Downton Abbey Season 4 – Episode 1.1
Nighttime at Downton! Shoes! Letters! Intrigue!
Anna picks two letters off of a shelf, Mary looks out of the window, sad widow is sad.
The year is 1922. Anna informs Thomas that Miss O’Brien has “up and left”, the servants have nothing else to talk about. Turns out she went to work for Rose’s horrible mother, and no one but Rose had any idea. Thomas is of course delighted by this news, confident that he is now the nastiest bitch this side of Ripon.
The news has everyone from staff to Lord and Lady in a tizzy. Lord Grantham says he is totes not surprised and I roll my eyes. This is the genius who made Thomas the Under-Butler so everything he says is taken with a massive grain of salt.
A quick aside: this episode has two things going on: People looking sad and people getting on my nerves. Falling into the former category are Mary, Isobel, The Dowager, Moseley, and Mrs. Hughes. In the latter are Lord Grantham, Carson, Thomas (huge surprise there), the nanny, Moseley and Edith’s editor/beau. Yes, Moseley is in both categories. I’m thinking about calling him Morosely.
Carson grills Alfred (I always want to call him Albert for some reason) about O’Brien’s disappearing act, asking if he knew anything. Carson, I think we can safely say Alfred didn’t know anything. Ignorance is kind of his state of being.
Anna brings Mary a shawl “in case you wanted to go outside.” Please, Anna attach a kite string to Mary if you do let her out of doors. It looks like the only thing holding her down is the weight of her dress, I think a good stiff breeze would take care of that. Mary gives the lavender shawl a withering look and asks where the black shawl is. This scene happens very quickly but to me it felt like it took hours.
They are interrupted by the Nanny, who has brought the baby in to see his mum. Mary is decidedly not feeling it. We learn that she gave him the
not at all boring name of George. Mary pats chubby little George and calls him “poor little orphan” at which point I pull off my slipper and throw it at the television. Apparently Anna agrees with me, and tells Mary that George isn’t an orphan. Mary agrees and said “Come to think of it, he’s not poor either.” Heh.
The Dowager is hobbling around the church, looking for the Vicar when she runs into Mr. Moseley, Sr. (He of the flower tournament) She’s arrived just in time to witness the final piece of Matthew’s headstone being installed. Just in case anyone forgot that Matthew is dead now. Moseley Sr. helpfully informs the Dowager that they have to wait six months “for the ground to settle” before installing a headstone. Miraculously, the Dowager does not crack wise about poor taste, though she does give him a “Dude, WTF” look that makes me giggle.
She kindly inquires after Moseley Jr. (or Moseley the lesser?). He’s out of work now because Matthew is (maybe you haven’t heard) deady dead dead. The Dowager is sure he could find work as a trained valet, or “even a butler” which I find highly unlikely given Moseley Jr.’s rich history of cockups. Moesely Sr. reminds the Dowager that “it’s a changing world,” as if seeing a maid using a vacuum cleaner two scenes ago wasn’t reminder enough.
Babies are a’strollin. As is Thomas. He stops to say hello to baby Sybil, which Nanny West likes NOT AT ALL. She “reminds” Thomas not to touch the children “without my permission.” Hilariously, Thomas’ reaction is “Wat.” Not that I blame her. Run, Sibbie! As fast as your chubby little legs can carry you! He informs the passhole aggresshole nanny that he knew Sybil, and they were friends. Nanny West is completely unimpressed and tells him to have Mrs. Patmore send the kids lunch up in an hour. Thomas is like “yeah, no” and walks off. How did she really think that was going to go?
Kitchen time. The servants are still talking about O’Brien’s disappearing act. Bates is lounging in his chair in a way that I approve of. Shut up, Brendan Gleeson is incredibly hot. Mrs. Hughes laments that it’ll take “quite some time” to find a replacement. Turns out it’s easier to find a scheming, horrible ladies maid than she thinks, but more on that later. Jimmy is flipping though the paper and says he thinks everyone is overreacting. Shut up, Jimmy. You weren’t hired for your opinions, you were hired because you fill out that livery so nicely.
Bates asks after Lady Stares-A-Lot and Anna informs him she is “the same.” He reasons that she’ll have to come out of it eventually for little George’s sake. The conversation turns to nannies and Daisy says she couldn’t be one, “not part of the family but not part of the staff either.” I guess this is a new aspect of ‘downstairs’ for us to learn about this season. Thomas comes in and says Nanny West is full of herself. Hello pot, this is kettle. Thomas is outraged that the nanny deigned to give him orders. Bates quips “what, she mistook you for a servaaaant?” Oh Bates!
Dudefest. Branson and his Lordship have been visiting with one of their tenant farmers, Mr. Marsh. Apparently Matthew’s death has left them holding the bag on a ton of estate taxes. What, Downton is in financial trouble again? I can’t really concentrate on what they’re saying because Isis is frolicking in the background. Yay, Isis! Branson is hesitant to do anything until they can bring Mary “back into play.” Sexy! Lord Grantham is (totally unselfishly, I’m sure) adamant that Branson not bother Mary about such trivial things as the running of the estate. Doesn’t Branson know Mary is super busy looking out of windows? I’m sure he’ll take great care of everything. Be careful there, Robert. There aren’t any martyred ex-fiancee’s fathers left, unless Edith’s beau dies and somehow leaves her a fortune. (I’m counting on at least one of those things to happen this season, btw, and it’s not the ‘fortune’ part.)
