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Anchored by a powerhouse performance from Maggie Smith, "Episode Six" utilizes an open house to expose the problems behind the Abbey walls.
Even as the episode went meta, various plotlines picked up their pace. Several romances, for example, moved forward rather fast.
In the same way that banks can become too big to fail, so historical dramas can become too successful to care if they indulge in cliché.
If there's one thing this show has relied upon as it limps to the end, it's bland pronouncements.
Mary kinda-sorta used another one of Anna's check-ups in London as an excuse to see Henry, this time bringing Tom along for the ride. Edith almost joined them, but I'm really glad she didn't, as it afforded us this glorious exchange between the sisters.
It's a tribute to Rob James-Collier's nuanced performance that he has so fully humanized Thomas. He's always been more than a one-note villain and his grief is now palpable.
It looks like the hospital drama has finally reached its end, thankfully. Though the family drama is only just beginning.
It's always rather easy to overlook Cora's contribution to the proceedings, but I was touched by her quiet feminist throwdown with Lord G.
Cue a hilarious montage of Edith, Mary and Cora making [Downton history] up as they go along.
For as often as Downton Abbey reminds the viewers and its characters that the real world is constantly evolving, even in the bubble of the upper class, the series takes a special pleasure in demonstrating how little some people change.
There's something especially delicious and amusing about watching the family's complete ineptitude when forced to act as docents.