The Crawley family and their devoted staff are back in Downton Abbey Season 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: Last night's episode of Downton Abbey was aired as “Episode 7” on PBS but originally aired as “Episode 8” in the U.K. in November, when this recap was first posted.
Note: This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Downton Abbey, including last night's Season 4 finale, 4x08. And be sure to check in with H&H again the day after the Christmas episode airs for the final Season 4 recap. Enjoy!
Well, here we are! The final episode (not including the Christmas special, of course) of the season. We start with Mary, Tom, and Edith walking over to check on the pigs. Mr. Drewe (the farmer who borrowed money from Robert to…er…pay Robert back for back rent on his farm) is taking care of the pigs and apparently, he’s doing a great job. Mary and Tom ask him to take on the management of this new farming venture permanently, and he agrees. He thanks them for giving him this opportunity and promises to return the favor if and when they need it.
Violet seems to be feeling better, but she’s going a bit stir-crazy sitting at home all day, so Isobel, who’s stopped by to check on her, suggests they take a walk over to the Abbey in the afternoon and enquire after Robert’s adventures in America. In a bit of expository explanation, we find out about the “Teapot Dome Scandal,” which is what Cora’s brother is involved in. In a nutshell, the scandal involved the U.S. Secretary of the Interior leasing out the naval oil reserves in Teapot Dome, Wyoming, to a private oil company without going through the process of asking for competitive bids. There was an investigation, and the Secretary (who had gotten quite rich from the scheme) ended up in prison. For the purposes of our story, Cora’s brother is involved with one of the private companies. Violet, not surprisingly, is not a fan of Harold’s.
Back at the Abbey, Cora is getting ready for the annual village bazaar, and with Robert gone, she’s worried about keeping the villagers in check. She asks Rose (who’s plotting another get together with Jack Ross) for help. During tea that afternoon, Isobel suggests that Tom run for office for the local council. Tom’s a bit hesitant. He feels like he doesn’t know where his politics are any more, but Isobel suggests that he read about it a bit and then decide. Violet gives Edith a hard time about not having visited her when she was sick, but Edith asks her to lay off. Meanwhile, the nanny brings in the babies for a visit, and Blake takes on little George, who’s a bit cranky. Mary’s pleasantly surprised with Blake’s action, and Violet is not-so-pleasantly appalled by it! Ha ha!
Later, as Mary’s getting dressed for dinner, she tells Anna that Lord Gillingham will be stopping by the Abbey again for a night. Anna gets upset and she finally—finally!—tells Mary about Green. She makes Mary promise not to do anything about it first. Mary is absolutely horrified, and wants to tell at least Gillingham about it, but Anna tells her that if Bates finds out, things could go very badly for them. Mary decides to call Gillingham and tell him not to come, and Anna tells her that she’s frightened every time Bates and Green are in the same room.
Downstairs, Molesley has found a kindred spirit in Baxter. She tells him that even though “life has kicked the stuffing out of [him],” he can climb back up, just like she did. Hm. Maybe we’ll finally find out what her connection to Thomas is in this episode? Any way, she tries to find out what’s going on between Anna and Bates from Molesley, but clearly, she couldn’t have picked a more clueless person! Meanwhile Ivy receives a letter from Alfred, who’s coming back to Yorkshire for his father’s funeral. And, guess what? He’s asked Ivy to marry him! What? Ivy confides in Mrs. Patmore that Alfred wants her to leave Downton and go to London with him (well, of course he does! I mean, if he’s asking her to marry him, I doubt he’d expect to leave her behind once they are married!) Their conversation is interrupted when Daisy walks in. Oh no! Daisy’s not going to take this well at all! Well, it seems that Ivy doesn’t really want to marry Alfred any way, so this might all be a moot point.
Anna and Bates discuss Mary’s love life (or well, what there is of it) as they’re getting ready to go home, and Bates brings up Green, wondering if Anna has “gone off him,” since she seemed to like him at first, and doesn’t any more. Uh oh. This is not going to end well. Bates is way too smart for this subterfuge. He’s going to figure it out.
The next morning at breakfast, Mr. Blake asks after the pigs, and suggests that once they are profitable with those, they should consider adding dairy farming. Evelyn makes a snarky comment about having Mr. Drewe handle that as well, since he is so special, and Edith immediately jumps to Drewe’s defense, saying that his wanting to make farming at Downton his life’s work is admirable. While they’re discussing this, Rosamund calls for Edith and offers to come to Downton to support her when she tells Cora about her pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Tom drives Isobel to Thirsk after breakfast and while she’s off running some errands, he catches Rose in a tea shop with Jack Ross. Jack’s still pretty wary about their relationship, but Rose is adamant that they continue seeing each other. Tom leaves without their seeing him, and on his way back, he tells Isobel that he’s worried about “some people” who are about to do something that will make “some people unhappy.” When they get back to Isobel’s house, they run into Sarah Bunting, the gal Tom met at the political meeting. She teases Tom about his politics, and Isobel defends him. She takes off to go to work (she teaches at the local school), and you can tell that Tom’s clearly smitten.
Back at the house, Molesley’s trying to further his friendship with Baxter and offers to bring her some coffee. She’s not very comfortable with it, but he assures her that it really is just coffee, and that she doesn’t have to “surrender her independence.” I hate to admit it, but this is kind of sweet.
Molesley: “Miss Baxter, I do know what it’s like to feel fragile. I felt fragile my whole life. You’d have realized by now that down here, we don’t care much about Mr. Barrow, which might offend you.”
Baxter: “I’m not offended.”
Molesley: “But I wish you’d give us credit for making up our own minds about you.”
That night, as she’s getting dressed for dinner, Mary tells Anna that she wasn’t able to get a hold of Gillingham, and that he’s going to be coming over. Before Anna can respond, Tom shows up to tell Mary about Rose and Jack Ross. Anna leaves and we see her crying in the hallways downstairs, where Mrs. Hughes finds her. Meanwhile, Edith tells Rosamund that she’s figured out how to keep the baby, by using Mr. Drewe as a sort of a decoy. Basically, she wants to give Drewe the baby, hoping that no one will know it was hers. Rosamund tells her it’s a reckless plan, because if Drewe talks about it, or if people see Edith going to his house, or if the baby looks like her, etc., there will be a great deal of damage. Instead, she offers to take Edith abroad, where she can have the baby and give it up for adoption. Cora walks in as they’re talking, and Rosamund starts telling her about her plan to travel to Switzerland, and to take Edith with her. Cora is surprised, but agrees. Honestly, it’s amazing how clueless Cora is about Edith. I mean, yes, she hasn’t started to show yet, but it’s very clear that she’s upset, and not quite herself. Any way, they announce it that night at dinner, while Gillingham talks about his trip of self-discovery through Scotland (groan!), and Tom praises Mary and Blake for rescuing the pigs.
Downstairs, that disgusting Mr. Green is talking about how he’s had his fill of Scotland and can’t wait to get back to London, and Bates “casually” asks him where he lives. He’s basically being his happy, jovial self while Mrs. Hughes shoots daggers at him across the table, and Anna looks like she’s about to pass out. It’s a wonder no one else notices how uncomfortable Anna is.
After dinner, Mary has a talk with Rose, and cautions her against “[losing] control of [her] life.”
Rose: “I love him. And I won’t listen to any imperialist nonsense about racial purity, and how he should be horse-whipped for daring to dream.”
Mary: “Don’t you know me better than that?”
Rose: “I’m going to marry him, Mary. And I don’t care what it costs, and I won’t keep it a secret, not once I’ve told mummy. I want to see her face crumble once she finds out.”
Ugh. Look, I’m really trying, but I honestly don’t care about Rose, or whatever it is that she’s doing, or how things will end up for her. If she’s supposed to be the example of change, she hasn’t managed to be very convincing, at least not to me.
The next morning, Gillingham offers to drive Blake and Evelyn to the station, and he tells Mary that he’s doing it because he didn’t want to leave her alone with Blake. Oh, good grief. Really, Gillingham? Give it up! You’re engaged, and Mary already said no. Oh, wait! What? He’s going to break his engagement?
Gillingham: “I’ve made up my mind to break off the engagement.”
Mary: “Does Mabel know?”
Gillingham: “Not yet. I haven’t been in London since, and I must tell her face-to-face.”
Mary: “Of course, you must! But I wish you’d think seriously before you do.”
Gillingham: “You mean you’re going to turn me down again.”
Mary: “I’ve told you, I’m not on the market, Tony. I’m not free. Sometimes I almost wish I were, but I’m not, and that’s all there is to it.”
Did you hear that, Tony? She’s not available. Now, go away please. Outside, Mary tries to talk to him about Green, but then sees the horrible man listening in, so she stops. Any way, the men all leave, and everyone teases Mary about the loss of her “desire of suitors.”
Later that day, Violet’s invited Rosamund and Edith for tea, but is really trying to figure out what’s going on with them.