Anyway there is some discussion of George owning half of the estate and Mary getting a third of that, but Mary is George’s guardian, blah blah estate talk. His Lordship says “she hardly has the strength to lift a fork to her mouth.” On that we agree. He says something really tasteless about the price of great love being great misery “when one of you dies.” How Branson doesn’t clock his Lordship I’ll ever know, he just tersely says “I know that.” Way to go, Robert. Lord Grantham is all “oh shit that’s right, you were married to my daughter that died. Duh!”
Morosely Moseley is getting the sack. Well he hasn’t actually been working, just living at the estate.
Upstairs Edith informs the family she’s going to walk down and see Isobel after lunch. His Lordship asks Edith to remind Isobel “it’s an open invitation” to come see her grandson. Cora has some errands for Edith to run if she is going up to London tomorrow. Edith says “I’m seeing Michael Gregson,” and I want to cry. I had nearly forgotten about the latest of Edith’s romantic blunders, and wasn’t especially keen on being reminded. Cora seems supportive while Robert’s face is the epitome of “cool story, bro” which seems to be his default expression where ‘Poor Old Edith’ is concerned.
Ripon. Rose is wearing a cloche I want very badly. She pays sixpence to put a card in the window of the post office after having none of the postmistresses nosiness. You guys, I can’t decide if I like Rose or not. It really does vary from scene to scene. I was so irritated by her when she’s out at jazz clubs dancing with married men, but felt really bad for her when seeing how her horrible mother treated her at Donegal. She’s spunky and I like that, but if they could just reign her in I feel like I’d like her a lot more.
Edith is visiting Isobel, who is completely and understandably dispirited. I think back to when she came into the hospital after Matthew returned from the war. There were a hundred ways that scene could have been a big melodramatic mess, but Penelope Wilton is a PRO. (She will always be Mrs. Gardiner to me and I love her for it) She laments the “burden” that little George is born into. They discuss the inheritance and Isobel looks into the fire saying it was strange for her meticulous son to not have left a will. Matthew and Mary’s wedding photo is on the mantle, and the camera angle makes me think that Isobel is seeing it in the corner of her eye, like she can’t bear to look right at it.
Edith wants to help, and Isobel thanks her, but says “when your only child dies, then you’re not a mother anymore. You’re not anything, really.” It’s said so matter-of-fact, so hopelessly, that my living room is suddenly very dusty. I’m glad they worked that into the show, the feeling of losing part of your identity when someone you love dies.
Edith reminds Isobel that she’s still a grandmother, and she’ll be a wonderful one. I appreciate Edith so much more when she’s not falling in love with completely unsuitable men. Isobel gives her a small, but genuine smile and touches the side of Edith’s face the way a mother might. I love that they’ve shown the Crawleys really becoming part of the family over the past 4 seasons.
Downton downstairs. Mrs. Hughes hands Carson his mail for the day. Carson thanks her but immediately gets angry when he sees the letter. He opens it, looks at it for about half a second before wadding it up and throwing it in the trash. He rails at Mrs. Hughes about an upholsterer, so we know he is suddenly in a bad humor. Mrs. Hughes, angel that she is, takes it all in stride until Carson beats a hasty retreat. She then does what she does best and snoops into his trash, recovering the crumpled correspondence.
Ripon. A lady walks past the post office, stopping to read the card in the window. They’re trying to draw it out but you can tell from the profile that it’s Horrible Edna, she of the crazy eyes and the making Branson cry. DO NOT LIKE. Turns out that since her departure from Downton she’s been studying to become a Ladies Maid. UGH NO. This show does good characters really well and bad characters really, really well.
Mrs. Hughes is getting Cora ready for bed. The discuss Isobel, and Cora says that had Sybil been an only child she would have died with that loss. Remember her talking to Sybil’s body the night she died? “You are my baby, my beauty and my baby.” I can’t even. Elizabeth McGovern is under appreciated. Mrs. Hughes says nay, she would have lived on for the baby, and so shall Isobel. Lord Grantham comes in in his robe and Mrs. Hughes exits, he tells Cora he’s concerned about who should manage baby George’s part of the estate. Cora is like “Mary, duh” but Lord Grantham reminds her that Mary has developed an affinity for staring out of windows and not much else. His Lordship pompously says he has George’s best interests in mind, and Cora says nothing but looks concerned. I thinks she knows where this is going and likes it not at all. Congratulations, Cora. You are now the voice of the audience.
The next morning the staff are sitting around the breakfast table opening mail and Mrs. Hughes remarks on the extraordinary amount of mail everyone got “for a Tuesday.” Oh Mrs. Hughes, never ever change. Carson reminds her it’s “St. Valentine’s Day.” I really like it when people say it with the “saint.” Mrs. Hughes is surprised that he remembered and she didn’t, and Carson loftily informs her he’s not a complete stranger to romance. “Maybe I am now, but I wasn’t always.” Aww.
