Downton Abbey Recap: Mother Knows Best

Downton Abbey Season 4 RecapIn this week’s Downton Abbey, Cora gets so carried away with her matchmaking that Mary scolds, “Don’t be transparent, Mama. It doesn’t suit you.” But the fact is, Mama is absolutely right: The widow and Anthony make a perfect couple. So much so that, by the hour’s end, they’ve given us what (if you ask me, and I wish you would) should go down in history as one of the show’s most romantic moments. Read on, and I’ll tell you all about it!

RELATED | Downton Abbey Renewed for Season 5

FROM BAD TO WORSE | Unaware that Green has raped Anna, Carson shrugs off the tension that the servants sense in the kitchen the morning after the house party. “I always think there’s something rather foreign,” he grumbles, “about high spirits at breakfast.” Bates, on the other hand, is determined to find out what’s upset his wife. “It must be my fault,” he tells Robert, “because she is incapable of fault.” (A line like that uttered by almost any other character would sound sarcastic. But, of course, coming from Bates, it’s breathtaking in its sincerity.) Unfortunately, Anna is so determined to keep her spouse from killing Green and being put to death himself that she asks Mrs. Hughes if she can move back in with the other servants. “Better [he suffer] a broken heart,” she reasons, “than a broken neck.”

THE PARENT TRAP | Upstairs, Edna has no sooner slunk out of Tom’s bed than she’s begun pressuring him to marry her — you know, if there’s a baby. Though he’s full of apologies for his drunken mistake, she only drives the hook in deeper. “If you were good enough for Lady Sybil Crawley,” she hisses, “I’m good enough for you.” Luckily, after he confides in Mrs. Hughes, the estate’s resident problem-solver is not only able to figure out that Edna isn’t with child, she’s able to send her packing without tattling to Cora. (The conniver doesn’t even get any satisfaction out of dissing Thomas on her way out the door — he reacts to her observation that he’s “sly and oily and smug” as if she’s just informed him that he’s “pretty and witty and gay.”)

LONDON CALLING | While Mary, Edith, Tom and Rose are all staying at their favorite out-of-town hotel — Rosamund’s — Edith gets a tongue-lashing from her aunt for having a sleepover at Michael’s the night before he departs for Germany; Rose gets rescued from her soused date by not just (gasp!) a singer but (double gasp!) a black singer; and, thanks to Cora’s machinations, Mary winds up spending another enchanted evening with Anthony. “I hope I’m a surprise,” he says, radiating rather than oozing charm, “and not a shock.” And honestly, the chemistry between them is palpable. (Sorry, Matthew.) So it makes sense that, in spite of her commitment to her grief, in spite of his almost engagement to another woman, in spite of everything, when she heads back to Downton, he follows, explaining, “I’ve made a long journey to ask a short question: Will you marry me?” When she reluctantly turns him down, saying that she’s not ready to let go of her husband and won’t be “for some years,” he requests a goodbye kiss that’s so swoon-inducing, I wish I’d kept the smelling salts handy!

Okay, your turn. What did you think of the episode? Were you sorry that Mary turned down Anthony? I was with Violet that it was classy as hell of Isobel to be so welcoming to the chap who’s basically her son’s replacement. (Mind you, the Dowager Countess didn’t put it quite like “classy as hell.”) Were you surprised that Edna was brought back, only to be dispatched so quickly? Is anybody particularly — that is, at all — interested in the story of the kitchen staff and whether Daisy’s going to lose her non-boyfriend, Alfred, to chefdom? (If this is the option, I’d prefer more of Mopesley. Sorry, MOLESLEY.) Fingers crossed that poor Anna isn’t pregnant. We’ve She’s suffered enough. Hit the comments!

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24 Comments
  1. Stormy says:

    I’m not a fan of Lord Gillingham and wasn’t impressed by the kiss. I was alarmed at how stick thin Michelle Dockery is. Glad Edna is gone and I’m curious about the candidate Thomas is suggesting as her replacement. All in all this episode dragged a bit for me.

    • jenferner8 says:

      I agree, the kiss was ok. Honestly I thought Matthew’s proposel (the second one, at Christmas in the snow) was much more romantic then this one. I do wish Isobel would get herself together and go out with the doctor already, he clearly likes her.

      • Stormy says:

        Me too. And I think Mrs. Patmore and Daisy’s father-in-law would make a good couple as well.

      • Ben says:

        Isobel made it quite clear at the end of season three that she wasn’t interested in Doctor Clarkson in that way. This is British television – that will almost certainly be the end of that.

