Considering Downton Abbey’s reputation for springing unexpected twists on the viewers, I watched tonights finale with high hopes and contained excitement. But as the last few minutes began to draw to a close, I began to wonder when the twist would appear, when the hook to get me watching the Christmas special and inevitable next season would be sprung. The episode ended, and that’s when it dawned on me: it was boring. No surprises, no shocks, no moment of high anticipation like at the end of episode 7. It just ended, as if it didn’t mean to go on.
In a nutshell, everything you expect to happen happens.
Daisy (Sophie McShera), Ivy (Cara Theobold) and Alfred’s (Matt Milne) chaotic love triangle comes to an end, with Alfred once again saying goodbye for good. Sophie McSera does get a few good lines in though. When Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) tells her and Ivy not to fall out, she crudely replies “We can’t fall out. We’ve never fallen in.” Following Daisy’s mature farewell to Alfred, we do see a softer side to a proud Mrs. Patmore, which is quite nice to see in her usually flustered character.
Elsewhere, Rose (Lily James) becomes engaged to her love interest, black singer Jack Ross (Gary Carr), despite Lady Mary’s (Michelle Dockery) warnings. I at least expected this to be a problem carried over into the Christmas special, but no. Jack doesn’t want to ruin Rose’s life and so calls of the engagement, leaving Rose sad, Mary relieved, and the viewers wondering if there was actually much point to this subplot, other than to add another romance to the already crowded show.
Speaking of romance, it seems that Tom (Allen Leech) may be getting himself another love interest, this time in the form of a teacher. It’s not the most exciting match in the series, and so far seems quite predictable, but hopefully it will develop further than the last one he had.
Now down to the main plots.
One of Mary’s suitors, Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen), has broken off his engagement and is willing to wait as long as it takes for her to be his. But he has a rival in the form of Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden), who happens to be his friend. The tensions of this friendship are definitely being stretched. With several fleeting glances every time Mary smiles at one of them, you can be sure that this love triangle is building and getting ready to explode into the next season.
Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) is persuaded by her Aunt Rosamund (Samantha Bond) to travel to Switzerland for four months in order to give up her unborn baby for adoption. While the finality of the plans sink in, the viewer can’t help but hope Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards) will suddenly appear and stop her from going through with it. The mystery of what happened to him is one of the only matters left unresolved by the end of this season, which is annoying but necessary.
And finally, the problem of Mr. Green (Nigel Harman), the man who raped Anna (Joanna Froggatt), is brought to a close. For me, this has been one of the most interesting points of the season, due to its dark nature, and considering the look Mr. Green received from Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) at the end of the last episode, I was highly anticipating a tense and thrilling conclusion. Early in this episode, Anna finally confesses to Mary that Mr. Green was the one who raped her, providing us with high hopes of this issue being resolved. And resolved it was, but not at all in the way I was expecting. While Anna is in London, Mr. Bates ask for the day off to go to York. The next day, Lord Gillingham announces that Mr. Green was pushed into the road and is dead. And that’s it. The most controversial plot that Julian Fellows has ever introduced into this family drama ends, and we don’t even get a satisfying conclusion. It is understandable that this was done to make people wonder whether Mr. Baits was the one who killed him or not, but I was expecting so much more.
The episode ends with everyone at the fair, happy and smiling. A rare ending for Downton Abbey. As far as season finales go, I felt it was uneventful and disappointing, but it manages to raise some issues to be resolved in future episodes. And I suppose a happy ending is quite refreshing after the dark plots and tense scenes that this season has dragged us through.
Downton Abbey season four is available on DVD now.