What’s Worth Watching: Downton Abbey’s Satisfying Season Finale

Downton Abbey Finale
Nick Briggs/Carnival Films 2014 for MASTERPIECE
Downton Abbey Finale

Downton Abbey, “Season 5: Episode Nine” (Sunday, March 1, 9/8c, PBS, check local listings)

No “Matthew-is-WHAT?!?“-style tragic shockers this year as PBS’s ever-popular Downton Abbey winds down its fifth season with a satisfying and sentimental Christmas-themed finale, enhanced by a guest appearance from The Good Wife‘s Matthew Goode as Henry Talbot, a new admirer of Lady Mary‘s (and vice versa). Even Poor Lady Edith seems mostly content for a change.

The juiciest conflicts in the expanded two-hour finale involve the servant class, as Thomas (Rob James-Collier) clashes with the snooty butler (Alun Armstrong) of a country estate where all have gone for a grouse hunt—Remember those? Me neither—while Dowager Countess Violet (the peerless Maggie Smith) wearily mediates the ongoing spat between her helpmates Spratt and Denker. “There’s a point, Spratt, where malice ceases to be amusing,” Violet declares, and in the spirit of the season, we agree. There are plenty of surprises, most of them too pleasant to spoil, before it’s time to say goodbye, which most fans will once again concede has come too soon.