Downton Abbey Season Finale Recap: 'Proposals and Propositions'

Downton Abbey Season Finale

In a strange way, Sunday’s Downton Abbey finale brought Season 5 full circle, as the Crawleys’ annual Christmas vacation — this time to visit Rose’s hellish new in-laws at Brancaster Castle — nearly went down in flames. (Remember that? Honestly, Edith…)

But let’s start with the only thing that really matters: Carson and Mrs. Hughes got engaged! And while I’m obviously over the damn moon about it, I have to admit I was surprised to see their relationship progress so quickly over the past few weeks. Remember how long it took them just to hold hands at the beach last season? (Not that it wasn’t still a super-hot moment, because it was.)

The only thing more fantastic than the engagement itself was the banter between Carson and Mrs. Hughes, beginning with him — while discussing their new joint venture — telling her, “I do want to be stuck with you,” which might be the least robotic thing he’s ever said. And then there was her response: “Of course I’ll marry you, you old booby. I thought you’d never ask!” Perfect, just perfect.

Meanwhile…

Downton Abbey Season FinaleFREE AT LAST? | Confession: I’m not sure, legally, how it all worked out, but by the end of the finale, both Anna — who also revealed a violent history with her stepfather — and Bates had returned to Downton. Then again, I can’t possibly be alone in my confusion, considering this is the only real explanation we were given: “We’ll worry about the rest later. For now, let’s just have a very happy Christmas.” (Oh, OK. This is either straight-up denial on Bates’ part or the writers decided to throw the couple another bone. Either way, someone got away with killing Mr. Green. Well done, justice system.)

SCANDAL ROYALE | The Dowager Countess finally came face-to-face with Kuragin’s princess this week, and she turned out to be… what’s the exact opposite of a delight? Ah, yes, a total nightmare person. “I have no luggage,” she announced upon her arrival, though she brought plenty of baggage to make her stay a complete disaster — not to mention her presence at Downton put a big ol’ fork in the D.C.’s royal affair. “I shall never again receive an immoral proposition from a man,” she lamented to Isobel, who also broke off her engagement to Dickie Merton this week. “Was I so wrong to savor it?” (Dear Lord Gareth Neame, please give Isobel and the D.C. a Golden Girls-style spinoff. Amen.)

downton-abbey-season-finale-3MARY’S MATCH | With Tony Gillingham and Charles Blake now merely distant, handsome memories, Lady Mary set her sights on a new side of beef wellington this week: Henry Talbot, played by Matthew Goode (aka The Good Wife’s Finn Polmar, who you were already totally into and now he’s got his British accent so forget about it). I’m not sure what the future holds for these two, and I know we’ve only seen them interact for this one episode, but I’m ready to label this a perfect match. Double wedding with Carson and Mrs. Hughes!

HEALTH SHARE | Following a brief flirtation with angina, Robert was given a (mostly) clean bill of health by his doctor — but more importantly, he told Edith that he knows and accepts the truth about Marigold. It was a really nice father-daughter moment for the two of them; it also helped me to realize that Robert’s the only Crawley who even cares about her. (She has always been, and will probably forever be, the Meg Griffin of this family.) That said, Robert made Edith promise to keep her secret in the family because “even in 1924, there might be people who are unpleasant.” I love that Robert said that as if people are supposed to get less unpleasant over time. (Take it from someone in 2015, buddy: People always get worse.)

Downton Abbey Season FinaleOdds and Ends:
* Tom’s farewell from Downton was honestly too gut-wrenching for me to even discuss at length. If you didn’t tear up while Mary held his hand in the nursery and spoke to Sybil’s ghost, then you’re the actual Tin Man.
* Spratt and Denker broth feud didn’t really hold my attention, though it’s clear they want to jump each other’s bones, which I can appreciate.
* Thomas appeared just as eager as I expected to have Andy join the staff at Downton. Hopefully he won’t turn out to be a total Jimmy, if you catch my drift.

Your thoughts on the Season 5 finale? Hopes for next year? Drop ’em in the comments section below.


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103 Comments
  1. It was thoroughly charming. I don’t think I needed to imagine Lord Sindeby making the beast with two backs and spawning a toddler, but I even enjoyed the restorative broth sideline.

    • Hope says:

      Lord Sindeby’s affair exposed his lack if mayor also, forcing him to accept his new in-law’s divorce. That was the only reason for that additional storyline.

