THE DOWNTON ABBEY DISH – Downton Abbey Season 4 Recap: Episode 3 (aired 01/19/2014)

As we begin, it is the day after the night before. THAT night. The horrific night that ended with Anna walking off into the darkness alone. Now as the house party weekend ends and the collection of misfit toys prepares to depart for the train station, Cougar Duchess has a few parting words of encouragement for Branson, though he’s feeling too tortured at the moment to really take it to heart…

Single White Female: When You See Crazy Coming, Cross the Street
(Though that’s hard to do when crazy comes randomly barging into your bedroom). I told you she was crazy. But it’s even worse than we thought, and now Branson has got a bunny boiler on his hands. It turns out they didn’t spend the night playing Canasta (as I had hoped), and now Crazy Edna does some bottom-dealing and sets the land speed record for assumptions, and she won’t be ignored. She ups the ante: What if I’m pregnant?…Will you marry me if there’s a baby?…I plan to make a go of being your wife (at which point I thought that the director missed an opportunity: He should have licensed the shower scene music from Psycho to play in the background right there. Oh well, maybe it will be on the Season 4 DVD.) Yep, she’s crazy; or maybe just crazy like a fox (or so she thinks). She’s quickly back to whistling while she works and thinking she’s got it in the bag, but there’s one thing she didn’t count on: Sherlock Hughes, detective at large. Thankfully Mary suggests despondent Tom lay his burden down at someone’s feet, and of course, like everyone else, he thinks of Mrs. Hughes. Mrs. Hughes ransacks Edna’s room (we hope) and is holding an ace up her sleeve: An incriminating copy of Marie Stopes’ Married Love, found among her things. Marie Stopes was an early pioneer of birth control, and her sex manual, Married Love, was a best selling (and influential), but controversial book at the time (it was banned in the US until 1931). Sherlock Hughes concludes, what reason could Edna have for such a book if it wasn’t for the instructions on birth control? It was all a ruse. She was not pregnant, but had plans: As soon as Tom had agreed to marry her, she would find some dupe to play the unwitting surrogate baby daddy (could be a job for Molesley). Instead of being offered a payoff, her bluff is called. Down goes Braithwaite! Score one for the good guys. And just like that she’s gone. Crazy Edna grabs her suitcase and bolts; and now, if she is up the duff, it’s without a paddle. I say we nominate Mrs. Hughes for President in 2016. I’d like to see her handle Congress the same way she handled Crazy Edna. Who’s with me? Anyway, Braithwaite’s new/old pal Thomas wastes no time in putting forward a new candidate for the job. So who does Thomas know very well? And why haven’t we heard about this person before? And, despite yourself, you’ve just got to love bad-to-the-bone Thomas, who snaps to attention and puffs out his chest in pride when described as ‘oily’. Say what you will (and I have), but he owns it.

A Rose by Any Other Name: Jazz Hands
Cousin Oliver is down with the swirl! A very drunk Sir John of Bore leaves poor Oliver Rose stranded on the dance floor, after spinning her so dizzy she is unable to find her table. She’s saved from deep humiliation by a knight in shining tuxedo, band singer Jack Ross, causing Aunt Rosamund to get the vapors at the sight of her in the arms of a black man. Branson was quickly dispatched to chauffeur Rose away, but they shared quite a little moment there. And we have another recurring theme here: Every time Cousin Oliver Rose goes dancing, mayhem ensues. It is interesting to note that Jack Ross is another character based loosely on a real person – Leslie Hutchinson, who was one of Britain’s biggest music stars between the wars. He was known for his voice, his lavish lifestyle and his affairs with society ladies, including Edwina, wife of Lord Louis Mountbatten, with whom he had a long affair (until tabloid scandal and King George V put an end to it). And speaking of sharing a moment, what was that look Lady Rose exchanged with Robert when she came into the library?? Did you notice that? He lit up a bit too much and she smiled and looked away coy: What the heck was that? I dare say that was a harbinger of things to come. To quote another big band singer, Ricky Ricardo, ‘Ay-yi-yi-yi-yi!’

