Downton Abbey season 4, final episode

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If I can sum up the season finale into one word, it would be “sweet”. The parting glance of Mrs. Hughes holding Mr. Carson’s hand as they waded into the water at Brighton Beach was a lovely note to end the season. Not that I believe the two of them would kindle anything, but who knows. Friends oftentimes turn into some of our best lovers…

Lady Edith is on a quest to reclaim her daughter to bring her closer to Downton. I have to admire her for doing that. It will be interesting to see where that story goes next season. And I am enjoying Branson meeting up with Miss Bunton the teacher, that should prove to be a story with legs, as should the building acrimony between Branson and Thomas. Seeing Thomas’ clenched fist as he attended Branson in the dining room revealed the hatred seething towards Branson.

Lady Mary’s menage a trois should prove to be interesting. It blows me away how civilized the men are acting in all this, giving each other rides and sharing space with her in the same room. Truly gentlemen, something that is quite foreign for American women to behold. I think now that the game has changed since its been revealed that Mr. Blake is quite the millionaire. I am glad that Mary decided to throw the one piece of evidence into the fire, linking Bates to Lord Gillingham’s valet’s death. Loyalty is a virtue that should be more pervasive. I am glad no one told Anna of this, so she can continue to move forward from her trauma.

Lady Cora’s mother and brother Harold’s appearance in the last episode were interesting. I think her brother began to grow on me by the end of the episode despite his pursuit of a much younger woman. I think her mother always provides such comic relief, albeit crass!

And Lady Rose’s coming out was a series of spendid events. I do hope she finds a good man that can love her and above all, handle her! Daisy proved that she is still a desirable mate, with Harold’s valet pursuing her to come to America. She refused but Ivy said she would go in her place! I’ll bet that next season Alfred will return from cuilary school in London and sweep Daisy off her feet and move to Mr. Mason’s farm hehehe! And of course Lady Violet was in fine form dispensing zingers with the utmost of love, to all. It will be interesting to see if her friendly nemesis, Mrs. Crawley hooks up with Lord Mehrten.

That’s all for season 4. Tune in next year, and in the meantime, peruse the Downton Abbey wiki to keep up to date on the Crawleys. http://downtonabbey.wikia.com/wiki/Downton_Abbey_Wiki

Now, bring on season 2 of Mr. Selfridge!

Downton Abbey season 4, episode 7

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The Dowager Countess is like an eagle that swoops in on her prey – she picks up on the subtlest of cues and then goes in for the kill. She got it out of Lady Rosamund and Lady Edith the real reason for their trip to “learn French” in Switzerland. She picked up on Lord Merton’s interest in Mrs. Crawley, and her ongoing sparring with Mrs. Crawley makes one bust out laughing. She has returned in full form.

And as I predicted last week, it did happen, Lord Gillingham’s valet is dead. And Mr. Bates disappeared from Downton, with permission, on the day it happened. I think too many people know, so it will be interesting to see if the secret keeps. Now I get the feeling that Anna is not happy with the outcome and seems to question Mr. Bates’ integrity.

I am loving all the other pairings too: Mr. Molesley and Miss Baxter, the “menage” pursuing Lady Mary, Branson and the teacher Sarah, love is definitely in the air. But not for Rose, her pursuit to prove a point has left poor Mr. Ross with a broken heart. Not for Alfred either: Ivy turned down his proposal of marriage and has left him broken hearted as well. Unrequited love is so hard, but it is better to have loved and lost, than not to have loved at all. I predict Alfred will resurface again…

Lord Grantham has returned, and it is now evident that he is quite the force and steward of the estate. It was evident in his absence how much he holds it all together. I want Lady Mary to marry a strong man to take his place. I would like to see Mr. Blake win out in the end. They can’t keep the audience on tenter hooks for THAT long until Mary decides who will win her heart.

So next week is the season finale. I hope it holds some good story, without the devastating cliffhanger. Tune in next week…

Downton Abbey, season 4, episode 6

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All I have to say is one thing – Bates is going to kill Lord Gillingham’s valet. And if he does, I wonder what the collective response to a murder will be? Mrs. Hughes confronted him and I’ve never seen such wrath come from her lips and body. She is quite empowered and wise beyond belief. 

