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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. 3 recap

Anna

After last week’s shocking episode, we Downtonites spent this week wondering what would become of Anna, and what would become of the show as a whole.  Fortunately, this week’s Downton Abbey seemed to be back on track, in that the “What the what?” moments were more in keeping with the usual tone of the show.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 3 ahead!

This episode picks up the morning after Anna’s horrible attack.  She’s unwilling to let Bates touch her, the reason for which we later learn from her conversation with Mrs. Hughes.  Anna feels she is “soiled” and is somehow to blame for what happened to her.  As a result, she asks Mrs. Hughes if she can have a room upstairs again, leaving a bewildered Mr. Bates wondering what he did wrong to make Anna go from doting wife to icy stranger in the course of one night.  Oh, Anna.  We know you don’t want Mr. Bates to hang, but perhaps you really should take Mrs. Hughes’s advice and honor the “honesty is the best policy” rule.  I still feel confident that Bates is going to find out eventually.  Why make him suffer in the meantime?  I don’t know if I like where this storyline is going, and while I can understand some of Anna’s motivations, it seems like the focus should be more on the fact that she’s been horribly violated (and thus have issues with telling her husband), rather than her being worried Bates’s temper will get out of control and he’ll end up in jail.

Anna and Mrs. Hughes

Anna and Bates aren’t the only ones dealing with the aftermath of episode 2.  Edna confronts Tom and tells him that he’d better marry her if she winds up pregnant.  Poor Tom!  He spends the majority of the episode preoccupied with the fact that one terrible mistake could ruin the rest of  his life.  Fortunately, he takes Mary’s advice and speaks to Mrs. Hughes about it, who quickly figures out Edna’s game.  She finds a copy of Marie Stopes’s Married Love among Edna’s things, and knows that Edna is aware of how to prevent pregnancy.  So if she couldn’t get Tom to agree, she would have been in the clear.  But if he did, she could find a way to get herself pregnant and then force Tom to marry her, thus raising her social standing.  Thanks to Mrs. Hughes’s excellent detective work, Edna is sent on her way, and I truly hope it’s the last we see of her.

Hughes, Tom, Edna

Elsewhere downstairs, the love polygon took an interesting turn (which didn’t take much, given how boring it had become).  Alfred finds Ivy and Jimmy canoodling in the boot room (thanks to Daisy advising him to search for Ivy there).  After it dawns on him that he will never have a chance with Ivy, Alfred decides to enter a competition for a chance to study cooking at the Ritz.  Daisy’s upset because her meddling means that Alfred might be leaving.  Personally, I’d like to see Daisy enter that competition herself.  Let her and Alfred go head to head in a cook off!  See, much more interesting than Alfred giving sad puppy dog eyes to Ivy, Ivy giving longing glances at Jimmy, and Daisy shooting daggers from her eyes at Ivy while she mixes something to a pulp.

Alfred and Daisy

Alfred studying for the competition after seeing Ivy and Jimmy together

Things were slightly more cheery upstairs (with the exception of Tom).  Lord Gillingham (aka “Tony”) has fallen for Lady Mary.  Hard.  He shows up at Aunt Rosamund’s for dinner while Mary is in London, then goes out dancing with her at the Lotus Club.  Mary didn’t seem to have any qualms about dancing this time around, though she tells Tony that she won’t be ready to marry for years.  Her body language betrays the words coming out of her mouth, however, as it’s obvious she’s happy when she’s around Tony.  Tony follows Mary and company back to Downton the next day (by slumming it in third class so the rest of the party doesn’t know he’s on board), and promptly asks Mary to marry him (my main “what the what?” moment of the night).  As Mary aptly points out, they’ve only known each other as adults for a few days.  How could he know that he’s sure?  Tony replies by telling Mary she fills his brain (which sounded very odd), to which Mary appears clearly flattered.  However, in the end she rejects his proposal, and Tony accepts that he must move forward with his plan to marry Mabel Lane Fox, but not before he kisses Mary (another “what the what?” moment), who minutes before had said that Matthew still “filled her brain” and she wanted to keep it that way for now.  One has to hand it to Tony, he is quite persistent (almost borderline stalker-ish).  He leaves an even more confused Mary, who wonders if she hasn’t perhaps made a mistake in turning him down.

Mary and Tony

The other Crawley sister is having relationship issues of her own.  Edith visits Michael Gregson, who is only one week away from his departure to Germany.  He asks her to sign some sort of “authority” contract before he goes, which Edith signs WITHOUT READING.  Oh, Edith–you just learned that your boyfriend (who is still married, by the way) is a bit of a card sharp, who knows what else he might have up his sleeve?  She then proceeds to give in to temptation, and stays the night with Gregson, returning to Aunt Rosamund’s early the next morning, shoes in hand as she tiptoes up the staircase.  But a maid sees her and informs Rosamund, who admonishes her niece for engaging in such reckless behavior.  Edith says she’s not a bit sorry, and besides, Gregson’s going to marry her.  Rosamund reminds her how well that whole marriage thing worked out before (ouch), and says that while she may not be sorry now, she may feel quite differently later on.  I’m just waiting to find out what that document was Edith signed, and how it will impact her in future episodes.

