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Worldly Distractions: Downton Abbey 4.8 - Episode Eight





Back with Downton we are. The final episode of the fourth series - and as yet another reminder, yes there will be a fifth) promises to be full of drama. To mark such an occasion, it is extra-special-sooper-long. 66 minutes instead of the usual 47.  The Simpsons will be recapped tomorrow night. Dammit, I am just that tired. Let's get on with it. Oh, my aching fingers.

Edith, Mary and Tom have gone to look at the pigs, who have recovered from their dehydration of last episode. Rock on, pigs. Substitute Pig Man is doing a competent job, so they ask him to take over for Incompetent Pig Man, who has presumably been sacked after letting the pigs almost die. Substitute Pig Man agrees on a trial basis and subsequently becomes Pig Man. He mentions that it's a great thing the Crawleys did for him, so he hopes one day he can pay them back. Maybe by, oh I don't know, keeping the damn pigs alive.

Isobel pops in to check on Violet, who is much recovered and as snarky as ever. She's also stir crazy. Isobel babbles about the Teapot Dome scandal. Violet sniffs at the idea of governments getting all uppity, and mentions once more that she hates the Levinsons. So, everything is as it should be.

Rose gets a call and is giddy over it, promising to meet someone. Yeah, no points for guessing that one. Cora walks by and enlists her to help at the local bazaar, an event usually manned by the absent Robert. Another village event. Is it just me, or is Downton like one of those middle schools in books which has a different-themed dance every two weeks? Rose promptly calls Lover Boy the second Cora's out of the room. Sneaky.

Baxter sews evilly, and when Molesley walks in, she interrogates him about his past, presumably to collect evil anecdotes for Lord Thomas-vort. They engage in some existential angst about what all this work is for in life. Baxter does say that, all things considered, she has it pretty good, so Molesley's hopes shouldn't be dashed yet. Chin up, old bugger. With that in mind, she tries to extract more information about Mr and Mrs Bates. Fortunately, Molesley knows nothing, and Mrs Patmore interrupts them anyway. Baxter is FOILED for now.

Ivy has just received a letter, and then runs out of the room in hysterics, which prompts Daisy to bitch about her once again. Grow the FUCK up, Daisy.

A local election's coming up, and Isobel decides to poke the fires again and suggests that Tom run. Tom, having had every last bit of spirit punched out of him by the Crawleys, goes into woe-is-me mode and whines about how he can't. Isobel suggests they go to town tomorrow, and maybe certain surprises will turn up.

Edith is chatting with her grandmother, who scares the dickens out of her when she mentions that Rosamund "told" her something. Edith panics. No, no, all Granny's heard is that Edith is having a hard time and needs some extra care. Edith practically faints with relief.

Blake and Mary are discussing state affairs, and not their obvious sexual tension. She thought he was snobbish, he thought she was useless, but thanks to the pigs they've put it all behind them. God bless pigs. Nanny brings in the children. Little George is crying, and Blake - surprise surprise - holds out his hands for him. It doesn't calm the baby down, but Mary is surprised and delighted nonetheless. Carson is appalled, but puts on Servant Face. Violet is feeling tired and books it out of there. For all that she loves her son and grandchildren, her attitude to kids seems mildly apathetic.

While Anna's getting Mary ready for dinner, she casually mentions that Tony Gillingham is coming. Anna predictably freaks out, since this must mean the return of Green the rapist valet. (Mary knows that Anna was raped, but not who it was.) When she realizes how upset Anna is, Mary presses her to tell. Finally, Anna caves. After swearing Mary to secrecy, she divulges the rapist's identity. Mary is stunned and has to sit down. Dockery nails the horrified reaction. She babbles about the police or telling Tony, but Anna once again insists that no one be called. Anna explains the danger in Bates finding out about Green. Mary agrees that a brutal confrontation is best avoided. She'll either ditch Tony or get him to come without the valet.

Mrs Patmore asks Ivy WTF's been up with her distracted manner all day. She's had a letter from Alfred - his father died. Well, that's very sad and all, but - oh, and he wants to marry her. WHAT WHAT WHAT?! Mrs Patmore is blindsided by this sudden turn of events, especially since it would mean Ivy's departure for London, but they have to shut up because Daisy has just walked in.

