For all intents and purposes last night’s episode of Downton Abbey on PBS’s Masterpiece was the season finale. Yes, there is one episode yet to come next week but it seems as though it will follow Downton’s usual season structure and be more of a special event – think the various Christmas episodes and last year’s trip to Scotland. Of course, that should be of little surprise as most of American Episode 7 tied up the loose ends while also teasing possible plots for next season.
First let’s get to the tidying up of this season’s main plots. There will soon be a line out of Downton if another suitor declares his intentions towards Mary. Despite being spurned, Gillingham’s resolve is as strong as ever as he called off his engagement yet again in order to woo Mary. (Apparently it is Gillingham and not Gilliam, as I have called him all year so that’s my bad.) But it seems Mary’s eyes have wandered over to Blake who, at the end of the episode, also informs Mary he will try to court her, to which Mary seemed more receptive than to Gillingham. This is clearly a developing plot that will, almost certainly, continue next season.
After episodes of refusing to tell anyone but Mrs. Hughes who her rapist was, Anna finally opens up to Mary (because it was the season finale) letting her know that it was Gillingham’s valet, Green. Mary appeals to Gillingham to fire Green but refuses to tell him her reasons. And even though Gillingham acquiesces her to request it seems it is too late as Green has tragically died in an accident. This makes Anna immediately suspect that Bates, who had taken a trip to York the day Green died, had acted on his suspicions and exacted revenge. The audience remains in the dark with Anna, although Bates’s cryptic words leave everyone guessing. In any case, there is some solace to be had knowing Green won’t be returning to Downton.
Mary is clued into another scandal this week as well as Branson tells her that he has seen Rose romancing with Jack in London. Randomly, Rose informs Mary that she is engaged to Jack midway through the episode and Mary decides to take it upon herself to talk to Jack. On that visit Jack just as quickly informs Mary he is going to break off the engagement because he loves Rose too much to force her to be judged by society. At least they had been seeing each other for longer than an episode, Mr. Gillingham.
Edith decides she would like to give her baby to Mr. Drewe, the tenant farmer who fought for his land earlier in the season but Rosamund will have none of that. Rosamund concocts a scheme to disappear off to Switzerland with Edith so that they may become better at French. While Cora takes that story hook, line, and sinker, Violet realizes something is afoot and gets the two of them to spill the beans about Edith’s pregnancy and the real plan to give the child to some Swiss family while over there. Still not having heard anything from Gregson, Edith is hesitant in going along with this plan.
One last bit to rap up, as Alfred proposes to Ivy in a letter after how well his last visit ended in what wins the “Most Ridiculous Engagement of the Season Award,” somehow beating out Gillingham and Mary. Ivy lets him down but they make peace. Daisy as well, despite taking a holiday the day Alfred visits, also makes peace with Alfred before he declares he will never return to Downton again.
Don’t fret too long, however, as many new relationships were teased in this episode. Molesley has not only settled into his new job at Downton but also decides to befriend Baxter this episode. In fact it seems as though there’s more flirtation than friendship, at least from Molesley’s side of things, between the two. Molesley even tells Thomas, he and Robert having just returned from the USA, to buzz off when Thomas starts grilling Baxter about the goings on at Downton.
Likewise, Branson happens upon Ms. Bunting twice (she is the woman he sat next to at the political meeting in the previous episode). He goes so far as to fix her broken down car while divulging his life story in their second meeting. It is clear that he is a tad keen on her by episode’s end. It also seems like Branson has put any plans on immigrating to the US on hold for the time being, or hopefully forever as that was a silly melodramatic plot point to ever introduce in the first place.
Last order of business is the visit of Mr. Mason, Mary’s godfather. Violet looks for someone to entertain him and ropes Isobel into doing it. Luckily the two seem to hit it off rather well as they talk about medicine and losing spouses with their correspondence culminating in a bouquet of flowers. Perhaps this is nothing but don’t be surprised if Mr. Mason comes calling again.
As stated previously there is still one more episode next week but I expect it to follow the format of previous last episodes of seasons. That is not to say that meaningful things won’t happen, in fact there is usually one big to do that happens in the last episode every year – Mary finally agreeing to marry Matt being one example. But for the most part last night’s episode is the finale for the rather lack luster fourth season. Perhaps with some cheerier stories next season will feel less a chore than this season.