See our Magnum Photos gallery on the English countryside.
Dan Kois, Seth Stevenson, and June Thomas will be chatting with readers about the Downton Abbey finale and all of the highs and lows of the show’s second season. Join them on Facebook at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21 to take part in the chat.
Dan, I’m with you on the penguin battle. Never have two men looked so dashing while giving each other glorified noogies. That was easily the best fancy-dress fight scene since Jackie Chan whupped keister in a cummerbund in 2002. I may be inspired to take the tuxedo sword-fighting class mentioned here. (I wonder how many high-end tailors that keeps in business—I’m imagining a lot of shoulder-seam restitching.)
Speaking of fighting: The script featured some uneasy joshing about Branson’s radical politics. For instance, when Lord Hepworth asks if Branson shoots, the dowager countess replies, “I’m sure he does, but I don’t think pheasants.” It’s funny for now but—given our timeframe and Julian Fellowes’ penchant for shoehorning in historical references—I have to imagine that Season 3 will somehow feature the Irish War of Independence. Will Matthew become a Black and Tan, setting the stage for a brother-in-law versus brother-in-law shootout? Higher stakes than the penguin donnybrook. And it just might serve as the wedding obstacle June foresees in Matthary’s future.
My only major disappointment with the Downton finale was the total absence of Lady Sybil. I missed her youthful pluck and her extremely full lips. I’ve come to realize that, along with Dame Maggie Smith’s delicious zings, it’s the travails of the three Crawley sisters that really hooked me on Downton. (I care much less about the downstairs dramas and Lady Cora is beginning to irritate me.) As Jane Austen has proven again and again, the marrying-off of young women is a reliably compelling plot device. If at any point Sybil, Mary, and Edith are all three happily settled, I think the series will have reached its natural end.
June, Dan, commenters: Care to offer your own predictions for Season 3? Before you answer, please keep in mind that Julian Fellowes is now on record stating 1) that his creative influences include both Sex and the City and Glee and 2) that we might not have seen the very last of P. Gordon. I invite you to envision a Downton musical in which Edith purrs about Jazz Age sex toys while bedding her bandaged cousin.
Abbey seein’ ya!