Dec 26 2013 11:58am

Downton Abbey Series 4 (Season 4) Christmas Special Recap: Two Lords a-Leaping!

Downton Abbey Season 4 episode 9, 4.09The 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 8” on PBS but originally aired as “Episode 9,” or “the Christmas Special,” in the U.K. in December, when this recap was first posted.

Note: This post contains SPOILERS for all aired episodes of Downton Abbey, including last night's season finale/Christmas special, 4x09. Enjoy!

And we’re finally here! The two-hour Christmas special that will (hopefully) tie up some loose ends (who will Mary end up with?) and give us a nice, uplifting ending to the season. Yes, I’m holding out hope that we won’t have anyone dying at the end of this season!

We start eight months after we left off, with Mrs. Hughes telling Daisy that the two of them will be going to London while the family’s in residence for Rose’s coming out extravaganza. Apparently, the London housekeeper has fallen ill and Mrs. Hughes has no choice but to step in and help. It’ll be fun to see Daisy in London! And Thomas is back to his bitter self, and is resenting the fact that he has to serve Tom, who if he had remained the chauffeur, would technically be beneath Thomas in the pecking order. Oy, Thomas! Seriously man. Give it up!

Meanwhile, a very tired (according to Ivy) Edith is back from Geneva, and is thinking about possibly going to London with the family. She tries to convince Tom to join her, but he claims work. Of course, he’s going to have to go to Rose’s ball, but he refuses to join the family while they’re going through all the pre-ball hoopla. Any way, Edith goes to visit Violet, and we find out that Edith had a daughter, whom she left with a family in Geneva. Violet tries to make light of Edith’s heartache, but completely misses the mark.

Oh, look! We finally get to see Grantham House in London, and it’s magnificent! The family’s all decked out for a night out, and Rose, who seems to have completely gotten over her disappointment over Jack Ross, is begging to go to a nightclub after the obligatory concert and dinner she’s attending with the family. Mary tells Cora to just accept the fact that Rose is a “flapper” and let her do what she wants to do. In the meantime, Cora tells Carson that she wants him to arrange an outing for the staff to thank them for all the hard work that’s lying in wait for them in the week ahead.

Of course Rose gets her way and goes to the Embassy Club with her friend, Madeleine Allsop, who is Lord Aysgarth’s daughter. Apparently, the old Lord likes the nightclub scene too, and as they walk over to his table, they see that he is hosting the Prince of Wales and his mistress, Freda Dudley Ward. The Prince knows who Rose is through her father, and the girls are asked to join the party. Rose is very pleasant (and polite) and ends up striking a friendship with Freda.

Back at Downton, Tom is on his way to the pub in the village for dinner when he runs into Sarah. Just as he asks her to join him, he’s interrupted by Violet who just wants to say goodbye to him before she leaves for London. She gives Sarah a once-over, but then has her driver move on. Over dinner, Sarah asks Tom if she could see the house, and when he takes her over there, she insists on going up the stairs to get a view of the great hall from the gallery. Tom’s very uncomfortable taking her up to the bedroom level, but she just runs up the stairs. As he’s trying to get her to come down, Thomas walks by and Tom starts defending himself and tries to explain the situation. Thomas of course, is acting all congenial, but you can see the wheels turning in his head. He’s found an excuse to make Tom look bad, and we all know he’s going to use this somehow. Sigh.

In London, Charles Blake comes over to the House to take Mary out on a date. Yay! I love that she’s going out with him! They’re going out to have lunch and then to the Summer Exhibition. Meanwhile, Cora’s mother Martha shows up earlier than expected, with Cora’s brother Harold in tow. No one’s at the house to greet them, but just as they are about to walk in, Edith, Mrs. Hughes, and Daisy drive up from the station, so Edith acts as the host. Martha’s her old irascible self, criticizing everything and being generally brash. Apparently, her maid has quit, so now the staff is overtaxed with having to take care of her. Harold’s valet, Ethan Slade, is a bubbly young man and immediately takes an interest in Daisy. Harold himself is not exactly a joyful person and is not really looking forward to anything British, including the debutants and the food!

The House is crazy with activity. The family is hosting a dinner that evening, followed by a less formal gathering where others will join them, and end with a supper, so the staff is really busy. Oh, before Daisy left Downton to come up to London, Thomas asked her to give Mrs. Baxter a message. He told her to let Baxter know that he’s looking forward to her stories. When Daisy relays the message, Baxter looks a bit scared, but also confused. I’m dying to know what Thomas has on her. It has to be something pretty significant! Molesley overhears the conversation, and sees the look of panic on Baxter’s face, and you can tell that he’s concerned for her.

Over at the exhibition, while Mary teases Charles about his plots to defeat the upper classes,and  they run into Rose, Freda, and Lord Gillingham. Charles and Tony glare at each other a bit, and when asked if they are going to join the party that evening, they have a bit of a verbal tiff, but both assure Mary that they will be there. Ah. I see. So, Mary’s kind of playing them off against each other. Interesting.

