‘Downton Abbey’ recap: Season 4, Episode 5

Credit: PBS
Credit: PBS

The popular girl who gets what’s coming, a very snotty maître d’, and one absurd mustache: Episode 5 of Downton Abbey looked remarkably like a teen movie from the 1980s. Let’s recap.

Silver rests precisely 3 inches in from the table’s edge, tea cups must never leave their saucers, and…a black person at Downton!

There was much talk of Rose’s surprise for the birthday party of Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville). Turns out she’s hired the jazz band she saw at the Lotus Club last episode: Guess who’s coming to dinner!

When the typically reserved Carson (Jim Carter) sees the singer, Mr. Ross, before dinner, Carson’s eyes go googly and his tongue rolls out, so apparently people of African heritage alarm him more than World War I. Later, Carson asks Mr. Ross if he’s considered going to Africa, after which, we presume, he asked is he could touch Mr. Ross’s hair, and then explained he has a black friend.

After dinner, the surprise is complete when the band commences and the family rushes to the grand hall, whereupon each stops short at the sight of Mr. Ross. After the initial shock, however, they all take it in stride — except Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael), who asks her father, “Is it really suitable that Rose has brought this man here?”

Aha! Edith, you cow. Ten minutes ago, we pitied you: crying over your love Michael, who’s gone missing. But now we’ve license to despise you, which is all we’ve ever wanted. Later, when Cora asks Edith why she’s been so sad, Edith confesses that Michael can’t be found, but all we heard was, “If that singer touches the silver, will he turn it black?”

 

At Chez Quis

Meanwhile, in Ferris Buellerville, Anna and Bates head to a fancy dinner but are stopped at the door by a snooty maître d’ who claims they don’t have a reservation. They haven’t the forethought to pretend they’re Abe Froman, Sausage King of Chicago, so straits are dire. But, fortunately, Cora Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern) is also dining there, and when she speaks to Anna and Bates, the maître d’ becomes a sniveling lapdog.

They’d hoped this night would be an escape from the horrible memories of Anna’s attack, but discover they’re still in its “shadow.” So there’ll be no parade performance of “Danke Schoen.” This is just as well, as surely Edith hates the Germans.

Lady Crawley, on the other hand, probably loves Germans, along with anyone currently broke. She’s taken up the cause of Mr. Pegg, whom she believes was wrongly fired by Maggie Smith, and intends to prove it. This she achieves by hiding under her fancy lady-brella, stalking the Dowager Countess until she’s gone, and then pretending to call on her, pretending to be disappointed she’s missed her, and pretending to feel faint in order to gain entry. Why not just crawl through the doggie door like Principal Rooney?

Crawley magically finds the prized mail knife — which the dowager claimed was stolen — stuck in the back of the chair. She returns later to accuse Maggie Smith of not being able to accept she was wrong about Mr. Pegg, but actually Maggie already hired him back, and calls him into the room to tell Mrs. Crawley himself, which is the live-servant version of giving her the finger. Fortunately for Mr. Pegg, the dowager did not also intend to metaphorically moon Mrs. Crawley.

 

Teen Beat

Jimmy-the-Footman and Ivy-the-Cook finally have their date, and a kiss — a real one, not one of the limp-lipped variety of the entitled, because, you know, servants do it better. But then Jimmy comes on too strong, wants more than he should. He’s got chills; they’re multiplyin’.

Ivy rebuffs him, and then bitches about the handsy scene to Daisy and Mrs. Patmore, causing Daisy to rant: Its Ivy’s fault for choosing such an obvious D over kindly lug Alfred, who’s gone now to the Ritz because turns out they had a spot after all. So Daisy will never see Alfred’s puffy, ruddy face again. And Ivy will never hear him offer to pay her to pretend they’re dating so he can be popular.

 

Batlip

And now, to that mustache, appearing in this week’s history lesson. Since Alfred actually left — replete with heartfelt speech about true friendship — Carson does indeed need a new footman. Hughes tries to convince him to hire Mosley, whom Carson has discarded because when he initially offered Mosley the job, Mosley hemmed and hawed over it being a debasement.

Hughes points out that Mosley has mea culpaed, which leads Carson to draw an analogy, saying, ”Much as Kaiser Bill agreed to abdicate only with the greatest reluctance.” He’s referencing Wilhelm II, last German Emperor and King of Prussia, who in fact was pushed out, perhaps for hiding his nasty nature by growing facial hair that made it look like he was always smiling.

Carson eventually caves and hires Mosley, leading to major drama: Footmen are addressed by their first names and no one knows Mosley’s. Robert saves the day by concluding they’ll continue to call him “Mosley”. This is also a relief because Edith would have flipped when she found out his first name is Jamal.

 

What else?

Rudolph Valentino makes Mrs. Patmore shiver all over. Thomas’s minion, Baxter, has dropped rank. The family plans to raise pigs on their land. And the dashing Mr. Napier and his business partner arrived to “analyze the situation” of the estate and farm.

But our final moment is saved for the show’s last exchange, after Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) sees Rose kissing Mr. Ross, but pretends not to have. Mary thanks him for the evening, leading him to thank her by saying, “I’ve been very well looked after here.” It’s a line deserving of the classic ’80s-teen-movie ending: A slow clap.

Episode grade: B

Follow Jane Borden on Twitter @JaneBorden



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