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Worldly Distractions: Downton Abbey 4.4 - Episode 4





Halfway through the season already. How could we be? Well, after last week's episode, I hope this one is a tad more mellow. Everybody take a deep breath and here we go.

Anna is still walking about the estate like a zombie, and Bates thinks he's done something wrong. She says he hasn't, but still looks like her soul has been sucked out, so Bates is not convinced. It's clearly really soon after the rape, because Thomas notices that her lip is cut and asks what happened. Mrs Hughes shushes him. The guests from the Downton Party are leaving, and while Carson is delegating, Anna slips away, saying she has "things to do" even though Lady Mary is probably still asleep. Bates asks Mrs Hughes if she knows what's up. She dodges the question. GAH, this is so awful for everyone involved, I can barely watch. Thomas, the clod, is all "What's up with everyone?", but Carson dismisses this by pointing out that "high spirits at breakfast" just reeks of foreigner. Sad music tells us to be sad.

Gillingham/Green assures Carson he'll never forget the visit. Shudder. Branson tells the duchess who bored him all weekend that he felt awkward and she assures him she had a great time, which is honestly really sweet. His Lordship is nice to Edith's married lover. (Edith is rocking the 1920's look yet again, by the way.) Rose is - you guessed it - flirting, and tells the latest object of her affections that she can't really date him because she's not "out" yet. Which is a line that will forever make a 1990's child do a double-take, until she realizes that they're referring to debutantes. Anyway, Flirtee assures her that Times Have Changed, which they might as well paint on all the castle walls for the number of times they tell us this. Handsome Tony continues to ask Mary out, but she turns him down. He mentions he dislikes his valet. Well, DUH.

Isobel and Dr. Clarkson meet - in the cemetery of all places - where he tells her that he's off to convince the board to start a clinic, all to deliver better patient care. Might she go with him? She hemms and haws because she is In Mourning, but then says she'll think about it, literally TURNS AROUND, turns back and says "I will." Looks like Eccentric Crusading Coz is back! Welcome to the fold.

Mary looks amazing in deep purple, as usual - a nice symbol of her alive-but-widowed thing. She discusses estate affairs with her dad. She and Tom are going to a very important meeting and would like to leave Dad at home. Robert is doubtful of their capabilities, and put out that he's not invited, but Tom and Cora convince him. Eventually he relents, but not before being reassured that he'll be included in all decision. Gah, the ego of an aging man. So Mary and Tom are ditching the kids with Grandma and heading off to London - and Aunt Rosamund's. Rose wants to come along, presumably on other business, so they let her. Cora not-so-subtly suggests that Mary should meet Tony Gillingham, who is known as Handsome Tony on this blog. Mary shuts that down right away.

Edna confronts Tom about their Super Special Wonderful Night (in which Tom was so wasted - possibly drugged once again, if you listen to the fans - that he thinks he might have done something rude, making one wonder as to the reliability of his consent). Yeah, Edna totally took advantage of him. Interesting, the two examples of non-consensual sex in one episode. I wonder how many viewers would recognize both? Okay, so Tom remembers nothing, Edna is pissy that he's not fawning over her, and worst of all, Thomas overhears. It's all sunshine and rainbows from here, folks.

More Jimmy/Alfred/Daisy/Ivy quadrangle. Ivy's been given her first big kitchen assignment and is nervous. Mrs Patmore's threats don't help.

Edna comes crying to Tom about how he "used" her. Yeah, I don't buy it one second, you evil thing. She's all "What if I'm pregnant?", because it's only one day later so of course she could totally know that. Tom says as much. She demands that he marry her if she's with child. Horse before cart, lady, horse before cart. She appeals to his honour (he wouldn't strand her, riiiiiight?) and sense of discomfort with his new class (he can't consider himself above her, riiiiiight?), but unfortunately compares herself to Sybil in the process. He rages about how great Sybil was and how she should never mention his beloved dead wife. She turns on the tears. Sybil's theme plays, and Tom tells her sadly that he already has too many regrets. GO TOM.  Now watch her actually get pregnant and then destroy him. Or fake being pregnant until she can get him down the aisle, who knows, I wouldn't put it past her. Funny, I thought Anna might turn out to be pregnant, but instead we're getting threats from O'Brien v2.0. Interesting.