Back at the House, Mr. Carson asks Mrs. Hughes to help him with the staff outing. He has some ideas and wants to take the staff to various museums or historical sites. You can see that Mrs. Hughes is totally not in line with him, so she suggests that he present his ideas to the staff and see what they would like to do. Hah! This should be good. When Mr. Carson runs his suggestions by the staff, you can see the absolute lack of enthusiasm on their faces. So, Mrs. Hughes, in a bit of subterfuge, tacks a picture of the beach on Mr. Carson’s bulletin board in his office. It seems that that does the trick! He calls Mrs. Hughes in and tells her that he feels his plans might be a bit too complicated for a day out, so he suggests that they all go to the beach for a bit of relaxation. Yay, Mrs. Hughes!

The evening’s in full swing at the House when Rosamund walks in with Terence Sampson! Remember him? He’s the cad who cheated everyone at cards until Gregson outed him at the house party at Downton! Robert is horrified, but Cora tells him that there is really nothing they could do, so he needs to control himself. And apparently, Sampson is old friends with Lord Aysgarth. He tells Aysgarth that Martha and Harold are filthy rich, which prompts the older gentleman to make a move on Martha, while he encourages his daughter Madeleine to do the same with Harold. She’s not happy about it, but does start making an effort with him. Meanwhile, Mary wants to know why Tony hadn’t mentioned to Charles  that he was coming over to the party. Really, Mary? Why would he tell his competition that he was planning on spending a lovely evening with you? Hah!

Rose and Freda plan on going back to the Embassy after supper, and Sampson decides to join them. At the club, Freda shows a love letter she received from the Prince to Madeleine and Rose, and as they sit at their table, Rose mentions something about it. When they all get up to dance and Sampson is left alone at the table, he snatches Freda’s purse and steals the letter! Uh oh!

The next morning, Edith visits Rosamund and updates her on the situation with Gregson. Edith has power of attorney over his business affairs, and Rosamund suggests that she also find out if there’s a will. Edith brings up the baby and how sad she is about having left her behind in Geneva, and Rosamund cautions her that the best way to deal with the situation is to forget about it. But Edith is not convinced.

Downstairs, Mrs. Hughes tells Anna that she’s picking up a collection for the Russian refugees, and would appreciate any old clothes that the staff can donate. Anna promises to look through Bates’s stuff and get rid of the some of the older items, if only to encourage him to buy new things. She brings over Bates’s great coat, and Mrs. Hughes finds a train ticket from York to London in the pocket, dated the same day that Green was killed! Oh no! So Bates was in London that day! Of course, Mrs. Hughes jumps to the same conclusion we all are, and takes the ticket to Mary, basically dumping the decision to let Anna know on her lap. At first, Mary agrees to just let things go, but then she tells Mrs. Hughes that it’s not right for them to keep something secret that might point to the murder of a man. Even when Mrs. Hughes reminds her that this might get Bates in serious trouble, and that he might possibly be hanged for it, Mary refuses to budge, and says that she is going to do something about it. Ugh, ugh, ugh.

Back at Crawley House in the village, Lord Merton visits Isobel to see if she’s planning on going to London for Rose’s coming out ball, because if she is, he would go as well. It’s very cute to see Isobel nervous around a man. Any way, she says she’s not going to go at first, but a few days later, she changes her mind and writes to Lord Merton to let him know that she’s going to be in London for the ball. He shows up at her house to thank her for writing him and to see her off as she joins Violet on the way to the station. This is so cute! He’s clearly interested in her and she’s like a little blushing school girl! When Violet shows up and bemoans the fact that Cora insisted she travel without a maid, Isobel assures her that all will be well, because she knows how to handle things like getting the porters to load and unload the luggage at the station, etc.

Violet: “Can’t you even offer help without sounding like a trumpeter on the peak of the moral high ground?”

Isobel: “And must you always sound like the sister of Marie Antoinette?”

Violet: “The queen of Naples was a stalwart figure. I take it as a compliment.”

Isobel: “You take everything as a compliment.”

Violet: “I advise you to do the same. It saves many an awkward moment!”

Ha ha ha! These two crack me up. They’ve clearly become the best of friends, but they just don’t want to admit it!

Rose’s presentation day is finally here and as she curtsies to the King, the Prince mentions that she’s Shrimpie’s daughter, and the King ends up having a nice conversation with her about her father. Later, Rose runs into Freda who tells her the letter is missing. Of course, this is a great calamity and can make great trouble for the Prince!

