The last episode of Season 4 was extra long and extra beautiful, with scene after scene taking place in grand settings and everyone looking even more amazing than they usually look. After taking its sweet time with multiple, lengthy settee-based conversations and convoluted subplots involving pieces of paper, the show comes to a close with a final scene that was pretty darn touching, leaving us with the image of Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson, holding hands and wading into the ocean together. Just seeing Carson’s bare feet was worth the price of a PBS pledge drive alone.
I grimace because I care.
Everything seemed sort of topsy-turvy in this episode, with characters coming out on top that have been flailing around until now or, in some cases, that we’ve never laid eyes on before now. Rose, Lord G., Lady G., Mosely, Harold & Madeleine, just to name a few. And this episode was epic, epic! because we saw the family’s London house for the first time. Wow. That is one beautiful, big house, even if the family members kept complaining about being in everyone else’s pocket, as the house only had six rooms per family member instead of the usual twenty. Stupid Mary claimed she would rather sleep on the roof than share a room with Edith. I was hoping a member of the staff would take her up on it and set up a bed for her there. And then gently sneak up on the roof in the middle of the night and nudge her over the edge while she was sleeping. (*cough*Bates*cough*)
Episode 7 was a veritable Valentine’s Day Whitman’s Sampler of Delights. Where to start: Rose’s shenanigans? Bates-es field trip to “York”? Mary’s move from mauve to champagne-colored dresses? The fact that all those costly-looking dresses are shaped like grain sacks? Or that we finally, after weeks and weeks, caught a brief, enticing glimpse of Nanny?
The truth is, there is only one place to start. And that’s with the pigs. So we begin with Mary and Tom and Edith (Edith has joined the pig parade! Hurrah for Edith!) as they walk past Downton’s pigs over to their favorite tenant’s pigs. After much grave discussion with their tenant — and a mutual agreement that the whole mess with Downton’s pigs was nobody’s fault really, since no one could have known that those pigs would kick over their own water — the three Downton-ites turn to their favorite tenant to anoint him as Downton Abbey’s very own Pigman. The tenant lifts his cap to scratch his head. Wow. It is a big moment, because, with all that they’ve been through, everyone present (except Edith, who has been otherwise occupied) realizes that it is a big responsibility. The most important job on the whole place. More important even than taking care of baby Sybil and baby George, because pigs are Downton’s future. Everyone knows that the children, with their hearty appetites and and expensive clothes, will only drain capital from the estate, while the pigs will make money. Piles of it. The pigs are where it’s at. The Pigman nods, I will accept the job, he says. There is a joyful, if sober, exchange of glances. Let word go out throughout the land! We have a Pigman!