Violet: “I want to know what you are doing at Downton.”
Rosamund: “I don’t understand. Why shouldn’t I come to Downton? I grew up here.”
Violet: “I see I have to take the slow path. You telephone to say Edith is to be cherished, but you don’t say why.”
Rosamund: “Didn’t I?”
Violet: “No. Next, you invite yourself to Downton and reveal at dinner that you and Edith are retreating to the continent for several months, so you can improve your French.”
Violet: “Rosamund has no interest in French. If she wishes to be understood by a foreigner, she shouts.”
She asks them to tell her the truth and when Edith tells her that the truth will make her upset, Violet says that she wants to hear it “enunciated clearly.”
A little while later, Rose tells Mary that she’s engaged, and Mary decides to go to London, ostensibly, I suppose, to talk to Jack Ross. Anna’s going with her of course, and Bates takes the opportunity to ask Mr. Carson for a day off to go to York.
Meanwhile, Violet asks Isobel to join her and Edith for lunch with Lord Merton, Mary’s godfather. It seems that none of the other ladies have time, and Rosamund doesn’t get along with Merton, so Isobel is the only one left to keep them company. Lord Merton seems nice enough. We’ve actually met him before. He was the one who was there with his sons back in season three, when one of them spiked Tom’s drink? Any way, after lunch, he offers to walk Isobel back home, and they chat about their sons. Seems that Lord Merton has forgotten who Isobel is, and that Matthew has died. He’s mortified when he realizes his faux pas, but Isobel brushes it off. They talk about Mary, and he tells Isobel that he’s glad that both Isobel and Mary had happy marriages, but that he didn’t. His story is basically that of a typical peer, who married for money and prestige, and didn’t really have anything in common with his wife. He seems like a very nice man, and I’m wondering if this is a set up for Isobel? Back at the Dower House, Violet asks Edith to stay and tells her that Rosamund is right, and that the best plan is for them to go away. She offers to pay for everything, because she doesn’t want Edith to be more in Rosamund’s debt.
As the house is busy getting ready for the bazaar, Tom is off to run an errand, when he runs into Sarah. Her car’s stalled by the side of the road, and he pulls over to help her out. While he’s working on the car, he tells her about starting out as the chauffeur.
Back in London, Mary goes to visit Jack and tries to talk him out of marrying Rose. She tells him that marriage is a challenge, and that everyone will try to separate them “every hour of every day.” She also tells him that Rose’s primary concern seems to be wanting to shock her mother, and that he needs to be sure that Rose is actually in love with him, enough to want to face the challenges of marrying. In the end, Jack tells Mary that he’s not planning on marrying Rose, because he doesn’t want to ruin her life. He loves Rose too much to watch her suffer because of their relationship, and promises to write her a letter and break it off. He tells Mary that if they lived in a better world, he wouldn’t do this, and she tells him that if they did, she wouldn’t want him to either.
Back at Rosamund’s house, Mary tells Anna that she’s going to ask Gillingham to dismiss Green. She won’t tell him why, but she feels that she has to do something. Anna’s very nervous about this, but Mary assures her that it is for the best. She tells Anna that she doesn’t want her to fear Gillingham’s visits to Downton any more. So she has lunch with Gillingham, and persuades him to let Green go, and he agrees despite her not telling him why, because he loves her. Ugh. I’m sorry, but I really can’t get behind this guy and Mary. Anyway, apparently, his fiancé was pretty understanding about his wanting to break their engagement, so now he’s free to wait for Mary.
The day of the church bazaar has arrived, and Downton is a bevy of activity. Everyone’s pitching in, including the ladies of the house. The entire village is showing up for this annual event, and Baxter tells Molesley that he’s lucky to have grown up in a village where he is cared for, and where his family name is in good standing. Tom runs into Sarah setting up a booth, and she makes a crack about him slaving away, but then Cora walks up carrying a tray of vases, and after Tom introduces them, he tells Sarah that even the countess helps out for the bazaar. It’s interesting to see Sarah saying the things that Tom used to say before he became a member of the family. She’s the strict socialist that he used to be.
Back at the Dower House, Violet asks Isobel to come and visit, because apparently Lord Merton sent her some flowers! I knew it! Violet’s pretty surprised about the whole thing, and it’s obvious that she doesn’t necessarily approve. Isobel, I think, just seems touched.
