Mon
Oct 14 2013 10:03am

Downton Abbey Season 4 (Series 4), Episode 4 Recap: Staying Silent, Speaking Up

Gary Carr and Rose in Downton Abbey Season 4

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: Tonight's episode of Downton Abbey was aired as “Episode 3” on PBS but originally aired as “Episode 4” in the U.K. in October, when this recap was first posted.

Note: This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Downton Abbey, including last night's episode, 4x04. Enjoy!

Author's Note: I just want to let everyone know that watching this week’s episode was extremely difficult due to the current plotline involving Anna. It is a horrific storyline, and while the show is handling it in a realistic manner, it is not easy to watch. Please be kind in your comments to this post, and keep in mind the incredibly sensitive and delicate nature of this turn of events. Thank you.

Well, like most of you, my biggest concern was how the situation with Anna was going to play out. The episode starts with her walking somberly to the Abbey without Bates. He’s very confused and worried that he’s done something to upset her, but of course, she’s avoiding him, and telling him that nothing’s wrong.

All the servants (including that horrible Green) are at breakfast, and Anna ends up sitting next to him. She tells everyone that her bruises happened because she fell and cut her lip. As soon as Bates walks in and sits across from her, she bolts. It’s interesting that she’s trying to avoid confronting Bates. I bet she’s worried that she might let slip what happened. Any way, Bates tries to get Mrs. Hughes to tell him what happened, but she dances around it. The entire time, Green is sitting across from them, drinking his tea, looking like nothing’s happened.

Meanwhile, Edna’s acting a bit weird too, and Thomas comments on how there seems to be something the matter with everyone that morning. As everyone gets ready to leave, Mrs. Hughes gives Green the evil eye. Obviously, he knows that she knows, because he heard Bates ask her about Anna. Horrible, horrible man.

Upstairs, the guests are bidding goodbye, and Robert seems to have finally accepted Gregson, as he shakes his hand in a warm farewell. The Duchess of Yeovil is very sweet with Tom. She tells him that he will learn how to manage without Sybil, just like she finally learned to manage without the Duke. Sir Bullock tells Rose that her not being “out” is not going to be a problem. Clearly, he wants to see her again. Lord Gillingham is saying his goodbyes to Mary when Green interrupts and tells him that they are ready to leave. Gillingham admits to Mary that he really doesn’t like Green, but is lucky to have anyone, so he puts up with it. I wonder what’s going to happen when he eventually finds out about the incident with Anna. He asks Mary if they could see each other, and she gracefully sidesteps his question.

Mary’s determined to see the tax people and convince Robert that there are other options for paying the debt without having to sell any land. Cora asks if she’s going to meet with Gillingham while she’s up there, and of course, Mary tells her that she’s not. Cora’s being Cora: single-minded, and trying to “secure” Mary…again! Rose asks to tag along and they all agree that with Mary and Rosamund as chaperones, it’s okay for her to go.

Edna corners Tom in the hallway, and wants to know why he didn’t go down to see her that morning. Oh, great. I guess in his drunken state, Tom did something that he “won’t deny.” And to add fuel to the fire, Thomas hears the whole exchange. This is one time where I hope Thomas does what he does best and manages to get rid of Edna. Tom goes upstairs to pack for London and Edna follows him.

Tom: “What are you doing?!”

Edna: “You can’t treat a poor girl like this.”

Tom: “Like what?”

Edna: “To use her one minute and to cast her aside the next.”

Tom: “I’ve said I’m sorry …”

Edna: “Yes, you’re sorry. I know. But suppose I’m pregnant. What’ll you do then?”

Tom: “Don’t be ridiculous. You can’t be pregnant. It’s not as easy as that.”

Edna: “But it is. Just as easy.”

Tom: “What’s the point in talking about it now? You won’t know for weeks.”

Edna: “Because I must be sure that you’ll marry me if I’m carrying your child. I need to know that you won’t cast me off, that you’ll be a man of honor if it comes to it. And don’t say I’m not good enough. If you were good enough for Lady Sybil Crawley, then I’m good enough for you.”