How does Lady Mary deserve the honor of all these eligible bachelors throwing themselves at her? Its a bit of a stretch, I can maybe see two, but three? Its like The Dating Game.

I am glad Lady Edith chose to not go through with getting an abortion. Now all we need is for Mr. Griegson to show up. I wonder what her mother’s reaction will be.

One person I want to find true love is Daisy. Hope she finds a nice man. And I hope Thomas gets laid while on the ship to America, lol!

That’s all I got in me for this week, see you next week…

Downton Abbey season 4, episode 5

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Well guess what – Lady Edith is pregnant! And oh no, Mr. Griegson has gone missing! Poor Edith is a wreck, and we got a sneak preview of next week’s episode in which she confides in Lady Rosamund – we’ll just have to see where it goes next, or if Mr. Griegson reappears. Personally I think he’s a spy for the British government and has gone deep underground. I just hope Lady Edith doesn’t do anything rash. I so truly want Edith to triumph, she more than  deserves it.

The footman Albert got a second letter from the Ritz, offering him a spot in the culinary training program. Of course Daisy is now brokenhearted and Ivy is the recipient of everyone’s wrath. And James went a bit fast on her on their last date, so now the downstairs romances have had a huge bucket of ice water thrown over all of them. Also in the big chill still is Anna and Mr. Bates. They are struggling to recapture their magic, but I am starting to have my doubts. The long suffering Mr. Molesley seems to have won a position as Albert’s replacement, and I wonder if a romance buds between him and Mrs. Baxter the new ladies maid for Lady Cora. Thomas is still pressuring Mrs. Baxter for information, but she is starting to have misgivings. I can’t wait to find out the bond between those two and exactly what Thomas has hanging over her head.

Lady Rose’s birthday surprise for Lord Grantham seemed to have been a hit. The jazz band certainly livened up the Abbey. But Lady Mary found her and the bandleader kissing downstairs at the end of the evening. Rose is playing with fire flirting with all of these different men, I hope she doesn’t get into trouble like poor Anna. Lady Mary is still planning for the future of the estate and a new man has entered the scene, the handsome Mr. Blake. So far he and Lady Mary seems like oil and water, unable to mix properly and sniping at each other. We’ll have to see if he becomes smitten with her too: Mr. Napier visiting alongside Mr. Blake, certainly seems like he is still smitten with Mary.

Lastly the tug of war between Lady Violet and Mrs. Crawley forges on, and a welcome witness to those two fighting is Dr. Clarkson. It is a hoot to watch him roll his eyes while they spar. The butler Spratt is added comic relief and his facial expressions are priceless! I do believe that the battle royale this week was dominated by Lady Violet, “game, set and match” according to Dr. Clarkson.

Cora’s brother Harold is in trouble financially, and seems to be drawing in Lord Grantham. That story line promises to be interesting. So just when I was losing hope, Downton becomes more intriguing, leaving us hanging on for more. Until next week…

Downton Abbey season 4, episode 4

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Well sheeeeeee’s back! The Dowager Countess has returned from hiatus and is freely dispensing zingers and bon mots. The halo comment made me bust out! And now she has taken to giving a very sinister chuckle after she dishes it out which makes me laugh even louder. I must give Lady Violet credit though, the recipient of most of her slap shots was Mrs. Crawley, and mercifully she has been quite gentle with Isobel early on, but now that Isobel is emerging from her grief and immersing herself again as a good deed doer, the Dowager is unleashing her tongue once again. But I dare say, I suspect she unloads them wrapped up in a bow of love…with a spoonful of mischief! Charlotte posted below one of her best lines all season!

So on to the Bates-Anna saga. Mr. Bates coerced Mrs. Hughes into disclosing Anna’s secret, and Anna frankly seemed relieved now that he knows and has reacted favorably, but in Mrs. Hughes presence Mr. Bates swore that this is not over. When he did that it made me very uncomfortable that he seems to be hell-bent on revenge, and even though Mrs. Hughes and Anna covered up the true perpetrator, I know that Mr. Bates will find out. Will be interesting to see where this goes.

