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Downton Abbey Season 4: season finale recap

debutante presentation

Well (spoiler alert!) at least nobody died in this year’s finale of Downton Abbey.  Set around 8 months after last week’s episode, the Crawley family head over to London to occupy Grantham House for Cousin Rose’s debutante presentation and celebratory ball.  Some threads of the season were tied up, while others were left dangling to no doubt be continued in season 5.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 8 (season finale) below!

Harold and Madeleine

Everyone’s coming to London for Lady Rose’s big day.  Even Cora’s mother and brother Harold (played by the fantastic Paul Giamatti) have crossed the great pond to make an appearance.  It was nice to see the culture clash play out between Cora’s family and the stuffy British society she’s assimilated into.  Harold and Mrs. Levinson even get courted while they’re in town, by the gold-digging Lord Aysgarth and his daughter, Madeleine Allsopp.

Edith and Rosamund

Edith has made her return from Switzerland, having left her baby daughter behind.  She has misgivings about this, especially after she learns a little more news about Michael Gregson.  Apparently he was in a fight with some brown shirted toughs who were saying awful things Gregson did not agree with.  Thinking he might be dead, and being his power of attorney (so I guess there really wasn’t anything underhanded about that document Gregson had her sign), she may be set to inherit Gregson’s money.  But Edith feels half that money belongs to his daughter.  Aunt Rosamund keeps bullying Edith into leaving thoughts of the baby behind.  But Edith is growing tired of being pushed around by her family’s expectations.  After a talk with Tom at Rose’s ball, in which Tom tells her that they must stick up for themselves, Edith informs her mother that she must go to the continent for a short time.  It was great to see Edith finally showing some gumption, and I loved the look she gave her aunt.  Edith immediately returns home, where she meets with Mr. Drewe (the loyal tenant/pig farmer).  He promises that he and his wife will take Edith’s baby in, and he will keep Edith’s secret.

Edith takes a stand (at last!)

Edith takes a stand (at last!)

Tom and Sarah Bunting

Tom’s remarks to Edith might have something to do with a certain interaction with Miss Bunting.  Before coming to London, Tom runs into her on the street and invites her to dinner.  Miss Bunting them promptly invites herself back to Downton to see the great house.  Tom is very uncomfortable bringing a single lady back to the house (as he should be, after all his run-ins with Edna Braithwaite!), and wouldn’t you know, as soon as they get upstairs to peer down at the great hall, who should appear from the shadows but Thomas!  Thomas, who suddenly has it out for Tom, since he’s suddenly decided to become jealous of Tom’s rise from chauffeur to family member (seriously, why is that happening now?  Thomas got bored with Baxter and landed on a new target?).  While Tom assures him that it was all completely innocent, that does not stop Thomas from informing Lord Grantham when they arrive in London.  This one was left hanging, so I assume Tom’s search for self-identity will continue next season.

Mary and Gillingham

Mary with Tony, finally ready to move on.

Meanwhile both Charles Blake and Tony Gillingham are in town, and spend their time vying for Mary’s affections.  Mary finally concedes to Tony that while a year ago she thought she’d never get over Matthew, she now feels there is a future for her.  To help level the playing field, Gillingham, being the honorable man that he is, tells Mary that Charles Blake is much wealthier than he lets on.  He stands to inherit from Sir Severus Blake, and will become even richer than Gillingham.  So Mary’s concerns that she and Charles would never see eye-to-eye on things is removed.  She basically gives both Gillingham and Blake permission to begin pursuing her.  Or, as she says at the end to Charles, “Let battle commence.”  Which I suppose we will see play out in season 5.  Now I really want to see a duel on the front lawn of Downton.  Make it happen, Fellowes!

Mary and Charles

Mary giving Charles permission to court her.

"Now, Cousin Robert, don't get angry, but I may have accidentally started a royal scandal."

“Now, Cousin Robert, don’t get angry, but I may have accidentally started a royal scandal.”