Edith, neglecting to read the fine print.

Edith, neglecting to read the fine print.

And then there’s Rose.  Rose, who still can’t work her way into my caring much about her.  But then, I had the same issue with Ethel in season 2, and in season 3 she won me over.  Anyway.  Rose suggests she and the rest of Aunt Rosamund’s dinner party attend the Lotus Club for a little fun.  While dancing with the (very drunk) young suitor she met at the house party, she is left adrift on the dance floor when her dance partner can’t hold his liquor.  She’s “rescued” by another new character, the black American band leader Jack Ross.  Rose sees it as rescued, at least–the rest of the family can’t wipe the shocked expressions off their face.  As Rosamund later explains, times may be changing, but they haven’t changed that much.  This likely won’t keep Rose away, however, and I doubt we’ve seen the last of Jack Ross.

Rose and Ross

Love and relationships seemed to be the overarching theme of this week’s episode.  It was nice to see one of those Mrs. Hughes & Carson chats, and we learn just how much courtship has changed, as Carson looks at the framed photo of his dear Alice and reflects on the changing times.  “You were lucky to walk her to the end of the street in those days.”  If Carson had seen Edith sneaking upstairs early in the morning, Mary passionately kissing a man she’s only known a few days (in her adult life), and Rose dancing with an African American band leader, I can only imagine what he’d have to say.

Looks like the episode set up a lot of plot points that will be carried out through the rest of the series, and I’m looking forward to seeing where they go.  What did you think of this week’s episode?

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Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 6 recap

Matthew and Branson

Last night’s episode of Downton Abbey was the best of the season in my opinion.  We’re talking season 1 caliber here.  I genuinely enjoyed every single story line as they reached their conclusions (and the new ones introduced too).  My only complaint?  It was just a lot to process.  I know we’re used to having fast-paced plots thrown at us  by Mr. Fellowes, but I hardly had time to swoon over a Mary and Matthew scene before I was in the middle of O’Brien’s scheming and worrying over Thomas’s fate.  There was a lot of ground covered with this episode being two hours, so I am going to hit the main highlights.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 6 ahead!

Anna and Bates

Anna and Bates–together again

Bates is free!  Here I was thinking that surely something else would happen to drag out the jail scenes longer, but I was pleasantly surprised to find him sprung at the very beginning of the episode.  And it wasn’t until he arrived back at the house that I realized how much I had missed his character.  And he and Anna had some really adorable scenes as they set up house together.  Anna just can’t stop smiling now that her Mr. Bates is home again.  I don’t blame her–I was smiling too, glad to not have to watch Bates walk in circles around a depressingly gray courtyard anymore.  I mean, now we get to see him in a Panama hat keeping score at a cricket match!

Bates

But of course, Bates’s return means Thomas’s employment is in jeopardy.  And soon that’s not the only reason why.  Thomas finally falls for O’Brien’s multi-episode laid trap.  At first I wondered why on earth Thomas would believe anything that came out of O’Brien’s mouth, having been her partner in crime for so long.  How could he fall for it?  But, as Thomas tells Carson, he had hope, and that hope apparently blinded him.  Before the incident with Jimmy, he and Thomas are alone in the servants’ hall, and Thomas says to Jimmy: “We both like to look so sure of ourselves, but we aren’t so sure underneath now, are we?”  Such a telling statement about his character.  Hard on the outside, but underneath there’s a vulnerability that is closely guarded.  And for good reason too.  Because Thomas’s homosexuality was considered a crime in 1920, and he therefore cannot be who he truly is.  I found the subject well handled, wonderfully acted by Rob James-Collier, and it really added a layer of depth to the villainous Thomas.  The scene in which he is lurking in the shadows near Bates and Anna’s house was also very nicely done, when Thomas tells Bates he envies him his happiness.  Bates suggests that he be nicer to people, and Thomas replies that being nice is what got him into trouble.  Something tells me Thomas’s shell has been further hardened by his incident with Jimmy.

Thomas and Jimmy

But Thomas’s humiliation isn’t enough to satisfy O’Brien.  She pushes Jimmy to not only make sure Thomas is fired, but is sent away with no reference, which would basically destroy his future job prospects.  After his false accusation and prison sentence, Bates cannot stand by and let another man’s life be ruined by circumstances beyond his control.  So he invites O’Brien over to tea, and whispers something Thomas has told him in her ear, which quickly changes her tune.

"Her ladyship's soap."

“Her ladyship’s soap.”

Poor Bates–he does something nice for someone who always treated him so cruelly, and how is he repaid?  Thomas is made under butler (I didn’t even know there was such a thing!), which means he will now be in charge of Bates.  All because Lord Grantham wants to keep Thomas around because he’s a good cricket player and wants him to play in the big match.  Glad you’ve got your priorities straight, Robert.

