Deceptions and Revelations: Downton Abbey: Season 4, Episode 6

Robert bids adieu to Edith as he departs to America
Do Robert and Cora know more than they're letting on about Edith's predicament?

This week’s Downton was a rollercoaster of ups and downs—and while I’m glad we saw some characters having a bit of fun, it made the lows others were having even harder to swallow.

The episode opens with Lord Grantham receiving a telegram from his overbearing American mother-in-law, urging him to leave for the states at once in order to help Cora’s brother out of a legal jam.

Robert is flustered, but agrees to help out of love for Cora. But wait! That means Bates will have to leave Anna to accompany him, doesn’t it? Nooooooo. Thankfully, Hughes steps in and begs Lady Mary to send Thomas instead, eventually spilling the story about Anna’s attack. And yay! Mary manages to convince Robert it’s a good idea.

As Robert and Barrow depart, Molesley overhears Thomas telling Baxter she better find out everything while he’s gone and report to him the second they arrive back, while Robert sweetly kisses Cora, and tells Edith again not to worry about Michael Gregson.

But oh no! As soon as they’re away, the Dowager reveals that she’s ill! Good thing Isobel overheard her saying so, and pops in on Violet later to find her health in serious decline. After sending for Dr. Clarkson, they diagnose the Dowager as having bronchitis, and Clarkson says it must be monitored carefully so it doesn’t turn into pneumonia! Of course, do-gooder Isobel decides to take on caring for Violet all by herself. Aw.

Meanwhile, Edith asks Cora if she can go to London the next day, and reveals the only details she has about Gregson to her mother: seems he arrived in Munich and signed into his hotel, then went out and never came back! Scary. Not understanding the real reason Edith is so upset, Cora tries to console her and prompts Edith to ask, “You don’t think I’m bad, do you?” Oh no! Oh, Edith. Can I give you a hug?

The love-struck ladies in the Downton kitchen are still sparring—only this time, they’re both fighting over Alfred. James and his coif appear to have ruined their chances with Ivy. Probably because he’s prone to saying ridiculous things like, “Nothing’s gonna come of that. What a waste of money and effort!” about Ivy. Jerk.

Anyway, Carson reveals that Alfred’s coming to visit! Both Ivy and Daisy are all smiles, even though Daisy’s shooting daggers at Ivy through her glee. Patmore and Hughes convince Carson to deflect the new chef’s visit in order to keep the tenuous peace between the two ladies from erupting in jealousy—and after witnessing another hissing outburst between them, he agrees.

Mrs. Crawley and The Dowager continue to trade barbs, even through Violet’s delusional fever babbling. There’s something so sweet about how much Isobel cares for her frenemy! And something so funny about Violet finding the strength to insult Isobel’s cooking through all the coughing and wheezing, managing to spit out my favorite line of the entire episode: “I want another nurse. This one talks too much! She’s like a drunken vicar.”

In London, Rose tells Rosamund that she has to run errands and promises she’ll be back before dinner…. “if she can.” Of course we learn that “errands” actually means being rowed around a lake by her new lover boy: THE JAZZ MUSICIAN, Jack Ross! To his credit, Ross tries to bring up the fact that their relationship is doomed, but Rose saucily deflects his concerns by asking for a kiss. Oh my. It’s getting steamy in London!

While Rose is gallivanting around completely without shame, Edith reveals she’ll be away overnight to Aunt Rosamund. After some prodding, dear Aunty gets poor Edith to reveal that she’s planning to get rid of the baby! All of Aunt Rosamund’s earlier disappointment of Edith’s behavior melts when she sees how difficult it is for Edith to make this decision, and she takes her niece in her arms and promises to support her no matter what.

Back at Downton, snooty Charles Blake has been left all alone with Mary and Cora, and he suggests that they all take a walk after dinner to visit the pigs. It’s pretty hilarious to see them traipsing down to the pigpens in formal dinner dress, and even more so when they discover the pigs are in danger of dying of dehydration and they end up covered in mud and muck.

After a mud-slinging fight, the two arrive back at the house in the wee hours of the morning, where Mary proceeds to COOK them breakfast! Who even knew Mary could make scrambled eggs? But even more shocking: it seems like Gillingham now has some competition for the lady’s affections. Romance is definitely in the air once again.

