DOWNTON ABBEY wrapped up a few hanging threads and introduced new ones in episode four, with emphasis on the downstairs staff and the turmoil brought about by change.
Mr. Bates tortured Mrs. Hughes by threatening to quit unless she spilled the story she knows about Anna’s secret. Lurking in the corner of a hallway while Anna and Hughes spoke again about why the secret is necessary to keep, Bates learned that his wife had been attacked.
Keeping that horrible rage within him for only so long, he put the screws to Mrs. Hughes who only kept one part of the story from him, the identification of the attacker. Bates believes it is Mr. Green, Gillingham’s valet and went to his wife with love and sorrow for her, not himself. In one of the most touching scenes of the series, he made her realize she was not soiled goods, nor was there reason for her to be ashamed. Anna moved back into the cottage, but Bates is on the warpath for the perpetrator.
“Be aware,” Bates told Mrs. Hughes after the reconciliation with his wife, “…nothing’s over and nothing is done with.”
Will he do as Anna feared? Looks like he’ll be putting on the Sherlock Holmes cap for a good bit.
Alfred tried but failed to make it into a culinary school on the first try and of course Daisy is humming a happy tune, while the usual teasing is still coming out of Jimmy’s mouth.
Mrs. Patmore watched in horror as newcomer Baxter (lady’s maid to Cora) used a sewing machine to mend something. If that weren’t enough, she got a visit from Cora to insist that a refrigerator be purchased, by explaining that “…it’s more efficient”, which of course is just what the paranoid Patmore doesn’t want to hear.
Thomas Barrow informed Baxter that she is part of a new special arrangement/relationship with him, but only for the good of the staff. Yes, Barrow swears his intentions aren’t evil. They all need an ear in the corporate office, a/k/a the bedroom of Robert and Cora. What if changes are planned that put their jobs at risk? Hey, can’t blame a guy for being proactive, but it’s all too good to be true.
Mr. Molesly got screwed once again, but only after Mr. Carson heaped scorn on him with biting sarcasm and a withering stare. Molesly was offered a footman position when it seemed Alfred would be taking his leave. He reminded Carson, “I’m a trained valet and a trained butler,” as he explained his anguish over having to deal with the decision. That included trying to explain to his father his “great fall in position”. While he was agonizing the opening vanished with Alfred’s failed test. Molesly left with his head down and Carson sneering.
Lady Edith is getting antsy about lack of contact with Michael. There has been no written or telephone communication for weeks. Odd that no one other than Cora inquires about it. After Edith made a secret visit to a physician’s office in London one has to wonder if Edith and Michael used birth control during their sleep-over. What is that guy up to, besides learning German? The document she signed in a sex/love haze now looms large.
Lady Mary had pangs of regret at the news of Lord Gillingham’s official engagement notice, only evidenced by a pained look on her face and a quick tear wiped away. That all cleared when old friend Evelyn Napier arrived. Absent since he introduced Mary to the dreaded Mr. Pamuk, they chatted and he was convinced to stay at the estate while he’s on business nearby. Mary actually entered the nursery and held her son George for a little while, still wondering if she is a good mother. Sigh…
Violet and Isobel went ten rounds again over helping out another poor soul. The Dowager Countess had her usual machine gun burst of quotables with one summing up her feelings about Isobel Crawley. She addressed John the new gardener after a harangue by her nemesis.
“You owe your place to Mrs. Crawley. She would not let me go until I promised. She would not relax her grip.” Isobel told her, “You make me sound very fervent.” Violet’s response? “Wars were waged with less fervor,” as she stalked off the property.
Tom Branson is no longer troubled by his fish-out-of-water social status. He has done some sober thinking on the topic and surprised the family at its usual nightly dress-up party that America may be in his future. There has never been much time devoted to discussion of the United States among the Crawley family members, unless it had to do with Cora’s money or her mother. That might be about to change.
“It made me face the fact that I don’t belong,” he told them about the party from weeks prior. Then Lord Grantham spoke up. “What about Ireland Tom, do you belong there?” “No,” was the swift reply.”I don’t think I would. You have changed me too much. I am a man without a home. I am stateless. There is America. I have family there now and they are doing quite well. I’m talking about the world Sybie will grow up in. Won’t it be easier for her with a clean slate, rather than being the daughter of an uppity chauffeur? “
Tom Branson has become the brains of the outfit. He’s got the business acumen of Mary without the sour outlook and now he can go toe-to-toe with his father-in-law on his social status woes. Taking Sybie away from the Crawleys will not be easy.
But, the looming trouble brewing in the quest of Mr. Bates to avenge his wife’s attack has that proverbial dark cloud hanging over Downton once again.
PBS airs DOWNTON ABBEY Sunday nights at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT Image: PBS
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