03 February 2011

Downton Abbey Episode IV (The Change Edition)

Downton Abbey
Summary: Change is in the air as the politically awakened Sybil rallies for the women's vote, in direct violation of her father's rules. But when Sybil is swept up in the violence surrounding the reading of the election results, Matthew wins a heart by defending the girl and bringing her to safety. Meanwhile, back at Downton Abbey, persistent rumors about a family member cause a rift between Cora and Violet. And, a surprise announcement from Cora complicates the larger issue of Downton's fate.
In London, Mary gains a shocking insight, and her Aunt Rosamund — displaying a more than passing resemblance to her mother, Violet — freely dispenses dubious advice to Mary. Meanwhile, Thomas and O'Brien enlist the reluctant, smitten Daisy to bring about Bates' downfall, but Bates seems determined to do it himself, much to the distress of Anna, who finds an opportunity to delve into Bates' past. Concerned about the security of her position, O'Brien sets her spite on a new target, and a misunderstanding provokes a dangerous act of sabotage.
Again, Downton is to be hobbled by the entail. At a resplendent garden party, actions and betrayals come home to roost, and important news arrives that dwarfs the issue of inheritance. Summary: PBS
Lord Grantham, sigh. He's such a good man. 
Comments (total spoilers): I didn't watch Downton Abbey on Sunday night which means I have had to avoid many blogs for the past couple of days to avoid ruining it. But sometimes I have to be in the mood for a show and I certainly wasn't Sunday night. That said, show watched, and here are my thoughts. I don't want this to end because it will be a long wait until it starts again, but at least it will start again. Too bad we have to wait for next season so long and World War I*, but at least there is a next season and we'll hopefully be rewarded with more of this wonderful story.
I'm going to try and concentrate on themes this time, not specific lines, but specific lines are indicative of character and characters moves themes.
Not sure why this is so exciting.
Sybil is certainly, to Robert's consternation, stretching her limits into politics (at least for 1914). Obviously, Robert is also worried about her being somewhere unsafe and blames Branson, but it's not his fault. Sybil plays the youngest daughter role... a spoiled child and
Mary defends her by saying, " Sybil is entitled to her opinion," to which Violet replies,"No. Not until she's married and her husband will tell her what her opinions are." Infurating and hysterical at the same time.
Carson, being the good person that he is, informs Mary that he received intel from the Turkish Ambassador's servants and her name is being bandied about. Mary's reputation is circling the drain.
Robert's opposition to Sybil's plans gives Cora one of the best comments of the evening.  After remarking in favor of what Sybil was doing, since she knew Sybil had gone to hear the speech, Cora quips, "Of course, it [the disagreement] gave your mother the best evening since Christmas." Sir Anthony is still following around and seems to have settled his mind on Edith. Blech, I don't like her, but even I think this is a bad idea. She will be married, to be sure, but she will not be happy - Rolls Royce or no.
Lady Mary
Matthew & Mary - yes or no? Matthew's comment "If you really like an arguement, we should see more of each other," is interesting because it seems to me they don't really argue like they did when they first met, but still disagree on things. Perhaps Mary does not want to argue with him any more. Could she really like him?
Violet finds out about Mary's situation and Sybil gets caught in a disagreeable situation at yet another political rally, but Matthew is there to protect her - lucky girl. It's interesting the use of common thugs to cause problems at a political rally. They claim they are there to "wipe the smile off their Tory faces." There has been little mention of who belongs to what party and what they stand for until now and even so, there is still more that could be explained. Obviously, women's sufferage is an important part of the story esp. regarding Sybil. Matthew takes a good deal of care of Sybil and this seems to catch the notice of Mary - perhaps that's the game - he might do better if Mary doesn't think she's got the contest all sewed up.
Will Daisy do the right thing?
Branson's funny, "I may be a socialist, but I'm not a lunatic." 
Servant Wars are heating up - this could be a modern day reality show - Will Daisy do the right thing and tell the truth? Will Mr. Bates try to resign for taking the blame for something his former wife did?