What? Oh, goodness. That’s all we need. Seriously, I hope Thomas figures out a way to get rid of her. Any way, Tom gets really upset and asks Edna to not say Sybil’s name. Edna won’t relent and wants him to promise that he’ll marry her if she’s pregnant. Wait a minute! Could it be that she’s already pregnant and might be using Tom? I hope not! Tom refuses to promise her anything, and tells her that he is “full of regret” for what happened. Good. I’m glad he didn’t give in to her. The next day, Thomas catches her singing in the boot room and wants to know why she’s so happy, especially since she wasn’t the day before when she was talking to Tom. Edna, who is probably just as sneaky (if not more) than Thomas, tells him to keep his eyes open and be glad that he’s in with her, because someday, that might benefit him. Oh, good lord! She’s sure she’s going to somehow “capture” Tom. Blech.

Meanwhile, Dr. Clarkson’s on his way to the hospital’s board meeting to plead for an outpatient type of clinic, when he runs into Isobel and asks her if she would consider coming back to help at the hospital. She demurs, but promises to think about it. Later in the day, we see her with Violet and she admits that seeing Mary with Gillingham was difficult for her. Violet tells her that it is all right, and that she hopes Isobel will “find a way to make friends with the world again.” It is beautiful to see their friendship and how it has evolved.

Well, we all know that once Cora sets her mind to doing something, she won’t let go, so she’s made a call to Rosamund and asked her to host a dinner and invite Gillingham. Of course, Bullock is going to be invited too so “it won’t be too obvious,” but as Robert points out, it will most certainly be obvious.

That night at dinner, Isobel takes up Clarkson’s cause for the outpatient clinic and as usual, Robert is skeptical. Isobel says that she’s considering helping out. Tom’s completely preoccupied (with good reason!) and doesn’t say much.

Anna and Bates are walking down the hallway when he reaches out to tell her he’ll miss her while she’s gone, and she flinches and jumps away. He’s really confused and doesn’t understand what he could’ve done for her to be acting this way, but she just tells him that she’s tired.

Bates: “You won't talk to me. You won’t look at me. I can’t come near you.”

Anna: “We’re in each others’ pockets. We live together, we work together. Sometimes, I think it’s just too much.”

Oh, Anna! Don’t do this! Don’t push him away like this. I mean, I understand why she’s doing it—to protect him—but she needs his love and support.

Meanwhile. Carson tells Mrs. Hughes of his lost love, Alice. Apparently, she was in a singing duo with her sister when they met. He tells her that he wanted to marry Alice “so much, I could taste it.” Mrs. Hughes tells him that the fact that Alice admitted to having loved him on her death bed changes things, changes him. They’re in the middle of their conversation, when Anna walks in to talk to Mrs. Hughes. She tells Mrs. Hughes that she wants to move back upstairs when she returns from London because she can’t bear to have Bates touch her. She feels that she’s not good enough for him any more.

Anna: “I think that somehow, I must’ve made it happen.”

Mrs. Hughes: “Stuff and nonsense! You were attacked by an evil, violent man. There is no sin in that.”

Anna: “But I feel dirty. I can’t let him touch me because I’m soiled.”

Mrs. Hughes tries to convince her to go to the police, but Anna refuses. Mrs. Hughes reminds her that there is a chance she might be pregnant, and she has to have a recourse, to which Anna replies that she will kill herself. Oh, my heart. Watching this is pure torture. Poor, poor Anna. Mrs. Hughes tries to make the case that Green needs to be punished, but Anna’s adamant that if anyone finds out, Bates will kill Green and be hanged for it, so she refuses to report Green to the police. Mrs. Hughes reluctantly agrees to let Anna back in the house, but only when she figures out a good reason to give Bates.

Gillingham and Mary in Downton Abbey 4x04The next evening in London, Mary’s surprised to find Gillingham and Bullock as the dinner guests. They all make plans to go to a dance club afterwards. This is not like the jazz club that we found Rose in last season. It’s an upscale dance club, and not quite as raunchy! Mary and Gillingham dance together and she tells him that she’s glad he came. He asks to see her again before she leaves London, but she reminds him that he’s engaged to be married.

