It began on 26 September 2010 with the premature death of Lord Grantham’s first cousin, James Crawley, and the last series of ITV’s successful drama series Downton Abbey ended tonight with the unexpected wedding of Lady Mary to professional driver Henry Talbot.
But so much passed before Lady Mary finally saw reason and married her man, who very handily had a wedding licence to hand and a Bishop in the family who could arrange a service quickly.
There was, of course, a lot of resistance on Mary’s part, who resented Henry turning up uninvited (by her) at Downton and daring to accept Lady Cora’s invitation to stay the night with them. He also rightly perceived that “his lack of money, and position was the problem” and dared to call her a gold-digger. Brave man. She sent him away with a flea in his ear, but after a heart to heart with the Dowager – called back from her travels by matchmaker Tom – she invited him back again. And the wedding was set! Just like that.
Lady Edith, meanwhile, had her own big dilemma: the big will-she?-won’t-she? tell Bertie Pelham about her illegitimate daughter Marigold. And then would-he?-wouldn’t-he? marry her.
It turned out that Bertie’s talk of his unforgiving, duty-obsessed mother rather knocked Lady Edith off her stride and before she had a chance to tell him the truth (which it seemed she was unlikely to do anyway), her manipulative sister Lady Mary stepped in and did it for her. Over breakfast, too – and just as the happy couple were going to confirm their intention to get married. Poor Bertie, already grief-stricken having lost his employer-cousin in Tangiers but gaining a Lordship as his heir, swiftly lost his appetite and scarpered. If only Lady Edith had trusted him enough to tell him, he said, he’d have still married her.
Bertie’s departure, however, led fans to the showdown that’s been coming for years. And Lady Edith finally told her big sister what many people have known for a long time: “You’re a nasty, jealous, scheming bitch. Not content with ruining your own life, you want to ruin mine,” adding for good measure that “You’re too stuck up to see that Henry’s perfect for you.”
With that, Lady Edith fled to London to do some work and seemed to find some solace in the fact that The Toffs’ mystery columnist Cassandra Jones was none other than Spratt. Bananas! They said it.
There was quite a lot going on downstairs, too. Not least Thomas Barrow’s unsuccessful efforts to gain new employment. Feeling totally alone, he attempted to take his own life, but was fortunately found in the nick of time by Miss Baxter. The whole episode left Lord G feeling terrible and he agreed that Thomas should be allowed to stay at Downton while he recovered.
Life was looking up for Mr Molesley, however, who in his new guise as a teacher, won over the local village kids by telling them about his life in service. And Mrs Patmore recovered from a dreadful adultery scandal at her B&B, or “house of ill-repute” as it became known, by inviting the Granthams to tea. How the world has changed since we first saw them receiving that news of James’ death aboard the RMS Titanic.
So, is Lady Edith destined not to her marry the man she loves or will the Downton Abbey Christmas special see the society wedding to end them all: the marriage of the daughter of the fifth Earl of Grantham to the seventh Marquess of Hexham?