The central plot of this particular episode was Rose’s tipsy-ness almost causing the monarchy to crumble under the weight of scandal.  Seriously.  After making friends with the Prince of Wales’s mistress, Freda Dudley Ward, Rose lets it slip to card sharp Sampson (who makes a reappearance thanks to Aunt Rosamund) that Freda has a scandalous letter in her bag when they meet him at the Embassy club.  Then she promptly leaves said bags, asking Sampson to watch them.  Good call, Rose.  He promptly pockets the love letter from the Prince of Wales, and imminent royal scandal is upon us.  Rose confesses what happened to Robert, who comes up with a scheme to try to get the letter back that is way too convoluted to try to lay out here.  Let’s just say that through said scheme we learn an awful lot about Bates.  We already knew he was an excellent forger (remember him forging Molesley’s signature in ep. 1?), but now we can add crafty pick-pocket to that list, as Bates fishes the letter out of Sampson’s jacket as he slips it on him.  And perhaps most importantly, we learn that in Bates’s opinion, the safest place for something you don’t want to lose is to be on your person at all times.

Scandalous letter recovered!

Scandalous letter recovered!

This information is important due to the continuation of the “Did Bates kill Anna’s attacker?” plot.  When Anna gives Mrs. Hughes a jacket of Mr. Bates’s for charity, Mrs. Hughes discovers a ticket to London in the pocket, dated from the day Mr. Green conveniently stepped out into the street and was hit by a bus.  Mrs. Hughes confides in Mary about it, who initially thinks he may need to be turned into the police.  But once Bates shows his loyalty to the family by using his evil powers for good, Mary decides that she too, should be loyal to Bates and Anna.  And thus the ticket is thrown in the fire (never mind the fact that Bates probably should have done that to begin with).


Mary destroying the evidence.

So, did Bates kill Green?  Given the silent, knowing looks he gave both Mrs. Hughes and Mary when they spoke vaguely about getting into trouble in London, I think we know the answer.  But it seems that all is well once again between Bates and Anna.  It’s almost as if the whole terrible thing never happened.  At the end of the episode we see them at the seaside, arm-in-arm, Anna buying Bates an ice cream cone to make up for giving Bates’s jacket to Mrs. Hughes without asking him first.

Anna and Bates

Elsewhere downstairs, Daisy is courted by Mr. Levinson’s valet, Ethan.  He tries to get her to come to America and cook for his boss so they can spend more time together, but in the end Daisy turns him down.  But Ivy, who’s been hovering nearby through the whole thing, jumps at the chance at a new start.  So maybe now that she’s out of the way, Alfred and Daisy might get together one of these days (Alfred, by the way, has been hired on at the Ritz, much to Daisy’s proud delight).  It was nice to see Daisy happy for once, as she tells Mrs. Patmore how wonderful it was to have a young man fancy her for a change.


Daisy gets a suitor!  And the sun is in her eyes!

Molesley continues to fight in Baxter’s corner.  Somehow his bumbling ways seem to have given Baxter strength, and she decides that, rather than telling Thomas all the info she’s picked up over the course of the stay in London, she will endure whatever scandalous information he reveals about her and her past (which we still don’t know yet).  Looks like another “to be continued” until season 5.

And perhaps in one of the most surprising moments–Carson and Mrs. Hughes (along with the rest of the downstairs staff) go to the seashore, and hold hands as they wade into the water.  As Mrs. Hughes says, “We’re getting on Mr. Carson, you and I.  We can afford to live a little.”

Carson and Hughes

So that’s a wrap for another season of Downton Abbey.  Season 5 has already begun filming, so it’s definitely back for another season, in which some of these loose ends will hopefully be tied up.

Overall, I found the season entertaining, but I wasn’t emotionally invested in any of the plots this year.  I think the season finale sums up the season as a whole: a whole lot of fluff without much substance.  I miss the Matthew/Mary back and forth.  I miss Sybil, for whom Rose will never be an adequate substitute.  I wish the main characters we’ve known since the beginning were given more substantial, meatier character arcs (I’m looking especially at poor Edith).  Mary seems to be the only one Fellowes is really writing for, and even her arc this season could have been so much stronger.  I would love to have seen just one scene where Mary sits with baby George and says something, anything, about his father.  Just one little scene.  I’m not asking Mary to go sobbing over Matthew’s grave, or to continue in her zombie-like trance.  And I know it’s a little out of character for Mary to show her emotions, but it’s not like her toddler son could go blabbing to everyone that Mum was being all soppy talking about Dad.  I think there’s more they could have done with her transformation, but Fellowes chose not to do it.  Instead, he introduced a parade of new characters to try and fill the void left by Matthew and Sybil.  And unfortunately for him, quantity does not equal quality in this case.

