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: This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Downton Abbey, including last night's episode, 4x05. Enjoy!
This week’s episode begins with Mr. Bates walking out of his home, alone. We see Anna back in her room at the Abbey, trying to compose herself, and applying makeup to cover up the bruise under her eye. She walks down to the servants’ hall and sees Bates waiting for her. She tells him that it’s not necessary for him to wait every morning, and he tells her it is, because his “life was perfect, and then in a space of one day, it is nothing.” They’re interrupted by Miss Baxter, the new ladies’ maid, and for about a minute, are back to their old selves: talking about the new hired help, and wondering why such a nice person is friends with Thomas. And then, Anna shuts down again and walks away. This is absolutely heartbreaking.
Anyway, it seems like Cora is happy with Baxter. Let’s see how long this lasts! Robert’s been “summoned” by Mary and Tom to discuss some new ideas, and he’s a bit hesitant. It appears that one of the long-standing tenants hasn’t been paying his rent for a long time, and Mary and Tom want to foreclose the lease. Robert’s not too keen on the idea, but Mary tells him that “the world moves on, and we must move with it.” Of course, this prompts Robert to show her Gillingham’s engagement announcement in the paper (you know, talking about “moving on” and all that!) Mary acts happy about it, but as she walks away, she has a stricken look on her face. Oh, Mary! Please don’t be sad about this.
Downstairs, Baxter has brought her electric sewing machine to the servants’ hall (there are no sockets in her room), and Mrs. Patmore is not happy to see yet another “modern” equipment around. As Thomas says, “Mrs. Patmore is not what you’d call a futurist.” Meanwhile, Mrs. Hughes corners Anna and asks her to please, please tell Mr. Bates the truth. Thankfully, Anna’s not pregnant, but she refuses to say anything to Bates because she’s still worried that he might do something rash and get himself imprisoned again, or worse, hanged. Mrs. Hughes tells her that she’s making a mistake, but of course, this is something Anna has to work out for herself. I still really wish Mrs. Hughes would just ignore Anna and report Green to the authorities. Wait!!! Bates overheard the entire conversation! I don’t know if I’m happy about that, but hey, at least now he knows. Eep!
Back at the Crawley House, Isobel (who is no longer wearing mourning clothes), agrees to help a young man from the village find a job as a gardener at the Abbey, at Dr. Clarkson’s urging. Am I the only one who wants her to get together with the good Doctor? She’s so lonely! The young man keeps calling her “your Ladyship,” and when he leaves, she tells Clarkson that she doesn’t feel like she’s part of the family. The doctor tries to convince her otherwise, but she won’t change her mind. She feels like an outsider, and that’s that.
The next day, Robert attends the funeral of the old tenant he’s evicting, and finds out that the farmer’s son wants to take up the lease and farm the land. Robert tells him that the case has been settled, and there’s nothing he can do, but Mr. Drewe is insistent and says that he wasn’t aware of his father’s delinquencies. He’s finally successful in getting Robert to agree to at least talk about options when he brings up the fact that the Drewe family has been on that land since the Napoleanic wars. Yes, that’s right, Mr. Drewe. Appeal to Robert’s sense of tradition!
Anyway, when Mr. Drewe shows up the next day, we find that he can’t pay all the back-rent, but when he brings up the fact that the Drewes have been “in partnership” with the Crawleys for over a century, Robert tells him that he will lend him the money to pay the back-rent in full. He tells Mary and Tom about this plan, but he doesn’t tell them that he’s lending Drewe some money. When Mary confronts him about letting Drewe stay on, he tells her that it’s the right thing to do, “If we don’t respect the past, we’ll find it harder to build a future.” He tells them that the thought of being in partnership with the farmers appeals to him, and Isobel applauds him for it. There’s a really funny exchange between Violet and Robert while they’re all discussing this, where she tells him not to go on and turn into a poet, because the only peer poet she knows was Lord Byron, and “we all know how that turned out.” Ha ha! Any way, Tom agrees with the scheme too (over Mary’s objections), and so they decide to let Mr. Drewe stay on, and Robert suggests that Mary be the one to tell him.
Edith’s waiting for some word from Gregson. Apparently, he hasn’t written to her in quite some time. In the meantime, as the ladies gather in the library to discuss Robert’s birthday, we find Mary writing a letter to Gillingham to congratulate him on his engagement. Wait. Is she crying? Oh, come on! Edith makes a comment about how surprised everyone was to hear of the engagement, because they all thought that he was “keen on” Mary. Of course, Mary snaps at Edith and tells her it’s “not the first time you’ve got the wrong end of the stick.” Ouch! Any way, Mary suggests that they throw a party for Robert’s birthday, to cheer everyone up.
