‘Downton Abbey’ Recap: Season 4 American Episode 3

January 20 16:50 2014

Downton Abbey’s third episode very much dealt with the fallout from the weekend party. Anna is still trying to deal with her rape on her own terms, Robert and Cora continue to play the behind the scenes matchmaking for Gilliam and Mary, and the audience finds out exactly what happened after Edna disappeared into Branson’s room. But episode three also came with some very shocking, and perhaps somewhat confusing, moments that will, most likely, pop back up later in the season. The third episode of Downton felt like the most cohesive episode of the young season and, perhaps, the most fun as the zingers flew freely and the comeuppance was doled out justly.

The episode began the morning of the weekend guests’ departure, so very little time had passed for Anna to process what had happened to her the night before. Mary put Gilliam off for a date in London and Branson had let Edna know what a mistake he had made by not refusing her the night before, after she had got him drunk. However, in what would become a theme for the episode, everything began moving incredibly quickly.

As Branson is trying to be gentlemanly in regards to letting Edna know that the previous night was a mistake, Edna insisted that when she became pregnant he would have to become her husband. Clearly, this was her plan all along to move up in the social strata. Branson was at a complete loss by this tactic the entire episode and was gloomy the entire episode, as multiple people – including Mary – noticed. If things weren’t bad enough for Branson he, again, was called into duty as Aunt Rosamund’s date to the dancing club in London – having to entertain the odd woman out once more.

The whole dancing club idea was Rose’s, who shoehorned herself into the London trip with Mary and Branson. Cora and Rosamund had plotted a “chance” meeting for Gilliam and Mary – despite her refusal for a date earlier in the episode – and since Gilliam brought Sir John along with him, Rose couldn’t help but offer up the suggestion of the dance club. Once there, however, not everything came out Rosy (ahem). While Mary and Gilliam were discussing the possibility of a relationship, Mary every so slightly warming up Gilliam’s persistence, a too far into his cups Sir John was making a fool out of both himself and Rose on the dance floor. Once Sir John disappeared for the night, Rose was left stranded and humiliated on the dance floor – until Jack Ross, the band’s black singer, swoops in from the stage to save her. Jack, the first black character on the show, gets enough time to have Rose become interested before Rosamund sends Branson to break up this interracial dance pair. Although don’t be surprised if Jack and Rose meet up again later in the season.

Gilliam follows Mary back to Downton the next day as everything comes to a head. Branson tells Mrs. Hughes about the Edna debacle while Gilliam tells Mary, yet again, how much he loves her. Mrs. Hughes completely calls Edna out on her conniving plot to entrap Branson when she reveals she knows all about her birth control book and gets Edna to admit that she is not pregnant – although everyone knows that no one would know for a few weeks if she was. Edna leaves in a huff, much to Thomas’s liking because he has a perfect candidate for the new lady’s maid.

Meanwhile, only after a week of courtship, Gilliam proposes to Mary. He knows that she will need time and promises to wait years if he has to as long as he has that promise of marriage. And if this proposal didn’t seem ridiculous enough, Gilliam refused to wait for Mary to make a decision, saying that he would marry his current girlfriend if she said no. This entire incident seemed like nothing more than a plot construction to prematurely end the Gilliam/Mary plot and to add some extra drama to the proceedings. Perhaps he will pop up again but the proposal and his conditions were clearly manufactured for the sake of the plot.

There’s not much more to discuss about Anna, unfortunately. As she continues to process what happened to her she distances herself more and more from Bates, which perplexes him. By the end of the episode, Bates tells Robert about his relationship trouble and Anna moves back into Downton because she can’t be around Bates. Anna is also utterly convinced that Bates will kill Gilliam’s servant if he finds out so she continues to refuse to tell him. Joanne Froggatt, the actress who plays Anna, is doing an excellent job portraying the tortured rape victim but her particular storyline – at least in the context of the other plots in Downton – won’t offer much movement until Bates finds out or Anna does something even more drastic.

It also seems as though the love quadrangle has finally come to a head. Daisy catches Jimmy and Ivy going into the boot room for a bit of privacy and tells Alfred where they are so he can catch them kissing, which he does. While Alfred has always been interested in Ivy, I had never realized that he was completely in love with her. Alfred always actually cared more for Ivy than Jimmy seemingly ever did but the reveal of Alfred’s love was rather surprising. This also looks to put a plan in motion for Alfred to apply for an apprenticeship at a fancy hotel in London but who knows if this plot will actually continue, or if something between Ivy and Alfred will materialize instead.

Isobel also rejoined the world of the living at the behest of Dr. Clarkson as she is helping him set up an open clinic for the town. And it looks like the Edith and Gregson relationship will soon be coming to a head as Gregson will be traveling to Munich in a week’s time.

Who knows which plots will continue and which will end but episode three certainly moved every plotline forward. It was an entertaining episode that featured just the right amount of comeuppance, zingers, and plot that make the show so fun to watch.

You can catch Downton Abbey Sunday evenings on PBS’s Masterpiece series.



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Chris Baggiano
Chris Baggiano

Chris graduated from the University of Iowa with a double major in English and Cinema.

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