That being said: yes, I will watch season 5.  I just don’t think I’ll look forward to it with the same amount of excited anticipation as I have in past seasons.

What did you think of the season finale, and season 4 as a whole?


Filed under Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey Season 4: ep. 7 recap

Mary and Tony

Last night’s episode was one of the better of the season as plot lines that have been building started to play out, leaving enough in question to make me eager to see next week’s conclusion.

Warning: Major spoilers ahead!

Everyone upstairs and down are preparing for the church bazaar, which will be held on the grounds of Downton Abbey.  With Lord Grantham still in the states sorting out his brother-in-law’s involvement in the Teapot Dome Scandal, the planning falls to Cora, who finally has a use this season.

Mary and Lord Gillingham

Mary and Lord Gillingham

After the pig incident, Charles Blake and Mary have warmed up to each other.  So much so that Lord Gillingham makes a trip to Downton to check up on the two of them, telling Mary quite frankly that he doesn’t want to leave them alone together.  He also informs her that, after some soul searching in the Highlands, he’s decided to call off his engagement with Mabel Lane Fox, and that he still holds a torch for Mary (for reasons I still do not understand).  Charles Blake also announces his intentions to Mary, telling her he won’t give up without a fight.  Mary tells both men she’s not free, even though she wishes she were.  I have a hard time believing her, given that no mention of Matthew has been made for quite some time now, and Mary seems to very much enjoy the attention of both suitors.  I’m sure Mary’s resistance will eventually give way, and then maybe we’ll get to see a duel at Downton!  And I hope Charles Blake wins.

Mary and Charles Blake

Mary and Charles Blake

Love is in the air for Rose as well.  Well, love, or an entirely selfish need to express her hatred for her mother through her choice of husband.  “I want to watch Mummy’s face crumble when I tell her the news” isn’t exactly the best reason to say yes to a marriage proposal.  But it seems to be Rose’s.  Mary finds out about her secret affair with Jack Ross through Tom, who sees them together having tea.  Mary tries to impart some wisdom on Rose, who wants none of it, and becomes engaged anyway.  This spurs Mary into action, and after a visit with Jack Ross, she convinces him that Rose may love him a little bit, but he was more likely being used as a point to be proven.  Ross agrees, and bows out of the engagement.  And hopefully this boring, hackneyed sub-plot is at an end.

Tom catches Rose with Jack Ross

Tom catches Rose with Jack Ross

Much more interesting is the developing relationship between Tom and the town school teacher, Sarah Bunting.  They seem perfect for each other, have good chemistry, and Tom finally seems to be in a place where he’s ready to move on.  He’s actually able to laugh when he talks about his dear late Sybil and what a character she was.  Sarah’s got spunk, and I hope we see more of her.

Branson and Sarah

“Car trouble? What a perfect opener for me to tell you my whole chauffeur back story!”

Lady Violet shows us that one good turn deserves another.  Or perhaps she just wants Isobel out of her hair.  Either way, could she potentially be playing matchmaker, setting up Isobel with Mary’s godfather, Lord Merton?  Certainly seems possible.

And then there’s poor Edith.  Aunt Rosamund comes to Downton to help Edith make a decision on what to do next.  Edith’s idea is to have the baby and give it to one of the local farmers (Mr. Drew, from a previous episode), feeling he can be trusted with her secret (and she’ll still be able to see the baby).  But Aunt Rosamund isn’t so sure, and instead decides the best thing to do is to go abroad until Edith delivers the baby, and then adopt it out to “some childless couple.”  Cora is apparently so busy with the bazaar that she doesn’t see through the hastily constructed plan to visit Switzerland so Rosamund can learn French, but nothing gets by Lady Violet.  She’s been around the block a few times and knows why many unmarried young women go abroad at the spur of the moment.  Edith confesses all, and Lady Violet shows a bit of grandmotherly compassion, agreeing that this is the right decision for Edith, and even offers to pay her expenses, so Edith isn’t further in her aunt’s debt.  Whether Michael Gregson is still alive or has fallen off the face of the earth remains to be seen, but it looks like Edith will be booking passage to Switzerland pretty soon.

