A Desire of Suitors: Downton Abbey Episode 7
Here we are at the penultimate episode of Season 4. Le sob – it’s almost over!!
As we all breathe a sigh of relief, Anna tells Mary about her attack and reveals that the rapist was Gillingham’s valet, Mr. Green. She makes Mary promise not to do anything with the information, citing her fear that Bates will kill him and then hang for the crime. Mary’s reaction was wonderful: after falling backwards into a chair with an “Oh God,” and looking as if she would vomit, she immediately decides to cancel Gillingham’s upcoming visit and make him fire Green. When it proves too late to get ahold of him to cancel (where are you when we need you, Victorian text messaging?), she plans to go to London to convince him Green needs to go. Meanwhile, Gillingham and his evil valet make their visit to Downton and Mr. Bates uses the opportunity to ask Green where he lives. Subtle, Mr. Bates. And if I may say, pretty snarky asking your poor wife if she’d “gone off” Mr. Green since the last time, reminding her how much she initially liked him.
Mary is managing her “desire” of suitors quite well between avenging Anna and keeping the estate running. I love that she has a cache of men again. Her scene in London with Mr. Gillingham was a master class in productive flirtation. Between the outfit, the eyes, the hand gestures, and her sarcastic admittance that she does indeed like him, it’s clear why the men of the series are so enthralled by Icy Mary. “I find that both irritating and beguiling in equal measure.” When she walked out of the restaurant; she didn’t saunter, simper, or strut. Her exit was a perfect example of how to catch the eye and admiration of everyone around you simply with your self-confidence.
Also on her errand list for London, Mary breaks up Rose’s scandal. Rose has gotten herself engaged to Jack Ross sort of out of love but mostly to irritate her mother. She admits this to Mary who reveals this to Jack who in turn admits his mother already told him this and also he figured it out. He says he was planning to call off the engagement and end his relationship with Rose, but wouldn’t if “the world were just a little bit better.” Of course, if the world were just a little bit better, Mary “wouldn’t want him to.” And thus the Race plot-line is neatly resolved and wrapped in a pretty bow. (Eyeroll.)
While Mary is breaking hearts, Branson continues to run into New Girl who has found some lipstick and is the village teacher. Goading him at turns about being a socialist land manager for the aristocrats and allowing himself to be a “beast of burden,” for the Family, she is an interesting, though slightly irritating love interest for dear Branson. However, she is a teacher, so more points to her side. And not bent on ruining his life, which is a huge improvement over Braithewaite. It is sweet to see Branson speak of the hard work the Family actually does when he defends Cora, calling her “another beast of burden.” Also, it gives us hope for his happiness that he no longer falls apart at the mention of Sybil. All in all, Branson will need someone to spar with, and this teacher might be just the one.
Downstairs, we have Steady Freddy returning to Downton after writing to Ivy to tell her his father has died, admit his love, propose marriage, and invite her to live in London where he will get her a job. (Maybe we don’t need Victorian text-messaging after all…)
“He puts a lot in a letter, does Alfred.” ~ Mrs. Patmore
Ivy declines, and Mrs. Patmore gives Daisy the day off to avoid more heartbreak when Alfred does visit. She spends the day with Mr. Mason (her father-in-law from her first marriage) at his farm. It’s easy to forget she is to inherit this farm and has an open invitation to come live with Mason and learn to run it. Mr. Mason encourages Daisy to go back to the House to say a final farewell to the man she has loved.
“There won’t be too many people who you love in your life, Daisy.” ` Mr. Mason
She does, in a very sweet scene. Alfred realizes that he perhaps never saw what a great gift was in front of him, but Daisy gracefully refuses to settle for second best. She tells him she loved him, but that now she must go her way and he must go his. I really wanted Carson to eavesdrop and start singing Loch Lomond at this point. Instead, we had an even sweeter scene in the yard in which Mrs. Patmore tells Daisy,
“If you were my own daughter, I couldn’t be prouder of you than I am right now.”
Speaking of daughters, Cora is clueless as ever to her middle child’s anguish and, um, pregnancy. Thankfully, Edith has a wonderful Aunt in the form of Lady Rosamund, who comes to Downton to take charge. Edith wants to give the baby to the new Pig Man to be raised on the Estate, but Lady Rosamund convinces her to go abroad and have the baby adopted by a couple in need. This way, she says,
“They are happy. The baby is happy. And you are, well, if not happy, at least free.”
They announce first to Cora then to the collected company at dinner that they are going together for several months to Switzerland to improve their French. Why not France?
“Ugh. You know what the French are like.” ~Lady Rosamund
The Dowager Countess for one is not convinced and summons Rosamund and Edith to tea. After seeing that she must “take the slow road” to get the story out, she finally gets Edith to admit
“If I told you the truth, you would never speak to me again.”
Counters the Countess,
“Then you have told me the truth. Now I would like to hear it enunciated more clearly.”
As usual, Edith was wrong and not only will the Countess speak to her, she counsels her and offers emotional and financial support, including offering to help find the long-lost Gregson.
Finally, we come to the Bazaar. After much wringing of hands and passing off of responsibilities, Cora successfully pulls off the Village Bazaar. Robert returns in time to make out with her on the lawn and sing her praises to the family. Hooray for one Intact Love Story. Also at the bazaar, Molesley and Baxter cement their friendship/flirtation/alliance which has been sweetly brewing throughout the episode. Molesley wins at a Feat of Strength game and finds the courage to tell Thomas to stop bullying his new friend. It was adorable and those two are in trouble now.
We also discover that Mr. Green has met his death by falling into the street or in front of a train or something in front of a lot of people in London. Did we mention that Bates asked for a day off to “go to York” the same day Anna was in London with Mary? And Green died that day? Shocking. Bates, please tell us you learned something from your last non-murder and at least have an alibi. Probably not though.
Now it is time to get ready for the last episode for an entire year – le sob!! No, we mustn’t complain. After all, to quote the Dowager Countess:
“My dear, life is a series of problems that we must solve. First one, and then another and another and so on until at last we die.”
To buck you up and give you courage to face the End, I will leave you with this recipe for Bread Pudding:
Prep time: 15 minutes. Rest time: 1 1/2 hours Cook time: 1 hour Total time: ~3 hours
- 1 loaf of English Muffin bread, cubed in thick cubes (4 cups) (You can substitute any bread; baguette, cinnamon raisin bread are also delicious.
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup whole milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 4 large eggs, beaten
- 1 TBS maple syrup
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350* In an 8-inch square pan, toast cubed bread in the middle of the oven until bread is crisp but not golden, about 5-7 minutes. Mix melted butter in with bread, tossing to coat bread completely. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, cream, eggs, maple syrup, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla. Pour over bread, stirring to coat. Cover and chill pudding at least 1 1/2 hours. Bake pudding in middle of oven until it just sets but still trembles slightly, about 50-55 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Adapted from “The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook” by Emily Ansara Baines