It may not be Christmas at Downton, but with Rose’s Ball being the focus the only difference really is an exchange of presents. But, as with all things Rose, drama is all around.
Review (with Spoilers)
It has only been a few months since the last episode, and it is one month before this season’s US premiere, and I don’t know who can be considered luckier? Those in the UK for seeing it first, or those in the US for getting the whole season straight through? Either way, between a royal scandal averted; Cora’s American family visiting; and the happenings of the staff, we are given quite a bit within the hour and a half episode.
Topic 1: The Americans are Coming!
In this episode there is a lot of culture clashing as Cora’s mother, and brother Harold (played by Paul Giamati) come to visit as part of their European tour, as well as to celebrate Rose’s coming out. Naturally though, between those two and their traveling staff, many issues arise. Cora’s mother, for example, naturally clashes with Violet, two women who maybe of similar age but living during two different times; then you have Harold who is forced to join his mother amongst the aristocracy and seemingly fumbles each social situation he is in, though in stride; and then there is Harold’s valet who finds getting accustomed to how those who serve the rich in England to be clearly different than how American workers handle things.
Starting with Harold though, and his mother to a point, both find themselves the subject to an attempt for marriage, by a father and daughter at that. The father, naturally, pursues Cora’s mother, and the daughter, Madeline, a friend of Rose, pursues Harold. However, being that Harold is rich, and a self-proclaimed playboy, he doesn’t seem to take to Madeline the way she perhaps was supposed to, and the reason I say supposed to is because I was left unsure if she was trying to rope him, or if her dad pushed for them interacting so it may possibly happen. Still though, during their interactions we learn quite a bit about the man Lord Grantham had to bail out. Outside of him being more so a sugar daddy than playboy, he is also a bit insecure and seemingly doesn’t have the grace of his sister or charm of his mother. Leaving him with just money which seemingly he believes is the only thing leading to any woman having interest in him, and for their company he gives them a diamond bracelet. However, Madeline is different in such a way where it seems that with time, maybe they could fall in love, or have a long lasting friendship at least. In a way, Harold seems like the women in his life, who aren’t family or staff, just use him and he tries to get whatever he can before they leave, but Madeline seemingly will become the first woman to see him as a person who has interests, and will seek his company for just that, and not what monetary gain she can get from it.
Unfortunately though, her father isn’t so noble in his pursuit of the mother. He thinks between his mother’s money, and his title, they both equally benefit. However, the mother admits to more leading him on than anything. She wanted to have a memorable time and considering her distaste for the ways of the old world, simply watching Rose be presented wouldn’t be enough. Funny enough though, Dowager Violet thought she would fall for Madeline’s father’s ploy, something which insults her a bit and leads to the two having a nice back and forth, which strangely Harold’s mother wins, in my opinion.
Topic 1.5: Coming to America
As for the staff of Downton they, as usual, have as much, if not more, going on than the aristocrats. Take for instance Mr. Levinson aka Harold’s valet who has a thing for Daisy, and clashes with Mr. Carson. Seemingly, Mr. Carson and the valet are neither too familiar with each other’s culture, and being that the boy is outnumbered, he often fumbles adjusting to English custom. Be it him talking to guest while he acts as a footman, using American slang in such a way which makes it sound like he wants to do something unbecoming of a young lady, or him speaking badly about his employer in a way beyond gossiping. But, amongst all these various social trips, sort of speak, he continues to pursue Daisy to the point of convincing Harold to get himself an English cook. Sadly though, at least for the boy, Daisy declines, but Ivy jumps at the chance. Seemingly, maybe due to Jimmy’s influence in the past and Alfred moving on, she wants a change in life and sees this as her shot. Now, the boy, as you would expect, isn’t the fondest of this idea, but he goes with it. Thus seemingly leaving Ivy on her way out and Daisy just giddy some boy pursued her. A foreign one at that.
Topic 2: A Scandal Averted
Focusing on Rose for a moment, the lead up to her Ball and presentation is filled with drama due to two main factors: the first deals with her acquaintance with the Prince of Wales who seemingly is ready to leave his bride to be and get with this woman Ms. Dawdy, and then the second factor deals with Mr. Samson, the card shark, stealing a letter which was given to the price to Ms. Dudley, which naturally could cause a scandal. Rose approaches Lord Grantham in order to get his assistance and, in turn, he turns to Bates to commit forgery so they can search Samson’s apartment, but Bates ends up finding the letter in Samson’s coat pocket to save the day, and thank goodness for that for Mary damn near was about to turn him in.
You see, Bates left an incriminating ticket in his coat pocket which Ms. Hughes gets a hold of when she is looking for coat donations for the people of Russia. She decides to go to Mary so that the Bates family aren’t rocked by another issue after Bates’ imprisonment and Anna’s rape. Now, Ms. Hughes figures the bastard got what was coming to him, but Mary has this sense of justice which is only ended upon Bates’ loyalty to the family being shown. Making it seem like Bates may have gotten away with murder.
Topic 3: Love Is On Its Way
But, while those two scandals were averted, one is on its way. Edith, as of this episode, had her child and left her in Geneva, but guilt is rising in her as there is news of Mr. Gregson having violent interactions with which I assume is the eventual Nazi party, and him maybe being alive. Then again, even if he isn’t then she needs to worry about his child getting something. So, against Rosalind’s wishes, she decides to send for her daughter and use the original plan she had where one of the farmers raise her so that she can at least see her daughter, even if she can’t keep her the way she wants. The farmer is even kind enough to keep it between the two of them and just tell his wife a friend died and left the girl in his care.
Leaving us to one more thing worth noting: All the love in the air. Between Tom and Ms. Sarah Bunting, Ms. Crawley and Lord Berton, and Ms. Baxter and Moseley, everyone seems on their way to moving on from past troubles and finding love again. For Tom and Sarah though, there seems to be some issue due to Thomas (Barrow) being envious of how Tom has rised and he remains a staff, much less one which waits on him. Now, the reason this jealousy is mentioned is because Tom brings Sarah to Downton for a tour and Thomas catches them while walking upstairs, mind you the house is empty to it looks like he is trying to sneak her in for some “fun.” Naturally though, Tom tells Thomas it is innocent and, as is fact, Sarah just wanted to see the gallery from upstairs. This doesn’t stop Thomas though from snitching on Tom and telling Lord Grantham.
As for Ms. Crawley, admittedly her romance, as is Tom’s, isn’t that intriguing since they both are in the friendship stage, but Lord Berton seems a bit more aggressive than Tom. You see, Ms. Crawley has been invited to Rose’s Ball, since she is family, but isn’t sure if she will go, neither is Lord Berton, though he makes it known that if she goes he goes. Leading to us seeing him pop up when she goes to the ball and asking for a dance. Dull, yes, but also cute.
Lastly, we must mention Ms. Baxter and Mr. Moseley. As we saw earlier in the season, Moseley is trying his best to keep Ms. Baxter away from Thomas so that she doesn’t end up ostracized like him. Sadly though, whatever Thomas has on her seems strong, but seemingly with Moseley’s words and kindness, she begins to get a backbone and stands up to Thomas. What this will mean in the next season, who knows?
I guess technically this is more so the season finale than the last episode, but considering the time jump it almost feels more appropriate to consider this a prologue. Either way, it maintains the quality of the Downton Abbey series and drops a lot of hints of what is to come in 2014. Here is to then!
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