Yes, folks. It's another season of Downton Abbey. Get ready for more of Robert making stupid decisions, doubling down on them, and then regretting them AFTER HE GETS SOMEONE KILLED. Also, there will be lots of newfangled gadgetry appearing downstairs in the kitchen. IT MIGHT BECOME SENTIENT AND ENSLAVE ALL OF YORKSHIRE, so stay tuned! There's no shortage of scheming maids coming through the pipeline. So sit yourself down to your tea and crumpets and prepare yourself to be served up some telenovela realness from our friends across the Pond.
The season premiere was highly entertaining, and gave ever more fuel to the theory Clovis has that Julian Fellowes is secretly a genius and the show really is a black comedy. We've even come up with some potential plot lines that JF could use if he only paid us in advance, plus gave us a cut of royalties.
AP: Am waiting for M to return and say he faked his death. And it was his evil Siamese twin who died.
Clovis: OMG! YES, PLEASE MAKE THAT HAPPEN, JF!
AP: WE UNDERSTAND YOUR GENIUS, JF!
Clovis: OMG EVEN BETTER PLAN. Matthew returns with news that it was his Siamese twin who died BUT the real Matthew has since had to hide his identity and so has gotten surgery to change his face, thus allowing a new actor to play the part.THIS SHIT PRACTICALLY WRITES ITSELF!!!
Either that or Matthew will return as a ghost and there will be some full on Wuthering Heights refs. We've already got Jane Eyre subplot happening. MOAR WEAK BRONTЁ SISTER PLOT RIP-OFFS. MOAR.
Enough about our brilliance. To the Recapmobile!
Does anyone else keep thinking that that Ralph Lauren commercial is part of the show? Because I sure do.
Season 4 of Downton Abbey begins exactly where we expected it -- picking up the pieces after Matthew Crawley's death.
The episode -- entitled "So. Much. Facepalm." -- begins with a shadowy figure leaving Downton in the middle of the night. Said figure packs bags and leaves notes. Who is it? Is it Edith? Oh, God! Please tell me it's Edith. If I were Edith, I would have run away a long time ago. Oh, drat, no! Curses! The morning reveals that it was O'Brien. O'Brien's decamped for India to be Lady Flintcher's lady's maid. Lady Flintcher, as you will recall, is Flapper Rose's mama. You see, kids, if a downstairs cast member leaves the show, they get a free trip to India. If a family cast member leaves the show, they die in a horribly graphic manner. Cheers! Why did she have to leave in the middle of the night? Geez, what a shady ho.
Well, nobody gives tuppence about O'Brien except Lady Cora, who needs someone else to try to kill her/make her miscarry with a bar of soap/do her hair, and so she's in need of a new scheming lady's maid. Oh, dear! We will have to hire more help! Robert's mad at Rose for not telling them that O'Brien was interested in traveling, but I guess they were all a tad distracted by the heir to the estate falling out of his car. Edith offers to put an advert in The Lady, but Rose feels guilty about Cora losing her maid, so she takes it upon herself to put an advertisement in a shop window in town. Anna, meanwhile, will see to her ladyship because Mary just wants to wear black and drink gin.
Mary is, of course, in deep mourning, and is of no use to anyone, especially Little Georgie, whom she's given charge of over to Evil Nanny West. Don't worry, folks. Just because O'Brien's gone, that doesn't mean that we have run plum out of psychopathic waitstaff. Oh, dear me, my dudes. No. Evil Nanny West is straight out of Yorkshire's world-renowned Dickensian Batshittery Factory. Thomas doesn't like her. Ordinarily Thomas would pair off with a fellow sociopath, but Nanny West's evil machinations are in conflict with Thomas Barrow's evil machinations, so she must be gotten rid of posthaste!
I sense a hint of... me.
Mary is in deep mourning over Matthew's death, and she's got a really sick black kimono to match. Branson wants to involve Mary in running the estate, but Robert forbids it. Because he's right about all things all the time always.
Robert's thinking about abandoning Branson's plan for the estate, because they have to pay death taxes on the inheritance. Branson repeats his desire for Mary to be involved because she is George's guardian, but Robert nixes the idea, reminding Branson that Mary's experiencing the worst kind of pain. Hey, Robert. Remember when Branson married your daughter and she died and it was your fault? Yeah, those were good times. Facepalm. I guess Robert forgot.
Yes, yes. You're grieving, too. But you're a peasant.