The day of the bazaar finally arrives. We see Jimmy sneaking some punch, and Mr. Carson comes over and sends him over to manage the tea tent. Meanwhile, Rose is sitting alone and moping. Mary tries to talk to her, but Rose is pretty upset and blames Mary for interfering, and compares her to her mother. While all of this is happening, a car pulls up and…it’s Robert! He’s back! Everyone’s delighted to see him, of course, and he tells them that Harold got off with a reprimand. Robert has a very sweet reunion with Cora, kissing her right there on the lawn, in front of everyone.
Violet gets a moment alone with Edith and tells her that if she wants to continue looking for Gregson, she’d have her support. Edith tells her that they’ve already done all of that, and that he’s just gone.
Edith: “Sometimes, I feel that God doesn’t want me to be happy.”
Violet: “My dear, all life is a series of problems which we must try and solve. First one, then the next, and the next, until at last, we die.”
I love her! She’s so pragmatic, and even in the face of the worst kind of problems, she always has a way of simplifying things, no matter how inappropriate it might sound!
Oh look! There’s Gillingham! What is he doing here? Wait! He tells Mary that Green’s dead. What? Apparently, Green was in Piccadilly and slipped and fell into the road. Gillingham wanted to come and tell Mary personally because of the conversation they had had about Green earlier. He asks Mary to tell him why she wanted him to fire Green, but Mary refuses. Instead, she goes over to tell Anna about it. Anna (who found out that Bates spent the day in York while she was in London), is relieved to hear that Green was killed in a crowded place, and lots of people witnessed his getting hit by a vehicle.
And…look who else is here! Mr. Blake! Wow, this is turning out to be quite a gathering! Him, I like. If Mary’s going to end up with anyone, I hope it’s Blake, and not Gillingham. He says that he decided to stop over and see the bazaar on his way to a conference in Whitby. Any way, Mary asks Blake what he would do if he felt that someone was involved in a crime, but that they had every right to have committed it. I’m assuming that Mary (like Anna) has guessed that Bates is somehow caught up in Green’s death. Blake tells her that since she doesn’t blame the person for having committed a crime, she should say nothing. And, to make things more complicated, Baxter overhears all of this.
At the end of the day, Blake finally admits the real reason for having stopped by.
Blake: “You do know why I came today.”
Mary: “To see the bazaar?”
Blake: “To see you. I find, perhaps to my surprise, that since I left I can’t think of anything but you.”
Mary: “To your surprise and my surprise.”
Blake: “I’m only asking for a chance.”
Mary: “Was there really a conference in Whitby?”
Blake: “Of course not.”
Mary: “I’m flattered, Charles, and even moved. But rather than add to the list of men I’ve disappointed, it might be kinder to refuse you now, and let you off the hook.”
Blake: “I’m afraid I couldn’t allow that. Not without putting up a fight.”
Yes! Seriously, I really want to see Mary with Blake. He’s good for her. He challenges her, and doesn’t put up with her haughty ways. They walk back to the tents together where Robert toasts Cora for the fabulous job she did managing everything while he was gone. Blake takes the opportunity to say his farewells, and this time, Gillingham asks him for a ride. Mary offers to see them off, and as they’re walking away, Robert wonders what he’s missed there.
Back at the house, Anna confronts Bates and asks him to tell her what he did in York. She asks him if he did anything foolish to ruin what they had built together, and he says that he would never do anything unless he had a very good reason.
In our love quadrangle downstairs, Daisy finds out that Alfred had proposed to Ivy, and that she’s turned him down, but she’s still upset with the whole situation, because she feels that Ivy keeps breaking Alfred’s heart. At any rate, Alfred is not discouraged, and is planning on stopping by to see Ivy during the bazaar, and Mrs. Patmore suggests giving Daisy the day off. Daisy takes advantage of the time off to go see Mr. Mason, and they have a nice picnic together. Alfred apologizes to Ivy for jumping the gun and misunderstanding her friendship for something more, and asks if Daisy’s around. Back at their picnic, Mr. Mason tells Daisy that she shouldn’t avoid seeing Alfred, even if that’s what Mrs. Patmore suggests. He tells her that she won’t get too many chances at love, and she should take them when they are there. When Daisy admits that she’s not sure about how she feels, he says that at the very least, she should see Alfred one last time and say goodbye properly. So, Daisy comes back to the Abbey with a basket of goodies for Alfred and they part as friends. Mrs. Patmore tells Daisy that she’s very proud of her, and that she couldn’t be prouder if Daisy was her own daughter. Aw! Oh, thank goodness this is over.
And that’s it! There’s no preview for the Christmas special, so we’ll have to wait and see what happens!
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.