Downton Abbey: Season 4, Episode 7 Recap

Deborah Gilbert | February 16, 2014

Talk about bad timing: The Village People visit Downton and Thomas is out sailing the seven seas. But put your mind at ease, the prodigal Lord Grantham returns to cap off the bazaar, having missed Bates as much as Cora. “If you knew how many times I’d imagined this scene”, sigh. Forget about the pigs and the sawmill and the farms: I predict that next week Robert starts a new business to save his beloved Downton — writing romance novels…

Farm Aid: How Do You Solve a Problem Like Edith?:
Former field hand Lady Edith lights up upon seeing Farmer Drew nurturing the little piggies, and it gives her an idea: Maybe he can adopt her baby. Baby? What baby?? Unfortunately she makes the mistake of running it by Aunt Rosamund who immediately shoots it down as reckless. Me, reckless? What have you heard? But is it any more reckless than taking advice from Rosamund? What do you mean?? I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout birthing babies! While Mama Cora is too distracted by the bazaar (and shiny objects), Violet Marple misses nothing. You can tell from that look: She knows. Knows what? What do you know? Edith and Rosamund are brought to the Dower House for interrogation at Nuremberg, after which they flee over the mountains to form a singing duo, Crawley and Garfunkel. For her part, Edith looked like she was making a hostage tape when Rosamund proposed the Switzerland idea to the oblivious Cora. I don’t think she likes the idea of keeping this a secret from her Mum any more than I do. Edith looked desperate to tell her. Maybe she could come up with a better solution. Is it a good idea to take such important life-altering advice from Aunt Rosamund (even if Granny is on board)? Remember, it was Rosamund who had advised Mary to put Matthew on ice in case Cora’s pregnancy produced a male heir, causing a years-long delay in their nuptials, as well as World War I and the death of Lavinia Swire. (and yes, that is historically correct, about the cause of WWI; it was Rosamund. I checked.) As Mary tells her, “we must rise to life’s challenges”, which has to be particularly galling for Edith to hear from Marcia, Marcia Marcia, who has always seemed to be handed everything Edith wants but has snatched out of her hands. And now this. She wants this baby. Will she be able to find a way to, if not keep it, at least keep it near? Is this a mountain she’ll be able to climb and is there a better solution on the other side?

You Can Ring My Bell: Free At Last?:
It’s not just sentimental bosh to say Mr. Molesley may have found a kindred spirit in Miss Baxter. Sweet. Or is she just using him for intelligence gathering? She did come right out and ask him about the Bates’es, but got nowhere. And without Thomas around to block her, she has been able to strike up what seems like the start of a beautiful friendship. Is it real or is she using him? Her encouragement even gives him the superhuman strength to beat stud Jimmy at the bazaar games. But all good things must come to an end. The beast returns looking for a report and now it’s Molesley’s turn, offering her an arm to walk away from Thomas’ insistent questions. But no problem for Thomas. That smug look never leaves his face. He’s not worried at all. Does he believe that what he has on Baxter is enough to keep her on a short leash and doing his bidding? Now that she has a protector, will she stand up to him? Or is Baxter yet another rug that will be yanked out from under fragile Molesley’s feet?

Strange Fruit: The Love You Save:
Remember that nice stuff I said about Cousin Oliver Rose last week? I take it back. She doesn’t love Jack; she’s just using him. She is still the same selfish brat. What she loves is the thought of how the news of her black fiancé will shock dear old Mummy. Forget that high-minded talk about ignoring the imperialist nonsense: This is more a low-minded temper tantrum aimed at Lord and Lady Flintshire. Jack Ross is just another toy she is tossing out of her pram. Cousin Oliver has not a care in the world as she sits down to dine in the restaurant with the hesitant Mr. Ross and strokes his cheek – she gets the whispers and scene she is looking for. We don’t know much of his story, but given that he has an American accent, one can easily assume he might be wondering if this is a lynchable offense in Thirsk. After being tipped off by Branson, Mary goes to see Jack herself, but this is a different Lady Mary than the one who chased Sybil to Gretna Green. And Mr. Ross’ announcement that he will not marry Rose, and his reasons why, are reminiscent of the biblical story of King Solomon and the two women who claimed the baby; the one willing to cut the baby in half and the other willing to give the baby away rather than to see it harmed. Cousin Oliver Rose is willing to slice and dice Mr. Ross, while Mr. Ross (the real Mother) would rather give her up than to see her be harmed by their relationship. So Lord Grantham came thisclose to having a band singer in the family.

