Downton Abbey Series 2 Finale Review

DOWNTON ABBEY – EPISODE 8: Sunday 6th November, ITV1, 9pm

Any band worth their groupies will tell you that making a hit debut album is easy, it’s the next one that’s the problem, so should we be surprised that Fellowes’ ‘difficult second series’ didn’t quite measure up to the first? After the rapture of DA1, a few dissenting voices were almost inevitable this time around and although this return has been thoroughly enjoyable, there’s been some clunky plotting and a couple of dud episodes over the last couple of months. Last week’s offering was a good example of these problems and it could only have contained more by way of exposition if the characters had referred to themselves in the third person. This finale was suffering from a slight hangover as it opened (“You’ve still got three days to practice!” – *winks at camera*) but overall it was a cracking end to another fine series.

So what do we all think of Matthew and the excellent Mary then? They’re starting to remind me of Ross and Rachel – a pair who could certainly teach ITV a thing or two about ‘breaks’. Unlike Bates and Anna, there’s nothing actually stopping them get together, but they simply can’t seem to make it work! After Lavinia’s shamelessly hammy death, the path seemed to be clear for them at last, but no! Just as before, the relationship which ties the whole of Downton together went Carson-shaped thanks to Matthew’s dramatics. Expect something similar at the end of every series until the show’s bitter end, at which point they’ll surely get together, Surely! Anyway, back to 1919.. “We’re cursed! Cursed I tell you Mary!” Matthew bawled as she gasped off with a relieved Sir Richard Carlisle. “I believe Lavinia died of a broken heart. We killed her!” In all honesty, I think that Spanish Flu did most of the heavy-lifting on that front, but oh well. Having a man who can’t spot a broken back as your Doctor didn’t help much either..

For a while it looked like Fellowes was going to simply let the virus clear the plot up for him. After all, would Cora actually be much of a loss to anyone except O’Brien? Earl Grantham is clearly getting tired of her (“If you’re going to turn American on me than I shall go downstairs!”) and he’s the nicest man in the history of the world. Even when he was playing hardball with Branson we knew he’d end up paying for the wedding, buying them a house in Dublin and giving his ex-driver the starched shirt off his back. The Irishman was always favourite to win that battle, I just think he did well not to laugh. It was like watching someone get shouted out by Paddington Bear.

In other news Thomas is back (hiss!), Amy kept her baby and waved us all farewell (she won’t be returning for DA3) and Carson still hasn’t made his move on Mrs Hughes.. (DO IT CARSON!!) Meanwhile the exceptionally irritating Cousin Isobel was sticking her nose into something, Maggie Smith was magic and the other central relationship was on the rocks. Bates and Anna decided to throw caution to the wind and get married down at the registry office as well tonight, although why they didn’t simply do that a couple of episodes back is anyone’s guess. They’ve been waiting to sleep together for nearly half a decade now. It wasn’t much of a surprise when he got hauled off to jail though, especially after Bates himself had been dropping spoilers all over the place. Once again, expect this weekly roller-coaster to be another staple theme of the third series, yet such predictability was one of the main stumbling blocks for this year’s follow-up.

All too often we have been able to predict the veering fortunes of our two main couples and other interesting side-plots have been concluded before they were properly explored. The idea of having the true heir return last month was an interesting one, even if it was done rather lazily (“Hi. This is all mine, but I forget all about it until I got myself blown up. Shame about the face eh? And I’ve developed quite an accent. Check out this lip-curling thing I can do though. Watch me bang on this table in fury. Right I’m leaving before Lady Edith makes a move on me.â€?) In all honesty he did quite well to last that long – most of the men she fancies (she’s not picky) don’t last for more than 20 minutes. But that’s enough from me, what did you think of the second series?