No, it’s not a horror movie. It’s the same Abbey you know and love.

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Downton Abbey Recap – Season 4, Episode 1

First, a promo of a sponsor by Ralph Lauren. Which, hey, I enjoy – because his dresses are very Audrey Hepburn-meets-American Classics. We learn that Masterpiece is something about …it helps our minds and hearts. Come on, come on! READY FOR THE SHOW NOW. I thought my DVR didn’t catch this, and nearly threw a fit. So, okay, here we go.

A GLOOMY, DARK Abbey with one room aglow. Honestly, this looks like a horror movie. Purposefully, though. Everything is dark and eerie. A baby cries, a fat nurse walks the halls, Lady Mary blinks. It’s a sad world we’re entering. (Remember: Matthew is dead. …That’s a joke, because who could forget it.)

It’s 1922.

And O’Brien has left. Who knows why, it seems she left no clues or told anyone she was thinking of it. Everyone flocks together to talk about this mystery. OH, right – O’Brien went off with Susan. BETRAYAL. I feel so bad for Cora. She was basically..intimate with O’Brien.

 SUGGESTED FOR YOU: ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 4 Quotes | PBS | Episode 1

AND WE SEE THAT COUSIN ROSE DID KNOW OF HER MOTHER’S PLANS. She’s …trouble. But we learned that she was trouble, last season.

Baby, er, Master George, is adorable and plump. Mary calls him a, “poor little orphan.” Anna reminds Mary that he’s not an orphan, and Mary snips back that he’s not exactly poor, either.

Finally, the Countess Dowager! Even in a graveyard, Violet is a chipper sight.

We learn that it’s six months since Matthew died.

The babies are walked, together, in prams! Adorable.

Tom doesn’t like Nanny West. And Robert is none-too-pleased about Edith going into London to see her older, married, paramour. Her Facebook status would be, “It’s Complicated,” that’s for sure.

Rose hitches along to the village and posts an ad for a Lady’s Maid.

Isobel…she’s pale and tired. Her spirit has died down. Violet tries to talk with Isobel (oh, how far they’ve come!) But Isobel is going to be reluctant about anything, right now.

Mr. Carson gets mail that he doesn’t like, and gets grumpy about everything. Tapestry!

We also learn that everything belongs to George, instead of Mary. Basically. So, she’s back where she started.

Thomas hates Nanny West, and it seems like it’s kind of because he wants to be the nanny. …But then it appears that he just hates how Nanny West thinks she’s an “upstairs” person who can boss him around. Naturally, he sabotages her.

It’s Saint Valentine’s Day! Cards for everyone! Little love notes. …But none for Daisy…WAIT, there is one. Bates and Anna share a cute moment, because their cute, though their love will always be doomed. Lady Edith has a Valentine, too. There is so much tension in a stairway scene between Edith and Mary that I kind of want to …punch Mary. She wants to make everyone as miserable as her, and she’s bitter that anyone else has love. Especially Edith, because Mary was always better than Edith. Mary’s attitude seems especially self-damaging and hateful towards her sister, and to her own self.

Mrs. Hughes is like Veronica Mars, so she investigated and found the guy Carson got mail from. And Hughes is good about learning what it’s all about. The guy (Mr. Grig) is in a workhouse, but at least he’s “in the dry” and sober. He used to sing/dance with Carson! Mrs. Hughes goes to Mrs. Crawley with the situation, because Isobel is the liberal one who helps people. But Isobel doesn’t want that responsibility anymore than Carson wants.

Edith’s beau has found out he can marry Edith, in another country. But would living in Germany be …ideal? Have they gone into FULL FLAPPER FASHION there? Because Edith is ROCKING a red frock and headscarf that Rachel Zoe would say she’d, “die for.” But then Edith would say death is nothing to joke about, and then Zoe would roll her eyes and later say how ugly Edith is. SO, anyway. Just letting you know how that situation would play out.

The ladies are surprised to receive a mixer from Edith. Mrs. Patmore isn’t happy about it. She doesn’t like toasters, either. I happen to dislike my toaster, because I can never clean it properly. There’s crumbs all over the bottom. AND, it’s impossible to pull the tray out, it always sticks. Who knew finding a good toaster would ever be so hard? I’ve never owned a single toaster that worked right.

Tom appeals to Carson, so that Carson will appeal to Mary about getting her shizz together. Mary will listen to Carson, but not anyone else. I almost want Mary and Carson to get married, because…at least he makes her smile. But I think maybe she smiles because he really respects the old traditions, and she loves them, too. She loves that he’s a fully committed servant who knows his place. (And it’ll never be in her arms/bed/etc.) WAIT WAIT. Okay. I know what you’re about to say. Yes. I wrote all of that before we were at 37 minutes into the program and Mary nailed Carson (wrong use of words…) for being so presumptuous. I GUESS SHE’S GONNA BE A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK. Cue: intense stare into the mirror.

Violet is also in on the game of trying to get Mary to live again. There’s a moment after Vilet says, “I love you” where she goes from looking down to lifting her eyes – as though it broke through to her. Loved that moment.

The smooth mousse has paved the way by winning over Violet: KITCHEN AID MIXERS HERE WE COME. Then, Violet talks with Mary (who has stormed upstairs) and they have the sweetest moment of honesty.

“You have a straightforward choice before you. You can either choose either death, or life.” – The Dowager Countess
“And you think I should choose life -?” – Lady Mary

I LOVE THAT ENTIRE SCENE. (And the next.) Robert doesn’t understand, sometimes there’s a family member who means well but just doesn’t understand.

“She is broken and bruised. And it is our job to wrap her up and keep her safe from the world.” – Robert
“No, Robert. It is our job to bring her back to the world!” – Violet

Nanny West didn’t think it was a good time for HIS GRANDMOTHER TO SEE GEORGE? SLAP THE EVIL WITCH OF THE WEST!

