[Warning: The following contains spoilers from Downton Abbey's Season 5 finale. If you have't watched it yet, don't make Mary scowl disapprovingly at you!]
Downton Abbey is back on track.
On Sunday's Season 5 finale, the British soap delivered an episode that warmed our hearts just like the show used to do in its first couple of seasons. And it's about time! Following the deaths of two main characters in Season 3, the series struggled creatively in Season 4, subjecting fans to Bates and Anna's wretched rape story line, Lady Edith's never-ending bad luck in the love department and Mary's return to her pre-marital coldness. This season was by no means perfect (e.g. killing off loyal dog Isis as a device to solve Mrs. Patmore's nephew plot -- unconscionable!), but it did address most of the concerns we had about last year's forced, transitional fourth season.
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And now that the Downton powers that be seem to have their act together, we're hoping they can take the show out on a high note. There, we said it. We want Downton Abbey to end, and preferably sooner rather than later, before the writers have a chance to mess it up again. We're sure this is not a popular opinion, but there can be too much of a good thing, and honestly, if Downton stretched on forever, we'd inevitably have to say farewell to many more of our favorite characters, including Granny, whom we'd probably see die. And that is something we just cannot face. If Downton ends before she does, we'll be able to happily imagine her delivering her deliciously sardonic bon mots into eternity.
Regardless, the series is definitely returning for Season 6, and we feel that one season -- or maybe two, at the absolute most -- is all that's needed to wrap up matters to our satisfaction. Besides, creator Julian Fellowes is already hard at work developing his American period drama The Gilded Age, so he'll soon have to give up Downton anyway. Set in 1880s New York, the new series could be seen as a prequel of sorts to Downton, perhaps even featuring ancestors of Lady Cora. In all honesty, we're kind of excited to meet our next costume-drama obsession. But before we do that, let's look back at Downton's fifth season and lay out our hopes for the show's future:
Anna and Bates We endured the unforgivable rape of Anna and the fallout of Green's possible murder for two whole seasons, and frankly it was Downton's biggest misstep. Not only did this conflict feel completely manufactured and outrageously insensitive, but it transformed one of the series' most beloved couples into a pair of tedious characters who we dreaded seeing on-screen. By this season's finale, though, Bates' innocence has been all but proven, and things are looking good for Anna as well. All we want for the Bateses now is for them to, at long last, be a normal married couple and have that baby they deserve.
Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes Yes! While Anna and Bates were off being miserable, these two moved into the position of Downton's downstairs darlings. As was first hinted in the Season 4 finale when they held hands at the beach, their congenial but complex work relationship blossomed into a personal relationship this season when, under the guise of securing a retirement situation by purchasing a bed and breakfast that Mrs. Hughes couldn't afford, Mr. Carson then asked her to marry him. The proposal was as stuffy and unvarnished as one would expect from Carson, which made the moment even more perfect. We can't wait to see him struggle with being lovey-dovey while also maintaining the proper demeanor next year.
Lady Edith Poor Edith. Her first love died, she was jilted by her second beau, and finally the true love of her life and baby daddy was killed in a riot in Germany. Perhaps Edith is better off focusing on motherhood, which she seems to be embracing in a way that makes the old-guard nobility uncomfortable. But at least her parents, brother-in-law and Granny are now in on the secret that Marigold is her natural daughter, which will make raising the girl much easier going forward. In the finale, we finally got to see Edith smile, laugh and not wring her hands. What a delight! Although, after witnessing her easy camaraderie with the Brancaster Castle agent, we wonder how any would-be suitors would feel about Marigold. Maybe the best course for Downton to follow is to keep Edith single for now... and maybe just as aware of birth control as Mary is.
Lady Mary It really was quite tiresome how Mary yanked her two suitors around, but we always felt they were rather boring anyway, since they worshipped her too much and weren't a match for her like Matthew was. Enter the dashing Matthew Goode as Henry Talbot, who not only calls her out on scowling at him, but truly awakens her interest in him as a person, not just a boy toy. He's mature, he's sympathetic to her young widowhood (which the other two suitors never really acknowledged to our satisfaction) and he has admirable taste in cars. (And yes, we let out a bit of a squeal when he leaped into that driver's seat.) We haven't heard any word of Goode returning for Season 6 yet, but he's the first thing about Mary's story (besides her snazzy bob) that's we've been excited about in a while.
Tom Branson The former chauffeur stayed true to himself by not dating that horrible teacher, remaining loyal to the Crawleys and then leaving for America. There, we hope he'll finally make something of his progressive spirit, which always felt dampened at the abbey, and expose little Sybbie to a more forward-thinking way of life. Love doesn't seem to be in the cards for him at this point, and we're totally fine with that. Sybil was a hard act to follow, and Tom and her siblings' Christmas farewell to her memory in the finale was as heartbreaking as it was lovely. His move feels right, and we're hoping that he visits the Crawleys next year with opportunities to move their way of life into the next era.
