Downton Abbey Series Finale Recap: The English Version Of A Happy Ending

Photo: Courtesy of (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for MASTERPIECE.
Pictured: Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary.
Can you imagine Sunday nights without plummy British accents, sniping and sabotaging sisters, and the scathing wit of the Dowager Countess? We'll have to next week, as tonight's episode marks the end of Downton Abbey's six-season run. It's okay to ugly cry. So, a lot happened in tonight's episode. Let's unpack it all, shall we? Some time has passed since Mary and Henry's wedding, but Edith is still, of course, single. So single, in fact, that she announces during a family walk that she wants to put Marigold in a school in London, where she intends to live. "I'm a spinster, aren't I, and spinsters live alone," she reasons. Ugh. If only Marty McFly were able to drive by and fling a copy of Sex and the Single Girl at her head. Speaking of cars, Henry is over them. After all that drama about the danger of his racing career, he's decided he's lost interest in it. Luckily, his lifestyle is such that he can still enjoy martinis on the lawn and get rides to London with Edith. Back downstairs, Thomas thanks everyone for helping him during his difficult time (read: attempted suicide). His fellow servants have their own problems, though. Anna is well into her pregnancy, causing Carson to panic and fret about decency. His own hands, however, are causing more trouble than Anna's belly. He spills wine during the family's meal and is forced to fess up to Mrs. Hughes: He's inherited a palsy condition from his father and grandfather, which causes his hands to shake uncontrollably. It's not lost on him that it's not a welcome trait in a butler. Andy's reading has progressed to the point that he's now able to do Mr. Mason's books. He's also able to strip down to a T-shirt, climb a ladder, and get all sweaty when a flustered Daisy stops by. She's been rebuffing him hard and he finally takes the hint and gives up. Mrs. Patmore is quick to call out "Becky Sharp" (another great literary reference) on her behavior. "Now he's gone off you, you're soft on him," she says, citing Daisy's past reaction to Alfred. Mrs. Patmore is totally the Judy Greer of Downton Abbey. We'll miss her. Suddenly, everyone's getting jobs. Thomas finds employment on the other side of York and says he's ready to turn over a new leaf. Molesley also has a new gig: He's regaling Baxter about the history of shampoo when the local teacher offers him full-time work and his own cottage. "Only Andrew stands between me and Armageddon," Carson moans when Molesley gives his notice. Even so, he joins everyone in wishing the departing Thomas well. Spratt's career as an advice columnist is also looking up. Edith pops by her grandmother's house to give him more work, announcing that his advice on fashion and dating men is especially popular while Denker tries to overhear from the other side of the door. Alas, Thomas' new house has a skeleton crew and he's bored out of his mind. Cousin Isobel's love life certainly isn't boring. After being stood up by Lord Merton's evil son Larry, she confesses to Violet that she's still in love. Unfortunately, the object of her affection has had some bad news. He's been diagnosed with "pernicious anemia," which is apparently very serious and fatal. His dying wish is to marry Isobel, family be damned. Isobel takes him to the doctor for a second opinion, an action that prompts the formerly sweet-as-honey Miss Cruikshank to lash out. When Violet catches wind of this, she's outraged. She and Isobel storm the Merton home to fetch Dickie. The ailing man tells his son he loves him, but doesn't like him. Isobel announces her intention to marry Dickie. Larry and Miss Cruikshank are horrified. Love is also in the air, believe it or not, for the recently dumped Edith. Mary, perhaps having a pang of regret for having ruined her sister's engagement to Bertie, agrees with Violet's summation that the split is "a waste." She thus arranges for Aunt Rosamund to lure Edith to dinner at The Ritz in London. When they turn up to the restaurant, Bertie is sitting there at the table. He's had a change of heart and wants to get back together. She's still fuming about the Marigold issue, but agrees to rekindle the romance. Bertie's mother must not learn the truth about Marigold, however. That's the plan: When Edith and her overjoyed parents visit the newly minted Marquess of Hexham and his mother, they soon discover that she's a tough cookie on a moral high horse. In other words, she's not the type of woman who'd be cool with having a secret illegitimate stepdaughter. Edith's done with lying, though. She tells Mummy Dearest the truth, prompting a major freak-out. Bertie, at least, has the guts to stand up to his mother when she refers to his future wife as "damaged goods." He's about to announce their engagement at a formal dinner without her blessing, when, prompted by Robert's urging, she does the right thing and makes the announcement herself. Later, she praises Edith for being "unimpeachably honest." Hey! Edith might get married, after all!
Photo: Courtesy of (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for MASTERPIECE.
Pictured: Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith.
Flash-forward a few months later. It's the holidays and the house is in wedding-prep mode for Edith and Bertie's New Year's Eve nuptials. The lovely Rose returns from the States with Atticus, sharing the news that they've had a baby girl. Anna is 10 days away from her own due date, but continues to work. What could possibly go wrong? The scheming Denker has unearthed Spratt's secret about moonlighting as Cassandra Jones. She breaks the news to Violet, but doesn't get the reaction she'd hoped for. Instead of firing Spratt on the spot, Violet thinks it's hilarious. Tough break, Denker. Her son Robert isn't as chill when it comes to Cora. He's miffed that her work at the hospital is interfering with wedding planning. Rose reads between the lines and takes him to a hospital meeting where Cora is in full #GirlBoss action. She tells her uncle that he more or less needs to deal with the fact that Cora is a working woman or he'll lose her. He decides he's proud and stops pestering her. Carson's health has forced him to resign from his job, which is a major blow to Lady Mary. She's more relaxed when it comes to accepting Henry's new career development. He and Tom have secretly started up Talbot and Branson Motors, a garage and car dealership. Mary lets go of her snobby ways and approves the business plan while dropping her own bombshell: She's pregnant. Rose's visit has also had an effect on Daisy. She decides she needs a new 'do, so she grabs Mary's new hair dryer and a pair of scissors. The resulting mop looks like a serial killer hacked at her hair with an axe, forcing Anna to intervene. She gives Daisy the Sibby Special, a fringed, Anna Wintour-esque bob that's really not that flattering. Andy, however, can't resist a makeover and the cut strikes up a renewed flirtation between the two servants. The developments keep coming in. Anna goes into labor in Mary's bedroom while returning the hair dryer. Good thing Dr. Clarkson was invited to wedding! The good doctor also has welcome news for Isobel and Dickie, who are now married. Turns out his anemia isn't as pernicious as first suspected. He may be iron-deficient, but he's not dying. Following a moment with Robert that's both sweet and pathetic (subtext: "I can't believe someone is finally marrying ME! Unlucky, spinster-old ME!"), Edith finally gets her happy ending with Bertie. Or, as Violet puts it, "the English version of a happy ending." Actually, everyone gets a happy ending. Barrow, enjoying a day off from Dullsville, is able to finagle the butler job, with Carson staying on as a sort of advisor. Anna and Bates welcome a baby boy and get to spend the night in Mary's bed, which is an exciting prospect if you're not a Turkish bachelor. Daisy agrees to move in with Mr. Mason, all the while winning over Andy. Mr. Mason and Mrs. Patmore pair off, as do Molesley and Baxter. Robert and Cora share a tender moment. Edith's editor, Laura, catches the bouquet after flirting with Tom all day (hint, hint). The clock strikes midnight and everyone cheers. Downstairs, Mrs. Hughes strikes up "Auld Lang Syne." Upstairs, Violet manages to get in one last bon mot about clinging to the past. That's all, folks. The show that started with the Titanic's sinking ends with a snowy celebration and the unsinkable Dowager Countess. We can live with that.

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