Downton Abbey - Season 4, Episode 2 Recap

Downton Abbey - Season 4, Episode 2: Lady Mary Crowley is at odds with her father, Lord Grantham, over the future of Downton Abbey.
Downton Abbey -  Season 4, Episode 2 Recap

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

In Season 4, Episode 2, we delve deep into the drama, debt and financial straits of former high class valet and now unemployed, Mr. Mosley.

*****SPOILER ALERT*****

Now that Matthew Crowley is dead, Mr. Mosley is out of a job as valet. He was hoping they would keep him on at Downton, or at least not notice he was still pottering around, drawing a salary. And he did work there for a time, but it wasn't long before Carson gently pointed out, that without a real position for him, it was time for Mosley to shove off.

Mosley is back living in his parent's basement (well, his father's cottage, anyhow), and he owes money "all 'round the village." (Sounds like my own life, come to think of that. But enough about me, back to Downton.) After pounding the pavement, he's taken the most menial and only job he can find, literally pounding the pavement with some sort of metal contraption.

This is how Anna finds him, beating the road to a pulp and trying to hide under his cap from embarrassment. After he complains of being a "weak tit" and immediately apologizes for being so vulgar, Anna offers to help him. He refuses, of course, but Anna privately resolves to find a way. She confides Mosley’s problems to her husband, Mr. Bates, who decides to help for no other reason than to see Anna happy. Awww.

The Dowager proves, yet again, to be the backbone of the Grantham family. She is a major player in all the family schemes this episode. Her butler (from the Alan Rickman Professor Snape School of Acting) is kept busy announcing people to her parlor.

Lord Grantham is the first visitor. He's there in regards to a letter to Lady Mary from our dearly departed Matthew Crowley.

Dan Stevens left the series too quickly for the newly-married Matthew to have drawn up a will. After a finely finished mahogany box is delivered to Downton from Matthew's former office, we find he left his "testamentary intent" in a letter to his wife, conveniently witnessed by a couple of clients who happened to be in the office. Then he tucked it into a book and told no one it was there.


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Lord Grantham, consistent from the last episode and still claiming that he doesn't want to upset Lady Mary, questions whether he should give his daughter the letter. The Dowager tells him outright that he is less concerned with upsetting Mary than sharing control of Downton.

"When you talk like that, I'm tempted to ring for Nanny and have you put to bed with no supper." There's no one better to put one in one's place than old mum, is there?

At the Dowager's insistence, Lady Mary finally gets to be the third person to read the letter from her dearly departed husband. The letter is then read to the entire family, there's a consult with a lawyer named Murray and finally, Lord Grantham must accept the truth: Lady Mary is half owner of the estate and all it entails.

Lord Grantham had accepted being partners with Matthew, who was at least a man, despite being *roll eyes and perish the thought* an American (no offense, Cora). Sharing power with his daughter rankles him a bit, especially after she confirms that she will be offering her "opinions" on the running of Downton. At this point in the series, we know that the opinions, will and lightest wish of Lady Mary are tantamount to law.

Lord Grantham sees the handwriting on the wall. He is no longer the sole decider. He even violates dinner protocol to give Mary a “working,” pointedly pointing out everything that she needs to learn to have an informed opinion on the running of the estate.

After his second mini-tantrum of the day, Mary shrewdly retorts, "I assume you're trying to make some sort of point."

Yes, Lord Grantham has already forgotten that it wasn't long ago when he was nearly as uninformed as Mary about how his land should be run and it was Matthew who brought him up to speed.

In the end, all that matters is the entire family and more importantly, the belated Matthew, are all on Mary's side. The tide has shifted at Downton for good.

After Lord Grantham's outburst, The Dowager has summoned Mary and Branson, ahem, Tom, to her house for the Alan Rickman-sounding butler to announce.

The first thing is to settle what to call the former chauffeur who married Lady Sibyl. Yes, he's taken on the role as agent of the estate, but calling him by his last name as you would a common servant is not at all the thing. Lady Mary insists that the Dowager is to call him Tom. The Dowager graciously allows Mary to correct her because she needs Branson to do her bidding.

She would like for Branson to do for Mary what Matthew did for Lord Grantham: Take Mary around the estate and teach her about the challenges and every day running of Downton. It's never said, but it's certainly implied that if Lord Grantham weren't being so selfish, he should have been the one to offer to do this with, and for, Mary.

