22 June 2011

Downton Disappointment

I'm interrupting my semi-regularly scheduled programming to rant about the last episode of Downton Abbey, which screened in New Zealand last night. The penultimate episode was very enjoyable, promising so much for the finale. But it was so disappointing, it made me wonder if they found out they had a second season just before writing it... it seems like all they were doing was setting up the next set of plot arcs. The episode forgot important plot points, while throwing in incongruous twists for no good reason. My main quibbles were:

1. The next test for Mary and Matthew's relationship was supposed to be her confession. Would he still love her once he found out the truth about Mr Pamuk? The risk was all on her side, and there was never any doubt of him being a worthy recipient of her affections.

Instead the writers just forgot all about this, and Mary didn't even tell him. Instead they added a ridiculous pregnancy, which could cause Matthew to fall from his position as heir. It became all about whether Mary should risk her future material security by accepting him. I couldn't care less about that - of course he'd make enough money as a solicitor to support them if she loved him enough. The point was whether she could make herself vulnerable, and if he'd be accepting. I was crushed at the end when the writers just let the tension dissolve away, and the relationship with it.

2. It also seemed that Thomas was to be eliminated before the next season, but not with the justice he deserved. As the evidence mounted, his guilt was proven. But instead of being called to task by Lord Grantham, he was allowed to resign to assist with the war effort. Again another conflict just fizzled out. Why? (I will say that I never liked him and I'm glad he'll be gone, but no doubt another villain will take his place)

3. The plot with O'Brien was another failed device. If the pregnancy just served to end the M&M happily-ever-after, why have O'Brien behave so badly only to remove the barrier and suffer no consequences? Perhaps she will suffer the fallout in the next season, unless guilt is the only punishment. However like Thomas, it only seemed natural that some sort of comeuppance was due to her for her sins during this season.

4. The arc with Bates and Anna seemed to progress with Anna's discoveries about the past. But when presented with an opportunity for more revelation between them and a furthering of the relationship, Bates just says again, "I can't tell you," and Anna retreats as if this satisfies her. Where is the spirit she showed in the previous episode, when she protested her love? At least we get to see that Bates is actually interested, but will he ever fight for her, or at least explain why he won't? I thought he was a stronger character than that.

The sibling rivalry was well done; deliciously vile. And I like the hints of more to come between Sybil and Branson, but the plot about her liberal tendencies sort of evaporated too. No doubt outside events will have a larger part to play in season 2. I just hope the writers do the characters and dramatic tension justice. I could do with less scenes of Mary crying too. And here's hoping that Matthew will be back as he was really the only romantic hero!


  1. I was loving this series but I think I missed the last part of it since some of that doesn't sound familiar =)

  2. If Darlene has an emergency what can that mean?