Gillingham: “Almost engaged.”

Mary: “Almost is good enough for me. And … even if you weren’t, the truth is, I’m not ready, and I won’t be. For some years.”

Oh, thank goodness. I’m glad Mary’s turning him down. Not because of him, necessarily, but because if he started to hang around Mary, that vile Green would be around Anna, and it would just be horrific. Any way, Bullock is completely drunk and starts behaving badly, embarrassing even Rose. He abandons Rose on the dance floor to go throw up (hahaha!), and the singer (played by the much talked about Gary Carr), rushes in to the rescue and starts dancing with her. Rosamund quickly sends Tom in to fetch Rose from the dance floor, and away from the “gallant bandleader,” and of course, Rose isn’t too happy about that. When they get home, Rosamund tells Rose that she better discard John Bullock after his atrocious behavior. She tells Rose that “things have to come to a pretty pass when you have to be rescued by a black bandleader!” Aha! And there it is, ladies and gentlemen.

Mary tries to get Tom to open up and tell her what’s wrong. He tells her that if he confesses, she’ll despise him, and she responds by telling him that she once said the exact same thing to someone (does everyone remember the exchange with Matthew? Oh, my heart!), and that confessing might actually make it easier to bear. Tom still refuses to tell her, and she urges him to tell someone.

When they get back from London, Tom heads straight downstairs and confides in Mrs. Hughes. He asks for her help, and she gives him a piece of her mind, in the calm, motherly way only she can. She summons Edna, who immediately gets on the defensive. She accuses Tom and Mrs. Hughes on wanting to gang up on her and pay her off. Mrs. Hughes tells her that no one is going to offer her any money, because the whole “what if I’m pregnant” scenario is just a ruse. She tells Tom that Edna would never risk getting pregnant before she was sure that Tom would marry her. She knows this is all absolute fact, because she found an “instruction book” in Edna’s things, and knows that Edna took precautions. She assures Tom that if he had agreed to marry Edna, then there would’ve been a pregnancy after the fact, but not before. Hah! Go Mrs. Hughes!

Edna’s furious and tells Mrs. Hughes that she can’t prove anything. Mrs. Hughes tells Edna that if she continues with this plan, she’ll summon the doctor and have him examine her to prove that she’s not pregnant. When Edna protests, Mrs. Hughes says that she will lock her in the room and “tear the clothes off your body, and hold you down, if that’s what it takes.” Oh, snap! You don’t want to mess with Mrs. Hughes! When Edna threatens to tell Cora, Mrs. Hughes tells her that if she doesn’t hold her tongue, not only will she not have a reference, she won’t be able to find a job…ever. When Edna leaves (with her tail between her legs, thank you very much!), Mrs. Hughes admits to Tom that she wasn’t sure Edna wasn’t pregnant, but now they know the truth. Brilliant! Edna runs into Thomas and when he asks her what’s wrong, she gives him a piece of her mind. In an absolute moment of perfect truth, he give her a piece of HIS mind.

Edna: “Do you ever wonder why people dislike you so much? It’s because you are sly, and oily, and smug. And I’m really pleased I got the chance to tell you before I go.”

Thomas: “Well if we’re playing the truth game, then you’re a manipulative little witch, and if your schemes have come to nothing, I’m delighted.”

Hah! And with that, we are minus one annoying, manipulative Miss Edna Braithwaite. Good riddance! It turns out that Thomas has someone he wants to refer for the position. Her name is Miss Baxter and we’ll be seeing more of her next week. Can’t wait!

Meanwhile, Bates is happy to see Anna and tells her to please either kiss him, or tell him what’s going on.

Anna: “Don’t bully me!”

Bates: “Anna, you’re upset. You’re unhappy, and I don’t know why. You say it’s not me. Well I hope that’s true, but there is a reason and I need to find out what it is. I won’t press you now if it makes things worse, but in the end I will find out.”

