Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 1

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Set in February, 1922

Downton Abbey in darkness

Downton Abbey is very dark

Downton Abbey opens in darkness, in every sense of the word. Six months after Matthew’s death and Lady Mary is still miserable, awaking to a crying baby she’s clearly not interested in.

And something else stirs in the night… O’Brien sneaks out under cover of darkness, leaving notes behind for upstairs and downstairs. In the morning, the staff don’t seem disappointed that she’s gone, except the ones who have to pick up her workload. The offer of working in India was too good to refuse and so O’Brien accepted an offer of employment from Lady Flintshire in Scotland. Cora is incredulous that Lady Flintshire would steal her faithful lady maid. Lady Cora can’t dress herself! O’Brien is ever so good at doing hair, but does Lady Flintshire know she might as well have stolen a venomous snake. What havoc will O’Brien wreak across the continent?

Lady Cora in bed

Lady Cora isn't going to dress herself!

Rose feels partly responsible for her mother stealing O’Brien and puts an ad up in town. Who sees the ad but Edna Braithwaite, the maid previously employed at Downton, the one who put the moves on Branson. Cora meets with Edna and puts her back on the Downton payroll, after all she had a great reference from Mrs. Hughes (written at Branson’s insistence). Carson and Mrs Hughes get wind of this and call Branson downstairs for a tete a tete. They decide to keep it quiet and hope for the best, but Mrs Hughes is convinced Edna is a ticking time bomb.

Edna Braithwaite

Looks who's back on the scene... Edna!

Dark Lady Mary

Lady Mary only wears black. She calls her own son an orphan. Branson tells Mary it’s time for her to take an interest in something, ANYTHING.

Thomas and the new nanny are engaged in some kind of weird power struggle. As always, Thomas resents being told what to do, especially by Nanny West. When she puts him in his place, he exacts revenge by telling Lady Cora that Nanny West is neglecting the children. Lady Cora overhears Nanny West calling baby Sybil an evil little crossbreed and fires her on the spot. So it turns out that Thomas was right, but is he really reformed or was catching the evil nanny being evil a lucky break?

Thomas Barrow

Is Thomas a force for good or evil now?


Molesley asks for a job

After the death of Matthew, Molesley is out of a job. Times are changing and it seems the rest of the world doesn’t need valets and butlers. After Carson kicks him out of Downton, Molesley moves home with his with father. Molesley asks Violet for his job back as butler, but she declines. Molesley seems to suffer an existential crisis at the loss of his job and Matthew. Countess Violet wants to help Molesley get a new job and invites him to help serve lunch at Lady Shackleton’s to prove how indispensable he is. But Lady Shackleton’s current butler is having none of it and foils Molesley, making him look incompetent and fumbling.

Mrs Hughes digs a note out of the garbage,  discarded by Carson. Turns out, one of Carson’s old theatre buddies has fallen on hard times and is looking for help. Carson would rather not revisit his past and plans on ignoring Charley Grick’s plea for help. Is Charley one of the Cheerful Charlies? Mrs Hughes visits Charley in the deplorable workhouse and sets about helping him. Against Carson’s wishes, Mrs Hughes enlists a desperately grieving Isobel, who agrees to give him a home. Charlie is released into Isobel’s custody. Mrs. Hughes knows just the thing to distract Isobel from her grief. Is romance on the way?

Mrs Hughes and Charley

Mrs Hughes delivers one of the Cheerful Charlies to Isobel

Edith goes to London for a party put on by Michael to introduce her to his literary friends. Micheal meets her at the train station and talks about moving to Germany where divorce on the grounds of lunacy is possible. At the party, they talk about living in sin. They eat dinner at a fancy restaurant in London. Edith wants to be with Michael and can’t believe he’d become German just for her!

Lady Edith and Michael kiss

A kiss at the Criterion in London, very big city...

Daisy the maid

Daisy gets a Valentine

Downstairs, Valentine’s day excitement runs high. The love birds Bates and Anna send each other  secret admirer cards. They still dote on each other. Daisy and Ivy also receive mystery Valentines. Daisy and Ivy can’t figure out who sent the cards. Ivy thinks Jimmy sent hers, so Daisy hopes Alfred sent a mystery card to Daisy. Jimmy reveals he did not send the card to Ivy. Alfred still dotes on Ivy, but Jimmy takes the credit just to annoy Alfred. Jimmy also takes Ivy into the village pub and gets her drunk. Anna puts her to bed and all is well. Except Daisy is still puzzled until Mrs. Patmore reveals she sent Daisy the card so she wouldn’t feel left out. Daisy is happy to have a friend even if she doesn’t have a follower.

