- Series Title: Downton Abbey
- Season: 6
- Episodes: 9
- Discs: 3 (and sampler disc from PBS)
- Network: ITV
- Cast: Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Dan Stevens, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Joanne Froggatt, Brendan Coyle, Sophie Mcshera, Lesley Nicol, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, Samantha Bond, Raquel Cassidy
- DVD: Widescreen DVD (R1, NTSC)
The final season of Downton Abbey is about facing change and growing up. It’s 1925 and the world is changing, bringing changes for the people of Downton, both above and below stairs. For Mary and Edith, it’s a time of suitors and making decisions about their future. For those below stairs, it’s a time of changing jobs and preparing for a life outside service.
Mary sees more of Mr. Henry Talbot, whose hobby is racing cars. He invites the entire family to a race at Brooksides. Unfortunately, his friend Charlie is killed in a car crash. Mary has an almost PTSD reaction and she drops Talbot flat. It’s Anna who gets a crying Mary to admit that she’s afraid of being a “crash widow” again. Tom tries talking to Mary but she tells him she can’t tell Henry to give up something he loves just to marry her. Tom and Lady Rosamund play cupid and arrange dinners and other meetings between Henry and Mary. Finally, Mary realizes she and Henry are evenly matched, not in terms of rank (Henry has no title), but in terms of personality. The two marry.
Edith spends her time at her magazine and raising her daughter. She even talks of moving permanently to her flat in London and sending her daughter, Marigold to a London school. But she met a land agent, Bertie Pelham, and the two fall for each other. When it turns out Pelham will be a Marquess, it throws a wrench into the works, as does Mary revealing Edith has a daughter before Edith gets a chance to tell Bertie. Despite the ups and downs of their relationship, Edith marries Bertie at New Year and she becomes a Marquess – a higher title than her father, the Earl of Grantham.
Daisy passes her exams. A new footman seems interested in her, but she ignores him. Finally, Mrs. Patmore points out Daisy’s problem is she’s never interested in a young man until he’s no longer interested in her. Sure enough, when Andy starts to ignore her, she gets interested and even cuts her hair. The season ends with an implication the two will get together and Andy will move to Mr. Mason’s farm to be a farmer (he’s already helping out).
Anna finally gets pregnant and has her baby on New Year’s Eve during Edith’s wedding. But Mary, Mrs. Hughes, and Dr. Clarkson handle everything without interrupting the wedding. John and Anna have also finally put their legal issues behind them.
Mrs. Elsie Hughes and Mr. Charlie Carson settle into married life, and Mrs. Hughes uses her old title at Downton to make everything easier for everyone. Mrs. Patmore has a bit of an issue at her bed and breakfast, but Lord Grantham settles it. Lady Grantham gets involved in her work with the hospital board and does well.
Tom does return about halfway through the season. He and Mary form a strong friendship and he’s influential in getting her to realize that marrying who she loves is more important than making a successful match for money and position. Tom and Henry start a car sale business in Downton in the last episode of the series. Mrs. Crawley finally marries Lord Merton – despite opposition from his son, Larry Grey and his new wife (who is a real piece of work).
Mr. Molesley passes a general knowledge exam set to him by the headmaster of Downton school. He is invited to teach part-time. Although his first class is a bit of a disaster, he gradually improves and takes to teaching like a duck to water. He’s invited to teach more classes and live in a cottage near the school. Mr. Molesley accepts the position, resolving to leave service. He and Baxter are also clearly good friends.
Thomas Barrow tries to be a bit nicer and also looks for a new butler job because he fears for his job at Downton. He’s constantly rejected which leads to some unpleasantness. However, he ends up accepting a job he’d rejected, which isn’t exactly what he envisioned. However, when Mr. Carson is forced to retire due to shaking in his hands. Barrow is invited back to the position of butler. Carson will only help by organizing major events.
Rose and Atticus return for Edith’s wedding from their year in New York. However, since their nanny kept their daughter in New York they will go back.
Overall, everyone ends up happy and with exactly what they want. Both Mary and Edith are married and happy. By New Year’s, Mary is expecting her second child. Both George and Marigold have their futures assured. Tom and Henry are starting a new business. Daisy will work at Downton as long as she’s wanted then go to her father-in-law’s farm, no doubt married to Andy. And Baxter and Mr. Moslesey will probably settle down together. John and Anna Bates have a child, a son. Even Thomas is happy for once.
I had to wonder what would happen to Edith’s magazine business. Surely as a Marchioness, working in London wouldn’t be allowed, even in 1926. And no one knows another war is coming in twelve years.
Read my Review of Downton Abbey Season 1.
Read my Review of Downton Abbey Season 2.
Read my Review of Downton Abbey Season 3.
Read my Review of Downton Abbey Season 4.
Read my Review of Downton Abbey Season 5.
If you are interested in learning more about the lives of servants in Victorian, Edwardian and early modern England, you may want to read Below Stairs, the memoir that Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs is loosely based on.