  2. Amy says:

    The trip to Brancaster was not a Christmas vacation. It happened months before Christmas. Not a big deal, but it is inaccurate. Amazing finale. Happy tears galore. Carson and Mrs. Hughes are the sweetest. Please let the Bates in prison story line be done. I hope Mary (for the second time) has met her match. She needs a partner that will challenge her.

    • Morisot says:

      That first hour I kept thinking, “This is the Christmas episode?” Then, suddenly, it WAS Christmas. How did we get there. At least there was one clue… “He hasn’t had a drop to drink in months.”

  3. kim says:

    was totally screaming say yes! say yes! Loved it! Guess a cottage trumps an engagement ring! Someone needs to take Mary down more than a few notches in her treatment of Edith.

    • Tee says:

      Yes, I agree. I get it, Edith wrote the letter outing Mary and Pamuk’s dalliance, but COME ON!!! Let it go. She’s always been sort of nasty to Edith, and I never really understood why. Sibyl never got that treatment. Edith has grown and changed, and Mary is just regressing. It’s bordering on cruel at this point, and she seems nothing more than a spoiled brat. I wonder why all of these suitors find her so fascinating–she’s obviously being fake, because anyone seeing her true colors should run away.

      • Puchinsmom says:

        I’ve been thinking that same thing all season, Tee. Feel like slapping her! Wonder what she’d say if she knew Edith was Marigold’s mother?
        Meanwhile… I had a good laugh at the thought of a double wedding with Mrs. Hughes and Mr.Carson and Lady Mary and anybody!

        • Cheyenne says:

          Wouldn’t it be great to have a double wedding with Hughes and Carson, and with Molesley the footman and Charlotte’s maid. There is obviously a lot of affection there. And Tom might actually be less of a jerk if he found someone.

          • Tee says:

            It seems like Barrow is lightening up, now that Baxter showed care and concern for him while he tried to purge himself of his homosexuality. I guess that’s all he needs–a real pal, not a partner in crime or someone who brings out the worst in him like O’Brien. I find that I’ve changed my mind about him now that he’s been rather “good” lately.

      • Lois says:

        Edith was still a teenager when she wrote that letter, and had a lifetime of being verbally abused by Mary. Edith is now pushing 30, and has changed and matured. Mary did change when she got married, but has since reverted back to her old, immature, selfish, nasty self. I also wonder why Mary gets so many suitors.

        • ejdax37 says:

          Also remember that Edith was in love with the cousin who was the heir, the one that died on the Titanic (maybe) and Mary was the one that was going to marry him not Edith. Edith was much more upset over his death. Mary was just upset that she wasn’t going to be countess anymore.

        • mary is mean but she isn’t boring ,he is also smart likes hunting and hurses and doesn’t take crap from anyone.

      • Morisot says:

        But I love Mary—even with all her snarkiness.

        [If they were animals:

        Mary is a fox –cunning, and wary but playful. And very sleek and fashionable.

        Edith is a turtle –quiet and timid and hard to get to know. Every time she sticks out a flipper or her head it gets stepped on.I think she is starting to come out of her shell. But she still has to watch out for the fox!

        ]

      • A fan says:

        Mary has a lot of suitors at least in part because she will inherit everything.

        • hope168 says:

          But Mary is also beautiful and witty! That alone can explain all of her suitors’ interest.

          • Tee says:

            Beauty and wit can’t be all there is to it. Once married, I’m sure the constant attitude would become grating–remember how it irked Matthew in the beginning, and once she matured a bit, they became a better match. I guess if anyone can put up with her, they must really love her. Whatever.

        • Isobel says:

          True but Edith also being an Earl’s daughter and owner of the magazine now should have her being courted by men her social equal and age

        • No she won’t, George will.

      • Suzieq says:

        I know, Mary needs to drop it. Edith is her only sibling, she does come off as a spoiled brat! I have really enjoyed Edith this season, well all of the cast actually, loved Thomas in this episode!

  4. Lauren says:

    Love this damn show. Can’t believe we have to wait a year for the next episode. Cruel.

  5. Jenna says:

    What a delightful season finale. Hello, Henry Talbot..can’t wait to see what you bring to the table for season 6. Always glad to see Matthew Goode. Loved the Carson and Hughes engagement..hope that it doesn’t ruin their dynamic. Please free Anna…so over the Bates.

  6. Jay says:

    As much as I enjoyed Carson and Mrs. Hughes’ engagement, is it wrong to say I’m a little weirded out at the thought of them consummating their relationship?

