Let's face it: one of the big reasons why Downton Abbey is a hit on both sides of the Atlantic is that it's an above-average example of comfort food TV. That's not meant to be disparaging, by the way. It's a challenge to make a series that, week in and week out, engages, toys with and then satisfies the audiences' emotions without talking down to them; hats off to series creator Julian Fellowes for regularly finding ways to upset the oversized apple cart that is Downton Abbey, while also concocting believable means of turning it right-side up again. That said, we came away from last night's two-hour installment (which aired as the Season 2 finale in England -- the PBS run will officially conclude next week with the Christmas episode) wishing that Fellowes had taken a few more creative risks. Sure, you can't exactly describe the episode's ending as happy -- what with Lavinia pushing up the daisies after her brush with Spanish flu and Bates arrested for the death of Mrs. Bates -- but there were other roads not taken that would potentially have shaken up the status quo in really interesting ways. Here are the five plotlines we would have sent in a different direction.
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