Anna interrupts Bates at his work and tells him to knock it off, it's time for bed. He's suspicious about her frequent conversations with Mrs Hughes, though they disguise their feelings in a delicate conversation about Mary's love life. Nonetheless, it is clear what Bates is thinking. Quite masterfully written, actually.

Napier, Blake, Edith, Rose and Tom discuss pigs over breakfast. I guess the bacon reminded them? The phone rings, it's Aunt Rosamund. Edith quickly leaves the room. Rose is asked about her plans, and remains evasive.

Ivy seeks Mrs Patmore's counsel on the Great Proposal. She doesn't want to marry Alfred, and doesn't want to tie herself down. Mrs Patmore suggests that maybe not marrying him is a good idea (thanks, Captain Obvious), then mentions that she thinks this generation is rather optimistic. Daisy comes in and demands to know what secrets they're keeping. She's going to boil a bunny and feed it to Ivy, right?

Edith and Rosamund have agreed to tell Cora before Robert gets back, and she's coming up to help Edith break the news. Mary walks in and hears the tail end of the conversation. Edith tells her that Rosamund is coming to "see how Granny is". Her sister not only buys it, but drones on about estate details to show how uninterested she is. "We must rise to life's challenges," Mary says over a couple of minor business issues. "Yes, we must," says Edith, who is about to have her whole life blown apart.

Tom and Isobel have gone to Thirsk to find some radical literature and fight the establishment, but decide to run some separate errands before meeting up in the bookstore. However, Tom wanders past a little tea parlor and catches Rose with her handsome singing paramour. BUSTED! Also, you're really going to sacrifice what could have been a cool political reawakening for the sake of a silly love drama? Oh, Fellowes, you're at it again.

Anyway, Rose is all over her boyfriend, though Jack tells her to cool it because they could get in serious trouble. Apparently they're about to go public, though, so big things will come up no matter what happens. Tom slips out while they're talking. On the way back, Isobel asks what's the matter. Tom tells her about a couple he knows who will do something that will "make some people unhappy". Understatement of the century.

Molesley and Baxter get friendly over coffee. She's snippy with him, but he tells her that he knows what it's like to be fragile. You can see her resolve breaking as he informs her that, though they don't care much for Thomas, they don't automatically lump her in with him. Dang, Molesley nailed that. It sounds insignificant as I type it - but may have just won Baxter away from Mr Evil.

As they arrive in the village, Isobel and Tom just happen to run into the woman he met last episode at the rally - Miss Sarah Bunting. She is fashionably bobbed, opinionated, and most modern, ooh la la. Anyway, Sarah thinks he's a sellout for marrying rich and staying rich. Isobel defends him, and Miss Bunting sashays away. Tom can't take his eyes off of her.

Mary was not able to get ahold of Gillingham, so he is coming with his valet. She apologizes to Anna, who is terrified and leaves the room fast. Tom comes in, and he and Mary tease each other about the fact that he's not wearing tails. Mary thinks it's time for her to get used to the "real world", in all seriousness. Tom almost keels over at this. Oh, poor ignorant rich girl.

However, Tom has come with a different purpose. He tells her about what he saw in Thirsk. At first Mary is unfazed ("Who is it this time?"), but she is surprised to find out it's Jack. Wait, didn't she catch them kissing like, two episodes ago? Anyway, Mary is just SHOCKED, and apparently suffering from amnesia.

Mrs Hughes catches Anna in tears, but Anna assures her that she's going to be okay. Uh-huh.

Edith corners Rosamund with her brilliant new plan for keeping the baby. It involves a tenant farmer and...what? Marrying him? Having him adopt the baby? Hiding out at his place for a few months? I don't get these nuances. EXPLAIN, FELLOWES. Anyway, Rosamund thinks it sounds stupid (I agree, especially since I don't know what it is), and instead thinks they should go away for a few months, put the baby up for adoption, and then Edith will be home free!

Edith is not on board with this plan, unsurprisingly. Rosamund proceeds to outline all the reasons why Edith's plan-which-must-not-be-explained won't work, but then Cora walks in. They're forced to drop it - for now. Rosamund gets on Cora's good side by volunteering to help at the bazaar, then mentions she wants to study French intensively for a few months - in Switzerland. And Edith has to come with her. Oh boy. Cora's delighted to see her daughter go off on an adventure. No suspicions there! Rosamund suggests not telling Cora, now that they've got their excuse. I see an eventful Christmas special.

