It was very hard sitting down to write this recap because it means admitting that Downton Abbey has come to an end. I’m not ashamed to admit that I bawled through most of this episode even though I had seen it already (I bought the DVD weeks ago). Oh, I have had my issues with this series over the years, the almost too fast pace, the arrests of both Anna and Mr. Bates, Mary’s romantical problems (I was rooting for Charles Blake), Edith’s streak of bad luck, Barrow’s schemes, I’m going to miss this series. I loved this show so much that I bought the British DVD’s and watched the episodes before they even aired on American TV (I have a problem with delayed gratification). Hold on to your hats, because this going to be a long recap given that the finale was super-sized.
Edith announces to the family that she is moving to London and putting Marigold in school. The magazine is doing very well and she enjoys working. While Robert worries about Edith living alone, Edith replies that she is a spinster and that is what they do, live alone. Ah, Edith, as optimistic as ever! On the way to London, Edith stops off at the Dowager’s to inform Spratt that they are expanding his column in the magazine. Spratt informs Edith that he’s “full of ideas when it comes to combining comfort and elegance, milady.” Of course, Denker is eavesdropping outside the door, the better to get the goods on Spratt. Why she hasn’t used the information about Spratt’s nephew, I’ll never know.
While in London, Edith heads to dinner at the Ritz with Aunt Rosamund, only to discover Bertie is already seated at the table. Aunt Rosamund discretely exits while Bertie pleads his case with Edith. When Edith informs him that he broke her heart, Bertie tells her that he’s no good without her. He still loves her and wants to marry her. He spills the beans that Mary helped arrange this little get together much to Edith’s surprise. It’s nice to know that now Mary is happy, she can allow her sister to have a little happiness of her own. Edith reminds Bertie about Marigold. She wants to know how her future mother-in-law is going to feel about her. Bertie hems and haws before finally admitting that maybe they should just keep that between themselves. Despite her misgivings, Edith agrees to marry Bertie.
Mary has noticed that Henry is feeling a bit down in the dumps lately what with one of his good friends dying in a fiery car crash. Henry tells her that racing is no fun anymore for him. Inside, Mary is jumping for joy, outwardly she reassures Henry that he will find something else that gives him joy. Henry doesn’t want to be an unemployed freeloader of a husband. Tom Branson to the rescue! He and Henry decide to open up their own car dealership in York, selling second hand cars at first but then moving into possibly producing cars. This way he and Henry can continue their bromance and make money at the same time!
Cora and Robert turn up at Brancaster Castle for the big engagement announcement. It turns out that Bertie’s mother is a bit of a pill, going on about restoring the good name of the family after the late Lord Hexham squandered it hanging out in Tangiers. Everyone is feeling a bit queasy after her big speech, especially Edith. Robert basically tells her to keep her trap shut about Marigold and just be happy but Edith has qualms about keeping such a big secret. So she sits Bertie’s mother down and tells her the whole story. Mrs. Pelham is understandably upset about Edith being ‘damaged goods’ and wants Bertie to cry off the engagement. Bertie, to his credit, stands his ground. When it looks like Mrs. Pelham is not going to announce the engagement, Robert saves the day by telling her that if she doesn’t, she stands to lose Bertie forever. Mrs. Pelham takes Robert’s advice and does announce the engagement after all to everyone’s relief. Mrs. Pelham even apologizes to Edith afterwards, calling her brave for admitting the truth. Bertie and Edith kiss and decide on a New Year’s Eve wedding. Hallelujah, Edith is getting married at last!
Downstairs, Barrow thanks Anna, Baxter and Andy for rescuing him after his suicide attempt. He even tries to be nicer, telling Baxter to forget about Peter Coyle. He also gets a new job at an estate close by. Unfortunately, it’s nothing like Downton, his new employers only have 3 servants. “It’s not 1850,” his new boss informs him. Moseley too is moving on. Mr. Dawes informs him that another teacher is retiring and he would like Moseley to take over his classes. The new job also comes with a cottage on the estate. Moseley takes the job but let’s Carson know that he is willing to come up to Downton to help out with big events. This leaves Carson with Andy as the sole footman and a dilemma. It seems that Carson has been suffering from tremors in his hands that he calls the palsy. His father and grandfather had it as well. He wonders how long he can keep it a secret from the family.
Isobel calls on Dickie Merton and discovers that he is dying from pernicious anemia. He’s resigned to his fate. “I should have liked to have been married to you,” Lord Merton tells Isobel, “but no man can have everything, and at least we’re friends again.” It’s all Isobel (and me) can do to keep from sobbing. When she tries to visit Lord Merton again, she finds herself barred by Amelia Gray. Now that Lord Merton is dying, Isobel is no longer needed. Violet convinces Isobel that they need to storm the castle to rescue Lord Merton. Isobel informs Larry and Amelia that not only is she whisking Lord Merton to her house but they are getting married as soon as possible. Lord Merton is quite happy to not only leave with Isobel but also to finally marry her. He informs Larry although he loves him, he doesn’t like him very much!
After months of trying to get Daisy to notice him, Andy finally asks Mrs. Patmore if Daisy is interested in men. Mrs. Patmore is getting a little tired of being the ‘Dear Abby’ of Downton when it comes to people’s love lives. When Mrs. Patmore mentions Andy’s interest, Daisy scoffs that she’s too good for Andy now that she’s passed her exams. Daisy, you are an idiot. Of course Daisy changes her mind after seeing Andy in his shirtsleeves up on the roof at Mr. Mason’s farm. But Andy has given up, tired of being the object of Daisy’s scorn. Mrs. Patmore even points out that Daisy only fancies people who don’t like her back. Daisy spends the rest of the episode trying to peak Andy’s interest again. She even borrows Lady Mary’s new hair dryer without permission the night before Lady Edith’s wedding after cutting her hair short. Of course, she botches it, leaving Anna to do a quick repair job. As if Anna didn’t have enough to do what with being pregnant and all. After seeing Daisy’s new bob, Andy finally tells Daisy that perhaps they were both on different pages, and now they can be on the same page.
Rose and Atticus arrive from New York for the wedding although they’ve left their 3-month old baby back home with the governess who sounds like a horror. When Robert is peeved that Cora has a meeting at the hospital, Rose takes him along to see Cora in action. Seeing how good she is at her job, Robert caves and decides to stop grousing about Cora working. Denker informs the Dowager that Spratt is moonlighting as an advice columnist. Instead of firing Spratt, the Dowager is amused by the whole thing and decides that she will go to him for advice on entertaining and fashion. Denker is like the Wile E. Coyote of Downton Abbey.
Edith’s wedding day finally arrives and goes off without a hitch. No Michael Gregson coming back from the grave or the groom doing a runner. Dr. Clarkson informs Lord Merton that the reason he’s been in almost perfect health is because he’s not dying after all. He does have anemia but it is not pernicious! Tom flirts with Laura Edmunds, the editor of Edith’s newspaper, who later catches the bouquet. Mary and Henry are expecting a little Talbot. When Carson has trouble pouring the wine at the reception, Barrow offers to help. A lightbulb goes off over Robert and Mary’s heads. Carson can retire and Barrow can take over as butler at Downton with Carson overseeing big events like a banquet manager. Anna’s water breaks and she gives birth to a son in Lady Mary’s bedroom. As the clock gets ready to strike midnight, everyone gathers upstairs and downstairs to toast the New Year of 1926.