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Downton Abbey Recap Series 4 Episode 8

As usual, these recaps contain spoilers. Read at your own risk if you haven’t watched the episode.

Upstairs

The Team Blake Vs. Team Gillingham discussion continues. I didn’t like Gillingham at first. He seemed too much like a puppy dog. Hanging around Mary, waiting for her emotional scraps while dangling an off screen pseudo fiance, then an off screen fiance and finally an off screen ex-fiance, all in hopes of gaining her affection.

Then there is Charles Blake. The anti-aristocrat government worker who seemed more interested in taking down the great estates of the aristocracy than studying them. His story with Mary has rom-com quality, a Benedict and Beatrice , hate then love story. We thought we knew everything about him, until oops, Gillingham let it slip that poor Mr. Blake, is actually rich Mr. Blake, the heir to a distant cousin’s title and fortune.

Unfortunately, we must wait for series 5, but if these pictures are any indication, Mary’s new man and George’ stepfather maybe Lord Gillingham. However, I wouldn’t mind if Julian Fellows would decide to let Mary be single for a while. I get it, its a period drama, romance is par for the course.  But let’s consider that the time in between the first episode of the series and the last is only about a year a half, which means Matthew died just about 2 years after the final episode of this series. It’s not like Mary has nothing to do with herself. She has her son and the estate the take care of. Maybe letting her be single wouldn’t hurt Mary as a character or us an audience.

Edith had her baby and left her with the adoptive parents in Switzerland.  However, the adoption was never formalized and Edith is feeling guilty. After listening to her aunt for 8 months, Edith decides to make a decision for herself about her child. Inviting the pig farmer, Mr. Drewe to Downton she tells him of a “friend” (we all have those friends) who got involved with a man who her family did not approve of and had a child with this man. Now the child needs a home, Mr Drewe agrees to keep her secret.  The thing that baffles me about this story line is that while Rosamund knew about Edith’s pregnancy and Violet was quick to discover her secret, Edith’s own parents are still wearing rose colored glasses. How does a parent, especially a mother who had four pregnancies and three children that lived to adulthood not know or figure out that one of their daughters is pregnant?

Tom is spending more time with Miss Bunting. While the family is in London, he invites her to dine with him at the abbey and she corrals him to show her the view from the gallery.  It seems that Tom and Mary are on the same emotional track. They will never forget their spouses (nor should they), but neither seem completely ready to get involved in another relationship.

Lord Merton has become a rather ambitious suitor for Isobel. Personally, I think it’s good. We don’t know how long she has been widowed, but she deserves some happiness.

The big story line of the upstairs was two fold: Rose’s introduction to society, her dance with the prince and return of the Levinsons. We met Martha (Shirley Maclaine) last year, but we finally met Cora’s errand brother Harold (Paul Giamatti), still reeling from the Teapot Dome Scandal.  Rose’s time in London includes going to a night club with her friend Madeleine Allsopp, whose father, Lord Aysgarth  is dining with the Prince Of Wales and his mistress.  Back at Crawley house, Rosamund brings her “friend”, Mr. Sampson to the house who insists on going with the girls to the night club and steals a very intimate letter between the prince and his mistress.  Thus begins the Scooby Doo hour on Downton Abbey, where upstairs and downstairs collaborate to find the letter before it falls into the wrong hands and embarrasses the royal family.

Actually, the prince didn’t need the letter to embarrass himself and his family. In a few years, he will abdicate the throne to marry an American divorcee, Wallis Simpson.

The only thing I found odd about Rose’s story line is that Mr. Ross was not mentioned at all. I know it’s eight months, but still. That struck me as odd.

While Lord Aysgarth proves himself to be a gold digger by proposing to Martha, who turns him down, his daughter might have more luck with Harold. He is at times very American, direct and a little rude. But he admits that he likes Madeleine and she in turns appears to like him.

