The Crawley family and their devoted staff are back in Downton Abbey Series 4,
now airing in the U.K. (U.S. viewers, stick with us! We'll be re-posting Naz's recaps when Season 4 airs on PBS beginning in January.) We're sure you're just as eager as we are to get to it, so without further ado...
Note for U.S. Viewers: The season premiere of Downton Abbey as aired on PBS tonight was two hours long. In the UK they were shown as Episode 1 and Episode 2, so be sure you've read Naz's recap of the first half of tonight's episode (originally posted to H&H in September) before moving on to the recap below. Plus, before you go, be sure to enter our Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Sweepstakes!
******DOWNTON ABBEY 4.02 SPOILERS BELOW******
This week’s episode starts out with the news that Gwen is married. Remember Gwen from the first season? The one who went off to be a secretary? I hope she comes over for a visit! Edna’s started her job as Cora’s new maid. She’s going to be trouble. I just know it. Thomas is already trying to get on her good side. Of course he is. He probably recognized the potential for a new partner in crime. Anna warns Edna to be careful around Thomas, but I don’t think she’s going to listen. Oh yeah. This is not going to go well at all.
A box arrives from Matthew’s old office addressed to Mary. Mrs. Hughes worries that there might be something in it that could upset Mary, so she suggests that Mr. Carson have someone else see it first. Of course, that someone else is going to be Robert. It’s so sad, you guys! Robert opens the box and the first thing he pulls out is the little stuffed toy Mary gave to Matthew as a good-luck charm when he went off to war. Sniff.
There’s a letter inside one of the books and it seems that Matthew wrote it, establishing Mary as his sole heir. Robert doesn’t want to show it to Mary for fear that if it doesn’t have any legal standing, she’ll get upset. Violet is pretty upset about Robert’s decision, and tells him he has to show it to Mary. Seriously, what is up with Robert and his trying to control Mary like this? Yes, I think it’s a matter of control, even if he tries to make it look like he’s just worried about her. Violet actually calls him on it. She tells him that he’s afraid of facing the truth, which is that he wants to be in charge of the estate, and not have to share it with Mary. Aha! See? Violet always knows what’s what. Of course, Robert vehemently denies this, but I’m with Violet. I think that’s the real problem here.
Meanwhile, Charlie Grigg is still staying at Isobel’s house, and Carson still hasn’t visited him. It seems that something happened to the dancing duo and Grigg thinks that Carson’s avoidance is because of that. Hm. Curious. Isobel, in her typical enterprising way, has written tons of letters to various theaters, and the opera house in Belfast has written back that they need someone, and they offered the job to Grigg.
Downstairs, Jimmy’s figuring out another scheme to go out and have some fun. A famous acting troupe is coming to York, and he finagles his way to go there on the pretense of running an errand for Mrs. Patmore. Alfred is all put out with Jimmy’s continuous flirting with Ivy, too. Alfred’s worried that Jimmy’s going to get Ivy into all sorts of trouble, if you catch my drift. Well, Jimmy succeeds in convincing Mr. Carson (and Mrs. Patmore) to let him take Ivy to the theater. Of course, Daisy’s not too happy about the whole thing either, because she feels that this is just making Alfred like Ivy even more. Mrs. Patmore tells her to be patient and see what happens. Clearly, the love quadrangle downstairs is going strong!
Anna runs into Molesley in the village. He’s taken up some road work to make ends meet, and he’s really not doing well. He owes money, and Anna offers to give him some to help him out, and of course, he refuses. Poor Molesley! Something has to be done for him. Anna’s really upset with the whole situation and tells Bates that they have to figure out some way to help Molesley.