Teacher’s Pet: I’ll Never Be Your Beast of Burden:
If Branson stands for office, his campaign slogan will be, “I don’t believe in types. I believe in people.” And people who believe in people are the luckiest people. And luckily he ran into Miss Bunting again so that his surrogate Mum, Isobel, could meet her. Is he ready to be enthralled? I don’t know. There was a time when he would have been at the barricades with Miss Bunting and her attitudes toward the lords and ladies, but he has changed. Can he shrug it off? Is this a preview of coming attractions? And speaking of shrugging it off, who has had a more precipitous fall than Jimmy? When young Chippendale first turned up, he was the flavor of the month, and now every week brings yet another incident that shows him as just an insipid bore. Even Thomas only wants to be just friends. He’s going nowhere fast, but might things be looking up in the future? Masterpiece just announced that they have cast an actress to play Lady Anstruther, Jimmy’s oft mentioned former boss, in Season 5, so maybe we’ll learn a bit more about how Jimmy came to rest at Downton. In the meantime, he’s irrelevant.

Lordy, Lordy: It’s My Party and I’ll Read Your Card If I Want Too:
Not to be outdone by the young’uns downstairs, it seems like The Dowager is quite the dark horse! She has a plan for the widowed Lord Merton: Have him to luncheon and invite Isobel along as wingman. Rookie mistake. Unfortunately Isobel doesn’t understand the concept of being a wingman, and likely had no idea that’s why she was really there in the first place (it caught me by surprise as well!). And so Violet’s girlish giggling was all for naught; to her surprise Lord Merton hits it off with commoner Isobel and escorts her home to her door while asking her about Matthew’s current career as a crash test dummy (oops, my bad), and blabs about his long, unhappy marriage to the wife he doesn’t miss. But why did Lord Merton send Isobel’s flowers to Violet’s house when he knew full well where Isobel lives? If Isobel wants my advice, I’d say run! He can’t remember who you are, or where you live, and worst of all, you could end up the step-mum to that horrible, arrogant son who drugged Branson. This guy has red flags tattooed on his forehead. Vamoose!

She Loves me, She Loves Me Not: See Ya Hubbell: 
During his last visit, Wrong Way Alfred was overly encouraged by a brief moment when Poison Ivy wasn’t just a total cow to him, and so he writes her a letter to propose marriage. But Ivy thinks she can do better and turns him down. For Daisy though, Alfred has always been a real but unrequited love, and to avoid encountering him when he visits Downton for the Bazaar, and having to watch as he throws her over for Ivy yet again, Daisy takes time off to spend the day at Yasgur’s farm to camp out on the land and try and get her soul free. Now with Mr. Mason’s sage advice she is sent on her way to confidently put closure to the object of her affection head on, causing Alfred to have an epiphany, a day late and a pound short. Yes, it’s too late for Daisy. With the help of William’s Dad, Daisy bids Alfred a fond farewell with a basket full of assorted cookies (that he’d baked in his hollow tree), and a prepared speech, “your girl is lovely Hubbell”, after which Mrs. Patmore tells Daisy she couldn’t be more proud of her if she was her own daughter. This got me to thinking: Lesley Nicol has said she’d like Mrs. Patmore to have a love interest, so what about fixing Mrs. Patmore up with Mr. Mason?? They already have something in common: Daisy. What about it?