Violet and Isobel walk through the cemetery, where the Dowager inquires to the latter's emotional state following the concert/Mary having a life again. Once again, Isobel says that Mary's entitled to move on and that her bad feelings about it are not part of the equation. I LOVE YOU, ISOBEL. DC assures her that it's okay to feel bad. I LOVE YOU TOO, DC. Violet's theory is that if no one ever had bad thoughts, the vicar would be out of a job. We are assured that everyone loves each other and is doing their best and oh god I'm getting weepy. Scenes with Violet and Isobel are almost always gold.

While nattering on about London, Mary asks if Anna's all right - she seems quiet. Anna says she's fine and abruptly leaves. Mary watches her as she goes, still sure something's wrong.

Cora tells Rober that Rosamund's having a party to hook up Mary with Handsome Tony, Rose with whoever that guy was at the beginning, and I guess find a date for Tom. Edna mentions that anyone would be lucky to join the family. Cora thinks it's sweet, because apparently Evil Detectors aren't programmed for ladies' maids.

Isobel excitedly tells Robert about the new clinic, who thinks it will turn everyone into sissy hypochondriacs. He also casually mentions he'd like some free labour around the place (ie slaves). Yes, he SAYS this. The DC comments that Lloyd George would never allow it. It's spring of 1922 at the moment, he'll be out of office by the end of the year. Carson - get this - disapproves of all the political talk. Edith wonders if Rosamund minds that they stay with her every single time they go to London. She asks Tom his opinion. He's out of it and has to ask her to repeat herself. Damn, how many times does the dude get drugged on the show? Oh, God, did Braithwaite do something to him again? I will CUT you, bitch.

JimmyDaisyAlfredIvyIDGAF. Jimmy and Ivy debate having skills and preparing for the future vs having a good time and living life. As someone doing the 9-5 (or rather, noon-9) routine, I am inclined to side with Jimmy's freewheeling style. They start to dance. Alfred walks in and threatens to report them to Mrs Patmore. Speak of the devil, she hath been summoned. Patmore wants to know what's going on. However, she is soon distracted by telling Ivy that her cooking was a great hit. Daisy is bitter and jealous, which pisses Mrs Patmore right off. Daisy, I know you're Downton's butt monkey, but STFU for a bit and let someone else be happy, okay?

Anna talks to Bates about the upcoming London trip. He says he'll miss her, but when he reaches out to touch her, she recoils. She once again assures him it's not his fault, and maybe they just spend too much time together, being married coworkers and all. He does not buy this bullshit, but leaves her alone, which is what she wants anyway.

Okay, everyone, get ready for a heart attack. Carson is telling all to Mrs Hughes - about his theatrical past, and his Long Lost Love, the mysterious Alice! She was a beautiful singer and Carson thought she was "gentle". He loved her, and wanted to marry her "so much I could taste it". However, she went for Charlie (the guy from the workhouse in earlier episodes) and that was that. Before she was dead, she admitted she regretted it. Carson says it doesn't matter, since nothing will change now. Mrs Hughes tells him that it does matter, since she can see the change in Carson even now. Just then, Anna knocks on the door.

