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A Desire of Suitors: Downton Abbey: Season 4, Episode 7

February 16, 2014

Season four is almost over! Amie Simon recaps another remarkable episode of Downton Abbey: 

Although this week’s episode of Downton answers the question about what to call the many men falling all over Lady Mary, viewers were still left hanging about a lot of other things, and it seems impossible that they’ll all get wrapped up by next week’s finale!

Thanks to Mary and Blake’s rescue last week, the pig farm is now in full swing (or is that snort?), and both Lady Mary and Branson decide to hire Timothy Drewe on the spot after seeing how much more capable he than the actual “pig man.” Sure, yeah, pile more work on Drewe! He’s only single-handedly running his father’s farm. Why not pigs too? Even Blake seems to think Drewe can handle more—suggesting they add dairy over the breakfast table.

Frenemies Isobel and Violet are still continuing their sometimes-volatile relationship, with the Dowager admitting that she is feeling much better, while giving Isobel the details on Cora’s infamous brother. Something about him taking money for allowing drilling on land he may or may not actually own. Hmm. Mysterious!

The Grantham household is in upheaval, thanks to Robert’s departure happening during the town bazaar, which is held on the estate grounds. While Cora flutters around nervously trying to handle all the details, young Rose secretly makes plans with her jazz singer beau...only she’s not really fooling anyone.

Downstairs, Molesley slides up to Baxter and flirts, as only Molesley can, by talking about how far he’s fallen in station. Surprisingly, Baxter flirts back! Without revealing much about her own past, she hints that she’s been in similar circumstances and tells him he’ll “climb back up again” in no time. Sweet—except for that bit she slips in at the end, probing him for information about Anna and Bates.

The kitchen rivalry between Ivy and Daisy continues, especially after the arrival of a letter from Alfred. His father has passed away, which gives him an excuse to visit Downton, and poor, love-struck chef Alfie has proposed to Ivy via the letter, asking to whisk her away to London with him! Patmore does everything she can to hide this news from Daisy, but that girl is not easily duped.

Lady Mary and Blake continue their hate-flirting, until the nanny brings the littles in, at which point Blake picks up baby George and dotes on him, which makes Mary smile. Like, a lot. Hmm. It’s interesting that Lord Gillingham didn’t interact with Mary’s son at all, isn’t it?

Speaking of Lord Gillingham, it’s announced that he’s decided to stop by the house that evening. Mary asks Anna to tell Mrs. Hughes, and an upset Anna finally confides that it was Green who attacked her. A shocked Mary encourages her to go to the police, but once she explains that she can’t because she’s afraid of what Bates might do, Mary agrees to keep quiet.

And she’s right about Bates! From the way he questions Anna about Green in the boot room later, it’s clear he totally knows what happened. Augh! I’m so nervous about this whole situation, especially since Anna is traveling to London with Lady Mary and leaving Bates all alone.

Ivy finally tells Mrs. Patmore that she doesn’t want to marry Alfred, because she doesn’t want to settle for someone she’s not in love with. Of course, once Daisy learns what’s happened she accuses Ivy of being a heartless wench for breaking Alfred’s heart a SECOND time. (Side note: I was chanting “Food fight! Food fight!” during this scene, but it sadly didn’t happen.) Poor Patmore. She tried to keep the peace!

Meanwhile, Isobel continues to encourage Branson to return to his political ambitions and make a run for office. While in town, Branson thinks about what she said—but then gets distracted when he spies Rose and Jack Ross dining together. A brazen Rose even touches his face! In public! Ross knows what’s up though, saying, “I hope we’re brave enough for this.” Naïve little Rose acts like it’s no big deal. Ummm…it’s still only the 1920s, my love. In England, no less.

Molesley continues his pursuit of Baxter by offering to get her coffee, which was almost as aggravating for me as it was for her, but then he’s actually kind of sweet to her: “You might realize down there that we don’t much care for Mr. Barrow. I hope I don’t offend you … but I wish you’d give us credit for making up our minds about you.” Awww, Molesley! Who knew you could be so cute?

And … I hoped this was going to happen! Branson and Isobel run into the lady friend he met at last week’s political meeting. Her name is Sarah Bunting, and, as Isobel says, she “knows her own mind.” During their conversation, Tom subtly gets the details on where she works so he can find her again. WAY TO GO, BRANSON! I’m rooting for you. She seems like a perfect match.

