Over the course of its two-hour run time on Christmas Day, “Downton Abbey” had the immense challenge of figuring out a way in which to tie up almost every major character story, pave the way for the future, and also tribute what has come before. It was a difficult task.
In the end, we’d call the series’ finale episode a success, even if it was a little bit of a toothless one. Perhaps influenced by airing on Christmas and having little to no interest in forcing families to bust out a tissue box, almost every ending was happy in the end. Edith and Bertie were married after admitting to past flaws, Mary and Henry Talbot are expecting a child, Anna and Bates welcomed a baby boy into their lives, and even Daisy’s love life is starting to in the right direction.
Perhaps the saddest story of the night revolved around Mr. Carson, whose palsy was making it hard for him to continue to be the head butler at Downton. He was well aware of what the problem was precisely when it began, and was quick to bring about a resignation. However, Robert and Cora pushed hard for a compromise, and eventually found one: Carson could remain involved in some capacity, while handing over his reigns to a re-hired Thomas Barrow. This meant that someone would be in charge who didn’t mind the occasional advice from Carson, while Carson himself knows that the person running the ship in his steady was qualified for the job. This had its darker moments, but the ending was happy enough that you still feel like Carson can live out the remainder of his life in a happy manner.
If there is one thing we’d say in particular was a bummer, it is that we wanted more from Mrs. Patmore’s ending. Also, all we really got from Tom Branson is that he and Talbot are finding a new way to enter the auto business together now that their time as a chauffeur and a racer are now in the past.
As enjoyable as it was to see some characters have the ending they so deserved, it felt at times like the show was lacking that big moment where fans could reminisce or celebrate what they’ve had a chance to watch over the years. It almost felt as though Julian Fellowes held something back, thinking that there could be something more down the road. We would have rather seen him go all-in now, and dealing with the ramifications down the line if a movie happens.
In the end, a very good finale for the show. We’re just not sure it was a great one. Grade: B.