Downton Abbey, Series Six (2015)
After six years watching the secrets of the Crawley Family peeled back, this is it. All of the adoration, tears, happiness and love-hate dilemmas are all over. The sixth and final season of the wildly popular British series ends here. With the finality of the final episode just around the corner, there didn’t seem to be a better time than now to review the final season. Without giving away too much, or spoiling the final episode, here are my thoughts on series six.
Changes are afoot at Downton Abbey. Faithful butler of the house, Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) finally asked the love of his life, housekeeper Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) to marry him which has put the household in a flurry of wedding preparations. Enjoying a close relationship with the stalwart butler, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is insisting the wedding be held at Downton in the prestigious hall. Mrs. Hughes has her doubts, while Carson finds himself unable to say no to the family he thinks can do no wrong. Mary is herself encountering some challenges when she's blackmailed, and as the estate’s new manager. For a woman to be solely in charge of the position is unheard of, but she persists in succeeding.
Quite outnumbered by the strong willed women in his family, watching his daughter take on his responsibilities isn’t the only thing Robert (Hugh Bonnville) sees change. He watches as his wife, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) and mother, Countess Grantham (Maggie Smith) bicker over whether or not modernizing their hospital would be prudent.
Elsewhere, middle daughter, Edith (Laura Carmichael) treks up to London on numerous occasions, becoming quite the modern woman with her newspaper office; son-in-law Tom (Allen Leech) returns from his short move to America; and downstairs, Robert’s valet, Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) and his wife, Anna (Joanne Froggatt) struggle with accepting the possibility they may never have a family.
Silly as it sounds, Downton Abbey has been a memorable part of what I refer to as my TV obsession life. Each new season I excitedly snatched the full season sets, adding them to my already too large TV sets collection because I had an affinity for the beloved ITV show. Giving this a proper send-off in a review is a next-to-impossible task because every single one of the nine episodes that comprise the final season packed a punch – and they all packed a great deal into the hour (some a bit longer) installments. Unpacking all of the good, bad and downright ugly (believe me, this word is applicable in some situations) is a daunting task to say the least!
One of the things that I noticed about this season was how far the show pulled away from some relationships. For example, this is true when one remembers all of the prior seasons full of scenes between Bates and Robert or Baxter and Cora. If there were a handful of scenes between the two respective relationships I’d be surprised. I missed this. These aren’t the only differences, but they are certainly some. Anna and Mary still enjoy a fabulous relationship and if anything, their friendship enjoys the most fulfilling completion.
But it’s Tom and Mary whom I most adore together. Not as a romantic pairing, rather as best friends. There’s a moment in the eighth episode (airing this Sunday) when Tom tells Mary off (with very good reason) and it’s glorious. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Mary, but sometimes she needs someone to NOT tiptoe around her. If she can give it, she needs to be shoved right back. Though I neglected to mention them, fan favorite characters Daisy, Molesley, Baxter, Dr. Clarkson, Isobel, Lord Merton and so many more are still present and play a large role in this season.
Without giving away the entire season, I really don’t want to say a lot about this sixth season. To me, the short version is, it’s beautiful. I adored every moment, savoring each poignant scene and respecting some of the “tough” decision writing. The new romances grew into something I easily rooted for, and yet through it all, those loved ones we lost along the way were never forgotten, something the writer’s earn my respect for. The theme of “new beginnings” and happily ever afters are present which will play to an audience that I think will be satisfied. Even someone who doesn’t have a love life (for the first 7-8 episodes) finds someone he could pursue – and I heartedly approve! Then there are the return of favorite characters Atticus and Rose (Lily James).
Those who have been with this series since the beginning will be doing themselves no favors if they’ve not been watching this final season. Those of you who have been teetering on the edge of starting this family saga, I say to you, there’s no better time than now. Jump on the bandwagon and discover this for the first time. Fortunately for you, you’ll be enchanted if you’re anything like the rest of us. For the rest of us, this is a fond farewell.