That’s The Way I’ve Always Heard It Should Be: Ring Them Bells
The house party weekend was quite a success for Editor Charming, and…EDITH! WHAT DID YOU JUST SIGN?!?!? You didn’t even read it! Why did you sign it without reading it? Clearly Edith gets her business skills from her Father, though even Robert sends everything to Murray first. Holy Cow! Am I just a worrier? After some foreplay involving contracts and optimistic lawyers, mysterious as a bucket Edith finally gets her freak on (can I say ‘gets her freak on’ on PBS? I know I could have back in the Tales of the City days). But anyway, it’s OK, because he’s leaving on a jet plane, going to Germany to be able to come back again and marry her, so this was technically a goodbye shag (and everyone gets one ‘get out of jail free card’ for a goodbye shag); after which Edith does the walk of shame, tip toeing back to Belgravia in the early morning hours. But with no one around to ring the stable bell she gets caught by a nosy maid (is there any other kind?) who reports it all to Lady Rosamund (natch), who is not pleased. And this points to another hypocrisy/double standard in this aristocratic society where a single woman must remain chaste until her wedding, but after she’s married, all bets are off (for both parties). If you read the life stories of many in the Crawley’s real-life aristocratic set, it’s just one bodice-ripper after another; including Lady Warwick (she of the stable bell fame), who was the mistress to King Edward VII (among others). But poor Edith just gets a slap in the form of a rather unkind lecture from buzz kill Aunt Rosamund (who really knows how to pose in a chair, by the way). Is this Edith’s karma for ratting out arms-of-a-slut Mary to the Turkish Embassy? Does karma hold a grudge? Anyway, forget about that. It may be small potatoes in the grand scheme of things because: EDITH!! WHAT DID YOU JUST SIGN??!!! So what exactly was on that paper Editor Charming had her sign? If he were putting her in charge of his affairs, wouldn’t he have to be the one who signs? Is this trip to Munich for a divorce just an apocryphal cover story for something else? I don’t know. I just hope Edith had some reading material on the train to London (ie; a certain book by Marie Stopes).

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There’s Something About Mary: Regrets, I’ve Had a Few
Of course, we knew Lord Tony Gillingham would be back (after all, he has his own theme music), but so soon? After a hasty attempt at matchmaking threw them together in London, leaving Mary feeling refreshed, Tony follows her back to Downton, taking a long journey to ask a short question: Will you marry me? Which begs a much longer question: Where the hell was Lord Dreamboat all that time when Mary (and her Bubbies) was searching for a suitable husband for her the first time around?? But OK, we’ll forget that for the moment as Tony states his case: His big selling point? I’m alive. OK, yes, that’s a good quality to look for in a husband. Can’t argue with that. Mary’s answer: “You don’t know me? Do you have any idea what my track record is? Two out of two. If you value your life, you’ll run for the hills!” “And besides, I’m not ready to kill again.” But Lord Tony persists, insisting, “You fill my brain, every moment of the day I wonder where you are, what you’re doing. Every breath you take, every step you make, I’ll be watching you”, at which point she called Murray for a restraining order. Sadly for Lord Gillingham, if Mary can’t accept him for her waiting list, he will have to marry first runner-up, Miss Mabel Lane Fox, and he would like a lovely parting gift, a kiss to take with him. “I’ll never love again as I love you in this moment and I must have something to remember.” Yeah, yeah, yeah, tell it to Harlequin.  We’ve got to agree with Mrs. Patmore — sometimes you can spend too much time on a one-sided love. Will Mary live to regret it? Will Miss Lane Fox? Me thinks someone’s going to be playing the triangle in the Hooterville Volunteer Fire Department Band or some such equivalent, and sooner rather than later.