At the dinner following the presentation, Harold tells Madeleine that her father is wasting his time “courting” Martha, because any money Martha has reverts back to him when she dies. He also tells Madeleine that he’s not the right sort of man for her. Madeleine is terribly embarrassed, and Harold is not happy about having hurt her, so he decides to invite her to a picnic the next day to apologize. Martha, Violet, Isobel, and Lord Aysgarth join them, and Harold ends up being very frank with Madeleine, letting her know that he really didn’t mean to upset her, but wanted her to know that he’s not the marrying kind. They end up striking a friendship of sorts, and she stops pretending to flirt with him, which of course, he finds very endearing.

That afternoon, Rose tells Robert about the letter, and lets him know that she blames herself for Sampson’s even knowing about the letter. Robert gets upset and decides to come up with a scheme to steal the letter back from Sampson’s rooms. They let Mary and Cora know what’s going on, and come up with a crazy plan to invite all the men, including Sampson, over for some poker that evening, and send Mary, Rose, and Charles Blake over to Sampson’s rooms to retrieve the letter. They need a note from Sampson to the porter to let them in, so Robert asks Bates if he knows any forgers from his time in prison. Bates tells him that he’ll take care of it, takes a letter that Robert received from Sampson and presumably takes it over to his friend to forge a note. But Bates is forging it himself! Hah! Seems our Mr. Bates has learned a new thing or two in prison!

Any way, the family decides to keep this away from Martha, Violet, and Isobel and complicate an already frankly ridiculous plan by asking Rosamund to invite the ladies to go to the theatre and then have dinner with her. Well, since the ladies had been off on a picnic during the day with Lord Aysgarth and Harold, they excuse themselves from another outing in the evening, all except Martha who accepts the invitation. They end up having to let Violet know what’s going on, and she’s just as anxious as Robert. The little band of thieves fail to find the letter in Sampson’s rooms, and Rose sends a message down to Bates letting him know that their scheme didn’t work. Bates decides to step in, and tells Mr. Carson that he’ll help with the coats when the guests are ready to leave, and as he helps Sampson put on his coat, he steals the letter from him! Clearly, Sampson was not stupid enough to keep a treasure like that out of his sight, and kept it in his coat pocket! Bates to the rescue again! Wow! Bates really has learned a lot in prison! Another upside to this whole scenario is that once Mary hears of Bates’s assistance, she decides to forget about the ticket stub and throws it in the fire. Phew!

Oh, before everyone leaves the card game, Charles tells Mary that he’s delighted with the fact that she called him for help when she was in trouble, and asks her to give them a chance.

Mary: “Are you sure? My lot’s going down and your lot’s coming up. Is that a receipt for a peaceful co-existence?”

Charles: “I wouldn’t put it like that. I’d say I believe in the future, and so could you.”

I really, really like him. I also find it really amusing to see how Mary is blatantly “dating” two men, especially since the men clearly know each other, and have had a sort of a friendship in the past. It’s a bit bizarre to see Tony give way to Charles after the card game, or for Charles to have given way to Tony at the dinner party. And I love how Mary’s not really encouraging either one of them especially, and is very frank with both about how unsure she is about her feelings.

In the Edith corner, she goes over to Rosamund’s house again to give her an update. Apparently, Gregson was attacked by a group of “brown shirts” when he arrived in Germany, but nothing else is known. Any way, Edith tells Rosamund that she can’t let go of Michael’s baby, especially if he’s willed her his money. She’s clearly conflicted, and even though Rosamund tries her best to get her to stick to the original plan, Edith is conflicted. When Robert asks her if she’s okay, she tells him that she would never do anything to hurt him. This is curious. I wonder what she has planned? I bet she’s going to get her baby back. But, how is she going to explain it to everyone?

And we’re finally at the much anticipated ball. The House looks absolutely amazing, and everyone looks beautiful. Right before Robert steps in to open the ball, the Prince shows up and asks Rose for the first dance. What an honor for her! Turns out that Freda told him Rose just did him the greatest favor of his life (she is, of course, speaking of the letter), so he came over to repay her. Violet corners Tom and reminds him that the people he sees at the ball are his people now, and that they are his family. He tells her that while they are family, they’re not quite his people. She tells him that that is a challenge he must overcome, and he challenges her back by asking her to dance! It’s really great to see Violet support Tom like that. Later, as Tom’s chatting with Edith, he tells her that since the two of them are the rebels, they should always speak their minds and stand up to the family. I don’t think he would’ve said that to Edith if he knew what was going on with her. Edith immediately walks over to where Cora and Rosamund are talking and tells them that she’s going back to Downton in the morning. Rosamund immediately recognizes that Edith has made up her mind, and tries to subtly dissuade her, but Edith won’t budge.

