With only two episodes to go, last night’s Downton Abbey had some fairly predictable plot developments, and one not-so predictable moment that made me wonder briefly if we had fallen into some sort of parallel Downton universe.
Warning: Spoilers below!
This episode opens with Robert leaving on the next boat to America. Apparently Cora’s brother is in big trouble, and needs his aristocratic brother-in-law to add a bit of clout to his tarnished name. While Robert expects Bates to travel with him, Mrs. Hughes intervenes and enlists the help of Mary to get him to take Thomas instead, thus allowing Bates to stay by Anna’s side. Mary bullies Mrs. Hughes into telling her what’s going on with Anna, though she doesn’t tell anyone else. Anna’s relieved Mary now knows and they can be honest with each other once more, though Anna says that in the same breath that she tells Mary they don’t know who the attacker was.
Mary’s list of suitors grows as apparently she’s unable to turn off the charm, even when covered in mud and pig filth. In the course of a few months Mary’s gotten three men to fall in love with her (well, I suppose Evelyn Napier’s carried a torch for her for a while now, but still). Charles Blake goes from finding her uppity and aloof to irresistible thanks to some bonding over pigs. Yes, the much-talked about pigs arrive at Downton at last, only to knock over their water troughs and start to perish from dehydration. Charles and Mary take a stroll out to visit them after dinner (as one does), and Charles immediately jumps into action and grabs some buckets, and to his surprise, so does Mary. Afterwards they bond over a good old fashioned mud fight and then Mary shocks us all further by gasp! scrambling an egg for herself and Mr. Blake. So, let me get this straight. Mary’s youngest sister, the rebel who married the chauffeur, didn’t know how to boil water, but Mary somehow picked up how to cook an egg? It doesn’t really matter though, because this sequence with Mary and Charles was by far one of my favorite Downton scenes ever, and the chemistry between the two actors has me excited to see where things go from here.
Evelyn informs Mary that he now has more competition thanks to the pig incident, to which Mary, when alone, releases a sigh. Not a swoony sigh, but a “can’t you guys see I’m still not ready to move on?” sigh. And then there’s that delightfully awkward moment when Lord Gillingham arrives, doing nothing to hide his continued feelings for Mary, and all three love interests are in the room at the same time. Turns out Lord Gillingham and Mr. Blake served together during the war. Sounds like they’re about to fight another battle, and this time they won’t be on the same side.
Also surprising was an interesting turn in Branson’s love life. Isobel convinces him to get back into politics and buys tickets to hear a political speaker. But when Violet falls ill and Isobel volunteers to nurse her (in some pretty hysterical scenes between Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton), Branson must go solo to the meeting. There he sits next to an as-of-yet unnamed woman, and they seem to hit it off pretty well. Here’s hoping we’ll see more of her.
The rest of the episode’s plots were fairly predictable. Rose tags along with Edith to London, where she meets up with Jack Ross for a rowboat ride. Jack has reservations about their romance, but Rose reminds him they should live in the now. And thus Rose continues to get on my nerves. Not to mention the hissy fit she throws when they have to leave London early, thus spoiling her plans (even if she didn’t know the reason why, still annoying).
Edith is in London for a much more sobering reason. With Gregson still missing, and not wanting to be cast out for having a child out of wedlock, she feels the only way out is to have an abortion. She finally confesses what’s happened to Aunt Rosamund, who is surprisingly supportive through the whole thing. Edith is heartbroken, as she loves Gregson and knows she would love their baby, but believes there is no alternative. However, when they arrive at the doctor’s “office” and Edith hears a woman crying, she rethinks her decision. Now that she’s not going to terminate her pregnancy, we’re left to wonder if she plans to keep the baby once it’s born, and if Edith will step up her search for the father. And what her family will say (I can already sense a good eyebrow arching from Mary now).
Downstairs, Mrs. Patmore, Mrs. Hughes, and Mr. Carson go out of their way to prevent Alfred from visiting the house and stirring up more trouble between Ivy and Daisy. I don’t blame them, and only wish they had succeeded. Instead we got to see Alfred show up, causing Ivy to light up with happiness and Daisy to scowl at Ivy’s new-found appreciation for the man she loves. Daisy, I know you can’t hear me through the TV when I’m yelling at you (even if I do keep trying), but please, please move on. Remember how William loved you and you loved him too, but not in that way? This is the same thing, just in reverse. For the sanity of Mrs. Patmore, move on.
In a darker (though no less predictable) turn, when Lord Gillingham arrives, so does his valet. He jokes and carries on with the staff, but no one can mistake the troubled look on Anna’s face when she sees him. Mrs. Hughes corners him in the boot room and tells him he better “stick to the shadows” for his life’s sake. But for whatever reason (contrived plot purposes, I suppose), Mr. Green can’t do that, and says in front of the entire staff how he couldn’t stand Lady Melba’s singing and had escaped downstairs during her performance. Baxter, who has been skulking around the entire episode gathering information for Thomas while he’s away, immediately picks up on this. But so does Bates, and the scene cuts away with him giving Green an icy stare, his fork shaking in his hand.
There’s just two episodes left in season 4. Any predictions of what might be around the corner? And what did you think of last night’s episode?