Handsome Tony, Isobel and Violet trade banter at the dinner table. Tony's ire is up once he hears about Mary and Blake's Pig-cellent Adventure, but he covers it. Edith and Rosamund announce their trip, but precisely no one cares. Mary wonders if she's searching for Gregson. Tom tells Mary to back the fuck off. I love you, Tom. Granny gives Edith a look which makes me wonder if she knows something's up.

Green is at dinner with the staff, scaring the bejesus out of Anna every time he moves. Bates casts a variety of glares, Mrs Hughes is cool to him. The circle is closing in. Molesley is still trying to chat up Baxter, with little success. Bates manages to get Green's address. Looks like the revenge is on. Ominous music plays in case we don't get it.

Cora thinks Rose is going to London entirely too much, Mary agrees. They wonder how they can handle the problem. Fortunately, Rose walks by just then, so Mary takes her aside. Rose is BUSTED. She bravely stands up for her convictions, saying she won't stand for "imperialist nonsense about racial purity". Having weathered scandal herself, Mary says she just doesn't want Rose to "get out of control" - but then Rose drops the big bombshell. She intends to marry Jack.

...let's hope they don't board any ships anytime soon.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Anyway, Rose is defiant, and specifically intends to tell her mother in person just to piss her off. She storms out spectacularly, leaving Mary flabbergasted.

The Three Suitors (Blake, Handsome Tony and Evelyn) are headed home, with precisely nothing having happened between any of them and Mary. Personally, I'm Team Blake. Cora wishes them goodbye and tries to rope them into her fucking bazaar. Mary wishes both Blake and Handsome Tony specific goodbyes, but crushes the latter's dreams by telling him she's not interested. He says he's calling off the engagement. No dice. Mary's still hung up on Matthew, so she's not marrying anyone yet. Too bad for Handsome Tony, but hey, life goes on.

And one good thing happens - Mary asks him how he feels about Green, who he's apparently not very keen on, and plants some seeds of distrust. Eeeexcellent. The three men depart, and Mary doesn't have to deal with any of their bullshit. Progress! Rose, Cora, Edith and Rosamund, all lined up with scarily similar haircuts, all tease Mary about her suitors. She gives a cutting remark, as always. Attagirl.

Ivy mentions that she's sent Alfred his rejection letter,  though Mrs Patmore points out he'll probably come up anyway. Daisy walks in and demands to be told what's going on. Mrs Patmore tries to cover it up, but Ivy tells the full truth. Deal with THAT, Daisy. The poor woman is quickly a bitter, accusatory mess. Keep her away from the knives.

Rosamund, Violet and Edith joke about Mary's love life, but Violet soon shuts the conversation down. She wants to know WTF is going on, and no bazaar's going to fool her. The DC has done the math, and she knows the truth - but wants Edith to say it. And she is surprisingly unshocked. Well, I guess even the Dowager Countess knows that Babies Happen.

Carson delegates the servants to various bazaar-related tasks, taking none of their guff about the extra work. Mrs Patmore has a letter - Alfred's coming in to see them. Specifically, to change Ivy's mind. Mrs Patmore and Mrs Hughes agree to give Daisy the day off, just to prevent an early invention of the atomic bomb, and sigh over the silliness of young love.

Cora is also going mad over the bazaar. Mary keeps giving Rose the side-eye from across the room. Rose keeps asking inane questions to break the tension. Not going to work, honey. We all know Mary's Death Stare. Once Cora has left, Rose corners Mary - and tells her she's engaged. Cue all of Downton dropping stone dead.

The DC has summoned Isobel for an emergency luncheon. No, not about Edith - a certain Lord Merton is coming. He's Mary's godfather and an old friend of the family, and the DC would like Isobel to be there because she's "better than nothing".

Anna runs around in a rush, because Mary is going to London. Bates asks some careful questions. When the conversation is finished, he asks Carson for the day off to go to York. Some "New York/York" jokes are made, which is delightful because it's Carson making them. Carson is cool with it, seeing as His Lordship is 3000 miles away. Bates' plan is set into action.

