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Downton Abbey Review: Not These Days

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Finally.

On Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 3 - after wading through three fairly depressing hours of this season - we have an hour we can, well, make light of a bit.

And, dammit, we deserve it. Things were getting a bit out of hand with the depression, and this week even Lady Mary waded out of her loss of Matthew. We still have to deal with Anna, and I have a feeling things are going to slide down the crapper for Edith, but not so badly that they can't take a little poking and jabbing.

To that end, I'm also pulling my 1920s lingo dictionary to pepper the review with fun words. Because I can.

Mary, Gillingham and Rosamund in London DA

It's just a little over 6 months since Matthew died and Mary has already gotten another marriage proposal. Sometimes Mary seems like the bee's knees. Twice in this hour alone I was reminded of how she lost her virginity (to some random bimbo who had the audacity to die just afterward). We'll talk about that more in depth shortly. Other times she can seem like a "Mrs. Grundy," very tightly strung, and I wonder how all of these men fall for her.

Of the three ladies of the house, Mary never struck me as the one who would pull in the most suitors, but that's certainly been the case. Granted, Sybil fell for Tom right quick and Edith was left with so little confidence she was barely noticeable. Still, what a life Mary has lead. Lord Gillingham wasn't fooling around, either. The words he spoke to her were extraordinary.

I'll never love again as I love you in this moment, and I must have something to remember.

Gillingham

Can you imagine someone speaking to you like that after such a short time spent together? Anthony was already pre-engaged to someone else, and he and Mary hadn't seen each other since childhood, yet he was so in love he was certain he'd never love like that again. At least Mary had the good sense to realize she probably made a grave error in turning him down.

It seems like Tom is quite the pushover when he's had too much to drink, because despite the fact that Edna gives us the heebie jeebies, he definitely slept with her after the house party on Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 2. Tom's near discussion about it with Mary was one of the times I was reminded of her sexual liaison gone wrong. She encouraged him to talk about it, and he did -- to Mrs. Hughes. 

Mrs. Hughes was pretty good at wrangling out of Edna that she was nothing more than a gold digger framing Tom for marriage. Honestly, I didn't like how easily he sloughed her off with his "it doesn't happen that easily" comment about pregnancy, but I also felt for him that Edna was even allowed back in the house. 

I wonder who Thomas has in store as a recommendation for a replacement. Honestly, I was just shocked to learn he had any friends outside of the house. Who knew?

Anna is having quite the difficult time after her rape, as anyone would, but her decision to keep Bates out of it is so painful to watch. Another man who loves his woman so deeply, and yet she seems to have no idea to what lengths. I think if she would have Mrs. Hughes help out by starting a conversation saying "she's not telling you because she is afraid you will kill someone. If you love her as much as you say you do, then you must do what is right for her, not because of what happened to her," Bates would be able to do the right thing by Anna.

When Bates told Robert that whatever is wrong in their marriage is obviously his fault because Anna is incapable of fault, my heart broke. This is another situation where Mary's past would come in handy. Mary tried to reach out to Anna, but Anna didn't take the bait.

When Mary found herself sullied and with a dead dude in her bed, it was to Anna that she turned. They may be master and servant (ewww, I don't like those terms, but you get it), but they have been through so much together. On that night, I think it bound them in a way that cannot be broken and if there is anyone Anna can trust with her problem, it's Mary. It's such a shame that Anna doesn't see all of the people nearby that can be of help.

While the gang was in London at the swanky restaurant and club listening to the new jazz man play, Rose's date decided to upchuck while they were dancing and Jazz Man Jack Ross came to her rescue. The sweet smell of illicit romance is in the air, isn't it? Why not? It's already all over her cousin Edith.

Gregson is preparing to get off to Munich (where the entire world dares not go after WWI) to get his divorce. Apparently it's going to take a long time if he thinks he will have time to write an entire novel while there. I'm thinking if they had color-coded travel alerts, they would probably have a red one for European travelers to the region, don't you? How safe is his trip going to be?

