'Downton Abbey' finale review: How much did you love it, and what did you think of that ending?

Downton Abbey has come to an end, and with it, so must our blissful immersion in the intricate lives of the upstairs-downstairs characters presented on this PBS Masterpiece. I don’t know about you, but I haven’t had so much TV fun on Sunday nights since Eastbound & Down wrapped up its run.

The final Downton had more twists, turns, and fraught emotional moments than an entire season’s-worth of American Idol. But I was not prepared for what a cliffhanger the concluding installment proved to be. The announcement of a world war certainly threw one household into frozen shock, didn’t it?

I should have written “multiple cliffhangers” just now. Were you as startled as I was at how many plot threads were left to dangle, unwoven into the conclusion?

So many questions left unanswered. Among them:

• Will Lady Mary and cousin Matthew somehow overcome their differences (in frame of mind; in geographical distance) and come together, stepping adroitly over the body and memory of Mr. Pamuk?

• Will the noble limp, Mr. Bates, unite with his soul-mate, the maid Anna? (What about that long-lost wife of his?)

• Is the adorable footman William doomed to be a World War I casualty?

• Why did Lady Rosamund play such a suddenly prominent role so late in the proceedings?

• Will the Dowager Countess of Grantham recover sufficiently from her rose-petaled humbling to let loose further thunderbolts of sarcasm and wisdom?

It’s been reported in the British press that Downton writer Julian Fellowes is feeling the heat to get a move on with the series’ sequel. He’d better giddy-up. The sequel is scheduled to begin filming next month.

What did you think of the final installment of Downton Abbey, and how do you think some of the plot lines I’ve mentioned here should be resolved?

Twitter: @kentucker

Comments (403 total) Add your comment
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  • cc

    Very entertaining. I knew I was going to miss a Sunday or two, so I went ahead and bought it on DVD so I wouldn’t have to wait. Compared to what I saw on PBS, it seems like they edited quite a bit to fit it into the allotted time. Can’t wait for the sequel.

    • Anne

      Think the editing detracted from the finale unfortunately, am looking forward to Season 2.

      • LizP

        CC – what did you see that they edited out? The editing was supposed to be minor. (here’s a great article about it: http://www.televisionaryblog.com/2011/01/in-defense-of-downton-abbey-or-dont.html)

      • Kris

        The series is fantastic. I can’t get over how much is edited out. Shame on PBS. I can’t wait to see the rivalry between Mary and Edith play out, along with the sweet love story of Bates and Anna. It is always the right balance between humor, drama, and passion. Can’t wait for the next season!

    • Mo

      That’s good to know, thanks. I’ll be looking for the DVD, then. One thing that bothered me, though, was that things just seemed to pile up a little too melodramatically just in the last episode. Were they going to wrap it all up, and then when the show proved to be a hit, did they have to throw in all the extra stuff to keep it going for next season? I mean O’Brien causing the miscarriage, the stuff about Bates’ past record and wife, Mary shooting down Edith’s romance, it all suddenly became quite melodramatic (but still one of the best things on TV.) What I want to know is, will anything happen with Branson and Lady Sybil? Will the times change THAT much? :-)

      • Laura

        The series was filmed before they knew there was going to be a second series. Maybe Julian Fellowes hoped that with such a dramatic series finish, the fans would demand a second.

        As it was ITV, who commissioned the show, ordered a second series after a few UK episodes when it proved to be a big hit.

        I think some of the problems with the final PBS episode being so over dramatic is because it combines UK/DVD episodes 6 and 7. If they’d shown it as originally done, with the episodes seperate, it wouldn’t have felt so rushed (and PBS did edit out quite a bit from the last two UK/DVD episodes)

      • Linda

        I agree! I thought it was starting to wrap up very nicely, and then BLAMMO – so much drama. But, as long as it means a second season, I am thrilled!

    • Sven

      Also ordered the original series a few weeks ago, and am first loaning it to an elderly relative who was unable to stay up late enough to watch it on PBS. But I can’t wait to get it back for my own viewing. Problem is she enjoyed it so much, she keeps re-watching it!

      • geo

        I actually tend to disagree with your feeling of it being “rushed” as PBS did something which actually made it seem almost high drama (in true American fashion) but still carrying the important stories. I loved this so much but I think I am in love with the PBS version more. The reason why is the cliff hanger to the finale was so romatic and emotional it carried with me for most of Monday. I do not remember being moved so much by a story with such a simple theme. Julian Fellows is the true mastermind behind this true masterpiece!

    • Elliott Mitchell

      Quite right, cc. PBS slashed and burned the original “Downton Abbey” to fit two 50 minute episodes into one 90 minute slot (along with their agonizing fru fru titles). We’ve been watching the uncut versions before the PBS version and we much prefer ours left intact, thank you.

      • not Bridget

        All the edits were done by the UK production company, not by PBS.

        And, since the version shown Over There included commercials, not so much was lost.

    • Jennifer

      Knowing how much was cut, I’m going to track down the dvds; I loved what I saw on PBS and now have to see what was cut out.

      • Cantare

        You can get the whole series uncut on iTunes for $9.99.

    • Merril

      I live in New Zealand where can I get a copy of the DVD for Downton.
      English viewing at it’s best

      • Vyv

        The DVD is for sale in New Zealand from today, 22 June.

  • Nicole

    Cannot wait for season 2.

    • Lily

      Can’t WAIT x 2!!!! I can’t believe the maid caused the Duchess to lose her child, OMG! So glad Thomas the thief is leaving, he was very mischievous. LOVE this series. Just fabulous.

