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Downton Abbey Season 4: ep. 5 recap

Great hall

This week’s Downton Abbey centered around Robert’s “surprise” birthday party, and the arrival of yet another new character this season, Charles Blake.  The love polygon downstairs took an interesting turn, and Isobel and Violet quarreled over missing knick-knacks.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 5 ahead!

Upstairs, the family is abuzz over the impending arrival of pigs, something I never thought we’d hear on Downton.  But Robert’s decided to get on board with Tom and Mary’s idea to work the land, and Tamworth pigs seem to be their latest idea.

Mary & Blake

Mary is also excited by the news that Evelyn Napier has accepted her invitation to stay at Downton, along with his friend Charles Blake.  Her hope that they will advise them on how to best manage Downton soon fades when, upon their arrival, Charles Blake explains that they aren’t there to help the landowners, but rather to figure out how best to use the land that is being sold off.  The two take an immediate disliking to each other, as Blake feels Mary is an entitled snob, and Mary feels Blake is an enemy who doesn’t care about families like hers.  I liked the dynamic between the two of them, and hope we get to see some fun sparring, which to me is when Mary is at her best.

Rose

“What’s everyone looking like that for?”

Meanwhile, Rose plans the big surprise for Robert’s birthday–and no surprise to us, it’s Jack Ross and his band.  We all knew Rose would find a way to see the charming crooner again.  Ross’s arrival sends shock waves rippling through both upstairs and down.  Not only is their a jazz player in their midst, but a black jazz player.  Mary receives the biggest surprise of the night, finding her cousin Rose doing some serious making out with Ross downstairs in a dark room.  Lest we forget, one of our first encounters with Rose last season was when she went to visit a married “friend” in London, where she stayed in his home for a few hours before heading out to a jazz club.  Looks like Downton hasn’t tamed her as much as her mother had hoped.

Mary, Rose, & Ross

Tom still contemplates the idea of going to America.  While he admits to Isobel that he’s come to love the Crawleys, he doubts another aristocrat is going to fall in love with him, and he’s not so sure the Crawleys would welcome a middle class Irish woman into the family.  As they dance to jazz in the Great Hall, Isobel points out that Downton Abbey, and the Crawleys, have the ability to change with the times, and perhaps he shouldn’t buy that ticket to America just yet.  I’ve enjoyed watching the developing relationship between those two, and it feels like Isobel has taken Tom in as a sort of surrogate son.

Uh oh, Edith

Uh oh, Edith

Elsewhere, Aunt Rosamund’s prediction for Edith looks like it’s coming true.  With Michael Gregson still nowhere to be found, Edith receives a note from the doctor informing her that her symptoms do indeed match those of a first trimester of pregnancy.  And there goes the possibility for an exciting storyline in which Edith becomes a career woman.  Instead we just get little snippets of Edith becoming increasingly worried about the whereabouts of Gregson–now with very good reason since she’s carrying his child.  She’s yet to confide in anyone about the latter, though both her parents finally seem concerned enough to talk to her about what’s going on (I laughed out loud when Cora told Edith her “mother’s instinct” led her to believe something was wrong.  It’s not like Edith was putting on a brave face and hiding her anguish!).

Edith

Downstairs, Alfred receives the exciting news that he has been offered a place in the cooking course at the Ritz after another student dropped out.  Daisy’s heart immediately crumbles, and as expected, she blames Ivy.  Ivy’s got issues of her own, though, since apparently trips to the pub and the movies equal hanky panky privileges to Jimmy.  When he tells her she owes it to him, Ivy realizes what a stand-up guy Alfred was, further angering Daisy.  After she cuts into her, a clueless Ivy asks Mrs. Hughes what that was about, to which Mrs. Hughes responds “Oh, I’d say it’s about the fact you had it coming.”  Mrs. Hughes has seriously gotten some of the best lines this season.

Anna & Bates

Then there’s Anna and Bates, who are still struggling to move on from Anna’s assault.  But “everything is shadowed” for the couple because of it, and while they decide going out to dinner and trying not to think about it for one night might do the trick, they still end up talking about it anyway.  Bates feels like he should have protected her, Anna wants him to stop looking at her as a victim.  And then who should show up to interrupt them but Lady Cora!  She just happens to be at the same “frightful hotel” for an orphanage committee meeting dinner.  But it’s a good thing she is, since the uppity maitre d’ had no wish to seat Mr. and Mrs. Bates at first, until he found out they were acquaintances of Lady Grantham.  At the end of the meal, she butts into their conversation and offers them a ride home (complete with the same creepy smile she had plastered on her face every time she spoke to them).  By butting into said conversation, she overhears that Anna’s been hurt somehow and Bates feels he should have protected her.  She relays the information to Lady Mary, while Baxter is in the room.

Baxter

And Baxter, who is being puppeteered by Thomas for still-unexplained reasons, reports the news, though she’s reluctant to do so.  She likes Lady Cora, but Thomas tells her she needs to decide where her loyalties are: with him, or with her ladyship.

Next week it looks like the rumblings about Uncle Harold and some oil scandal is going to blow up and become a bigger issue.  If he’s looking to Robert for financial advice, he must really be in it deep.

Now it’s your turn!  What did you think of this week’s episode?  And which “Mary suitor” do you like better, Lord Gillingham or Charles Blake?  Is it just me, or does it seem like Fellowes has essentially taken Matthew’s personality (from season 1) and split it in half, giving Lord Gillingham the kind-hearted, sympathetic-to-Mary part, and Charles Blake the “I don’t like rich people and their ways” part?

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Downton Abbey Season 4, ep. 4 recap

Anna

Well, they might as well have called last night’s episode “The Anna & Bates Show” since that plot line garnered most of the attention.  I’m on the fence about the developments made there, but more on that later.  First, the recap!