Daisy has received a valentine! She looks pleased. Anna and Bates joke about getting unsigned cards. Bates said “we must have secret admirers.” I mean…I haven’t exactly made it a secret, but sure Bates. Be cool about it. Bates and Anna flirt and twinkle at each other (sorry, there’s no other word I can give it) and they’re so sweet and strong that you just know in a few episodes something horrible is going to happen.
Edith is managing to walk up the stairs while having her nose in her own Valentine, so she doesn’t see spooky Mary creeping down the stairs. Mary sees Edith being happy and can’t resist. “What’s that?” she drawls, and Edith is like what? Nothing! Not a card from my married editor, that’s for sure! Mary is like O Rite, V-Day. They stand there looking awkwardly at each other until Mary’s like “yeah…have fun with that.” Brr. Also, while I say Black is NOT Michelle Dockery’s color, I absolutely love the dress she’s wearing. Something about the neckline, I think. I certainly couldn’t pull it off, I’ve got way too much boob.
Mary pauses on the stairs to look at the archway where I believe they kissed the night Lavinia died. Remember guys? When “you are my stick” became the most romantic thing anyone had ever heard? Sigh.
Mrs. Hughes enters a foreboding brick building called “Ripon Union Workhouse.” How Dickensian! She makes an inquiry and goes in to see a bunch of dudes…I want to say shucking corn? I can’t tell. There is a big sign on the wall that says GOD IS GOOD but it doesn’t look like that’s the case. Mrs. Hughes addresses someone called “Mr. Grigg” and we see it’s Carson’s old theater buddy who kept dropping by a few seasons ago. Mrs. Hughes says she works with “Charlie Carson” and Grigg hopefully asks if Carson sent her. He coughs, so we are aware that Mr. Grigg’s circumstances are miserable. Mrs. Hughes lies her face off and says Carson sent her to check on him, and then “he’ll come up with a plan.” Uh huh.
Train station. Michael Gregson is waiting for Edith. Bleh. He tells Edith he missed her, and before the poor girl can catch her breath he tells her he’s been doing some research, and there are some places (even Germany!) where lunacy is grounds for divorce. Because anyone who has read Jane Eyre knows England isn’t one of them. Edith points out that he’d have to live there, he’s like “duh, but you’re coming with me.” Edith doesn’t have time to reply because they are interrupted by Aunt Rosamund’s chauffeur, who overheard the whole thing. The couple looks embarrassed and awkwardly go their separate ways.
Downton family sitting room. Nanny brings babies Sibyl and George in to see their respective parents, but is taken aback to see Thomas still there. Nanny hands Sibyl off to Branson without a word, almost carelessly, but calls George “the little prince” as she hands him to Mary. Laying it on a little thick, aren’t we? Thomas watches without changing his expression, but you can practically see the wheels in motion behind his eyes. I am both eager and terrified to see what he will do next.
Crawley House. The Dowager is calling on Isobel, and I take a minute to admire her hat.
She asks Isobel if little George can’t be her new purpose, and says surely Isobel is interested in him. Isobel is, of course, interested in Matthew’s son, but doesn’t want to drive Mary crazy by “interfering.” The Dowager says “it’s a grandmother’s job to interfere!” That is aligned with her general M.O. The bell rings and Isobel remembers that Moseley was dropping by. Violet asks if she can stay and Isobel makes this face like “dude, really?” but really, you try moving the Dowager when she’s got her mind set on something.
Moseley comes in and sees her Ladyship sitting there and is taken aback, but launches into asking if he can have his old job back. Isobel says she has no need of a butler, being an old widow who eats off a tray. We get a flash of the old rivalry when the Dowager says “just because you’re an old widow, I see no necessity to eat off a tray!” It is a funny line, but when you think about all of the things that Lady Violet has seen in her lifetime, all the grief she’s had just over the course of the past four seasons (I did a quick check, it has been 11 years since the first episode) and you realize that The Rules are probably what has kept this woman sane.
Isobel is having none of it and says “you and I are different,” a point on which Violet can only agree. It’s a nice character moment. Moseley apologizes for wasting Isobel’s time and is trying to GTFO when the Dowager asks where he can be found “should we hear of an opening.” With good grace Moseley tells her he’ll be moving to his father’s house.
Party time. Edith is done up all in red (Subtle!) and I have to say the fashions of the 1920’s suits her very much. I want pretty much every one of her outfits this episode. Also, her wedding dress from last season was stunning, don’t you think? She teases old potato face (that’s what I’m calling Gregson) about living in sin. We’ll see later that Edith is not adverse to a little sinning. He says “don’t you want to be with me?” and she says “more than anything.” Oh honey, no. You can do so much better. Though I will say this about Old Potato Face…he’s a damn sight better than that farmer with the bad teeth. And Sir Antony come to that. And the burned up Canadian guy pretending to be cousin Patrick. I think we’ve established that Edith makes bad choices when it comes to men. If only her romantic sense were half as good as her fashion sense, she’d be golden. A footman who talks like Jude Law interrupts to ask if there’s any more gin, they’re running rather low. Artists! Can’t keep em out of the gin. I really really wish at some point this season Edith would find herself in Paris with Hemingway and Stein and Fitzgerald. Especially if we could get Tom Hiddleston to reprise his role as Fitzgerald from Midnight in Paris. Swoon!