Carson leaves, and Anna gets down to the heart of things. She wants to move upstairs, effectively separating from Bates. Mrs Hughes assures her that Bates loves her, but she insists - she feels responsible for what happened and is not sure she's good enough for Bates anymore. Considering the huge societal pressures surrounding sex (consensual or not) at the time, yeah, it's totally understandable for her to feel that way. Frogatt and Logan are once again excellent. Mrs Hughes tries to talk her off the marital ledge, saying that she was "attacked by an evil, violent man" and "there's no sin in that". Thank GOD someone said it. She also suggests going to the police - especially in case Anna is "with child", to which Anna responds that in that event she would kill herself. Fuck. See, Anna is sure Bates will kill the valet, be sent back to prison, and wind up executed. Since in her eyes it would be her fault, she can't do anything that would let him know. Mrs Hughes advises her to tell him, but she will not. Mrs Hughes reluctantly agrees to Anna's move, but tells her to wait until there's "reason" to leave him - and that she hopes that Anna will choose to tell him the truth, anyway.

We cut from this heartbreak to JimmyIvyDaisyAlfred IDGAF. Jimmy and Ivy have disappeared into a broom closet, Daisy is not getting choice cooking assignments anymore. Alfred has found a cooking school, which Mrs Patmore suggests might be a good thing for Daisy, who bristles because she thinks they're trying to get rid of her. Suddenly they need help in the kitchen, and Alfred goes to find Ivy. He succeeds - only he finds her liplocked with Jimmy. He's shocked, Daisy's shocked, the whole damn kitchen will fall apart.

At Aunt Rosamund's, Mary comes down to find a party assembled. She's unpleasantly surprised to find Handsome Tony there, plus Rose with Flirtee and Tom with...no one. Furthermore, after dinner they have plans to go to this cool new jazz club. Horror of horrors, even Lady Rosamund's going! Mary has no choice but to tag along, and Tom has to be Rosamund's date, so the two widows are out on the town.

Everyone gets wasted and exchanges innuendo like a Fitzgerald novel. Why, yes, the Roaring Twenties have arrived, baby! The singer (which every ad has taken care to mention is African-American, WOW) has absolutely nailed the 1920's ballad-singer voice. I'm in awe. And so is Rose, who can't stop staring at him. Well, hell, he is cute. Handsome Tony and Mary exchange barbs, she's reluctant but clearly likes him. He's engaged, though, so that's that. Though she assures him that he's great and all, she's not ready yet. Fair enough and he takes it graciously.

Alfred is studying for the culinary school, and it is suggested that Daisy help him. However, she's heartbroken over his departure. Mrs Patmore privately assures her that "it will be better if you part friends", and maybe after he goes she can find someone who loves her back. Wise woman.

Rosamund interrogates Tom about how he likes being a Crawley. He's still super awkward. Rose's date is super drunk, dancing terribly and embarrassing her, which culminates when he runs off to puke. The singer, clearly on a break at the moment, comes up to her and asks if she's all right. Soon they start to dance. Rosamund is shocked, shocked I tell you. He introduces himself as Jack Ross. Oooh, he's dreamy. 

Anyway, Tom shows up saying he's been "sent to fetch her", but one glance at the table of hostile relatives tells Jack and Rose - heh, didn't see that before - all they need to know. Jack graciously makes a remark about her "joining her friends". Once Tom leads her away, she tells him that he's rude, which THANK YOU, needed to be said! Rosamund wants to go home and tells Rose she's clearly had "quite the adventure". I don't know what she considers more scandalous, the race thing or the fact that he's a singer. It could go either way. As they leave, Jack rejoins the band and launches into "A Rose By Any Other Name". Pouting, she goes along with the Crawleys, but turns to flash Jack a smile. He returns it.

Rosamund goes on about the scandal of their drunken compatriot (John Bullock, I am told), but Rose suggests he deserves a second chance. Phwoar! Not in this house he doesn't! "Things have come to a pretty pass when you have to be rescued by a black bandleader," she says. Yeah, you can see how Rosamund and Robert are related, for sure.

As they go upstairs, Mary asks Tom if anything is wrong. He says she'd hate him, but she says she could relate (presumably this refers to The Case of the Dead Diplomat). Nonetheless, Tom won't tell. She suggests he find someone to trust - it will help him. Tom, you have an ally here, I hope you know.

