"Downton Abbey: A Journey to the Highlands (#3.9)"
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"Downton Abbey" - Christmas Special - Feb. 17, 2013

In the season finale/Christmas special the action picks up one year later. A lot has transpired and even more is about to.


First off Mary is pregnant, eight months in fact. But she still insists on going with the whole family to Scotland to visit old family friends/relatives Susan and Shrimpy and their daughter, good old rebellious cousin Rose.

Plenty happens in Scotland:

-We learn that Susan and Shrimpy are miserably unhappy together. Shrimpy, who is about to be shipped off by the government to a posting in India, admits to Robert during the hunting and billiards-playing portion of the visit that and he and Susan were never madly in love but they made it work, and then the kids came and took all their time and energy, and now with Rose 18, they just don't like each other anymore. He is inconsolable. Also, he's running out of money in much the same way Robert was before Matthew and Branson helped him turn it around. Shrimpy is also very nasty to Susan who then has a well-deserved persecution complex, which she tells Cora and Violet about during the visit. She then takes his nastiness towards her out on Rose, who is a rebellious young thing anxious to get with the fashions and ideas of the time. So they're all constantly fighting with each other. At the end of the episode it's decided that Susan and Shrimpy will go to India but Rose will go to Downton where Robert and Cora will look after her. Robert also realizes how lucky he is in that he loves his wife and family and that Matthew was right all along to revamp Downton.

-Edith's editor, Mr. Gregson "just so happens" to be vacationing in Scotland at the same time the family is at Duneagle so she finagles him an invite to the week's festivities including a hunting outing with the men and a fancy ball. Even though Mary is all snipey about him without ever meeting him, when he finally shows up and starts gettng to know everyone he makes a decent impression. Especially on Matthew with whom he goes hunting and fishing. He even tells Edith he loves her and that he wants to be with her and if her family gets to know him maybe they'll understand. But of course they don't. When Matthew hears the whole tragic story about Gregson's mad wife he's sympathetic but says there's no way he's letting Edith slide into scandal and that he'll have to say his goodbye's to her after the ball. But a funny thing happens. When he tries to do this, Edith won't let him, realizing that she loves him too and telling him that their story is not over just yet.

-Some of the servants came along during the trip. O'Brien at first thought she met a kindred spirit in Susan's lady's maid. But then when Susan decides she likes the way O'Brien does hair better than her own maid, she gets angry and tries to spike O'Brien's drink at the ball so she'll make a fool of herself. Instead, Molesley has O'Brien's drink, and several more of his own and ends up dancing like a jackass at the ball much to everyone's amusement.

-Bates and Anna have a romantic picnic and walk, and later, thanks to lessons from Rose, Anna surprises Bates at the ball by showing him she learned how to dance a reel.

-Mary and Matthew are generally swoony and joyful -- when she isn't being snippy about Mr. Gregson, that is -- and excitedly awaiting the arrival of their bundle of joy. Everyone is worried about her taking the train to Scotland but she insists on going. Then she insists on participating in activities, after each one she complains she shouldn't have and Anna and Matthew tell her to rest. The final straw is when she dances at the ball.

She and Anna head back early but Mary insists that Matthew stay. Of course, the moment she gets off the train she goes into labor. Dr. Clarkson and Isobel spring into action. Matthew takes the first train in the morning and arrives, excited to meet his son, which Mary seems particularly pleased to note that there is now an "heir" so Downton is "safe." Everyone gets the good news that mother and child are healthy, particularly satisfying given what happened with Sybil.

In a separate storyline, with everyone away, Isobel and Dr. Clarkson start spending a lot of time together and, he finds, that he's really enjoying her company. So much so that he asks her to the fair. They go and have a grand old time. They sit and he timidly starts asking her if she has ever thought of marrying again. She says she hasn't and if he has than he's a better man than her. He wonders why. She says she enjoys friends like him so much she wouldn't want to get married and spoil that. Later, he thanks her for letting him down gracefully but she claims she has no idea what he's talking about.


While the cats were away at Duneagle, the mice decided to play and everyone decides to head off to Thirsk for a carnival.

Mr. Carson decided to stay behind because he knew if he went nobody would have a good time so he spent time with baby Sybil.

Tom Branson's story is actually a Downstairs one in this episode. He was not invited to Duneagle by Susan and Shrimpy so he's the only family member who stayed behind. A new maid named Edna has taken a liking to him and is very forward in declaring her affections: asking him questions openly, hanging out at a bar where she knows he's going to be, taking him arm during a walk. This is not going unnoticed by Carson and Mrs. Hughes. Edna starts making him feel guilty about his new station in life, asking him if doesn't think he's too good to hang out with the servants now. This leads him to have dinner downstairs one night. And then to agree to go to the fair with the whole gang, and even drive them.

But after the fair, she walks in on him shirtless and kisses him, even he knows it's too much. Mrs. Hughes fires her and she is upset but that's the way it goes. She then goes to talk to Tom. He points out that he didn't encourage her. Mrs. Hughes points out that he didn't discourage her either. She tries to kindly tell him to take pride in his new station in life and the agency that it provides him and to not let anyone make himself feel badly. That he must now have a level of decorum that would do Sybil proud. He then breaks down and admits that he is lost without her. Mrs. Hughes comforts him but tells him that he must find a way to soldier on.

Mrs. Patmore had managed to get herself a suitor in a Mr. Joss Tufton who flattered her cooking and invited her to the fair. But once he arrived Mrs. Hughes noticed a disturbing trend, with the jolly, jelly-bellied man who works a food stall at the fair. As he himself noted he's in love with love. So much so that every time Mrs. Hughes spied him he was flirting with, smacking the bottom of, or actually kissing another woman. So, when they get back to Downton and Mrs. Patmore announces that Mr. Tufton is interested in her as a wife, Mrs. Hughes breaks the news. At first Mrs. Patmore seems sad but then it's revealed that she's actually relieved because she realized he was only interested in her for her cooking. She and Mrs. Hughes have a laugh about it.

Also at the fair Alfred, Jimmy, Thomas, Mr. Tufton, and Branson win a tug of war game. But right before they started playing and got Mr. Tufton to join them Jimmy put a side wager on his team. He then proceeded to have far too much to drink. So when he wandered off under a nearby bridge, members of the losing team were waiting for him and preparing to beat him down to get their money back. But Thomas happens upon them and tells Jimmy to run. Instead Thomas is beaten very badly. Jimmy, feeling remorseful, goes to Thomas' room to thank him but also ask if he was following him. Thomas admits he was. Jimmy points out that he can never give Thomas what he wants. Thomas says he knows, he just wishes they could be friends. Jimmy agrees.

The Final Scene

After finally seeing his son for the first time, Matthew drives back to Downton to share his joy. Tragically, his ride, and his life, are cut short when he gets into an automobile accident while swerving to avoid an oncoming vehicle. The last two images we see are of Matthew, lying under his car, his eyes lifeless, with blood pouring out of his head... and Mary, back in her hospital bed lovingly gazing at the baby full of hope, waiting for the rest of the family to visit and blissfully unaware that she has just become a widow. Heartbreaking.


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