      • Doug

        Countess — not Duchess.

        The wife of an Earl is a Countess.

  • Lacy

    I hated for it to end.

    • Lori

      I was so sad because I knew it was the last episode we would have for a while. Can’t wait for the next installment!

    • Mar

      Me too!!

  • farsa

    Loved it. I thoroughly enjoy British period pieces, and this one was exceptional at blending upstairs and downstairs and all the intrigue. Can’t wait for the sequel!

    • AcaseofGeo

      This was one of the best series I’ve seen on TV in ages. No need for all that “edgy for the sake of edgy-ness” we see so much of. Expertly written, plotted, Acted beyond perfection. And I won’t say it would be a crime if Maggie Smith does not earn an Emmy for this, but if she doesn’t its only because she was MADE for this role and they won’t see it as a “stretch” for her. I will def get the uncut DVD, and reading on this post is the VERY FIRST I’VE heard that it was TRIMMED for PBS.

  • darlene

    Thought the finale was fabulous! Bravo! Though the cliffhangers make me sigh that the sequel is not even in production yet. Sunday nights won’t be the same…

    • Bobbie

      When the screen announced that the second season was only “in production” it was a good thing I didn’t have a bottle in my hand, or I might have pitched it at the television. Get off your arses, ITV and get that second season shipped to PBS and be quick about it!

      • Shirley

        Those were all my exact thoughts….

      • VA Mom

        I second that emotion – although I did yell at the TV

      • Louise

        I yelled, too. Scared my husband.

      • LindaT

        LOL — glad I’m not alone. When the episode ended, I yelled “What! That’s it?” Enjoyed this show much more than I thought I would. Very well written and acted. I’m really looking forward to the next season.

  • Sharon

    I loved it! I also like British time period . Cannot wait for the sequel either!!

  • Katy

    Thought it was great! Really entertaining and very happy to see that there is going to be a season 2. Too many things left unanswered. Hopefully it will be in production soon.

  • D. Grant

    We absolutely loved it and we did not know it would end mid way and have to wait another season for more – but we will for sure!

  • Dustin Ingle

    ACE !

    Great stuff.

  • Jaimie

    This show is terrific!!!! Can’t wait for the second season! Downton has been the best thing on tv this season.

  • Shelley Wells

    I think William is doomed.

    • Sunsetsnow81

      Heroically and tragically. I already need a hankie.

      • Hold On

        He’ll probably die after heroically dragging Thomas’ sorry cowardly arse back from the front lines or something. I’m mad already.

      • lupa402

        And Thomas will be an evil commanding officer.

      • Jennifer

        I’m praying it won’t be so predictable, but I fear this will be the case, and I will bawl like a baby if it is.

    • ea

      NO! Take Thomas instead!!!

    • Carla in Houston

      No Way – I believe Thomas is going to FINALLY get his “come-uppance”, and William will unite with the sweet-but-mousey kitchen maid whose name escapes me at the moment. Thomas has gotten away with too much, so I hope the writers are setting him up for an eventual fall.

      • EPZ

        Daisy! And I hope so too!

  • Heidi

    OMG… It was amazing! I can’t wait for season 2 and hopefully 3,4,5 and beyond!!! What a wonderful ensemble cast and the writing is perfection!!!! Maggie Smith…what can I say. She is still on her game!!! I love Mr. Bates!

    • Sam1863

      I fell for Maggie Smith in “Murder by Death”, and her role as the Dowager Countess convinces me I was right. “Put that in your pipe and smoke it!” doubled me over laughing! Bates and Anna belong together, but Matthew is too good for Mary. And watching William finally belt Thomas was sweet, and too long in coming. Can’t wait for Season 2!

      • Melissa

        I totally agree with you. Maggie Smith was great. Love Anna & Mr. Bates. Edith got what she deserved by messing with Mary. Dumba** Obrien. Now that she feels horrible I hope she’ll stop being so much like Thomas.

      • Anne

        I’m still getting over “put that in your pipe & smoke it”. That was beautifully delivered. But despite her faults, I rather like Mary. Edith, on the other hand, I have very little sympathy for short end of the stick or no. That is one of many things about this series that impresses me. By rule I sympathize with the underdog and loathe the golden child. It’s no mean feet getting me to run contrary to my general inclination.

      • Jamie

        I’m also loving Maggie Smith in this and I also agree that Matthew is too good for Mary–I’m trying to like her, but I can’t. The same goes for Edith. I like Sybil and her relationship with Branson. I hope they end up together, but I don’t think that’s very realistic. And I also love the Anna/Bates relationship. I can’t wait to see what happens next season!

  • sammysettanni

    I loved the first episode so much that I bought the DVD online so I wouldn’t have to wait longer to see the whole series. I was dumbfounded by the cliffhanger conclusion. Now I have to patiently wait for the next season which can’t be aired soon enough!

    • peggy

      God I love this! everyone is a riot………anna and bates should definately get together! we’ll figure where out where the wife comes in later….. I have never been so “into” one of these series……ever! these characters are WONDERFUL! and the casting was perfect……. Hurry Hurry and get
      it finished………… I will be
      reviewing the episodes over until
      it comes back…..Hurry! the cliffhanger, the scenarios….

  • Shelley

    And I agree- the last episode seemed to be severely edited which made it a bit choppy. How can I wait for the sequel???

  • rebecca

    I absolutely loved it!!! These last two episodes have made me completely addicted to this show and have made me re-obsessed with British period dramas!!!

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