Review: Downton Abbey “Episode Four”

This week on Downton Abbey, Thomas has returned from visiting his sick father with a rather sullen, ghost-like face on him. I did a double take for a second I thought I was seeing Dracula’s Jonathan Harker (or Renfield) returning from Transylvania. Miss Baxter gathers clues sporadically (Thomas taking a spoon from the kitchen / self-medicating / bandaged hand) and believes it may be him that is actually ill. In other news, Molesley is feeling the strain of multi-taking, and feels Mr. Carson may be taking liberties.

So how is Robert, the Earl of Grantham, this week? Well, he sees Mrs Patmore looking upset near the proposed war memorial, and he seems concerned about that. He also comforts Edith at one point – though he uses the word pity so not sure if that counts. He continues to be a party pooper elsewhere with his ‘told you so’ attitude towards Edith and then unnecessarily dominating Cora’s conversation. “That man Bricker” is causing friction between Robert and Cora – even in his absence. He disapproves of the attention towards his wife, but would rather make smart-ass digs than address it. If the boat carrying Cora and Robert is rocked, then bricks may fall from the house. That would be drama indeed.

Edith receives word from Granger’s office, regarding some alarming news on his possible whereabouts or demise in Germany. The farmer tells Edith his wife believes she is unsettling the child – a crushing blow. Many are noticing Edith’s gloom, but don’t seem to get too involved. Is the surface of basic feelings of loved ones in this society so hard to crack? And is Edith still writing her column? Anyone reading it but surely see the resemblance to Sylvia Plath, the poor devil.

DA Edith

Violet is touchy about the mention of her “old beau” as her son, Robert, puts it. Later, she and Isobel pay a visit to the Russian refugees (and the prince) in York, where they see their impoverished living situation is worse than they first imagined. We learn a snippet of that romance, but Violet is still being rather coy. Lord Merton has a proposition for Isobel, wanting to take her hand in marriage. He tells her he is falling in love and wants to make her happy, though asks her to think about it.

There is another police visit too. Anna was seen in Piccadilly, near where Green died. The Sargent wants to establish that Anna was at Downton when Green was killed. Bates appears remorseless when discussing this with Anna, “I just wish we could all forget about Mr Green” she says. We can’t, Anna. This is your storyline. That supposed secret policeman following Anna in London was rather shifty – a bit like that guy following Tom Cruise in Eyes Wide Shut (the film also featuring Violet’s beau Rade Serbedzija). Speaking of stalking from afar, Edith also tries to get glimpses of little Marigold.

Anything else? It is Blake’s turn to get attention from Mary, and they have dinner. “I wish I could work you out,” he says to her. You and me both George. The next morning, as speculated, Mary meets Gillingham to tactlessly admit they might not be a good match after all. He is not impressed, and is determined to fix them. It is hard to fall in love with Mary as an audience member witnessing her indecisive suitor-choosing, but as a character commenting on the lives of others, she is very likeable – often a kind of sarcastic narrator.

Rose speaks to her visiting father Lord Flintshire. Who? Shrimpy. Ah yes. Having announced his imminent divorce, the father and daughter share a lovely moment. Rose does not want to be married off. Instead, she wants to be in love and, when she does, her father’s support. Primarily introduced as a non-serious character to stir the pot, Rose is continuing to pull at key strands of Downton Abbey‘s narrative indulgence.

Given another invitation to dinner, Tom kindly asks that Miss Bunting is to be civil to the people of Downton (AKA not to explode her left-wing views all over the table) as they have been good to him. Does she oblige? Nope. Miss Bunting yet again fails to keep her mouth shut, seemingly calling Robert out in front of everybody. This bickering needs to stop. Intervention anyone?

The subject in question is Robert’s potential failure to be aware a supposed disruption downstairs between Mrs Patmore and, erm, the young one. “Daisy” – thank you Mary. Yes, it seems Robert might not know her name to boot. And this just fuels Miss Bunting. Daisy and Mrs Patmore are called down to ask of the potential disruption (Daisy later offers to help Miss Patmore write a letter to protest of the treatment of her nephew Archie – she learns so fast). The teacher receives high praise from her student. And so when the duel continues, Robert erupts, a brilliant outburst, and tells Miss Bunting to leave.

The final scene has Robert, accompanied by his estate colleagues Mary and Tom, declare he would rather build small and maintain some of the land that people cherish so much. Perhaps he’s not such a Grinch after all.

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