Tom comments that Edna seems surprisingly cheerful, revealing that he knows something's up. She tells him to keep paying attention, because if he stays on her side he'll be glad of it someday. Yup, lady's got plans. I'm surprised she hasn't got the vicar and fake baby bump stashed somewhere. Or does she?

The London gang return, and Anna with them. She's greeted by her husband. He asks for a kiss, but she won't do it. He then asks what happened. She doesn't want to do that, either. Bates tells her that if she's this unhappy, there's probably a good reason behind it, and he won't ask for it now, but he will find out what is distressing his wife. Anna stares at him in horror. Just then, Carson calls Anna away, telling her that Gillingham has arrived. A moment of terror subsides when she realizes he's without his valet. He's not staying, and she goes to prep Lady Mary for his arrival.

Tom has turned to someone he trusts - Mrs Hughes. Once the beans are spilled, she admits it's a rotten situation. After chastising him a bit, she agrees to help. They start to work out a plan, but we cut to Lady Mary because the pacing in this show has gotten to ridiculous action-movie levels.

And another fantastic Mary outfit, this one vaguely tunic-like. She looks 1920s medieval and it suits her. Gillingham has come up to tell her he loves her and wants to marry her and make eleventy babies and blah blah blah blah blah. Here's Mary's reponse:



Okay, she's nicer than that, but since the conversation took place about five days after they met and includes the line "He's dead and I'm alive," yeah, I'd say she's pretty smart to shut it down. He says he'll wait for her until the day she's ready. Just as long as he knows. Fortunately, Robert interrupts before she has to answer. They have tea instead. So very very English.

Edna is summoned by Hughes and Branson, Private Detectives, for an investigation. She asks if they're going to pay her off for the baby-she-doesn't-even-know-she's-pregnant-with-but-totally-might-have-because-they-had-sex-once. Wow, this woman is batshit. Mrs Hughes is all "ha ha, you stupid little brat," revealing that she went through Edna's stuff and found a book by some midwife, which includes a guide to old-timey contraception. Yep, Edna's unlikely to be knocked up and Branson is officially off the hook. Mrs Hughes promises that if she persists in this gambit, the doctor will be summoned to reveal the truth, and she will be ruined. BAHAHAHA you are the best. Edna is flummoxed. She threatens to bring down Her Ladyship on their asses, but Mrs Hughes brings up the career threat, and so she wins. Once she leaves, Mrs Hughes admits that she really had no idea whether the woman was pregnant or not, but hey, at least now we know Edna's a scheming rat.

I have to say, her character progression is a bit off. In the Christmas special, she was a slightly horny maid who maybe got a bit too bold. Now, she's the living embodiment of viciousness. Not your best character, Fellowes.

Thomas catches Edna running upstairs and asks why she's so fussed. She takes the moment to tell him exactly what she thinks of him (which is coincidentally what most viewers think of him), and she is happy to say so before she has to leave. Thomas dishes out his own creative description of her, and they part enemies. We see a glimpse of a woman running away, and cut to Cora telling Robert that Braithwaite has given notice. Robert comments they must be cursed. Bye bye, Edna, you won't be missed.

Robert asks Anna (who is helping out in Braithwaite's absence) if she knew what Braithwaite was up to. Then he, of all people, comments that she seems upset. Anna leaves, the conversation turns to Tony and what's going to happen there. Cut to the DC - SERIOUSLY, STOP THE RAPID SCENE CHANGES - sorry, the DC criticizing everyone for having the gall to appear in black tie. They scheme about getting Mary married off, Isobel is sad.

Meanwhile, Edith's in London. Robert wonders why. Mary says Edith is "as mysterious as a bucket" and has gone to meet Gregson. The DC is pretty happy about this. Robert comments that "I don't dislike him". Mary and Handsome Tony say goodnight to everyone, and as Isobel leaves, she comments that she hopes to see Tony back before long. Awww. What a gesture. Mary looks at her stunned. Yeah, I think you just got a blessing there. This does not escape Robert and Violet, either.