Edith and Violet

Downstairs the love square (which I guess we can call a triangle now that Jimmy’s out of the picture) finally, FINALLY came to an end.  Apparently Ivy’s warm greeting during his last visit was misinterpreted a touch, and Alfred writes her, asking her to marry him and move to London.  Ivy likes Alfred, but she’s young and isn’t sure what the world has to offer, so she declines.  Mrs. Patmore tries to keep the whole thing a secret from Daisy (can’t say I blame her given Daisy’s usual reaction regarding the Ivy/Alfred relationship), but she eventually finds out.  Daisy goes to visit Mr. Mason when Alfred comes to Downton in hopes of avoiding him.  But Mr. Mason, ever the wise man, tells her she should part with him as friends.  And in a very touching scene, Daisy does just that, making her the most mature person downstairs (for this episode, anyway).  Here’s hoping Daisy visits Mr. Mason more often.  Mrs. Patmore means well, but Mr. Mason seems a bit better at handling Daisy’s affairs.

Daisy visits Mr. Mason

Daisy visits Mr. Mason

An unexpected spark developed between Molesley and Baxter.  Somehow Molesley comes off much less pathetic when he’s around her, so this could be a good thing.  We still don’t know much about Baxter, though, only that perhaps she doesn’t come from the best family or the community she once lived in shunned her (based off her telling Molesley how lucky he is to live in a village where people respected him).  When Thomas returns from America, he asks Baxter if she has anything to tell, to which Baxter lies and says no.  She then walks off on Molesley’s arm.  But later we see her continuing to listen in on the conversations of the Crawley family (specifically in relation to the Anna & Bates issue).  I just hope the feelings she’s shown toward Molesley are genuine, because one “Edith” character is enough on this show!

Molesley and Baxter

And then there’s the Anna & Bates story line.  Anna finally reveals to Mary the name of her attacker when she learns that Lord Gillingham is staying at Downton.  Again.  Mary wants to go to the police but Anna tells her she mustn’t tell anyone.  Anna bears Green’s presence as best she can at dinner, during which Bates learns where Green will be staying in London.  When Bates finds out that Anna has to go to London (to accompany Mary while she sorts out the whole Ross/Rose debacle), he asks for the day off to visit York.  Why?  Oh, you know, “This and that.”  Sure, Bates.  Sure.  Maybe he just wanted to visit some old prison pals?

Mary can’t hold her promise to Anna for long, and informs her that she must tell Lord Gillingham to sack his valet, reassuring Anna that Bates won’t question why he shows up with a new valet next time he visits Downton.  Anna reluctantly agrees.  Mary meets Lord Gillingham for lunch while she’s in London and asks him to fire Green, though she can’t give a reason.  Since Lord Gillingham would stand on his head and quack like a duck if Mary asked him to, he agrees.  But then he arrives at the bazaar with the startling (well, to the characters, not really to us) news that Green is dead, pushed out into the street and run over by a bus.  Mary immediately goes to Anna about it, and while there were plenty of witnesses, and Bates has his York alibi (let’s hope he does, anyway), neither of them can help but notice that Bates looks happier than he has for weeks.

Bates and Anna

“No, really. I’m just smiling because I love a good bazaar.”

So, did Bates kill Green?  Or was it just a purely coincidental accident?  Anna tells Bates she hopes he hasn’t done anything foolish, anything that might jeopardize all they’ve built together. Bates’s answer:  “You know me.  When I do a thing, I like to have a very goo reason for doing it.”  Neither Anna nor the viewer seems to feel very relieved by this statement.

Next week’s finale features Rose’s coming out into society, and another visit from Cora’s mother, who looks like she’ll be bringing along Cora’s brother for us to meet for the first time.  Will Mary pick a suitor?  Will Edith ever find Michael?  And will we have yet another murder trial to attend (and if we do, how will we ever get through it without Matthew the solicitor there to explain it to us!)?

What were your thoughts on this week’s episode?


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Downton Abbey Season 4: ep. 6 recap


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.

Mary and Charles

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.

Rose and Ross

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 and Rosamund

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).

Ivy and Daisy

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?


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