Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 8 (ITV) Review

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Could this finale ever have been good enough to make up for the weakest series of Downton Abbey to date? Probably not and, while this episode gave it a go, it’s odd that nothing was accomplished even with the extra half-hour running time. Just lots of chatter about pigs, Mary to making her mind up and a careful conversion of the Anna/Bates/Green storyline from the aftermath of a rape to a murder mystery.

Did Bates have Green killed? Or did he do the deed himself? At this point, does it really matter? After everything this show put us through over the last eight weeks, I wanted some sort of conclusion and that isn’t what we were given. Instead, we now have to wonder what really happened, whether Bates will be discovered, whether he and Anna can survive yet another blow and how the heck Julian Fellows thought this was a good idea at all.

Set against a village bazaar Cora was throwing, all of the miserable bits felt a tad out of place but there was, thank god, some levity. Tom, after mourning Sybil for a good series and a half, may finally have found a new lady friend, Daisy has finally gotten over Her unrequited love for Alfred and Mosely could be getting lucky. With that involving Baxter, however, it won’t be long before Tomas decides that he needs to be destroyed. As much as I want Thomas to have something to do, let’s give Mosely a break, eh?

The business with Mary’s suitors needs to go the way of the kitchen love square, and we need to see more of her becoming a strong, independent business woman and mother. It was teased as her series-long journey in the premiere but, unfortunately, we’ve had to put up with her gaggle of creepy suitors instead. The screen comes alive when Mary and Tom are together and, while the show might not be ready to explore that just yet, scenes of their friendship should be as prominent as Isobel and Violet’s verbal jousts.

Edith, on the other hand, actually took a chance this year, and now has the impending motherhood to prove it. She thinks that she give the baby to the pig farmers down the road, but It’s proposed that she go to Switzerland for the duration of the pregnancy instead. There, she will give the child to a couple unable to have their own, and then return to the abbey as if nothing had happened. It works in theory but, this being a television drama, my guess is that Edith might return at Chrismas with a little Grantham in tow.

So, with the Jack Ross storyline not really going anywhere, not enough Thomas or Carson and far too much misery for the Bates’, series four was a slog to get through. Taxes and pig farming don’t make good telly, apparently, and even a black jazz singer, a rape and and a bastard child can’t fix that. Downton Abbey without Matthew has been less than thrilling but, with the prospect of Paul Giamatti on Christmas Day ahead, I’m not giving up hope just yet.

What did you think of the episode, and the series? Let us know your thoughts in the comment below.