        • jenferner8 says:

          I remember that, Mary and Matthew kind of did the same thing in the beginning, things do change. But it would seem to me that Isobel in her grief and depression desperately needs something to pull her out of it and helping the doctor would be a good start. I realize that’s what Violet is trying to do and I realize Isobel is as stubborn as the rest I think maybe someone needs to take a harder line with her.

          • Stormy says:

            When she refused to take the Dr. seriously she still had Matthew. Now, she only has her grandson, so she may be more open to a life of her own.

      • Stella says:

        Thank God someone remembers the true romantic moments of this show like Matthew’s proposal in season 2 finale.

  2. jenferner8 says:

    Ding dong the bitch is gone!! I hated Edna the first time and there are no words for how much I despise her this season. I can’t even say that I love to hate her, that honor belongs to Thomas, gay, oily, whatever. As much as I’m troubled and horrified about what happened to Anna, I’m almost more disgusted by what Edna did to Tom. Until this episode I wasn’t sure anyone had Tom’s back. Mrs. Hughes totally rocks! I love that Tom is still grieving for Sybil but I think getting past it will happen when he least expects it and, please, not with Rose!
    As for Mary, the kiss was alright but after the chemistry between Michelle and Dan, I just didn’t see Mary with this guy. Mary needs someone to fire her blood up, challange her, I just don’t see that guy being the one.

    • Cheryl says:

      Don’t worry, that challenging person will be entering the picture soon… ;) (Some of us are just too naughty to wait for it to come on PBS!)

      • jenferner8 says:

        I’d heard that! I read that somewhere but I had impression the 3 men would be converging at the same time/episode. I kind of expected it when the guest started showing up in second episode but I was so concerned about Tom that it kind of slipped my mind. I’m so glad it’s coming soon!

    • Alichat says:

      Oh my god yes……SOOOOO glad Edna is gone. I hated her character last season. Who honestly thought that bringing her back would be entertaining at all? And part of me was really hoping that Branson would confess to Mary. That it would be a bonding moment with them…..not that the moment they did have wasn’t sweet…..but Mary seems to trust Tom’s opinion more than the others do, and I would have liked a moment where she finds out what happened, and tells him that she trusts the quality of his character. Although that smack down by Mrs Hughes was terribly fun to watch. And I agree on Mary and Anthony. I like his character, but I didn’t feel a massive amount of chemistry between them. And frankly his proposal seemed awfully rushed.

    • spartan_Cheer says:

      Agreed!! I spent most of the episode yelling at my tv how much i hated Edna!!! I was SO happy when Mrs Hughes gave her the smackdown and Thomas even had a go at her! I’m afraid she’ll come back again. I was so happy when she left the first time and so angry when she reappeared! I almost think I hated her more than the evil valet(although what he did was SO terrible that it made me feel guilty to hate Edna more. Poor Anna and poor Bates!!!) When Mary told Tom to confide in someone I honestly couldn’t figure out who he would talk to but was so glad to see him with Mrs. Hughes. She had annoyed me last week when she kept the rape secret which is dangerous to EVERYONE in the house and elsewhere but she redeemed herself this week. I love Tom and thankful he didnt give into Edna’s blackmail. heres hoping shes gone. O”Brien was mean but I still kinda liked her at times and Thomas I cant help but like him but Edna…she just brings out the hate

      • K.M.Dawson says:

        I think the weakness in the Edna-Tom story was that Edna was obviously hoping to become part of the upper crust, but trapping into marriage someone who is upper-crust only because HE married into it is dicey. It wasn’t unheard of for a member of the family to get a servant girl pregnant. Usually, the young man was shipped off to the colonies and the girl was cut loose to fend for herself. Had Edna managed to trap Tom, the likely outcome would have been, at best, that she would have found herself married to an auto mechanic in western Canada, not sharing the dinner table with Tom’s in-laws and former employers.

  3. Kay says:

    I do not like the idea of romance for Mary after only 6 months. One year is considered to be the typical mourning period.

