Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 3- Be careful what you wish for...


Phew. I am still recovering. How about you? Whilst I've enjoyed the series so far - the settings and costumes, as ever are lush - I felt, up until Sunday night, something was missing. Lady Mary's deep grief, whilst realistic, seemed overdone. There was no gripping storyline to set the pulse racing and leave you on a cliffhanger. My emotions weren't yet thoroughly involved. 
So when I sat down, Sunday night, a jab of disappointment pricked my mind. During the first half of the show with nothing much happening apart from the arrival of guests and talk of Lady Mary's involvement with the estate, I wished for a bit of action.
There were the usual hilarious and cutting comments from the Dowager Countess and as the programme progressed I enjoyed the thought of the Lord of Grantham getting in trouble with Cora for gambling. Plus Mr Carson... Isn't he great - clearly struggling with the changes in etiquette since the war?
Yet where was the big story? Who was going to pull on my heartstrings? Cue Nigel Harman - Lord Gillingham's valet, Green. I'd been looking forward to him joining the show! I still remember Harman as twinkly-eyed Dennis in EastEnders. So, it was a double-shock for me when he attacked Anna.
The portrayal of his abuse was a case of less is more, in some ways - scenes cutting from Dame Nellie Melba's beautiful performance to hearing Anna's desperate screams for help. Whilst we only saw the beginning and aftermath of the attack on-screen, is even this the sort of action we want from Downton, on a Sunday night? I suspect it was too brutal for some viewers.
However, I feel it was sensitively done. It left me feeling angry and sad for Anna and the predicament she'd been left in. Will she be pregnant? Can Bates have children or could she pass a baby off as his? Or will the outcome be that she distances herself so much from Bates, he finds comfort elsewhere? 
As long as it isn't the dreadful new maid, Braithwaite! Clearly brought in to replace horrible O'Brien, I'd much rather see Myanna Buring, who plays her, as the beautiful blonde vampire Tanya she was in Twilight. In Downton she is devious and conniving and out to make trouble. The saucy woman clearly has her eye set on unassuming Branson.
Yes, Downton Abbey Season 4 is shaping up to be a great series and I for one won't miss a second.  It's going to be interesting to see the fallout from the last brutal episode. The story did pull on my heartstrings, yet not in a romantic way - I'm praying for Anna. That, somehow, she can find a way to move forward...


  1. Interesting, and yet I agree with you. Albeit brief, the scenes of Anna's abuse provided the necessary shock and anger for the viewers, as is so vividly argued over the media. I myself also felt physically ill and shocked after seeing the scenes and felt so desperately sorry for Anna, even though she's only a character in a TV series. I sincerely hope and pray that Julian Fellowes will NOT write a lucrative storyline about the question of Anna's baby and so on. If he does, he's not only pouring Downton's reputation and popularity down the drain, but he's also turning it into the likes of Eastenders or Coro by doing so. Downton wasn't designed for this. It was to be a light, yet detailed and insightful portrayal of a time once gone. If he were to write a sub-storyline to this description, it would put me off the show completely!
    Oh, Edna! Won't she ever go away and leave poor Branson in peace? At the closing moments of the episode, we see her advance into Branson's room and presumably took advantage of his semi-intoxicated state. When will she ever learn that 'no' is 'no'!? To be honest, I prefer O'Brien. She knew what she were about and how to maintain that line between 'Upstairs' and 'Downstairs'. Whereas Edna? Not at all.
    Don't get me wrong, I don't dislike Julian Fellowes for writing such a controversial storyline, I admire him all the more for doing it! Downton series 4 is going to be great, albeit tough and emotional for us viewers (which is exactly what we want!).
    Please do continue your discussion. They're fantastic!

  2. Hi Rupert - and thanks for commenting!! And yes, i think you are spot on, if the story goes down the baby route, it will turn into the likes of a TV soap. It's a well-worn storyline and it would be nice to see something different from Downton - perhaps Bates finds out and it's all about how he controls his anger. No doubt Green will return.
    It was very shocking - all the more shocking, i felt, because the actual attack wasn't shown. It was left to our imaginations, with those terrible screams. And also because Anna is such a lovely character and one Fellowes has made us care for.

    Isn't Edna terrible! Poor old Branson, he doesn't stand a chance! Mind you - at the moment, i'll have to disagree with you as i really could not bear O'Brien. I do think Edna is an excellent replacement though and who knows, may turn into more of a villain than her predecessor...

    Roll on next week!

  3. I'll also be interested to see how Lady Edith's love interest, Michael Gregson, develops - i think there are hints of darker shades to come...

