A relatively light-hearted episode, but the cheeriness depends on your point of view, quite like the Super Bowl, celebratory depends on which side you’re rooting for. But overall, a delightful and engrossing hour.
First off, a little surprise, Alfred is leaving. I thought the foursome is going to have some more entanglement. Alfred is accepted to the training course after all at the Ritz Hotel, London. That’s a significant leap from the servants’ hall in Downton, deserving celebration, but only depends on which side you’re on. Daisy is heartbroken. Eventually she’s sweet to make peace with Alfred and herself, wishing him luck as he leaves.
Violet and Isobel’s battles resume, evidence that Isobel has recovered from her mourning. She’s a social activist fighting for justice, and Violet, the established aristocracy, therefore legitimate target of her indignation. When Violet wrongly accuses and fires young Pegg for stealing her things, yes, things, Isobel rediscovers her calling. Things are what Violet cares about, so materialistic, so unjust. The ivory curio is soon found, misplaced.
Some interesting dialogues ensue…
Isobel: “Aren’t you going to say you’re sorry?”
Violet: “Certainly not.”
Isobel: “How you hate to be wrong.”
Violet: “I wouldn’t know. I’m not familiar with the sensation.”
The Sherlock in Isobel does some personal digging and recovers the valuable missing letter opener. What develops is like a parable. Isobel makes the same mistake of which she accuses Violet when she misjudges Pegg too soon and unwilling to face up to her wrongs, not knowing Violet after discovering her own mistake has already apologized to young Pegg, asked for his forgiveness, and rehired him back. Nobody monopolizes justice after all.
Napier and Blake turn out to be unwelcome guests. Not that I’m not sympathetic to farmers or food production, but these two men just prove they are the entitled ones, especially Blake, biting the hand that feeds him. Why, which guest would sit beside his host and call her “a sentimentalist who cannot face the truth.” Now where does that come from?
Rose has proven to be quite an event planner. Lord Grantham’s birthday party is a success, the secret is a big surprise, as she has intended. Jack Ross has done the unprecedented, bringing a night club jazz band into Downton, and he himself can go down history as the first black person to set foot in that aristocratic estate. Time has changed, or at least started to. Despite his shock, Mr. Carson is quick to point out that “we led the world in the fight against slavery,” but not before embarrassing himself by asking Ross: “Have you never thought of visiting Africa?”
While everyone is having some light-hearted turns, the heavy news or lack thereof falls like lead on Edith. She found out she’s pregnant, and Michael Gregson has “vanished into thin air.” At this stage, she doesn’t suspect anything except to worry about him. But this just may prove to be another dark chapter in her failed romantic narratives.
Bates and Anna’s seemingly reconciled relationship is another dark shadow in an otherwise bright episode. I like these contrasts as far as plot is concerned, light and shadow. The intriguing development is with Cora overhearing their conversation in the hotel dining room, and later, Baxter overhearing Cora talk with Mary about her concern. Even though she’s warned not to leak out what she has heard, Baxter has her assignment, the ‘condition’ as Thomas reminds her.
That hotel dining scene is oh so gratifying. Anna has phoned earlier to make a reservation. When actually there, the Maître d’ takes a top-to-bottom glance at their attire, decides there’s no reservation under the name of Bates. Julian Fellowes’ another social justice moment. Lady Grantham, Cora, comes to the rescue, ever so graciously. Isobel would have made a scene.
As for the Maître d’, a perfect casting would be Rowan Atkinson, aka Mr. Bean. Just a thought.
But my favourite scene is when Isobel, Mary, and Tom are in a room waiting to see the little ones being brought in by their nanny. These three are all widowed, survivors of tragedies when their loved ones were unexpectedly taken away from them. Mary is honest with her feelings: “I’m just not quite ready to be happy.” Then, Isobel starts sharing and reminisces on her engagement with her husband Reginald; Tom joins in with his love for Sybil; Mary recalls Matthew’s proposal to her while standing in the snow, not feeling a bit cold. Each recharged by the memory of love. Isobel cheerfully concludes at the end: “Well, aren’t we the lucky ones.”
Your favourite scene?
Previously on Downton Abbey Season 4: