While U.K. viewers were able to watch the second season finale of DOWNTON ABBEY simultaneously with the Christmas holidays, those of us stateside find ourselves a few months behind. Fortunately, with the good timing of the Valentine’s holiday, the finale fits in perfectly with the “season of romance.”
As this last week’s episode foreshadowed, life at DOWNTON ABBEY has taken a darker turn with the arrest of Bates for his ex-wife’s murder and Matthew’s resolve that he can never marry after the unexpected death of his fiancé Lavinia.
The year 1919 was a bittersweet year as it brought the end of World War I; it was discovered that Matthew was not going to be spend his life as a paraplegic; we got to see the long-over due wedding of Anna and Bates; and miraculously Lord Grantham gave his blessing to Sybil and Branson on their pending nuptials. But it also brought the Spanish Flu to Downton Abbey, which took the life of heart-broken Lavinia; we saw a moment of weakness between Lord Grantham and the housemaid Jane; Thomas business failed spectacularly; and we saw the horrifying arrest of Mr. Bates.
If there is anything the Granthams, Crowleys and all the staff of Downton Abbey need it is a bit of holiday cheer as they greet 1920. While the season finale addresses the trial of Mr. Bates and whether or not he will be subjected to the death penalty, it proves to be a dour proceeding that rocks everyone’s faith in whether a just and fair result can be attained. But unwilling to endure one more second of injustice and unhappiness, everyone rallies to fight for a joyous holiday and a last chance at happiness. It is after all the holidays and they put a brave face, despite their fears about the fate of Mr. Bates.
Visiting with her new beau Lord Hepworth, Lady Rosamund distracts everyone slightly from dark gloom of the trial. Unfortunately, also in attendance is the Rosamund’s maid, Marigold Shore, whose blunt observations and open schemes set everyone on edge. But if the holidays are to be saved, it is by the equally piercing observations of the Countess of Grantham — for Violet does not believe for one second that her daughter will be happy marrying a gold-digger.
Throwing into the mix the unhappy engagement of Lady Mary and Sir Richard Carlisle and all eyes are turned on the remaining couple for premarital entertainment. Mary is increasingly dissatisfied with the tight-leash Richard has imposed upon her and yet is fearful of his retaliation should she refuse to go forward with the marriage. Past indiscretions may feel like ancient history when the incident that ties her to him happened 7 years before, but Sir Richard has gone above and beyond to protect the Granthams from the hint of scandal and if that protection were stripped away, it could cost them all dearly.
Fortunately, Matthew Crowley is slowly emerging from his self-imposed exile of grief and has begun to notice Mary’s perpetual unhappiness. True love cannot be quashed forever and the stirrings of feelings thought buried and gone begin to bloom again.
On the sidelines, also dipping her toes back into the pool of romance, Edith tries to rekindle interest with Lord Strallen; and Daisy takes a big step towards improving her future.
1920 is going to be a big year for the residents of Downton Abbey and this holiday episode serves as a beautiful bookend to a very tumultuous and pivotal time period for them all.
To see how the trial of Bates concludes and whether there is hope for a “happily ever after” for Matthew and Mary, be sure to tune in for the wonderful second season finale of DOWNTON ABBEY on Sunday, February 19th at 9PM on PBS.
Tiffany Vogt is the Senior West Coast Editor, contributing as a columnist and entertainment reporter to TheTVaddict.com. She has a great love for television and firmly believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored – she invites you to join her. Please feel free to contact Tiffany at Tiffany_Vogt_2000@yahoo.com or follow her at on Twitter (@TVWatchtower).