Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 4, Episode 7 of PBS' "Downton Abbey."
Every action has an equal and opposition reaction, Newton once prescribed, and no more is the third law of motion more evident than in tonight's episode of "Downton Abbey." We knew from early on in the season that Anna's brutal attack would see a retribution, nor were we entirely satisfied with the stern dressing-down Mrs. Hughes gave Anna's perpetrator, Mr. Green, in the shoe room. Well now Julian Fellowes leaves us wondering no longer about what will become of Lord Gillingham's seedy valet. The answer is that he is dead. On that, I say: Good riddance.
The bigger question, of course, is exactly how, Green has died. Lady Mary swears a kind of Girl Scout honor to Anna and asks Gillingham to dismiss him. And that is what leaves us uneasy about watching Mr. Bates gloat around the house with too-bright of a smile in tonight's episode. Green would have been gone anyway. While Anna accompanies Lady Mary to London for a brief visit -- more on that later -- Mr. Bates asks Mr. Carson for permission to take a day trip to York.
What he really means is a day trip to London to kill the bloody guy who raped his wife. We learn later that Mr. Green has died while crossing the street the same day after stumbling onto the road and getting run over by a vehicle, and that's basically that.
When the news comes to Downton, Mr. Bates appears genuinely happy for the first time in weeks. Even as Anna stares at him in a mixture of fear and gratitude, Mr. Bates simply says: "You know me, when I do a thing, I have to have a very good reason for doing it," then walks away. Mr. Bates has always been a character of dubious quality on the show, first with the limp and cane, then his mysterious ex-wife and false accusation of murder. And between his general reticence and obsession with Anna (yes, I know that she's his wife, but I still think he doth likes her too hard), we always got the sense that he could be a dangerous man. Now he is a gleeful dangerous man.
Meanwhile, Lady Edith finally gets a little TLC from her family members after dropping the pregnancy bomb on Aunt Rosamund last week. Ever resourceful, Rosamund hatches a tried-but-true plan to take off to Switzerland for a few months, where Edith can remain anonymous and give up the baby for adoption. But almost immediately, the more cynical members of the house call the duo out on their plan. "Why YOU? You have no interest in French," Lady Mary pointedly asks Edith, never one to let her younger sister get away with anything. Dowager Countess has seen enough in her time to understand the implication of their sabbatical, and forces a confession out of them. The cat is out of the bag, and suddenly Edith and the Dowager are sitting in the garden, talking about the baby in broad daylight, with the Dowager offering to pay for all of Edith's costs. As her family's backbone, the Dowager is tough but strong, and here she delivers the exact kind of "cherishing" that Edith has needed all along.
Also in need of some cherishing is the impish young Rose, who apparently works fast -- she's gone from making out underneath staircases to getting a marriage proposal in a matter of weeks. Yes, Rose probably hates her mother and wanted to shock her and "watch her face crumble" as she paraded around her forbidden fiancé around the house. But I was disappointed to see her relationship with band leader Jack Ross end so anticlimactically after the weeks-long buildup. Mary makes a dramatic visit all the way to Lotus Club in London, where Jack regularly performs, makes a terrific speech about public suffering and societal alienation and how both the color of his skin and his profession as a musician would freak her father out, and then Jack just sort of sits back and looks at her and says ... okay. He knows he's lost, and quickly gives up, even if there are some fake niceties exchanged in the end about living in a "better world." Everyone knows that's just rich speak for "not in my lifetime."
Downstairs, there was more drama involving Alfred, Ivy and Daisy. Alfred returns to Yorkshire to attend his father's funeral, and to make one final bid for Ivy's attention, after having written her with an offer of marriage and a move to London. She declines, because she's been such a big hit with the boys thus far and wants to see if she'll meet someone better. I, for one, am glad to see Alfred's departure, because that means the end of this tired love triangle. But it was beautiful and gratifying to see the moment that Daisy becomes a woman and deliver a basket of goods to her crush and friend before he left Yorkshire one last time. Ivy's arrogance made Ms. Patmore cringe. Daisy's grace made her cry.
Cora's new lady's maid is always sewing, huh? First, Ms. Baxter is mending some clothes with the sewing machine when Molesley comes sauntering down the stairs and fields some prying questions about Anna and Bates. Then she's sewing a blanket by hand as Molesley comes by to boldly invite her for coffee. "It's just coffee, you won't have to surrender any of your independence. Ms. Baxter, I do know what it's like to feel fragile, I felt fragile my whole life. You'd have realized we don't much care for Mr. Barrow, which might offend you. But I wish you would give us credit for making up our minds about you." Whoa! Where has this self-assured Molesley been all this time? It's like he's a new person now that he's faced with a potential love interest on the show. Perhaps the two of them can couple up and occupy another cabin on Downton property, one where they can sew and drink coffee to their hearts' delight.
And finally, if ever a Britishism were to be revived across the pond, let it be the phrase "desire of suitors," the eloquent euphemism for the battle brewing between Lord Gillingham and Mr. Blake for Lady Mary's hand. (Sorry Evelyn, you have NOT been given a rose in this edition of "The Bachelorette: Period Dating Like It's 20th Century England.") The more Mary fends off both men, the more they continue to pursue her, in the only manner that men of a certain class appeared to do back then: making surprise visits, annoying the heck out of her, then hitching rides with each other on their way back home to London. Rinse, recycle, repeat. The love triangle compels Robert, fresh from his return from America, to deliver the best line of the episode: "What sort of ménage has that turned into while I've been away?"
With that, I'll leave you with this until next week. Lawn parties!
"Downton Abbey" airs Sundays on PBS at 9 P.M. ET.
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