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It’s Christmas at Downton Abbey. Seeing a huge Christmas tree there is a nice way to finish the series. There is a nice scene of the family giving Christmas gifts to all of the servants.
I loved seeing Dowager Violet rolling her eyes as she read some of the Christmas cards.
I wish we could have seen what Thomas was given, because I am interested in what an aristocratic family would deem appropriate for a servant who refuses to move on. Luggage? Walking shoes? No matter, because this episode made it clear that Thomas wasn’t going anywhere. Thomas is desperate to get back in Lord Grantham’s good graces, and after an offhand remark by O’Brien “take something he loves, hide it, give it back, and he’ll be grateful” and devises a ridiculous plan to hide Isis in a shed in the woods. Isis is obviously a young dog with lots of energy; Thomas is very lucky she didn’t hurt herself in the shed trying to escape. Thomas participates in the search party, but his plan to rescue her is foiled. After he goes out searching for her the next morning, he returns to Downtown looking as bad as he feels, only to learn she’d been returned by a villager the night before.
Lord Grantham is touched, and Thomas comes out smelling like a rose. Let’s hope the scare of not finding Isis teaches him a bit about selflessness.
Mr. Bates’ trial occurs, and Mrs. Hughes, Lord Grantham, and O’Brien have to testify against him. They try to be kind, but the prosecution is having none of that! Based on some flimsy evidence and hearsay, Bates is sentenced to death. At the end of the episode, he is reprieved from his death sentence, but that business is left hanging (pardon the pun). I sincerely wish that all of the Bates drama is finished next season. Poor Anna must be exhausted from being jerked emotionally in every direction, and I’m sure I’m not the only fan who is tired of it. Let’s just have them live in their little cottage happily for a while!
Lord Grantham’s sister Rosalind is visiting for Christmas and New Year’s Eve, and she has brought her new maid, Shore, with her. Ms. Shore likes to poke her nose in everyone’s business and stir up trouble. She points out to Daisy that her skills are far above her current position, and that Daisy should find a better job for herself. Daisy realizes that she’s right, but she goes about it entirely wrong until she takes advice from her father-in-law. After finally visiting him (with a nudge from Mrs. Patmore’s fingers and a Ouija board), he tells her how alone he is and that he would like for her to be his daughter.
Poor Daisy has never has a family and finally realizes that this was part of William’s plan when he asked her to marry him. After his death, his father and Daisy would be family and would look out for each other. Daisy accepts his offer and tells him of her quandary with Mrs. Patmore. He offers her sound advice, and bless her, she took it. We shall see next season if she has been promoted at Downton Abbey.
In younger sister news, Sybil is pregnant and her father acts like a drama queen about it, stating that she has “crossed the Rubicon” now. Cora wisely points out that the Rubicon was crossed when Sybil and Branson married, all while keeping in any exasperated sighs or rolling of the eyes that I’m sure many of the fans let loose at home. Cora also tells Robert that she wants Sybil and “the chauffer” (as Robert still calls him) to come home; he’d better give in quick on this one, because he does not want to get in between Cora and her grandchild. Meanwhile, Edith and Sir Antony were set up to meet at Violet’s house, but Violet soon regretted it when Sir Antony revealed that he has a useless arm now. She realized that Edith would be more of a nurse to him and doesn’t want that life for Edith. Edith, however, does want that life, especially after Sir Antony calls her lovely. I’d like to see her finally get married and happy as well.
Now for the cream: the Mary/Richard/Matthew triangle. Sir Richard is a huge annoyance from the beginning of the episode, when he complains that the family has to eat lunch without servants on Christmas Day, to complaining about the servants having the evening off on New Year’s Eve (does he not realize how easy it is to pour a bottle of champagne?), to asking Mary why she was laughing with Matthew on the hunt. Matthew seems to be fighting more for Mary, offering to be with her at Bates’ trial, telling her she promised to stand with him at the beginning of the hunt, and seeming to always arrive when she and Sir Richard are squabbling.
When Robert asks Cora why Mary is marrying someone none of them can stand (my words, but you know I’m right), she finally tells him the truth about Mr. Pamuk. Bless Robert, he not only forgives Mary, but tells her to dump Sir Richard and head to America to visit her other Grandmother (to be played by Shirley MacLaine next season) and to bring home a cowboy. I guess as long as he’s not a chauffer, Robert will be happy.
Mary also tells Matthew the true story of Mr. Pamuk’s death, and Matthew was far more interested in the situation as a jilted lover than as a family member horrified by the scandal of it all. Matthew insists that Mary must end her engagement with Richard, and ends by telling her that he does not hate her, that he never could. Just kiss already!
When Mary breaks it off with Sir Richard, Matthew comes in after hearing arguing. Sir Richard’s wounded pride causes him to lash out at Matthew, telling him that Lavinia knew all along that he loved Mary more than her, and then finally, finally, finally we get the moment we have all been waiting for – a fight!
Lord Grantham was so awesome when he came it and yelled at them to break it up. He sounded like he was using the voice he would use to tell Isis to stop chewing on something. Mary was just standing there, hand over her mouth, but don’t you think a part of her was cheering Matthew on? You know she’s wanted to punch Sir Richard for ages, and now she gets to see her true love, Matthew, doing what society dictates she cannot. The whole scene improved even more when Violet came in and Sir Richard told her he would probably never see her again; “Do you promise?” was her response and I’m sure Mary and Robert were fighting to keep a stiff upper lip instead of laughing as we all did.
The next evening is the Servants’ Ball at Downton, with the family dancing with the servants in an annual celebration. I have some good photos of the unlikely pairings.
During the ball, Rosalind discovers her maid in a compromising position with Rosalind’s beau. What I found so surprising was that the newly discovered couple seemed to be in love, and then I remembered that Rosalind said her maid had only been with her for a few months. I wonder if this new beau and Ms. Shore, the maid, had planned all along to get Rosalind to marry him so he could get her money?
After the ball, Matthew and Mary are left alone and at last they are engaged. He actually kneels in snow to ask her properly, and that goodness she says “yes” immediately, instead of telling him she’ll think about it as she did last season. The season ends with them laughing in the snow in front of beautiful Downton Abbey.
I wonder how long it will be until Season Three?