To prove to Edith that everything is on the up and up, Gregson has her sign some papers giving her control over his affairs. To what end or how much, we don't know. It's a nice idea though, and it makes you wonder what's going to happen while he's gone because they decide to stay in that night, start necking (making out to those of you unfamiliar with the slang) and the next thing you know, Rosamund is acting the part of a wet blanket and spoiling all the fun when Edith arrives back at the house at 6am.

Whatever did they do all night? Did Edith take a page out of Mary's handbook and lose a little something over at Gregson's? Did she have Edna's book on how not to get pregnant as a result? So many tips and clues were dropped that it's impossible to expect her not to be preggers shortly.

While the older set seems to bemoan how things are changing (worries that they might not find staff at the ready and how frequently people are not properly dressed for dinner are topping the list of complaints) with a steady reminder to viewers using the phrase, "not these days," the younger set it taking in the world and all that it offers with gusto. Change is inevitable, my friends.

The season just started and it feels like it's already setting itself up for an ending! If you've missed any of the episodes so far, be sure to watch Downton Abbey online by clicking the hyperlink!

Do you think Edith will get pregnant?

 

Review

Editor Rating: 4.4 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (19 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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I only recently got hooked into Downton Abbey I loved S 1, S 2, S3!!!!!!!!! But season 4 is kinda boring. But I guess that is due to the fact that Branson & Sybil were my favorite!!!!!!!! I hate that JBF wanted to leave and so Sybil died I would have loved for her to have stayed but I wonder if Branson & Sybil would have been at Downton. But I miss those two together so much. I have spent the last couple of weekends binge watching Downton on DVD and finally caught up with all of season 4 for the real time finally tonight.

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Season 4 was drawn out and unbielivable in the stupidity of characters. Can't the Earl see through Thomas's cunningness and dishonesty to let him go? and neither does Mr. Carson? Or mary's No 1 suitor loving her passionately the first couple of days they were together? Mr. Fellows is very tired with this story... If the show is to be enjoyed it should have drama and stimulating plot, not to be common and unimaginative like daytime soap operas. If # 5 is same, it has already reached its "best before" date.
But the glamour and fashion is, as always, the big draw in such shows.

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the orchestra music during the scenes between Mary n tom are just phenomenal

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I disagree w/Tricia about the "truth" of how characters are written. Has Anna ever been raped before? No. We have no idea how she would react under such violent circumstances. Remember, this is NOT 2014. Anna is a woman, a servant, and this is the 1920's. Rape was still considered a "he said, she said" crime, with the benefit of the doubt being given to men and anyone in a higher station. Many women & girls in the same position react the same way even today, by pushing away people they love & internalizing their pain, especially when they've been violated by an acquaintance or someone who knows their family. Many times that makes it even harder for them to report the crime. Also, where did you get the idea that the crime of rape is overly dramatic like a "soap opera?" IMO, it's more fictional and contrived that rape would *never* occur in a locale like DA, an estate the size of which would require at least 80 servants living & working completely separate from the family, and many of those not even seeing the main family. If you were to do some research about what life was like for many of the servants in this decade, you'd know it's a lot more accurate than the rosy fairytale you apparently wish to see. Rape, unfortunately, became more common in this time after WWI due to social reasons. Won't bore you with all the details. Suffice it to say that assimilating back into normal life was difficult for many men who had been soldiers, and there was a lot of resentment toward middle & lower-class women who were working at more jobs & not staying home "where they belonged." Violence toward women was not just in large cities. There was plenty of it at grand estates, too. And, don't tell me it would have been better to show a character being raped who "deserves" it. That was EXACTLY the point. If you felt it was excessively brutal, uncalled for, and horrible - GOOD - because that's what the crime of rape is.

