Downton Abbey 's Sentimental Farewell Left Barrow Out in the Cold

Downton Abbey wasn't just wrapped up last night, it was swept away in a tsunami of schmaltz. Lady Mary did her Good Deed for the Century and brought happiness to her benighted sister who tried her best to undo it anyway. But despite her weepy equivocating, Edith now has wealth, is a Marchioness, and lives in a home that makes Downton look shabby. Boom.


Edith's Gorgon of a mother-in-law did an about-face which wasted screen time and was utterly predictable. It would have been more surprising if she'd been sympathetic right after the confession, having having been built up as a holy terror. Though on her inexpressive face (Botox, or just being English?), who could tell what she cared about, really.

Mary herself doesn't have to worry about her Prince Charming dying in a car crash because he's gone into trade. Too bad we didn't get to see her father throw a fit. Hubby isn't a butcher at any rate, he's selling used cars, and she couldn't be prouder, she claims. "That'll do, pig" came out with more warmth in Babe.


Isobel turned into an AARP version of Lara Craft with the help of her bestie the Dowager and rescued her beloved Larry from his evil family, and of course he's not at death's door or even in death's parking lot. They got a quickie marriage, he moved all his tweedy suits to her love nest and Viva la revolución.

Mrs. Patmore gave snarky Daisy sound therapeutic insight into her issues with men, and now Daisy and Big Ears are clearly headed to the altar. It didn't hurt that she saw him in his t-shirt banging away at a roof. And of course Mrs. Patmore has her own courtship to look forward to with Mr. Mason. Paging Stella Gibbons.


There was a great deal more minor league hugger-mugger including Carson's palsied hand that instantly screamed "Barrow's not really going away."


The ending was pure Hollywood kitsch, like the old sentimental movies which faded out with angels singing and the strings in overtime, only here we had a Christmas tree, a wedding, a baby being born, another baby on the way, and Auld Lang Syne.

But you have to wonder something. In all the pairing off, in the universal settling down and happiness, why did Barrow only get a promotion? He was the continuing villain of the piece from the first season on, though his nastiness steadily diminished. Why was he the only major younger character left alone at the end without any hope of love and affection? What has Julian Fellowes had against him all this time? Was his imagination so limited that he couldn't write a happy ending for a gay man but had to keep tormenting him even in the finale? The "cup of kindness" of "Auld Lang Syne" apparently couldn't be passed all the way around.

Lev Raphael is the author of The Edith Wharton Murders and 24 other books in genres from memoir to biography.