Warning: Major spoilers below!

The focus of this episode was with the downstairs staff, so upstairs, things were pretty tame.  Mary learns of Tony Gillingham’s engagement to Mabel Lane Fox.  She puts on a brave face in front of the family, but it’s clear she’s upset she missed the boat (did anyone else notice her wiping under her eyes while she was writing to congratulate him?).  Perhaps the arrival of Evelyn Napier (remember him from season 1?  He’s the fellow who brought the infamous Mr. Pamuk into the house) will cheer her up.  It certainly seems to, given Mary’s warm greeting.  Is it just me, or does Mary seem a lot more smiley this season?  Napier’s working for the government, conducting a study on the large estates and whether or not they are viable in the post-war economy.  Mary spear-heads a campaign to get him, as well as his yet-unmet boss, to stay at Downton while they’re in the area.

Mary with Evelyn Napier

Mary with Evelyn Napier

Elsewhere, Robert helps a tenant (Mr. Drew) keep his land on the estate (which has been farmed by the Drew family since the Napoleonic wars) by loaning him money to pay off his late father’s debts.  Robert does this behind Mary and Tom’s back, and I thought surely this would backfire somehow, given Robert’s history with money.  But instead it reminds Mary of what a kind-hearted softie her Papa can be.  And it reminds Tom of his socialist roots, as he supports the idea that the farmer should not be thrown off his land.  Tom continues on his quest to figure out where he belongs, and mentions the idea of taking Sybbie to America for a fresh start, since he feels like he’s in limbo at Downton.  One of my favorite upstairs scenes was seeing Mary and Tom with their children in the nursery (and to be reminded that they do indeed have kids!), and just seeing their friendship in general.  Mary’s come to depend on Tom, and she’s the one that speaks up when he mentions the idea of leaving, saying she doesn’t want to lose him.

Mary and Tom

There’s some hushed talk about doing something for Robert’s birthday, and Mary is the one who proposes a party (a small one, mind you).  Well, look who has fully re-entered the land of the living.  Rose gets excited about this and goes into party-planning mode.  And that’s basically all we see of her this episode (which I’m perfectly okay with).

Edith is also barely seen this episode, except to give a few worried looks toward the camera, and to make a trip to London and sort some things out at Gregson’s office, which actually turns out to be a visit to a doctor.  Hmm, wonder what that might be about?  Oh, Edith.  And oh, Julian Fellowes.  If this is going where I think it is, you are sending a fantastic message: Want to fight against the current and make your own path separate from your aristocratic family?  Yeah, you’ll pay for that.

Edith

Downstairs, there’s a new member of staff to get to know.  Lady Cora’s lady’s maid, Baxter, who is weaseling her way into her ladyship’s good graces thanks to coaching from Thomas.  His purposes are entirely self-serving, as he wants to know what’s going on upstairs at all times, and needs a new ally now that O’Brien is gone.  I like this Baxter character, and the whole Thomas/Baxter partnership thing, and I only wish they could have brought her in from the start, rather than irritating Edna.

Baxter winning over Cora's affections with orange juice.

Baxter winning over Cora’s affection with orange juice.

Meanwhile, Daisy helps Alfred prepare for his Ritz hotel cooking test.  She’s a jumble of emotions, happy to spend time with Alfred, but sad that the work they’re doing means he might be leaving.  Fortunately for Daisy, and not so fortunately for Alfred, he does not pass the test, which means he’ll stick around Downton, for now at least.

Daisy and Alfred

Mrs. Patmore continues to wage war against the modern mechanization of her kitchen.  Lady Cora wants a refrigerator installed to replace the old ice box, which sends Mrs. Patmore into a tizzy.  When Lady Cora asks her if there isn’t some aspect of the present day she would accept without resistance, Mrs. Patmore does admit she wouldn’t mind getting rid of her corset.

But of course the main storyline downstairs this week was the drama between Anna and Bates.  After Anna keeps avoiding Bates and refuses to tell him what happened, he goes into Bates-stealth-mode.  He eaves drops on a conversation between Anna and Mrs. Hughes, in which it’s revealed that Anna’s not pregnant (huge sigh of relief), but she’s still unwilling to tell Bates what happened for fear of his own safety.  Bates then meets with Mrs. Hughes, telling her he’ll resign if she doesn’t tell him what happened.  This seemed border-line bullying to me, but it did the trick, and Mrs. Hughes spills the beans, but does not name the attacker.  Bates is no fool, and guesses right away that it must have been Lord Gillingham’s valet, Green.  For Anna’s sake, Mrs. Hughes swears on her mother’s grave that it was not.  Bates then goes and finds his wife in the boot room, and tells her he knows, and that he suspects it was Green.  And if it was him, “he’s a dead man.”  Anna assures him it was not, and that the person who attacked her is untraceable.  Anna sobs with relief as Bates tells her how he loves her even more and has in fact put her on an even higher pedestal after what she’s been through.  All seems rosy in the Bates’s garden once more, with Anna telling Mrs. Hughes she plans to move back in to the cottage with her husband.

Bates and Anna

Mrs. Hughes approaches Bates and tells him how glad she is that the whole horrible nightmare can be put behind them.  Bates keeps a pleasant smile on his face as he informs her that nothing is over and done with, despite what Anna says.  And a revenge-fueled Bates limps off down the hallway as the screen fades to black.

Bates

I’m not sure how I feel about this turn of events.  Did I see it coming?  Of course.  But it bothers me that the horrible assault on Anna did not turn into a strengthening of her character from within, but rather an opportunity for Bates to show his inner-dark side once again.  But, at the same time, that last scene sent a little chill up my spine and had me wondering how this was going to play out.

What did you think of the turn of events in this episode?

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