Downton Abbey Season 4 - Episode 6
Full review below - contains spoilers - do not read further if you have not seen episode six.
Jazz music rings down the halls of Downton Abbey in Episode 6 of the show's fourth season. It’sLord Robert Crawley's (Hugh Bonneville) birthday and Rose MacClare (Lily James) has arranged a special surprise (or two). Of course, being a surprise from Rose, the end result goes less smoothly than originally planned with more than a handful of guests shocked at the appearance of an African-American singing jazz in the Abbey's ancient, socially rigid halls.
That said, the family takes the sign of the times in stride, giving us hope all of the Crawleys are more progressive than they might seem. Most surprising of all is the Dowager Countess's (Maggie Smith) reaction to Jack Ross's (Gary Carr) performance. As she tells a flabbergasted Edith (Laura Carmichael), "We country-dwellers must be wary of being provincial." Who would ever have thought the Dowager could be so ahead of her times?
Live jazz music isn't the only surprise at Downton during Episode 6, however. There are plenty more at hand, both upstairs and down.
Anna and Mr. Bates Pick Up the Pieces
In Episode 5, Mr. Bates learned of the attack on his wife and the two vowed to move forward together. Unfortunately, the trauma of the situation still tails both with Anna catching Mr. Bates lost in his thoughts. “Your husband is a brooder,” he tells Anna. “Well, brood on me,” she replies. That, however, seems unlikely as long as her attacker remains at large.
"I want to make some new memories," she tells Bates in their cottage. "Good memories so it's not as if all of our happiness was before."
Sadly, as nice an idea as this is, the couple can't seem to shake their shadow with the memory of Episode 3's brutal attack even casting a gloom over the couple's nice evening out.
"I was a fool to think we could leave it behind," Anna tells her husband, "but I'm not a victim. That's not who I am. The worst part is that you see me as a victim."
"I see you as a woman I should have protected," Bates insists.
The exchange is an important one not only for the struggling couple but for the show as a whole. Hearing Anna affirm that she is not a victim shows her willingness to, like Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) before her, pick light over dark, happiness over despair, life over death. Let's hope Mr. Bates does the same and that vile Mr. Green (Nigel Harman) meets his end in a way that will spare the couple any additional heartbreak.
Alfred’s Off to London!
Turns out Alfred Nugent (Matt Milne) did get a spot in that prestigious cooking program after another pick drops out. This means the footman is off to London while poor Daisy (Sophie McShera) must wave goodbye to yet another hopeful love. In the moments after hearing the news she lashes out at Ivy (Cara Theobold) saying it's the kitchen maid's fault he's leaving since Ivy picked Jimmy (Ed Speleers) over Alfred, driving him away in the first place.
What Edith’s Expecting
Lady Edith hasn’t heard a word from her lover, Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards), since he headed off to Germany in Episode 4. "I'm sure it’s just a failure of communication," her mother insists. "If anything had happened, we'd have heard.” But would we? Edith doesn't exactly have the best track record with men. She's been ignored, dumped, and jilted. Could Michael be yet another man gone missing?
Let's hope not since Edith finally heard back from that doctor she visited in London and — surprise, surprise — she's expecting. That's right. Unmarried Edith is pregnant! What does this mean for the middle Crawley daughter?
Well, seeing as it's 1922 (read: not exactly an ideal time for an unwed woman to get knocked up), she'll need to get hitched fast to save face. Having a baby out of wedlock would make for the scandal of the season, particularly if the father is nowhere to be found and the mother is as high-bred as a Crawley daughter.
Just imagine what Aunt Rosamund (Samantha Bond) will have to say. We're guessing it might be along the lines of "I told you so" since she did warn Edith that her one night of passion with Michael could lead to unexpected and unfortunate consequences.
Dowager Countess vs. Isobel Crawley
All good things must come to an end including, it seems, the friendship between the Dowager Countess and Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton). The two had become bosom buddies in the aftermath of Matthew's (Dan Stevens) untimely death. But as time passes, old rivalries return with the Dowager and Isobel butting heads over Young Pegg.
