DOWNTON ABBEY: “Episode 404”

Downton Abbey returns this week to examine “the morning after,” and spirals ever closer to the drain on this sinkhole of a season. But we must Keep Calm and Carry On. Into the void we go:

Are we living under a curse, doomed to lose our ladies’ maids at regular intervals?

–       Lord Grantham


Everyone is on guard at downstairs dinner, and even Barrow notices the swift glances and silences. Anna, not wanting to reveal her shame to Bates, remains cold and puts her nose down into her work. It’s a tired version of this tale, and further lazy writing that we’ve now come to expect in the fourth series. The more she pushes Bates away, the more obsessed he becomes, straining to find the reason behind Anna’s distance. But really, how could he not know? She recoils at the mere mention of Mr. Gillingham’s valet. She blames herself, and that alone is very true to life, but again, why this storyline? Why subject our characters, who’ve had to overcome war, separation, an ex-wife, and wrongful imprisonment, to these horrors? And how can this possibly end? (I know how it ends, and I’ll be frank. It sucks. It makes little sense. It negates three years of foundation for at least one character. Stay tuned, at your own risk. Or don’t and skip until next season…)

Lady Mary is off to see the taxman in London, and Rose jumps at the chance to come along. Poor Rosamund’s house is perpetually a hotel to the distant Crawley clan, though I enjoy a Samantha Bond look of disproval in any episode. Once in London, Rose pouts until Tom, Mary, Aunt Rosamund, Tony Gillingham, and some random guy go dancing. The young cousin Lady MacClare causes a stir when she is rescued from random dude’s drunk antics by Jack Ross, a charming, and very black, bandleader. Scandal! In case you’re wondering, this was the sole reason for Lily James’s Rose to become a series regular, to add a spice of youth into the mix. Are you excited, yet?


After the London trip, Tony returns to Downton to propose to Mary. Dude, her husband died six months ago. When she refuses him, playa demands she kiss him. Have some class! It’s all tears and forced loves on this show, so get used to it. Lord Gillingham is just one of the many men thrown Mary’s way, and ours for that matter, in episodes to come. The only poignant thing to come out of all of this is actually how Isobel reacts to seeing Lady Mary move on. Cora and Lord Grantham can’t wait for the dirt to settle on Matthew’s stone before they marry their eldest off again, and they try their best to keep saddy-pants McGee eating on a tray in her own study. God forbid she expect her daughter-in-law to mourn for more than a few months!

Oh, Edna and Tom. The erstwhile ladies’ maid plots to get pregnant and move upstairs, climbing the ladder in quite a more sinister way than the former Branson did. Poor thing ends up losing her job, however, when Tom begs for Mrs. Hughes help. Don’t go toe-to-toe with Hughes, Kitten, it’ll only end in tears. Turns out, this was Edna’s plan all along, and this terrible soapy premise walks out the door the next morning, to my sheer delight. Not a moment too soon, yo.


Truthfully, I find the scenes of Mr. Carson recalling his past love Alice the most poignant and interesting storyline, this year. Granted, it’s all exposition, but the change in Carson is notable, sweet, and profound. To see a man in the twilight of his life assessing his future in the wake of so many changes, to accept that he has a future and there is still time to turn it all around is brave and exceptional. Isobel and Violet’s evolving friendship is further reason to continue watching, though I fear you may gouge your eyes out. Take heart, the fantastic season finale is only four episodes away!


The love rectangle going on down in the kitchen heats up (ha…) as Alfred learns of a position at the Ritz for chef-training. When he catches Ivy and Jimmy necking in the closet, he cannot wait to put in his application. Despicable Daisy can only look on and aid her wretched love in his only way out of this mess. It’s sad and sweet, but shouldn’t Daisy learn to look for a man who really cares? Isn’t she at least 28 by now? She better cook all of her eggs in the kitchen, because hers will be rotten soon.


Apparently, Lady Edith also appeared in this episode. I blissfully dozed off for these few minutes. She was really on screen for a total of ten minutes, often in the background. Though when it came to her scenes with Michael Gregson, they spoke of his impending move to Germany. And then they slept together. For realz. Somehow, when Lady Mary did this in season one, it was far more exciting. Poor Mr. Gregson.


Best and Most Obvious Quote of the Night:

Honestly papa, Edith is about as mysterious as a bucket.

-Lady Mary

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