Downstairs

Is it me, or was Anna and Bates not in this episode as much as they were in previous episodes? Their story line was that Anna gave Mrs. Hughes a jacket that her husband was not using to be donated to the Russian refugees. Inside the jacket is a ticket to London for the day that Mr. Green was killed, evidence that might prove Mr. Bates’s guilt. Mrs. Hughes consults Mary and in the end, Mary throws the ticket into the fire, which is wise, considering it was Bates who forged the letter that allowed Mary, Charles and Rose into Mr. Sampson’s apartment.

It seemed odd to me that after 7 episodes, Thomas is jealous that the former chauffeur that is Tom Branson is now part of the family and must be treated with respect.

Daisy has an admirer in Mr. Slade, Harold’s valet, in both the romantic  sense and the culinary sense. So much so, that his employers gives his approval to invite Daisy to New York to work as his cook. Daisy turns the offer down, but Ivy takes it.

Whatever secret Baxter has, she has come to terms with it. Thomas keeps badgering her, but she is determined to move. She and Mosleley seem to be getting somewhere, which is sweet.

After all of the work the staff put in the for Rose’s coming out,  Cora instructions Mr. Carson to give them a day off. After a series of ideas that is met with rejection, Mrs. Hughes suggests a beach day. The final shot of the series is Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson holding hands, wading in the water. I’m sure the Elise and Charles shippers were dancing in the streets.

Analysis

The letter story line seemed a bit silly and the ending seemed like a non ending, especially considering the way series 2 and series 3 ended. But overall, I am satisfied with this series.

Dowager Moment/Quote Of The Week

Martha Levinson: I have no wish to be a great lady.
Countess Violet: A decision that must be reinforced every time you look in the glass.

On a personal note, I want to thank everyone who read my recaps. This is the first series that I’ve done this and while some recaps were better than others, I thank you for taking some time of out of your day to read them. See you next year.

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Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 6 Recap

*-As usual, these recaps contain spoilers. Read at your own risk if you haven’t seen Episode 6.

Upstairs

Can we talk about Mary and Charles Blake in the mud and then eating scrambled eggs, which she made?  That was a rom-com setup if I ever saw one, especially with the pig man conveniently not around when he is needed.  A part of me says that any man that Evelyn Napier, who tepidly attempted to tell Mary that he is attracted to her,  brings to Downton and attracts Mary’s attention should come with a warning sign.  However, Charles Blake is smart, attractive and realistic and he has a Benedict and Beatrice relationship with her.  And of course just as we think that Mary and Charles Blake might be going somewhere, Anthony Gillingham returns and dodges the question about his off screen fiance. Did we honestly think that Julian Fellows would let us off that easily?

Robert has to go to America to bail out Cora’s brother. We all know why Hugh Bonneville wasn’t seen for the rest of the episode. He is in Monuments Men, which I hope to see very soon.

Do you remember that childhood rhyme about the kissing couple? Rose and Jack, sitting in a boat, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes an explanation about why her parents have biracial grandchild.   She also does the walk of shame and evades Rosamund’s questions about why she really in London. Wasn’t there a little movie called Titanic about a doomed couple called Jack and Rose on a boat? I don’t think this will end well.

I like the changes in both Edith and Rosamund’s characters. Rosamund, who previously was Downton’s resident Yenta, promised Edith her complete support, even if it meant a scandal.

Edith, over the past four seasons has grown from an angry, hurting and vindictive young woman to a mature woman who must make some real life altering decisions. The kudos goes to both Laura Carmichael and Julian Fellows, as both performer and writer to show the audience how this character has grown.  The decision on whether or not to abort her pregnancy just broke my heart.

Some have used the story line as a platform for their pro-life views.  The way I see it, Julian Fellows did not use Edith’s decision as a platform to share his opinion on abortion as either pro-life or pro-choice.  I don’t think a recap of a television show is the right place to share one view’s on this topic.  However, I will say that the decision she made was the  one she thought was best for her, her future and the fetus that will become her child.

