Downton Abbey Season 4 Recap: Let’s drink to romance!

Howard Levinson and Madeleine Allsopp at a ball
Harold and Madeleine, two of Downton's star-crossed semi-lovers this season.

America may have been dry during this season of Downton Abbey, but nothing was dry at Downton. Amie Simon reflects on some key moments and themes. Get your cocktail shakers ready! But never fear. Although it’s nearly 10 months until season five, we’ll continue posting new British drama blogs this spring. And be sure to read all the way through for a rousing roundup of all the new faces of season four. Bottoms up!

 
This season of Downton felt more like a rollercoaster of emotions than ever! We had to deal with the shock of poor Anna being attacked and the long road to recovery she had to endure, Edith suffering through losing both Gregson and her daughter, and the possibility of a scandal that would ruin the British monarchy!
 
Some major drama also happened between the footmen and the kitchen staff, with the Daisy-Alfred-Ivy-James misplaced crush confusion. In the end, though, Ivy figured out what James and his lecherous coif were up to … but still broke Alfred’s heart, twice; Alfred came around at the last minute and realized Daisy might be worth his affections; Daisy wisely side-stepped that disaster and got over it; and James ended up all by himself, getting bested by Molesley, of all people, at the bazaar.
 
Molesley also played a part in stopping Barrow from bullying new lady’s maid Phyllis Baxter into getting him dirt on Anna and Bates, simply by offering support and some uncharacteristically good advice. Our Barrow, though, wasted no time taking out his frustrations on Branson once he couldn’t get his way (augh!)—although at least we got to enjoy the shocked look on his face once Baxter gave him the final “No” during the servant’s beach trip.
 
Lord and Lady Grantham seemed to have minor roles this season: Just a few glimpses of them and here and there, with Robert spending most of his time in America rescuing Cora’s brother, Harold, and losing money to poker cheat Sampson, and Cora being so wrapped up in planning Rose’s coming out and the bazaar that she failed to notice, well, anything, really, but especially Edith’s veil-thin adoption ruse.
 
Fellowes also cranked up the possible tragedies this season with a hint that Bates might have snuck over to London and pushed Mr. Green into the street (can anyone REALLY blame the guy if it turns out he did?), and a scary plot line involving The Dowager falling gravely ill. * ahem * Mr. Fellowes: DO NOT EVER DO THAT AGAIN, SIR! Or I will have to stop watching.
 
We were also hit with a triple-threat of grief from Mary, Isobel and Branson at the beginning—although they thankfully all recovered well by the end of the season due to their apparently irresistible charms. Yes, the season was filled out with a lot of romantic prospects, for these three, and nearly everyone else too!
 
Let’s mix up some cocktails and tip a glass in cheers to the season four couplings, shall we?
 
Mary & Blake & Gillingham
It seems like the only way to solve this conundrum is for everyone to get drunk and either see who Mary passes out on first, or who wins at wrestling it out in the muddy pig pen. Napier’s already been pushed out (again), losing his place among “Mary’s Men,” so let’s make up some punch and serve it in the largest glasses we can find to determine who will finally win her grieving heart!
 
“Let battle commence!” Punch
Put 2 shots of gin, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons simple syrup, and a dash of bitters into a shaker with some ice. Strain into a glass, top with club soda and a wedge of lemon, and see who’s still standing after a few rounds.
 
Rose & Jack
Ah, these two doomed young lovers! Well at least, one of them was in love. We may never know if Rose was going to elope with her handsome jazz singer just to stick it to her mother, but we do know that their relationship burned bright with a lot of passion! It’s just too bad it couldn’t last.
 
“I wish it was a better world” Whiskey Sour
Pour 1 and ½ ounces of whiskey, 1 and ½ ounces of lemon juice, and ¾ ounce of simple syrup into a shaker with ice cubes. Shake well and strain into a chilled glass, then garnish with a maraschino cherry to represent Rose’s still-intact innocence.
 
Branson & Bunting
The jury’s still out on Ms. Sarah Bunting, but she’s definitely piqued Branson’s interest! The question is, will she be able to heal his broken heart? And will she even want to, given her disdain for the way he and the Crawleys live? There’s only one way to find out, and it’s probably going to involve some more time “upstairs” in the main house.
 