Robert gives Mary the letter, and she’s pretty upset that he read it before she did. He confesses that he wanted to send it to London for Murray (their lawyer) to see it first, and that Violet told him he couldn’t. Anyway, before dinner, Robert reads the letter out loud to everyone (including Violet and Isobel). It turns out that Matthew wrote the letter right before they had taken off for Scotland, and when he realized that not having a will was a bad idea. Basically, the letter says that Matthew wants Mary to “take charge” because he doesn’t know if the baby will be a boy or a girl. The letter appears to be legal since it was witnessed by two of Matthew’s clients. Robert is not convinced, and still wants Murray to check it.
Apparently, Robert’s also worried that the estate will have to pay the death duties twice (once for Matthew, and once for Mary, when she passes away) before little George could inherit. Violet reminds him that be that as it may, the estate will benefit from Mary’s guidance in the meantime. Tom hopes that Mary would be interested in taking charge, and she says that she wants to have her opinions counted, at the very least. Robert takes the opportunity to bombard her (at the dinner table, no less!) with all sorts of details and overwhelm her.
Mary: “I assume you’re trying to make some sort of point.”
Cora: “He’s trying to show that a woman’s place is in the home.”
Tom: “But she knows a lot about Matthew’s plans, and that has value for me. Mrs. Crawley, what do you think?”
Isobel: “I’m afraid I’m on Mary’s side, Robert, if sides there must be.”
Robert: “There are no sides, not at all. I’m pleased if you’re pleased. I’m just saying, you [i.e. Mary] have some work to do. That is, if the letter turns out to be valid.”
Violet: “Which you very much hope it is not.”
Ouch! Seems like Robert’s dug himself into a bit of a hole here with the family. Not the first time. When is he going to realize that his old ways of doing things just simply don’t work any more? I love how the ladies of the house are all standing up to him.
Anna gets a card for Gwen, and Bates offers to have the people in the village sign it in addition to the household staff. Hm…Bates has an ulterior motive here. First, he goes to see Violet and asks her to give Molesley money (I think this is the first time these two had a scene together!), and then he invites Molesley to dinner. I wonder what he’s up to. Even Molesley questions why he’s so “friendly” all of a sudden.
Bates: “Aren’t I usually friendly?”
Molesley: “No. You’re not discourteous, Mr. Bates, I’ll give you that, but you’re not friendly. Except for Anna, of course.”
We see Bates forging Molesley’s signature on some sort of note, and it turns out that he’s making something up to pay Mr. Molesley back for some loan. It’s clearly a ruse to give Molesley the money from Violet, but since Bates is doing this in front of the staff, Molesley can’t refuse it. Smart man, our Mr. Bates! Anna asks him why he did it, and he says that he did it for her:
Bates: “You have put up with so much that I couldn’t change, so if there’s ever the slightest thing that I could make better for you, then I will.”
Anna: “But how did you manage it?”
Bates: “Don’t I keep telling you? Prison was an education.”
Seriously, they are so unbelievably adorable together.
Mary decides to keep the little stuffed animal on her dressing table to “remind me that Matthew’s on my side.” She sees that Robert is happy to have the estate “back under his control.” Violet takes matters into her own hands, and decides to ask Tom (whom she’s reverted back to calling “Branson,” now that he’s the agent, LOL), to teach Mary the ropes of managing the estate. Of course, she wants to keep it from Robert, because “there can be too much truth in any relationship.”
So Tom starts taking Mary around on his rounds to show her the estate and teach her the operations. He mentions the death duties, and how Robert wants to sell off some land to pay it off in one lump sum, and he says that he wants to know what Mary thinks they ought to do.
In the meantime, Robert’s heard from Murray, and it turns out that the letter is legal enough to take the place of a will, and Mary effectively owns half of the estate. Mary immediately takes advantage of this new position and tells Robert that she doesn’t agree with his plan to sell land to pay off the taxes. Yay, Mary!