Aunt Rosamund has finally arrived to help Lady Edith figure out how to tell her parents…or so I thought. But it turns out Edith has a plan that will allow her to see her baby without the stigma of being “ruined.” She’ll just, uh, have it, and then GIVE it away to farmer Drewe, who will apparently raise the child as his own and let Edith see her/him whenever she wants. Wait, what? How is this a valid plan? What happened to just telling Robert and Cora?

Rosamund thinks it’s a crazy idea, and suggests instead that Edith come with her on an “extended trip” to Switzerland to and give up the baby for adoption while they’re away. Nooooo!!! Come on, Rosamund! I thought you were on Team Edith! Auntie wastes no time approaching Cora with the plan to “really learn French,” and then telling the whole family at dinner—although you can see that the Dowager is NOT buying their story.

Dinner gets even more awkward when Gillingham reveals he’s been thinking about his life, eliciting some excellent raised eyebrows from Mary. Blake and Gillingham then volley a little back and forth, being completely transparent about their feelings for Mary, while Napier is left out in the cold.

After dinner, Mary summons Rose to her room to discuss the Jack Ross situation. But although Mary tries to convince Rose that the relationship is doomed, the petulant youngster persists, saying she’s going to marry Jack, and telling Mary, “I want to see [mummy’s] face crumble when she finds out!” Is this true love? Or just rebellion? I guess only time will tell.

The next morning, all three of Mary’s suitors take the same car home. That is going to be the most intense car ride EVER. Too bad Barrow’s not the chauffer! OH, and Gillingham actually tells Mary he’s taking Blake with him because he can’t leave him there alone with Mary! He even says he’s going to call off the engagement. … but Mary still can’t promise she’ll be his. How long can this go on?

All the ladies in the family must be thinking the same thing, because they keenly watch all three men leave and Lady Rose wonders aloud what a group noun for suitors is—with Cora answering, “A desire.” Bravo, Cora! I agree. That’s perfect, even if Lady Mary dismisses it as “nonsense.”

Speaking of nonsense, The Dowager is having none of it from Edith and Rosamund, and has them both over for tea to interrogate them about their “trip.” Violet offers up this sting as a clue for why she knows it’s a lie: “Rosamund has no interest in French. If she wants to be understood by a foreigner, she shouts.” YAY! She’ll talk some sense into both of them, I’m sure of it.

Since Anna and Mary are departing for London for the day (so Mary can see … Gillingham? Blake? Napier? Who knows), Bates asks Carson for a day off to go to York. Wait. What’s in York? It’s not Green, I hope. Bates’ poker face is too good for me to tell! But I’m worried—so so so worried. Eeeesh.

While the bazaar is being set up, Patmore reveals that Alfred is coming by in person to question Ivy about her feelings and encourages Daisy to take the day off and go see Mr. Mason. Aw, poor Daisy! I know she’s uber-bitchy to Ivy, but I hate to see her get her heart broken a second time.



Hopefully Branson won’t find himself in the same boat, since Ms. Bunting keeps popping up! He finds her stranded on the side of the road and tells her almost his entire life story while fixing her car, then sends her home with a wistful look. But! She’s looking back at him, too.

At The Dowager’s house, Isobel, Edith, and Violet have assembled for tea with Lord Merton, the father of Larry Grey, and Lady Mary’s godfather. According to Violet, he’s insufferable, but Isobel and he seem to get along smashingly! The Dowager’s face is absolutely PRICELESS when Merton offers to walk her home. Oooooh! Love connection! He even sends flowers to her later! FLOWERS.

Unfortunately, after they depart, Violet tells Edith she thinks Rosamund is right about the trip and the adoption plan. Oh no! I really wanted her to be on Edith’s side and help her find a way to keep the baby. Bummer.

The purpose of Mary’s trip to London is revealed: she’s gone to see Jack Ross and talk some sense into him about marrying Rose. She warns Jack that their relationship will be too difficult for people to accept, and that Rose may only be trying to prove a point. And Jack mostly agrees, telling Mary he won’t be following through with their engagement because he doesn’t want to spoil her life. Aw. I’m already bracing myself for a spoiled, tantrum-y Rose.

Mary also tells Anna that she’s going to see Lord Gillingham and discuss his valet. Anna is really nervous about it, since the chance of Bates finding out grows greater with every person who knows. While she’s fretting, we get a glance of a resolute Bates heading off to York… or wherever he’s actually going.