The look on Anna’s face is somewhere between absolute despair and fear. This is unbearable! We never hear her answer because Mr. Carson interrupts to ask Anna to let Mary know that Lord Gilingham is at the Abbey. Anna freaks out a bit and asks if Gillingham’s valet is with him. She walks it back by pretending that Mary would want to know if Gillingham is staying, etc. Later that night, while Cora and Robert are discussing Edna’s departure (due to “family reasons”), Robert notices that Anna is unusually quiet, but when he asks her, Anna tells him she’s fine. Oh come ON, people! Can’t you see how much she’s suffering? It’s written all over her face!

Anyway, it turns out that Gillingham took the same train from London, only he traveled in third class to avoid having to speak to Mary in front of everyone. He tells Mary that he’s “made a long journey, to ask a short question,” and proposes. Wow. That was fast. Even Mary is shocked and tells him that yes, even though they knew each other when they were children, there’s been quite a number of years since they’ve seen each other, but Gillingham tells her that he loves her and is going to find a way to convince her to marry him. Uh…okay. What?

Gillingham: “Look, I never met Matthew, but I’m sure he was a splendid chap.”

Mary: “He was.”

Gillingham: “He’s dead, and I’m alive. We’re good together, Mary. And we could be so very happy if you’d let us.”

Mary: “And Miss Lane Fox?”

Gillingham: “I like Mabel, a lot. And I think I can come to love her, but I’m not in love with her, as I am with you. You fill my brain. I see you when I close my eyes. I … I can’t stop thinking about you, where you are, what you’re doing … “

Mary: “You’re very persuasive.”

Gillingham: “Then be persuaded.”

Mary: “I only wish I could.”

Oh, okay. Thank goodness. She turns him down. He tells her to take as long as she needs, and only that he wants to know that she’ll marry him in the end. Oh, and apparently he was planning on spending the night, but thankfully didn’t bring Green with him. Phew.

That night at dinner, Robert confesses to Violet that they are all happy to see Gillingham there, but Violet murmurs that not everyone is happy, meaning of course, that Isobel is probably not at all. Any way, he asks why Edith went off to London, and Mary tells him she went to see Gregson, to which Violet quips, “that’s the next thing to look forward to.” Haha! When they are ready to leave, Isobel makes a point of shaking Gillingham’s hand and telling him that she hopes they see him at the Abbey often. Robert quietly remarks on how “nobly” that was done, and Violet agrees that “while the phrase is enough to set one’s teeth on edge, there are moments when [Isobel’s] virtue demands admiration.”

Speaking of Edith, she is indeed in London having a very cozy get together with Gregson at his place. Apparently, he’s taking off for Munich in a week, and has prepared documents that give Edith authority over his business affairs while he’s gone. He doesn’t know how long the process will take, and how long he’ll be in Germany. Any way, one thing leads to another and Edith spends the evening with him. We see her sneaking back to Rosamund’s home in the morning. Way to go, Edith! Rosamund calls her on it, but Edith stands her ground. Rosamund says that she won’t tell Cora, because Edith is a grown woman, but she does warn her to be careful.

Back at the Abbey, Anna pleads her case to Mrs. Hughes again and asks to move back in. That night, Bates confides in Robert and tells him that he doesn’t know what is wrong with Anna, and he doesn’t know what to do. Robert tells him to wait until “things become clear,” and to trust that when a marriage is based on the kind of love that Anna and Bates share, everything will work out.

In the morning, Gillingham tells Mary that if she won’t (or can’t) promise to marry him, he would be obligated to marry Mabel, because well, he HAS to marry. It’s the way the system works. Mary understands completely, of course, and tells him that it’s just not going to work out because she’s still in love with Matthew and is not ready for a new relationship. She tells him that just like she fills his brain, Matthew still fills hers, and she doesn’t want to be without him. Sniff. He asks her to give him a kiss so that he can remember his great love (groan), and she kisses him. And, he leaves. Thank goodness. On her way to York with some business with Tom, Mary admits that she might’ve just done something that she might regret. No, Mary. You did the right thing.

