Downton Abbey, Season 6, Episode 9: The End of Everything

2016 is a year in which, sadly, so many good things are coming to an end. America as a shining example of pluralism and democracy, for one. And the show Downton Abbey, for another.

I’m not sure which one I’ll mourn more: the end of America or the end of Downton Abbey. While viewers of the show can’t do much to stop our fellow knuckleheads from electing a nasty orange Oompa Loompa as our President, we can take time from the madness to stop and watch the finale of Downton Abbey, a lovefest that might prove to be an antidote to the hatefest that is going on in this election cycle.

And what a lovefest it was! Two weddings, no funerals, and enough foreshadowing of future match-ups to make the folks at The Bachelor look like the amateurs they are when it comes to trying to find two compatible people to bring together in wedded bliss. Continue reading

Downton Abbey, Season 6, Episode 5: Night of the Living Dead

Wow.

I apologize in advance for the length of this post, but Episode 5 of the The Final Season contained so much verbal and visual juice it was hard to contain myself. I’m not even sure how to begin to dig into this one, exactly, but I think I’ll take my cue from Julian Fellowes himself in this regard. When in doubt, start with the pigs.

We Need to Talk about the Pigs

Or so Mary says, referring to a talk she simply must have with Farmer Mason. The pigs were mentioned right away in the episode, much to my delight, as I have resigned myself to the importance of pigs.

The show opens with Mary and Tom chatting while tromping through a field with a lovely view of Downton. Tom tells Mary he hopes she is alright with the decision to move Farmer Mason into her esteemed former Pigman’s house. Mary reassures Tom that she’s basically okay with it, especially since “pigs are Mr. Mason’s speciality”. This is news to all of us, and perhaps, even, to Farmer Mason. But it is crucial to determine his skill level in pigmanship, as Downton’s flock of 15 pigs rank just below Daisy’s educational pursuits and well above Edith’s happiness in securing Downton’s future, and should be treated accordingly.

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Downton Abbey, Season 6, Episode 2: Pigs

This is the episode that nearly broke me. I was looking forward to watching the show online today, but only a quarter of the way through, I felt a panic attack coming on. I paused the show and placed an emergency phone call to my oldest sister, Jenny.

Jenny had already watched the episode, and knew what rocky terrain ahead, terrain filled with lots of conversations about hospital mergers, wedding venues, and pigs. So many pigs.

The phone rang and rang. My panic increased. What if Jenny didn’t pick up? I had to talk with her. I needed help. Immediate help. When she answered, I felt my throat catch in a sob. Help me Jenny!

“About Downton Abbey…” I began. “I don’t think I can do it anymore, Jenny.” I said. “I don’t think I can watch this episode. I think I’m through with this show.”

“Shhhh….” Jenny reassured me, in the manner of older sisters everywhere. (Except for Mary, the older sister with a heart like a piece of granite wedged inside a steel cage.) “It will be okay.” Jenny continued. “You can get through this.”

“But Molesley!” I sputtered. “He started talking to Daisy again about the exams! About taking that stupid math test that he yammered on and on and on about last season!” I started to cry.

“It’s okay, Sarah.” Jenny said again. “It will all be okay. Sure, Molesley can’t stop talking about Daisy’s education. And sure, there are a lot more pigs ahead of you, but you can get through those scenes. Just concentrate on the clothes. And the furniture. Concentrate on how beautiful everything is, how interesting it is to look at.”

“Alright…” I murmured, wiping the tears from my eyes. “If you say so. If you say I can get through this episode, I guess I can.”

“Sure you can!” Jenny said brightly. “And remember: when another scene with the pigs comes on the screen, just close your eyes and think of England.”

And readers, I made it. I watched the entire episode, all the way to the end, to the final scene: Ripping Marigold Out of Mrs. Drew’s Arms Redux 2.0.

I Can Do This

Unlike last season’s painful version of Ripping Marigold out of Mrs. Drew’s Arms (Original Mix), I didn’t cry while watching. I had already cried all the tears I’m gonna cry for this trainwreck of a show. Oh Downton. Why are you doing this to us? We faithfully watch week after week, yet all you can do is rehash the same plot points over and over. It’s like being inside the movie Groundhog Day. Every episode we wake up to the same thing: blackmail, scandal, times they are a-changin’, ice boxes and radios, li’l babies and thwarted love, let’s go to America! let’s not go to America!, Thomas is scheming, Thomas is lonely, Bateses killed someone, no they didn’t, Bateses can’t have a baby, yes they can (they are one person after all), let’s keep a secret, let’s tell someone that secret, oh look! here’s a letter from someone far away, let’s all eat breakfast together and murmur inanities, Granny vs. Isobel, Isobel vs. capitalism, Isobel vs. suitors, Cora on a couch, Cora walking around a room, Cora on another couch, everyone hates Edith, and finally, the greatest plot point of them all, one that transcends every season, a timeless sort of topic….. drumroll please.… aren’t those pigs just great?

Pigs are the Best Thing Ever

The thing about pigs is that we can all agree that they are fandamntastic. When all else fails, the pigs will bring us together. Lord G, Lady G, baby George, li’l Marigold, who was “aching to see the pigs” quoth Lady Edith, who got out of the pig-viewing so that she could head to London and be abused by her editor instead of Mary for a change, the village farmers, the farming villagers, the under-butlers and second footmen, ladies maids and the Bateses — the pigs will bring everyone together.

Not sure how Lady Rosalind/Rosamund feels about pigs, but we’ll bring her around soon enough. Did she make it to the fat stock show at Moulton? No? You don’t know what a fat stock show is? Well it’s an opportunity to say pigs a lot. How many times can we all utter the word pigs in this episode? I dunno but let’s go for a million!

Oh that fat stock show! What a time everyone had! Them was some doings! Pigs to look at and give ribbons to PLUS a game of nine pins to play! Pins and pigs go together like nobody’s business. The pigs were so enchanting that Poor Edith failed to notice that her ill-gotten daughter had disappeared. The only one to show sense in that entire nightmare of a climactic scene (yes! the pig show was intended to be the crux of the whole episode) was Mrs. Drew. She absconded with Li’l Marigold heading back to the farm where a comfortable couch and a cup of tea awaited. When confronted by the Crawley Car stuffed with aristocrats, spilling out from all sides like clowns at a circus, Mrs. Drew gave a simple explanation for the kidnapping.

“She was bored, so I took her home.” she shrugged.

Yes! Yes, we are all bored! We are all bored to tears. Please take us home, Mrs. Drew. Take us home, and tuck us in, and when we wake up, Groundhog Day will be over, and the pigs will have disappeared, and we will never ever ever again have to hear Anna say a line like the one she said to Mary, a few nights before the Fat Stock Pig Show:

“You’ll have the last laugh m’lady. When you show up with the pigs in tow.”

Oh please. Make it stop.

Next Week:

Who cares? I don’t know. Something about Li’l Daisy Snackcakes, the socialist-mathematician, and Old Man Mason moving into the Drew’s pigsty, Edith and a feller, blah blah blah. Just close your eyes and think of England.