Alas, everyone’s favorite period soap is over for the time being. Yes, there will be a Christmas special airing on either Christmas Day or Boxing Day and, based on what happened in this week’s episode, DA’s millions of fans are looking forward to Christmas even more than they ordinarily might.

While some loose ends were cleared up, the clearing up is leading to even more questions.

The Spanish flu visits Downton and attacks Cora, Lavinia, Carson and Molesley. Oops — Molesley’s not sick, he’s just drunk. One wonders if he’ll still have a job once everyone’s recovered. The Spanish flu mostly affected the young and healthy, so it makes sense that Carson (the eldest of this bunch) would not suffer as much as Cora or (especially) Lavinia. Yes, especially Lavinia. The poor thing sees and hears Matthew and Mary dancing, kissing and talking and she realizes that Matthew doesn’t love her (Lavinia) as much as he claims to. So, when she takes the inevitable turn for the worse, she tells Matthew to marry Mary. Then she dies.

The hand we saw in last week’s trailer was Cora’s. She’s reaching out to Robert to see if they are still ok. They both apologize for having been distant. This happens not too long after we thought Cora was at death’s door. And, while Cora was in her room possibly dying, Robert was in his dressing room, attempting to shag Jane, the housemaid. Luckily, Bates came by to ask when Robert wanted to be awakened the next morning, otherwise Robert would spend the rest of his life feeling even more guilty than he already does. But Cora lives, and Robert seems chastened.

Sybil and Branson announce their engagement, and the family are irate. But, after seeing that Sybil cannot be budged and Branson cannot be bought, Robert relents and, while he doesn’t exactly give them his blessing, he does say he won’t try to stop them.  Branson is, apparently, now a journalist.  When did this happen? Did he go to correspondence school or something?

Bates and Anna do get married.  They spend their wedding night in one of DA’s many guest rooms.  The whole thing was arranged by Mary and Jane.  And, after Lavinia’s funeral, they come back to the servants’ quarters and there are 2 men waiting for Bates.  They take him away in handcuffs to discuss Vera’s death.

Thomas spends most of the episode trying to ingratiate himself back into the household.  Carson and Mrs. Hughes see right through him, but they don’t seem to be able to do anything about it, so it looks to me as if Thomas will continue to be on staff at Downton Abbey.  Every soap needs a villain, right?

And, speaking of DA villains, O’Brien is so upset when Cora appears to be dying that she even tries to tell her about The Soap.  Luckily, she doesn’t.  If Cora had were truly dying, then maybe.  But, as long as there is even the slightest chance that Cora will live, telling her is a very, very bad idea.

Ethel’s baby daddy’s parents (Mr. & Mrs. Bryant) ask her to give them Charlie so they can raise him as their own.  She decides not to do it.  I think she’s crazy.  She can barely provide for him and, as those of us who are not romantic have figured out, while money doesn’t buy happiness, poverty doesn’t buy anything.

Last, but not least, Sir Richard is still evil and I still wish he’d contracted the flu and died.

We have about 6 weeks until the Christmas special.  Nigel Havers has been cast as someone who tries to woo a Crawley daughter.  Since Sybil is supposed to be in Ireland and Mary is supposed to be a) engaged to Sir Richard and b) in love with Matthew, the most likely candidate to be the object of Nigel Havers’ affections is Edith.  She deserves to be happy, but I can’t see him playing a good-guy character.  He so rarely does.

Anyway, there is no trailer for the Christmas special, so we’ll just have to wait until ITV starts advertising it closer to air date. I’ve read that they’ve only recently finished filming it, so I guess the trailers haven’t been produced yet.  It’s supposedly 2 hours long, so hopefully it’ll be meaty enough to keep us going until next Autumn.

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