Well, Lord Aysgarth takes the opportunity of the beautiful setting to ask for Martha’s hand, which she promptly refuses. She tells him that she is not interested in becoming the next “boring” Lady Aysgarth, and instead, invites him to visit her in Newport where she’ll invite other older ladies who would be interested to meet him. Hah! And, Madeleine reassures Harold that regardless of what he thinks of himself, he’s kind, intelligent, and worthy of finding a good woman to marry. Harold’s clearly touched and it’s really sweet to see Madeleine’s honest appraisal of him. Over in the corner, Isobel and Violet are standing together when Lord Merton starts walking over. Isobel gets really nervous and Violet teases her that she’s going to be taken “down the primrose path of dalliance.” Of course, when Merton asks Isobel for a dance, she accepts, to Violet’s smirking delight! Tee hee! Any way, as Violet is leaving to go to bed, she runs into Martha and they have another sarcastic debate, where Martha lets Violet know that she turned Aysgarth down because she is “not interested in becoming a great lady,” and get a final jab in by telling Violet that the old ways are out, and that she’s the face of the future. Ugh. I’m not a big fan of Martha. I mean, fine. We get it. You don’t like the old fashioned way things are run in England, but do you have to rub it in at every single turn?

Back at the ball, it seems that Mary has promised to spend time with Tony first, so they dance the first dance and then step away to have a private talk. While Tony continues to plead his case, he’s not as forward as Charles:

Tony: “I don’t suppose there’s any progress on whether or not it’s going to turn out well for me.”

Mary: “Oh, Tony, I wish I knew! I feel so cruel dangling you and Charles and even Evelyn on the end of a string.”

Tony: “You didn’t refuse Charles either, then?”

Mary: “I tried, but he wouldn’t have it.”

She goes on to tell him that she doesn’t feel it would work with Charles because he wouldn’t understand that she was brought up to save Downton and keep it going for little George.

Mary: “Charles is on the other side of that struggle. He’s an outsider who resents the very people I come from. Even if he loves me, how can we pull as a team?”

Tony: “Of course, I should sing and dance to hear you say that, but you seem to have caught the wrong end of the stick with Charles.”

Mary: “What do you mean?”

Tony: “Charles is the heir to his father’s cousin, Sir Severus Blake. He is to inherit the Baronetcy on one of the largest estates in Oster (sic).”

Wait … what?? Wow! Okay, I like Charles even more now. Any way, Tony asks Mary if hearing this news makes a difference, and she tells him that knowing Charles is on the same “side” as her definitely makes a difference. But, she tells Tony that she’s still not sure, because a year ago, she felt that she was going to be alone for the rest of her life, but that now, she knows that’s not the case, and would like to celebrate the fact that she has a life to live.

Early the next morning, when the ball finally ends and Mary’s walking Charles out, she asks him why he didn’t say anything about his heritage to her, and he says that he didn’t want her to know, because he wanted her to like him for himself, and not his future title and inheritance.

The next day, Edith is back at Downton with Mr. Drewe. Basically, she plans on going back to Geneva, getting her baby back, and having Drewe adopt her. She tells him that they need to stick to the story that the baby’s parents are dead, and that’s why Drewe has adopted her. She tells Drewe that the baby belonged to a friend of hers, but Drewe figures out the truth, and tells her that the secret should just be between the two of them, so he will tell his wife that it was a friend of his who died, and bequeathed the care of his child to him. This is both a good and a bad idea and I’m dying to see how they deal with this development next season!

In a bit of a minor plot line, Slade’s interest in Daisy increases, and he even goes so far as to ask Mr. Carson if it’s okay for him to pursue her. Since Harold apparently really loves the food he’s been eating at the House, and since Daisy’s the one who’s cooked most of it, Slade recommends that she join them as Harold’s chef in New York. She ends up turning him down, but Ivy jumps at the chance and tells Slade that Harold doesn’t really know who’s been cooking the food, and that she can pretty much cook everything Daisy can. Between the two of them, they convince Slade that this is a good idea. When Mrs. Patmore asks Daisy if she’s okay with giving up this opportunity, Daisy says that she’s totally fine with it, and that she loved having a young man be interested in her the way Slade was. It’s very cute, and it shows how Daisy has grown as a character.

Oh, just a quick recap about Thomas: after his failed attempt to finagle his way into the back seat with Tom as they are ready to leave Downton for London, he ends up telling Robert about Sarah’s visit, only he makes it sound like some clandestine thing that Tom was doing. Robert talks to Tom briefly about it at the card table, but Tom doesn’t get a chance to really explain the situation. It’d be interesting to see where this goes next season.

Downstairs, Molesley overhears Thomas threatening Mrs. Baxter again, and tells her that she shouldn’t let him get away with it, and that whatever it is he has over her, she should know that there are others (like him) who are there for her. This gives Baxter the boost she needs and the next time Thomas tries to threaten her, she basically tells him off.

The episode ends with Mr. Carson, his trousers rolled up, scared to walk in to the water at the beach, and Mrs. Hughes telling him that he can hold her hand and that in fact, he can hold her hand any time he needs a bit of support. Aw! So cute!

