I will be analyzing each episode of the final season of Downton Abbey from a worldview perspective. I will be doing them two at a time to make space for my series on “The Expanse.” There will, of course be SPOILERS for each episode, and I will assume readers know about each previous season and episode’s content as well. It will be assumed that readers are familiar with the characters and circumstances. I will not be summarizing the plot of the episode; I will merely interact with the content from a perspective of worldview. BE COURTEOUS AND DO NOT BRING UP LATER EPISODES THAN THE ONE DISCUSSED HERE IN YOUR COMMENTS.
Self-giving love is something that has been evidenced throughout this season of Downton Abbey, largely in the person of Phyllis Baxter. Here, she manages to save the life of Thomas Barrow because she senses something in him that suggests he will attempt suicide–something that has been somewhat anticipated all season.
Jealousy is one of the most dangerous emotions, as we see throughout the Bible in narratives, wisdom, and letters. Lady Mary’s jealousy of Lady Edith’s happiness led, once again, to her visiting ruination upon that happiness. The rebuke that Tom Branson brought to Mary was well-deserved and it also shows something that we are not always comfortable with in our own lives–the need to confront sin. As the next episode shows, such a rebuke brought about change in behavior. This is a kind of demonstration of a Christian theme that is very Lutheran as well–the use of the Law to bring about change of behavior. By rebuking Mary’s self-serving attitude and calling her to better living, Branson was acting rightly.
Loyalty is something that often grows with us, and Barrow’s loyalty to Downton at last comes to the forefront in this final episode. His own bitterness and cruelty got him to a point in which he felt no return, but ultimately the kindness of some saved his life. It is a wonderful story of redemption to see Barrow taking on the duties of Butler to close out the series. There were times in the series I felt nothing good could come of Barrow, but that is just what we are as sinners: grace is something that breaks through and without deserving it, God lifts us from our sin. Barrow’s story of redemption is a powerful reminder of the concept of grace.
Forgiveness is another theme that has played throughout the series, and the first steps towards broader understanding and forgiveness were taken by Lady Mary and Lady Edith. Edith (at last!) has happiness, and that is at least partly due to Mary’s intervention. Mary took Branson’s rebuke to heart and made efforts to change the outcomes of her pettiness. There is little that can be said kindly about Mary, but her own story shows one in which the proud are humbled.
Downton Abbey is finished. It has brought us tales of sorrow, of joy, and of grace. I hope you’ve enjoyed the journey as much as I have.
I know there is a ton more to discuss, and in this post we can feel free to talk about the whole series. I’d love to read your thoughts. Be sure to let me know what you thought of the episodes, and what worldview-level issues you saw them raise, in the comments below.
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