Road Rage: Ding Dong, Green is Dead:
This week marks the first time we have seen Bates be blatantly cruel to Anna: Am I the only person who thought that he was way out of line when he asked her about Mr. Green, saying, “have you gone off him?” Why would he say that? He already suspects (or even knows, really) that Green raped her, so why ask that of her, and in that way? Wouldn’t he know that that would hurt her? Since he found out about the attack, it has seemed that much of Bates’ anger has been more about himself than about Anna; about what he had lost because she was attacked rather than what she lost (and what she needed). If there was any doubt about it, that one line confirms it, and Anna has been left running interference to prevent Mr. Bates from going all “Billy Jack” on Green and losing him to the gallows. Thankfully Anna finally confided in BFF Lady Mary who, I really do believe would do anything to help her, and now it’s just a race against time for Mary to get Tony to sack Green before turning up at Downton again. But he’s a sly one that Bates, and a simple dinner table question to obnoxious Green gives him all he needs to know about this and that – if he needs to know anything at all. Lord Gillingham turns up at the bazaar with news that Green is dead (what a coincidence!) – killed in a road accident. The sidewalk in Piccadilly was crowded so lots of people saw Green as he fell or slipped or was pushed into the road and was hit by a truck or a bus or a large husky woman in a noodle bang wig walking with a cane. So odd. Anna is relieved that there were witnesses to whatever it was that happened, but she does have her doubts. “You know me, when I do a thing, I like to have a very good reason for doing it.” That’s not exactly a no, innit? But then again, Mary and Anna were also in London on the day in question. Where were they? Come to think of it, where was potential serial killer, Miss Mabel Lane Fox? Is this the end of it? Or did Baxter overhear Mary’s conversation with Blake and will she report back to Thomas? And will he use that to get back at his archenemy Bates? On the plus side, has anyone else noticed that Bates’ limp has continued to get better? He was really trucking down that road on his way to ‘York’, wasn’t he?

It’s Raining Men: Back in the Knife Drawer Lord Sharp:
If one more potential suitor turns up at Downton to compete for Lady Mary, she is going to need a Border Collie to herd them into the drawing room after the gong (one doesn’t think Isis is up to the task). As it is, the current crop is starting to get bitchy with each other. Not poor Napier, of course; by now he must realize he’s out of the running and has settled for charming Cora and granny on the outside chance that it matters. It doesn’t. No, it’s down to the two finalists (for now) who use strategic car-pooling to keep an eye on each other. For his part, pig maven Blake knows how to work it: Few things are sexier than a man holding a baby, and when Mary sees Blake with George, he scores big (while Violet leaves skid marks on her way out the door and Napier kicks himself for not thinking of grabbing the kid first). However, despite all that, at the end of the day, Mary does give Blake the now standard talk about not wanting to add him to the list of men she’s disappointed (or killed). In the meantime, in her subtle way, it seems she’s gone off Lord Tony as well, doesn’t it? Take what you like from the fact that Tony gave Miss Mabel Lane Fox the old heave ho. Train or no train, that was a rather abrupt end to their lunch, wasn’t it? She got what she wanted; the promise he’d give Green the push (no pun intended), and then she snapped back to imperious and was off  on her way. It’s no wonder the weather forecasters leave it to a ground hog to predict the weather; me thinks they need the satellites to read Lady Mary. And it seems everyone else is trying to read her as well, as that last scene of all eyes on the menage indicated. With no TV or radio; the love life of Lady Mary Crawley and her desire of suitors is the best soap they have: Irritating and beguiling in equal measure.  No wonder they were craning their necks to see.

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

5. “I always feel that greeting betrays such a lack of self worth.”

4. “No life appears rewarding if you think too much about it.”

3. “Yes, but you’re better than nothing.”

2. “All life is a series of problems which we must try and solve. First this one, then the next, and the next, until at last we die.”

1. “He’s the most unconvincing fiancé I have ever come across.”

Your Assignment, Downtonians: The word of the week is ‘splendid’. It’s one of those words that, even though we Americans have it in our own vocabulary, is rare that we use it and even more rare that we can pull it off without looking around to see if anyone buys it. This week, we are going to take it back. Your assignment is to find a way to use ‘splendid’ in conversation at least once and report back.

Say it ain’t so!: I’m sad to say that next week is the last Downton Abbey episode of this season! It really flew by, didn’t it? And given all the stories set up for resolution this season, the last episode, which was the Christmas episode in the UK, promises to be epic. I cannot wait to watch it! How about you?

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