‘Downton Abbey’ recap: Season 4, Episode 7

Credit: PBS
Credit: PBS

Edith is knocked up, Rose is engaged, and Mr. Green dies in traffic. Sounds like someone played that parlor game, “Marry, Boff, Kill,” and the result was this week’s “Downton Abbey.”

In fact, other storylines in Episode 7 also fit the pattern. For example, Mr. Blake wants to bang Lady Mary, Mr. Gillingham wants to marry Lady Mary, and Mr. Gillingham wants to kill Mr. Blake.

Also, when Mrs. Patmore played the game, she chose to do Valentino, wed Mr. Carson, and kill the new electric sewing machine. That one only happened in my head — I got a little bored with this episode’s numerous courtships. Below, a recap of the unintentional Valentine’s episode.

Swine flew

Silence the alarm, everyone relax: The pigs are fine. The Abbey’s new livestock have recovered after their near-death dehydration. To avoid another misstep, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) places the animals under the care of the family’s new tenant, Mr. Drew. He’s only able to run his farm at all thanks to that loan from Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), so he’s like, “Thanks for the pig gig, I owe you one.” Then, a lightbulb in the head of Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael): She decides she’ll force this man to secretly raise her bastard child as his own, because he owes them a favor, and also because he’s good with pigs.

But when she floats the idea, Rosalind worries he might reveal the secret one day, or maybe the baby will give itself away by looking like her, and anyway, babies need more than slop and a water trough. Instead, Rosalind tells Cora she and Edith are moving to Switzerland for many months, because Rosalind wants to learn French — but not in France, because “you know the French” — and Edith wants to tag along.

Cora (aka Lady Grantham, aka Elizabeth McGovern) buys it, because Cora is not very smart. But Maggie Smith (the Dowager Countess) knows what’s up and calls out Edith by pitying her, because you know Switzerland.

Bates Bruce Banner

As per usual, when Edith has no suitors, Mary has three — and they’re all still staying in the house. My gosh, Mssrs. Blake, Gillingham and Other Guy Everyone Forgot: Leave already! But they can’t, because all Downton guests must stay until they fall for Mary, profess their love, and are in turn rejected. Mr. Gillingham already had left, and is somehow back, so the process must repeat itself. He tells her he’s called off his engagement; she still won’t budge.

Of course, if Gillingham’s there, so is Creepy Valet Green. Anna pretends she’s not dying inside, in an effort to keep Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle) from turning into the Hulk, but Bates is no fool, and anyway, if purple pants can’t contain the Hulk, neither can Anna (Joanne Froggatt).

At the servants’ table downstairs, the topic of living in London arises, and Bates casually asks Green where he lives, because Bates plans to kill him and doesn’t have the Internet. Next, Bates asks for a day off to go to York. We never see him there, but we do see him angry-limp back across the estate grounds that night. So angry. So limpy.

Mary, after convincing Anna to reveal that Green was her attacker, asks Gillingham to fire Green, but won’t say why. This means Gillingham is especially confused and suspicious when Green is found dead, after falling into London traffic and being struck by a chariot or some other form of early 20th-century public transportation. After hearing the news, Anna asks Bates what he did in York. He was vague, so no one knows if he murdered Green or not, but I swear I heard him lovingly whisper, “Hulk smash!”

Loosen the knot

Tom Branson (Allen Leech) spies Rose on a romantic date with the jazz-band leader Jack Ross, and reports the news to Mary. Traitor! Maybe Branson decided there’s only room for one black sheep in this family. Mary confronts Rose, and Rose says they’re engaged and no one can stop them from running back-and-forth along the deck of the Titanic shouting, “Jack!” “Rose!” ”Rose!” ”Jack!” “Jack!” “Rose!”
But then she betrays that she can’t wait to infuriate her mother by marrying a black man. So, actually, turns out Rose is the racist. That doesn’t mean Edith’s off the hook: There’s room for more than one racist in this family.

Mary tells Jack. Jack doesn’t believe her. But he says he’s breaking the engagement anyway: He doesn’t want Rose to spend her life married to a black man. Wait, so he’s the racist?

Downstairs, there’s another proposal. Alfred asks Ivy, and pulls out all the romantic stops to do so: in a letter, after announcing his father’s dead. She writes him back to say “no” (that she won’t marry him, not that his father didn’t die).

He’s coming anyway, to say goodbye. Because Daisy still loves him, she avoids the soap opera by going off to visit her magical fake father-in-law. He says she’s lucky to have loved at all, so she should make her peace with Alfred. Like any good magical fake father-in-law, he sends her off with a basket of pickles.

What else? Branson keeps running into the woman he met-cute at the political event. Mary’s godfather, Lord Merton, pays a visit and fancies Lady Crawley. And I finally figured out what’s so weird about Cora. While she looks like a kindly aging Lady, she sounds like a prepubescent sex kitten. And now I can’t unthink it, can’t not hear double entendre in everything she says: ”This is certainly something that calls for an early start.” Cora! It’s a church bazaar!

When she plays the aforementioned parlor game, she probably asks if it’s really necessary she choose to “Marry” or “Kill” anyone.

Episode grade: B+

Follow Jane Borden on Twitter @JaneBorden


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