Downton Abbey S04E08: “Episode 8”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of “retreating to the Continent for several months.”

Well golly gee wilikers, this episode of Downton positively burst at the seams with narrative developments, didn’t it?  I mean, so much happened that pigs only received six or seven mentions during the entire running time!  I know, right?  With such scant reminders of the season’s must intense plot line, I forgot what show I sat watching for a minute or two there.  Well, let’s get to it, shall we?

Let me just assuage your concern up front: the pigs made a full recovery.  Go ahead.  It’s safe to wipe the sweat from your brow, and it’s no longer necessary to sit perched on the edge of your couch.  It seems the heroics of Mr. Blake and Mary paid off.  I repeat: the pigs are doing fine.  #PorkMiracles Even so, Mary learned her lesson and realizes she needs a real expert on hand, so Mr. Drew (he of the dead father from earlier in the season) becomes overlord of all things pig at Downton.  Braised be to God!  We are delivered.**

**Along for the trip to Drew’s because no one can resist the pulse-pounding excitement of a good pig wrangleLady Edith uses her peepers to take a walk all up and down Mr. Drew’s farmer’s frame, sizing him up real good like.  She has plans for him, but more on that later.

This week, Mary’s love triangle intensifies (can we all just agree that it’s nice try Mr. Napier, but it ain’t happening?).  Blake even does his best impression of an actual human by holding a crying baby George like a burlap sack filled with wasps, so I definitely get what Mary might see in him.  We’re talking personality overhaul here.  After #OperationPigRescue, homeboy is basically Ghandi is my point.  Then the recently single Gillingham announces his triumphant return to Downton, which leads me to believe he might actually be homeless because he spends a great deal of time traveling and not at his own house–if it exists.  Anyhow, news of Gillingham’s arrival ensures that Mary has more to do in this episode than exist as the subject of Blake’s and Gillingham’s affections.

ANNA FINALLY TELLS MARY ABOUT HER ATTACK.  In case you were wondering, I wrote that in capital letters as a subtle way to stress my feelings on the clumsy way Julian Fellowes handled this plot.  Why withhold information from Mary?  Actually, she stands in a position to help the situation without involving Bates at all by asking Gillingham to sack Green.  Anna’s reticence smacks of falsified melodrama, the one thing I voiced concerns about when this plot began in episode three.  Still, it’s out in the open now, thankfully.

Mary plants a seed of doubt in Gillingham by asking him his opinion of Green before he departs for London.  Yes, you heard me!  She straight up incepts Tony Gillingham, so when Mary follows up this inquiry with a trip to London, he concedes to fire his valet because Mary’s forcefulness totally turns him on.  I need to go back and watch Inception because I’ll admit I thought this whole time it was a work of fiction, but did Mary just prove it’s a documentary?

Meanwhile, Mr. Bates takes a mysterious trip to York on his day off, the very same day Mr. Green becomes a human crepe after tripping into the road and getting hilariously run over.*** When Anna questions him about the coincidence, he gets all coy.  Me murder?  Psshaw, boo.

***Is it weird that I picture this scene transpiring as a silent movie replete with overwrought histrionics and jouncy classical score?  Green saddles up to the curb as cars clatter by; Bates sneaks up next to him, sticks his foot out, and shoves Green; Green’s mouth opens in surprise as he falls out of frame; Bates rubs his hands together and smiles as the screen recedes to a pinprick around his face.  Although I hate the thought of Fellowes leading us down the “Bates did a bad murder” path again, if it went down like I think it should, then I would forego my reservations.

 Hey quick question: remember when Daisy was an actual character and not just a human pawn in a love rhombus no one on the planet cared about?  I’d almost forgotten, too!  Fortunately, she visits Mr. Mason as a way to avoid Alfred.  Daisy’s upset because the ginger ladykiller wrote a letter to Ivy telling her his dad died (aww) and he wants to marry her (huh).  I cherished Daisy’s relationship with Mason from earlier Downton seasons, and I found myself thrilled to revisit it again.  Plus, because Mr. Mason is adorable, he encourages Daisy to suck it up, part ways with Alfred amicably, and be done with it.  Also, he makes Alfred a road cheese basket because obviously.  While this plotline very much ran its course, the tender final (hopefully final) scene between Alfred and Daisy, wherein he apologizes for overlooking her constant kindness and affection and she accepts graciously, put this to rest in as sweet a way as possible.  Also, Mrs. Patmore tells Daisy she’s as proud of her as her own daughter and made us all choke up.  Damn you, Patmore!  (I don’t mean that.  I love you unconditionally…)

