The final episode of the first season of Downton Abbey aired in the United States last night. Naturally, I was tuned in to the Twitter party of viewers on the East Coast, even though I had already watched the whole series on the DVD and knew all about the heartbreak that was to come.
I knew, as others did not, that the various threads of storyline that were lying tangled and frayed across the screen were not, in fact, going to get tied up in a bow by the end of the episode. And for longtime fans of Masterpiece Theatre, who are used to programs that have a habit of ending with double weddings and soft-focus smooches, this would be tantamount to all hell breaking loose. And, just as I expected, the #DowntonPBS thread on Twitter pretty much exploded at the end of the broadcast.
Believe me, I was howling just as loudly as the rest of my pals.
So now that we are in our long period of mourning (I’ll consider going into half-mourning when the new series airs in the UK and I can gather up spoilers on the British blogs), we will have little to do but stalk Cousin Matthew on Twitter and continually hit refresh to see what the Dowager Countess is up to on her Facebook page.
That, of course, and speculate wildly about what will happen to them all in Season 2, now that The Great War is underway.
Let’s speculate wildly, shall we?
I’ve ended this post with my top three shocking predictions for Season 2. You can go ahead and scroll down now if you like — I’ve even included a few sexy photos of Mr. Bates and Cousin Matthew, if you’re into that sort of thing.
And don’t even try to pretend you’re not into that sort of thing.
But first, before we start rubbing our hands together and mulling over the delicious possibilities involving who marries whom, who dies tragically on the battlefields of the Somme, and who does something entirely unexpected, I think it’s important to remember two very important truths.
Downton Abbey is not a 19th-century novel
Alas. It’s more a sprawling epic, really. Which means that tidy endings are not necessarily in the recipe, at least not right away. I suspect that the creators are going to be willing to ride this horse hard and put it to bed wet, as it were. They’ll keep spinning out the various threads of narrative for as long as they’ve got our interest, which could be quite a few series’ worth. Don’t expect to get… ah… satisfaction, as it were, on any of your favorite romantic storylines anytime soon, is what I’m saying.
As Fannie Dorrit would say, I could be wrong. But I am not.
Julian Fellowes is not Andrew Davies
Thank God. I mean, Julian Fellowes didn’t give us any romantic satisfaction at the end of Gosford Park (I mean, yeah, mystery solved and all, but whatever), and I don’t think he’ll feel particularly compelled to give us a tremendous amount of romantic satisfaction in Downton Abbey, either. From what I’ve seen of Fellowes (and you should know that I’ve been a fan of his since he was Kilwillie on Monarch of the Glen, for the love of all that’s holy), I don’t think he’s particularly inclined toward pairing people off and sending them packing in a horse-drawn carriage.
It’s one of the reasons why he’s such a freaking outstanding writer.
Now, I realize that I’ve basically said the same thing twice up there. But that just goes to underscore how unlikely I think it is that we’ll feel any more satisfied at the end of Series 2 than we do now, at the end of Series 1.
This is the new Upstairs, Downstairs, people. It could go on for a really, really, long time.
Good news for fans of period drama. Bad news for those of us dying to see Anna and Bates, Matthew and Mary, or even Branson and Sybil, for that matter, get it on.
Having said all that, here are a few things I still want to predict for Series 2. So that when they happen, I can totally say that I called it.
Beth Dunn’s “I Called It” List
Vera comes back.
Yeah, this is the easy one. Bates’ wife Vera will show up and cause some havoc before finally disappearing forever and opening up a path for Bates and Anna to be together. What she has to say will throw still more light on Bates’ character, and this will make him even more complex and considerably less saintly in the process, and we (by which I suppose I mostly mean I) will only love him all the more ardently because of it.
Of course, by then, there’ll be some other reason why Bates and Anna must stay apart. At least for another season, I’m guessing.
I suppose they might be allowed a passionate embrace at some point during the Christmas episode. Yeah, that sounds about right.
Matthew gets over Mary.
Or vice versa. I think that, given the pre-war reality they were living in before the end of Series 1, getting these two together really would have been the answer to everyone’s prayers, as Lady Grantham so delicately put it. But the war will change things, and mighty fast, for both of these characters. For one thing, Mary will find that she suddenly has quite a few more options than just shopping for clothes and supporting charities until it’s time to become someone’s wife.
Personally, I think she’s far more interested in politics and the wider world than she generally lets on. Which brings me to my final, big, crazy-pants prediction.
Napier is a serious honey.
As an aristocrat with a fairly high-ranking position in government, Napier’s life is about to get a whole hell of a lot more interesting, too. If Mary spends just a little more time in London, I think she’ll start to see what a sleeper this guy is. He’s smart, decent, honorable to a fault, and he comes from the same world she does. All in all, he’s a much better match for Mary than Matthew is. And let’s face it, Mary would make one hell of a politician’s wife. They could make a very good team, indeed.
As for the rest of them, well, I expect we’ll see the usual sprinkling of cannon fodder, heroes, swindlers, and war profiteers as the series goes on. And you know I can’t wait — you know damn well that I’ll be eagerly devouring every single morsel that they deign to give us.
But I’m always more interested in the romance factor; I can’t help it. It’s just how I’m built.
And if Julian Fellowes gives us even one lousy wedding in Season 2, I’ll eat my hat.