Lady Edith has not yet heard from Mr. Griegson who has left for Germany. Its taken every bit of willpower not to search for the answer to her fate on the internet, but I shall remain in the dark. She did however pay a visit to a physician in London, based on the ruse of going to Mr. Griegson’s office. Could she be pregnant? Maybe Lady Rosamond’s prediction will come true, Edith may very well be feeling sorry later for her lapse. 

Alfred got his chance to test at the London Ritz for a full scholarship to culinary school, however despite much practice, he did not get in. I dare say though Daisy is quite pleased that he will remain. And the hapless Mr. Molesley missed yet another opportunity for employment at the Abbey while Alfred was away, by taking too long to make up his mind to work as a footman. I hope he eventually gets a break, but it makes for a continuing story line having him endure all the hard knocks.

We have yet to find out the connection between Thomas and the new Ladies maid, Mrs. Baxter. He certainly has her in his clutch, we just have to find out why. 

Mary had a visit from an old love interest, Mr. Napier, but it seems like he brings with him some rather distressing reasons why he and his boss are in Yorkshire. Lord Grantham continues to be the advocate for the old ways, bestowing a lease on the heir of one of the estates tenants, and while Branson was pleased, hopefully the tenant will pull his weight to support the estate. Mary remains skeptical, but a healthy dose of skepticism is a good counterbalance to her father’s pollyanna. We’ll see where it goes.

So that’s all for this week, until next time… 

 

Downton Abbey season 4, episode 3

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If I can sum up this episode in one word its PUSHY! Lord Gillingham was pushing Mary to marry him (my if this only happened in real life maybe more people would couple off and marry!), lady’s maid Edna got Branson drunk and pushed herself on him in his bed, then Mrs. Hughes pushed her right out of a job, my my (to quote Mrs. Hughes) what tangled webs they weave. And what’s to happen with Lady Edith? She has fallen from grace and now we are left to wonder if she has left herself flapping in the wind with Mr. Griegson leaving for Germany?

The relationship drama downstairs is starting to devolve into a circle of repetition: while cute, we want them to make up their minds! Yet we have the Bates and Anna saga, with poor Anna now scared of her shadow and rejecting Mr. Bates affections. For once, Lord Grantham has words of wisdom for the aching Mr. Bates, comforting him and reassuring him that yes its a relationship with ups and down and that this too shall pass. I certainly hope so I hate seeing Bates emasculated like this. And I miss the bubbly Anna.

For one, I’d like to see a story line develop for Lady Rose, and watch a suitable mate hunt her down. The bandleader Jack Ross saved her virtue after her partner wobbled off in a drunken stupor, and he was quite chivalrous towards her despite the fact that he couldn’t sing a lick!

The Countess dowager is reemerging and she is ever at the ready with a sharp quip. Check out this website for some cool quotes to remind you of her wit.

In all the chaos, the one person that holds it all together is the beloved Mrs. Hughes. She is such a rock for that estate, everyone including Mr. Carson that I shudder to think what would happen if she was not such a bedrock of stability. She is an honorable woman, but I would like to see her obtain a level of personal gratification, instead of giving of herself to everyone else. Maybe that is her satisfaction, being the stable force that everything else swirls around. I hope she gets her due, in a good way.

