Downton Abbey S04E04: “Episode 4”

…an episode reminding us all the importance of not “spending too much time on a one-sided love.”

Can we just put aside our differences for a second and come together on an important issue?  These days, there are all manors manners of drama filling the halls of the Downton estate, but emerging from the rubble is an MVP on whom we can all agree, can’t we?  I’m talking, of course, about Mrs. Hughes.

This episode picks up the morning after the events of last week’s installment; we find Anna feverishly polishing shoes at the table alone, a nice metaphor that speaks to her inability to scrub the lingering feelings of shame and dirtiness from herself.  Clearly, our girl Anna is not doing well.  Things don’t improve much during breakfast with the downstairs staff; Mrs. Hughes, the only person who knows of the attack, needs to smooth out the palpable tension in the room that arises after Anna inadequately tries to explain away her bruises.

The fact that the Gillinghams are still on the grounds is also a source of nerve-wracking fear for Anna.  Upstairs, the Crawleys wish the Gillinghams a fond farewell but not before Lord Gillingham confesses to Mary that his servant creeps him out (oh sweet irony).**

**But not all is lost: Gregson gets a handshake from his future pops-in-law and is all like, “I’m never going to wash this puppy again.” 

I like the contrast that develops between Anna and Bates, whose relationship a rift has separated (what with her not wanting to be touched and not wanting her husband to rot in jail once he inevitably kills her attacker), and Mary and Gillingham, whose relationship has grown closer.  Still, I’m not loving how Fellowes is handling Anna after her attack; it feels pat and predictable.  Anna moving upstairs to put distance between herself and Bates?  We spent several seasons wanting these two together, and I’m not a fan of using this traumatic event just as a way to test their relationship.  (Though I would love to live in a world where Robert, already attuned to Anna’s change in behavior, finds out first.)

Listen up now, I have some great news for you stalkers out there!  It seems like, as long as you have more money than you know what to do with, following someone home and inviting yourself into that person’s home unannounced is actually adorable?  I mean, that’s my takeaway from this episode because that’s exactly what Lord Gillingham did after Mary and co returned to Downton following their field trip to London to sort out the tax issue.  Also, it’s absolutely not creepy to propose marriage to someone you met a week ago and confess your unadulterated love***.  Thanks, Gillingham!  You’ve given all the creepers of the world a bright shining star of hope!  Boundaries are for the weak-willed!

***Mary, to her credit, was all like, “Um, no thanks tbh.  You’re a handsome pirate and all, but this is one booty you ain’t a-plunderin.”  That’s right, girl!  You tell him!

I guess its time for me to talk about Edna (ugh).  Here I go again, unable to prevent myself from stirring up a whirlwind of controversy, but I have to say it: I found her behavior less than desirable in this episode.  Is it just me or does it seem like she took advantage of a drunk Branson at the end of last episode in a creepy form a date rape?****

****Dear Julian Fellowes:      

            While I totally heart your television series 4evs, please refrain from using rape as a plot device.  It is not okay.  If you ever struggle in brainstorming ideas for a new plot, just put Moseley into a new situation.  For example, Moseley gets locked in a zoo after hours.  That would be hilarious!  Or perhaps Moseley finds a treasure map in Mrs. Patmore’s sugar bowl (not a euphemism) and goes on a zany adventure with a pet ferret!  Let your creativity run wild! But please stop revealing these dark corners of your soul to us because, frankly, I’m getting worried about you.

            All the best (with hugs and kisses),

            Overstuffed DVR

Later on, Edna just sort of casually drops a question into her conversation with Branson: would he marry her if she were pregnant?  Much to Edna’s surprise, Branson isn’t thrilled by this.  What’s more, Mary senses something is off with him on their trip to London and encourages him to find a confessor to spill the beans.  And when you’re a Downton-dweller, who you gonna call?

MRS. HUGHES! *Cue jingle similar to but not a replica of the Ghostbusters theme in order to avoid copyright issues.*

After having listened to this icky tale, Mrs. Hughes summons Edna to her office, calls her a lying hussy (my words, not hers), and disproves the pregnancy threat—all with Branson in attendance.  Mrs. Hughes then invites Edna to collect her belongings and leave Downton, praying that she not let the door hit ya where the Good Lord split ya. Hey, even Thomas got to take a parting pot shot at Edna before she leaves, calling her a witch (he let her off a bit light imo).

Elsewhere, love in its myriad forms: Rose crushes on a black jazz bandleader, Jimmy and Ivy get frisky in the boot room, Mrs. Hughes gives Carson a token to remember Alice by, Alfred wants to pursue his cooking dream while also putting Ivy in his rearview, Edith cashes in her V-card, Aunt Rosamund calls Edith a scandalous trollop, and we’re all shipping Isobel and Clarkson SO HARD. #Adorbs

Putting aside my feelings on Anna’s attack, this proved another solid installment of Downton, hinting at the possibility of a brighter future for Mary (Isobel greeting Gillingham and saying she hopes to see a great deal more of him is one of those character details this show gets right time and time again—great stuff).  Plus, Edna is now wandering the streets, hopefully never to return because she is the worst.

Until next weekend, Downtonites!

 

Snippets of Intrigue

– Violet Crawley [to Isobel]: “I don’t criticize her or you.  But I do hope you’ll find a way to make friends with the world again.”

– Jimmy: “I do have dreams.  They don’t involve peeling potatoes.”

– Mary: “Seriously, Papa, Edith’s as mysterious as a bucket.”

– Carson: “The business of life is the acquisition of memories.”

– Mrs. Hughes [to Carson]: “It’ll reassure the staff to know you once belonged to the human race.”

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