Sybils christening

But I suppose Robert feels like he has to win somewhere in his life.  His granddaughter has been christened into the Catholic church.  Edith is going to work for a newspaper (more on that later).  And while he may be back in his wife’s good graces, even she won’t side with him when it comes to the future running of the estate.  Matthew’s certain that his business model to make Downton self-sufficient is the only way to ensure its survival.  And everyone agrees–except for Robert and his steward Jarvis.  The latter promptly turns in his resignation, which is probably for the best for the estate to move forward.  Plus, it provided an awfully convenient vacancy for Tom to fill!  And thus the Matthew-Tom bromance continues.  I love their relationship and the way Matthew (and Mary too, for that matter) has made Tom feel welcome in the family.

Branson

Tom is the one who brings Robert around to Matthew’s idea at last.  He explains that between his knowledge of the land, Matthew’s business sense, and Robert’s desire to do right by the farmers and employees on the estate, the three of them might be able to give Downton a future.  Well said, Tom!  Of course, it now means he has to play cricket to satisfy Robert, but still…wow, Robert really is obsessed with this cricket match, isn’t he?

Mary and Matthew

“Convince me again.”

Can I just say how nice it is to see some scenes with Matthew and Mary being loved up newlyweds again?  Mary has softened quite a bit, and whereas at the beginning of the season she seemed determined to stand by her father, she at last gives Matthew her full support, which seems to bolster her husband and their relationship.  Matthew continues to be concerned his war wound has caused fertility issues, but as it turns out Mary was the one with the problem, and after an unexplained operation (and a slightly embarrassing run-in at the doctor), she tells Matthew that all is well and they can now begin to start a family.

Matthew and Mary

Time to start making little princes.

Edith and Michael

Edith finally stretches her wings and becomes a columnist for a newspaper.  Which gave us an excellent excuse to see some very nice costumes–Edith wore quite a few nice ones while in London visiting her editor, Michael Gregson.

Edith

One of my favorites–love the hat!

Her editor admires her appearance, but Edith isn’t rushing in this time around.  She does a little investigating and finds out he’s married.  She confronts him, he admits that he is married, but his wife is in an insane asylum.  Poor Edith.  Let’s take a look at her track record, shall we?  Crush #1 was engaged to her older sister and died in the Titanic disaster.  Crush #2 was a much older man intended for her older sister, but who would have married her if said older sister had not meddled.  Crush #3 was a MARRIED farmer.  Crush #4 was a badly wounded soldier claiming to be Crush #1, who eventually disappeared without a trace.  Then there was Crush #2 revisited, who jilted her at the altar.  And now we have Crush #5, a married man whose wife is insane and who he can therefore never divorce.  Can someone please give this girl a break?  Please?

Rose

Rose at the Blue Dragon

This week we were introduced to Shrimpie’s daughter, the grand-niece of Lady Violet, Rose.  Here’s a girl who has no qualms about dating a married man.  I think perhaps my favorite scene of the episode is when Matthew, Edith, and Aunt Rosamund go to the Blue Dragon club and find their flapper relative cavorting with a married man.  It pulled us away from the rigid morals and tradition of Downton Abbey for just a moment, and boy do the three of them look out of place.

Entering the Blue Dragon

And apparently, since we haven’t seen Matthew dance all season, we got a little bonus by having him give Rose a stern talking to while on the dance floor.  Great scene, and one of the best of the night in my opinion.

Matthew and Rose

“Married men who wish to seduce young women always have horrid wives.”

And while Matthew promises Rose they won’t say anything to Cousin Violet about what happened, you can’t get much by that lady.  She uses her stealthy dowager insight to find out about Rose’s tart-like ways and sends her packing for Scotland.

The boys

The episode concludes with the cricket match, which was fun to watch (even if I had no idea what was going on).  It almost had the same feel as the season 1 finale garden party (the part before the announcement that World War I had begun).  Robert wards off the police for Thomas after finding out that Alfred has called them (I guess nastiness just runs in the family).  Tom asks Cora if he and the baby might live at Downton for a while, which of course delights Cora.  Mary and Matthew are as happy as they were during that snowy proposal at the end of season 2.  And Robert has at last given in and fully supports Matthew’s vision for the future of Downton.

Matthew and Mary

“I didn’t think it was possible to love as much as I love you.” ~Matthew

Now, I will be honest.  With all of this happiness in all of the plot wrap ups, I would almost (dare I say it?) be pleased if the entire show ended here.  Maybe it’s just me, but everything was resolved so well, and the episode was so nicely done, that I almost feel like continuing will spoil it.  But maybe Mr. Fellowes will prove me wrong and the next episode will be even better than this one.  It’s going to be a hard one to follow, though.

What did you think about this week’s episode?  Did you think it was as good as I did?  Do you think it would have made a good end to the show, or can you never get enough Downton Abbey?

Missed an episode?  Catch up with my episode 1, episode 2, episode 3, episode 4, and episode 5 recaps.

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