Ivey gets drunk, and is then hungover.

Former housemaid has turned to a lady’s maid, and wants to work for Cora. That’s Jane Moorsum, the maid who had a tryst with Robert. DRAMA. Mrs. Hughes is in a tough spot, because she can’t tell Cora why Jane was let go… WAIT. Okay. It was EDNA who is hired, and it’s because her and TOM had a thing.

Edith gets to go out with a man, drinking and dining in public. And she looks fantastic in a green and gold dress, with white gloves and her hair waved up like they did in those days. But she’d better hold onto her drink, because her beau (can you tell I’ve forgotten his name) is going to move and become a German citizen. And they’re going to get married. And they have the most beautiful kiss with glowy golden light.

Daisy wants to know if Alfred likes her, finally. Oh, Dais. But Alfred …doesn’t. Not romantically. Mrs. Patmore cannot take over Patti Stanger’s job. (This just in: I’ve been watching a lot of ‘The Millionaire Matchmaker.’)

Meanwhile, Nanny West is seen being truly evil to Sybil’s daughter, because she’s the son of a former Chauffeur. She really WAS evil. Cora lets her go, immediately, like a Mama Lion. (Or Mama Tiger? I forget which it is. But, any big, angry cat, works.)

Lady Mary apologizes to Carson, which means order is restored. Carson is kind of like Lady Mary’s Grandfather, and he’s very supportive of her. She’s come to the realization that it’s time to start living. Of course, this comes with a crying breakdown…a healing sort. Grief comes in waves. Carson is able to hug Mary through it.

“You cry m’lady. you have a good cry. That’s what’s needed now. and when you’re ready, you can get to work. Because you are strong enough. You’re strong enough for the task.” – Carson

Mrs. Patmore broke the mixer bowl…and she’s worried she’s stuck in the past and isn’t relevant anymore. Poor, dear, soul. Who doesn’t love Mrs. Patmore?

It’s a new day. There’s sun out, flowers, and the music is back! Thomas is thanked by Cora, and beams with pride. At a meeting of all men for the land (or whatever), Mary arrives in a purple dress, instead of her usual black. She’s here to work. Daddy isn’t so happy, but psh.

Gwen is married! That’s Gwen Dawson, with the red hair, from season 1. She left to become a secretary. The actress, Rose Leslie, has been on ‘Game of Thrones’ recently. But it seems we’ll see her for ‘Downton Abbey’ season four.

A box arrives of Matthew’s effects. And in a book, Matthew has said that Mary should be the heiress. Even if it’s not legal, it’s important for Mary to know that. But Robert doesn’t want to show it to Mary. He’d prefer to be in sole charge of the estate, not share with his daughter. Robert is firm about how the letter isn’t a will, no matter what Matthew said he wanted, or that there were witnesses. He’s the only one who feels that way, though.

Robert decides to throw very hard questions at Mary, trying “to show a woman’s place is in the home,” says Cora. Is Mary qualified? Robert makes it clear he hopes the letter is not verified to be legal. Luckily,Violet has a plan. She wants Branson to “explain the crops” to Mary, so she can GET qualified.

Mr. Mosely is in dire straits, and has no money or job. Anna offers to give him money, but he refuses. It’s a sad sight. But in securing his signature, Mr. Bates is able to forge it and get him some money anyway. YAY BRANSON. It was in the guise of, “you owed me some money anad now I’m paying you back.” Thirty pounds! Mr. Bates and Anna have hearts of gold. Much higher than 14k.

Rose invites Anna to some sort of dance. But she has to watch out, because Edna and Thomas are framing her for ruining a scarf (or something) of Cora’s.  For now, she’s got to go to the dance with Rose at the Jubilee Dance Hall. They’re sneaky little minx’s. Rose is just wild for the One Step. And for boys.  And now she’s…”Rose Smith.” What’s a creative girl like her using such a boring last name? Or maybe the writer’s did so because they knew we’d never remember if it was her real last name. James stops by (the snoop), and everyone dances. When two boys fight over Rose, it’s James to the rescue…and he’s taken a fancy to Rose after all. THE POLICE ARE COMING. AAAAH. THERE ARE POLICE WHISTLES.

The man that Rose was dancing with has come back to make sure she’s okay. And here’s Rose, all dressed up in a rose dress, looking nothing like a maid. Therefore, Anna puts her in a maid’s outfit so she can go speak to the boy. But Rose is able to put him off by saying she’s engaged. Thomas witnesses this, so now he’s got blackmail material. (We know he loves it.) Though, we needn’t worry that Thomas will fall for Rose, as he’s falling for Edna.

AND HERE’S A SCENE WHERE WE SEE THE DOG. Robert has arranged everyone to hear that Matthew’s request that Mary should own half the estate stands. Carson and everyone is pleased, except Papa.

And, in his good mood, Carson sees to it to see Grigg before he leaves for good. There was a woman, Alice, who’d come between them. But they talk, and things are instantly better between the two. It’s sad and bittersweet, because Carson was too prideful to come around earlier and he could have learned the truth about Alice. Carson doesn’t have many friends.

Carson insists on paying for Mr. Griggs’ stay, though Isobel tries to resist. But it is a sign that Carson really has forgiven his friend, and now considers him enough of a friend to take on any of his burdens. It’s sweet. And with that sweetness, we say goodbye to this premiere of Downton Abbey season four…for now.

Keep reading Small Screen Scoop for more Downton Abbey recaps.

And don’t forget about visiting our Downton Abbey Season 4 Quotes portal for the latest witty lines from the Dowager Countess.

REACT: Do you think it was important that Lady Mary got herself together before reading that letter Matthew had written?



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