Mrs. Hughes catches Mr. Carson going through some old papers and finds out that back in the day, Carson had a little crush on a woman named Alice. Apparently, she didn’t treat Carson very well. I wonder if this is the thing that Grigg alluded to. Isobel approaches Carson to weed out the truth and get him to reconcile with his old partner, but he refuses to budge. Later, Mrs. Hughes urges him to see Grigg one last time before he leaves for Belfast, because it’s “an open wound,” and Carson needs to “stitch it up and let it heal.” Carson finally relents and goes to the station the next day. Aha! It is Alice! She chose Grigg over Carson, and Carson’s never forgiven that. Grigg tells Carson that even though Alice chose him over Carson, it never worked out, and she died five years ago, and told Grigg on her deathbed, that “Charlie Carson was the better man. I could’ve loved him. I did love him, really, but I was a fool and couldn’t see it.” She wanted Grigg to let Carson know, and that’s why he’d come back and had tried to get in touch with Carson. They part as friends, and Carson insists on reimbursing Isobel for any expenses she incurred while taking care of Grigg.
Oh good lord! Thomas is up to his old tricks again. Edna ruins one of Cora’s dresses, and instead of ‘fessing up, she connives with Thomas to blame Anna for it. Seriously? Cora obviously says something to Robert about it, because he confronts Bates and tells him to keep Anna in check. What? I can’t believe that both Cora and Robert are so easily swayed against Anna, who’s been with them forever. I swear, if Thomas gets Anna in trouble, I’ll write him off forever. Grrr.
Meanwhile, Edith’s been going up to London regularly. Gregson is still set on changing his citizenship, and Edith is worried that everyone will hate him for wanting to become a German citizen at a time when even the royal family has denounced their German heritage. But he’s determined. Edith invites him to come to Downton and let the family get to know him better. They’re having a cozy little lunch together and he wants her to stay, but she tells him she can’t, even though “it’s getting harder and harder to say no.” Oh oh.
In the Rose corner (such as it is), she wants to go to a “thé dancon”, and asks Anna to be her chaperone. She wants Anna to keep it a secret from everyone, and Anna refuses. She talks it over with Mary, and Mary gives her permission, with the caveat for Anna to “make sure to keep [Rose] out of trouble.” Uh … that is a tall order! They go up to York, and Anna is very uncomfortable with the whole thing, and keeps trying to convince Rose to leave. They order tea, and Rose asks for “something special” in hers. The place is filled with all sorts of people, and Rose, pretending to be “Rose Smith,” starts dancing with some random guy.
Coincidentally, Jimmy, who’s seen Anna and Rose walk into the hall, follows and asks Anna to dance. Okay. You can tell that this isn’t going to end well. Rose pretends to be a maid from Downton (even tries out a “lower class” accent). Someone tries to cut in to dance with her, and a fight breaks out. Thank goodness Jimmy’s there, because he manages to hustle Anna and Rose out of there right before the cops show up.
The next night, the guy Rose was dancing with shows up at the Abbey looking for “the housemaid, Rose.” Anna gets Rose to dress up as a maid, I guess in the hopes that she would send him on his way. She tells him that she’s spoken for, that one of the local farmers is her beau, so to speak, and he starts to leave when she kisses him. I mean, a real kiss. Jimmy catches them, and Rose makes him promise not to say anything.
And that was it. A bit of a slow episode, but clearly a lot of “setup” for what’s to come.
Next week, we finally get to see the house party, and the possible love interests for Mary. Apparently, one of the valets is making a play for Anna, which obviously upsets Bates. It’s going to be an interesting episode!
Editor's note: Downton Abbey fans, take note! The book Behind the Scenes of Downton Abbey may well be relevant to your interests—it's full of Season 4 goodness.
But wait, there's more! H&H is hosting a Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea Sweepstakes! Learn more here and enter while there's still time.
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Naz Keynejad is an avid reader, copy/story editor, and is currently working on her Masters degree in English literature. She’s a self-professed literary nerd and has a “thing” for period dramas. She will watch anything as long as it’s filled with British accents, suppressed sexual tension, angst, and of course, period costumes. Oh, and there has to be tea. Lots of tea.