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Spoiler************* Edith does get pregnant and her man disappears in Germany. Sounds like he may have been killed by nazi! I am so tired of poor Edith! I love it after she was left at the altar, which was the right thing to do, that William said: why is everyone going poor edith? She is young, pretty, rich and nice any man would be lucky to have her. I hope this new storyline gives Edith a backbone and more power. I know Gregson had her sign papers giving Edith control of his paper I guess in the future his family will not be happy with this and what is she to do with his wife. I think this is a good storyline for Edith. Why oh why does every man fall in love with snoddy, stuck-up, rude, bit** Mary. She is awfule. Edith asked her with Sybil dead if they could try to get along better and Mary said no! She makes rude comments about Edith all the time and the family says nothing. You would think her father or mother would say something to her but no. But then again she makes rude comments to the mother about being American all the time. Mary hates American and their ways but she doesn't have a problem taking American money. That is the only reason you still are snuddy lady of Downton is because of American money and poor Lavenia's dead father! I don't understand why every man falls in love with that cow?! The storyline with Bates and Anna is stupid and not needed. The people in England were not happy with the storyline either. When will writers learn to stop falling back on the the old story of raping a woman as a way to gave a female character something to do. All I have to say is don't mess with Mrs. Hughes! Also thought Mrs. Hughes had never been married so why is her name Mrs. Hughes?!?

Mrs-cleaver
@ Grimmfan#10

I thought I saw a show where they said something like "if you are (whatever Mrs. Huges offical title is), head housekeeper say, you are automatically called Mrs."

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As I see it, the show's quality of writing is inferior to the previous seasons'. There are moments of greatness where the characters that've been created are allowed to just BE themselves, and the dialog and action seem so true: e.g., Mary and Tony's scene on the hill - her words to him about Matthew were achingly real. or even the brief scene b/tw Robert and Bates, with the Lord of the manor coming down off his usual rather snobby perch to give tender advice to a man he respects. But the entire rape storyline is utter trash. It looks as rigged up for drama as it does in any daytime soap opera. The words and actions of Anna and Bates are not *true* to who we've come to know them to be and it shows, baldly and badly. And the character of Rose and her situations are equally awful. Kudos to Mrs Cleaver's naming her Cousin Oliver!! She is about to find herself in the middle of a
"scene" due to a drunken escort who is obnoxious, rude and about to publicly toss his cookies. And the rescue is the band singer coming to dance with her!?!?!?! Really, for that time period, a black entertainer dancing with an aristocrat doesn't cause more a scene than a sloppy drunk?!?!?!? Again, the "truth" of the moment is not there, sacrificed for cheap soapy drama. I'll keep watching, but I am disappointed that Mr. Fellowes is writing as if he is desparate, rather than relying on the amazingly strong cast of characters he has already built....

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@ TriciaS

I totally agree! The writing is out of character with the cast. The only high spot of this week was Mrs. Hughes backbone was as strong as she has been known to be and in character. Julian created these people, he should known them by now. But does he?

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Braithwaite's departure was a twist I didn't see coming--I just figured she'd back off. Oh, and her calling Thomas "vile, oily, and smug" was truly a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Mary Mary Mary...he said he'd wait. Well if you don't want him, pass that FINE piece o' tailcoat ovuh here......

Mrs-cleaver

I too don't get the guys always falling all over Mary, but then again, she's REALLY rich, has a GREAT estate & isn't too hard on the eyes. So I guess it makes sense. I LOVE Mrs. Hughes, she helps everyone out.
As for Edith, things never end well for her, so I'm thinking this affair isn't going to go too well either. Surprised at Aunt Ros bawling her out for being out all nite, I get that Aunt Ros raised some eyebrows in her day. But she IS responsible for Edith right now.
And Rose is the Cousin Oliver (Brady Bunch reference, showing my age!) of Downton - ugh. Can someone please send her to India with her parents.
Poor Bates & Anna - I wish she'd just tell him but that would be too easy.

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@ Mrs. Cleaver

"But she IS responsible for Edith right now." Says who? Edith is an adult and has gone to London on her own before. Aunt Ros did well to advise Edith, but she's not her mother.

Mrs-cleaver
@ MrWriteSF

Jeez Mr. Sorry.

Modwild

Series 3 did include Mary's pregnancy, however brief given their short seasons, and most definitely Matthew's death. Are you spure you watched the right season to catch up?

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Not happy - was given Season 3 - did not include Marys pregnancy, Matthews death and whatever else I've missed..
Unfortunately have now been given season 4 and NOT INTERESTED

Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 3 Quotes

The business of life is the acquisition of memories. In the end that's all there is.

Carson

Papa, you're always saying how we're not the owners of Downton, but the caretakers. Very well, now let's take care of it.

Mary
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