In adorable downstairs angst news, Molesley is looking for work. As we know, he was Matthew's blundering valet, and times they may be a-changin', but when your employer dies, you're also fucked. Molesley comes to Carson to ask for work, and Carson reluctantly has to tell him that there's no work to be had at the Abbey for a valet. Molesley later goes to Isobel to ask for his old job back, and Isobel has to turn him down as well. Since she's a widow. And just eats off a tray. Because her only child died senselessly. The second adorable downstairs angst plotline is that Carson is getting mail from his former Vaudeville partner, and Mrs. Hughes finds the letter in the trash. Throw out your incriminating trash, people.
In Edith wins news, IT'S EDITH FTW!! Cora's come around to being supportive of Edith's relationship with the parvenu Gregson (girl ain't getting any younger), and Cora tries to sway Robert, but he's still not into this intermarrying with the underclasses. He married non-titled new money (and an American to boot, good heavens!), but that's different. WORK WITH WHAT YOU GOT, HOOKER.
The pretty one's dead... The bitchy one's widowed... I've got a boyfriend. Look out, 1922!
Let's talk about Lady Isobel, the person I feel sorriest for in all of this Matthew dying business. Mary is comically unsympathetic in her grief, but I feel for Lady Isobel, I do. I really want her to overcome her grief by getting with Dr. Clarkson and saving another prostitute from the streets. I really do.
In there's no way this could possibly end badly news, the ad that Rose posted in the shop window has been seen by none other than Edna Braithwaite, the psycho stalker maid from Season 3. Remember her? The one who tried to rape Branson? I guess the one maid who was playing suck face with Robert on Season Two was unavailable for casting. Anyhoosle. Thanks, Rose.
Girl, you need to fire your agent.
Hold just a second, my doves. My tea is ready.
Learning is not one of Robert's strong points, and he tells Cora he feels that he needs to be in charge of running the estate in the absence of Matthew. Since Mary only owns 1/6 of the estate, he feels her contribution is insignificant. IF ONLY MATTHEW HAD LEFT BEHIND SOME WAY OF LETTING THE FAMILY KNOW HIS WISHES. Anyway, Cora feels like Robert is trying to shut Mary out, but since Mary has no interest in anything but staring out the window, Robert wants to take matters into his own hands. Death taxes on big estates in the UK went up after the war, and so Matthew's death has left the estate in financial straits yet once more. Since Matthew's not around anymore to be someone's heir, the Crawleys are out of inherited cashola.
In adorable downstairs plot line number four, Daisy has been sent a card for Valentine's Day. She has no idea who sent it. So she assumes it must be from Alfred. Totes.
about to dramatically fling herself down walking down the stairs and she bumps into Edith, who has a Valentine from Him. HE wants Edith to come to London to go on a DATE at a RESTAURANT in PUBLIC and display their love for all of society to see.
Who's getting her tiara polished? This girl. Whaat whaaaat.
Cue audience bludgeoned with Irony Stick. Edith is going to London to meet with Gregson because he wants to talk with her about the spot of bother that is his insane wife. You all remember that, right? How his wife is insane and in a mental institution but he can't divorce her? Right? That really happened on the show. For really real. In reality.
Anyway, back to Mary. Homegirl has realized that it is Valentine's Day (OF ALL DAYS) and she is ALL ALONE. If I were Edith, I'd be gloating at that bitch HARD CORE, but Edith is nice about it and tries to hide from Mary the fact that she has a serious suitor, but Mary's out of fucks to give.
Giiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiirl, this is not the T you need.
Did you know that Ripon has a workhouse? It's true. Remnants of the Poor Law still in full swing in the early 20s. WTG, England! Mrs. Hughes visits Carson's old Vaudeville partner, Mr. Grigg. He's been reduced to living in a workhouse, and he had reached out to Carson for help. Mrs. Hughes tells Carson she went to visit Grigg, and he's furious. Carson refuses to help because of an old feud with Grigg, and we later learn that the source of the feud was A Lady.
Mrs. Hughes reaches out to Isobel to help Mr. Grigg. She asks Isobel to help spring Grigg from the workhouse, and requests that Isobel take in Mr. Grigg. Isobel demurs, but Hughes insists that she set aside her grief. Stiff upper lip and whatnot.
SQUEE. Edith meets with Gregson and Gregson tells her that he's done some research about other countries where you can divorce someone for lunacy, but that would require moving there permanently. He names off Greece and Germany, but he is most sold on living in sin in Germany. JACKPOT. Solid plan.
Gregson: Let's take up permanent residence in Germany so I can rid myself of my craycray wife.