  7. Sabrina says:

    This was the best episode of Series 5. The didn’t go over Edith’s interest in the agent. About the time she gets cozy, Mr. Gregson will come back. I’m just not convinced based on the evidence that he is dead. I’m also thinking Tom will stay because LG will have a heart attack or something.

    • Alichat says:

      I believe they found Gregson’s body.

      • herman1959 says:

        Yes, a body was found and identified, but if you’ve seen a lot of TV (and I know you have), you know that dead bodies are mistakenly IDed all the time. Plus, the storyline is just too juicy to ignore, and it gives the writers another way to torture poor Edith.

        • Alichat says:

          Eh…..I would dislike that story greatly…..about as much as I’ve disliked the Bates/Mr Green debacle. Edith needs more torture like Robert needs highly acidic food.

    • Morisot says:

      I thought that Robert was going to drop dead of a heart attack —and Tom would have to stay. Really. (Then I realized there was no way I had avoided that spoiler!)

      I was very glad to have so many happy moments for almost everyone. I wished it WAS Christmas.

    • George says:

      I agree – best episode of the season. However, best scene for me was last episode when Lady Cora chastised those that kept the story of Marigold from her. Great acting on Lady Cora’s part.

      • I am a grandmother of 2 girls and I noticed that Cora never picks up her grandchildren or plays with them. It’s always Robert. Anyone else find that strange? I know she loves seeing the kids with their mothers and fathers but she doesn’t really get involved with them.
        I am also over the Bates story….I can’t believe they brought it back!

        I thought there were some touching moments for Edith with the Cousin of Atticus, the Estate Manager. I forget his name but they met at the shooting range. She loves falling for anyone who will show her some affection….she is truly needy, which is why she clings to Marigold. I hope she finds someone to love her.

  8. Linda Burgin says:

    Who was the woman with the young boy who walked in to Atticus’ parents mansion & Rose realized something was happening & immediately intervened. Was she a liaison her father in law was having?

  9. Alichat says:

    Whaaaa!!!!! I don’t want Tom to leave!! He’s my favorite character! And I almost died when Mrs. Hughes called Carson an ‘old booby’! So stinkin’ adorable! I really feel they’ve run this whole Bates/Mr Green/prison crap into the ground. Please let it be done. I felt really bad for Isobel and Lord Merton. I really wish someone would kick Merton’s sons in the bum…knock them down a peg. And I geeked out a bit when they were at Hogwarts! If they’d taken the Dowager with them to Brancaster, I’d have been in total Harry Potter overload!

    • Alichat says:

      Forgot to add…….this should be in the Quotes of the Week….
      Dowager: “Lord Sinderby, Branson, and Barrow. Not what I’d call a recipe for a peacefully week’s shooting.”
      Isobel: “Makes you wonder what they’ll be shooting at by the end of it.”

    • Mary Allison says:

      Please have Tom return. Mrs. Hughes said it well when she said Tom is the bridge between upstairs and downstairs. Also there is no young male family presence upstairs anymore. Mary and LG relied on him to keep the estate solvent. He was not as minor a character as he appeared.

      • herman1959 says:

        Good point. Maybe a new male family member will be introduced next season, or Mary will actually get married again. I’m not sure of Matthew Goode continuing as it depends on his schedule for The Good Wife (if the show was renewed, I’m not sure).

        • Puchinsmom says:

          Why couldn’t Mary be the one who keeps the estate solvent? With or without a young male family presence….she’s mean, but she’s smart.

  10. Lois says:

    Henry Talbot is the new Tony Gillingham. Henry and Mary have no chemistry. Please let Matthew Goode find a role worthy of his talents, because this isn’t it.

    It’s so refreshing to see Edith happy. Robert showed actual love and concern for Edith, which is unusual, and wonderful!

    After the perfect matchup of Carson and Hughes, the next happy couple should be Baxter and Moseley.

  11. Cheyenne says:

    Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes make the cutest couple! I must admit, I bawled.
    .
    I was hoping they would go back into the big room and whisper the news of their engagement to Lord Robert, and the lord would make a big announcement to the company, and everybody would be cheering and congratulating. Carson and Hughes deserve nothing less.

    • herman1959 says:

      I know, I was hoping he would announce it too, but Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes would never intrude on the famiy’s night, they’re old-school. Also, I thought Brancaster Castle was the ugliest house we’ve seen yet, and probably a nightmare to maintain. I guess that shows just how much money Lord S. has; I still don’t like him.