Mary and Matthew
Matthew proposed to Mary? Really? WTF? Mary needs to THINK about it. Okay, he's charming, intelligent, funny, seems to be the gentleman - what's not to like? He also will inherit your family home, family title and family money. Considering Mary's reputation, does she have options? Really? Mary confesses she loves him and has "longer than I
knew," but feels the need to tell him about Mr. Pamuk - Why?
Mary helps William when he needs it - she is nice in fits and starts, like she has to think about it. Poor William, who could not help him. 
Violet and Cora seem to settle in together again after the rift caused by the news of Mary's reputation and Cora's role in helping get rid of the evidence. Once again, Violet gets the best lines. Violet and Cora recognize that Mary needs to get married, for her own good and that of her reputation, Violet comments, "In these moments you can find an Italian who's not too picky."
The Archduke has been murdered - so it all begins. It's so interesting, knowing as we do, what will happen in the Great War. It's also so very sad to consider.
We meet Aunt Rosamund who Mary visits in London - I suppose this will help her think or something - jeez.
Dead Pamuk
Shocker: Cora is pregnant - this really mixes up the story for everyone, esp. Matthew and Mary. I think this has made Isobel peevish - she seems rude for the first time in the series. The doctor says Cora's pregnancy is unusual, Robert counters with "Biblical." Evelyn Napier meets Mary in London and his wedding plans are not going well - hmmm. Oh, and by the by, he's not the one spreading gossip about Mary and Mr. Pamuk - No, the identity of the tattle tale is... wait for it... Edith. She wrote the ambassador and Napier says it was hard for him to believe, "harder for you, than me," stated Mary.
Matthew is kind and generous and his mother seems put out by him not hearing from Mary.
Why want a phone? Oh, the 20th century is rearing its ugly head. Poor Carson - practicing to use the phone - so cute. "Cry of a banshee." 
With war looming, why do I feel like William is already wearing a red shirt?** 
Robert's concern for his staff is just lovely. He takes care of Mrs. Patmore and makes sure William can get home to his family. Mrs. Patmore is replaced by Mrs. Bird of Matthew Crawley's staff - I think I don't like her, but in the end I do -- she's an example of character with, so far, little screen time, that is so well crafted and provides you with insight into her character in a brief situation and other characters as well. Daisy's sad attempt to ruin her reputation as a cook actually endears her as Mrs. Bird recognizes it as what it is - loyalty to Mrs. Patmore.
O'Brien, hateful thing that she is, believes she's being sacked by Cora and exacts her revenge by allowing the Countess to slip and fall getting out of the bath -- and also causes a miscarriage of an heir - a baby boy. For the first time, O'Brien seems human - she feels palpable guilt for what she's done, esp. when she finds out there was no plan to sack her and the Lady's maid that's being mentioned is for Violet.
Anna goes to see Mr. Bates mother after getting her details from the military office. Mrs. Bates explains to Anna that Bates took the wrap for his wife's theft. Thomas spends his time trying to get in the good graces of the physician who is there to attend Cora. He's all for what he can get. He is planning to join the Territorial Force Hospital - lucky them. When Mrs. Patmore returns she and Mrs. Bird get along swimmingly and manage to take care of the garden party needs.
Lady Sybil and Gwen 
Sybil, with the help of Mr. Borage, the phone guy, gets Gwen an interview and ... a job as a secretary! I hope we will be continuing to follow her story even if she's not in service. This is just the sort of grass roots thing that makes Sybil happy - group hug - Sybil, Gwen and ... Branson. What have we here?
Mary finally exacts her revenge on Edith - just as Edith thinks Sir Anthony will propose (oh, and yes, he was going to), Mary ruins it all with just a comment. Can't blame Mary for this one, but I'm not sure I could have waited that long to give Edith a good smack.
Cheers to Mary

Mr. Molesly appears interested in Anna, does Bates have a rival?
"Experiment is over."
Matthew and Mary break it off - for now, I suppose, and as Carson comforts her - he's so avuncular - she simple states, "You know me, Carson, I'm never down for long."
Dramatically, Robert announces, to close season one, "England is at war with Germany."

"England is at war with Germany."
* Obviously that World War I wasn't called that until World War II. Sad, but true. 
**Thinly veiled Star Trek reference. 

Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley (sigh)
This (Dan Stevens) is the image we need to be left with to last until next season (although Hugh is a very close second). 


  1. lovely article!

    I wonder, does anyone else see some potential for a relationship between Sybil and Matthew?

  2. Thanks for the comment. I do think Matthew and Sybil are more similar in their perceptions of the world and their place in it. I can't wait for next season. War has a way of equalizing things.


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