In the August of 1922, things seem to be moving toward a resolution and then trouble arises, brewing under the polite calm of Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 8 (Part 7). This episode airs tonight, Sunday, 16 February 2014 at 8/9C on Masterpiece Theatre PBS.
The most press problem is, of course, Lady Edith’s pregnancy. Edith (Laura Carmichael) slept with her love, the now oddly missing Mr. Gregson (Charles Edwards), in April. By August, she would be in her fourth month and showing a baby bump or at least getting plumpish. No worry…this is the 1920s and the clothing luckily skims from the chest to the hips with little reference to the waist. Yet in due time, Lady Edith waist would soon protrude like an unwed mother announcement. Who needs a Scarlet letter by month five or six?
Lady Rosamund (Samantha Bond) suggests a trip to the continent–Switzerland because at least they speak French there and apparently it is not a playground of the British aristocracy. Yet not everyone has their own troubles to resolve. Lady Edith’s grandmother, the Dowager Countess Violet (Maggie Smith) breaks down Rosamund and Edith and learns the truth. Like any good grandmother, Violet offers to help Edith financially.
Then there’s the party girl who we know is sure to find trouble: Lady Rose (Lily James) who isn’t acting like a lady. She’s still pursuing her relationship with Jack (Gary Ross), the untitled but suave jazz band singer. Tom (Allen Leech) happens to see Rose and Jack together in a teashop. How shocking. He tells Mary (Michelle Dockery). Mary, having been a bit wild in her younger days–remember her sleeping with that guest who died in her bed?–decides to have a talk with Jack. For those who have forgotten, that was Series 1, Episode 3 in March 1913 when Mary had a one-nighter with a Turkish diplomat, Kemal Pamuk, who dies in her bed. It was the end of the summer of 1914 that Mary found out her own sister had started the rumors and poor Edith seems doomed to feel the full weight of bad karma.
Downstairs our favorite troublemaker, Thomas (Rob James-Collier), has gone to America, as Lord Grantham’s valet, but in the last episode he reminded Miss Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) that he expected her to look into the mysteries of upstairs for him. To do so, Miss Baxter befriends Moseley (Kevin Doyle) and finds him somewhat attractive.
While that might work its way into a romance, the triangle of Alfred (Matt Milne), Ivy (Cara Theobold) and Daisy (Sophie McShera) becomes undone. Alfred returns and asked to marry Ivy, but Ivy isn’t interested. Daisy, of course, the maid who witnessed the transfer of Pamuk’s body from Mary’s bed back to his own during Series 1 and later married a former co-worker on his death bed (William Mason played by Thomas Howes during Series 2), has her heart broken. She tries to go forward.
Then there’s the matter of Anna (Joanne Froggatt). In the last episode, Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen) has paid a visit (July 1922) to Downton Abbey in pursuit of Mary, With him came the villainous Mr. Green (Nigel Harman). Mr. Green unwisely mentioned at the servants’ dinner that he didn’t particularly enjoy the operatic concert and had come back downstairs, revealing to Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) that his Anna wasn’t the only person downstairs at the time when Anna was attacked. Mr. Green had already been warned by Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan).
So now, while Mr. Bates has confirmed his suspicions, Mary and Mrs. Hughes know the truth. Mary was told last episode so she could ask her father to take Thomas to America instead of Mr. Bates. Now, as Lord Gillingham continues to pursue his attraction to Mary, Mary finds it necessary to prevent further harm to Anna and other women downstairs and asks Lord Gillingham to dismiss Mr. Green. Lord Gillingham complies.
That should be enough, but not for Mr. Bates. A church bazaar organized by Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) will end with the unexpected arrival of Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and Lord Gillingham, both with news that Green was killed in London. But was it really an accident (and did lords really take such an interest in their former servants and the former servants of others?).
This is the last regular episode of Series 4 with only the 2013 Christmas special to go. “Downton Abbey” series 4 airs tonight, Sunday, 16 February on PBS (check local listings) and then becomes available VoD at PBS.org. You can also view on YouTube, PBS channel.