Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 6 (PBS)

The opening reminds me of the very first scene of Season 1 Episode 1, where the Western Union telegraph machine rhythmically tapping, leading us into this whole new world called Downton Abbey, and the rest is history. That first telegram was news about the Titanic sinking. Now Lord Grantham sets off to America in response to a telegram from Cora’s mother Martha (we all remember Shirley MacLaine’s American entry into Downton) just to help her son look good in front of a Senate Committee.

Robert may well be doing this more for Cora’s bidding than Martha’s. A sweet farewell follows. Crossing the raging seas, leaving the comfort of Downton on such a short notice, Lord Grantham would have wished he could just do a video conferencing. That would be more futuristic than the science fiction of his time, considering the telephone was just introduced to the household not too long ago.

Come to think of it, going to America just to help out a brother-in-law? Or was it to take time off to shoot The Monuments Men? Or, a subtle promo of the next best thing, The Gilded Age Julian Fellowes will be writing for NBC after Downton? Just thinking…

Downton S4E6 Robert goes to America

So now the secret is out, to Mary at least, and to the suspicion of several others. They would want to find out why Thomas is going to America with Lord Grantham and not Mr. Bates. Baxter is commissioned to hand in a report on exactly that when Thomas returns.

The pig farming business is off to a blossoming start… romantically that is. Getting dirty to save the pigs looks quite contrived a scene. Blake has to do much more than getting his white shirt and tux muddy to win me over. I’m not as easy as Mary. Or, is she just trying to prove she’s not so aloof after all. So they both enjoy their ‘night of discovery’. Why, Mary Crawley can make scrambled eggs. How marvellous!

Tom also seems to have met a potential companion in a political lecture in Ripon. Will this revive an idealistic young heart he once possessed?

Violet falls ill and Isobel nurses her back to health. Even in her delirious state Violet still takes a swing at Isobel, this ‘mad woman’, have her replaced, for she ‘talks too much, like a drunken vicar.’ Whatever we can’t say out loud in our right mind can be said in our delirium. How convenient.

Alfred’s brief return rousing further animosity between Ivy and Daisy. Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore come up with the flu as a reason to keep him off, and Mr. Carson is willing to go along even to the point of paying for a hotel stay. That sounds a bit far-fetching. A little jealous bickering adds spice of life downstairs. No need to avoid that like the plague.

A storyline that has far greater consequence is Edith going to London to have an abortion. Her secret is out as she breaks down when Lady Rosamund mentions about Michael Gregson. Aunt Rosamund looks an unlikely sympathizer, reassuring her “I will support you whatever you decide, just as Cora will—and Robert.” Edith doubts her sincerity and says “That sounds like a speech from The Second Mrs. Tanqueray”, alluding to the 1893 play by Arthur Wing Pinero about ‘a woman with a past’. Rosamund shows her support by accompanying her to the clinic. At the last minute, Edith changes her mind and chooses to keep the baby. I’m glad to see that a humane storyline branching out from there.

While in London with Edith, Rose runs her errand. Yes, that means meeting up secretly with the Jazz singer Jack Ross. Rose just wants some temporal fun, while Ross looks a bit hesitant but is fast convinced by her enthusiasm.

The most gripping scene again belongs to Bates and Anna. Lord Gillingham is back (but why?) and with him comes his valet Green, a blow to Anna as she steps into the servants’ dining room and sees her attacker. She composes herself quickly, but not before the reporter Baxter notices. Mrs. Hughes doesn’t lose any time to give him a severe warning, “If you value your life, I should stop playing the joker and keep to the shadows.”

At the dining table Green is as sociable as ever, greeting everyone, talking naturally. Baxter mentions how much she admires Nellie Melba, the opera singer, obviously with an agenda. Green says he can’t stand the ‘screaming and screeching’. The Sherlock in Baxter then asks, “So what did you do?” Green takes the bait, “So I came down here for some peace and quiet.” The look Bates pins on Green after that should send chills up your spine. And there, the episode ends. Baxter has more than a report to write, that’s a lead into a juicy story, Stephen King style.



Episode 5

Episode 4

Episode 3

Episode 2

Opening Special


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If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Creator of Ripple Effects, bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

13 thoughts on “Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 6 (PBS)”

  1. Well, this week’s was worth the price of admission! We knew she wasn’t going to die, since Julian said “no one dies this season” when speaking of his main cast. So we could relax and enjoy the interaction. Loved the scenes with Isobel and Violet — especially the card scene when Violet was recovering. “Oh, goodie!”

    And I’ll be curious to see how Tom’s meeting with his seatmate at the political talk goes — I’m thinking there is something good that might happen, though who can tell. But someone like that might be a good mate for him — not the gentry, not a servant — a nice in-between person.

    I liked how Edith found an unlikely ally in Rosamund. I’ll be quite curious to see how she wiggles out of this one. And behind it all — what happened to Michael Gregson? It dawned on me last night — I wonder if he is a secret agent. If you look at the year 1923 in Germany, Hitler was already on the scene, though in a much smaller way (the Third Reich was 1933). But might he have been commissioned by the government to engage in a little espionage. And that harkens back to the question — is he really married (should that be the scenario). Either way, she’s got a baby to think about.

