Five seasons of Downton Abbey had Christmas specials that were also the season finale. What specials are better and more festive than others?
Christmas specials are standard for long-running shows. The historical drama series Downton Abbey is no exception to this after its successful first season. From 2011 to 2015, Christmas Day saw the airing of five special double-length episodes that accompanied their respective seasons, many of them full of holiday spirit and plenty of drama.
These special episodes tended not only to have Christmas as part of the story, but their location at the end of the seasons effectively served as their endings. The extended run time of the episodes not only had the recurring plots of their seasons, but also planted the seeds for the plots of the following season. With the second movie coming in 2022, it’s a great time to look back at the show’s Christmas endings to see if the writers will be able to replicate the memorability.
5 A trip to the highlands (season 3)
The first special that did not include Christmas, “A Trip to the Highlands,” revolved around the Crawleys visiting Duneagle Castle in Scotland and the servants attending a fair in Thirsk. These events away from Downton allowed the characters above and below to mingle, such as Tom and Isobel attending the fair and the Bates, Molesley and O’Brien accompanying the family.
One of the season 3 stories concluded in this special is the complications of Mary and Matthew’s marriage, culminating in Mary giving birth to a baby boy, George. Combined with Robert finally accepting the Downton reforms, Edith and Michael Gregson affirming their love for each other, and Thomas reconciling with Jimmy, “A Journey To the Highlands” was an overall positive special. Unfortunately, all of these events were overshadowed by the abrupt and shocking death of Mateo just as the Downton episode ended.
4 Christmas at Downton Abbey (season 2)
Season 2 was packed with some of Downton Abbey best stories, recurring stories and their Christmas special is no exception. Among the Crawleys, there was the reintroduction of Anthony Strallan into Edith’s life, Robert dealing with Sybil’s marriage and pregnancy, and the drama between Mary, Matthew, and Richard Carlisle coming to a head. Meanwhile, downstairs, Thomas was continually trying to win favor, Mr. Bates’s judgment, and Daisy grappling with her feelings about William’s death.
Christmas and New Years were significant only at the beginning of the episode despite the title. Unlike the later Christmas specials, there were no major events to tie all these plots together or organize them. As a result, “Christmas At Downton Abbey,” as the conclusion to the first two seasons and a prelude to the third season, was somewhat disjointed.
3 Vacation on a Wasteland (Season 5)
Between Rose’s marriage and Anna’s arrest for the death of Mr. Green, the final episodes of season 5 were a rollercoaster of drama. These stories were further explored in “A Moorland Holiday,” where the Crawleys were invited to Brancaster Castle by Rose’s new family, and some of the cast below became involved with Anna and Mr. Bates.
Additionally, some story elements and characters were introduced for the sixth and final season, namely Robert Ulcer, Henry Talbott, and Bertie Pelham. The episode was also able to take advantage of a little time for a Christmas celebration in the final minutes. Anna met with Mr. Bates and Carson and eventually proposed to Ms. Hughes while listening to the Christmas songs and ended the episode and season 5 on a high note.
2 The London Season (Season 4)
“The London Season” also didn’t revolve around Christmas and served as an extended adventure away from Downton. The main plot revolved around Rose’s debutante ball, which involved the cast above and below in various ways. This episode also saw the implementation of the British Royal Family in history (an element that was later repeated for 2019). Downton Abbey film).
The scandal with the Prince of Wales and the cast above was an exciting change of pace, while the plots below such as Thomas’s influence on Baxter and the murder of Mr. Green played out further. Other stories for season 5 that got off to good starts here were Edith making up her plan for her daughter, Isobel developing feelings for Lord Merton, and Mary’s love triangle with Tony Gillingham and Charles Blake officially beginning.
1 The end (season 6)
As the finale to the entire show, the season 6 Christmas special had the arduous task of bringing everything to a successful conclusion. For the most part, “The Finale” was successful as an exhilarating Christmas special and series finale. It allowed future installments like the 2019 and 2022 movies to tell their own separate stories.
Despite the abrupt introduction of some plot elements such as Bertie’s mother, Daisy’s affection for Andy, and Carson’s withdrawal, they are easily offset by the long-running plot ends since the show began. Edith’s marriage and Thomas’s change of mind finally came after years of hardship and heartbreak, and both characters more than deserved it. The final minutes of the episode celebrating the New Year and bringing back almost all of the main characters was a great way to end the season and show. Hopefully the new Downton Abbey The movie will also include some new but uplifting elements.
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