Edith: There's no way that could possibly go wrong!
Lady Violet takes it upon herself to introduce Molesley to Lady Shackleton, whose butler is retiring. She brings Molesley along with her to tea at Lady Shackleton's so he can show off his valeting skillz.
Downstairs intrigue continues. Daisy has a new electric mixer and Mrs. Patmore warns her yet once more about the Rise of the Machines and human enslavement to their robot overlords. Jimmy teases Ivy about her Valentine's Day card, and hints that he sent it. Ivy speculates that if Jimmy sent her card, then someone else must have sent Daisy's, and so Daisy is ever more convinced that it was from Alfred. There's a reaction shot of Mrs. Patmore, and Mrs. Patmore later reveals that she sent Daisy a card so she wouldn't feel left out on Valentine's Day. What every girl wants. A pity Valentine. I kinda don't get why Ivy is supposed to be "the pretty one" and Daisy is supposed to be so much less attractive, since the make-up team on DA uglies up everyone. EXCEPT THOMAS. WHO IS BEAUTIFUL But I think we can all agree that William was a stellar lad and Alfred lacks both looks and brains to boot, so I do have to question Daisy's taste. Wasn't there a whole plot with her inheriting William's father's farm? Where did that go?
Myyyyyyyy Pity Valentiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiine.
Jimmy's hitting on Ivy for realzies now, and Alfred thinks he's just trying to make Alfred jealous, but Jimmy acts like he might be honestly interested in Ivy, so maybe the speculation about Jimmy being gay is a red herring. Or maybe Jimmy's interest in Ivy is a red herring. Anyway, I need a flow chart. And a fan video set to David Gray. MY OVARIES JUST EXPLODED.
Branson is keen on Mary taking her part in running the estate, and so he enlists Carson's help to persuade Mary and also maybe use his influence on Robert. Robert doesn't want Mary troubled by anything, and is insisting that he alone can keep the estate running.
Carson tries to talk to Mary about how she MAYBE MIGHT want to consider TRYING to move on with her life since Matthew isn't coming back (still holding out hope for the zombie plotline) and she turns back into Spoiled, Horrible Mary from Season 1. I kinda miss that Mary. She tells Carson that he is stepping out of his place, reminds him he's a servant and she's Milady, and basically makes him feel twenty kinds of horrible. Carson feels betrayed because he's always had a father/daughter relationship with Mary and let's face it. He has often been a better father to her than Robert has.
Meanwhile, instead of introducing YET ANOTHER subplot, there is progress in the first downstairs intrigue subplot. Thomas has had enough of Nanny West's monkeyshines. He approaches Cora and says it's not his place and all, milady, but he was just concerned and all about the children. He tells her he's seen Nanny West leaving the children unattended, and maybe she should consider installing a nanny cam. I know Thomas is a shade-throwing troll, but at least his scheming this time serves a purpose, because Nanny West is comically evil and I spent the entire episode wishing she would just go away.
It's just a spoon full of sugar, my pretties!
In awkward dinner conversation news, Mary's just gotten done breaking Carson's heart (and we love Carson) and she goes down to dinner and Lady Violet starts nagging her about doing some effing work on the estate. After all, as the dowager points out, it will fall to Mary to run things if anything happens to Robert before George is of age.
Why is everyone on her case all of a sudden. ????? IT'S VALENTINE'S DAY. AND MATTHEW SURVIVED THE WAR ONLY TO DIE IN A STUPID CAR CRASH. !!!!! She dramatically runs out of the dinner service. Robert takes charge and tells everyone he was right all along. Mary can't deal with this right now. He asks Violet if he's right and she says, "No." BOOM.
I still don't understand what this "week-end" is.
Proving once again that she is a bad ass, Lady V goes upstairs to talk to Mary before she leaves. I will allow you all to pause your DVR to audibly squee after Lady V reminds Mary she is her grandmother and that she loves her. Squee.
Lady Violet lays down the T. She tells Mary for the good of Little George, she has to return to the land of the living. Mary feels like she was only not a bitch when Matthew was around, and how he's dead, so she feels like there's no point. Basically, her whole deal is she thinks George and everyone else would better off without her. Violet tells her that she needs to choose between living and dying, and everyone wants her to choose living.
Okay, maybe your father might not care so much if you died, but what does he know, really?
Thus ends Hour 1 of the season premiere. Stay tuned for Hour 2, sponsored by Zevia caffeinated soda products and Lean Cuisine.