Can’t wait for next week! If you want to refresh this past episode, you can watch it here

Downton Abbey season 4, episode 2

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For  a one hour episode, there sure was a lot of drama packed into the episode! The highlight was a house party at Downton Abbey, but I say there was no forewarning for it in the previous episode (maybe I missed it). From the list of guests we meet a potential suitor for Lady Mary, Lord Anthony Gillingham. Quite the dashing figure, he come in and subtly reawakens Mary’s spirit. But alas, he is engaged, however we all know that Julian Fellows likes to blow up conventionality for love…

Lady Edith continues her romance with Mr. Griegson, and with the house party in full swing, has him blend into the festivities. Several attempts to bring him and her father closer together fail, but in the end a card game in which Mr. Griegson wins back all the money lost to the card sharp, including Lord Grantham’s finally elevates him to be acknowledged. I’m sure Lord Grantham may have much to say if it comes to pass that Lady Edith moves to Germany to be with her intended. I am happy for her, she deserves the love in her life…

There is continued drama downstairs and it seems like Jimmy is finally falling for the sweet Ivy. Now if only Albert would set his eyes on Daisy, but for now, Albert has his eyes set on rattling pots and pans in a high class restaurant. The new lady’s maid, Edna is silently stalking Branson, and I don’t know if you caught this but she silently slipped into a bedroom at the end of the episode and I’ll bet you dollars to none she forced herself into Branson’s bedroom. She wasn’t the only one forcing herself: Lord Gillingham’s valet forced himself onto poor Anna, with a horrid rape scene at the end while Dame Kiri Te Kanawa was singing upstairs and all the kitchen staff were out of earshot to Anna’s screams. I knew about this happening, and read about the huge outcry in England against the graphic portrayal of a rape scene. But I don’t know that there will be such an outcry here in the states; haven’t read any kind of online protests as of yet. This is not to minimize the fact that rape is a brutal crime against nature, because Anna certainly did not deserve being brutalized. I fear that the fallout from this will drive a wedge between her and Bates, it seems to have already begun. Slate had an interesting take on this, with a story exposing the continued mistreatment of the Downton Abbey female characters. I just hope that Anna can pull herself out of this tragedy.

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Lady Violet continues her background manipulations, correcting poor Branson’s interactions with the Duchess for one, but I saw in her a soft side. Isobel continues to mourn Matthew terribly, and the dowager has been quietly supporting her in her grief. Can it be? The dowager has turned the corner to become an old softie? I for one am glad to see it, this makes her character even more lovable.

The episode is online to stream if you’d like to watch again, I know I certainly will before Sunday nights. The next episode airs on Sunday January 19 on WYES at 8pm with a one hour episode. And while you’re at it, leave the TV on the same channel afterwards, Masterpiece Mystery Sherlock season 3 begins right after.

Downton Abbey Season 4, episode 1

I really cannot put my finger on the reason for the obsession with Downton Abbey. Its like an addiction to anything: an opium fix, double chocolate fudge cake, sex with someone you really click with, the fixation on Downton Abbey ranks right up there with them all. It was evident in the fall building up to last Sunday’s premiere: searching for any news on the cast, trying to avoid all the spoilers (there are some very shocking events in store!) and the cast tour of America and all their interview videos, I couldn’t get enough!!!

But the wait is now over and I watched it Sunday night, the Tuesday night repeat and this morning I watched it again online – its hopeless for me!

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Please stop reading if you haven’t see the episode yet, but if you haven’t, where have you been hiding under a rock for the last 4 years (lol!)

The show opens with O’Brien, Lady Cora’s ladies maid, leaving the Abbey in the middle of the night to go to India to work for “gasp!” Lady Cora’s cousin Susan Flincher. The search then commences to find a replacement and Lady Rose intervenes and who turns up but Edna Braithwaite, the tart that tempted Branson last season. Now Edna has received a “proper training” and manipulates her way into Lady Cora’s boudoir. Poor Branson, I hope he doesn’t get caught in Edna’s spider web again, but for now she is weaving a nest alongside Barrow the underbutler to trap poor Anna and Bates. She fit quite nicely into O’Brien’s wicked shoes.

But back to Anna – it seems like she is becoming a bit more deceptive in her role. Previously playing by the rules, she has taken a twist and it may come back to haunt her. She is embroiled into helping Lady Rose, the dowager’s great niece staying at Downton to behave badly. Anna took Rose to a dance hall, where Rose met a handsome worker to dance with and by the end of the night there was a fight erupting over Rose. Needless to say, the young man later marched right up to Downton’s back door wanting to see if Rose was OK. Anna then helped Rose change into a maid’s uniform to have a secret tete-a-tete with the young man, but when would you have thought Anna to pull off such a ruse! Jimmy the footman bore witness to all the events so I suspect there will be more with all of them and the smitten young village man.