      • Cheyenne says:

        I don’t like him either but Rose is such a sweetheart. She and Atticus are the nicest people on the show. I hate to see them leave. They’re moving to New York.

    • girlieq24 says:

      and you spelled “bawled” correctly, thank God! I cried too. :)

  12. dman6015 says:

    My guess is both Tom and Lady Rose make an appearance during the 6th season. I’m hoping the Bates’ murder storyline is done. I’m guessing Anna will get pregnant next season (giving birth is another matter). Edith will find love and Mary will continue to be the spinster in the family.

    • jj says:

      you mean Mary will find love and Edith will continue to be the spinster, right?

      • Cheyenne says:

        No, Edith will find love and Mary will continue to be the spinster. She’s so nasty, it would serve her right.

        • Andrea in Dallas says:

          By definition, Mary cannot be a spinster, as a spinster is not merely an unmarried woman, but one who has NEVER married.

  13. SAM says:

    Overall a good episode but I fast-forwarded through the Anna and Bates’ scenes. They went from my favorite couple to the most boring story line. Also, I wish that someone would dump an ice bucket over Mary every time she is so rude to Edith.

    • AtlLady says:

      I keep the Bates couple interesting by imagining that they will be spawning Norman Bates from Psycho. After their cumulative jail time, I would think their psyches would be capable of raising such a warped child. LOL

  14. I really don’t want to see Tom go.

  15. cr says:

    The storyline of Mr. Green’s death has been a poor one, and let’s hope it’s over. Simply put, he surely had many other victims besides Anna, one of whom did him in. What a distraction.

    • wonder if Thomas did it because he wants to be butler when carson retires. with bates out of the picture and mary liking him so much, he would be sure to get it.
      also wonder if mrs. hughes pushed mr.green because she looked so nervous whenever the cops came around.

  16. ali smeech says:

    Loved.the finale, but i am a bit confused on something. I thought there was a rumor going around that George Clooney was to be on the Christmas episode. What happened there??

  17. Ellinas1978 says:

    One more season and ending it before it goes downhill is about right. Nothing earth-shattering happening in the Christmas special, which is the episode where it should happen.

  18. Morisot says:

    Henry is “into cars” and Matthew was killed in a car crash. I know it’s been a few years, but wouldn’t Mary have cringed at that — rather than looking amused and intrigued?

    • Jenna says:

      She looked like she was in lust and wanted to hop in a go for a ride in Henry’s snappy chariot.

    • gdv says:

      My hubby and I said the same thing. Too soon, Julian Fellowes. Too soon. But I imagine that will be cause for Mary and Henry to argue next season. I guess?

    • Puchinsmom says:

      I was thinking that same thing. If he races cars he’d be a dangerous boyfriend for anyone, but especially for Mary with her history. Maybe he just designs cars?

  19. Romi says:

    Team Lady Mary. What Edith did was unforgivable because it happened at a time when it really wasn’t ok for an unmarried women to fool around (and other people to find out) and her reputation was harmed.

    • maggie says:

      There was already gossip about Mary and Pamuk before Edith wrote the letter. Edith only confirmed the gossip. Evelyn Napier made sure to tell Mary about Edith because he was worried she would think it was him. You also have to remember that Edith was still a teenager, and Mary was her tormentor. Mary was the one who put her reputation at risk by sleeping with Pamuk. To blame it all on Edith is ignoring Mary’s part. You also have to remember that was a decade ago. Edith’s letter has done no harm to Mary’s reputation. Mary is still pursued by almost every eligible man who meets her.

  20. This would have been a satisfying end to the Downton series!

    • hope168 says:

      Yes, except I never want to see it end — I so enjoy that show. I get whisked away to another time and place, and when the show ends I snap back into reality :-)

  21. Mary and Blake would be the greatest thing to straighten out her narsisistic personality,and Tom returning because little Sybil will be the golden thread that brings out the positives of this family.Rose and her husband are both delightful and will also have a beautiful effect on demonstrating how love overcomes many of life’s obstacles.Please give us more of Mr Mason. His philosophy of life is endearing.

  22. Todd says:

    one of the better seasons of downton for sure, fantastic!

  23. Isobel says:

    The DG and Rosemund were kind as well, I think Edith takes after her father’s side of the family and Mary is her mother’s favourite

  24. Awl says:

    Mary didn’t welcome the advances by Pamuk…seems like date rape to me..she didn’t know how to say no..
    Please go on forever Downton!

