Last night’s special eight-hour not-quite season finale double episode of Downton Abbey saw the culmination of several plotlines that have been simmering away in the background all season, while weddings were ruined, supple young beauties died, and Shirley MacLaine gnawed the living hell out of the scenery for five minutes.
But all that’s behinds us now: Bates is free, Mary and Matthew are (seemingly) happily wed, and dearest departed Sybil sleeps with the angels.
The time has come to delve into the meat and muck below stairs, for in the bowels of Castle Downton, evil O’Brien has been biding her time, weaving a web of lies and subtle-as-a-meat-cleaver manipulations against poor besotted Thomas.
Things aren’t going so well for our lovelorn Tommy Boy to begin with, actually: Mr. Bates has returned to Downton, where servant and master alike welcome the wife-not-murdering ex-con back with open arms. This means Thomas is out of a job. Lord Robert wants his Batesey back, bum leg, criminal record, tedious moral compass and all, and there’s just nothing to do but send Thomas packing.
There’s stuff going on with the gentlefolk upstairs, as well. Remember how sad, old jilted Lady Edith wrote that letter to the Daily Planet about wimmin’s suffrage, which she suddenly cares about? Now the editor wants her to write a regular column about all the modern lady’s things, like needlepoint and hairpins and parasols and husband-hunting. (She should call it Sex and the Abbey.)
His Lordship doesn’t approve, though—he just hates how everything is changing these days. This time, Edith has the Dame Dowager on her side: “Edith is so very old and plain, she’ll probably never marry,” Dowager Maggie surmises. With her spinsterhood looming, Lord Grantham agrees to let Edith do her little scribblings.
Hurrah! Lady Edith am a journalist now! And so she’s off to London to meet her editor, Lou Grant, who is charming and handsome, and they have lunch and…oh, grrrl! I see where this is going! Edith, girl, do not fuck your editor! Girl, trust me, I’ve been there and it’s a bad move! Pulitzer-prize winning feminist journalist Lois Lane never fucked her editor! You know who did? That bitch on Political Animals and that show got canceled after one season!
Also still displeasing Lord Robert this week is Matthew’s plan for Downton. See, His Blergship has been pissing away all of his money and all of Lady Elizabeth McHasselbeck’s American fortune for years, and not making any profit. (“Profit? How unseemly!”) And now along comes Matthew, his trusted doughy-faced son-in-law with this baffo idea that the estate would be much better off if it actually made some cashola. “Harumph!” (Harumph is Downton’s Estate Manager, who we’re meeting for the very first time and is apparently vital to the running of Abbeytown. He doesn’t like this change business one bit and up and quits!)
Downstairs, all the serfs are playing right into O’Brien’s plot to destroy Thomas and claim the crown of Queen Bitch for herself: Clodhopper Alfred takes his scone-faced love Ivey, the kitchen wench, out to the picture shows with two of the tittering kitchen mice as chaperones. With the slave quarters empty that night, O’Brien abandons her trademark sledgehammer subtlety and makes her penultimate move. “Oh, yes, Jimmy’s just gagging for your cock. Everyone knows it!” she tells Thomas.
“No! Lies!” We all want to scream! But Thomas is so very much in love with Jimmy that he believes it could be true. He’s confused, eaten alive with desire, and feeling even more alone now that he’s about to be canned.
So he creeps into Jimmy’s sleeping cell to gently tongue rape him as he slumbers. But no sooner has Thomas planted a chaste kiss upon Jimmy’s silken lips than gangly old Alfred galumphs in and catches him in the act. Gahhh! All three of them are yelling and freaking the fuck out, because, duh, Thomas was trying to rape Jimmy’s face! “But it was because of love!” Thomas cries! And Jimmy’s like, “Get out of my room!” And Alfred’s like, “Baaaaarrrrrffff!” in the washbasin because of how gross gayness is. And everyone—me, you, everyone everyone—goes to bed tonight rowdy pissed that we didn’t get to see any of the hot footman-on-footman Downton Action we’ve been anticipating all season long.
Go eat a bag of dicks, Julian Fellowes, you pasty Tory cock-tease!
Needless to say, things are pretty awkward the next morning at servant breakfast: Jimmy is suddenly sexually harassing the mouse-girls who dwell in the kitchens. Alfred, meanwhile, is outraged and disgusted and still vomiting in his mouth a little all the time. Naturally, he turns to the one person he can trust: Auntie Miss O’Brien. Surely Alfred must tattle to Mr. Carson about all the perverted sexin’ going on, she advises. And that’s just what he does. Now Thomas’ fate lies in the hands of the wise old butler.
Another thing going on upstairs is that Branson is getting ready to christen Baby Sybil as a Catholic, which is also another thing pissing off Lord Robert. (Remember how he hates Catholics? Which is odd because he hates progress as much as the Pope does) Also, Branson’s brother, who was raised by savages, comes to visit. Kieran Branson, former Bel Ami model, runs a chop shop in Liverpool where newly upper-crust Branson is planning to move with the baby at some point. Wait a minute, says Dame Maggie, Branson knows about farming too! So now he’ll stay and run the farms for Matthew and Lord Robert. That way baby Sybil gets to grow up at Downton instead of in a gutter somewhere playing with matches and dead cockroaches. What a good idea, everyone agrees! And they even convince his lordship to come to the Catholic baby ceremony, where he and the Dowbadger end up taking a picture with the Pope, a culture clash surely meant to foreshadow the sweeping changes that the 20th century will eventually bring to Downtown Julie Brown Abbey.
NEXT: Sticky wickets, O’Brien’s grand moment and a new kid in town