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Worldly Distractions: Downton Abbey 5.4 - Episode Four





I'll let you enjoy this slightly stoned-looking picture of Mary before we jump into Episode Four. Halfway through the season! Which Crawley's going to court scandal but-not-really this week? And how much can Carson disapprove before he explodes?

Thomas shows up at lunch looking horrendously upset after his "trip to see his father". Upstairs, the house is abuzz with the news that Rose's father, Shrimpy, is in England. Rose talks about the plight of her refugees, to which Tom is surprisingly reasonable (mostly to upset his father-in-law), I assume. Tom, Mary and the Earl go out to scope the site of the planned houses. Naturally, Robert is hopelessly old-fashioned about the whole thing, to the exasperation of the young people.

Meanwhile, Violet is on the hunt for her ex-boyfriend, no matter how much she pretends otherwise, and shows up to a sort of soup kitchen for the Russians, Isobel in tow. I'm enjoying all the extraneous homages to Russian lit - "Count Rostov", "Prince Kuragin". Swoon. The Prince still has the worst Russian accent in history, but he and Violet are still totally hot for each other, in an octogenarian sort of way. Kuragin uses the opportunity to point out that his life has been completely thrown into chaos, while Violet's biggest enemy is the presence of a telephone.

Carson keeps giving Mr. M0lesley extra responsibilities as first footman, which delights him until he sees how overworked he's going to be.

Turns out the Princess has been arrested in Russia and not been heard from since, so Violet and Isobel vow to help out. Her Maggisty manages to get in a few one-liners, naturally. Mary and the Earl walk by the memorial, where they see Mrs Patmore hanging around totally innocently. The conversation turns to Shrimpy and Mrs Shrimpy, whom Mary thinks are getting divorced. They vow not to take sides, even though Mrs Shrimpy is their real relative.

Anna is going to London with Mary, and tells her husband that she wishes to forget Mr Green and oh my god can we turn down the score already? This is so obnoxious.

Violet reveals to Isobel that Prince Kuragin asked her to run away with him, and she was totally going to do it until her husband happened to give her pictures of the children. In a Faberge egg, of course. Mrs Patmore rages at Daisy for daring to study yet again, while meanwhile, some of the other servants are worried about what's going on upstairs...

Lord Merton unexpectedly shows up on Isobel's doorstep. It's a proposal, all right, which would be great if he weren't so deadly dull. Surprisingly, he admits that he is actually in love with her, and doesn't just want a gardening pal. Isobel is clearly touched, but has the same expression on her face that Mary had after her dirty week with Gillingham. He asks her to think about it. She agrees, though I doubt it will do much.

It turns out Bricker (the art guy who keeps trying to seduce Cora) is coming to visit, which enrages Cora. Edith is totally depressed about not getting to see the kid, and the parents are still oblivious. More fighting about the land sales. Robert makes fun of Mary for being female. Edith and Cora look bored as fuck.

Baxter hears a noise in one of the anterooms and realizes that it's Thomas, in trouble. He keeps telling her to go away and manages to push her out of the doorway, but not before we catch a glimpse of some pretty sweet drug paraphernalia. I've got to say, I never saw that one coming. We learn that Mary is going to London to dump Gillingham, which we all predicted. Robert asks Carson about Mrs Patmore, and though Carson is vague, we all know what will come of it.

Violet is aghast that Isobel didn't jump on the marriage proposal, citing her need for something stable. Isobel defends herself by pointing out that Violet was willing to give up stability once, too. Meanwhile, Edith tells her father that there's a big trial of people-we-won't-call-Nazis-but-totally-are going on in Munich. Robert predicts WWII, which seems weird until you realize that everyone else was doing it at the time. Edith is terrified that through the trial, she might find out about Gregson's fate for sure. Robert assures her that he'll keep it a secret as long as she wants.

Mary has arrived in London for the Great Dumping, which means taking him to Kensington Garden. We get some gratuitous costume porn in the dress show, which has incredible 1920s fashions that make me drool. Rosamund and Mary discuss the child Edith has supposedly taken an interest in, which brings up Mary's suspicions. Fortunately, she is distracted when Blake shows up across the room. Back at Downton, Edith stares longingly at Mrs Drew leaving church with kids in tow.

Anna delivers a letter to Handsome Tony. Someone watches her from across the street. The dress show continues while Mary and Blake seduce each other with their eyes. Sadly, Blake has a girl with him, who is like eight times cooler than Mary could ever be, and somewhat of a jerk. Mary and Blake exchange barbs, and Blake gets a date out of it.

While Anna goes to catch her bus, the man follows her around the city. Edith continues to stalk the kid. Robert calls Mrs Patmore up to the library while Carson, Mrs Hughes and even Daisy throw more busywork at Molesley. Finally, Edith gets the nerve to knock on Mrs Drew's door, where she is instantly thrown out. Robert tells Mrs Patmore that he can't bend the memorial rules. Mrs Patmore bursts into tears, accuses them of not caring and tells them that the boy's "shell shock" was every bit a war wound. Robert agrees with her. Mrs Patmore deems him one of the "decent folk", who empathize even if they can't help, while notably excluding Carson from that category. In a rage, Carson gives Molesley more pointless tasks. Meanwhile, Cora and Robert fight about Bricker some more.