Using Gillingham’s feelings to her advantage, Mary asks him to sack Green, even though she can’t tell him exactly why. “He’s does something you’d find abhorrent,” she explains. And Tony doesn’t even hesitate to agree…even revealing that he actually did break off his engagement to Ms. Lane Fox, and adding a swoon-worthy declaration: “I won’t give up Mary, not until you walk down the aisle with another man. And possibly not even then.”

The bazaar is finally here! Molesley sees James and his coif sneaking drinks of the boozy punch, until Carson smartly moves him to the “tea tent” so he can’t get drunk and rowdy. Whew. I bet Ivy is relieved!

Sad Rose is sad, but oh happy day! Lord Grantham arrives home as a surprise. He says that Uncle Harold is fine, receiving nothing more than a reprimand—and Barrow tells everyone that America was, “Interesting. Very modern, and very interesting.” Way to be cryptic, Barrow.

Even though Daisy is missing the bazaar, she’s having a fine time with Mr. Mason. And after spilling her heart to him about her feelings for Alfred, Mason offers her some sound fatherly advice, “There won’t be too many people that you’ll love in your life, and Alfred is one. You need to say goodbye to this young man.” Feels! So many of them.

And here comes the (not) shocker of the episode: Gillingham shows up at to tell Mary that his valet, Green, is DEAD! The story goes that he was in Piccadilly where he slipped and fell into the road, getting hit by a bus. Mary looks troubled, to say the least, and delivers the news to Anna—which makes her VERY interested in what Bates was doing in York while they were in London. I don’t know; this seems pretty incriminating. Much more so than arsenic in a tart.

And just when Gillingham thought he was safe, Blake shows up at the bizarre. Mary confides in him too, saying, “If you thought a man was involved in a crime but you didn’t blame him for committing it, what would you do?” Blake tells her he would say nothing—so it looks like Mary won’t. For now.

James and Molesley provide a bit of comedic relief during a competition, which Jimmy is sure he’ll win: a test of strength test involving a mallet and a bell. Of course, once he fails, James claims, “It’s not fair weighted,” but once Baxter talks a nervous Molesley into trying it out, he wins! Hahahaha. The best. Take that, JIMMY.

Barrow antagonizes Baxter, claiming she’s not really trying to deliver on her end of the gossip bargain, and a lovestruck Molesley steps in to rescue her! Cute! Baxter still looks nervous, though, casting a worried glance back over her shoulder.

Taking Mason’s advice, Daisy comes back just in time to say goodbye to Alfred. He admits he’s been a bit blind—saying that maybe he didn’t “see” Daisy before. But she’s pretty much done with this whole dance, and tells him it’s time for them both to move on. This is the most mature conversation any of the junior kitchen staff has EVER had. I’m amazed! And so is Patmore, who tearfully tells Daisy she’s as proud of her as she would be of her own daughter. * sniffle *

And now it’s time for Blake to formally pursue Mary! He tells her he can’t think of anyone but her, and he’s as good at making romantic speeches as Gillingham is. Ut-oh! But she’s still not ready—even if it seems like she might be more attached to Charles: “Rather than add to the list of men I’ve disappointed, it might be kinder now to let you off the hook.” However, Blake says he won’t leave without putting up a fight. Good lord, she is popular this season, isn’t she?

The episode ends with a champagne toast, all the women tilting their heads curiously over Mary’s “desire,” and Robert looking confused.

Oh man! So much to wrap up in next week’s Season 4 finale! Will Edith leave on her trip and give up the baby? Which suitor will Mary choose? Will Rose talk Jack into changing his mind and elope? And what will happen to Bates now that Green is dead?!?!? A week is too long to wait to find out.


Best zingers:
Patmore, to Ivy (re: not wanting to marry someone she doesn’t love): “You’re a very optimistic generation, I’ll give you that.”

The Dowager, re: Lord Gillingham: “He’s the most unconvincing fiancé I’ve ever come across.”

Carson’s reply to James about the bazaar:
James: “Do we get paid extra?”
Carson: “No but if you play your cards right, you’ll avoid a clip behind the ear.”

Most heartbreaking lines:

Jack to Mary: “I wouldn’t give in if we lived in even a slightly better world.”
Edith to Violet: “Sometimes I feel that God doesn’t want me to be happy.”