Lord Grantham and Branson discuss the estate throughout the episode. Branson wants Lady Mary more involved, but Lord Grantham cautions that she’s still too weak. And since half of the estate is Lord Grantham’s, he doesn’t seem to want Lady Mary involved. Yet again, Mary has little rights where antiquated inheritance laws are concerned. Especially since Matthew left no will. Lord Grantham seems dead set against Mary having anything to do with the estate whereas Branson wants to include her. In Branson’s words, Lord Grantham considers Lady Mary a ‘little woman’ who shouldn’t be troubled by reality.

Carson comforts Mary

Carson old pal comforts Lady Mary

Branson enlists Carson to talk to Lady Mary and give her some advice, friend to friend. Carson goes to see Lady Mary and gets a serious talking down. Mary tells Carson he’s overstepped his bounds. Mary finally has an outburst at the dinner table, tired of everyone nagging her. Countess Violet has a tender heart to heart with Mary and tells Mary she loves her. Violet urges Mary to join the land of the living. Lady Mary later apologizes to Carson and breaks down. In the final scene, Lady Mary attends the luncheon for Downton’s tenants, making her desire to be involved in the estate unmistakable.

Lady Mary finally steps up to the table at the Tenants' Lunch

An electric beater arrives to Downton. Mrs Patmore wonders why they need it when Daisy and Ivy are perfectly good at beating the eggs and whipping cream. Daisy is thrilled with this zenith of technology, but Mrs. Patmore is worried about being replaced by technology. The mousse made with the electric mixer is a hit upstairs. Mrs Patmore breaks the blender bowl by accident, but doesn’t want Daisy to know because it makes Daisy part of the future and Mrs Patmore part of the past.

Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 1 Quotes

Lord Grantham: Sneaking off like a thief in the night. That’s O’Brien to a tee…

Lady Edith: Susan Flincher has stolen mama’s maid whilst her daughter is a guest in this house

Bill Molesley: It’s a changing world.
Lady Grantham: You don’t have to tell me.

Thomas: If you ask me, that Nanny West thinks too much of herself.

Lord Grantham: The price of great love is great misery when one of you dies.

Isobel: Poor George, what a burden he’s born into. A baby as rich as Croesus and a mother almost passed over.

Isobel: When your only child dies, then you’re not a mother anymore. You’re not anything really. And that’s what I’m trying to get used to.

Countess Violet: It’s the job of grandmothers to interfere.

Countess Violet comforts Mary

Countess Violet comforts Mary

Isobel: The trouble is I have no need for a butler. These days I’m just an old widow who eats off a tray.
Violet: Just because you’re an old widow, I see no necessity to eat off a tray.

Mrs. Hughes (about the workhouse): It’s as bad as if it were written about in a novel by Dickens

Mrs. Patmore: You don’t understand. Before too long, her ladyship could run the kitchen with a woman from the village. What with these toasters and mixers and the such, we’d be out of a job.

Carson: You’re letting yourself be defeated my lady. I’m sorry if it’s a lapse to say so, but someone has to.

Lady Mary: Matthew is dead 50 years before his time. Isn’t that enough for me to deal with?

Lady Mary: Because somehow with Matthew’s death, all the softness that he found in me seems to have dried up and drained away. Maybe it was only ever there in his imagination.
Countess Violet: My dear, there is more than one type of good mother. The fact is, you have a straightforward choice before you. You must choose either death or life.
Lady Mary: And you think I should choose life…

Mrs. Hughes: It’s because of her grief I’m imposing.

Countess Violet: No Robert, it is our job to bring her back to the world.

Isobel: I’d almost forgotten I had energy or kindness in me, so that’s something, isn’t it?

Lady Edith green dress

Edith, a vision in green

Lady Edith: It feels so wild to be out with a man, drinking and dining in a smart London restaurant.

Michael: I’d become an Eskimo if it meant I could marry you.

Lady Edith: Germany, after four years of fighting, you’d join the most hated race in Europe for me?

Nanny West: Go back to sleep, you wicked little crossbreed.

Lady Mary: I’ve spent too long in the land of the dead.