DOWNTON ABBEY Recap: “Season Four, Episode Seven”

     February 16, 2014


It was simultaneously a sincere and ridiculous time on Downton Abbey this week, but the show can never be accused of being boring.  Downton is always entertaining, and even when plots falter or fizzle out, the show crams enough in that something ends up being worthwhile.  Downton juggled everything this week, and set up plenty for the season finale.  Hit the jump for why a group noun for suitors is known, to some, as a “desire.”

downton-abbey-series-4-cast-photoThere was a lot of coming and going on Downton, from secret journeys to compasses that always seem to point to the Crawley estate instead of the location of one’s fiancee (looking at you, Lord Gillingham).  Ultimately though, the love stories took center stage (some rather suddenly), with mixed results.  Let’s rate their success in terms of one to five pigs (poor to great), in honor of last week’s legitimately cute mud-slinging scene between Mary and Mr. Blake.

Ivy and Alfred and Daisy: 4 pigs

This sad love triangle ended in the best way possible: with no one getting together.  Ivy, the least developed character on the show, flirted with Alfred in the wake of her disappointment with Jimmy, and his desperation caused him to propose via a letter.  Luckily for him, Ivy turned him down, also via the post, before things got too out of hand.  But the real winner was Daisy, who did not allow herself to be Alfred’s Plan B, but made amends with him (and really herself), closing that chapter of her life.  (Shouldn’t Daisy really have patched things up with Ivy?  They still have to see each other).  And that scene between Daisy and Ms. Patmore at the end was lovely.

Isobel and Mr. Merton: 3 pigs

Downton tried to throw Isobel and Clarkson together suddenly and without buildup before, and it petered out extremely quickly.  In its tradition of recycling plots, the show has done the same thing with the out-of-nowhere Mr. Merton.  Apparently at Downton, a friendly conversation can lead to a marriage proposal before you can say “maybe we can meet again a second time before the nuptials?”  Isobel, just like before, seems blind to men overtly flirting with her, so for now things have stalled out.  On the other hand, her getting married would give her something to do.  It’s not a bad idea, it just happened far too quickly.

Mary and Everybody: 4 pigs

Everybody Loves Mary, we get it.  We love her, too!  But is it very interesting if every man falls at her feet, and she just rebuffs them over and over again?  Gillingham, in particular, shows up way too much.  He’s handsome, but just like Evelyn Napier, he’s not enough of a challenge for Mary.  She clearly prefers Blake, even though I believe her when she says she’s not over Matthew’s death.  It’s funny that people are still considering Evelyn a suitor for her, when he’s clearly in a distant third place.  None of them seem quite right, and hopefully she’ll continue to hold off.

downton-abbey-season-4-episode-7Molesley and Baxter: 5 pigs / mud party

Despite this coming out of absolutely nowhere (even though single people at Downton always end up circling around each other at least a little), it was very sweet to see these two hard-luck cases come to each other’s aid in a sincere manner.  Molesley sticking up for Baxter with Thomas was a nice little moment, as was Baxter encouraging Molesley a number of times, even calling him lucky (d’aww).

Jack Ross and Rose: 1 pig

Poor Jack Ross, he’s a nice, handsome guy caught up with a spoiled girl trying to shock her mother.  That much has been clear for awhile, and Mary going to London to talk him out of a wedding all made perfect sense.  The idea of a wedding itself though, and the fact that Jack backtracked so quickly and without much emotion, made zero sense.  Why propose if he knew it wasn’t going anywhere?  Why tell his mother about her for that same reason?  Also, that Rose’s fate was decided by Mary and Jack, and it’s doubtful she learned anything from it.  Why didn’t the show capitalize on this “teachable moment” for her and actually allow her character to mature a bit?

Edith and French: n/a

Pauvre Edith.  C’est triste.  Her idea to give her baby to the farmer didn’t make a lick of sense, but you have to appreciate her desperation.  If only stupid Gregson hadn’t gotten himself disappeared/murdered, this all could easily be solved (or at least, a little better than lacking his input totally).  Speaking of which, Gregson’s disappearance has been a genuinely interesting mystery that the show has managed to keep under wraps for more than two episodes, so it had better be good when we get the story.  The situation has at least provided some nice screen time with Rosamund and Edith plotting and bonding, as well as Violet’s All Seeing Eye finding, per usual, very little to be shocked about.

downton-abbey-season-4-episode-7-maggie-smithBranson and Sarah Bunting: 0 pigs

Sarah Bunting is far too much like Edna — a pushy woman who hates the aristocracy.  Been here, done that, seen her on her way.  Again, on Downton Abbey, a conversation where someone likes one thing that you do, or “gets” one thing that you like, can lead to marriage.  Sarah might be more interesting if she wasn’t another rehash of Edna, hating on the life Branson now lives.  Couldn’t Branson meet another liberated socialite?  Or at the very least, a kind village girl who isn’t trying to make Branson regret his newly posh life?

Thomas and “Modernity”: 4 pigs

We’ll never know for sure, but I bet it was good.

Anna and Bates: 2 pigs

The show left just enough doubt for us to consider that perhaps Bates didn’t kill Green, but it seems unlikely.  The idea that we could go through another jailhouse season with Bates, or even the police sniffing around again, is the worst news ever for this show.  Further, now Anna knows (or suspects) that Bates really is a killer.  She’d better stay away from the pies!

Cora and Robert: 5 pigs / the OG mud party

downton-abbey-season-4-jim-carter-carsonThese two haven’t had any relationship problems this season, so their constant adoration for each other can sometimes be taken for granted.  Their elation at seeing one another again after Robert’s absence was genuinely sweet, though, and a look at what could have been with Matthew and Mary … alas …

Episode Rating: B

Musings and Miscellanea:

— I want to cry from love every time I see Mary’s outfits.  Although, the entire upstairs cast has looked fabulous this year.

— Isn’t it always convenient how secretly pregnant women never show?  Those dresses are billowy yes, but they would still cling to a bulge, however small.

— “I don’t believe in types, I believe in people” – Branson.

— “Like a sloth underwater” – Patmore to Ivy.

— Who is your favorite suitor of Lady Mary’s?  I love Evelyn Napier.  Such an underdog!  I like Gillingham, but he’s too desperate.  Blake is interesting, but kind of a Brason-esque character.  Those two should have ended up better friends.

— “What’s the group noun for suitors?” “A desire?”

— “I find that both irritating and beguiling in equal measure” – Mary.