And that’s it! I have to admit that I was a bit miffed about there being no real conclusions to Mary’s situation with either Tony or Charles, and that the entire episode with Anna was swept under the rug as if nothing happened. But, overall, it was a nice, upbeat episode and it definitely beat last season’s ending!


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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1. sl1878
Ugh, I really hate what they did with Thomas in the latter part of this season. He was developing so well in the last two.

And until proven otherwise, I will assume Gregson has been captured by the Thule Society. Unlikely, but the thought amuses me.
Naz Keynejad
2. nazkey
I don't understand why he's gone back to his evil scheming ways either. I mean, there really is no reason for it. He's the under butler, he's in a good, safe position ... why is he doing this?

Re. Gregson, I'm trying to figure out what happened there too. I'm wondering if the actor playing him had some sort of a fall-out with the show and they had to write him off?
3. Canucks
According to a Wikipedia entry, “in human nutrition, the term ‘empty calories’ applies to food that supplies energy but little or no other nutrition.” That might well be an apt description to summarize what DA S04 Christmas Special was all about.

. . . . . . . . . . .

In this season finale, as Naz notes, there were a few sparks of “energy” or perhaps more aptly, the obligatory “forward investment” for the die-hards to come back for another season of this tiring show:

Will Mary choose Gillingham or Blake? Will Daisy choose between a role at the Mason family farm or a cooking role with Alfred at the Ritz? Will there be a few other pairings in the end such as Molesley vs. Baxter? Or Isobel vs. Lord Merton or Dr. Clarkson? Or Ms. Hughes vs. Mr. Carson? Will Edith ever be happy? Will Barrow ever be unbitter? Will Branson ever leave the Abbey? Will Rose ever grow-up?

Will this series ever end?

At the end … 2013 DA Christmas Special reminded me, once again, how “strained” this series has become to find a meaningful end to itself, and it saddens me to see how it lurches towards some sort of a grand finale (in S05 I hope) which cannot come soon enough.

. . . . . . . . . .

I think S04 permanently and needlessly stained the sweetness that was Mr. & Mrs. Bates (which this Christmas Special does nothing to improve … despite a “penny lick,” and in fact, I believe further darkens it with a burned ticket to London). And regardless of how or who Mary finds as a mate next, I don’t think any ending will ever achieve the joy viewers felt when she finally did hook-up with Matthew Crawley. In fact, the one lasting memory I will have after this Christmas Episode is how scheming and vile a character Mary (or his father) can be when it comes to saving Downton Abbey (or the honour of the Monarchy).

. . . . . . . . .

If this show ended at the hospital scene with Mary & Matthew enjoying their new baby boy George, this series would have joined the ranks of one of the happiest endings and perhaps the finest productions in TV land.

Now if the series ends with S05, (and however that might happen), it will probably go down in history as yet another glitzy soap opera that went far too long for its own good, and with very little of consequence.

And a bunch of more empty calories!

As Ms. Hughes says it best very early on this year’s Christmas Special ... when it comes to Downton Abbey:

"We are all tired.”

“But not as tired as we're (yet) going to be!"
4. MademoiselleRose
Wow, Canucks, did your mother never teach you that if you can't say something nice don't say anything at all. If you don't like it, don't watch it. I, on the other hand, love it and will keep watching.
5. Canucks
Good Advice @MademoiselleRose.

My late mother did teach me a lot of good things.

Like civility, etc.

Merry Christmas to you too!
6. myself1928
Yay! Christmas recap! I still haven't seen this season since I live in the US but I was hoping to get the last recap. I've lost track - how close are we to the start of WWII? If irritating Rose is a "flapper" we are still in the 20's because the flapper era basically came to an end during the great depression. Hitler and the brownshirts span the 20's and the 30's but Hitler came to power in 1933. Fellows might be heading in that general direction. Maybe he will start the next season closer to 1939.

I'll start with my criticisms, which are small. My three biggest character gripes were Cora's mother and her mother's maid, Rose and Matthew. OK, that's four but Cora's mother and her maid were just meant to be the same cardboard stereotype so we can lump them together. I'm glad I don't have to listen to Reed the maid's annoying accent and ways through this episode - I thought at first she was a British actress pretending to be an American but it must be the other way around - she's an American actress somewhat copying the British accents around her. Either way, good riddance. Martha can go as well. Shirley MacLaine should have never taken such a cardboard character for a role - she's a good enough actress to know better. Someone tell Fellows that flappers were strong, independent women trying to shrug off traditional female roles - the opposite of Rose who has cabbage for brains. I liked Sir Richard better than whimpy Matthew so I might be the only fan who wasn't sad to see his character go.