Ivy and Jimmy in Downton Abbey Season 4 episode 4Our love quadrangle continues downstairs, as we see Ivy learning how to cook more complicated dishes, even if Jimmy doesn’t approve. He doesn’t understand why she’s interested in furthering her skills. He tells her that he just wants to travel, drink champagne, and have fun. He grabs her and starts dancing around the kitchen and just as he leans in for a kiss, Alfred and Daisy walk in. They threaten to tell Mrs. Patmore, but then chicken out and don’t say anything. Well, Jimmy starts sneaking off with Ivy, and Daisy catches them again.

Meanwhile, Alfred finds an advertisement in the paper for a training school at the Ritz in London in honor of Monsieur Escoffier (very famous French chef of the era). Apparently, candidates would take a test, and have a chance to train for free, with the opportunity for a permanent job afterwards. He wants to tell Ivy all about it, and Daisy tells him that Ivy’s in the boot room. Of course, she fails to mention that Ivy’s there with Jimmy, and Alfred walks in on them making out. Oh, Daisy! Who knew you had a mean streak in you!

Well, Alfred decides to study and take the test to see if he can enter the cooking program at the Ritz, and Mrs. Patmore promises to help him. She tells Daisy that even though it will be hard to part with Alfred, she has to help him. She says that “sometimes you can spend too long on a one-sided love,” and maybe it’s a good thing that Alfred leaves.

And in a minor (but very heartwarming) plot line, Mrs. Hughes gives Mr. Carson a framed picture of Alice, as a “reminder that you once had a heart,” and to “reassure the staff that you belong to the human race!” They are so awesome together. They are such great friends!

Next week, we see Bates pushing to find out what’s bothering Anna, and Mary standing her ground about a tenant who hasn’t paid rent in a long time. There’s also speculation about the new ladies’ maid, Miss Baxter.

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.

***

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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.

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13 comments
Brianna
1. carmenlire
I've really liked this season so far. I am interested to see where the plotline goes with Anna, and I like that Anna is being real; that's what was thought back then and, unfortunately, today many women believe that they some how brought it on themselves, that they are to blame. I can't wait to see what happens when Bates and the rest of the household finds out.
I'm glad that Mary turned down Gillingham. He seems like a good chap, just not for Mary. And I must say I was very surprised when he proposed: he has been given no encouragement and it just felt way to sudden.
Go Edith! I am really like Edith this season and I like Gregson. I wonder if Edith will do wonders for the business since he had her sign papersover his affairs?
Edna needed to go and I absolutely loved that Thomas put her in her place. I'm not sure what to think of Thomas. He hasn't had his own storyline yet this season. I'm really starting to like him, but after everything's he's done, I'm not sure if I can eally go there.
I'm glad that Alfred is leaving, I only wish that Jimmy and whatever her name is was leaving with him. I want Daisy to find a good man and I love her relationship with Mrs. Patmoore.
When will Branson find someone else? Will he even? I love him too and want him to have a happy ending.
I want an episode about Mrs. Hughes past. Nothing shakes her up! Not learning explicitly that Thomas is gay, not finding Ethel in bed with an Officer, and not learning that Branson slept with Edna--or that Edna had a book on preventative measures' that Edna would find a father as soon as she found out.
And I'm thinking that Edna might have slept with Thomas if Branson had said he would marry her. Why? Because she told Thomas that if he stayed in her good graces, it would benefit him.
Naz Keynejad
2. nazkey
Word on the street is that there will be a new nanny, and she's going to be Tom's love interest. We'll see!
Jerome
3. Jerome
How glad I was to hear Lord Gillingham say that he didn't really like Green! Even if it is completely untrue, one likes to think that good people have an instinctive badness detector. Gillingham should not have been so precipitate with Mary. No one is yet ready for her to remarry.