After a couple items go missing from the Dowager's study, she fires Pegg thinking he's a thief. Advocate for social justice that she is, Isobel marches on over to the Dowager's with Dr. Clarkson (David Robb) in tow. (As the Dowager later explains to her son, Isobel “runs on indignation.”) Indeed, the Widow Crawley gets so heated the good doctor must intercede, telling her to "Hold your horses."
The Dowager, of course, remains unfazed throughout as, not surprisingly, she's a step ahead of Mrs. Do-Gooder. Unbeknownst to Isobel, Violet has already made amends with Young Pegg and hired him back on. "That was game, set, and match to Lady Grantham" the doctor concludes.
Lady Mary, Meet Mr. Blake
"You must try and be witty tonight and then we will lower our expectations," Mary says at one point, her ice queen mask firmly in place. Unlike many of the eldest Crawley daughter's opponents, however, Mr. Blake can give as good as he gets and with an "open-ended" stay at Downton, we're not giving up hope that these two might find a little common ground and then some.
Nor have we given up hope that Mary is completely closed off to the idea of finding love after Matthew. Despite her refusal of Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen) back in Episode 4, we think it's only a matter of time before Mary's ready for romance. She says as much during Episode 6, saying: "I'm not unhappy. I'm just not quite ready to be happy."
Baxter Tells Tales to Thomas
Although the specifics of the relationship between Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) and Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) have yet to be revealed, Thomas's hold appears to be a strong one.
As the new lady's maid to Countess of Grantham, Cora Crawley, (Elizabeth McGovern) Baxter has an insider's knowledge of what happens upstairs, knowledge she feels compelled to share with Thomas. It's via this secret arrangement that Thomas learns of the birthday surprise planned by Rose and, more importantly, of Anna and Bate's difficulties. Although neither Thomas nor Baxter thankfully know more than that, it be unlike the scheming footman to let sleeping dogs lie.
Cousin Rose is Just Full of Surprises
Hiring a jazz band for Robert's birthday dinner wasn't the only surprise Rose had in store for the evening. After the party, Lady Mary catches her young cousin passionately kissing the bandleader, Jack. Although Mary pretends not to have seen anything, her look of surprise is hard to miss. We, however, weren't exactly surprised.
Although it's unlikely Mary will purposefully get Rose into trouble by spreading the word about her secret love affair, Mary has right to be as concerned as she looked.
A happy romantic future between Rose and Jack seems unlikely due to the particular era at hand. Remember, Rose is a privileged member of the exclusively white English aristocracy; Jack is an African-American jazz singer. Bridging such social divides successfully in 1922 seems unlikely. Then again, Rose does love a challenge and we love a good love story.
- The sweetest moment of the night comes when Isobel, Tom Branson (Allen Leech), and Mary are sitting in the nursery before dinner and reminisce about their great loves. We get a quick trip down memory lane to that beautiful sequence in the snow between Mary and Matthew. "I wasn't cold," Mary says of standing out in the winter storm without a coat, "because I just kept thinking, 'He's going to propose. He's going to propose.'" It's a rare moment of warmth from the typically reserved and chilly Crawley daughter and it gives us hope she may be reaching a point where the memory of Matthew is filled more with joy than with pain.
- Things don’t sound good over in the United States when Cora's brother sends his brother-in-law Robert a note explaining some unfortunate oil investments. We've already heard bad boy Uncle Harold will appear in the season's Christmas special and be portrayed by the star actor Paul Giamatti, but what gets him involved in the story in the first place?
- Mr. Molsley (Kevin Jones) got a job! Finally, some sunshine for the poor Mr. M. With Alfred off to London, Molesley lands the position of footman but only after Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) offer him a little help winning over the prideful Mr. Carson (Jim Carter). Unfortunately for Mr. Molesley, however, Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore can't always be around..
- Unfortunately, it sounds as if Tom's still playing with the idea of leaving for the U.S. of A. "I love them really but I'm not one of them and I cannot make a life here," he tells fellow family outsider Isobel of the Crawleys and of Downton. Thankfully, Isobel's old gung-ho spirit actually serves a completely unobnoxious purpose here with her pointing out to Tom that things are happening at Downton (aka an African-American jazz singer playing in the halls) that no one would have imagined possible just a few short years ago. "Take heart from that before you throw in the towel," she tells Tom, advice we sure hope he listens to before taking darling Sybbie and his own sweet self out of our lives forever.