Monday, March 3, 2014

Downton Abbey Season 4 retrospective: 5 turning points

1. Mary returns to the land of the living after Matthew's death by taking an interest in the estate, so she can preserve it for their son, Georgie. She attracts more than a few eligible gentlemen suitors in the process, while bonding with brother-in-law Tom. 
2. Before he goes to Germany to establish residence so they can be married, Edith sleeps with Michael Gregson and becomes pregnant. He mysteriously disappears. She travels to Geneva to have the baby and gives her up for adoption to a Swiss couple. Only her Aunt Rosamund and the Dowager Countess know about the baby; however, as the season ends, Edith plans with a tenant farmer that he will raise the child so she can see her. (Random question: does anyone else wonder why Edith doesn't have a maid and Mary does? Why don't we ever see her room or anyone dressing her?)
3. Cousin Rose brings a taste of London nightlife to Downton by importing jazz musician Jack Ross and his band to perform at her uncle's birthday celebration. She also develops quite a pash for Ross, carrying on a clandestine relationship until spotted by Tom and remonstrated with by Mary. Ross takes the gentleman's way out, knowing that the marriage Rose envisions would cause her all sorts of heartache. Rose's next escapade is to get the Prince of Wales's mistress in a pickle by being indiscreet. It takes both the Crawley family and several of their servants—including the indispensable Bates—to dig both her and HRH out of that one. (Above right: Freda Dudley-Ward [Janet Montgomery], is a married woman who has more than a friendly relationship with the Prince of Wales. Below, the dashing singer/bandleader Jack Ross.)
4. Cora's mother Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) and son Harold (Paul Giamatti) arrive for Rose's presentation at court and to embark on a grand tour of Europe. Harold meets Rose’s lovely friend Madeline (Poppy Drayton), whose father Lord Aysgarth (James Fox) has designs on both generations. With her usual forthrightness, Mrs Levinson tells Lord A no dice, but after some initial awkwardness, the younger set seems to be hitting it off. Time will tell!
5. Anna and Bates have been to hell and back since the night she was raped by Mr Gillingham's valet Mr Green while the rest of the house was upstairs at a recital by Dame Nellie Melba. The horrific incident seems to be behind them, with Lady Mary privately burning the train ticket stub Mrs Hughes found in Bates' coat pocket. Mr Green apparently met his death by falling under a vehicle in London, so the lingering question remains, did Bates figure out it was him and exact revenge? If not, why did he tell Anna he was going to York? Oh Season 5, you cannot come too soon!

What were your best/worst moments of Season 4? Above, Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes walking off into the sunset, so to speak, in the Season 4 finale. They have had some sweet moments this year. You may be interested to know that they beat out all contenders in our poll of potential Downton couples, leaving Lady Mary & her men in the dust! Mr. Molesley and Baxter finished up second.
Don't forget that we have curated quite a nice collection of Downton-related books, DVDs, and music as well as articles and videos to enrich your appreciation of the show's background (and to assuage your cravings until Season 5 commences). 

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