“Touring the mansion after dinner” B&Bs
After the footman discovers you doing something scandalous, pour 1 ounce Benedictine (or sub an herbal liqueur) and 1 ounce brandy into a warmed snifter. Sip slowly, and try not to panic … even when your father-in-law questions you about it later.
 
Isobel & Lord Merton
Unintentional set-ups are the best, aren’t they? Who knew what would happen at The Dowager’s tea party? We love that Violet is giddy at the thought of Lord Merton sweeping Mrs. Crawley off her feet, and we love that he’s doing his best to woo her by sending flowers, stopping by unannounced, and praising Isobel for just being herself. We’re betting a few drinks will help him convince her to give love a second go-round!
 
“Don’t be smug” Fizzes
Add 2 shots of gin, 1 shot of lemon juice, and ½ shot of cherry liqueur to an ice-filled shaker, then shake and strain into a pretty glass. Splash with champagne for some bubbles, and drink next to a fire while you have a nice, long chat.
 
Harold & Madeleine
We know they left it as just friends, but these two were really sweet to watch together! From the first moment Harold embarrassed her by calling out her father’s schemes, it seemed like something great was happening. And no matter how bad he is with money, he sure knows how to charm the ladies! A picnic, some kind words, and an inquiry to stay in touch … aw! We’re really hoping these two end up together.
 
“Let’s see where this goes” Breeze
Muddle 4 slices of cucumber and 12 mint leaves in a shaker; add 2 shots of St. Germain liqueur, 2 shots of white wine, and 1 tablespoon of simple syrup. Shake and strain into a glass with crushed iced, then squeeze a lime wedge over the top. Perfect for “friendly” outdoor lunches!
 
Martha & Lord Aysgarth
Just kidding! I know Mrs. Levinson was never seriously considering Lord Aysgarth (or … anyone for that matter) as a suitor, but that doesn’t mean booze can’t be involved. In fact, Aysgarth is probably going to need some before visiting her in Newport during Prohibition.
 
“Facing the American widows” Bourbon
Bourbon, straight up. Pour your favorite into a glass and drink as many as you need to before heading into a sea of rich old ladies looking for a British title.
 
Daisy & Ethan
Okay, we know this wasn’t really a coupling either, but how great was it to see Daisy on the receiving end of admiration again? Ethan was pretty adorable—if not a tad too enthusiastic—and we’ve never seen her smile so much, especially after she turned him down and told him to take Ivy instead! The newly mature Daisy managed to gather some confidence from her love struck valet’s compliments AND get rid of the biggest thorn in her side in one move. Nicely done.
 
“That’ll last me through the summer!” Champagne
Pop open a bottle of chilled champagne and share it with your best friend while you laugh about ridiculous crushes and misplaced affections.
 
Hughes & Carson
Hooray!!! Nothing made me happier this season than seeing Elsie grab Carson by the hand and playfully suggest it’s okay to get close because they’re “not getting any younger” as she pulls him into the surf! They are truly the perfect couple, and I can only imagine the hilarity that would ensue if an actual wedding were arranged. (Carson would probably want to go tour a museum for their honeymoon.)
 
“A risqué toast”
For this one, I suggest unearthing a really great bottle of wine you’ve been saving and sharing it with a close friend somewhere cozy—perhaps on a beach? Toast to all the times you’ve had each other’s back, and then whatever happens … happens!
 
Which couples are you rooting for? Who do you hope will make it? No doubt season five will bring us a fresh new flock of romantic entanglements! Until then, thank you for reading and commenting, Downton fans!

Season 4 New Character Cheat Sheet:
Terrance Sampson: A lecherous swindler who cheats at cards and attempts to blackmail the Prince by stealing a love letter to his mistress. All his attempts end up foiled, because he’s not very smart.
 
Anthony Foyle (aka Lord Gillingham): A childhood friend of Lady Mary’s who falls madly in love with her at first (reunited) sight.
 
Charles Blake: Blake is a government worker who arrives with Charles Napier in order to advise the estate on financial ch-ch-ch-changes. He also falls madly in love with Lady Mary, although it’s not exactly at first sight.
 
