The number of articles on Downton since the close of series four in the US last Sunday must be in the hundreds! That’s a slight exaggeration, but it does seem everyone watching the show has an opinion and isn’t shy about expressing it., including me of course! I had several ideas for my post-at first I thought I might rehash my predictions and hopes for the series. Then I thought I’d talk about what we didn’t find out-hah those facts are legion. Not a whole lot happened this series to advance some of the main themes of the show.
I finally realized that although plot lines stagnated and viewers were cruelly manipulated (see Green’s vicious assault on Anna Bates during the much publicized opera song), actual events included that rape and a pregnancy, and not much else.
So instead of focusing on all the things that didn’t happen and all the questions remaining unanswered, I decided to present some pivotal moments from series four. The inspiration for this theme came to me while watching the Christmas special for the second time. When Mary throws the York to London train ticket, found by Mrs Hughes in Bates’ coat pocket, into the fire, I said, “that was the best moment of the series”. For obvious reasons-not only does it mean that Bates will never have to face questions or suspicion about his trip to London, sparing the Bates’ yet more trouble (Fellowes loves to break their hearts), but it evidences a change in Mary as well-from spoiled rich girl trying to save the family place, to a lady up to challenge of her birthright. Maybe the actions Bates was willing to take, with no questions asked, to help Lord Grantham out of a sticky situation make her realize that loyalty must go both ways? This was a watershed as far I am concerned, and along with one of my other favorite moments, Blake and Mary saving the pigs in episode seven, signals her entrance into adulthood and the responsibilities of her inheritance.
Another favorite moment was Mrs Hughes confronting Green in episode seven. Mrs Hughes has always been the champion of all downstairs, as well as making no bones about it when the servants slip up, but her inner mama grizzly appears during this confrontation. She spit fire as she faces down Anna’s rapist, and makes it clear that he is fooling no one.
Tom Branson does some growing up this series, and his moment demonstrates how far he has come, even with all his self-doubt. I could have done without the return of that scheming maid, but Sarah the village schoolteacher is an interesting, if smarmy, addition. At first their pairing seems a fait accompli, but then…I, for one, think Tom is past Miss Bunting’s charms. When Sarah’s car breaks down in episode six and Tom reveals more of his past while fixing it, he has his moment when the teacher says that after hearing his story, she will look at those in the big house differently, as she doesn’t normally like their “type”. Tom looks her square in the face and tells her that he doesn’t believe in types, he believes in people. In a flash, we all, including Tom, realize (the teacher’s bald disrespect to both Lady Violet and Lady Cora aside) that this girl is not for him. Tom has grown, and although he no longer knows exactly where the future may lead, I think he may know where it’s not going. I’ll be very surprised if there’s any more talk of moving to Ireland or America.
Edith-oh poor Edith! If it wasn’t for bad luck, she wouldn’t have any luck at all! Some may say that her best moment occurrs in the Christmas special when she decides to go get her little girl, but although I think that is a brave decision which will change her life, I see Edith’s moment arriving earlier, in the seventh episode when she walks (runs!) out of the abortion clinic. That moment signals the start of a new Edith; a girl in charge of her own life, come what may. Although looking back it seems Fellowes is determined to have each sister beget at least one child to carry on the family. My prediction about Edith’s little girl? It won’t be long before the secret is out.
Several moments involve Lady Violet and Mrs. Crawley this series. Of course the interaction that comes to mind is Lady Violet’s illness, but that doesn’t make my list. The scene in episode six where Mrs Crawley discovers that Lady Violet took that gardener back into her employ was a moment for both of them. Clearly the Lady got the better of Mrs. C! However, Lady Violet’s face in episode six when she shows Mrs. C the flowers from Lord Merton reveals a softer side (well everything is relative)-Lady Violet may think both Lord Merton and Mrs.C are awful bores, but seems tickled that romance may blossom for them.
The most important moment here though belongs to Mrs. C, in the scene in the Christmas special with Lord Merton in which she explains to him why she will attend Rose’s ball after all. We know she understands that the family, posh as they are, have stuck with her through thick and thin, and she is “lucky to have them”, however in this scene she acknowledges for the first time a little snobbery on her part in her attitude towards them in the past. Quite a watershed moment for her as well.
Carson’s moment in this series occurs in the second episode when he turns up at the train station to see his old adversary off to Ireland, and hears the truth about his lost love. This is a turning point for him, as it frees his broken heart from its shackles at last, and opens it to the possibilities presented by Mrs. Hughes. Will we see love bloom for them after the trip to the seaside?
Mr. Moseley is very lucky that Carson allows him to put on the footman’s gloves, because his moment results from his interactions with Baxter, the new lady’s maid with a dark secret. Not only does he champion her against Thomas, and give her resolve to do what is right and let the chips fall where they may, but Baxter gives Moseley renewed confidence in return. She makes him realize that he is a very lucky man, with a proper family and a place in the village; he had always taken that for granted. His moment comes in episode seven at the fair when he rings the bell after big-shot Jimmy failed! The look on his face says it all; pride, gratitude, and a little humility. A turning point!
Daisy-you may say that Daisy’s moment comes when she turns down the offer to go to America and cook for Harold Levinson, but I never had any doubt about that outcome. She appreciates the offer, to be sure, but more and more I believe she sees her future at the farm, close to the land. She’s no city girl!
Did I miss anything? Please comment below if you think I left something out-I’d love to hear your fourth series “moments”!
As for predictions, I think I will pass on them for now. Maybe, considering I will be in the UK this fall for the fifth series there, I’ll revisit that subject over the summer. I have to say, however, and this is unchanged from last year, I think Tom and Rose are meant to be. Scoff if you like, but wouldn’t he be just enough of an outsider to satisfy her wild streak, plus damn fine with his shirt off? And she is a modern girl-flighty to be sure, but she’s still young and full of life, just like Sybil. Well we’ll see…
Thanks for reading!