Speaking of romance, urged on by Isobel, Branson attends a political talk and ends up sitting next to a smart and pretty lady! Go, Branson! They two make some small talk about politics and personal preferences, and end up parting amicably. I feel like this is the most exciting thing to have happened to him in ages. I hope they meet again…

Carson puts Alfred up in a pub for the night with a lie about everyone having the flu at Downton, but no sooner than Hughes can congratulate Carson on “containing the heartbreak,” does Alfred pop up the next morning, starting the war between the
two kitchen maids all over again. Oops!

Back in London, Edith and Rosamund put on their bravest faces and arrive at the secret doctor’s office so Edith can have the illegal and dangerous procedure performed. But after confessing to her Aunt that she loves Gregson, and witnessing another young lady sobbing post-abortion, Edith changes her mind! Oh thank god, Fellowes. I don’t think I could take that storyline on top of everything else this season.

While Mary is still basking in the glow of her muddy evening with Blake, Gillingham arrives—and he’s clearly still in love with her. AWKWARD! Especially because he’s old buddies with Blake, and the two of them end up admitting to each other that they both have a thing for Lady Mary. Oh, also, Napier’s made his admiration of Mary clear since the beginning--the VERY beginning. We can only hope they’ll be some sort of duel between the three of them soon! [Ed. note: What do you call a duel between three suitors? Please leave your suggestions in the comments.]

Back to the Dowager, we see she’s all recovered. Yay! But at her urging to Clarkson to “take that madwoman with you,” she learns that Isobel was with her for two days and nights, nursing her solo. Just then, Isobel pops back into the room and suggests she stop by later to play cards, and a grateful Violet says yes. How could she say no? I love these two together so much.

But my good feelings are short lived, because Gillingham arriving means the despicable Green is back! And he’s even more despicable than ever, because when Hughes goes after him in the boot room, he tries to tell her that Anna and him were both to blame.

Hughes warns him by saying, “While you’re here, if you value your life, I should stop playing the joker and keep to the shadows.” Advice which he doesn’t follow, leering at Anna all through dinner and making light of the night he attacked her by cracking jokes about the opera singer! Unnngh. I want him to pay, so badly. And pay he will, judging by the familiar look on Bates’ face …. it’s clear he knows Green is the one!

What will happen next? How long until Bates kills Green? Or Baxter figures out what’s up and tells Barrow? And how will Edith break the news of being a ruined woman to her family? And what about the string of broken hearts Mary is going to leave behind her when she turns down all three men? SO MUCH ANGUISH! I can’t take it.

TOP QUOTES:

Best zinger—from Dr. Clarkson (!!) to Violet:
“You’ll be rewarded in heaven.”

Best line from Mary all episode:
“You completely saved our bacon. Literally.”

Most heartbreaking line:
Edith, to Rosamund: “I don’t want to be an outcast. Maybe Sybil could have pulled it off, but I can’t.”

Most romantic line:
Robert, to Cora: “That will keep me warm as I cross the raging seas.”

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02/15/14

For the past several weeks I have been mulling how the vile Green could be disposed of in such a way that would not require Bates to murder him and end up going back to prison. Not the most holy sentiment for a Sunday evening, but I cannot bear Green getting away scot free any more than Mrs. Hughes can. I first thought it should be a falling icicle striking him dead at just the right moment, a la The Lovely Bones. But now that see my imagining in print, it seems too silly for drama.

The sequence with Edith considering the back alley abortion was tense to watch. I agree with Ms. Simon: having to watch Edith suffer through that would have been too much on top of what we have already seen this season, especailly if Edith had suffered from sepsis. I thought it took a great deal of courage for Edith to acknowledge that her unborn child is just that: "the wanted child of a man [she] love[s]." It will take even more courage for her to see the pregnancy through to term and raise this baby if that is indeed what happens. I have always thought of Edith as possessing a combination of Mary's worldliness and Sybil's ambition. Perhaps I misjudged her, and perhaps she is made of sterner stuff than she realizes.

Speaking of babies, will there be a Tea Times blog devoted to Call the Midwife when it returns, and will I be able to post comments?

02/16/14

Hi David - Thanks for your comments! Hope you're enjoying tonight's episode.

We'll continue our blogs through the spring, although we have too many great Sunday night programs to fully recap each episode of all the shows (Call the Midwife, Mr Selfridge and Bletchley Circle are all in March/April). However, your comments are always welcome.

Best,
The Editor

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