John Bullock: A young suitor of Rose’s who’s not very good at holding back his intentions, or his liquor.
 
Jack Ross: A handsome, black American jazz singer who captures Rose’s heart, and then breaks it by telling her it’s too hard for them to be together.
 
Sarah Bunting: A schoolteacher in Downton with political aspirations who catches Branson’s eye, and dishes out a lot of sass.
 
Lord Merton: The father of Larry Gray, and Lady Mary’s Godfather. This widower repels the Dowager, but seems to get along with Isobel smashingly, and is attempting to court her with flowers and dancing.
 
William Allsopp (aka: Lord Aysgarth): A Baron who targets Martha Levinson, and sends his daughter after Harold Levinson, so they can both marry rich and recover their past fortune and glory.
 
Madeleine Allsopp: Lord Aysgarth’s daughter, and a friend of Rose’s, Madeline is also being presented at court during the debutante’s ball. She has trouble following through with her father’s ruse to land Harold, and ends up becoming good friends with him instead.
 
Freda Dudley Ward: The beautiful, but already married, English socialite and mistress of the Prince of Wales!
 
The Prince of Wales (aka: Edward Albert Christian George Patrick Andrew David, aka: HRH Prince Edward): You know, the Prince … who apparently has a weakness for cigars, booze, and pretty ladies.
 
Harold Levinson: Cora’s brother, and reluctant visitor to England (although he does develop a taste for Daisy’s cooking). Harold appears to be somewhat of a lady’s man and a drifter – as far as occupations go.
 
Nanny West: The EVIL nanny who abused little Sybbie while doting on baby George. Her time at Downton was short-lived, thanks to a complaint by Thomas Barrow that was witnessed to be true by Lady Grantham.
 
Timothy Drewe: A hard-working farmer trying to repay the debt left by his deceased father by taking over his farm on the Downton estate. He will also be raising Edith’s daughter as his own, and protecting her secret.
 
Mr. Green: Anthony Foyle’s valet, and the man who brutally assaulted Anna. Green died in an “accident” by falling in front of a car in London.
 
Phyllis Baxter: Cora’s new lady’s maid, recruited by Barrow. Baxter has a secret past that’s not yet been revealed, but has resisted Barrow’s schemes even though he threatened to reveal whatever it is to everyone else.
 
Samuel Thawley: A young farmer who falls for Rose at a dance, then seeks her out later at Downton thinking she’s a maid.
 
Ethan Slade: Harold Levinson’s valet, and an enthusiastic suitor who falls for Daisy immediately and tries to convince her to come back to America with him as Harold’s chef.

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04/22/14

These popular figures looks great here. Harold and Madeleine have been my favorite ones, I like them so much. Its good to see them together.

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03/21/14

Oops! Should be Andrew Foyle, not Anthony!

03/21/14

Anthony Foyle (Foyle's War) is Charles Blake, not Lord Gillingham! I like both "chaps" and it will be interesting to see what happens in Season 5.

03/21/14

Mary is reserved, stunning, highly intelligent and aristocratic. Many men find this quite appealing--she's not an easy conquest (if you discount the good old Pamuk days!) and all the more cherishable for that. She's also capable of deep love and passion, just doesn't flaunt it.

I think Mary will be won by the man whose desire to create a partnership to save Downton. Gregson may well show a side that might not be acceptable to Edith after all, once he turns up. If he turns up. If he doesn't, she may find herself the owner of a paper or magazine, blossoming into a truly "modern" woman. With her child on the farm,though, she may be more called to interests of the estate (remember how she drove tractor and had a fleeting flirtation with a married farmer back during World War I?). In which case, the things she has in common with Branson (a child, a rather fresh and alternative viewpoint on things while loving the people of the Abbey and the village) may bring them into a tighter relationship.

We have many people who have loved and lost--and who can love again, but without compromising the integrity of their original loves.

03/07/14

I just finished the season and loved it. Can't wait for the next.
I don't remember Samuel Thawley at all.

03/06/14

What couple am I rooting for? I'm rooting for Edith. You left her off your list, delegating her to some unworthy rung of love as does Fellows. Shame!

Why does Mary have three suitors? Uppity snob that she is.

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