About half the village has shown up to get the bazaar ready. Jimmy and Molesley eye a "Test Your Strength" booth - you know, the one with the mallet - but are declared too shrimpy. They go into the kitchen to get more food, and find a healthy dose of drama alongside it. Daisy overheard the Get Rid of Daisy for a Day plan, and is totally butthurt. However, she is mollified by the prospect of a day off, and decides to visit her father-in-law, Mr Mason, who has kind of adopted her since William's death.

Mary's off to London, and Rose wants to come along. Heh, no. She'll stay at Auntie Rosamund's despite Auntie Rosamund being in Yorkshire. There's a lot of glaring between the cousins.

Tom sees a woman stranded with a broken car by the side of the road, and surprise! It's Sarah Bunting. What a flippin' coincidence. (Seriously, Julian? TWO contrived meetings?) She taunts him about his rich family. He takes it in stride, and proceeds to tell her the story of his life, all while fixing the car. Patriarchal stereotypes aside - what a man!

Edith and Isobel have been roped into lunch with Lord Merton, who is a recent widower, ahem, ahem. He also wanted to study medicine. Well, well, Violet's a matchmaker, too. This is just a roundabout way of getting rid of Isobel, right? Anyway, Merton offers her a ride home and it's adorable. Granny uses the excuse to get Edith in the room alone, but we then get cheated out of the conversation. Again! I demand a refund for my imaginary admission!

Tom has just gotten up to marrying Sybil in the Life Story of Tom Branson. We get to Sybil's death, and her music is played. I'm kind of weeping. Shut up. Anyway, Tom explains that his daughter is much of the reason he keeps ties with the Crawleys. Sarah says she has a better opinion of them now, to which Tom wonders what she has against them. She hedges that it's just their "type" she disapproves of. "I don't believe in types. I believe in people," says Tom. ZING. Sarah's car is fixed, she drives off, and Tom stares into the distance as more Sybil music plays.

Violet is sympathetic to Edith's situation, but thinks she's taking the right course. Giving the baby to the farmer would be too risky to Edith's reputation. She even (kind of) approves of the baby growing up Swiss. Violet advises forgetting Michael, starting over, and heading off to Switzerland on Granny's money.

Isobel and Merton are on a walk. The guy accidentally puts his foot in it by asking after Matthew, not knowing he's dead, but covers it up. They move on. She talks about Mary and Matthew's happy marriage. He opens up about his own unhappy marriage, which is an instant magnet for Isobel's caring soul.

Mary has gone to Jack's London apartment to try to get him to dump Rose. She finds him practicing for tonight's gig. He offers her tea, having clearly learned something in Britain. Despite their opposing sides, they share a certain rapport, as Mary drily points out that his occupation is probably worse than his race, in their eyes anyway. She tells him that marriage isn't easy even at the best of times, let alone when no one believes in them. Furthermore, her problem is not so much with him as with Rose's motives, which seem to be more shock value than true romance. Turns out Jack's mother said the same thing. Huh.

Jack then turns the tables by telling Mary that he's not going to marry Rose. Okay, that was out of nowhere. He doesn't want to "spoil her life", delicate little flower that she is, and subject her to the harshness that will happen if they marry. (And let me say - handsome and musically inclined as he is, the guy who plays Jack is no actor.) Mary has said as much already, pointing out that Rose is unlikely to withstand all the criticism. He plans to send her a "Dear Rose" letter, but in the meantime, Mary has to keep it secret. As she's about to leave, Jack turns and tells her "I wouldn't have done it if we lived in even a slightly better world." Mary tells him that if the world was better - she would have liked to see him stay.

At Auntie Rosamund's, Mary asks Anna how she's doing. The answer - not great. Mary tells her that she's having lunch with Gillingham, and will ask him to dismiss his valet. 1920s job security being what it is, she won't really have to give him more than the vaguest of reasons. Anna is frightened, but Mary assures her that Green will never return to Downton - and Bates is unlikely to challenge Gillingham over a new valet. Once she leaves the room, Anna begins to cry.

The Ominous Music returns. Sigh. Bates strides away from Downton. Expect to see Green walking around with "I am a Rapist pig" on his chest as Trent Reznor music plays.

