In the midst of the dog days of August, what do you do to cool off? Forget about tar beach; I prefer spending my days at a certain English country house. That’s what I did this past weekend when it was 95 freakin’ degrees outside: I stayed inside and went to Downton (AKA re-watched some of Season 5). This is why it’s a good idea to pledge for a DVD set; one should always be prepared for emergencies such as this!
So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen, Goodnight: The cast said goodbye to Highclere Castle last month, but this past week the final scenes of Season 6 were filmed at Ealing Studios in London. For weeks, those cast and crew members who are on Twitter and Instagram have been posting pics with the hashtag #lastdaysofdownton and paying tribute to fellow cast and crew members (some of those posts are included here). There was also the very classy touch of throwing a party for the residents of Bampton Village, which has been used for many of the shows exteriors, to thank them for all the palava they’ve had to put up with these past six years. (Though we’re sure they quite enjoyed it!) The party featured the cast playing footmen and serving food and drink to the locals.
What’s Up Doc?: As filming ends, lots of Downtonians are weighing in on what story threads they’d like to see tied up before we are all sent into the Downton-less abyss. One thing I should mention, as I have in previous pre-seasons, I have no idea whatsoever what is going to happen. I stay away from spoilers entirely so any of my speculations are just that. During this whole run up to Season 6, and during the season itself, you can feel confident that this is a spoiler-free zone! So let’s have at it!
There are the threads I’d like to see tied up and questions I’d like to see answered in Season 6. Of course, everything cannot be tied up in a bow with happy endings for all. That wouldn’t be realistic and even though Downton isn’t quite real life, it is does strive for the fantasy to have a certain sort of realism:
- Something I’ve always wondered: Did anyone other than Mary know about Edith’s infamous letter to the Turkish Ambassador? In Season 2 we saw Mary confront Edith about that letter. Once the story got out, did Mary tell anyone else it was Edith who spilled the beans? I’d like to know.
- Will Madge ever get a line?? Poor Madge, the oft mentioned, but never speaking housemaid. Can someone please throw the poor dear extra a line, if only so that she has something to show her grandchildren someday to prove that she really was on Downton Abbey? Gareth Naeme once joked that Madge doesn’t speak because they don’t have the budget for another speaking actor on the show, but come on Gareth, it’s Season 6, be a sport!
- It might be unwieldy for a revolving door of old acquaintances to pop ’round, but I hope they do. I wouldn’t mind a season chock full of cameos. Before we sign off I’d like to know: Whatever happened to Maid Jane? And what about Ethel? What access does she have to her son? And whatever happened to the Mummy? Is he off scamming someone else? It doesn’t seem as if Sir Rupert ever followed through on his threats to Lady Mary. Is he just biding his time? Will Edith’s publishing empire be a competition that pulls him out of the woodwork? And what about Sir Anthony Strallan? Is he still running?
- Speaking of old acquaintances, what about Jimmy and Lady Duckface? Might she have married her little stud muffin? Does he merely spend his days chained to her bedpost? Or did he break free and get a new job, maybe with the Duke of Crowborough?
- Will things remain tricky for Dickie? Will Lord Merton disinherit his miserable excuses for sons so he can marry Isobel? It would do many a Downtonian’s heart good to see loathsome Larry Merton working on Molesley’s old road crew, wouldn’t it? But will Isobel be game, or might she go for Dr. Clarkson? She is spoiled for choice, isn’t she?
- 6. Will Marigold remain a secret? I’m thinking the answer is no. Mrs. Drewe knows, and has no incentive to keep quiet about it. She’s the second farmer’s wife Lady Edith has burned, and farmers’ wives do talk. If Mary finds out all bets are off there as well. Maybe Edith will be the one to out herself; maybe Mary will pull mommy rank once too often and Edith will stand up and address this meeting of the Harper Valley PTA to defend her daughter.
- Is Editor Charming really most sincerely dead? After all, there was no DNA testing back then and mistakes could happen. Maybe he’s still alive. Maybe he’ll return at some inopportune moment (like just as Edith is about to marry someone else). And what about his loony wife? Might she end up not being so loony after all and turn up to challenge Edith for ownership of the publishing empire? There’s got to be a Gregson relative somewhere who’s upset that he left everything to Edith. At the end of Season 5, Edith said that she was happy and we know what that means, impending doom. Just wait for it.
- What about Thomas? As a gay man, what kind of happiness would he be able to carve out for himself in 1920’s England, or 1920’s anywhere? Is it possible for this MacGyver of duplicitousness to find someone he can share his life with? Might he have to move away, to the anonymity of the city to be able to have any chance?
- Will anyone be able to keep discontented Daisy down on the farm now that she’s seen London? Will Mrs. Patmore be able to accept it if she can’t? Will Daisy go as far as London or will she just go to Mr. Mason’s farm, maybe taking Mrs. Patmore with her? I’ve always kind of thought Daisy would care for Mrs. Patmore in her old age.
- Someone else I’d like to see one more time: O’Brien! No evil doer ever twirled a moustache quite like Miss O’Brien. What became of her? After Shrimpy and Susan cut her loose she was taken on by the new governor in India, but is she still there? What would be a fitting end for her? I think it would be funny if, out there in India, O’Brien somehow finagled her way into replacing the Governor’s wife (They do have soap in India!) and returns to Downton as a Lady (in an unhappy marriage, naturally).