There continues to be more secret crushes in the downstairs milieu, what with the episode opening on Valentines Day. One of the more interesting unrequited love stories involved of all people Mr. Carson and a long lost love of his. A man from his past surfaced and Mrs. Hughes took it upon herself to assist him and try to arrange a meeting between him and Mr. Carson via the help of Mrs. Crawley. The episode ended with Mr. Carson coming to terms with his old friend, despite the fact that the friend wound up marrying the love of Mr. Carson’s life. In parting the friend shared that this woman had died, and at the end she confessed to loving Mr. Carson and regretting not being with him. How sad that this happened to him, its shows how missed opportunities in life can haunt someone until, if they are lucky can get some kind of closure – definitely ending the episode in tears.

Which come next to the heartbreaker, Lady Mary. After 6 months she is climbing out of the abyss of grief over the death of her beloved Matthew. Her state of mind is palpable and we all want her to “buck up” for the sake of baby George. It takes Mr. Carson to lend a hand to climb out and get back with the land of the living to quote the Dowager Countess. Speaking of, Lady Violet was somewhat subdued this episode, but I expect her to unleash her trademark zingers soon. Meanwhile, I am pulling for Lady Edith, and her happiness, she so deserves her reward in the form of handsome Mr. Griegson.

Aside from some drama with the nanny getting caught treating poor Sybbie badly and being immediately dismissed by Lady Cora, this about sums up episode 1. I know I’ll probably watch the online video 2 more times before next Sunday. Its hopeless…..but in a good way!

Downton Abbey – week 7 finale

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Please don’t read further if you have not seen Season 3 finale yet

I knew this was coming. I read that another character wanted to leave the series several months ago, knew who it was, but did not know how the character would exit. The final scenes cast a shroud over the entire episode: Lady Mary, serene in the hospital bed holding her newborn son, not yet knowing that her husband Matthew lay dead along a country roadside, killed in a car crash. What a shocking ending to a season already filled with tragedy.

Going back to the beginning of this episode seams anticlimactic in the shadow of the ending, but here goes. The Crawleys are off to Duneagle castle in Scotland to visit with their cousins Lord and Lady Flintshire, the MacClares. Mary decides to go, despite being 8 months pregnant. Lady Edith goes, and her married editor/suitor, Mr. Gregson follows her up there to continue his pursuit. The Bates, O’Brien and Molesley attend to the Crawleys, with O’Brien getting into a tangle with Lady Flintshire’s maid, and Molesley again playing the comic by unwittingly getting drunk at the Ghillies ball. Meanwhile Lord and Lady Flintshire are desperately unhappy in their marriage, about to ship off to India while Duneagle castle is falling out of the family hands because of financial mismanagement. Lord Flintshire confides in Lord Grantham, telling him how visionary he was in diversifying Downton Abbey for the future while he watched Duneagle Castle slip through his fingers. A bit of vindication for Matthew and Tom. An interesting twist ahead for season 4 lies in their daughter Lady Rose coming to live at Downton after her parents leave England.

Back at Downton, while the family are away, Clarkson gives the house staff a bit of time off to attend the local fair. Jimmy gets into a bit of trouble and Thomas comes to his aid, and winds up getting beaten by some town thugs, but in the end, Jimmy and Thomas make peace and become friends even though Jimmy tells him he could never give Thomas what he wants. Mrs. Patmore is wooed by Tufton the merchant, but Mrs. Hughes calls his bluff after witnessing him carousing with several other ladies at the fair. Over tea, they have a laugh and Mrs. Patmore is thankful that she didn’t go any further with him and winding up chained to the stove.

