(I live in Britain, where the Christmas Special airs earlier than in America, and so if you don’t live in England and wish to remain oblivious to what happens, I would not recommend reading on; it is spoiler galore.)
The past few seasons of Downton Abbey have been a severe departure from the quality of the first couple of series, and so whilst sitting down to the Christmas Special, I expected nothing more than a mediocre episode with fantastic one liners from Maggie Smith. In some ways, that is exactly what I got, but a certain scene elevated it above the dullness which has been Series 5.
The biggest plotline was that of Anna’s imprisonment, a plot line I have never found intriguing. It seems like a simple recycling of the false arrest of Bates in Series 2, and I wonder how Julian Fellowes thought the viewers wouldn’t notice this repetition. There was a dull addition to the plot, that Anna was attacked before – which simply seems like poor writing to me and an unnecessary attempt to add drama. Honestly, the only way that I could imagine becoming engaged in this story was if Anna had actually killed Green, and was shown to have a back bone after all.
There was also lots of boring shenanigans up in Scotland, with a snooty butler, and an avoided scandal involving Lord Syndeby, and a new love interest for Mary – the gorgeous Matthew Goode. All in all, the majority of this was rather dull.
Isobel and Violet both had their romantic hopes dashed in this episode, and I was especially saddened by the end of the engagement between Isobel and Lord Merton, as I found him a sweet character.
If so far it seems I have a wholly negative opinion of this episode, I probably would have, if not for a scene in the last twenty minutes of the episode. In a wonderfully acted and best scripted scene for a long time, Mr Carson finally proposed to Mrs Hughes. As someone who has waited years for this, I was not disappointed, and that scene alone was one of my Christmas highlights.
Overall, the special was bland and overly long, but the heart warming and touching proposal from Carson elevated it past it’s usual mediocrity to something beautiful.