    The Anna story — things aren’t looking good here, but Bravo, as Mrs. Hughes goes out on a limb. So, I’m thinking Green is going to get it somehow. My friend Suzanne thinks he’ll turn up dead and that all the men of Downton have done him in — each taking a swing or a slug or whatever, all making an alibi for the other. It strikes me as a little dramatic but also a rather neat way to end it. Because he has to end. They have had enough. (Although I was struck when Mary said to Anna she should see a doctor — are they setting us up for a pregnancy? Oh, I hope not… Edith’s issues are enough!

    Well, I know I’m not going to be watching the Olympics next Sunday night! How about you?!


    1. Jeanie,

      Thanks for filling in what I’d missed. Your speculation on Michael Gregson is quite sound. Could well be. So strange that we’re discussing this while many out there already know the answer and they try not to join in and reveal the spoilers. LOL! And for Anna, I’m eager to know how that storyline would develop, so’s Edith’s. As for downstairs, I’m afraid it’s getting to the point where the girls’s bickering are beginning to sound too petty.

      It’s also a strange feeling too that S4 is soon coming to the end, and it will be another year before we have the continuation. What I’ve read about the latest is S6 could well be the last one. From where they’re developing, I’m afraid the show can’t go on perpetually. All these men showing up trying to win Mary’s heart, they are not Matthew, and they all look very ‘un-Downton’. The character and integrity of the original Downton has shifted quite a bit as the Seasons go on, and the distinctiveness of the show has begun to evolve into something else, and that just may not be as appealing as the original Downton. Maybe Julian Fellowes is preparing us psychologically to shift gear towards somewhere else… America and The Gilded Age. 😉


      1. I agree, Arti, about how Downton has changed over time. The integrtity HAS shifted and I think that’s evident in the downstairs scenes with Alfred and the women. (By the way — does anyone remember what happened to Daisy’s father-in-law? That seemed to leave such a nice feeling at the end of season 3.) Your term “petty” is spot on. It’s my hope that people who are coming into Downton late will start with the earlier seasons and work their way through — not so hard, now that they are so available. I’m not sure this would be the best season for an initial introduction.


      2. I got heartily sick of the girls’ bickering as I think I’ve commented before. And I was uncomfortable with the whole Baxter-Green scenario. I used to like Baxter but he’s not as wise as I’d originally believed (in the early series).

        I suspect Bonneville would have needed a bigger break to film Monuments Men! Particularly given they probably filmed all this in a concentrated period! Interesting idea re Gregson. I must say that I hadn’t thought of that as we were watching the series.

        (Sorry I’ve been AWOL. February turned out to be a busy month and I barely had time to keep up with my own blog!).


        1. WG,

          Good to have you back. February for us had been a stay home time really because of the cold weather. No matter, there’s Downton every week, something for us to look forward to. 😉


  2. I saw this terrible look Bates gave at the end of the episode – I think he knows now. As for Robert Grantham going away I was wondering if his ship will sink so that he can leave the show for more movie projects and all the next plots that could ensue.

    On another subject I’d like to tell you about the books I bought at the monthly Atlanta Antique Fair last Sunday. Five hard bound John Steinbeck books I have not read (not required in my school in France …) Published between 1935 and 42 they are in “fine” condition – dark brown with turquoise covering and illustrated with woodcuts – The Moon is Brown, The Grapes of Wrath, The Long Valley, of Mice and Men and Tortilla Flat. The dealer told me “$15 each but you can have them for $10 each” so I left to find my husband to ask him if he had any of them – he could not remember. I came back and told the dealer I’d give him $20 for the five volumes and he agreed. Then later I went by a dealer who sold many old leather bound books. I found two in French, by Guy de Maupassant from the 1920s, gilded in gold, Notre Coeur and Le Horla. He also wanted $15 each but I offered him $10 for both and he accepted. I think these were great deals, don’t you? Don’t know when I’ll read them though as I am in my Russian literature mode reading right now.


    1. VB,

      Those are excellent finds you got from the Atlanta Antique Fair. Are they first edition? I just checked, The Grapes of Wrath was first published by The Viking Press in 1939. If they are first editions, in ‘fine’ condition, $20 for all five volumes are incredible deals! So’s the Maupassant, gilded too. Excellent finds indeed. Talking about antique books, a few years ago during another European trip, my son bought a couple of Schopenhauer’s works, small hardcovers, in just ‘fair’ condition, the date is 1891. I think those two are the oldest books we have in our house. 😉


  3. I quite liked this episode. I still don’t like Blake all that much, although I thought the scene was effective if a bit far- fetched. Curious to see where Tom goes with his new relationship, and I really liked the Violet/ Isobel scenes. Isobel really went out of her way to care for Violet and that will of course deepen their friendship. Loved to see them playing cards and having so much fun. Fellowes must like to write scenes where the Maggie Smith character gets to say “goody” (Gosford Park reference).

    I thought the Edith scenes were a little harrowing, and well done. Still wondering where the heck Gregson has got off to. All in all, a very good episode and we’re starting to wind down towards the finale now. Great recap!


    1. Greg.

      I don’t remember the ‘goody’ utterances from Maggie Smith in Gosford Park. Can you remind me again? I’ve found that it is natural for Jualian Fellowes to allude to other works. He’s one fine writer.


      1. You know, as I thought about it I realized she didn’t say goody”, but “yummy” in Gosford. I think that’s when she has breakfast in bed and remarks that they always serve a good breakfast there. Not sure where I got “Goody” from… oops! I do enjoy her character in both shows, such as pleasure to watch!


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