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Well, I've (obviously) fallen a bit behind in my Downton Abbey blogging, seeing as season four concluded on Sunday. But never fear, my goal is to catch up THIS WEEK, starting with part seven!
After the near-death experience with Downton's newest residents -- pigs! -- Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Blake (Julian Ovenden) are quite chummy. YES. I approve of this development, as the only other option on the horizon is Gillingham, and I think he's an idiot. (I wish Napier was a serious contender, but then who would Fellowes bring back at random times just to go SEE! SERIES CONTINUITY! I FORGET NO ONE!) Mary and Branson (Allen Leech) go to visit the pigs (because that's a thing now), now under the care of Tim Drewe (Andrew Scarborough), the farmer who took over the family's tenancy following his father's death. Edith (Laura Carmichael) tags along for this visit, because visiting pigs IS a thing now and heck, anything is better than thinking about her pregnancy. Drewe is, apparently, a Pig Whisperer, and so Mary and Branson offer him the job of seeing to the animals' care. And because he's SO GOOD WITH PIGS, Edith gets STARS in her eyes, and we all know what she's thinking, right? The Pig Whisperer is the perfect man to RAISE MY BABY!! Oh, Edith...I suppose there are worse measures of one's character...and desperate times call for desperate measures...but at this moment this sorta feels like a new low. :P
With Robert (Hugh Bonneville) still in America getting his brother-in-law's scandal squared away (or something...still not sure WHAT exactly he's supposed to be facilitating regarding that mess), Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) is all stressed out organizing the annual church bazaar. I love how these annual events show up once, never to be repeated. LOL! She tries to get Rose (Lily James) to help, but that initiative is a non-starter (no surprise there, eh?), as Rose has better things to do, like arranging not-so-clandestine meetings with Jack Ross (Gary Carr) in neighboring Thirsk. This is NOT GOING TO END WELL, as the couple is spied by Branson getting cozy in a tea shop. Branson is completely out of his element in attempting to deal with something of this nature, so he foists the scandal-in-the-making off on Mary, who I believe I shall start calling The Fixer. *wink*
Edith is becoming increasingly desperate (and unhinged -- see above: random farmers make great fathers!), leading to a surprise visit to Downton from Rosamund (Samantha Bond). While Rosamund attempts to disguise the true purpose of her visit as being a dutiful daughter visiting her recently ill mama, Violet (Maggie Smith) of all people isn't fooled in the least. Maggie Smith has been an absolute GEM this season, as is her norm, but this hour she was on fire -- the Dowager's quips and looks and brilliantly funny moments kept coming at a rapid-fire pace throughout the entire installment! ABSOLUTE HEAVEN. (Also, Edith is supposed to be FIVE MONTHS pregnant in this episode? That is RIDICULOUS.)
Rosamund decides that rather than give the baby to a local farmer, she and Edith will take a spur-of-the-moment trip to Switzerland so she can LEARN FRENCH. Because going to Switzerland for that makes SO MUCH SENSE. Violet, smelling a rat, holds court (literally, this woman is a QUEEN of the screen!) -- and neither Edith nor Rosamund have a prayer of keeping their secret when faced with her eagle-eyed gaze, confirming Violet's suspicions that Edith is pregnant. The Dowager insists on paying for their trip -- and can I just tell you I LOVE these moments when Violet's heart is revealed, showing just how far she'll go for any member of her family. (Side note: I really hope that Edith's baby daddy doesn't just disappear in Germany. That would be a really lame send-off.)
Back-tracking a bit to catch up on a few other notable happenings, among them Ivy (Cara Theobold) receiving a letter from Alfred (Matt Milne), where he PROPOSES MARRIAGE, in between telling her about his father's death and his impending visit to Downton as a consequence. What the HECK, Alfred?! Ivy is taken aback to say the least, as is Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol), but we all know Mrs. P. is more worried about Daisy's reaction than Ivy's future, right? LOL. To make a LONG story short(er), Ivy decides (thank goodness) to refuse Alfred, Daisy goes off on her (again) for breaking his heart and driving him away from Downton, and Mrs. P. takes pity on her and suggests she go visit her father-in-law Mr. Mason (Paul Copley), a.k.a. the only other person in Daisy's life with any sense. More on THAT in a moment. :)
Wishy-washy Gillingham (Tom Cullen) returns to Downton, again, because he JUST CAN'T QUIT MARY, but not before Anna (Joanne Froggatt) tearfully confesses the identity of her attacker -- Gillingham's valet. Mary is outraged and wants to do something, anything, to bring Green to justice, but Anna insists that the secret must be kept between them so Bates (Brendan Coyle) doesn't go off on the guy and end up in prison again. To Mary's credit, she tries to stop the visit, but wires are crossed and it's too late as Gillingham is already en route. When they arrive Bates comes out of the shoe-shining room (seriously, did anyone else notice that while Robert is in America, he is practically LIVING in there??) to notice Anna's reaction to the creep, and to hear that they live in Piccadilly (cue revenge plotting music).