Nosy Rosie and her fabulous cloche exit the post office with a handful of letters, looking delighted. Elsewhere in Ripon, Mr. Moseley, Sr. peers out of his window, muttering something like “OH MY LORD” when he sees that his visitor is the Dowager. He hustles outside and Violet fills him in on a scheme she has cooked up for his son. Her “friend” Lady Shackleton’s butler will be retiring soon, and the Lady hasn’t decided whether or not to look for a replacement. The Dowager intends for
Moroseley Moseley to serve at the dinner, hoping that Lady Shackleton’s socks will be so blown off by his service she’ll think him a fitting replacement. Moseley, Sr. has his doubts, so he must have been watching the show for the previous 3 seasons. His concerns are mainly around Violet’s butler, Mr. Spratt. His exact words are “Mr. Spratt won’t mind?” to which Violet replies “It’s not his business to mind,” so I think we all know that this isn’t going to end well.
Aaaaaand speaking of butlers, Mr. Carson is yelling at Mrs. Hughes about her letter-stealing, and being as dramatic as only Carson can be. Mrs. Hughes just wanted to know why it made him upset, he says that his mail is still “nunya.” Awesomely, Mrs. Hughes only gets more fired up. She makes a Dickens reference I appreciate and tries to appeal to Carson’s humanity, telling him that the air in the workhouse was full of mold and damp. That’s really awful. When I was in college my friend Gretta’s mom got some mold in her lungs that made her cough nonstop for a month, so hard she cracked ribs. NO THANK YOU. Carson is totally unmoved, and snaps at Mrs. Hughes that he’d prefer she didn’t remind him of a time in his life he wants to forget. I feel ya there, Charlie.
MODERN INVENTION TIME! Ivy is unboxing the newest kitchen contraption, an electric mixer! Mrs. Patmore takes to this about as well as she took to the toaster, but Daisy is over the moon about it. “It beats eggs and whips cream and all that!” to which Mrs. Patmore says “but you and Ivy do that!” Ha! Mrs. Patmore worriedly tells the girls that with all these modernizations, her ladyship could run the kitchen with a woman from the village. Alfred and Jimmy pop in long enough for Jimmy to tease Ivy about her Valentine before Mrs. P shoos them away. Ivy, genius that she is, figures that means Jimmy sent her card. “Maybe he just likes to tease,” Daisy duhs. Ivy reckons if Jimmy sent hers, then Alfred must have sent Daisy’s, which intrigues the poor girl. Mrs. Patmore frowns at them both.
Nanny West sees Thomas and has the audacity to address him by his christian name. She gives him instructions for Miss Sibby’s tea, something about no scrambled eggs. Thomas tells her to go tell the kitchen staff herself, but Nanny ain’t got time for that, she’s got children to terrorize.
Library. Edith is whining about putting an ad in The Lady if Rose was going to sort out the whole maid thing. She’s a little taken aback that Rose put a card in a window, the shame! Rose was just trying to save some time by finding someone local, and says she feels guilty for the loss of O’Brien. They’ve had 3 replies already, and “one promising” who they will be meeting in Ripon on Friday. Rose doesn’t seem to hear me yelling at her that this is a really bad idea.
Branson, having had more than enough of hearing about ladies maids, quietly tells Mary “It’s time for you to come back to us.” He thinks she needs to take an interest in something to pull her out of her grief fugue. He suggests Poetry, Carpentry, History or Hats, and I think I’ve found my new mantra. Poetry Carpentry History Hats. It just sounds neat all put together. Mary says she’s interested in her son, or she will be. Eventually. We hope. She asks Branson what he’d been up to today, and Branson starts talking shop. His Lordship in on him like white on rice, telling him not to bore Mary “with all that nonsense.” Everything about him, from his cocky posture to the way he’s coddling Mary, drives me insane.
Downstairs. Daisy is grilling Jimmy about sending Ivy her Valentine. Jimmy is vague and teasing as usual. Thomas scoffs and asks Jimmy if he did send Ivy a card, to which Jimmy asks “Is it likely?” Poor Ivy, but she’s not the brightest. Turns out Jimmy sent a card to his former employer who is coming back from Italy and “might be useful.” Gross. Even Thomas is a bit ruffled by this, so that’s saying something.
Crawley House. Mrs. Hughes is appealing to Isobel for help with the Charlie Grigg situation. Isobel says it’s none of her business, which surprises Mrs. Hughes. She knows Isobel can never turn her back on anyone that she could help. Mrs. Hughes lays out her plan. She wants Isobel to speak to the authorities and have Mr. Grigg released, after which he would convalesce at Crawley House. She says that while he’s pitiful now, he’s not beyond work, or a better life. My heart grows three sizes every time Mrs. Hughes opens her mouth. Isobel doesn’t think she’s strong enough, but Mrs. Hughes is having none of it. She tells her to set aside her grief, and use that strength for another’s good. Isobel is gobsmacked, and my living room is once again very dusty.
