The season finale opens to sunny skies over Downton as everyone above and below stairs prepares for the wedding of Lady Rose and Atticus Aldridge.
Lady Rose is showing off her trousseau to the women (sans her chronically unhappy mother, Susan Flintshire), Donk is playing board games on the floor with granddaughter Sybbie, and Mr. Molesley is planning trips to museums for himself and Miss Baxter while they are in London.
Storm clouds gather when Inspector Vyner arrives to deliver the news that a witness places a small, slight woman on the sidewalk near Mr. Green on that fateful day. Even Inspector Vyner is shrewd enough to know that puts Mr. Bates in the clear. He asks Mrs. Bates to drop by Scotland Yard when she’s in London for the wedding. Yikes!
The lot take themselves off to Grantham House in London for a Registry Office wedding, but not before Prince Kuragin entreats the Dowager Countess to run away with him, to live out the rest of their lives as friends and lovers. She needs time to think about it, leaving us wondering. In the meantime, she encourages Isobel to fight for her place in Lord Merton’s life.
Barrow continues his turn as the almost-nice Thomas, coming to the aid of a young footman hired to assist with the wedding and hoisting Denker on her own petard, to boot. Well done, Mr. B.
Atticus behaves admirably at his bachelor’s party, but someone arranges for compromising photos to be taken of him and delivered to Lady Rose. Thankfully, Tom Branson is on hand to suggest that she stop crying and call Atticus for an explanation. They quickly conclude that someone is trying to stop the wedding, but who?
“Love is a far more dangerous motive than dislike,” the Dowager Countess remarks.
Lord Sinderby is the likely suspect and accusations follow. Shrimpy gets it right, however, and threatens that he’ll expose Susan as the culprit if she does anything to stop the wedding. Not to be denied, Susan announces to the assembled crowd at the Registry Office that she and Shrimpy are getting a divorce. When Lord Sinderby gets his knickers in a twist over her pronouncement, his gentle wife assures him that she’ll leave him if he says one word — and then he’ll really have a scandal to worry about.
Lord Gillingham and Mabel Lane Fox attend Lady Rose’s wedding reception and Lady Mary learns they are engaged. She takes refuge below stairs and in a touching scene with Mr. Carson, he confides that Lord Gillingham was not up to the mark, and she knew it. He assures her, “I am confident that you will triumph in the end.” We hope so, too.
Lord Grantham decides to sell the della Francesca to fund the renovation of the village cottages. Lady Grantham asks if she spoiled it for him and he responds, “Yes, but not in the way you think. Every time I look at it I am reminded I didn’t trust you and I feel so angry with myself, I want to be rid of it.”
He continues his good works by arranging a separate memorial stone for Mrs. Patmore’s nephew. Lord Grantham prevails upon her to attend the dedication of the memorial and surprises her with the plaque for Archie, telling the townsfolk that Archie’s name is not included in the large memorial because he wasn’t a local but his memory is cherished by many at the Abbey.
Mr. Molesley gets the chance to show off his knowledge and culture by taking Miss Baxter and Daisy to museums in London. Daisy is so taken with the educational opportunities there that she hands in her notice on the spot. When she’s back home at the Abbey and in the company of Mr. Mason and Mrs. Patmore, she has a change of heart. Tom Branson, however, is still set on starting over in Boston, promising Lady Mary that he’ll stay through Christmas.
Meanwhile, Lord Grantham finally realises that Marigold is his granddaughter and assures Lady Grantham that he will love the little girl.
Everyone seems far too happy and – sure enough – it wouldn’t be a Downton season finale without a heartbreaker. This season, it’s Anna’s turn in the box. The witness identifies her in a line-up at Scotland Yard and she’s hauled off to jail.
As Mrs. Hughes observes, “Sorrow seems to shadow them both, and in their wake, it shadows us.” We love Mr. Carson for replying, “This isn’t like you, Mrs. Hughes. Take courage for their sake. We must always travel in hope.”
Indeed, we must. Until Christmas!
Aired at 9pm on Sunday 9 November 2014 on ITV.
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