While Sunday night’s new episode of “Downton Abbey” is not the series finale for the show, it aired in Great Britain as the last of an eight-episode run before a break. As a result of that, there is a certain sense of finality that comes from watching it.
There are some huge events that happen, a few things that are pleasant surprises, and then also something that may devastate you for a little bit of time until the final episode airs in a little over a week.
THE SHOW | Downton Abbey
THE EPISODE | “Episode 8” (Feb. 21, 2016)
THE PERFORMANCE | Maybe it’s because Downton Abbey fans have patiently waited six long years for human punching bag Edith (Carmichael) to finally stand up for herself, but there was just something deeply satisfying about watching her give Mary (Dockery) the business in Sunday’s penultimate episode, employing all the eloquence of a Jane Austen novel and all the brutal honesty of a Real Housewives reunion.
By the time Edith finished tearing into her “nasty, jealous, scheming bitch” of a sister, it was like she’d put Mary through an actual shredder. All that remained were a few strips of what was once Mary’s face, each boasting the same stupefied expression; she didn’t expect this from Edith any more than we did, and quite frankly, I’m not sure Edith expected it from herself, all of which added an extra layer of potency to her words:
Yes, Edith was furious at Mary for revealing Marigold’s paternity to Bertie — and rightfully so — but the rage she channeled went far deeper than that; every snide remark and condescending comment Mary ever tossed her way served as a foundation for the well-deserved tirade, and Carmichael wore those six seasons of torment like an anchor.
The sisters’ follow-up scene, in which they basically resigned themselves to a life of attempted tolerance, was equally affecting, albeit for different reasons. Dockery and Carmichael fully embraced their characters’ emotional indifference towards one another, resulting in a somewhat disheartening best-case-scenario for the feuding family members.