  25. Marci says:

    I don’t care what the realities were; I just hope the Bates/Anna/Green scenario is over and done with. Sometimes Isobel is just too righteous–I wish she would stand up to Lord Merton’s butthole sons and marry him. I loved the scene between Robert and Edith–it was good to see someone in that family show her some real affection and understanding. I hate the way Mary treats her. Yay and double-yay for Carson proposing to Mrs. Hughes, and to her for accepting. I loved her calling him “you old booby” and saying, “I thought you’d never ask.” I’m heartbroken that Tom is leaving–he’s one of my favorite characters. Other than that, a perfect season finale.

  26. njartist says:

    OK -it is apparent that Tom is leaving for Boston. My question -is a plot device or on the part of the actor wanting out of the show? This season was quite enjoyable and well done but per
    usual I wish we did not have to wait so long for season 6.

  27. Amy says:

    Oh my goodness!!! When Carson said that he wanted to get stuck with Mrs Hughes I was so excited thinking that was such a huge proclamation for him…..and then he went and asked her to marry him, I was stunned. I did not see this coming! One of the best scenes on tv ever! I love it!

    • Andrea in Dallas says:

      I was spoiled and STILL didn’t see it coming, in the sense that I didn’t think the scene could possibly be that magnificent! I think I may just go back and watch it again now before continuing the episode. :)

  28. To me this was the best episode of the entire history of Downton. There was so much happening, that it has already been viewed multiple times. I was lucky enough to see it originally on Christmas Day. That made it all seem like magic. I can’t bear the thought of Tom and Miss Sybbie leaving! They must find a way for him to stay (or come back after a couple of episodes). I already like the chemistry that Mary has with the new guy who just happens to be into fast cars, just like Matthew. I love that Edith was able to have her moment with her father. In some ways this felt like the wrap up of the entire series. If I didn’t know for a fact that they are already filming Series 6, I would seriously question whether this was the end. Brilliant all the way around!

  29. Elizabeth Locsin says:

    I enjoy Downton to the max!!! Dont let it end!!! I thought I would be less interested after they killed off Matthew. But the entire series is simply enchanting.

  30. Bobbi helms says:

    I was hoping someone would gve lord grantham a new puppy to replace Isis!

  31. Nancy says:

    Denka and Sprat. Can you possibly imagine two more revolting servants? Meanwhile, Lord Grantham’s household is blessed with Carson, Mrs. Hughes, Mrs. Patmore and Anna. Why is the Dowager being cursed with such awful help and why does she put up with it?

  32. Melissa says:

    Bring back Adam Leech!!!!!! Don’t let Maggie go! Loved Downton Abbey this season.

  33. MAARY ARSENAULT says:

    SO VERY SAD TO HEAR THIS IS COMIN TO AN END…AND ONLY SIX SEASONS….NO SPIN OFFS??? : (

  34. SusieQ says:

    I’ll have withdrawal when DA goes off, but it’s really time, unless they want to tackle the crash, the 30’s leading up to war, and WW II, which really doesn’t seem to be a good idea.

  35. Jim Wiskus says:

    It would be nice to see Moseley & Baxter tie the knot, but how many weddings can you have in a season. I would end Downton with the passing of the Dowager around 1930. Robert would live say another nine years. Cora takes on a new role as Downton becomes a safe haven for the children in London at the beginning of Englands involvement in WWII.

    • Jim Wiskus says:

      I hate to see DA end as well. I looked so forward to the first Sunday in January and all the following episodes. I imagine with most of the contracts expiring this is a good way to avoid type casting. I may buy all six seasons. I have to say Masterpiece is just that. Everything is impeccably done with nothing overlooked. It was a great great show, a way of escape. Thanks to all, from JF, the cast and all those behind the cameras who we don’t see. When we the public feel like for an hour that we are somehow connected or there, you’ve done your jobs extremely well. Thank you again!

  36. susan miller says:

    I LOVED THE ENTIRE SEASON!I’VE ENJOYED THE SHOW FRON THE FIRST EPISODE!I’M A ONE DUSTAINNG MEMBER AND HAVE THE FIRST 4 SRASONS AND I’M GETTING SEASONS 5 AND 6!I’M LOOKING FIRWARD TO SEASON 6!.I HAVE A BBC APP AND HOPE I CAN SEE SEASON 6 WHEN IT AIRS IN ENGLAND IN SEPTEMBER AND THEN SEE IT AGAIN IN 2016 ON PBS WITH THE REST OF THE UNITED STATES!

  37. deborah says:

    Don’t end yet to early