Well that’s the end of the third season of Downton Abbey and, oh, what a series it has been. In a 90 minute special, we saw prospects change for our favourite Sunday night characters.
Thomas (Rob James-Collier) was on the brink of losing his job without a reference. Jimmy (Ed Speleers) had been spun around O’Brien’s (Siobhan Finneran) little finger and had threatened to tell the police about Thomas trying to kiss him.
While O’Brien may be driven by bitterness, there is humanity in the others around him. Mrs Hughes (Phyllis Logan) catches Thomas crying in the rain and he spills all. Mrs Hughes tells Bates (Brendan Coyle) and Thomas gains an unlikely ally.
“He made a mistake, you’re still in one piece, why are you being such a big girls blouse about it?” Bates says to Jimmy.
No one finds it a surprise that Thomas is gay, not even Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) when Bates enlists his help.
“I know what it’s like to feel powerless.” Bates explains.
Yet Thomas knows a secret of O’Brien’s: “Her ladyship’s soap.” If you don’t know or can’t remember what this means, don’t worry, this is way back when Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) was pregnant. O’Brien positioned a bar of soap by the bathtub so when Cora stepped out she would slip and miscarry. No wonder she wants it kept a secret.
With a little meddling, Bates turns the tables and O’Brien reverses the damage she’s done. Thomas not only stays, but is now given a higher position than Bates and Jimmy is promoted to first footman.
Further joy awaits Bates as he and Anna (Joanne Froggatt) move into a cottage together, referred to as “the love nest”.
Upstairs, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) travels to London to meet with her editor. His flirting prompts her to look into his background and it turns out he is married. It isn’t that simple though. His wife is in an asylum and he can’t divorce her: surely a storyline for series four.
It transpires that the fertility problems Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Matthew (Dan Stevens) have been having were down to a problem with Mary, but she’s been and got the problem fixed and won’t discuss it in a beautifully British stiff upper lip way.
“We can get on with making babies now,” says Matthew.
Elsewhere, an eighteen-year-old relation, Rose (Lily James), is causing trouble. She’s a naughty one, managing to become embroiled with a married man who says he will divorce his wife and marry her (don’t they all say that?), but the secret is out. Classic interfering by the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) means Rose winds up in Scotland with a lone aunt for company.
That isn’t the end of the Dowager’s interference, as she manages to find Ethel (Amy Nuttall) a new position near her son and Cousin Isobel (Penelope Wilton) employment of a former prostitute is no longer the focus of gossip.
To finish the marvellous series with a dusting of icing sugar, Branson (Allen Leech) decides to stay living at Downton with Baby Sybil. He, Matthew and Lord Grantham agree to work together to make Downton profitable.
Lord Grantham says: “Let’s give it a go and see what the future brings.”
Look out for our review of the Downton Christmas special soon.