Monday, January 6, 2014

Downton Abbey: Season 4, Episode 1 Recap: Part 1

SPOILER ALERT: This post is for people watching Downton Abbey, series four. Don't read on if you haven't seen Episode 1. Also, PBS combined Episodes 1 and 2 in its premiere and there's lots of ground to cover, so look for the recap of Part 2 tomorrow.
With nary a bit of notice, O'Brien has flown the coop and gone off to India as a lady's maid to Rose's mother. Interesting that someone with such a hideous coiffure receives kudos from Rose for her hairstyle expertise. "I know Mummy thought that O'Brien was very good at doing hair," Rose tells Cora when asked pointedly if she had any foreknowledge of O'Brien's defection. Too bad O'Brien didn't find room on her broomstick for her onetime crony in conniving, Mr Thomas Barrow.
Iago-like, Thomas continues to stir up trouble. His malicious bug in Cora's ear about Nanny West  inadvertently pays off big when Cora overhears Nanny being mean to little Sybil because of her parentage ("You wicked little cross-breed!") and promptly sacks her. Great: now both Cora and her husband think Thomas walks on water. (You remember he kidnapped and then "found" Isis, Lord Grantham's dog.)
Mary looks and acts positively ghoulish, and it's all the Dowager Countess and Carson can do to get her to buck up a bit. Useless and clueless as usual, her father is happy for her to take no further part in running the estate, thank you very much. "I have ideas, you know" she tries to tell him; "Matthew and I used to talk." No dice. "He's not an orphan, he's got his mother" replies straightforward Anna when Mary waxes especially morbid about poor little Georgie. Matthew's mother Isobel is similarly shut down, and it is Edith, not Mary, who goes to visit her, trying to bring a modicum of comfort. When Isabel says she feels like a "nobody" without her son, Edith says "you're a grandmother. And I know you're going to be a wonderful one."
Edith is quite enjoying being made much of by her newspaperman beau. She wears an absolutely stunning peacock-motif dress to dine à deux and smooch with him at the Criterion. She also goes to a party dressed all in crimson, and I must say, scarlet woman overtones or not, she looked hot! ("Do you want me to live in sin"? she teases him when he brings up the dicey idea of becoming a German citizen so they can marry.)
Things do not bode well for the return of Edna, the dodgy housemaid who threw herself at Branson in the last season. As Cora's lady's maid, she may prove to be more of a snake in the grass than O'Brien! ("Sounds like a ticking bomb to me" says Mrs. Hughes) How funny was it that both Mrs Hughes and Anna had to be drafted to help Cora dress herself! Jeez … what ever happened to Yankee gumption and "can do" spirit?
In other news, I think Mrs Hughes and Carson are flirting a bit. Time will tell. Finally, I couldn't believe my eyes when I actually saw Moseley's father pull his forelock when the Dowager Countess came a'calling!
Return here tomorrow for Part 2, in which a letter from Matthew is found, Anna argues with Edna, and Rose (Lady Rose MacClare, Lady Flintshire's daughter) creates a brouhaha at a local tea dance! Also, don't miss the Daedalus Books "Roaring Downton" Forum—our nexus of books, DVDs, news and original videos, quizzes, polls, and other fascinating items relating to the series.


  1. Re Barrow as Iago, you have no idea how far that goes!:

    1. Wonderful exegesis! Can't wait to see how it all plays out.