That being said, let’s go down a to a lighter topic.  Isobel plays Florence Nightingale to  Violet, who does not want to show her son that she is sick. Forced to go to the political event alone, Tom briefly meets a young woman who might become the next Mrs. Tom Branson?

Downstairs

Bates does not want to go America with Lord Grantham, still worried about his emotionally fragile wife.  Mary convinces her father to bring Thomas instead. While in America, Thomas gives Baxter the task of reporting back to him the reason that he and not Bates was to go to America.

Alfred returns for a visit and Daisy and Ivy are back to the same old argument. Am I the only one who is tired of this?

With the return of Lord Gillingham, comes his valet. While the rest of the downstairs, is laughing, Mrs. Hughes and Bates are both sending death stares toward Mr. Green.  Elsie “Mama Bear” Hughes is back,  not afraid to face Anna’s rapist.

Analysis

Julian Fellows continues to surprise us.  Not only with the decision for Edith to keep the pregnancy going, but also for the scene between Mary and Charles Blake in the pig pen. We haven’t seen that kind of smile from Mary since last series, before Matthew died.  We’re coming to the end of the series, I have a feeling that Julian Fellows has a few more tricks up his sleeve.

Dowager Moment/ Line Of The Week

“Goody, goody.” Violet, playing a game of Gin Rummy with Violet after spending the last few days in bed. Tempered, but still Violet.

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Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 5 Recap

*-Recap contains spoilers. Read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.

Upstairs

Edith is pregnant. That’s right, she’s got a bun in the oven, going to join her sisters in the state of motherhood. And Michael is still conveniently still missing.  I’m not one to point fingers, but wasn’t it Edith who used the s-word against her sister in the first series after the Pamuk incident?

Speaking of Mary, Evelyn Napier has brought his boss, Charles Blake  (Julian Ovenden) to Downton. Their relationship can only be defined as Beatrice and Benedict like. Anyone well versed in the rules of rom-coms can predict where this is going. Lord Gillingham who?

Isobel and Violet are back to their Odd Couple ways (Do I smell a spinoff?) In an effort to prove that young Mr. Pegg did not steal from the Dowager, Isobel goes to her house and pretending to be tired, does a little sleuthing (Another sequel, perhaps, Isobel Crawley, Mistress Sleuth). She finds what was conveniently was thought to be stolen.

The surprise for Robert’s birthday is to bring Jack Ross and his band. Not surprisingly, Rose was found with Jack after dinner making out in the servants dining hall.  Sybil’s relationship with Tom has nothing on Rose’s teenage rebellion and her relationship with Jack.

There was the inevitable awwww moment when George and Sybbie were brought into the nursery after the discussion between Mary, Isobel and Tom about their lost loves.  It was a simple, sweet scene that Julian does not often put in, but is appreciated when it is part of the show.

Robert has to go America to rescue Cora’s brother Harold from a scandal.  Welcome to America.

Downstairs

Carson looked as if he might burst, not only when Jack enters the servant’s dining, but when Jack has the gall to sit in his chair at the head of the table.  He tried to be polite, but you knew he wasn’t happy.

Anna and John go to a nice restaurant for dinner, but the hoity toity matrei’d denies them a table, despite making a reservation.  That is until Cora conveniently puts her two cents and they get a table.

Jimmy has become Mr. Willoughby, or Gaston, whichever floats your boat. Either way, he went from merely cocky to a jerk. Good for Ivy, standing up for herself.

One of the candidates who made it in the training program in London dropped out, so Alfred is off the London. Daisy rages while Molesley finally does something sensible and accepts the footman position.

And finally,  Baxter or O’Brien 2.5, despite receiving a warning from Cora that her conversation with Mary about Anna does not leave that room, goes to Thomas with the details of the conversation.

Analysis 

Edith’s pregnancy was not the big shocker that I thought it would be.  It wasn’t that hard to predict.   Charles Blake seems to be another Matthew in the early moments with Mary. Is Julian Fellows setting a pattern of Mary’s romantic partners?