Violet and Isobel For as horribly as Downton Abbey has been treating its younger couples, we're thrilled that its older characters are getting genuinely juicy plots that help us see them as people, not just punchline delivery vehicles. Granny turns out to have had a very close call with scandal in the past, almost having run away with the married Russian prince and abandoning her own family, which fleshes out why she's equally forgiving of her family's foibles and yet holds them to the highest possible standard. If she resisted passionate love for duty, and never regretted it, then why can't they? Cousin Isobel's courtship story line was bittersweet, but even if she never remarries, we're happy that in the end, her friendship with the Dowager Countess was solidified this year.
Thomas Barrow Of all the downstairs folk, Thomas is the one who brings out our best and worst. His struggles with his sexuality have been treated with wonderful compassion, which we appreciate despite the fact that it's probably not historically accurate, but we love him best when he's being bad. The finale gave him the opportunity to do what he does best: sabotage! (And with encouragement from Lady Mary, no less.) What made his revenge on Lord Sinderby and that insufferable snob Stowell even better was that it was also done in defense of the Crawleys, namely Tom Branson. Only Thomas is allowed to sneer at Branson! In the future, we'd love to see him stay with the Crawleys and possibly adopt some sort of pet or dote on a niece or nephew. Although we'd want love for him, it doesn't seem likely, but he has shown a really sweet, tender side when he's mentoring the new servants, and we'd like to see more of that. Perhaps Mr. Carson can groom him for more.
Daisy The former scullery maid-turned-assistant cook has enjoyed one of Downton's most believable and entertaining character evolutions so far, and this year, her commitment to her studies has opened up possibilities that even we hadn't imagined for her before. Like Branson and Gwen before her, we see Daisy escaping servitude and finding her own path toward financial independence. She will inherit Mr. Mason's farm, but we hope she makes that profitable without having to spend time there. Instead, we see her in London or some other big city, with her own shop or other small-business venture. Maybe that will push Alfred to finally see her as a romantic prospect? She did look quite fetching with her new, softer, face-framing hairstyle at Christmas.
What did you think of Season 5? Do you hope to see Downton Abbey continue for several more seasons, or are you OK with it ending after Season 6? Sound off in the comments!
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[WARNING: The following story contains spoilers from Sunday's episode of The Walking Dead. Read at your own risk.]
Rick Grimes might look like the clean-shaven man in uniform we met in The Walking Dead pilot by the end of Sunday's episode, but he most certainly is not the same guy.
Despite his hesitations in the previous episode, Sunday's Walking Dead begins with Rick (Andrew Lincoln) leading his ragtag group of survivors inside the walls of Alexandria. And it's clear from the very first moment that the people inside those gates are perhaps more afraid of our dirty, road-weary heroes than Rick initially was of them. (It probably doesn't help that within two minutes or arriving, Daryl (Norman Reedus) crossbows a possum and Sasha (Sonequa Martin-Green) blows the head off a walker with her rifle. "It's a good thing we're here," Rick quips.)
But just when it seems that Rick & Co. might be too hardened to join this idyllic community, Rick learns that's exactly why they were invited in. Or at least that what Deanna Munroe (Tovah Feldshuh), the former Ohio congresswoman who helped turn a solar-powered planned community into the Alexandria safe zone she now leads, would have Rick believe. "We need people who have lived out there," Deanna tells Rick, who can't believe this group has survived the entire zombie apocalypse in relatively comfy peace.
"You should keep your gates closed," Rick warns. "It's all about survival now, at any cost. People out there are always looking for an angle, looking to play on your weakness. They measure you by what they can take from you, by how they can use you to live." Although Rick clearly speaks from personal experience, Deanna seems to think that Rick's words of warning suggest he's already protecting his new community, and she has Aaron (Ross Marquand) show Rick to the two homes that've been set aside for Rick's group.
After a much-needed shower and shave, Rick meets another local: pantry worker (and former hair stylist) Jessie (Alexandra Breckenridge), who drops off some food and offers to help match Rick's hair to his newly shorn face. Jessie reveals that she has two sons who want to meet Carl (Chandler Riggs), and she urges Rick not to write the people of Alexandria off just yet. But, ever distrustful, Rick decides his group will all sleep in one house for the first night -- especially since Deanna made them all surrender their firearms.