The Sound of Silence: Everybody Hurts:
The morning after that night begins as a solitary Anna walks across the lawn to the big house. One is once again struck by the brutal rigidity of that ordered system which means that because of her station and the assigned seating that comes with it, Anna has to sit down at the breakfast table in the chair next to the cretin who had raped her the night before. It is just too much to bear for her, and us. While she doesn’t show her hand at the table, Mrs. Hughes knows who the perpetrator is; that look she exchanged with Green outside; she knows. And I’d bet Green knows that she knows. I have a feeling that if justice for Anna is going to come, it is going to come from Mrs. Hughes in some way. The attack has eclipsed the PollyAnna personality we know; left Bates confused, and everyone else asking if she’s OK, but she cannot bring herself to say what happened to anyone but Mrs. Hughes. And she still cannot convince Anna to go to the police for fear Bates will seek vengeance for her and be executed for it. It’s like The Gift of the Magi: SVU. And like many crime victims, she blames herself, thinking that she must have done something. Of course, she didn’t. No one does. And that thought is something that I’ve seen mirrored in some commentaries about the show this past week; with some people saying that Anna was flirting with Green – not saying that to say that she led him on, but saying that because they were upset about the incident and thought that the way it was written had Anna acting out of character and being punished for it. But I disagree with that premise. I don’t think she was acting out of character or flirting at all. I think she was just being her naturally kind self. I didn’t see her behaving any differently with Green than she does with Molseley. I think that some people saw her kindness to Green as flirting only because he is handsome, and it is not seen as flirting with Molesley because he is not. Not understanding why his wife suddenly cringes at his touch and wants to move back into the attic, Bates gets marriage advice from Dr. Phil Grantham, who’s talking strong for an Englishman at the moment. This episode all happened over the span of just a few days, so it is still early days in her recovery. Anna knows that all God’s creatures have their troubles, and so I cannot help but think that there is reserve of positive faith in her, and in time we will start to see her emerge on the other side.

Sunrise, Sunset: This is Not a Puppy Love: Anyone else thinking that there’s a romance on simmer here? As Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes spend the remains of the day together, it seems that there is a new dimension to their relationship (or maybe that’s just my hoping). They’ve always had a special relationship; that is until last season when she shocked him by leaving him for a toaster and began fraternizing with a known prostitute; then it seemed that things had hit the rocks. But now, since the visit from Mr. Grigg, there seems to be a deeper understanding and things seem to be back on more solid ground. It changes things from where I’m looking. Giving him the gift of a frame to display his photo of past love Alice Neal was kind-of a bold move, don’t you think? While Mrs. Hughes said it would reassure the staff to know he belongs to the human race, she’s a cagey one: Was it really to remind him that he still has a heart capable of beating for someone? Namely someone with the initials E. H.? We want this so much we can taste it. Agreed Downtonians?

The Dowager Countessdown (Madam Dowager’s best zingers from each episode):

In the first two episodes of this season, Violet seems to have lost a bit of her tangy zip, which is quite understandable. We hope she hasn’t gone totally mellow on us (perish the thought) but rather this is just a temporary reaction to a family still in mourning. She cannot very well zing her old sparring partner Isobel right now without looking completely heartless; and we know she’s not. There has always been a heart of gold under that cast iron exterior, and we expect to see the Dowager return to fighting form at some point in the future. Propriety demands it (and so does the audience). In the meantime, it’s Mrs. Hughes who has been handed the baton. But for now, this week’s Violetisms:

– She is a good woman, and while the phrase is enough to set one’s teeth on edge, there are moments when her virtue demands admiration.

– Not as surprised as I am.

– If we only had moral thoughts, what would the poor churchmen find to do?

– What a recommendation!

– Why are you in your rompers?

The quote of the week though, has to be from Mr. Carson, ‘The business of life is the acquisition of memories; in the end that’s all there is.’ A profound sentiment. Who didn’t smile and ponder that after he said it? And here are some wiser words: If you follow your Downton Abbey fix with a side order of Sherlock (the new season of Sherlock premiered at 10pm tonight) you’ve got to read A Sherlockian Synopsis, THIRTEEN’s new Sherlock recap blog by the lovely and talented Morgan Goode: Check it out and join the discussion in the comments section here and there!

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