Did anyone else notice the not too subtle wink wink nudge nudge to Elizabeth McGovern’s  professional past? The line about Ragtime music towards the end of the episode. Back in the day, she played Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime.

Dowager Moment/Line Of The Week

Isobel: How you hate to be wrong.
Countess Violet: I wouldn’t know. I’m not familiar with the sensation.

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Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 4 Recap

This recap contains spoilers from Sunday night’s episode. Read at your own risk if you haven’t watched it yet.

Upstairs

Michael Gregson has disappeared and Edith makes a mysterious visit to a London doctor.  A foreshadowing of what’s to come with her for the rest of the series, perhaps? I can’t help but remember a warning that Matthew gave to Rose last series about married men are unhappily married (or married to a lunatic) who seek younger, vulnerable women for a little something-something on the side.

Mary seems to be over whatever she was feeling for Lord Gillingham.  But, I’m not so sure, considering when her mother and sister walked into the library, they didn’t see her dry her eyes. His off screen pseudo fiance has become his off screen fiance.  Evelyn Napier is back (You remember him, the guy who introduced Mary to Kemal Pamuk, who died in Mary’s bed in series 1). He is working for the government to assess the status of the aristocratic homes in the area. Cora invites Mr. Napier and his boss to stay at Downton instead of staying at a hotel.  I have a feeling Mary will not be without male companionship for long.

Isobel convinces Violet to hire a undergardiner to work in the house. Violet suspects that he might have stolen a letter opener.

Rose and Cora are trying to secretly plan a birthday party for Robert. Tom still feels out of place and talks about leaving England for his American cousins, Mary convinces him to stay.  Both story lines felt like filler to me.

Robert actually does something smart business wise, for once. He helps a financially floundering tenant who is on the verge of loosing his family farm, while not putting the financial security of his family and his heritage on the line.

Downstairs

Anna’s rape is no longer a secret, at least between her and Mrs. Hughes. Believing that his wife no longer loves him, John “The Hulk” Bates figuratively twists Mrs. Hughes’s arm to find out what has happened to Anna. The threat is simple, that he will quit at that moment, never to set foot in Downton again. On that she relents , but he continues to twist her arm and find out who raped Anna, forcing her to swear on the memory of her late mother. Mrs. Hughes lies and says it was an intruder.

After speaking to Mrs. Hughes, John goes to his wife and tells her that he loves her. Perfect aww moment. Then he asks who raped her. Again, it’s an unknown intruder, not Mr. Green as he suspects.  I could literally see the vein pop in his neck when Mr. Green is mentioned.  Mr. Green should have a sign above him should he ever re-enter Downton “Dead Man Walking”.

Cora wants to purchase new refrigerators to replace the ice box. Mrs. Patmore is still a technofobe.

We have a brand new ladies maid. Baxter, or OBrien 2.0. Thomas seems to know something about her. Let’s see how long this one lasts.

Mr. Molesley is given the opportunity to temporarily take over as footman for Alfred while he is away.  The offer is turned down, but when Alfred returns, Mr. Molesley conveniently asks about the position. I’m convinced he is the downstairs Edith.

And finally while smug, full of it Jimmy is bragging and just talking about his dreams, Alfred is actually working for it. He doesn’t get into the trainee program at the fancy London Hotel, but Carson’s consoles him. I love Carson, under that traditional, conservative exterior is a soft heart.

Analysis

I think Julian Fellows is building up to something big. I don’t know what it is, but it’s going to be big. My favorite scene was with the babies. So cute.

Dowager Quote/Moment Of The Week

“I wonder your halo doesn’t grow heavy. It must be like wearing a tiara around the clock”.

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Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 3 Recap

As usual, this recap contains spoilers. Read at your own risk if you haven’t seen last night’s episode.