Carson’s office. Branson barges in to ask for Carson’s help in a
Mary difficult situation. He explains that His Lordship isn’t doing Mary any favors with all the coddling, and fears he will eventually edge her out of the running of Downton altogether. He tells Carson that Lord Grantham sees Mary as “a little woman, who shouldn’t be troubled by anything so harsh as reality.” At this point I think I stood up and applauded. I definitely see what (else) drew Sibyl to Branson. I also like that he’s appealing to the one person he knows might be able to sway Mary.
Kitchen. Jimmy is bored and has decided he’s going to the pub after dinner. He asks Ivy to join him and Alfred is losing his shit. Cool your jets, tall, pale and awkward. Ivy’s like “Imma be baaaaaad.” Mrs. Patmore busts in and only really cares about one thing, Daisy is using the mixer to make a mousse for dinner. MMMM, mousse.
Thomas is tending the big fireplace when he notices Nanny West giving him a frog-like glare. He asks if he can help her and she snaps she doubts he would if he could. Well, it took you long enough to figure that out, didn’t it? She’s pissed that Thomas didn’t give her instructions to the kitchen, and Thomas counters she could do it her damn self. He said he doesn’t see why Miss Sibby can’t have an egg with her tea. Nanny West said she doesn’t have to explain herself to Thomas as he’s “a member of staff.” Thomas just shuts down completely at this point, and starts studying the Nanny like she’s a new breed of insect crawling out into the light for the first time. As an aside, I think that Thomas is an excellent observer of his fellow man. He understands the way people work, it’s what makes him so good at getting under your skin. I like to think that he was able to see that there is more going on with Nanny West than anyone else suspected, but I’m sure he would have thrown her under the bus either way.
Mary’s room. Anna’s doing up Mary’s hair for dinner when Carson knocks on the door and asks to come in. Both Anna and Mary look a little shocked, but Mary invites him in at once. Once Anna leaves Mary asks what she can do for him, and Carson says he would only be so bold if he knew it was something that would benefit her. Mary braces herself a little and deadpans that now he’s frightening her.
Cora rushes downstairs for dinner, but is interrupted by Thomas who asks for a moment. He tells her Ladyship that he has concerns about Nanny West, that she’s been leaving the children to their own devices. Cora is understandably shocked, and Thomas assures her he wouldn’t have spoken up if not for a little girl and baby boy being put at risk.
Back in Mary’s room. I’m guessing Carson has expressed his (and Branson’s) concerns. Mary is standing up now, rigid and straight as a brick wall, her hand opening and closing in a fist. She tells Carson that this situation is her fault, which understandably confuses him. Over the course of four seasons we’ve seen both Cora and Robert lose their shit in some spectacular takedowns, so I like to think that Mary inherited the best(worst?) of that from both of them. Mary takes the upper hand, scathingly telling Carson she feels she’s encouraged him to feel that he’s earned the right to address her in such a way. Carson looks like Mary just ran over his puppy. Mary says she finds it hard that his Lordships Butler should criticize his decisions. OUCH.
Mary’s voice wavers as she tells Carson he doesn’t seem to understand the effect Matthew’s death has had on her. Well, he does have eyes. She says as they’re old friends she’ll overlook Carson’s “lapse” and don’t think they need mention it again. Again Carson looks like he’s been slapped, but he’s not down for the count just yet. He tells her she’s letting herself be defeated, and someone has to say so. Preach! I really love that despite her verbal setdown, he still loves her enough to say what needs to be said. Mary always had a bit of fire to her, and Widow Mary is about as spirited as the bag of lettuce slowly turning to soup in my fridge.
Dinnertime! Edith asks Lord Grantham how the luncheon for the tenant farmers is coming along. Since Cora is double booked for the day she can’t attend, so Lord Grantham says Edith can preside. Edith is like NOPE I’ve got a future Nazi to canoodle with. The Dowager then insists that Mary should do it. She says that since George owns half the estate Mary should be there to represent him, reminding Mary that she’ll have to run things should anything happen to Robert. I know it’s just her being pragmatic, but she sounds so cheerful when she says it it makes me laugh. This turns out to be the proverbial straw that breaks Mary’s back (she’s so skinny I think an actual straw might do it) and she wonders why everyone keeps nagging her. Her breakdown is very angry and heartfelt I’m just going to blockquote it for you.
“My husband is dead! Can’t you understand what this means? After all he suffered in the war, he’s killed in a stupid car crash! Matthew was dead fifty years before his time! Isn’t that enough for me to deal with?”
This scene is so well done. From Carson’s guilty expression to Violet being visibly upset. At least Mary is awake and alive for the first time this whole episode. Welcome back, girl.
Lord Grantham is angry and pompously mansplaining that Mary is “living a nightmare” and they all need to GTFO and let her be. Violet reminds him that this isn’t the time or the place, and shakily changes the subject by complimenting the kitchen on the delicious mousse. Hopefully that news is delivered to Daisy without the part about Lady Mary losing her shit.