Carson rallies the troops for the great bazaar. Molesley invites Baxter, saying it would be a chance to meet people. She tells him he's lucky to have people who like him. He's shocked - he's never been called lucky in his life. He has a fantastic smile, and Baxter even looks human for a few moments.

The bazaar seems to be entirely made up of patriotic paraphernalia left over from the Great War, as the number of British flags lying around suggests. The Crawleys are all busy with Cora's great event. Edith is lifting things, and Rosamund suggests that she stop. "What are you afraid of? That I'll lose the baby?" Edith snaps.



"Nah... I mean, I'm already pregnant, so what other kind of shenanigans could I get into?"

Ahem. Back on track. Sarah is at the bazaar, and taunts Tom for being a "beast of burden" for the Crawleys. Dammit, are you always on? Cora walks by, so Tom introduces them, which at least forces Sarah to be polite for three seconds. When she's gone, Tom comments that she's "another beast of burden", leaving Sarah dumbstruck.

Mary has met with Handsome Tony, who wants to know why she wants him to sack a perfectly good valet. All Mary will say is that it's "abhorrent". Finally, he agrees, though he thinks it seems mean. He also throws in an "I love you" for the hell of it. Mary is Not Amused. As she leaves, he tells her he won't give up until she walks down the aisle with another man - and possibly after. No pressure or anything. She finds it creepy...but intriguing. Crap, he annoys me. Still Team Blake.

Isobel is summoned to Violet's lair, where the DC reveals flowers sent from Lord Merton. For Isobel. Asking forgiveness for tactlessness. She's clearly touched by this, and the DC is smug. Like, cartoon villain-level smug.

Bates tells Carson he had a long day in York, and Anna asks what happened. Bates is evasive, which means that Green is going to turn up in a river somewhere, right?

The bazaar is in full swing, with people eating, playing games, and buying tons of stuff. Cora is thrilled. Mary's toting George around. Rose looks downcast. Mary goes to talk to her, but Rose is bitter and declares that Mary is no better than her mother. Mary's excuse is that if Rose is going to fuck things up, she'd better do it for the right reasons. Okay, not quite in those words - but still sage wisdom from Miss I-had-a-man-die-on-me-once.

Carson tells Jimmy to run one of the tents, to which Jimmy points out that Lady G essentially gave them the afternoon off. Carson points out that He is King and Lady G's word doesn't mean a thing compared to his ironclad tyranny of the downstairs. Jimmy hops to it. Carson then directs Molesley to show some new arrivals where to park - only this guy definitely knows where to go, because it's His Lordship! Back from America!

Everyone rushes to greet him. His Lordship is charming as usual, and relieved to be home. Crazy Uncle Harold got let off with a reprimand. Molesley and Jimmy press Thomas for details. Robert catches sight of Cora, and suddenly there's no one else in the world. They fall into an embrace, happily reunited. Actually, it's kind of over the top. He went to America for a couple of months, not to a bloody war.

Daisy has gone to see Mr Mason, who is thrilled to see her (as we are to see him). They go on a nice picnic. It's so heartwarming to see Daisy with some kind of home and family at last.

Alfred arrives at the bazaar, where Mrs Hughes and Mrs Patmore dote on him. He and Ivy go off on their own, where he apologizes for sending the proposal. He feels he read too much into the last visit, and is sad to have caused her inconvenience. They agree to part as friends. Aww, gentle Alfred, why did you go and stick us with Sleazy Jimmy and Thomas the Evil?

He also asks to see Daisy, but Ivy tells him she's gone to see Mr Mason. We join Daisy and Mr Mason. The latter has figured out Daisy's real reason for visiting, and advises her to go back to Downton. Life's too short to burn bridges, especially with people you love. Even a goodbye is better than nothing.

The DC asks Edith how she's doing. Edith is morose over never seeing Michael again, to which the DC offers to fund the search. That's right - Edith can go hunting for her boyfriend all she likes on Granny's dime. "All life is a series of problems which we must try to solve...until we die," the DC says, with impeccable Maggie Smith delivery. God, that's depressing. And true.

Handsome Tony ("the most unconvincing fiance I've ever come across," the DC crows) has shown up at the bazaar. Mary goes to ask what's up. Green is dead. Apparently, he fell into the street and was hit by a bus. Tony is confused and somewhat suspicious, and feels Mary should know. Fortunately, Robert shows up to distract Tony for a second while Mary runs off to find Anna. More ominous music.

