Report Card: Did ‘Downton Abbey’ season 6 set stage well for Christmas Special?

“Downton Abbey” is a show that has defined a generation of British programming, especially in the case of how it is presented and received internationally. Before this show there were few hits in America quite like it, and also few shows that captured the spirit of the times in a way that was both true, while at the same time almost made you wish that you lived in that period yourself.

The sixth season of the show in particular had a lot to set up leading to the Christmas Special that will mark the show’s series finale. You had to figure out if Edith and Mary could find love again, whether or not Mr. Carson could become a married man, and also if Robert could continue to push forward rather than clutching the old ways of life out of fear. Below, take a look at everything that worked well for the season, and also what needed some improvement. (Warning: There are some spoilers ahead!)

What worked – The story arc for Mary was fantastic, mostly because it forced her to look at some of the very worst parts of herself before figuring out how to move forward, including her inherent desire to not see other people happy. She ruined things for Edith, but eventually came to terms with what happened and determined that Henry Talbot was right for her. Edith’s story was equally fantastic, as she continued to prove herself as one of the most progressive women in society.

Also, we have to give a few quick cheers to Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes for their wedding, and then also the adjustment period that followed that. This was a nice domestic story that didn’t have any insane drama, and that’s what many lives are like. Plus, we’ve had enough of that for Anna and Bates, who are starting to turn things around. Finally, we love how the series handled the story of Robert realizing that he has to push forward in get the Abbey adjusted to the times.

What didn’t – The hospital story was dull. We understand wanting to give some stronger material to Maggie Smith, but we never really understood the reasoning to give this particular story this sort of attention. Also, why didn’t Tom Branson have more to do given that there was this huge cliffhanger surrounding whether or not he comes back?

Overall – Probably our favorite season overall since the third, or at least the part of the third that didn’t have people dying. It was heartwarming, sad, serious, and funny. This was vintage “Downton Abbey” just before the end. Grade: A-.

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