On their date, Mary tells Blake she's dumping Tony. They chat about Life and Relationships and "I want him to be the godfather of my children, just not the father." Violet tells Edith that in order to feel better, she must "leave things behind", to which Edith takes great offense. Shrimpy has arrived. Violet puts him on the case to search for Princess Kuragin, though she acknowledges that it would be a difficult task. He tells her he's getting divorced, and Violet is surprisingly cool with it. Bricker's staying with the family for a few days, enraging Robert. Just to throw some gasoline on the fire, Isobel suggests they invite Miss Bunting too. What, does it say in her contract that she has to piss someone off every episode?

Shrimpy and Robert have the Divorce Talk, in which Robert is all judgmental and Shrimpy defensive. Thomas, a little fuzzy, evades all Baxter's questions about the "treatment" he's been taking. Rose is also surprisingly cool with the divorce, and immediately asks to live with her dad. However, he thinks it's better for her to stay at Downton. The conversation turns to marriage in general, and Rose vows that she will marry for love, so as never to turn out like her parents. (Witness her marrying someone for money and status in two episodes, tops.) Shrimpy gives his blessing.

Bricker and Cora indulge in more art talk, which is sadly not a euphemism here. Finally, Bricker starts to declare his love for Cora, which Robert accidentally witnesses. Despite quickly covering for himself, Bricker does not quite manage to convince the Earl of his innocence.

Tony rages at Mary for being a big ol' Slutty McSlutterson who sleeps without marrying. He vows that he "won't let her" leave him and declares that they have to work through it. Isn't this just a rehash of that sketchy newsman in Season 2? Spreading around her scandals and all that? Either way, give it up, Tony, you're making an ass of yourself.

Molesley resigns from being First Footman, which is more or less what Carson intended. Tom begs Sarah to be courteous to his family, to which she scoffs, because she's kind of a terrible person. She, in turn, begs him not to "waste his life" with all these idle rich. Mrs Hughes finds a magazine belonging to Thomas, in which Baxter discovers an ad for heroin or whatever Thomas was taking (syphilis treatments?), because 1924 was a simpler time.

The Awkward Dinner continues. Cora and Bricker coo at each other while Robert glowers. He expresses his disapproval of Sarah's tutelage, but gets his comeuppance when it's revealed he doesn't know Daisy's name. Tom tries to get her to STFU. In an attempt to prove some kind of misguided point, Robert summons both Daisy and Mrs Patmore to the dining room.

Bates and Anna return to the tiresome topic of Mr Green, where it's abundantly clear that everyone knows everything but won't admit it to each other. A confused Mrs Patmore and Daisy are brought upstairs, where Robert asks if the studying has disrupted the kitchen. Daisy talks about how much her world has been opened by what Sarah taught her, which touches everyone's heart and leaves Robert defenceless. Sarah won't let it go, however. Mary tries to shut her up once again. Finally, Robert throws Sarah out of the house, never to return - and good riddance.




Edith mentions, like we've never heard it before, that Times are Changing. The servants get in a fair amount of gossip about it, anyway. Where Tom's future might lie is called into question. Cora implores her husband to stop being such a grumpy asshole, and the Granthams go to bed angry yet again.

Mary goes upstairs and tells a profoundly disappointed Tom that at least he gave Granny some entertainment. Daisy vows to continue her lessons, regardless of how hated Miss Bunting is upstairs. She suggests that Mrs Patmore write a letter to the War Office about her nephew, showing some of her newfound book-learnin' gumption. A constable shows up at Downton once again, suspicious that Anna was at Handsome Tony's - and Piccadilly. It's getting kind of ridiculous at this point, but whatever. Mrs Hughes lies through her teeth about Anna's relationship to the dead man, and the matter appears to be settled, for now.

Shrimpy shows up at Violet's to discuss the Kuragin Matter, and they all talk about how much they hate Mrs Shrimpy. While going over the estate, Robert and Mary are bemused at why Tom continues to see Sarah. Tom, for his part, has very few answers to give them.  To Tom and Mary's dismay, Robert decides to turn down the housing offer, though he pretends he'll be open to developing the land in the future. (Spoiler alert: he won't be.)

Next week: Rose has a new boyfriend, Daisy crosses the line (as does Violet), more drama with the cops, more drama with Tom and Sarah, more drama with Edith and the Drews. Par for the course, in other words.

Not much of a barn-burner this episode, with the exception of Sarah's expulsion and Thomas's revelation, but the former at the very least proved highly entertaining. It's getting a bit dreary to hear some of the same-old about Edith's kid and everyone's romantic entanglements. Perhaps Thomas' situation, and what appears to be Tom's imminent departure, will provide a bit more oomph for us jaded viewers. At the very least, I'm sure we haven't heard the last of either Handsome Tony or Blake. Make of that what you will. So, heading into the second half, we're all set up for some serious  drama. The question is, can Fellowes keep the ball rolling?


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