- And speaking of Shrimpy and Susan: I’m thinking that a fitting end for Susan would be for her have to spend eternity with the Princess Kuragin. They seem so perfectly matched. I think eHarmony would agree. For Shrimpy, it would be nice if he could find someone not so high maintenance, don’t you think? But what will become of Lord and Lady Flintshire with no money? And there’s something else. In passing they have mentioned ‘children’, meaning that Rose isn’t an only child. I wouldn’t mind meeting the others, how about you?
- Cousin Oliver Rose really grew on me. Even though Atticus and Rose have moved to New York, I’d like to check in with them, and their new baby girl, Scout (hey, it could happen!).
- Will there be any wedding bell blues? Do we need to buy a hat? Will anything come of Lady Mary and Mister Snappy Chariot? He challenges her and if her pattern remains the same, that means Mister Chariot will be her next victim. Or might she, in the end, after all the sturm und drang, settle for dull Evelyn Napier? And what about Edith and Birdie Pelham? With Branson gone, Downton will need a new estate agent. Might Birdie be the man? And what might that mean for Edith? Of course, it would be more interesting to turn expectation on its ear by ending with Edith happily attached and Mary on her own.
- And what about the couple that everyone has been rooting for since day one? We saw Carson finally pop the question in the final episode of Season 5, but when we left them no one else knew of their engagement. I’d like to see the reactions as everyone finds out, but I have a feeling that time will have passed when we pick up the story. Will their trip to the altar be a smooth one? How will Mary react to this news? Will she be happy her second father is going to jump the broom or will she go all Larry Merton on them and try to put the kibosh on it?
- Change has been the constant theme since the very beginning, and that change was never more evident than last season when Inspector Vyner came to arrest Anna and he called Lady Mary ‘Miss’, and Mary imperiously replied, “I am not Miss. I am Lady Mary Crawley!” and got the shock of her life when Vyner responded, “I don’t care if you’re the Queen of the Upper Nile.” It’s a new world and her old, inherited superpowers have been rendered nil. What else can that title no longer protect her from?
- I do have one request (or maybe a demand): I want Branson to return. He has my permission to go to America for a while, but before the end of Season 6, I want to see Sybbie and him back at Downton. I want those three kids to grow up together. Why? Because somewhere down the road I want Julian Fellows to write a sequel to Downton Abbey that begins as Sybbie, George and Marigold are coming of age in the run up to WWII. Yes, I know it’s a lot to ask, but I know Lord Fellowes will prove worthy of the charge. Your assignment Downtonians: Send that thought out into the Universe that this debuts on Masterpiece in 2020.
- In the future, we can be pretty certain Lord Grantham’s keen business skills will lead him to go all in on big, can’t-miss investments like the Edsel. But even more pressing, it’s 1925 and we are perilously close to the big stock market crash. Will Lord Grantham even make it to the big crash or will he lose it all before then? Unbeknownst to him, his downstairs staff have all been preparing to jump the sinking ship for years now, so they are ready. But is he? If Daisy goes off to business school, she could be the one to return and save his bacon instead of just frying it. Or will Robert and Cora end up without a bean, like cousin Shrimpy? Might the last episode end with them packing up the car and driving away from Downton for the last time? Perish the thought!
- The Queen Mum lived to be 102 so there is no reason that Violet can’t still be kicking. And besides, with rumors of the possibility of a Downton Abbey feature film in the future, she better end this season doing the Scottish reel! For all the talk of Violet and Prince Badenov (or Dickie Merton), or Isobel and Dickie (or Doctor), the relationship between Isobel and Violet has been one of the most interesting and compelling of this series. I want to see it end on a positive note for both of them, perhaps with a spin-off series with Violet & Isobel starring as a crime fighting duo. Why not?
- Something imperative that Season 6 should answer for me: I want to know, for certain, without a shadow of a doubt, who killed Green. Will we find out that Anna really did do it? We wouldn’t blame her if she did and we’d like to see her get away with it. Did she do it to avenge her horrific attack? Did she do it to protect Bates from himself, pre-emptively killing Green so her beloved wouldn’t have to? We now know for certain that Green attacked other women. Might it have been one of them? Might they be anyone we know? Could it have been potential serial killer Mabel Lane Fox? Or maybe…could it be…Madge? Could there be a trial of Anna Bates, with Madge interrupting the court proceedings by standing up and yelling, “I object! I did it, and I’d do it again!” and launching into a monologue that explains the whole sorry situation? That would solve question #2 and #19 quite handily, wouldn’t it?
- And then there is this question, which has puzzled me ever since the very first episode: Without modern methods of communication, how do they know when to be all lined up out front when someone arrives? Do they just stand there for hours waiting for cars to drive up? I really want to know this.
In a perfect world, all these questions, and more, will be answered in Season 6. Then again, if the world truly was perfect, Season 6 wouldn’t be the end of Downton Abbey. How about you, Downtonians? What are the stories that you’d like to see wrapped up before Season 6 sails off into the sunset? It won’t be long now. Downton Abbey Season 6 premieres Sunday, January 3 at 9pm on THIRTEEN! Mark your calendars!
Reunited and it feels so good: Even though Matthew’s exit did, in the end, make Downton Abbey a more interesting show because it gave Mary a wider variety of options for making mischief, we miss him all the same. And no, Matthew will not be returning from that great drawing room in the sky for Season 6, but last week BAFTA had a special event honoring Downton Abbey that was attended by just about every Downton alum and look who showed up. We love Michelle Dockery’s Instagram feed! And we agree Michelle, we’ve missed that face as well. Sigh.