'Downton Abbey' Season 4 finale: Let the battle begin for Lady Mary's heart

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downton-abbey-season-4-finale-2.jpg "Downton Abbey" goes "Ocean's Eleven" in a ridiculous (but kind of fun) plotline during "the season" in London, while hopefully Anna and Bates can finally start moving on.

Upstairs

The Crawleys are in London, including Cora's mother and brother, for Lady Rose's presentation to society. While there, Rose is keeping company with Freda Dudley Ward, who in real life was the mistress to the Prince of Wales, just like here on "Downton." The prince is Edward VIII, son of George V and uncle to the present-day Queen Elizabeth II.

There's a whole heist storyline, as Freda's love letter from the prince is stolen from her handbag by the nefarious card cheat Sampson. Robert's Eleven swing into action to get the letter back, with Bates emerging as the big hero when he manages to swipe the letter from Sampson's overcoat and all is safe with the British monarchy (for now). 

Eventually, in real life, Prince Edward will abdicate the British throne in favor of marrying American divorcee Wallis Simpson, which leaves Queen Elizabeth II's father, George VI, to take over. That's how Elizabeth and her heirs came to be in line to the throne.

Anyway.

Lady Mary's suitors are still trying their hardest. Tony Gillingham actually reveals to Mary that Charles Blake is, in fact, heir to an enormous estate in Ulster, since Mary seemed to be favoring Tony because he's "on her side" of the moneyed estates versus the new world. That Mary, always about "her side."

Mary does not choose between them, but seems to choose to be ready to move on from Matthew's death. As she says in the last scene, let the battle begin.

In what is actually the most compelling storyline (sorry, Robert's Eleven), Lady Edith's baby girl is with a Swiss couple, the Schroeders, but it's not like a modern-day adoption where the baby is quickly taken away. Edith helped wean the baby, so she's just beside herself with grief now, both for the missing (and probably dead) Gregson and the baby she feels she abandoned.

She eventually decides that her grandmother and aunt railroaded her into giving the baby away, so she goes back to tenant farmer Mr. Drew and asks if he and his wife will raise "a baby" that belonged to her "friend" who has died. You can tell Mr. Drew knows the truth, but he swears to keep the secret between the two of them. However, since Violet and Rosamund know, it probably won't be a secret for long.

Poor Lady Edith.

Downstairs

Thomas continues to be up to no good, this time by spying on Tom Branson bringing Sarah Bunting back to the manor after a dinner together. He rats Branson out to Robert and even though it was totally innocent, we're left wondering just what Robert thinks. Surely he trusts Tom, right? And wants him to be happy and not alone the rest of his life?

Thomas also tries to extort information out of Baxter regarding what happened with Anna and Bates, but Mr. Molesley helps Baxter stand up to Thomas, and she says that Thomas can tell "her secret," she won't cave.

Speaking of secrets, Mrs. Hughes finds a ticket in Bates' coat pocket that puts him in London on the day Mr. Green was killed. When Mrs. Hughes shows Mary, Mary wants to confront Bates about it, but changes her mind after his great assistance with the letter caper. She knows how loyal he is to her family and decides to just let it lie. 

Thankfully, no one tells Anna about the ticket, and she and Bates are able to stroll happily on the beach during the staff outing to the shore. Hopefully in Season 5 they have a real chance at happiness after the ugliness of Season 4.

Thoughts & Tidbits

  • Martha and Harold's presence really doesn't add anything other some guest stars to boast, but one nice thing that did come out of it is that Ivy is leaving Downton to go work for Harold. He wanted Daisy initially, but she's happy where she is, plus she has Mr. Mason and the farm. It's very in keeping with Daisy as a character -- and anything to put the kitchen staff romance to bed for a while. It was nice knowing you, Ivy.
  • The society balls give Lord Merton more chances to woo cousin Isobel, which is fun to watch. She's so awkward, but he loves her boldness, intelligence and opinions. It's a storyline we can't wait to watch in Season 5.
  • Will we ever see Gregson again? At this point, no matter how ludicrous the story is, we would just like to see him and Lady Edith together (and with their daughter). It was so weird the way he just left and that was that. Please let him reappear somehow.
  • The final scene in the episode was one of the best scenes the show has ever done: Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson holding hands and wading into the ocean together. It was so beautiful. They're not romantically in love, but there is a deep, comfortable love between them and it's lovely to see the show acknowledge that.

Best Lines:


Ethan: "Are you excited?"
Daisy: "I'm never excited."

Edith: "I sometimes think we should make more scenes, about things that really matter to us."

Violet: "Cora insisted I come without a maid. I can't believe she understood the implications."
Isobel: "Which are?"
Violet: "How do I get a guard to take my luggage? And when we arrive in London, what happens then?"
Isobel: "Fear not. I've never traveled with a maid, you can share my knowledge of the jungle."

Isobel: "Oh, heavens. It's Lord Merton and he seems to be headed in this direction."
Violet: "No doubt to lead you down the primrose path of dalliance [giggles]."

Going into Season 5, we can't to see what the show has in store for Laura Carmichael. The acting on the series has been terrific all around, but she has really put forth some top-notch episodes in Season 4 and this one was no exception.

What did you think of the Season 4 finale? What are you most looking forward to in Season 5?
Photo/Video credit: PBS