Downton Abbey recap: The Christmas Special teaches us to confess our true love, use Ouija boards, pick up new parents, and not to lock dogs in sheds

By Randi Bergman and Paige Dzenis

We almost jumped off a ledge when we thought that last week’s two-hour marathon finale would be the last that we’d see of the Abbeyers for quite some time, but alas, there was still a Christmas miracle in store! In February, no less. Last night’s holiday special taught us that it’s still okay to wish on stars, and eyelashes… and Santa—because our wish came true. Matthew and Mary finally got together! In the snow, no less! And now, for the rest of the seemingly inconsequential details:

We look back at the best and worst Christmas moments »
Find out how you can win the Season One and Season Two DVDs! »

Best sexual innuendo: Was it just us, or did you notice lots of naughty jokes this episode? References to a woman’s touch (that way) and banging get second place mentions, but Isobel’s gifting Granny a nutcracker so she can “crack her nuts” was definitely the best.

Best way to Carson’s heart: Carson is overjoyed when the Earl gives him a book on British Royal families. If only he could have set all of their tables!

Worst way to disguise contract negotiations: Must we only hear about Sybil and Branson via tiny letter? It seems odd to exclude both characters entirely from the Christmas special—we travel back and forth from Bates’ prison cell to Downton but don’t get a single glance of pregnant Sybil’s Irish abode? Unfair!

Best make-under, again: Bates spends so much time trying to keep it classy, when he should really just give into his inner rebel. His uncoiffed prisoner’s hair has us almost ready to banish all thoughts of his post-coital bedroom eyes. Almost. That is, until Anna shows up and they weepily make out.

Second-worst maid: Thankfully we only have to deal with the snappy attitude and meddlesome ideas of Rosamund’s maid for one episode—or else she’d very quickly take the position as “worst maid” from the Earl’s thankfully absent ex-lover.  

Best Arrested Development moment: No touching!” the guards shriek as Bates and Anna try to hold hands in jail. And then we burst out laughing. Sorry.

Curious temperatures: We recognize that it’s (almost) the 1920s and styles are changing, but what’s with the abundance of sleeveless dresses in this episode? No matter how many fires Daisy starts, we can’t imagine that castle is cozy enough during the winter to make the ladies comfortable. Bring on the long gloves!

Worst post-war costume decline: Barring the Pamouk catastrophe, lest we forget how downright glamourous the last Downton hunt was? The brilliant red riding coats and the top hats? Matthew’s newsboy cap and Mary’s plaid raincoat look dowdy in comparison.

Worst hunter: While Matthew may indeed be the worst hunter, who the hell’s idea was it to give Carlisle a gun?

Best witness: Who better to call to the stand than champion lurker O’Brien? What hasn’t she heard?

Best/worst reveal of just how annoyingly Bates-y Bates is: During the trial, the defense informs the Earl that he has to repeat—verbatim!—his last conversation with Bates before Vera died. But how would they know he had hoped for her demise unless Bates told them? No one else witnessed that conversation. Typical Bates.

Best snap judgment: When it’s suggested that Matthew partner with O’Brien at the Servant’s Ball he instantly balks by exclaiming “Crikey!” That’s what we’re all thinking, friend.

Worst animal cruelty: By God, Thomas, will you stop at nothing to get what you want? Leave poor Isis alone!

Saddest romantic goal: While Mary’s busy getting proposed to on bended knee by her true love, Edith’s begging for any shed of, well, anything. When Anthony Strallen states quite plainly that the two of them could never be together, she says: “If you think that I would ever give up on someone who calls me lovely!” Poor Edith, that’s the best you’ve got?

Speaking of Edith: After seeing them dance at the Servant’s Ball, we hope we’re not the only ones who think her and Thomas would make a great couple. He could be her sassy gay best friend (“Ugh, Sir Anthony just needs to get over his pride and get it on with you!”) and she could help mediate his evil plots.

Best Matthew replacement: Mary hunting down a cowboy in the Middle West? We’re obviously pleased she’s with Matthew, but perhaps Cora can send Edith on that Giant-esque adventure in season three?

Best save: By making a point of parting pleasantly with Carlisle, Mary simultaneously saved her ass and actually made us feel a bit bad for him! Way to use your survival instincts, Mary.

Best Halloween Christmas prop: The holiday special enters ABC Family (or Backstreet Boys video) territory, when Thomas and O’Brien break out the Ouija board. While it exists throughout the episode to prove just how stupid Daisy is, the board finally makes its powers known at the end of the episode by spelling out “Let them be happy. With my love.” A final blessing from Lavinia? Some twisted Vera trick? William about Daisy and dad? Time for the Michael Jackson zombies!

Best self-actualization: Cousin Isobel’s been doing nothing but getting in everyone’s way for the past two seasons (did they really need her medical expertise at Bates’s trial?), but it seems that getting Matthew to finally come around to his feelings for Mary was her doing what she does best at after all! Bravo, Isobel!

Well, that’s it for another season of Downton Abbey. Until next time, tell us what you thought of the episode and you could win a DVD prize pack of season one and season two, courtesy of eOne Films. And try not to kill yourself, okay?

More Celebrity