After saying goodbye to Gillingham, AGAIN, Mary is sent into crisis management mode when Rose tells her that she's engaged to Jack Ross. Now, apparently Rose wants to marry Jack to really stick it to her mother, whom she hates (when did this start? also, your mother has been halfway across the world for MONTHS...get over it!), so you know this is a love match for the ages. *eyeroll* Mary plans a quick trip to London, accompanied by Anna, in order to try and talk Jack out of marrying her cousin. This whole storyline was really pointless, wasn't it? Because when they meet, instead of fighting for Rose, instead of having anything remotely resembling a meaningful conversation on the impact of interracial relationships during this time period, Jack has ALREADY decided to break the engagement. I repeat: What. Was. The. POINT?! Completely expected side note: while Anna is in London, Bates takes a day trip to York, which even Carson (Jim Carter) think is weird, but goes along with...yeah, sure, I buy that... :P AND Gillingham breaks his engagement. AND Mary gets him to agree to fire Green, but keeps Anna's secret.)
How are we all feeling about Branson's potential new love interest in the form of schoolteacher Sara Bunting (Daisy Lewis)? I'm...wary. Intrigued, but wary -- mainly because thus far she seems so set on accusing him of abandoning his principles by working for the Crawleys. I DID think the scene where he comes upon her with a broken-down car was cute, and I do like how her often annoyingly intrusive questions and assumptions force him to take stock of his relationship with the Crawleys -- and, at least thus far, make him realize that he IS a part of the family. He might not agree with them, but he does care about them, and that care is reciprocated. So in the sense that she is kind of forcing him to come to terms with his new life, I approve. But the constant needling about his politics...that could get old really fast. :P
Getting back to Violet being awesome -- she invites Isobel (Penelope Wilton) for tea because Mary's godfather, Lord Merton (Douglas Reith), who we met way back at the beginning of season three, is coming over. She apparently has no patience for his rather dour ways, but finds more entertainment in the occasion than she expected when Merton shows an unexpected interest in Isobel! Violet's shock and awe face was killing me -- and the icing on the cake was when Merton sends flowers to both women, care of Violet, and Isobel's arrangement is bigger! LOL! Not that I'm fond of Merton (yet), but I do think this is a VERY promising development for Isobel -- and while she's frustrated me on occasion, honestly I wouldn't wish the doctor on my worst enemy so a new guy is good! :)
Things actually happen for Molesley (Kevin Doyle) here! Concerned for Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) after overhearing Thomas (Rob James-Collier) bullying her about secrets, he attempts to befriend her, encouraging her to not let Thomas try to turn her into O'Brien 2.0 (well, not exactly those words, ha!). She starts looking at him like he's hung the moon or something, and he can just barely deal with it, and they share a cute moment at the fair when he beats Jimmy (Ed Speleers) at a strength test at the bazaar. Perhaps Molesley's never-ending sad-sack bad luck is finally turning around! Color me SHOCKED!!
During the bazaar, Daisy (Sophie McShera) pays a long overdue visit to her father-in-law, who encourages her to let go of her bitterness over the Ivy/Alfred situation and say goodbye, wishing him well and leaving their friendship on good terms. She takes his advice (of course, because when has he ever steered her wrong?), bringing him a basket of food as a peace offering of sorts and sincerely wishing him well. It's a wonderful moment, and so sweet to see how proud Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) are of her maturity. Also, not gonna lie, it's fun to see Alfred second-guessing himself and realizing that all this time, he may have been pining after the wrong girl (DUH). GO DAISY!
Wrapping things up, Robert and Thomas return from America during the bazaar, which is a hit (convenient timing, that). Gillingham shows up to give Mary the SHOCKING NEWS (not) that his valet was killed by "stumbling" (sure...) into the street and getting hit by a car. But poor Anna...instead of getting to feel relieved that she'll never have to see her rapist again, she's NOW worried about what Bates really did on his day off. He is such a sly fellow, eh? :P AND Blake shows up, just to tell Mary that HE CAN'T QUIT HER EITHER, and it's ON with Gillingham because he is NOT giving up without a fight.
EXCITING TIMES, right?! Finale recap coming soon!! :)
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