Edith is busy at Gregson's, where they go on about how in loooove they are. In fact, he's leaving for Munich next week. They get a little (but not too) physical, then he romantically gives her a legal document for some limited control over his affairs. He mentions he'll write a novel while he's gone. Oh, Edith, I hope your heart doesn't shatter into a million pieces. She suggests going out, he suggests not, and then it gets really physical. They are most definitely In for the Night. Side note: Edith's pitch-perfect 1920's Egyptian-style bracelet. Such a great touch.

Mrs Hughes and Carson hear Anna's request to move rooms, and reluctantly agree. Once she's gone, Carson comments that he's sorry Braithwaite left, to which Mrs Hughes says he has NO IDEA. She switches the conversation, telling Carson she got him a present - to remind him that he once had a heart. Ouch, lady. Anyway, the present is a picture of Alice. He thanks her most sincerely, then kisses her on the cheek. Carson and Mrs Hughes give me all the feels. Sigh.

Robert talks about Braithwaite's departure to Bates, then mentions that he hopes it won't be too much work for Anna. Bates is silent. His old friend asks him to go on. He says something's wrong, but he has no idea what, or what to do. Robert suggests that all marriages go through rough patches and they clearly love each other. Yeah, but a rough patch like this one...? Anyway, after a "chin up" speech, Bates is left with no solutions but maybe a bit of comfort. He and Robert are so excellent together, of course, and I wouldn't worry about him and Anna. We all know they'll reconcile by the Christmas special anyway.

Barefoot with mussed hair, Edith does the Walk of Shame at Auntie Rosamund's. Her pride is practically palpable. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a woman who just got laid.

More boring stuff with Lady Mary and Handsome Tony. Despite her terrible dialogue, Michelle Dockery is wonderful in this scene. He asks if she's ready yet. You know, after twelve hours. Unsurprisingly, she turns him down, though it's clearly hard for her to do so. But still - it's just plain too soon. He still gets a kiss out of it, though, just to "remember her". They depart after the romance of the century, which lasted like a week and was mostly full of cliched declarations. Ladies and gentlemen, realism!

Thomas tells Robert that he has a suggestion for the new lady's maid. She's a bit old, unfortunately, but Tom is only too glad to hear it. Mary comes in and more or less tells them that she and Tony broke up, which upsets His Lordship. He is annoyed further by Tom and Mary ditching him to settle estate matters in York. Yes, Lord Grantham, your time has passed. Get used to it.

Edith is summoned to Auntie's room to get the dressing-down of a lifetime. It's essentially a repeat of Mary and Kemal Pamuk back in Season 1. Name, reputation, la la la, Edith's in trouble. Edith gives precisely no fucks about it, of course, but Rosamund is insistent. She even - low blow of the episode - brings up Edith getting left at the altar. BITCH. Anyway, Rosamund will keep her secret for now, but wants her to know she's taking a massive risk. Times Have Changed, but not in every instance, and Rosamund is dead right here, especially when she drops the hint that Edith might be very sorry with a little bastard to conceal. (On another note - Tarantino, you have ruined my spelling of "bastard.) Why is everyone obsessed with illegitimate pregnancy this episode? Weird. Fellowes been reading too many mommy blogs or something? Though I will say that storyline could be pretty interesting with Edith at the centre.

Tom and Mary head off and talk about their lives, love, and living without regret. We get a long shot of the grounds. It's wonderful.

Next on: Bates and Anna continue to have trouble, new ladies' maid who is really nice but makes people suspicious (no wonder, after their track record), Isobel is a crusader, Mary gets tough with tenants, Lord Grantham becomes very unpopular with the locals.

Well - after the first two extremely dull episodes and last week's way too intense episode, I think this one hit just the right note. We dealt with the repercussions of last week's events, and they appear to continue into next week. Some funny moments helped lighten the mood, though overall it was appropriately solemn considering all it had to deal with. Especially enjoying Edith's moment in the limelight after three seasons of being an afterthought. Four down, four to go. Join me next week for Episode Five!


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