Another interesting plot was the new maid Edna’s unabashed pursuit of Tom. She flirted, created situations she could be with him by inviting him to eat downstairs, and even went into his bedroom and kissed him. This was an accident about to happen when the timely Mrs. Hughes dismissed her from her job. She then had a sit down with Tom to tell him about Edna’s dismissal, and he proceeded to break down again over the loss of his wife Lady Sybil. It is inevitable that Tom will meet someone new, but with the help of Mrs. Hughes, and others at Downton, it is hopeful that he makes a good choice in his next partner and not the latest help at the Abbey.

So despite all the tragedy, it has been a gratifying season 3, and I look forward to next year’s installment. It promises to continue chronicling the trials affecting the Crawleys and reminds us that tragedy, joy, sorrow and happiness all go hand in hand, affecting both rich and poor equally. No one is immune to it, it is the stuff life is made of, so we must make the best of it while we are able. Thanks for reading.

Downton Abbey – week 6 synopsis

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Please don’t read anymore if you haven’t seen this week’s installment.

This week’s episode turned out to be a 2 hour movie – it was a pleasant surprise to have a longer night of drama to savor. The biggest story line of the evening was Thomas Barrow the valet taking a chance on engaging James the footman in a tete-a-tete and getting caught red handed by Alfred, another footman. This dalliance by Thomas was initially supposed to end in his dismissal from Downton without a reference thanks to O’Brien’s meddling. But in the end thanks to Bates’ sympathy in righting the wrong resulted in Thomas not only staying on, but gaining an under-butler assignment. Plot lines that ricochet like this, no doubt developed by the creator Julien Fellows permeate this series. It is a bit hard to believe how these convoluted story lines change like a chameleon, but overlooking this flaw it makes for good story. I guess karma plays a part in Fellows’ story development.

One character that has emerged possessing the wisdom of King Solomon is Branson, Lady Sybil’s widower. In his ability to look at the situation from all angles, and being able to speak calmly and plainly, he singlehandedly has brought together all of the factions, namely Lord Grantham and Matthew, for the good of perpetuating the estate. I am glad he has won over the Downton women, because without them on his side, he might not be thriving in the position of Downton diplomat.

The Dowager Countess is up to her usual meddling, but for the greater good. She placed an ad for Lady Isobel’s maid Ethel to remove her from Downton and village scandal, but it turned out that Ethel was able to find a position near the Bentley family to be near her son. Another one of Fellows’ convoluted plot lines, that worked out for the best of all involved. She also deftly handled the young niece Lady Rose, who was fooling around with a married man; she was able to ship her north to Scotland and get her out of the picture before she ruined her reputation. Week 7 previews teased a trip north to Scotland by the Downton family, should be an interesting episode.

And now on to Lady Edith. She decided to become a journalist, and met her editor who right away began to flirt and pursue her. She discovers he is married to a mad woman who he cannot divorce, so now poor Edith is in another quandary. How she handles this latest predicament bears watching, I just hope she finds her way to a happy partnership, she deserves it after being jilted at the altar.

Mary and Matthew had an issue come up this week too: in their quest to have a baby, Matthew was taking on the burden of being the one who was having difficulty on his end contributing to the conception of the child. Turns out it was Mary, and she wound up having a surgical procedure to correct the problem. The problem though is why did she leave her husband in the dark, leading him to think that the marriage was under pressure? Perhaps she should take a cue from Branson and be more open and honest about matters affecting the couple. One thing though that is definite, their love is professed often and they adore each other.

The understory of this episode was the house recruiting a team to play cricket against the town team. There were scenes throughout the 2 hours anticipating the match, and recruiting men to play for Downton. The comic relief was provided by Molesley who professed to be a good player, when in actuality he was the one who couldn’t produce when the play began. I was sympathetic to Molesley earlier on, but it seems like his character has morphed into a silly presence, which undermines his former dignity. But with all the tragedy surrounding the abbey, his comedic actions gives a bit of levity to the series. I am glad that Bates has reestablished his presence, its like he never left and he is comfortably back in the role of hammer to Mr. Carson’s authority. I am happy for Anna that she has her man back in her arms.

So next episode is the last one of the season. I hope it ends on a good note and doesn’t leave us hanging until next winter. I anticipate there will be many twists and turns next week, so stay tuned…