By the by, I noticed that Lord Grantham (and Mary) called Gillingham by his first name, which indicates an "understanding" between him and Mary. Such an understanding, however, has been ruled out. An exception based on childhood friendship, wishful thinking, or mere historical inaccuracy? Also, some of (what I deem to be) the grammatical blunders irked me during this episode.

Edna's antics strained my disbelief suspenders almost to breaking point! I felt as though the whole business suggested a certain desperation on the part of the writers, the sudden departure of the baggage included. I wonder if that suddenness means we have not seen the last of this woman thoroughly scorned.

The Dowager's vinegar seems to have turned into milk (well, mostly), especially where Isobel is concerned.

One last thing: the obvious thing for Tom to do whilst being miserable in London was to pop over to Farm Street: but, to take a cynical view, that would have meant hiring another actor, etc. Instead, Mrs. Hughes did duty as Mother Confessor. She deserves a medal, she does!
Naz Keynejad
4. nazkey
I loved that Tom went to Mrs. Hughes. I love that he looks at her as a "mother" figure, which she clearly is. I just wish she could find a way to let everyone know about Anna. My biggest heartache this entire episode was for her, and of course, for Bates. I'm really glad Edna left too. I couldn't believe how easily Cora was swayed into hiring her in the first place!
Jerome
5. Canucks
We are all very terribly saddened with the DA S04E03, and as Naz tries also to gently nudge us, we might be better served if we did change the subject a little this week.

And now that we are in the middle of its 4th season (and hopefully somewhere near the end of this series), I’d like to share with Naz’s frequent readers a few thoughts as to how (and why) I believe nearly every episode of DA is fashioned the way they are.

. . . . . . . . .

Personally, I resemble every episode of DA to a painting on a canvas. And I find some of these paintings very dark, some a bit lighter, but very rarely do I find them truly sunny or bright.

I have in fact come to believe that Julian Fellows, in general, is a very very “dark” writer.

If you could, for a moment, recall or count all the “dark” episodes or story lines in DA [e.g., Kemal Pamuk, William Mason, Lavinia Swire, Sybil Branson (née Crawley), Matthew Crawley, etc. deaths, and/or Anna May Bates (née Smith)’s near death experience last week] … to all the “sunny” ones [e.g., M&A’s marriage, birth of their baby boy George, etc.] … you will quickly see that the ratio of the dark to light episodes would be roughly 10 to 1 in favor of the dark ones!

Why this is so we can all speculate. But in my humble opinion, there is likely something(s) quite “dark” in the life story of Mr. Julian Fellowes, himself, which must have shaped his world view on life—and which, ultimately, finds its way into every DA episode/season.

Again, personally, I can think of most DA episodes moving in a million different (and lighter) directions without having to “kill people off” or subject its key characters to extreme grief—and still be just enjoyable! But in the hands (and mind) of Mr. Fellowes, it appears that most things (and people in DA) just have to move into some serious darkness (and for some prolonged periods) first, before there is some light in any one’s (life) story.

. . . . . . . . . .

Now … If you also watch the DA episodes, as I do, as a “painting on a canvas,”, I am pretty sure that you, too, will find that Mr. Julian Fellowes in fact uses a very limited number of “paint buckets” to paint each DA episode.

The first bucket of paint Fellowes nearly always dips his hand into is the “sex or intimacy” (tension) bucket.

From the very first episodes of DA (e.g., recall Kemal Pamuk), to the very last one this week, this tension bucket is virtually always imbedded into every single DA episode—implicitly or very explicitly.

In fact, if and when you see this past week’s episode (S04E04), you will notice that “this week’s canvas” has virtually nothing in it but “sexual tension!” Tension between Tom & Edna Braithwaite, Mary & Lord Anthony Gillingham, Edith & Michael Gregson, Daisy & Alfred & Ivy & Jimmy; and Lady Rose MacClare & Every-Dick-Tom & Harry in London!

[And even "intimacy tensions" … between Charles Carson & Elsie Hughes, Isobel Crawley & Dr Richard Clarkson, and yes, achingly and hurtfully, between John & Anna Bates.]

