By Caryn James | James on Screens February 16, 2013 at 9:30AM
Because the current season of Downton Abbey ended in the U.K. before it had even begun here on PBS – well the series’ worst-kept secret probably would have leaked out even if there hadn’t been all that rumbling about a certain lead who had decided not to return. But just in case, PBS has cooked up this spoiler-free preview, with no hint of how the drama will sneak up on you.
It gives away nothing to say that in the two-hour finale, the Granthams vacation in Scotland at the grand hunting lodge of their cousin, the Marquess of Flintshire, known to the family as Shrimpie (a name that sounds one step from Monty Python territory to us, but probably didn't when old Shrimpie got it in childhood.) Or that while the family is away, the servants will play, heading off to a local fair.
The vacation scenes are far from the liveliest or most scintillating the series has ever produced. In fact, they feel like a misguided attempt to shake things up by changing the setting. (Really, don’t do that unless you’re exchanging Downton for someplace more exciting – even more squalid would have been fine.) But the cast surmounts all that. Take a look at the preview and notice the delicious reactions on the faces of Dan Stevens and Maggie Smith as the family is serenaded by bagpipes before dinner. What could possibly go wrong?