Isobel approaches Violet to hire young Mr. Pegg as the under-gardener, and as much as she resists at first, Violet finally gives in and agrees to meet the young man.
Isobel: “Will you take young Pegg? He impressed me so favorably!”
Violet: “I wonder your halo doesn’t grow heavy. It must be like wearing a tiara round the clock!”
Isobel: “Will you help him? His mother would be very grateful, and so would I.”
Violet: “Yes, but your gratitude never seems to last. I’ve no sooner said yes, than you come back with another request.”
Oh, I’ve missed these two bantering! They really are the best of friends, even if they don’t want to admit it.
Downstairs, Thomas finds Baxter alone and asks her if she’s doing everything to impress Cora. He cautions her not to make enemies downstairs either, because that was “Miss O’Brien’s mistake.” When she mentions that the staff don’t seem to like him very much, he tells her that it’s her job to rectify that. Hm. Interesting. She tells Thomas that while she’s grateful for the job, she wants to know what he’s all about. He tells her that he just wants her to tell him everything that’s going on upstairs.
Meanwhile, the kitchen staff is helping prepare Alfred for his test to get into the chef-training program at the Ritz. Daisy’s conflicted about this because of course, she doesn’t want to help Alfred leave. But Mrs. Patmore tells her that it’s for the best. Honestly, I agree with her. We really need to break up this quadrangle downstairs. Alfred gets the letter from the Ritz, and they’re going to test him, but he only has a day and a half to prepare. Mrs. Patmore’s very proud of his progress and actually decides to serve something he’s made to the family. Jimmy, on the other hand, continues to make fun of him for wanting “a life chained to a stove.” Any way, the family really enjoys Alfred’s creation, and they all wish him luck on his test. Mr. Carson decides to see if Molesley might want to take over as a footman, now that Alfred might be leaving. I hope so. I miss Molesley and his goofy ways! Mr. Molesley, however, doesn’t seem to be very happy with the prospect.
Carson: “What do you mean, you have to think about it?”
Molesley: “Well, what would I say? I didn’t mind helping out when you were short-staffed.”
Carson: “How good of you!”
Molesley: “But to accept a permanent position as a footman! I’m a trained valet, Mr. Car … I’m a trained butler! To accept … my … my fall … by taking a permanent, inferior place …”
Carson: “You keep telling me it’s permanent, but from where I’m sitting, it’s looking less permanent by the minute!”
Molesley: “I shall give it every consideration.”
Carson: “Very generous, I must say.”
Molesley: “I’ll let you know me answer when I have one.”
Carson: “I shall wait with bated breath.”
Meanwhile, Bates finds Anna alone in the boot room, and tries to draw her out. He tells her that, “It’s strange, standing here next to you in silence. Because I love you, and I want to find out why you don’t love me any more. You’d think we could talk about it, but apparently not.” But she just mentions something about going to Rippon and leaves. So while Anna’s away, Bates goes to Mrs. Hughes to get to the bottom of things. He tells Mrs. Hughes that he knows she knows what’s going on, and when she refuses to give him any details, he says that he’ll have to leave. He says he can’t stay in a place where he has been happy, and loved, but where he is no longer either. He tells her that if she doesn’t tell him the truth right away, he’ll hand in his resignation and be gone before Anna gets back. Mrs. Hughes finally relents because she feels that if Anna comes home and finds Bates gone, she will be finished. Oh, thank goodness! Finally, Bates is going to know what’s going on.
Wait! Mrs. Hughes doesn’t tell Bates that it was Green, but he figures it out anyway. He asks her to swear that it was an outsider who broke into the house, and not Green, and she does. I don’t think Bates is convinced, and he tells her that he’s going to find out who it was. The look on his face! He’s literally shaking with anger and grief. He leaves her office and stands in a corner sobbing. This is so unbelievably horrific. Anyway, he finds Anna later that night in the boot room again, and tells her he knows what happened, and that he made Mrs. Hughes tell him. He tells her that he suspected Green, but that Mrs. Hughes swore it wasn’t him (and Anna immediately says that it wasn’t, too). He tells Anna that if it was Green, he would be a dead man. Anna assures him that it wasn’t Green. She tells Bates that she would have never sat down to breakfast the next morning with Green if it had been him. She tells him that she didn’t tell him, because she didn’t want him to suffer.