Casa de Moseley. Moseley, Sr. finds his son looking up at a big full moon and I keep waiting for him to fursplode. Excuse me while I go pen the next big mash-em-up screenplay, Werewolf Valet. I think it could work. Moseley Sr. asks his “lad” if he’s not feeling well. RUN, MR. MOSELEY! RUN FOR YOUR LIFE! Sadly Moseley Jr. does not turn into a creature of the night, only dispiritedly tells his da that lately he can’t seem to see where he’s going in life. Moseley, Sr. says that makes sense, he should have been working for Matthew until he was old, maybe even being butler at the Abbey one day but all that’s done. Lucky for Moseley too, can you imagine what Thomas would do to the poor man if he thought Moseley actually had designs on being the Butler?
Mary’s room. The Dowager peeks and and lets Mary know that she’s leaving. Mary is laying on her side of the bed like she’s already in a casket. Mary supposes Violet thinks she behaved badly, but Violet could care less. She says she’s not Mary’s governess, she’s her grandmother. “And the difference is…I love you.” Awww. Mary worries that she’s not going to be a good mother, because since Matthew’s death all her softness seems to have dried up and drained away. Violet still looks worried for her, but reminds Mary that there is more than one type of ‘good’ mother. She sits down next to Mary and tells her she must choose her way forward. With tears in her eyes and in her voice she says “You must choose either death, or life.” Excuse me, I need a Kleenex break.
Carson’s office. Mrs. Hughes is giving him the rundown on the situation with Isobel and Charlie Grigg. She tells him that the authorities have released Mr. Grigg into Isobel’s charge, and she will be collecting him herself on Friday. Carson can’t believe Mrs. Hughes would impose on Isobel in the middle of her grief, but Mrs. Hughes insists that’s why she’s imposing. Carson says he doesn’t understand Mrs. Hughes, and Mrs. Hughes is like “ya think?”
The Dowager makes her way downstairs and is intercepted by Robert. He says she must forgive Mary, to which Violet curtly replies “I do.” Hee. Lord Grantham says that Mary is “broken and brusied and it is our job to wrap her up and keep her safe from the world.” Violet is like “Uh, no you fucking moron. It’s our job to bring her back to the world.” Lord Robert says he disagrees and Violet tells him that while it’s easy for her to forgive Mary’s poor judgement, it’s not so easy to forgive his. THANK YOU. Violet is now the Voice of the Audience.
Downstairs. Anna comes out of the hall to see Jimmy running around. She asks Alfred whats up but he just Duhs at her, so they follow Jimmy outside to find Ivy puking in the bushes. You know what, I don’t care about having to watch this whole Ivy/Alfred/Jimmy thing so I’m not even bothering to finish recapping it past saying Anna finds them and everything works out fine. This whole zero consequences writing makes for boring TV, and boring TV makes for an angry recapper. Please, writers. Think of the recapper.
Morning. Carson is doing his morning inspection when he sees Isobel and wishes her good morning. Isobel shakily tells Carson she came to see George but Nanny West didn’t think it a good time. RED FLAG. Carson changes the subject to Mr. Grigg. Carson says he hates to see her wasting her energy and kindness on anyone unworthy. Isobel takes this with good grace, and tells him she’d forgotten she had energy or kindness in her. Looking him full in the face for the first time, she smiles and says “So that’s something, isn’t it?” SO MANY TEARS.
Rose and Lady Cora are interviewing Horrible Edna. There is some confusion about an old aunt or someone she was taking care of, and it strikes a weird note to me. Rose is so encouraging I wonder if there is more going on here. I don’t know. Rose is pushing for Cora to say yes. I really don’t like Edna.
Dowager house. I believe this is my first time seeing the Dowager’s butler, Mr. Spratt. I will say that he’s kind of a bulldog of a man, and I’m tempted to call him The Poor Man’s Bates, but I feel like that would somehow be an insult to Bates. Spratt is VERY suspicious as to why Moseley is there, and despite Moseley’s insistence that Violet just wants to introduce him to Lady Shackleton, Spratt is convinced that Moseley is after his job. I am cringing already.
Lady Shackleton is played by Harriet Walter, who is really good at playing characters I dislike (Frannie Ferrars Dashwood!) and is talking politics. Violet is trying to talk Moseley up to her, but Spratt’s got some tricks up his sleeve that would even impress Thomas. Needless to say, it’s going pretty abysmally. Lady Shackleton thinks that Violet is doing Moseley a kindness and hopes that “something in his line” opens up soon. Hooboy. That was rough.
A Model-A Taxi pulls up at Crawley House, Mrs. Hughes helps Mr. Grigg to the door where Isobel is waiting to greet them. She welcomes him in, and he thanks her very sincerely, coughing the whole time. Having just gotten over a hellish three week bout of bronchitis, my lungs hurt to hear him wheeze. He wonders if Charlie Carson has come to see his old friend, but Mrs. Hughes and Isobel defer his questions in favor of getting him upstairs to rest. Isobel is very busy with instructions for his lunch and his rest, as she’s going upstairs Mrs. Hughes tells her she’s very kind. Isobel says “No, No. We must all do what we can.” That’s the Mrs. Crawley we know and love!
