‘Downton Abbey’ recap: Season 4, Episode 6

Credit: PBS
Credit: PBS

The racist is pro-choice, the vicar is drunken, the pigs are in danger, and Bates has crazy-eyes. Your recap below.

Mary and Napier. Mary and Blake. Mary and Gillingham. There’s something about Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery). If every man who visits falls for her, it’s probable that most men in general fall for her, so why do we never see her fend off Mr. Mosley? You know that’s a daily occurrence.

She and Blake, one of the government assessors visiting the estate, have passed the last two episodes bickering glibly and tossing erudite insults, like Katherine Hepburn and Cary Grant, so we knew they’d eventually fall in love and handle wild animals. Instead of a leopard, though, they worry over pigs, Downton’s latest investment and attempt at solvency, which have just arrived. But when they check on the swine, they discover the water trough kicked over and at least one of the animals almost dead from dehydration.

Blake, with alarm, fetches water, and is surprised and pleased to see Mary roll up her sleeves and grab buckets herself.  After the crisis is under control, Blake accidentally splatters mud onto an already disheveled Mary, who then smears the same across his face.

Then, back at the Abbey, Mary fixes them scrambled eggs and says, “You saved our bacon — literally.” Bravo to the show for realistically portraying the cultural injustices set upon pigs in inter-war-era England’s class structure: sleeping outside and eating in separate quarters. The war didn’t change everything.

Rowing for two

In another rom-com down the road, Rose pursues Mr. Ross, the dashing and definitely black leader of a London jazz outfit. She paddles on a lake with him, shouting, “Vive la différence!” And then he goes, “Different strokes!” And she’s all, “Oreos!” And then they both break into “Ebony and Ivory” by Stevie Wonder. They only actually shouted the French adage but my point remains: she’s unafraid. Because she lives in England, not Alabama.

Sadly, Lady Edith’s rom-com is not as cheery — and just when we were enjoying hating her for being such a racist cow last episode. But now she’s pregnant from the night she slept with Michael Gregson, who traveled to Munich in order to divorce his medically insane wife, but then went missing upon arrival; scratch rom-com, this one’s more of a soap opera.

Edith (Laura Carmichael) sees no choice but to abort the fetus. She confesses to Aunt Rosalind, who exhibits uncharacteristic restraint and support, and demands to accompany Edith. But once there — a place she found in “a magazine in the ladies’ waiting room at Kings Cross” — Edith changes her mind. She chooses to keep the baby, in spite of thereby insuring her status as an outcast and a stain upon the family. In other words, stay tuned to find out how the writers devise a way for her to lose the baby in a more convenient and socially acceptable way.

Crazy eyes

This time, when Gillingham visits, he brought his creepy valet, Mr. Green. Although Mary now also knows about Anna’s attack, Mrs. Hughes is still the only one besides Anna (Joanne Froggatt) abreast of the attacker’s identity. But Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) is hot on his heels, noting Anna’s obvious alarm upon seeing the valet at the servants’ table. That, and also Green basically admits it, saying he hadn’t liked the opera singer and so took refuge downstairs instead. It was after this piece of information that Bates’s eyes turned to slivers, suggesting he was either trying to launch a Mary-Blake style romance, or was imagining different ways to dispose of Mr. Green’s body.

What else? Maggie Smith contracted bronchitis, which nearly became pneumonia, but Mrs. Crawley came to the rescue, nursing the Dowager Countess back to health and driving her mad along the way: “I need a new nurse. This one talks too much. She’s like a drunken vicar.” And Branson (Allen Leech) wins the award for best rom-com pick-up line: When he meets a woman at a political lecture by sitting in the empty chair next to her, and she smiles flirtatiously, he announces, “I’m a socialist!” Which, little-known fact, is also how Noam Chomsky pulled birds.

Episode grade: B+

Follow Jane Borden on Twitter @JaneBorden



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