And Rick has reason to remain distrustful. Although Deanna spends much of the next day meeting with the rest of the group and assigning them jobs, Rick sets out to explore. Not only does he encounter several walkers (Deanna said the area was evacuated and there are very few people, living or dead, that remain in the area), but he also discovers that the gun he hid in a blender before entering the gates is mysteriously missing. (Plus: During an overnight walk, Rick encounters Jessie's husband, who doesn't seem to be as outwardly friendly as his wife.)
But perhaps the biggest red flag is Deanna's son, Aiden. Because he had some ROTC training, he is the designated leader for supply runs. After recruiting Glenn (Steven Yeun), Tara (Alanna Masterson) and Noah (Tyler James Williams) to do a dry run, they discover that Aiden's crew recently lost four people during a walker attack. But Aiden has stupidly tied up the walker that was responsible, to remind the scavenger crews to keep their heads straight and follow Aiden's orders. Glenn clearly has no interest in that, especially when the group discovers that Aiden's prisoner has escaped. When the walker attacks, Aiden insists that the group keep him alive. But after Tara loses control of the walker, Glenn steps in with his knife and puts it down.
Once the group makes it back inside the gates, Aiden and Glenn engage in a war of words about Aiden's poor leadership. After Aiden tells his mother she should have never let Rick's group in, he takes a swing at Glenn, who puts Aiden on his backside with a quick jab to the nose. Deanna and Rick quickly break up the brouhaha, at which point Deanna tells Rick that she wants him and Michonne (Danai Gurira) to be Alexandria's new constables and tasks them with keeping the peace.
After Rick suits up in his cop uniform for his first night shift, Daryl and Carol (Melissa McBride) rehash their concerns to Rick about staying in Alexandria. "This place is gonna make us weak," Carol says, echoing something Carl had previously said to his father. But Rick disagrees. In fact, in the episode's chilling final moments, it becomes clear that Rick's early words of warning to Deanna may have been about him. Rick tells Carol that they are staying with or without Deanna's approval, and proves just how different he is from the noble lawman we knew in Season 1.
"That's not going to happen," Rick says. "We won't get weak. That's not in us anymore. We'll make it work. If they can't make it... then we'll just take this place."
What do you think of the people of Alexandria? Are they weak and stupid, or are they playing Rick? And what did you think of Carol's new outfit? Did she look sweet or, as Daryl suggested in the episode's funniest moment, "ridiculous"? Hit the comments below with your thoughts!
View original The Walking Dead: What's Up With the People in Alexandria? at TVGuide.com
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The next season of RuPaul's Drag Race is almost upon us, which means 14 new queens will soon be competing to be America's Next Drag Superstar. But not all queens enter Drag Race equally. In all of Drag Race herstory, 23 queens have risen above the rest to serve up the most memorable entrances of all time. (and yes, one lucky queen made this list twice).
So, in honor of the Season 7 premiere (Monday, 9/7 on Logo), let's celebrate the queens who always knew how to sissy that walk.
1. Latrice Royale: Large and in charge. Chunky, yet funky. Bold and beautiful, baby, since the very beginning!
2. So that's what Pandora Boxx was up to in between Season 2 and All Stars.
3. No back rolls here.
4. Raja, serving up Cyclops Truffula tree realness.
5. The shade of it all!
6. Took the words right out of our mouth.
7. At least Willam licked the makeup box and didn't throw up on it.
8. Mystique, we barely knew ye. But we'll be forever in your debt for this gem.
9. Talk about Charisma, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent.
10. It seems Milk must have run right from the bathroom. (Must be all that dairy.)
11. If you forgot who Mimi Imfurst is, we don't blame you.
12. Adore Delano struggled not only to be fashionable on the show, but also with being fashionably late.
13. Note to future queens: If you do arrive early, make sure you have a good one-liner ready.
14. Still showing off her curves 'n' swerves.
15. If All Stars was The Hunger Games, Chad Michaels was Katniss, because Bitch was always on fire.
16. Worst. Present. Ever.
17. Our first preview of Kenya Michaels' Beyonce impression.
18. This was like watching a train wreck. A matching, tacky, pleather-clad train wreck.
19. Sharon Needles, you don't belong at Party City. You belong on top.
20. Referencing Janet Jackson is always a win in our book.
21. Shannel definitely knew how to get people talking, for better or for worse.
22. Long live Ornacious.
23. Bianca said it best: "Laganja Estranja, next time you death drop, reverse that and drop dead."
24. Season 7 hasn't even premiered yet, but Tempest DuJour, shantay you stay!
RuPaul's Drag Race premieres Monday at 9/8c on Logo.
View original Werk! The 24 Best RuPaul's Drag Race Entrances of All Time at TVGuide.com