A fancy car pulls up to an even fancier building. The gorgeous Art Nouveau sign tells us it’s the Criterion restaurant. Edith smiles and climbs out of the car. The dress she’s wearing…mercy! I’m not going to do it justice so I’ll just let the picture do the talking.
Old Potato face tells her she looks very glamorous (she does) and Edith says she thought she’d make a bit of an effort. It is appreciated, M’Lady! She says she feels wild to be out with a man, drinking and dining in a smart London restaurant. I’m distracted by the incredible bodice of that dress. Potato Face says “I do love you so” and Edith says “…do you? I’m glad.” Way to play it cool, Edith! Gregson tells her they’re celebrating his future divorce. All he has to do is become a German citizen! BEST IDEA EVAR. Edith looks like she agrees with me, until she says “you’d do that for me?” Ugh. She demands he kiss her, and the music swells and I know it’s supposed to be romantic but come on. We DO all see where this is going, right?!?
Downton. Mrs. Hughes is asking Lady Cora if she is for reals bringing Edna back on staff. Lady Cora mentions the reference she gave Edna, and Mrs. Hughes almost spills the beans on Edna being seriously inappropriate and Tom Branson being a goddamned gentleman. She says she’s not confident Horrible Edna has what it takes to be a ladies maid. Rather than admit that Mrs. Hughes might have a point, Lady Cora gets snippy and stomps off. These rich people are there own worst enemies.
Kitchen. Daisy is still convinced that Jimmy sent Ivy’s Valentine, which means Alfred must have sent hers. Mrs. Patmore frowns, and the next thing we see is her pulling Alfred away from a card game with Jimmy and Thomas. Moseley wanders in and Anna asks if she can get him a cuppa tea. She mentions “the famous luncheon” and says that Lady Edith told her all about it. Moseley asks if that was “before, or after” and I laugh. Poor Moseley. He really did take Edith’s crown as the Saddest Sack of Downton. Branson wanders down still dressed for dinner and everyone stands at attention. I’m guessing Bates did too because one second he’s in a rocking chair drinking tea and the next second he’s standing nonchalantly next to Anna, holding his cup. Like you know that had to be a little continuity error, because Bates doesn’t move that fast. Anyway, Branson said Mrs. Hughes sent for him, and Anna directs him back to Carson’s office.
Alfred is sitting with Daisy and Mrs. Patmore. He says he’s sorry for not saying so, but he sent the card to Ivy, not Jimmy. Daisy looks like she’s gonna barf and Mrs. Patmore shrugs like “what are you gonna do?” Turns out she sent the card to Daisy, knowing Alfred would buy one for Ivy. She didn’t want Daisy to not have one to open. LOVE. I wish I could put Mrs. Patmore in my pocket and take her out when I’m having a bad day. Daisy takes this with good grace, and with a smile tells Mrs. Patmore she might not have a sweetheart but at least she’s got a friend. She does get up and leave pretty suddenly, so I’m thinking she went somewhere to have herself a little cry. Poor Daisy, Alfred isn’t worth a single one of your tears.
Carson’s office. Carson, Branson and Mrs. Hughes are discussing the Edna situation. Branson wants to come clean to Cora about Horrible Edna, but Carson puts on the brakes. He reasons that Her Ladyship has lost a daughter and a son-in-law and he can’t let her think that Lady Sybil’s husband is unworthy. Which is both gallant and a bit asshole-ish. Kudos, Carson. There’s nothing to do but let her come back and keep “a firm eye” on her. Mrs. Hughes says it all sounds like a ticking bomb, which makes me wonder if they had ticking bombs then? Please comment with your google results.
Lady Cora is upstairs and decides to follow the sound of the babies crying. She peers into the open nursery door and sees Nanny West holding baby George, cooing to him and calling him “my precious boy.” Cora relaxes a little and looks like she’s about to leave when she hears Nanny refer to Sibbie as “that chauffeur’s daughter.” Nanny turns back to Sibbie and spits at her to go back to sleep, calling her a “wicked cross breed.” Thankfully, Cora has heard enough and charges into the room, ringing the bell without saying a word. I didn’t think I could stand to listen to anymore. It’s very upsetting, seeing children spoken to that way. Nanny West sees Cora is all “Oh hai! Your ladyship! Haha! Didn’t see ya there! Was just playing a little game, see!”
Cora gets very quiet, so you know what happens is gonna be spectacular. She tells Nanny West that she will pack tonight and leave first thing in the morning. Nanny is like “but! but!” Haha NOPE. Cora tells her to put the baby down and that she’s not to touch the children again. Mrs. Hughes walks in and is surprised to see Cora there. Cora, still calm and collected but with some very controlled rage tells Mrs. Hughes to have one of the maids stay with the children, and find a bed for Nanny. Preferably in the cellar. Nanny West is blubbering, and Cora tells her she has no place in their home, giving instructions to Mrs. Hughes (who looks horrified) that the children are not to be left alone with Nanny. “Not for one minute.”