The Edith storyline could be REALLY interesting in season 5 - her missing lover will reapper I'm betting. Maybe an exciting episode around her sneaking into Germany and smuggling him out? I loved Branson and Sybil and was sorry to see Sybil go so his new love interest sounds good to me. It should give him a bigger part. Violet is the best thing on this show so I was glad to hear she'd be back for season 5. I'd read about the Anna and Bates storyline the day after it happend in the Mail Online and I almost gave up on this season because of it - it sounds horrible. Since all that is left is to give one of them small pox or the bubonic plague why not write a happier storyline and give them a baby or something? I haven't seen the two men pursuing Mary. Is one Evian Napier the guy from first season who brought the Turkish man as a guest? I sort of liked him I guess.
If they really wanted to be controversial with love lives instead of giving brainless Rose a "controversial" love interest I'd give Thomas one. Thomas is a more interesting character and Rose is too flighty to have ever seemed like she was in love with anyone.
7. myself1928
Oh - and has season 5 started filming yet in England and when will it be shown?
8. sl1878
Well MademoiselleRose, some of us had mothers who taught us to call a spade a spade and respect the opinions of others even if we disagree. I'm guessing yours didn't.
Megan Frampton
9. MFrampton
A reminder to keep the discussion here civil, please, and keep the discussion focused on the post, not on each other. Thank you.
10. Almazar80
I don't really care for Mary nowadays. Matthew made her human, made her a warm blooded lady, so to speak. Now, she's a cold, calculaing, unappealing. Who care's who she ends up wih. And where are the two kids? I supposed parenting was not for the upper class, at least not visibly so.

I actually found Harold quite interesting. Giamatti is a great actor. Playing Harold as a lonely man, who doesn't really know humself, Harold is thrust upon English society like a fish out of water. Madeleine proves a perfect foil and for the first time in a while, here is a romance that one can root for. Yest, there is that age difference. The English of that era didn't mind it so why should we viewers? It was interesting to see how Fellowes made it clear that Harold was smitten with Madeleine. He asks her to write him. And calls her by her name? Of course, it was clear that Madeleine actually liked Harold. That look, afar, thinking that she may not see him again after he leaves was that of a young woman who has taken an interest to the gentleman.

And Miss Carmichael plays the most interesting Crawley. Well done, Edith!
Naz Keynejad
11. nazkey
Thank you everyone for stopping by to comment!

@Canucks - believe me, I understand the frustration. There certainly were challenges with this season, but for me, the fact that Fellowes didn't really address the giant elephant in the room (Anna) in the final episode was a bit of a let down. I think maybe he was criticized heavily for last season's ending, and of course, for the entire Anna story line this season, that he wanted to give us a semi-fluffy finale? There is enough here for a season 5, but I'm hoping that things wrap up a bit better than they did this season. Who knows? Maybe we'll even get to the Great Depression at some point next season?

@myself1928 - we're still quite a ways off from WWII. I don't think we're ever going to get there, actually, unless there's a HUGE time jump. And, I don't know if filming has started, but season 5 is confirmed, so I'm sure they're going to start filming shortly. Maybe after the awards season slows down a bit? It seems like a bunch of the actors are here in the States doing the talk show rounds.

@Almazar80 - I agree that Harold was an interesting character, and of course, Giamatti can act anything to perfection. Frankly, the one person that is annoying to me is Martha, simply because she comes across as pretty one-note. Yes, we get it, you don't like the British ways, can you talk about something else for a change? Harold, on the other hand, was very refreshing, especially because he was very blunt and upfront about not just how he was/felt, but about his mother. I really liked him.
12. Lauren60
This episode was a big disappointment. I kept waiting for something befitting a season finale to take place. I’m still waiting after ninety minutes of show time. This episode is a microcosm of the entire season. Very little of real significance happened.

Before I go any further, I want to share what I thought was good about the episode (lest I risk being scolded). The production was top-notch as is the usual case with Downton. It had beautiful settings, beautiful costumes and stellar acting. It was nice to see the Grantham’s home in London and the storyline around retrieving the Prince of Wales’ love letter to his mistress was fun. The scene showing the procession to Buckingham Palace was very ambitious and I enjoyed the pageantry of the debutante presentation ceremony. Harold’s valet, Ethan, was also a real bright spot. He was so earnest and sincere.

Now on to what I didn’t like about the episode. Only two pre-existing storylines saw any significant progress. One was Edith’s situation and the other was Bates’ potential involvement in Mr. Green’s death. The only other significant development was Ivy’s decision to leave for a job in America. Almost the entire episode was spent on short lived storylines involving short lived characters. I wanted to see more time devoted to the characters I’ve come to know and care about (especially Anna and Tom Branson, they had almost nothing to do in this episode).

My biggest complaint, however, is related to the Mary/Tony/Charles storyline. The “Mary and her desire of suitors” plot had already worn very thin with me. Now I get the unwelcome news that it is getting dragged into season 5.