The second Fellowes paint bucket in the DA episodes (or seasons) is always the “money, power & influence” bucket. One could argue that this, in fact, is the “original” bucket from which this show has started, and evolved, and to which Fellowes often returns for its narrative: How do you get it, use it, abuse it, try to keep it, try not share it, acquire more of it, try not to lose it, etc. etc.

If this part of the painting is not explicitly talked about in a DA episode, it is always made explicit in the dramatic shots of the Abbey itself: Notice next time that virtually all DA episodes will give you an impressive shot of the “House” and its environs—shot with such a camera angle that people around it will always be made to look very very “small.” This is Fellowes way of reminding the people who are watching … that “people are always insignificant standing next to the ‘House.’”

In other words, the House is the single most salient symbol and tradition of “money, power & influence” in DA.

[You should also note the next time … if the “House” is shot with dark or light hues to open any given DA episode. That will be your first clue as to whether the episode (and the people or stories that week) are or will be generally happy or sad!]

The third bucket of paint used on the DA canvas is the “historical & socio-political” context of the times which, to me at least, has always made this show quite interesting in the past, but which unfortunately, has been relegated to a nearly irrelevant theme in the current season. Frequent visits to dance halls and jazz clubs (and dancing wildly and completely out of tune and rhythm to the music this week), I am afraid, is all you are going to get for any historical context this season!

And that is about it: Three buckets of paint, mixed in various proportions in every episode and in every season.

That is virtually all there is to Downton Abbey in the hands of its master painter Julian Fellowes.

My problem, aside from the darkness with which this fellow Fellowes chooses to paint his paintings, is that, as time passes, I find him to be not a very original painter!
Jerome
6. Canucks
When I was giving examplars of the "brighter" paintings in DA above, I of course meant to say "M&M’s" or Mary & Matthew Crawley's marriage, and the birth of their baby boy George in S03.

No doubt there were other moments of joy in DA ... but not too many to note or too often to cite.

But I must confess that, for me, some of the "prettiest paintings" in DA were also in the darkest of its seasons (S02): Watching, for example, Mary's face (and heart) literally "melt" when she was seeing Matthew for the first time (with Miss Swire) (S02E01); and/or seeing the relief in her eyes when the love of her life ... walked back into her life ... when she was singing for the troops with a very heavy heart (S02E04).

And all she could utter at the time was .. "Thank God."

I must confess that I can't wait to utter the same words when this series finally and mercifully ... ends!
Naz Keynejad
7. nazkey
You always bring such fabulous insight to these threads, @Canucks. I completely agree that Fellowes paints in "darker" hues most of the time. I read an article he wrote for Vanity Fair for their anniversary issue, and you can clearly see his fascination with the aristrocracy and the necessity of change (and yes, jazz and dancing, which he mentions several times in the article) after WWI.

I do agree that historical events (of which there were plenty) have taken a back seat in the series. In fact, after the WWI episodes, we've hardly touched on anything outside the bubble that is the Abbey. And Rose is not a good example of the age, honestly because, at least for me, she is so completely one-dimensional and uninteresting.

I seriously wonder where Fellowes is planning on taking the story. At some point, it does have to end, because otherwise, he might end up having to resort to cliches, or regurgitate plots, etc. I believe he has signed on for one more season? Maybe five is the magic number!

As always, I'm delighted to see you on the comment thread! Thanks for taking the time.
Jerome
8. Canucks
Speaking of the recent Vanity Fair article, and my ruminations on "Mr. Fellowes's own life experiences shaping his world view, and ultimately, the DA episodes and seasons he creates" ... DA viewers might find the following passage interesting:

. . . . . . . . . .

My late father had a very distinctive first memory. He had been born in July 1912, and just after his second birthday he was taken by his parents to stay with his grandmother in Hampshire. They were all invited to a nearby garden party being given by the Countess of Portsmouth at her home, Hurstbourne Park. To the end of his life, my father could vividly recall standing with his nanny when a man came out of the house onto the terrace and signaled to the band for silence. “Ladies and gentlemen,” he said. “I regret to inform you that we are at war with Germany.” When I asked him why he thought this image had lodged so securely in his infant brain, he replied that he could only suppose the words made so immediate an impact on the listeners, causing a tremor of raw emotion to ripple through the crowd, that even a child was aware of it. This in turn made such an impression on me that I used the scene, in its entirety, as the concluding moment of the first season of Downton Abbey.

