DOWNTON ABBEY “Episode 6” Review – Finally

DOWNTON ABBEY Season 2 Episode 6 – For most of this episode, I was genuinely excited and thrilled. Finally! The story was moving forward, everything was gaining momentum: an heir to threaten Matthew’s earldom came to light, Matthew was still (gloriously) moody and depressed, Maggie Smith was still being Maggie Smith. This show is filled with characters I care deeply about and I was excited that at last they were being served stories that would do them justice. By the end of this episode, I felt like I’d gone through a particularly dull breakup. It’s like we realized the flaws in each other, and eventually things just fizzled and I just don’t care about anyone on this show anymore (well, maybe with the exception of Daisy, the only character given a storyline worth mentioning).

It’s been a bleak season. The most interesting off all the sisters, Sybil has been relegated to the worst romantic subplot since bread got with butter. She’s not a radical feminist as the first season hinted she might turn out to be; Branson did not get her involved in politics and she did not interrupt any of the Crawley dinners with a violent speech denouncing the war. She spent most of the season in the background, while Julian Fellowes, thinking that the audience would much rather see Edith be pathetic, gave us plenty of pathetic Edith: first we saw her wallowing around unable to do anything. Then we saw her wallowing around with a farmer. Then we saw her wallowing around unable to do anything again. Then we saw her look a little less pathetic than usual as she handed pens and paper to the wounded men. Then she fell in love with her cousin Patrick, who wasn’t actually her cousin but a really shit impersonator with absolutely no dedication to his craft. And now she’s back to wallowing. What a story arc.

At least she doesn’t have to deal with panto villain like Bates, or wandering around looking pouty like Mary. These storylines have a lot in common thematically, and when I say that I mean that I don’t give a shit about either of them. They’re terrible and boring and they’ve been repeating the same story beats since last season with absolutely no development in character.

At least Mrs O’Brien and Thomas have been given plenty of stuff-oh, wait, never mind. They’ve just been relegated to the bitchy expository committee, which is a good deal better than Cora and Isobel, who over the course of a single season have become the most useless and annoying characters on a show featuring a plot about Ethel and her baby.

Well, at least the actors can act and they’re getting paid lots of money, I’m sure. The decline of the show is all the fault of the writing, which has, over the course of the season, turned this show from one of the best on television, with the potential to be great, into a show where the only character I give a crap about is Daisy. Look, Julian Fellowes is a fantastic writer, but he’s churned out enough material for over a dozen movies. No one can do that by themselves. Next year, ITV should hire writers to carry the burden, because as good as Fellowes is, nobody is that good. Not Matthew Weiner, not Vince Gilligan, not David Simon, not Joss Whedon. Nobody.

What did you think of this episode? Sound off in the comments below.