Eight months have passed since episode 8 so by my calculation Mary has known Tony and Charles for a year or so. After all that time she doesn’t know which one of them she’d like to move forward with? If that’s the case, it’s likely that neither man is right for her. As for Charles and Tony, their sniping at each other makes them look like a couple of teenage girls. They look petty and immature and come across as men with very little self-respect.

It’s getting very difficult to like Mary. That’s saying something coming from me because she’s always been my favorite character on the show. She comes across as very selfish where her suitors are concerned. She says she feels guilty about stringing them along but that doesn’t stop her from continuing to do so. It should be enough that she’s come to the realization that she won’t mourn Matthew forever and that she will have a future. Let the world rejoice!

It was revealed that Charles is the heir to a distant relative’s significant title and fortune. Now that’s a storyline Downton hasn’t had before. So is Charles supposed to be Matthew Part 2 minus the warmth, charm and attractiveness? Charles does nothing for me and he and Mary have zero chemistry. He’s been lying by omission to Mary this whole time. He says it’s because he wanted to win her on his own. He’s been keeping who he really is a secret from Mary and she wouldn’t be giving him a chance except that she now thinks he might be on her side. Regardless of his motives, Charles has been deceitful. Now that’s a character trait every woman looks for in a man.

Tony comes off looking the best of the three. He’s been charming and respectful to Mary from the start (unlike Charles). He’s been upfront about his feelings and hasn’t been game playing (unlike Mary and unlike Charles). He told Mary about Charles’ true situation even though it could hurt his chances with her. Tony is a very honorable man. He should remove his gorgeous self from this tortuous triangle by telling Mary he has too much self-respect to continue to be a part of it. Hey, maybe Miss Lane Fox is still available!

The Mary/Tony/Charles storyline comes across as very contrived and for lack of a better word, insincere. Its current mantra is “Let battle commence”. The battle for Mary’s heart that is. How romantic (not!!). What should we expect to see in season 5? Will Tony and Charles joust, sword fight and arm wrestle for the prize that is Mary’s heart? Give me a break!

Do I plan on watching season 5? Yes. Will I be anxiously awaiting it? No. I’m hoping season 5 gets back to what made Downton a great show, the depth of the storylines and the characters and most of all the sincerity and heart.
Jeri Huish
13. jerilyn11
You know when something goes seriously wrong with your computer and you re-start it in Recovery Mode and there is something still very wrong with it but it's better than no computer at all?


Downton Abbey : Recovery Mode

It's painfully obvious that Dan Stevens leaving the show really left them in the lurch. In retrospect it probably would have been a better idea to hire a new actor to replace him than to hastily re-write the future without Matthew in it. Because they are floundering. I feel like the entire season has employed one of two alternate tactics.

1. Try and distract the audience with a barrage of new characters and hope that one of them becomes a likeable Matthew replacement

2. Take already well-liked characters and entangle them in a series of increasingly unlikely plotlines

I wish I knew what series 4 would have been like with Matthew and where the story was headed because this year has been one giant ADHD mess. Nothing ties together, nothing gets resolved, it's a revolving door of characters and problems with no progress. Maybe they should have agreed to let Dan Stevens sing all of his lines and pretend he was on Broadway because just about anything would have been better than this.
Naz Keynejad
14. nazkey
@Lauren60 - To be honest, I was quite disappointed with Mary's cavalier attitude as well, and like you said, the verbal tiffs between Charles and Tony were childish. I guess we'll have to wait and see who she ends up with next season, and even though I'm in Charles' camp, the deception bothered me. It also seemed very implausible that Robert didn't know about him. I mean, as a member of the peerage, you'd think he'd know who Charles was. Yeah ... not very well done.

@jerilyn11 - I had a problem with the lack of resolution too, but my biggest problem was how what happened to Anna was completely swept under the rug, with the only mention being some half-hearted sense of morality on Mary's part. It was a very weak ending to the entire season, IMO.
15. Lauren60
Just a few more thoughts…

Regarding Mary’s indifferent behavior towards her suitors in this episode, could it be we’re missing the point? We know marrying Matthew was for love but maybe that won’t be her priority for any future marriage. Mary said her every penny and every waking minute will be focused on keeping Downton safe for George. That objective may also come into play when it comes to deciding who she’ll choose as a mate. Love may be secondary to the man’s means of helping her secure Downton’s future. On the other hand, her behavior in this episode could have been for the sole purpose of stalling so the storyline could be dragged into season 5 but that’s just me being cynical.