Sitting room. Lord Robert asks how Edith’s getting along, saying she seems to have “quite a London life these days.” I wonder how long it’ll be before Edith gets her own flat in London. Mary tells him that Edith is seeing that publisher. Lord Robert asks if it’s serious, and Mary says “Well…he’s not bad looking, and he’s still alive, which puts him two points above most men in our generation.” Was I not supposed to laugh at that? It was a little funny. Lord Robert wonders if he should have Gregson “looked into” and asks Mary if she knows anything about him. Mary says not really, but he talked to Matthew a bit when they were at Donegal. She then sort of goes catatonic for a second, caught up in better times. Robert tells her to go to bed, and it might be the first time the whole episode he sounds fatherly rather than pompous. Of course the goodwill I feel towards him goes away about two seconds later, when Mary says she has her own ideas for the estate, and Robert firmly insists that he let her do things his way. O ye of little faith.
Mary is about to go to bed but pauses on the stairs and reconsiders. Instead you see her entering Carson’s office. I’m already getting emotional. I want to take a little break and talk about Mary Crawley’s Two Dads. Her actual father, who relies on her unflagging support, but has no faith in her abilities. He loves her, sure. But love and faith are two different things. Then there’s Mr. Carson, who has without fail always supported her, and believes that she can do anything she sets her mind to. I love that it’s Carson she goes to, for comfort and for strength. I’m also really glad that she’s starting to see how limited Lord Grantham really is.
She tells Carson she’s come to apologize, and that Lady Violet agrees with him, which doesn’t surprise Carson at all. Carson asks if this means she’s coming back to the land of the living. Mary thinks she’s spent too long in the land of the dead. You can see the cracks starting to form, and when Carson says how fond they all were of Mr. Crawley, the time for talking is over. Mary opens her mouth but all that comes out is a sob. Carson puts an arm around her and she cries on his shoulder. I’m crying too, and it feels good after all that quiet grief. Carson tells her that when she’s ready, they’ll get to work “because you are strong enough.” Mary has doubts, sown by her father. Carson says she owes it to Matthew to fight for his work, for the changes he made and to steer Downton in the right direction. Tearfully and gratefully, she wishes Carson goodnight.
Mrs. Hughes is sitting in her office when a whirring sound is followed quickly by the unmistakable sound of glass breaking. Is it weird that I’ve always kind of liked that sound? This reminds me of that time on 30 Rock when Jenna and Kenneth break the lightbulbs and Jenna looks up at him and says “are you as turned on as I am right now?” I felt like they might have written that just for me. SIDEBAR.
Mrs. Hughes hurries into the kitchen to find Mrs. Patmore, standing next to the electric mixer, worrying over some broken crockery. Mrs. Hughes has just had it, what with Nanny West getting the sack. Mrs. P. worries that she’ll get the sack if anyone sees the mess she’s made. When Mrs. Hughes suggests Daisy and Ivy clean it up in the morning, it hits a nerve. Mrs. Patmore doesn’t want them to know she doesn’t know how to use it. She feels the world moving on around her and she’s worried she won’t be able to keep up. Mrs. Hughes sighs and asks Mrs. P to fetch her an apron, “we’ll clean it up together.” Can we please, please, please have a buddy cop movie with these two?
Aaaaand in lovely juxtaposition to the episode opener, it’s dawn at Downton! The sun shines down on the fresh spring grass, not quite touching the house yet. The gardener (don’t think we’ve seen him before but I think I approve) brings in a wheelbarrow full of flowers. I have no idea what kinds of flower they are other than yellow, purple, white and tulip. Cora is coming downstairs and Robert remarks on how late it was when she came to bed the night before. Cora kisses him and says she’s glad he’s there now. She smiles and tells him they owe a great debt to Thomas, who looks as surprised as Robert does. Though as soon as Robert and Cora aren’t looking at him he looks like the cat that ate the canary. Cora tells Robert that Nanny West was a bad, bad lady and she’s leaving. Hilariously, Robert’s reaction is “What?!? Not another one!” Thomas and Bates exchange a look, Thomas pleased and Bates decidedly not. Though, I don’t think Bates has all the facts.
The Tenant Farmer’s Luncheon! SO MUCH TWEED!!!! There is a low level of chatter and everyone is having separate conversations. Mary busts up the Tweed/Sausauge Fest and comes in wearing PURPLE! Hooray, it’s spring again, get it? Get it?!? Branson insists she sits at the head of the table “this is your place.” Please, Tom. Stop being so perfect. It’ll be that much worse when the writers decide to make you awful like they did at the beginning of season 3. Robert asks if Mary is sure she has time for this, and Mary, ever the lady, says she’s been looking forward to it before launching into conversation with one of the Tweeds. Tom smiles at Lord Robert like SEE WHAT I DID THERE and the music takes us out.
Well, this has been fun, although I wonder how often I will be able to get these out. Its a strong possibility the next one won’t be out until after May sweeps, but for you guys I promise to try! XOXO Upper East Siders! Wait…