20 February, 2012
We interrupt our usual chatting about light fixtures and dog fashion shows . . . for some quick thoughts on last night's season finale of Downton Abbey. Well, it was the season finale here in the US . . . in England, they watched the second season last fall . . . and were treated to last night's 'episode' as a special on Christmas Day. And thank you to all my British friends who did not peep a single word about the plot. Blessings upon you all.
So . . . a few highlights of the evening for me. There's a parade of spoilers to follow . . . so, proceed at your own risk if you haven't seen the show yet . . .
1) The Pace. We've been cranking through plot and characters at break-neck (or better yet, back-breaking) speed this season. And I was growing nostalgic for the languid pace of the first season. My thought was that it was a editorial device (with the many new characters, the rapid changes of fate, the large breaks in the timeline) . . . commenting on how quickly life was changing during the First World War. And for that reason alone . . . I understood the new pace. I didn't say I liked it . . . but, I could see a point for it. But last night, we seemed to return to a pre-war rhythm. And though the episode was packed with plot . . . it didn't feel as hurried.
2) The Continuity Fairy. Firstly, I love the Continuity Fairy. And she is missing from a great many television shows. She just stops in every once in a while and says, "Remember that thing that happened? Well, I do . . . and here is some of the fall-out from events that took place in previous episodes." So, it was a great delight to see Sir Anthony Strallan re-appear in Edith's life.
3) The Bomb. Okay y'all. I seriously jumped off the sofa when Lord Grantham asked Mary if the only reason she was marrying was to keep the secret of the death of Mr. Pamuk! And the shock was almost palpable. There was a point about mid-season this year . . . when I was trying to figure out who did . . . and who DID NOT . . . know the story of the "Turkish gentlemen." But, after two complete seasons of keeping the awful truth from her father . . . it was SO satisfying to finally hear it spoken of. The worrisome part is that Bates is now in prison for life . . . just for trying to keep that very same secret from being revealed.
4) The Kiss. It's been a slow burn. I don't think since we all waited and watched outside a rainy coffee shop for Ross and Rachel to admit to the feelings that they shared . . . has there been such a joyous and perfectly pitch declaration of love . . . as an (at times icy) Mary . . . and the (at times stoic) Matthew . . . in a swirl of snow . . . illuminated by the warmth of the Abbey . . . finally, seriously finally, expressing their true feelings. Good stuff. And seriously, if the fine people at the BBC aren't selling "Downton Abbey Snow Globes" they're missing a HUGE opportunity.
5) The Dog. I don't care which character is killed, or crippled, or maimed, or executed, or miscarries . . . don't y'all DARE hurt that dog. Seriously. No, I mean it.
6) The Dowager. It always kinda worries me when a character becomes the "comic relief." So often they become over-used . . . and lose their potency. Not so with the delicious Maggie Smith! And with her three word line, "Do you promise?" last night . . . I will be the first the start the campaign to build a national shrine to the aforementioned Maggie.
What were your favourite moments? Favourtie lines? Favourite plot developments?