowes threw in a few secret miscarriages to ensure Joanne Froggatt could keep up her record of crying in every episode. Fortunately, a bit of Downton magic has been sprinkled on this storyline as Mary takes Anna to see her doctor in London where it is revealed that a quick fix can be performed next time Anna is pregnant. Lo and behold, a few episodes later Anna is pregnant again but experiencing stomach pain causing Mary to rush them both off to Harley Street in the middle of the night. Miraculously saved, Anna has brushed that final demon off her shoulder and, hopefully, she and Bates can finally find some happiness – or at least one episode without one of them breaking down.

Carson and Mrs Carson (or is that Mrs Hughes??): Some pre-wedding jitters of the bedroom variety afforded us some hilarious scenes when Mrs Patmore was called upon to discuss the “expectations” of Carson in his marriage to Elsie. After confirming that Carson wasn’t expecting a ‘friendship’ sort of marriage the two pursued their own engagement only to come to blows over the location of their wedding reception. Whilst Carson was happy to accept Mary’s offer to host the occasion in the great hall of Downton, Mrs Hughes was determined to make sure her wedding day was just that, her wedding day. Ultimately forced to back down the two were wed in the local church before having a party in the local school hall. The fourth episode of the series saw the two head off to Scarborough for their honeymoon whilst those remaining lamented how difficult it would be to start calling Mrs Hughes, Mrs Carson. Thankfully, this hurdle was avoided when Carson announced that despite their nuptials, Mrs Hughes would remain Mrs Hughes. Phew. With that all sorted Carson and Hughes settled into married life only for Carson to discover his new wife is lacking in the kitchen department. As hurdles go, its certainly not the greatest one to overcome.

Thomas: As usual, Thomas has spent most of the series wondering why everybody hates him so much – something that completely baffles me as he spent most of the first few series making it his sole mission to destroy anyone he disliked, aka. Mr Bates. Whilst he has redeemed himself in some ways, Thomas has been halfway out the door for a while now. Unfortunately for him, England in the 1920s is constantly changing and not many people are looking for a butler anymore, and, if they do, they combine that role with every other position barring a cook. You’d think that, faced with dismissal from Downton, Thomas would take any job offered to him but, as usual he is his own worst enemy and turns down the one opportunity offered. Then, when given the chance to stand in for Carson whilst the newlyweds are on holiday, he squanders it all by being rude to the other staff and outing the visiting Mrs Harding as former housemaid, Gwen, who left Downton with the help of Sybil in the first series in order to better herself. However, knowing Downton, Thomas will find some way to remain at the big house for the foreseeable future.

Daisy and Mr Mason: Series 6 has seen Daisy quickly earn the title of troublemaker at Downton. When the sale of a neighbouring estate puts Daisy’s father-in-law, Mr Mason, out of his home Daisy launches a public attack on the new owner, only to make the situation even worse. She then spends the next few episodes lamenting the position of the working class whilst begging Cora to help her find a new place for Mr Mason. After the Drewes are ‘politely’ requested to vacate their property, Daisy sees an opportunity but totally jumps the shark, barely stopping short of telling Mr Mason to move in immediately. When she learns that the estate wants to farm the property themselves she hastens upstairs to launch another attack against the ruling class, only for the Crawley family to concede the property to Mason, saving Daisy from another outburst. Before long Mason had moved into the property with Mrs Patmore, Daisy and Andy assisting. After Mary and Tom expressed concerns for Mr Mason’s physical abilities on the farm Andy swiftly stepped in to offer his help. Alls well that ends well, eh?

Tom: Well it was no secret that Tom Branson would be back for the last series of Downton – but that didn’t stop me squealing with delight when he made a surprise appearance at the wedding of Carson and Mrs Hughes. After travelling all the way to America, Tom realised that Downton Abbey is his real home (FINALLY). It’s heartwarming but I cannot help thinking that the ultimate takeaway here is that his happiness relies on Tom almost completely abandoning his revolutionary beliefs to live the life of an aristocrat, something series 1 Tom would have resolutely despised. Back at Downton, Tom has teamed up with Mary to keep the estate moving forward in the twentieth century. Hopefully these two will be able to hold off the predicted demise of Downton by the end of the series.

Robert and Cora: These two have lacked storyline’s of their own on this series. I had been planning to write about the possible demise of Robert by the series’ end but this week seems to have put an end to that possibility, although in a highly shocking and thoroughly revolting fashion. After the frequent mentions of an ominous stomach pain Robert took ill at the meal featuring guest of honour, Neville Chamberlain, prompting a spontaneous and rather un-Downton-like projectile vomit of blood across the Downton dining room. For a moment it was like I was watching a different show. Bypassing the ridiculousness of this particular moment I was reminded that we were actually supposed to be concerned about Lord Grantham’s health. After being quickly whisked off to hospital and undergoing an operation it was reported that Robert would recover – indeed, a sneaky shot in the preview for next weeks episode seems to have confirmed it.

The future of Downton? Much of the hype before the series began focussed on the closing down of Downton Abbey. However, there has been very little talk of any real threat to the estate.  Indeed, the characters have been making significant changes to ensure the state lives on but as of yet there are no obvious signs of decay. Perhaps the Crawley family will live on in the hallowed halls for the foreseeable future. It seems unlikely that it will all fall apart in the last episodes – but then this is Downton and anything can happen!

What have been your thoughts on the final series so far and what are your predictions for the final episodes?

Florence Odette xx

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