    • scooby says:

      Well notice she turned him down and rightfully pointed out ‘dude, you barely know me as a grown woman.’ He was willing to wait for her to come out of mourning (she’s in half mourning right now if she’s wearing purple) but she’s not only mourning Matthew officially, she’s so emotionally not ready she can’t even see the daylight to when she might be ready.That kiss wasn’t all about chemistry–there was sadness in it. Poor Mary. I guess he felt he had to say something before someone else did because Mary will be a catch as soon as she’s back on the market, but also because if he doesn’t ask Mabel Lane Fox asap, she’ll cut him loose and move on to someone else. Without some idea that Mary will definitely take him one day, he’s gotta go with the most stable option. I guess his estate isn’t the most financially secure, esp. if they had to let the house as a girls’ school. Mary would need to consider remarriage eventually even if not psyched about it if it helped strengthen Downton’s situation. Hopefully she marries for love, but obviously this season won’t cover enough time for the viewers, let alone Mary, to be prepared to see that.

  4. aunt_deen says:

    I like Gillingham well enough, but dude, SLOW DOWN. Mary’s barely out of black, she’s still deep in mourning, and you’re pushing really hard for a commitment, even if it involves a long engagement.

    As much as I think I like them as an eventual couple, I was rather disappointed she kissed him.

  5. Scott says:

    I’m another of those who’s watched the whole thing already, but I have to say that the recaps and reactions are so fun to read, it’s like seeing it again and remembering the great things all over (because I had forgotten, shame on me, that excellent excellent scene with Mrs. Hughes and Tom).

  6. Paige says:

    Soooooooooooo happy Edna is gone!!!!!!!!!!!! I couldn’t stand her at the end of last season and hated when they brought her back. Note to Julian Fellows: DON’T BRING HER BACK!!!!!!!!!!! Loved Mrs. Hughes and Thomas each having a go at her. Priceless. Tom deserves happiness and to move on but not with her. And he didn’t seduce her. She got him drunk and climbed into bed with him, taking advantage of his kindness and his low spirits that night. What she did could be construed as rape. I thought it interesting how she goes to his bedroom in the same episode as Green raping Anna. Were the writers making a point?

    As for Mary, the kiss was good and they do have chemistry but it is too soon because if she can move on then was their romance for the past 3 seasons nothing? But Cora is right, she does need to live.

    • jenferner8 says:

      I said the same damn thing last week about Edna raping Tom!! I think that what happened to Anna was used as a parallel to what happened to Tom. BUT drunk or sober, rape is rape regardless of the sex of the victim or even whom the victim is. I was heartsick that the show threw in the scene with Bates listening to the concert “wondering what she’s (Anna) doing right now”. I was shocked and appalled at end of that episode when Edna went into Tom’s room. He was drinking a lot and I was concerned the show would turn him into an alcoholic or Edna would. I knew she was up to something but it didn’t occur to me she’d go that far.
      What do you suppose is going to happen when Tony finds out his instincts about his valet were correct?

  7. Lecholls says:

    I thought Gillingham was nice, and the proposal was okay, but nothing about this pairing was exciting or romantic to me. Mary needs someone more interesting. She also needs more time.

    I’m so glad that Edna’s gone. She was the worst.

  8. Robin says:

    Mrs. Huges for the win! I loved how she handled the whole situation with Edna! So glad she’s gone. I pray she doesn’t return! I feel like this person that Thomas has in mind may be a relation of his…maybe his mother? I could be wrong.
    Oh poor Anna. I do hope she isn’t pregnant…because she’d kill herself?! :(
    But I would think it would be interesting to see how Edith would handle a accidental pregnancy!
    I agree with whoever said Isobel and Dr. Clarkson should get together.

  9. Lee Vitello says:

    I absolutely adore this show and have read everything Julian Fellowes has written. Miss Matthew terribly but this Tony is very interesting looking. Please don’t let Anna be pregnant I think their relationship has kind of dragged on but thy still have a life in the story.

  10. David P. Graf says:

    What follows is the ULTIMATE spoiler for Downton Abbey. Read at your own risk.

    After thinking about how many people seem to die on this show, it occurred to me how they have all run afoul of Lord Grantham or Bates. Finally, it came to me that Downton Abbey is not a soap opera but instead a horror series where a man consumed with his lust for power and his henchmen take out anyone they see as a threat to that. Let’s go through the list of the dead and see for yourself the truth of what I’m saying.

    Lavinia Swire had to die because it would mean that no one from Grantham’s family would have any say in the affairs of Downton Abbey after his death. It was rather convenient that there was no extensive autopsy in her case especially when she was on the mend and then got it.

    The Dowager Countess has long driven Lord Grantham batty at times with her attempts to interfere into what he considers to be his running of Downton Abbey. However, she knows too much about him to be a target herself. Instead, he gets revenge through Dr. Clarkson who blocks moving William Mason back to Downton for treatment until it’s too late to save his life.

