Feb 13 2011 5:00am

Downton Abbey, Episode 4: Apparently An Abbey Can Hang Off A Cliff!

Downton Abbey Episode 4

We had some action this week. A good thing, since Episode 3 was such a snooze-fest. In fact, we had a lot going on both upstairs and downstairs.


Upstairs, we had continuations of the plots that have been running through the series. Will Lady Mary's indiscretion ruin her chances for marriage? Apparently not entirely. Cousin Matthew has asked her to marry him, and she considers it as she goes to London for the Season. Will Lady Edith end up caring for her parents in their old age? Possibly not, as Sir Anthony, whom Edith scooped from Mary, seems interested. And how about Sybil's political interests? Will getting caught in a riot and bonked on the head defuse her interest? Doesn't seem so.

Downstairs, things take a turn. Daisy, the scullery maid, has the scales fall from her eyes after she is convinced by Thomas to lie about Bates stealing wine. The earl sends Mrs. Patmore, the cook, to London for eye surgery. Anna, who accompanies Mrs. Patmore learns about the secrets Bates is keeping and which are keeping him from her. Gwen finally gets a job as a secretary. The odious O'Brien causes an accident that makes her reevaluate her priorities. And the evil Thomas gives his notice.

When the girls and their parents return to Downton Abbey after the London Season, everything seems to come to a head. Lady Grantham is pregnant—holy cow! Could this be the heir everyone desires?

Downton Abbey Matthew and Mary

Mary, who had promised Matthew an answer to his marriage proposal on her return from London, hesitates, and Matthew thinks it's because she might not need to marry him if her mother has a son. But this might be because Mary feels that she can't marry him without telling him what happened with Mr. Pamuk. Mary, who has learned in London that her sister Edith's letter to the Turkish ambassador is the source of the rumors circulating in London about Mary's virtue (or lack thereof), sabotages Sir Anthony's marriage proposal to Edith. (I still can't figure out if I like Mary or not.)

So, here's my favorite scene from this episode: The current Lady Grantham and the dowager Lady Grantham are discussing what will become of Mary's marriage prospects, what with the rumors circulating in London and Mary's reluctance to marry Matthew without telling him about the Pamuk incident. In her inimitable fashion, the dowager countess suggests taking Mary to Europe, adding “For these moments, you can normally find an Italian who isn't too picky.” Maybe my favorite line in the entire series. Definitely right up there with “What is a weekend?”

Meanwhile, O'Brien, who mistakenly thinks Lady Grantham intends to replace her, intentionally leaves a bar of soap on the bathroom floor, causing Lady Grantham to slip and miscarry her baby. So yes, perhaps she does see the error of her ways a moment before it's too late to do anything about it, but is this enough to redeem the awful woman?

Downton Abbey Garden Party

Downton Abbey throws its annual garden party at the end of the episode, during which we see the results of most of these machinations. We also see the touching scene in which the lovely Mr. Carson, Downton Abbey's butler, comforts Lady Mary and the amazing spectacle of the dowager countess and Mrs. Crawley finding a common bond. And, incidentally, World War I breaks out.

Lots and lots happens here. People come and go. Everyone gathers at the garden party. People make what seem like life-changing decisions. But are they? Life-changing, that is? Darned if I know. The only resolution at the end of this series is Thomas leaving (and thank goodness for that). But we still don't know what will become of everyone else or, for that matter, my favorite character, Downton Abbey.

We're primed for another season.


Myretta Robens, The Republic of Pemberley

Subscribe to this conversation (must be logged in):
1. Kwana
I enjoyed Downton Abbey so much. I can't wait for the next season. This one went way too fast.
2. amanda mccabe
I love Downton Abbey! Costumes to die for :)
Liz Maverick
3. Liz Maverick
Am I the only one who didn't know it was going to be a cliffhanger? I was aghast. And poor Chris, who sat through the whole thing with me, was likewise taken aback by the abrupt ending.
4. EvangelineHolland
As of today, I've seen Downton Abbey more than ten times. This is partly the fault of my taking screencaps for my website, but mostly because once I pressed "Play" the show sucked me in! I love that the female characters are rather atypical for the period drama genre--no easy romances for them--and that the downstairs element was so nuanced and lovingly drawn. Sure there were cliches, but they were lovely cliches and the acting of the entire cast lifted them above the mundane! I cannot wait for series two and the Christmas special to air! Vive la Downton!
5. Ruchama
I've discovered via the NYTimes that there are approximately 48 minutes missing from the version of Downton Abbey screened in the US!! I, for one hope Netflix will offer the original British version. I also have the distinct impression that the original plan was to have the Garden Party as the climax and conclusion of the series. This would have been consistent with traditional dramatic structure. I think when additional funding became available for more episodes, the plan was abruptly changed, leading to the truncated feeling.
Liz Maverick
6. Liz Maverick
Isn't that outrageous? I actually bought the DVD because I didn't want to miss anything. That being said, when I got to the end I almost had a heart attack. I couldn't believe how they ended it. You must be right about the sudden change of plans due to funding because that "cliffhanger" was badly executed.
C.D. Thomas
7. cdthomas
I beg to differ:

The rumors about Mary's virtue predated Edith's letter, which was sent at the end of Episode 3 -- recall that Lady Grantham warned Mary about those rumors before they went to London for the season. I suspect the Duke of Crowborough -- the slimy gent who thought Mary would fight the entail and thus have a healthy dowry -- as the one who put two and two together concerning Mr. Pamuk's death. Even if he didn't know, Pamuk's death would be enough to start a nasty rumor or two.

No doubt he later approached Mary to throw her off the scent, and start even more trouble due to Edith's added involvement in the scandal. Also, Thomas was his lover, and he was involved in smuggling in Mr. Pamuk into Mary's quarters, for him to conduct his sexual assault, (which it was, no more or less). Doesn't matter that Mary enjoyed it, very briefly -- Pamuk threatened her reputation and thus her livelihood, as he continues to do, from the grave. Bounder.
Lee Hyat
8. leehyat
I love this show. My favorite is the Dowager Countess of Grantham (Maggie Smith). She is absolutely fabulous with her expressions. You know exactly what she's thinking even when she doesn't say a word! Can't wait for Season 2!
Myretta Robens
9. Myretta
The rumored missing 48 minutes (or however many) turned out to be commercials in the ITV broadcast that we didn't have to sit through thanks to PBS. There may have been minor cuts, but I believe we got most of it.
Olivia Waite
10. O.Waite
Myretta's right, thankfully. We didn't miss anything. Hooray for PBS!

Also, a cheer for Maggie Smith! Huzzah!
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