Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you have not yet seen Season 4, Episode 3 of PBS' "Downton Abbey."
After last week's extremely upsetting episode, many viewers of "Downton Abbey" wondered where the show could possibly go from there, what with a violent attack on one of the show's most beloved characters.
The answer is that it just goes on. Life picks up its pace for the upstairs and downstairs portions of the "Downton" household. Mary finds herself the subject of sudden, intense adoration by Lord Gillingham -- the type of man who can't take no for an answer. Edith continues to cause female viewers to shake their heads with her naivety as she signs an "authority" contract drawn up by her untrustworthy boyfriend, Michael Gregson, without even reading the damn thing. (Who else yelled at the screen, "Eeeeedddith! Don't do it!"). And youngest Lady of the house Rose scandalizes her chaperoning family members by dancing with Jack Ross, the black lead singer of a band playing in a posh London nightclub (and the first black character to appear on the show). Times: they're definitely a-changing.
Anna remains mostly quiet and sullen after her attack. Her silence draws the attention of Lady Mary and even Lord Grantham, who in return shares earnest marriage advice to Mr. Bates in one his more endearing moments. ("My goodness, that was strong talk for an Englishman!") Meanwhile, Mr. Bates just can't seem to get through to Anna -- a mere touch on her shoulder is enough to send her scurrying away. Anna delivers a blow to Mr. Bates as a way to avoid further questioning: "We live together, we work together. Sometimes, I think it's just too much." She moves upstairs because she can't let Mr. Bates touch her, though Mr. Bates avows to her that he will find out what is at the root of Anna's sudden turn.
As Mary, Rose, Aunt Rosamund and Tom make a quick trip to London, Anna is told to accompany them. Mary's dedicated suitor, Lord Gillingham, shows up on every occasion possible, causing panic in both Anna (and the viewer) that she will be forced to confront her evil attacker once again. Luckily for Anna, Mr. Green is nowhere to be found, but Gillingham's proximity to Mary introduces the threat of the valet's imminent return to Downton.
Meanwhile, Lady Mary continues to fend off Gillingham's advances by making polite chatter about not being ready while clearly infatuated with her old family friend. Mary's affect in her tone is stiff, careful; the expression on her face tells quite the different story. Perhaps these mixed messages are what compelled Tony to ask Mary to marry him even when she is quite clearly telling him no: if only he could get her to kiss him, surely she would realize that the chemistry was not one-sided. "I'll never love again as I love you in this moment. And I must have something to remember," he pleads. In the end, Tony doesn't end up "filling Mary's brain" and so she leaves him heartbroken, taking off for York with Tom and confirming Tony's engagement to another woman to her disappointed father.
As for Edith, we're pretty sure Aunt Rosamund has said everything we could ever want to say to a young naive girl who signs a contract with a married man without even reading it -- then spends the night with him as he prepares to fly off to Germany for basically forever. "You're trusting this man with your name and your reputation ... You're a grown woman, and I'm not a spy. But you're gambling with your future, my dear. Be under no illusions, a lot may be changing, but some things will stay the same. No, you don't look sorry. But you may find yourself feeling very sorry later."
The most satisfying story line of the episode, of course, is the banishing of Edna Braithwaite from Downton. After sleeping with him, Braithwaite doesn't take Tom's comment about being "full of regrets -- there is nothing but in regret in me" so well. She attempts to corner him into a marriage proposal by claiming to be pregnant with his child. Tom finally gathers enough courage to open up about his Edna problem to Mrs. Hughes, who is exactly the kind of resourceful and understanding person to handle these kind of things. Thankfully, Mrs. Hughes cuts through Edna's b*llshit with a brilliant speech and sends her packing with that weird book of instructions.
Last but not least, I'm rather enjoying the delightful little cuppa tea conversations between Carson and Mrs. Hughes, an old pair of friends pondering life and love. "The business of life is the acquisition of memories, in the end that's all there is," Mr. Carson tells Mrs. Hughes after she frames a photograph of his long lost love and gifts it to him. Lovely.
I can't wait for next week's episode when more will be revealed about Edith's relationship with Michael, and whether or not Mary comes around to Tony's marriage proposal. But for now, I'll leave you with this:
"Downton Abbey" airs Sundays on PBS at 9 P.M. ET.
Follow Youyoung Lee on Twitter: @youyoung_lee.