Tom agrees. Lady Mary dons a purple outdoors ensemble that is simply scrumptious, takes a deep breath at touring the estate in an automobile after a car crash killed her husband, and she's off to learn farming. Bravo, brave Lady Mary.

After properly registering her surprise that Mr. Bates is being announced for an audience with Her Ladyship and not a mere errand (talking to a servant, oh my) Violet receives him almost kindly. Mr. Bates, having heard about the dowager's previous attempt to help Mr. Mosley, rightly divines that she will be inclined to do so again. They conspire to solve Mr. Mosley's money problems without hurting his pride.

We get a glimpse of the roaring 1920's teenage set in Lady Rose's room. There's a phonograph playing ragtime, she's deep into a magazine, nibbling on bonbons and dreaming of doing the One Step at a real dance with real boys.

Anna stops by on an errand. Lady Rose, never one to miss an opportunity, sees Anna as a likely companion and begs her to chaperone a trip to a thé dansant. Shown the handbill for the dance, Anna sees it's more of an event for the working class and gives every excuse in the book for Lady Rose not to go.

It's a good thing Lady Mary dropped that bottle of perfume or we'd never get to have any fun. Since Anna has to go to York anyway to procure another bottle of scent, she decides, "Why not?" and asks for permission to take Lady Rose with her and attend the dance. As Lady Mary points out, "It is rather slow here for a girl her age."

Even more poignant because it's left unsaid: Lady Mary was a girl Rose's age when this series began.

Lady Rose is not given the stately style that defines the "Crowley look". She's groomed in a way that denotes her personality: lovely, young, sparkling and full of fun. She stands out in the crowd and gets a dance request nearly the minute she sits down.

She also gets two fellows fighting over her before the dance is through. It's a raucously fun scene with Lady Rose in ride-or-die-chick mode. Anna and a Downton footman get her away in time to keep any scandal from besmirching Downton, just as the police whistles sound outside.

The first fellow who asked her to dance and defended her honor, treks all the way out to Downton and asks to see Rose the housemaid, just to make sure she's all right after the fight.

Anna puts Rose in a housemaid's dress and sneaks her out through the kitchen. Rose gets to kiss the sweet young man goodbye after taking care to make sure he won't come back - she's given her word to a farmer, you see, so she can't have another young man come calling.

Despite Anna's care, Lady Rose in housemaid attire is spotted by a footman on a cigarette break. His shocked,"What the...?" at seeing a young lady of the house dressed as a housemaid and waving goodbye to a fellow at the back gate, prompts Rose to make a hasty promise: "Say nothing and I'll be your friend for life." That won't come back to bite her, I'm sure.

While everyone else has been traveling down to York, Lady Edith has been up to London and finding that "it's getting harder to say no" while trysting with her most recent beau. Despite her resolution, she still got back to Downton too late to change for dinner. Oh my.

This man, like all of Edith's beaus, is hard to pin down. He's married and swears he's seeking a way to divorce his wife. He says he's even willing to become German at a time when public sentiment is turning against Germany, just so he can get a legal divorce. He went all the way to Scotland to see Edith for the Christmas special. But when she asks him to do a simple thing like spend a weekend at Downton, suddenly he has several excuses not to.

He promises that he wants to get to know Edith, but I'm not sure the parts of Edith he wants to get know are conducive to a long-term relationship, let alone marriage. I hope he's not taking her suggestion of "living in sin" seriously. Lady Edith is playing a dangerous game.

Carson appears on cue at the train station to say farewell to his old theater comrade. Our resident vagabond at Crowley House has been cured of his cough, been found a job at theater in Ireland and even his clothes have been cleaned and mended. He's going away, probably forever, and wants Carson to know that the woman they both loved had lived to regret not choosing Carson before she passed on. Explanations made and fences mended, they shake hands and part as friends.

Is it just me or did this train station goodbye between two old friends seem to have sparked the beginning of a deepened friendship for Carson and Mrs. Hughes?

Is this going to be a match someday? Mrs. Hughes has already turned down an offer of marriage from an old flame, mainly because she likes her life and work as housekeeper. But Anna is married and also a lady's maid. Maybe the time has come where Mrs. Hughes won't have to choose between work and marriage. But Carson? I never thought he could unbend so far. Maybe now that he's put an old love behind him, he'll be able to move on

Time will tell.

About Deborah Nesbit

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