People rooting for a Mary/Charles pairing should be very encouraged by this episode. I thought (and hoped) he was going to be just a minor roadblock to Mary and Tony ultimately getting together. This episode showed he is very much in the mix to be chosen by Mary. This turn in the storyline came a bit out of the blue for me. Prior to this episode, we were given many indications that Mary has feelings for Tony. We didn’t see the same from her towards Charles. It seems odd then for Tony and Charles to seemingly be on equal footing as the “battle” for Mary commences. I wonder if something happened behind the scenes that caused the storyline to take a bit of an unexpected turn. Perhaps Julian Ovenden (Charles) hadn’t committed to more than one season originally but signed up for a second season during the latter stages of production. Perhaps the powers-that-be weren’t happy with how the Mary and Tony pairing was going (this seems unlikely since they are obviously great together). Perhaps the writer and producers are keeping their options open to see which pairing the fans like the best (and then do the opposite?). This storyline lacks consistency and is left so wide open that it raises many questions in my mind.

Random thought…during three season of the Mary/Matthew love story, never once did Mary tell Matthew she loves him. She didn’t say it in any way, shape or form. There was no “I’ll always love you.”, no “I never knew I could love someone as I love you.”, nothing of the sort. Meanwhile, Matthew professes his love to Mary on numerous occasions. Was this an oversight by Julian Fellowes or done on purpose? I find it strange.

This last episode was centered on Rose’s coming out to society. The prince shows up and dances with her at the ball. Robert says to Cora that Rose should be the darling of London society after such a kickoff. Have the times changed so much that Rose’s affair with a married man (remember in season three Matthew, Rosamund and Edith tracked her down at a club where she was in the company of a married man) and her cavorting with a black band leader will be overlooked? In seasons one and two we kept hearing how Mary was damaged goods due to her tryst with Pamuk. Will Rose be given a pass?

I read where the producer of Downton said season four was, in his opinion, the best season so far. He may be compelled to say that as a promotional type thing. If he truly believes it, then I am discouraged about what we’ll see from the show in the future. Please Naz, talk me down off the ledge! Please tell me that season 5 won’t be more of the same!
Jeri Huish
16. jerilyn11
@lauren60 I agree that it seems like the writers seem like they're stalling - and to see which couple the audience likes best and do the opposite made me laugh. A twist worthy of Fellowes. Although in JulianFellowesLand, only the people who marry for love or position are guaranteed a happy life. If you marry for love, it's a one-way ticket to misery, heartbreak and death. It makes me wonder what his family life is like.

Also, your question about Rose being as "damaged" as Mary is a good one. What the heck? She was pretty obvious about it (whereas Mary's problems were mostly rumors).

I have been re-watching season 2 and all of season 4 has been a sad, soapy, sloppy mess in comparison.
17. Almazar80
Matthew should have married Lavinia. Not only was she more caring, she was prettier. And she had heart. Mary is just a cold, calculating, undeserving, spoiled, rotten woman. Off with her.

Fellowes, I repeat my plea. More Harold and Madeleine please. It's like watching Sabrina again. And I loved that ending.
18. Carl Vehse
Well, the Season 4 finale gave away what will happen in the Season 5 finale:

John and Anna Bates will become a duke and duchess with an estate, as specified in a handwritten order by the Prince of Wales.
19. Carl Vehse
Here's a summary list of the obvious (or hinted at) romantic threads to be woven (or left dangling) in Season 5:

1. Tony / Mary / Charles (pig-rescuing future Baron)
2. Harold / Madeleine
3. Lord Merton / Isobel / Dr. Clarkson
4. Edith / Michael Gregson (if alive)
5. Tom / Sarah Bunting
6. Daisy / Alfred
7. Ivy / Ethan Slade
8. Moseley / Baxter
9. Rose / Jack Ross(?)
10. Mr. Carson / Mrs. Hughes

That leaves Mrs. Patmore managing everything (while taming an electric blender), Thomas trying to mess up 1-10, Robert and Cora pretty much still clueless, and Violet doing her usual play-by-play commentary on all of it.
21. Sairy
I know I'm about half a year late with this comment, but I just discovered these great recaps a couple of days ago. Thanks, Naz!!

Now, this has been bothering me since the end of the current season. Practically speaking - and I agree with lauren60 that Mary will marry more for practical reasons than for love - I see some technical problems with a remarriage to either Blake or Gillingham - or Napier, for that matter. Basically, where will Mary and her new husband live? Mary sees her mission in life as holding on to Downton for George. To have any chance of doing that, she needs to stay on the estate. You can't manage an estate in difficulties from three counties away, and definitely not from Ireland (where Blake's estate is.) Certainly not if the other owner is your obstructionist father. On the other hand, both Blake and Gillingham have or will have their own estates, and Gillingham's estate certainly needs his controlling hand. So neither of them can realistically be expected to move to Downton. Even if Blake doesn't have his estate yet, he'll inherit soon enough. Besides, why would anyone with his own estate want to live in someone else's house? I would imagine even living in a dower house is better than living as a tenant in your father in law's place. Even Matthew didn't want to live at DA, and he was the heir, which Mary's second husband won't be.

Mary can't leave Downton and her suitors, if they have any sense, won't leave their places. So practically speaking, how is a remarriage going to happen?
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