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Well, it’s the end of an era. Downton Abbey just aired its final episode of series 6, and we weren’t exactly enamored by it.

There was a lot to wrap up during this bumper episode of Downton Abbey, and though it clocked in at an hour and 40 minutes, we’re still reeling a little about what, exactly, we just watched.

Secrets will out

It was no surprise that the truth about Marigold’s parentage would come out at some point — but it was always the where and when that was in question. We’d long suspected that it’d go down this way, but had hoped that maybe, just maybe, Lady Mary would let things lie for once, and allow Edith this final shot at happiness.

Of course, after Tom invited Henry Talbot to stop by the house the previous evening, and Lady Mary was put through the excruciatingly awkward task of sending him off again, she wasn’t about to temper her behavior — nor should we ever have expected her to.

After learning that Edith had accepted Bertie Pelham’s proposal — who has become the Marquess of Hexam, following the death of his cousin — Lady Mary voiced her surprise that he’d be so accepting of her sister’s past. Edith, of course, had yet to reveal the truth about Marigold, but Mary forced her hand.

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Bertie was, understandably, upset about the reveal, but not, perhaps, for the reason Lady Mary would’ve expected. Rather than take issue with Marigold being Edith’s daughter, Bertie was upset that she didn’t trust him enough to tell him the truth. And where there’s a lack of trust, the new Lord of Hexam doesn’t believe there’ll be a happy marriage.

Though Lady Mary seemingly felt remorse for outing the secret, Lady Edith finally told her sister what she really though of her, in a scene that has been six series in the making. We can’t exactly say we’re shocked that this was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but even Lady Edith can’t help a parting blow that she thought Henry Talbot was better off out of her sister’s claws.

One thing was clear, despite the two parting ways during this episode: Edith and Bertie care deeply for each other. We wouldn’t be surprised to see him return. After all, there’s either a death or a marriage during the Christmas Special, and Downton won’t break with tradition now.

Is that a marriage license in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

Lady Mary has had suitor after suitor paraded past her, following the death of Matthew, and Henry Talbot was the latest in a long line of them. We’d never been completely sold on him as her “perfect fit,” no matter how many times we were told as much — by Tom, or the rest of Lady Mary’s family. Something never quite clicked into place, and it still hadn’t by this episode.

In fact, there were a few excruciating moments where Talbot’s behavior turned more sinister than we felt comfortable with.

Though Lady Mary sent Talbot away, seemingly for good, Tom still wouldn’t allow the matter to lie. When he couldn’t force Lady Mary to “see sense,” he sent for the Dowager Countess.

Any hope that Lady Violet Crawley might finally take Mary’s side over this whole affair was put to rest when, even after Mary’s tearful admission that she couldn’t live with being another crash widow, it was heavily implied that she should still follow her heart. We’re just not convinced that she did.

Lady Mary visited Matthew’s grave, to ask for his blessing for her happiness, and until the bitter end we held on to the hope that it didn’t actually mean with Henry Talbot.

We should be used to heartbreak with Downton, however, as that was exactly what we got. After a season of feeling just as forced as Lady Mary to accept Henry Talbot as her suitor, he breezed back into Downton with a marriage license conveniently in his pocket, and declarations of love all around.

The only saving grace, for us, was Lady Mary and Edith’s emotional heart-to-heart, prior to Mary walking down the aisle. There will never be a time that a mention, or allusion, to Sybil won’t get us choked up, and this episode was no different. Though they haven’t always gotten along, we’ve always been invested in the relationship between all three sisters, and that hasn’t changed.

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But, there we have it. Lady Mary and Henry Talbot are married, and we still feel like we’re missing something. There was a definite sense of being told that this was the best thing for Lady Mary all through this series, without ever being shown, and we can’t help but replay the sheer devastation of Mary’s breakdown with the Dowager Countess. How can we be expected to believe they’ll be happy when every time Henry Talbot gets into a car it will kill Mary a little more inside?

Elsewhere on ‘Downton’…

  1. Barrow, like we’d suspected he might, attempted to take his life during the finale — and only the quick thinking of Baxter saved him. His suicide attempt rightfully made Carson and Lord Grantham feel guilty about cruelly trying to push Barrow out of Downton. We got a touching scene between Barrow and Master George, but it felt decidedly unfinished. Perhaps he’ll find some happiness during the Christmas Special, but we have the sinking feeling that the proffered orange is the best we’re going to get.
  2. Mrs. Patmore faced scandal after an adulterer and his mistress shacked up in her B&B, much to the amusement of everyone in the house. Of course, Lord and Lady Grantham avoid anything too damaging to her reputation by having tea and scones there. If only every problem could be solved that easily…
  3. Mr. Molesley began teaching at the school, and his Dead Poets Society-esque, inspirational speech had us welling up. We felt as though he truly found his calling, and it couldn’t have happened to a kinder and gentler soul.
  4. Lady Edith and her new editor met the mysterious Miss Cassandra Jones, the gossip columnist. In the most delightful reveal we’ve ever had on the show, Cassandra Jones was none other than Septimus Spratt. Yes, you read that correctly. Spratt. We’re unbearably in love with this random tidbit.
  5. And, finally, Daisy found out the results of her examinations. She passed, with high marks. We’ll have to wait for the Christmas Special to know what that’ll mean for her future.

Downton Abbey will return on Christmas Day for its final ever episode.

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