"Julian Fellowes on the 1910s and How the Great War Changed the West," Vanity Fair, (October 2013)

. . . . . . . . . .

Also ... when I was sharing my thoughts on the "bucket theory" earlier, I did not want to insult the intelligence of the avid DA viewers that another key dimension of the "power & influence" paint bucket (which the "House" symbolizes) is (and was and will always be) it's composition:

I.e., its "upstairs & downstairs!"

When you are watching DA, it is always interesting to ask: "Who is really 'controlling' the 'House' in DA?" Is it the "upstairs" folks? Or, is it really the "downstairs" folk who are running this "show"?

Before you give your answer, think of all the occasions where you have seen the downstairs people affect the outcome of some of the key events & decisions in DA!

"Lady's soap" anyone?
Jerome
9. Kendra2
I absolutely hated Gillingham. He tells Mary that he won't make a fool out of the girl he proposed to, but doesn't want to separate from her for the sake of security, even though that means that she'll never find someone who will love her entirely. And then he asks or rather guilts Mary to kiss him simply because he wants a memory. Uch. I hope they never bring that character back.
Naz Keynejad
10. nazkey
Personally, I thought his proposal was way too abrupt. How could he possibly have fallen as deeply in love as he claimed in such a short period of time? I'm glad he's gone too!
Jerome
11. Travelover
I didn't read the comments to the initial post yet, because I didn't want them to color MY initial reaction.

The situation with Anna seems more plot device. Yes, the actress is doing a bang up job, and poor Mr. Bates is going thru what most husbands would go thru. BUT the STORY - and that's how I see this - it's a STORY within the show that REALLY annoys me. What I'm trying to say is that up until this happened, I felt the show FLOWED - it was almost REAL to me, and I felt a part of it. And by doing this to Anna - it became a television series trying to fit in as many "relevant" issues it possibly can - and THIS is the STORY of the week for the show.

And as for Gillingham. What a BORE! For crying out loud, once again Mary has her "mate" picked out for her. Don't get me wrong. I did love Matthew, but HE was more or less CHOSEN for her and she was EXPECTED to full fill her "duties" (and, yes, during those times it was expected). She did come around, he "humanized" her, and their romance was very sweet. Maybe I'm spoiled by all the HOT romance novels we get to read, but doggone it - I want PASSION for Mary! I want to see someone come along who knocks her socks off! AND I want to see HER reform HIM - and THEY wind up together.

As for the maid who tried to entrap Tom. Bravo, Mrs. Hughes! Now if ONLY she had done that with the rapist. And it's good to see Mrs. Crawley finding a purpose again.

So those are MY initial reactions.
Jerome
12. Travelover
Kendra2, ITA. There was sweetness and innocense with Matthew, and IMHO he defined what was TRULY "fine and noble" - NOT because he was to the castle born. But the appearance of Gillingham seems calculated, and he seems soooo tired (HE didn't get up and "rescue" Rose - they SENT Tom in to do it?). At this point, YES, Matthew WAS the love of Mary's life - BUT does that mean she has to "settle". What does THAT say about ANY woman who is widowed - that life ENDS for the widow - she has to "settle". As I said, I want a grand passion for her. I want a totally unexpected knight to ride in, who lights her fire.
Jerome
13. Travelover
Nazkey, I agree, Rose IS "one dimensional". Tom's wife took chances in life to break down barriers, but those chances were to improve the quality of life and even better herself. Rose simply wants to experience EVERY "taboo" of the time. Sure she was "nice" to the poor man who showed up at Downton believing she really was a maid, but it looks like she's on the same path with the singer. There is NO "purpose" to Rose at this point. I guess she's supposed to epitomize the scandalous Roaring Twenties.
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