    Lady Sibyl shames Lord Grantham by her marriage to the irish radical and the production of a “half-breed” grandchild. Even Clarkson can’t go along with Grantham on this one but Grantham hires another doctor who ensures that Sibyl dies in childbirth. It will be interesting if the series ever reveals what Grantham has on Clarkson to keep him doing his Lord’s bidding.

    And, now, we come to Matthew. Matthew was going to take away from Grantham his control over Downton Abbey no matter how much he protested otherwise. How convenient, then, that Matthew dies in an auto “accident” just a short time after he’s fulfilled his responsibility to produce an heir. No doubt that Lord Grantham believes that he will be able to dominate Lady Mary and raise the new heir in his image. In order to throw off any possible future suspicions of his involvement in Matthew’s demise, he “finds” Matthew’s ersatz will which leaves matters in Mary’s hands. Of course, he sees too late that he will not be able to control her as he had expected. Lady Mary is a chip off the old block and it will be interesting to see who manages to kill the other first.

    Lady Mary is no stranger to homicide herself. Of course, I’m referring to Kemal Pamuk as Lady Mary’s first victim. At the bidding of the British Foreign Office, she lures Kemal to her bedroom with Thomas’ help and then takes him out. She cooks up the story about a rape to cover up the involvement of the British government and to preserve her image of a “helpless” female. James Bond could get away with everyone knowing about him. Not so with Lary Mary. That episode also reveals how she has her own set of “henchwomen” who will do her bidding and keep her secrets as they move Pamuk back to his bedroom.

    Any good leader has someone who does his/her dirty work and that’s Bates for Lord Grantham. Building upon their past association, Grantham brings someone to Downton Abbey who is so obviously unsuited for his post that mere “charity” does not explain why he did it. There’s a lot about Bates that goes unsaid. For example, isn’t it surprising at how well he does in prison fitting right in and manipulating others to get his way? We know that Grantham can trust Bates to not be a snitch because of the way Bates covered up for his former wife. Of course, her death occurred at a rather fortunate time for Bates – didn’t it? Unfortunately for Bates, he does not have the subtlety possessed by Grantham and almost paid for it.

    Bates has gotten a bit smarter since then and that’s how he managed to set up a scheme to trick his nemesis, O’Brien, into thinking that she was going to India as a rich lady’s servant. Of course, Bates did her in and it will be a long time before anyone realizes she never made it to her destination. Besides, it won’t be like anyone will really shed any tears over her demise. Undoubtedly, Grantham helped set things up with Susan MacClare during the visit to her and her husband’s estate to help Bates pull off his nefarious plans for deceiving O’Brien. It will be interesting to find out why she went along with Grantham. Given how her daughter has been more than a handful to handle and capable of destroying the dignity of the MacClare’s, perhaps the payoff will be Rose’s untimely and unexpected death. After all, it’s not as if Rose was the MacClare’s only child.

    Once you understand how Grantham and Mary are not above using murder for their purposes, you can guess how the body count is going to rise over the next few seasons before the ultimate showdown between the two. I think that the list to die includes on it:

    * Tom Branson and the irish grandkid to tie up the ends after Sibyl’s death
    * Cora who finds herself caught in conflicting loyalties between her husband and Mary
    * Dr. Clarkson who has too much of a conscience for Grantham’s purposes
    * Thomas who knows Mary’s secret identity

    I suspect that the truth will come out in the end and the last scene will show Carson and Hughes in complete disbelief leaving Downton Abbey with their bags in hand. They like almost everyone else who has watched this show will not realize the true nature of life at Downton Abbey until it’s too late.

    Of course, it’s possible that I am totally wrong about this. :-)

  11. Stella says:

    There isn’t any chemistry between Lady Mary and this new stalkerish suitor. Palpable? They are awkward together.
    Sorry, but it’s not even in the same league with the electric chemistry shared by Mary and Matthew.
    The writing for Lord Gillingham is awful. “He’s dead and I’m alive”??? What kind of horrible line is that? And are we supposed to find it romantic??? Laughable.
    And he is like her stalker, following her everywhere and not taking no for an answer. Again, I find this creepy and not romantic.
    So, no, nothing from this episode will be remembered as “the best romantic moments of this show”: it’s nothing comparable to Mary and Matthew’s explosive first kiss in season 1, their dance in season 2, their engagement in the snow and their kiss at the door in season 3, moments that are already “most memorable moments”.

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