Anna: “Well, it’s in the open. No more secrets. I’m glad of that at least. No more fear of being found out, because I am found out. My shame has no where to hide.”
Bates: “Why do you talk of shame? I don’t accept that there is any shame in this.”
Anna: “But I’m spoiled for you! And I can never be unspoiled.”
Bates: “You are not spoiled. You are made higher to me, and holier because of the suffering you have been put through. You are my wife, and I have never been prouder, nor loved you more than I do now at this moment.”
Sniff. My goodness! What more can this couple possibly go through? I’m glad that Bates seems to be convinced that it was some random stranger who broke into the house, and not Green. At least we know that he’s not going to go on some crazy rampage and get himself in trouble. Anyway, Anna thanks Mrs. Hughes for keeping Green’s identity secret and tells her that she’s decided to move back into the cottage with Bates. When Mrs. Hughes congratulates Bates on working things out and putting this behind him, he tells her that it’s by no means over, and that he’s not going to give up finding and punishing the man who made Anna suffer. Oh, great.
The next day, while Isobel and Violet establish young Mr. Pegg with the gardener over at the Dower House, and Alfred is being quizzed by a snooty French chef, we see Edith visit a doctor’s office in London (eep!) and Mary receive a surprise visit from Evelyn Napier. Remember him from season one? He was Mr. Pamuk’s friend. Apparently, he’s on a mission from the government working on a project that has to do with the rural economy, and decided to stop by the Abbey and pay a visit to the “lovely” Mary. His mission involves assessing which of the estates are still viable, and which have been irreparably damaged after the war. He assures Robert, Cora, and Mary that Downton is not one of the estates in danger, but Mary wants him to give them his opinion on the way they are handling things. Any way, they invite him and his boss, Charles Blake, to stay at the Abbey while they’re surveying the neighborhood.
That night before dinner, while they’re discussing the fate of Mr. Drewe, Tom tells the family that he felt like an intruder at the house party, and that it’s gotten him thinking about his beliefs and values. He tells them that he doesn’t feel he could go back to Ireland, because staying with the family has changed him too much, but he could go to America and make a new start. He says he feels that it would be better for Baby Sybil to grow up with a clean slate, rather than “being the daughter of an uppity chauffeur.” Robert tells him not to make any quick decisions. I hope Tom doesn’t leave. He’s a breath of fresh air in that household!
Alfred comes back from London and receives a letter from the Ritz telling him that he was close, but not close enough. Mr. Carson tells him it’s okay to have failed the first time, and that he shouldn’t give up. Molesley walks in right then and asks to speak to Mr. Carson. But of course, he’s too late! Since Alfred’s not leaving, there really isn’t a job there for poor Mr. Molesley.
Meanwhile, Violet suspects young Mr. Pegg of having stolen a valuable letter opener from her desk while he was watering the plants in her study. She tells Isobel and Dr. Clarkson that she wants to fire him, but they convince her to hold off until a subtle investigation can be conducted and Pegg proven guilty beyond a doubt. Isobel accuses Violet of having made up her mind, and Violet rebuts that Isobel always seems to doubt her. But, Violet agrees to give Pegg another chance.
Back at the Abbey, Mary tells Mr. Drewe that he can stay, and he lets slip about the money Robert loaned him. When they leave, Tom asks if Mary is going to confront Robert about it, but she says that it’s better to leave it alone, because if Robert felt strongly enough about Drewe to loan him money, then there must be something to it.
As an aside, Cora’s decided to purchase a refrigerator for the kitchen, which really worries Mrs. Patmore. We all know that she wasn’t a fan of the electric mixer, and Baxter’s sewing machine, but now there’s this giant appliance invading her kitchen, and she’s not happy. Cora asks her if “there’s any aspect of the present day that [she] can accept without resistance,” and Mrs. Patmore replies that she wouldn’t mind getting rid of her corset! Ha ha! Oh, and we had a really cute moment with Tom, Mary, and the two babies in the nursery. They’re so sweet!
Next week, we’ll learn more about the real reason for Evelyn and Blake’s visit. It looks like Edith, who is really worried about Gregson, gets a letter that doesn’t make her very happy, and we see Bates and Anna at a fancy dinner, but clearly, things haven’t been put to rest.
Editor's note: Downton Abbey fans, take note! The forthcoming book Behind the Scenes of Downton Abbey may well be relevant to your interests. For those looking for hints at what's to come in the new season, the book will be out in the U.S. on October 29, well before the premiere of Season 4 in the U.S....
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.