  4. Hello again,

    Interesting, and I do believe that Anna should have more faith in Bates to control his anger. Of course, we cannot blame her as we have seen and heard evidence of Bates' anger at the former Mrs. Bates (calling her an unfriendly word, for example). As we saw in the preview for the next episode, Green (as well as his master, Lord Gillingham) is going to return and only bring more awkwardness and juicy drama to the storyline (hurray!).
    On the subject of Lord Gillingham, I reckon he makes a suitable replacement Matthew for Mary. He's nearly every bit the same as Matthew: kind, charming and pleasant. He may well bring out the kinder side in Mary that Matthew did. Who knows?
    And how about that other visitor who took an interest in Lady Rose? Would he bring out the 'sensible' side of Lady Rose (if there is one)? It will be interesting to see how that pans out.
    After the poker incident, I have began to feel doubt in Michael Gregson. I always thought that there was a 'shady' side to him, and I do not blame Lord Grantham in his suspicions over him. Perhaps, he's a spy for the other side which explains why he is so keen to gain a German citizenship? In the first episode, I remember him telling Edith a number of places where he could legally divorce his 'lunatic' wife. Why not take her there, rather than to live in the most hated nation in Europe? This will be an exciting development.

    Bring on Downton Day!

  5. Hi Ricky,

    Yes, Bates' record for keeping his cool isn't brilliant and such is his love for Anna, i don't think there is any way on this earth he wouldn't seek revenge. Even if he tried, i think Green would taunt him into it. It'll be very interesting to see if Bates does find out and what transpires.... Please, not back to jail!
    Mind you, I suspect Bates has learned a trick or two in jail, plus made some useful contacts... It wouldn't surprise me if he had the last laugh and something tragic happened to Green, leaving Bates in the clear.

    I can't decide whether i like Lord Gillingham or not yet but Mary does need bringing out of herself and needs to get on with running the estate. I can't help feeling a little sorry for the Earl of Grantham, (given the times) his life being shaped by his wife, mother and now daughter!
    Hmm, Lady Rose - i think she's going to get in a lot more scrapes before settling down!
    As for Michael Gregson, yes - lots more to find out about him, methinks, and not all of it good. Edith is very naive, despite her sharp side, and fear she'll be completely blinded to anything unsavoury about him.

    Bring on Sunday indeed! Lush setting aside, i think i love Downton because there is such an array of extraordinary characters to whom we can nevertheless relate - and care for.

  6. Hi Samantha,

    You're right actually on the Bates front. I would love to see Bates pull out one of his lessons from prison against Green and get him into prison. We surely do not want to see Bates back in prison again and Anna to unravel the crime again (but I wouldn't doubt it of her)!
    Lord Gillingham seems a nice fellow but, as is Downton's catchphrase, his 'civility (may very well be) is a facade'. Maybe there's a dark past to him? And what's this in the Episode 4 preview where Gillingham's dancing with Mary? Has he left his uppercrust of society fiancee to reel in the wealthy, mourning Lady of the Estate who's at her most weak?
    To me, Edith's just hanging on to every line that life throws at her. First, Strallan. Even I knew, he was too old and yet, she held on with all her might to hold on to him as her last hope. Next we had the mysterious 'P' Gordon, who claimed to be the presumably dead heir Patrick Gordon. Even though the evidence was there that he was indeed Peter Gordon, who worked with Patrick at the Foreign Office, she so stubbornly ignored this and clutched him like a vice. Perhaps Michael Gregson may seem like a friendly face, but may only use her to get 'a bit on the side' to the mysterious lunatic wife to whom Edith has never met before? Who knows...
    The attention that the directors and producers of Downton show towards detail is what makes it so successful. The costume, the set design, the real life set of Highclere Castle, the props which are reproduced or originals, the camerawork and the sound all blends into a beautiful masterpiece of Period Drama. I hope it never ends (but that's wishful thinking)!

  7. I think you are spot on as to why it is so appealing, Ricky- and i also like the fact Fellowes keeps the characters so true to themselves. So often in soaps characters are changed to suit the plot, but i've never really liked Edith, Mary is and always has been a bit distant... great writing!

  8. I think the Anna storyline is going to play and play. I could see Bates finding out, slipping off and quietly 'doing' the chap quietly - and getting away with it! We're all cheering for Bates, as he's had a rough end of any and all sticks so far (apart from winning Anna's love that is). BUT - she's obviously not going to be open to any sort of advance from Bates - and I'll be she's increasingly off with any man - which will lead to her secret being discovered. As to Edith (a character I've always liked and sympathised with - another rough end of stick recipient) But she doesn't really seem to realise HE's going to be German and she's going to marry him - therefore BE German too! It's all very jolly and out of her circle, really. I can see JF's setting this side of the family up for conflict come 1939 (not sure when this dollop of DA will take us to there or not. Can't wait for the next serving....

    1. Trouble is with further seaons, he can't jump too far forward because he won't be able to age the characters enough. Which is a shame, cos Downton during the Second World War would have been fascinating...

      I can't sympathise with Edith, i'm afraid! I know it's hard being the middle child but she's so bitter towards her sister... Perhaps she needs the love of a good man to soften her. Whether her current beau is that man, though, time will tell!