Upstairs

Tony Gillingham  (Tom Cullen) proposes to Mary. My initial reaction was that he is moving waaay too fast. Logically, he would be a good choice for her. He is handsome, titled, in love with her and they knew each other from when they were kids.  But she turns him down, using Matthew as her reason. Lord Gillingham also has an off screen pseudo-fiance. At the end of the episode, Mary tells her father and Tom that she may come to regret it. That may be true, but I have been spoiled enough to know that there will be another man vying for her affections in a future episode.

Edith and Tom do the walk of shame (cue the Pink song). While Edith disregards her aunt’s advice, Tom is kicking himself for letting Edna get him drunk and seducing him.

I feel bad for Tom, I can honestly understand why he is feeling lonely. He has married into this family, whose lifestyle is far different from the way he was raised. His wife is dead, he is a single parent and trying to navigate the social rules of his new lifestyle.

Dr. Clarkson is opening an outpatient clinic and bring Isobel into help. If this is his way to changing her status from widow to wife, he is persistent.

While visiting Rosamund in London, Rose insists that they all go to a nightclub, where she has a meet-cute with Jack Ross (Gary Carr), a black  musician. Mr. Ross comes in at the perfect time, rescuing Rose from her drunk and upchucking date. Of course Mary, Tony and Rosamund are horrified of this simple act of dancing together. And of course Tom to send to bring her back to the table My spoiling of this series also tells me that this is not the last we will see of Jack Ross. What else is a rebellious young lady from an aristocratic family to do than to start a relationship with a black musician?

Edith is clearly her father’s child. Michael Gregson asks her to sign a document taking over his affairs while he obtains his German citizenship. Of course she doesn’t read it before signing. Lack of business acumen seems to a family trait.

I just love that Rosamund brought up Sir Anthony while trying to convince Edith to end her relationship with Michael Gregson. Bringing up the ex-fiance who publicly embarrassed her by ending the relationship at the alter is really a good argument.

Downstairs

Anna is still raw from her ordeal. Everyone notices the change in her, even daft Robert, but only Mrs. Hughes knows and is still keeping her secret. John is trying to figure out what is going on with his wife, but she is pulling away from him, insisting on returning to the house instead of living with her husband in their cottage. Out of love for husband, she doesn’t tell him, afraid that he will go after Mr. Green and go to jail again.

We’ve become so accustomed to not just violence, but sexually  related violence that normally this type of story line would be just another story line.   For Julian Fellows to choose Anna represents so much more. The shame, the anger, the fear is universal. Joanne Froggatt is an incredible performer and deserves any Emmy, Golden Globe, SAG Award , etc for this past two episodes alone.

Raise your hand if you loved Mrs. Hughes during this episode. Elsie “Mama Bear” Hughes has a good heart and is a good person, but the claws come up when someone tries to hurt someone she cares about. Evil Edna was stupid enough to leave a book around telling her how to have sex without getting pregnant. Clearly Edna’s plan to seduce Tom, fake a pregnancy and force him to marry her was doomed to fail.

My favorite scene was the one between Thomas and Edna in the stairwell. Call it Bitchfest 1922. Thomas wins this round with his job intact while Edna is once more out a job.

Alfred sees an opportunity to train as a chef in London and leave the career doldrums of being a footman behind.

The Ivy/Jimmy/Daisy/Alfred love quandrangle is boring. Unless Fellows pulls something out of his hat, it will become my least favorite story line this series.

Analysis

My favorite character this episode was Mrs. Hughes. She is compassionate when she knows Anna’s secret and when she gives Carson a framed picture of his former sweetheart. She is instantly in charge and ferocious when she confronts Edna with her failed plan to force Tom to marry her.

Dowager Moment/Line Of The Week

“Another brick falls from the wall”.

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Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 2 Recap

As usual, this recap contains spoilers.  If you have not seen the episode, read at your own risk.

Upstairs

Edith brings Michael to meet her parents and hopes to receive approval on their relationship. Robert’s lack of money and business acumen comes into play once again when he nearly loses the estate in a card game and Michael has to bail him out.