Anna receives the news with a sense of relief. Bates runs over and hears what's going on. Mary wonders why Anna thinks it's great that there were so many witnesses. Fortunately, Blake - yes, Suitor 2 - has arrived and pulls her from the conversation. Then they go off and have wild kinky sex in the barn  Mary asks him what he would do, hypothetically, if a man he knew was involved in a crime but it was totally understandable? Not that this is real, of course. Blake says he would say nothing. Baxter, walking by, overhears.

Jimmy is trying the Ring-The-Bell and sucks at it. Baxter uses her sweet voice and encourages Molesley to try. Initially he balks, but she gets through to him. And - he gets a ring! Baxter is delighted, and I think this show is about to start the weirdest ship ever. Can anyone honestly say they saw this coming even an episode or two back?

Thomas comes by and creepily asks Baxter what's new, caressing her arm like the skeeze he is. He says he'll find out even if she doesn't tell him. Jesus, does this man require gossip to breathe or something? Molesley takes some of his newfound manliness and tells Thomas to shove it. He takes Baxter's arm, escorts her off to the stalls, and drops the fucking mic. Well done.

Robert settles down for a drink next to the DC, and gets in a few jabs at Prohibition. Which I totally forgot about until now, but yeah, this would be the time. Fortunately, as Robert puts it, "Harold has his uses." The DC makes a comment to the effect that she hopes to avoid them for a good long while. Robert shatters her rosy Levinson-free image by telling her that Martha and Harold are going to Rose's coming-out ball next summer. Wait, why is that? Do they even know who the hell Rose is? Ahhh, no, it's London and the irresistible attraction to everything fancy and British that all Americans have.

Daisy arrives just in time to catch Alfred, who is about to leave for the train station and is thrilled to see her. She's also brought him a gift courtesy of Mr Mason - a basket full of food for the train home. Carson gives his familiar "I approve" nod at this. Daisy and Alfred wander off to the next room, where he tells her that love is blind, and he was never able to truly appreciate how good she was to him. Daisy, in turn, comes clean with all her feelings for him. This is truly an episode of confessions. They wish each other well and part friends, knowing they are unlikely to ever meet again.

Mrs Hughes, Mrs Patmore and even Carson look in on Daisy, but she is calm, and goes to the kitchen to find her apron. Business as usual. However, Mrs Patmore sees all, and follows her outdoors, where Daisy solemnly declares "That's that." Mrs Patmore tells Daisy she is proud of her like a real daughter. They hug, and deeply unhappy Daisy has a moment of friendship for once.

Everyone cleans up from the bazaar, except for Mary and Blake, who are flirting. He asks her to give him a chance, but Mary tells him the same thing she told Tony - she's not interested in a relationship. Well, at least she's consistent. He tells her he's going to put up a fight. Okay, why are all these men so into fighting over Mary? She's beautiful and intelligent, yes, but seriously, this is overkill.

Bates walks down the hall, where Anna is waiting for him. She asks what he was up to yesterday, and asks him never to do anything foolish. He says he would never do anything without a very good reason. He leaves Anna just as frightened as she was at the beginning of the episode. Yeah, this has backfired.

Tony and Blake are about to launch a Second World War ahead of schedule, so Robert grabs a wine bottle and some glasses and suggests that Tom pull up a table. He then toasts Cora for her hard work. Everyone raves about the bazaar. Mary's suitors, once again, cordially share a lift to the station. Oh, those British manners. Mary goes to see them off. Robert asks Cora and Violet what happened with those three while he was gone. They smile knowingly. The Crawley women's heads crane, in unison, to see what happens next. Closing credits.

So, all in all, it was a pretty decent finale. It concluded what needed to be concluded while opening up some exciting possibilities for the Christmas special (though I don't see the fifth series as being anything but repetitive, unfortunately). The flaws in this episode were characteristically Downton - that is, I've been complaining about them since the series premiere - so I'll leave them for now. It was another intriguing and fun adventure with the Crawleys, with enough to keep us entertained despite the usual rehashing. Until Christmas, mes amis, but in the meantime, we'll always have Yorkshire.


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