Speaking of tears, how about #SadEdith?  Remember her googly eyes at Drew?  Turns out she plans to have the baby and pass him or her off to the pig farmer!  Aunt Rosamund is all like, “Don’t be a dumb dumb, E.  Let’s, I dunno, pretend we want to take an immersive French class in Switzerland, have the kid there, then move back here?”  Textbook deception right there.  The Dowager Countess, pained though she is to do so, agrees with Rosamund.  Oh yeah, she knows #SadEdith is preggers because duh.****

****One small moment I loved in this episode is Edith waving off the wine during a luncheon while Carson, Downton’s resident photobomber, scowls curiously from the background.  Classic Carson!

Well I’m depressed.  Seriously, #SadEdith, can you win the lottery or something next season?  I don’t want to make you feel worse, but you are totes exhausting.  Let’s turn those frowns upside down and talk a little bit about Tom Branson and his new relationship with Mrs. Bunting.    Things get off to a steamy start when Bunting’s car breaks down at the side of the road.  Branson slaps down his trip-A card, rolls up his sleeves, and peeks under her hood.  Wowzers!  Never before has roadside assistance dripped with such palpable sexual tension.  Bless my stars!

But this isn’t the burgeoning romance that gripped me this episode.  To get to the one that is, it’s time–believe it or not–for #MoseleyWatch!  Turns out Baxter finds Moseley’s morose despondency quite attractive, which makes me worried about her but also delighted for Moseley.  I don’t know about you, but I’m shipping these two hard.  Watch out Detective Isobel and Dr. Clarkson, two ripe tomatoes just rolled into town!  Moseley’s insistence that Baxter  not allow Thomas to manipulate her into being someone she’s not works so well.  Excellent use of Moseley.  If we didn’t get to see him stroke out over wearing gloves, this at least works as a solid replacement.  Hurray Moseley!  I’m sure your joy will be as ephemeral as a fart in the wind, but hurray for now!

The episode reaches its feverish climax during Cora’s overseeing of the church bazaar on the Downton grounds.  Food, games of chance, and great company abound.*****  In Downton‘s equivalent of an action sequence, Cora appoints Jimmy in charge of the tea tent.  THE TEA TENT.  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND ALL THAT IS HOLY, HE’S JUST A BOY!  HE’S NOT READY!  Fortunately, Jimmy does not have to endure such brutal intensity because Robert rolls up, having returned from the States.  Oh my God, you guys.  Is Robert an attention whore?

*****Best scene of the night: Moseley shaming Jimmy at the strong man station.  It’s all in the arms.  Isn’t that right, Jimmy?

I’ve always appreciated how the show has treated Cora’s relationship with Robert.  True affection and love exists there, and that shines through radiantly during his sweet homecoming.  But other than lobbing a few references on Prohibition being a real drag and bringing news that Cora’s brother received a slap on the wrist for his participation in the scandal I didn’t care enough about to get the particulars of, Robert didn’t have too much to do.  I’m glad he’s back though.  Missed that self-righteous mug of his!

Elsewhere, Mary’s godfather gives Dr. Clarkson a run for his money and begins to court Isobel, Ross proposes to then breaks off his engagement to Rose, and Blake recommends Downton taking on dairy now that pigs have been so successful (pump the breaks there, Jeff Gordon!).

Sunday’s episode really set the table for what will hopefully prove an exciting season finale next week.  I’m not sold on all of the plots at the moment, but as long as Bates’s involvement in Green’s death proves a misdirection, I can forgive all manners of sins.  Otherwise, I’m going to go all #Taken4 on this show.

Until next weekend, Downtonites!


Snippets of Intrigue

– Moseley: “Life kicks the stuffing out of you, doesn’t it?”

– Patmore: “Blimey!  He puts a lot in a letter does Alfred.”

– Moseley: “It’s just coffee.  You won’t have to surrender any of your independence.”

– Dowager Countess: “No life appears rewarding if you think too much about it.”

– Isobel: “I’m a feeble substitute for the entire Crawley family.”

Dowager Countess: “Yes, but you’re better than nothing.”

Isobel: “How warming you make that sound.”

– Branson: “I don’t believe in types.  I believe in people.”

– Mary: “I find that irritating and beguiling in equal measure.”

– Dowager Countess [on Gillingham]: “He’s the most unconvincing fiancé I’ve ever come across.”

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