Half listening to Carson, Robert agrees that Dame Nellie Melba (Kiri Te Kanawa), who is coming to perform should dine with the servants.  Cora rightly calls him out on his error.

Robert is a nice guy, but for the rest of his life, to keep his wife and family happy he should do two things.  Every time Cora makes a suggestion, the only words he should say in response is “yes, dear”.  Any money or estate matters should be filtered by Mary and Tom, otherwise there might be nothing left for George and Sybee.

Anthony Gillingham (Tom Cullen), a childhood playmate of the Mary and Edith has come to visit and seems to be the one who might finally pull Mary out of her grief.

Isobel is still grieving for Matthew. While she doesn’t want Mary grieving for the rest of her life, Isobel is unable to move past the death of her son. My favorite performance of the entire episode was Penelope Wilton’s performance.  While the press and praise often go to Michelle Dockery or Maggie Smith, Ms. Wilton deserves the same press and praise.  If I could have walked through the screen to hug Isobel, I would have.

Tom is feeling out of place and foolish, trying to socialize with his in law’s friends.

Downstairs

I don’t want to talk about Mr. Green raping Anna, but it’s unavoidable.  Of all of the female characters, Julian Fellows chose this fate for Anna. If he was looking for a way to shake up the marital happiness of Anna and John Bates, there are other story lines. Unless he is looking to make a statement.

Mrs. Patmore has an anxiety attack and is forced to relinquish control of her kitchen.

Evil Edna is determined to lay her claws in Tom, even if it means seduction.

Analysis

The series is moving along and as happens in everyone’s life, things happen.  I am looking forward to next week’s episode.

Dowager Moment/Quote Of The Week

“If I were to search for logic, I would not look for it in the English upper class.”

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Downton Abbey Recap- Series 4, Episode 1

I’ve decided to write recaps of the previous night’s Downton Abbey episode.  These posts contain spoilers, read at your risk if you haven’t seen the episodes.

Upstairs

The main plot point of this episode is mourning, especially for Mary and Isobel. It’s been six months since Matthew’s death and both are clinging to their grief.  Robert thinks the best way to help Mary is to wrap her in emotional bubble wrap, while Tom is eager for Mary to join him in the running of the estate.  Violet’s goal is to help Isobel return to her life, using Isobel’s causes as the method to bring her out grief.

While Mary and Isobel are lost in their grief, Edith and Rose are living it up. Edith is still with Michael Gregson, commuting between Downton and London. He proposes that they marry, but he must find another country that will allow him a divorce.  Rose is a typical teenager, complete with a bedroom strewn with magazines, music playing and a penchant for wanting a good time. She begs Anna to come with her to a local tea dance. Upon entering the establishment, Rose hides that she is a niece of the house to blend in with the rest of the working class patrons.

Downstairs

The kitchen has received a blender. Daisy and Ivy are thrilled, Mrs. Patmore is scared that her job maybe in jeopardy.

The love quadrangle of Jimmy/Ivy/Alfred/Daisy continues.

O’Brien has left for another job during the middle of the night, leaving Cora  without a ladies maid. Evil Edna, who was fired during the series 3 finale takes the position and starts trouble.

Thomas starts trouble (but what else is new)?

Caron’s former acting partner is in the workhouse. He wants nothing to do with him, but Mrs. Hughes and Isobel step in help.

Mr. Molesley is out of a job after Matthew’s death and hard pressed to find work.

Analysis

The wait was worth it.  It was an incredible season opener.  Julian Fellows has hit it over the park again.

Michelle Dockery deserves an Emmy,  A Golden Globe,  some sort of award for last night’s episode.  If this is Mary’s story arc and we only saw the first episode, the rest of the series will be incredible.

Kudos to the costume department. Laura Carmichael’s beaded dress is absolutely stunning. What a transformation from the dowdy, forgotten middle sister to a woman who is choosing  her own destiny and not afraid to show it.

Dowager Moment/Quote Of The Week

Violet: You must choose life or death?

Mary: You think I should choose life?

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