Poor Edith, Poor Us: How Should ‘Downton’ End?

The Daily Beast

January 29, 2015

Mrs. Patmore, bake, bake, bake. Bake as fast as you can. Daisy, don’t dawdle. Thomas, you’ll have to find another keyhole to listen at. Lady Mary, it’s time to take your freewheeling “Hear my vagina roar” sex positivity elsewhere. And Edith. Well, poor Edith.

For it seems that after six seasons, Downton Abbey may be facing the axe. Julian Fellowes, who created the show and writes every episode, will make season six his last, reports Britain’s Mirror newspaper.

The U.S. is currently watching season five unfold. If it is the final season, season six would air in Britain this autumn, and in the U.S. at the beginning of next year, so American fans still have quite a bit of time left to drink tea out of proper china cups, and eat honorary Sunday night sausage and mash.

A source told the Mirror: “It’s an open secret that Downton is ending this year. Some of the actors are keen to let it be known they will be available for work after the summer. Some are interested in the U.S., where Downton is as popular as it is in the UK. Joanne Froggatt (who plays Anna, a Golden Globes winner), Laura Carmichael (Edith), and Allen Leech (Branson) were in Los Angeles for the awards last week and there were several meetings about both TV and film roles.”

These stars and others, including Michelle Dockery who plays Lady Mary, the Mirror says, are planning to hightail it to America, which seems to really love British actors these days, even letting them lead U.S. dramas with American accents as Dominic West and Ruth Wilson do in Showtime’s The Affair.

Fellowes’ future plans are also key: he is signed up to write another historical drama, The Gilded Age, for NBC, set in 19th century New York, but says he can’t get going on that until he’s done with Downton.

He has already said the latter has a finite screen life: “Downton is not going to go on forever. It won’t be Perry Mason.”

The Mirror’s story set off an Internet petticoat-fluttering panic. The Guardian reported that ITV, which makes and screens the show in the UK, was not exactly issuing heartfelt denials of the Mirror’s story, saying today: “We wouldn’t comment on speculative stories about our programmes.”

But it seems all parties are in a mood to move on, and perhaps even the audience is too. Every time this viewer sees Rose, the pointless cousin, it feels like the show is grinding its teeth too, trying to find something for her to do. The show still has spark, but there is also a sense of amiable fatigue about it too.

If the time is nigh to kill Downton, it may be right to do it now, while affection—and more critically, ratings—remain high.

And so, with ‘Downton Deathwatch’ officially underway, fans can only speculate how they will finish things.

Of course, there must be—delivered by letter—the most serious threat to Downton Abbey’s future yet. My hope (and remember, this is based only on what America has thus far seen), this will come via the schoolteacher Sarah Bunting, who posho Fellowes clearly can’t stand, because he keeps saddling her with sneering speeches about the working man and such.

My hope is that Ms. Bunting is really an undercover aristo out to snatch Downton from the Crawleys, who one day will reveal at dinner a liking for caviar and partridge, and a secret deed revealing she is Downton’s rightful owner.

The last scene should have her giving birth to a baby girl, sighing with happiness, and christening her Alexis, “in the hope that she goes to America and marries a rich oilman from Denver.”

Lady Mary Quite Contrary ends up creating Cosmopolitan sex questionnaires. Thomas quits that medication, buys some tight-fitting britches, and launches Downton’s first Gay Pride country fayre, which Mrs. Patmore creates a rainbow Victoria sponge for.

Lord Crawley, aghast at how uppity the working classes have become, sets off on a round-Britain walk with Isis. Cora doesn’t notice, and continues to waft around Downton Abbey saying “Oh Raabbert” to thin air.

Anna and Mr. Bates continue to fret about an old murder storyline everyone else has ceased to care about.

The Dowager Countess dies, and is buried sitting bolt upright in her chair, holding her cane, looking offended.

As for Lady Edith, she must fall in love with that curiously hot farmer who seems to be parenting her secret love child. His grating wife, understandably peeved at the arrangement, can die of an era-specific incurable fever.

Her last line will be a joyous, “I am Poor Edith no longer,” at which point her new husband accidentally shoots himself.