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'Downton Abbey' Season 4, Part 3 recap, Mary's whirlwind romance

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That "glamorous pirate" Lord Gillingham is working on some sort of Guinness World Record of pursuit here. 

I'd be weirded out a bit if Tony wasn't more likeable. He's proper, but not insufferable. And doesn't get drunk easily like Sir John "Dimples" Bullock. And Mary is clearly a catch -- she has the looks, the property and side-saddle riding abilities.

But compared with Matthew Crawley's epic 147-year courtship of Mary, Lord Gillingham's unexpected marriage proposal seems pretty jarring. Credit Tony for going after something that he wants (and he comes across as genuine about it), but really -- dude just got reacquainted with Mary very recently after barely knowing each other in childhood. 

In the episode's beginning, Gillingham and the rest of the Weekend Dinner Party of Dramatic Consequences head home and he pushes again for another date with Mary. She refuses in a super demur way that lets the audience know "yeah, this is probably going to happen at some point or dragged out through multiple seasons."

Later, on a Downton business trip to London with Branson and Rose, Mary encounters Gillingham again -- and by "encounters" I mean Mary's aunt, Rosamund, finds a way to invite him an outing at a jazz club. 

(Side note: Did you know that Rosamund's last name is "Painswick." It's all very Dickensian, as though she's some sort of hardened child labor overseer in a novel). 

Back at Downton, Mary is surprised by Gillingham again when he drops by the house. Turns out he was also traveling on the train back to Downton that Mary took, but he remained in third class (how slumming it of him) because he wanted to talk privately with her. 

"Will you marry me?" he sort of blurts out as the two talk in the library. 

"Tony, you don't know me," is Mary's rational response.

At first, I was in disbelief at this scene, but oddly as it progresses it gets more plausible. Tony says he "likes" his intended bride, Mabel, and that he "could come to love her" but that he's not in love with Mabel as he is with Mary. That was some dinner party!

But you pretty much trust Gillingham here -- he doesn't seem to have any hidden agenda. You believe him.

My favorite quote from this interaction is when Gillingham says "Look, I never met Matthew, but I'm sure he was a splendid chap. But he's dead and I'm alive."

I mean true, but perhaps calling your love's recently dead husband and father of her baby a "splendid chap" is not the best choice of words. Kind of funny, but super-reservedly British.

Gillingham spends the night at Downton and gives Mary some time to think about, you know, her future. All he wants is some assurance that AT SOME POINT Mary will marry him. It can be two, three years from now, he says. He will wait, which is pretty romantic and sad at the same time. 

Walking the grounds alone, Gillingham pushes Mary for an answer. Mary asks him what would happen if she refuses and Gillingham says that he would be honor-bound to marry this Mabel Lane Fox character. (Side note again: Is anyone else curious about what this woman looks like? Is she the greatest heiress of the season because of her money alone, or does the woman have good qualities? Mabel Lane Fox, where are you?)

Mary's most emotional moment comes when, clearly torn about what to do, she reminds Tony that "it's no good."

"Yesterday, you said I fill your brain. Matthew fills mine. Still. I don't want to be without him. Not yet," she says. 

Gillingham understands (so does the audience) and asks her one favor -- a kiss because, "I'll never love again as I love you in this moment." (Could this be the most dramatically soap-operay line ever uttered on Downton's grounds? Maybe, but it's OK).

They kiss. The music swells on cue. And we're all left wondering what will really happen with these two -- and if it's a good situation or not. 

What do you think?

Go away Edna

The episode's secondary big story line involves Edna Braithwaite doing what she does best: being kind of awful. We can all agree that she's really unlikable and a solid eight out of 10 on the Thomas Barrow Conniving Scale, right? 

After the last episode's regrettable indiscretion between Edna and Branson (Branson blames it on "low spirits and self-indulgence," which is the proper way of saying "I drank too much"), Edna wastes no time digging in her claws.

"Suppose I'm pregnant," she offers. 

"You can't be pregnant. It's not as easy as that," Branson replies.

Actually, IT IS as easy as that, but OK. Edna has clear intentions here -- she wants to elevate her status in life and sees a forced marriage with Branson as her way into the Crawley family and Downton. She demands to know whether he will marry her if she's pregnant and says she will be a great wife, by the way. 

Branson's freaking. Later, in London, he vaguely asks Mary for advice without sharing any details, and Mary, who has experience in dealing with sticky situations (one word: Pamuk) advises that he tell someone who can help.

Enter Mrs. Hughes, who agrees to assist. Hughes and Branson summon Edna, who figures that they will pay her off. 

But Mrs. Hughes takes a risk. She says they won't pay her off because there is no baby (and there won't be). Without really knowing if this is the case, Hughes says that Edna would never have gotten pregnant by Branson until she knew for sure if he would agree to be with her. And if he had agreed to love her, Edna would have gotten pregnant by someone else and trap him into marriage. 

Mrs. Hughes even produces a book she found in Edna's room that covers "unmarried love" and other such plans to be sneaky and awful. Edna rushes out of the room in a huff, leaves Downton the next day and Branson is seemingly in the clear. We'll see. 

Anna and Bates

The most painful part of the episode (besides having to hear Edna talk) was seeing Anna emotionally wrecked by her rape -- and unable to even let her husband touch her. She doesn't walk with her husband to Downton, she is forced to sit next to her attacker, Green, at the staff table before the party guests leave, she shivers in fear when Bates tries to comfort her by touching her shoulder. 

When she goes to Hughes and asks to move into the house, it's so tough. It's equally tough to hear her tell Hughes that now she feels like she's not good enough for Bates, that now "I can't let him touch me because I'm soiled," oh, and "Somehow I must have made it happen," referring to the rape. 

Hughes, again, urges her to go to the police and also tell her husband what happened. Anna says that a) if she tells Bates he will kill Green and then go to the gallows and b) that if she's pregnant, she'll kill herself. 

People who were so angry that the writers would "do this to the relationship of Anna and Bates," will not enjoy this episode. 

Throughout the episode, Anna suffers in silence, her facial wounds still visible. Even Lady Mary and Robert notice that something is off and ask her what's wrong. She refuses to say. And in the end, she gets a room in Downton -- away from the home she was once so happy to make and share with Bates. 

MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE PART THREE

Introducing Jack Ross: Remember when much was made of the news that "Downton" would -- shock! -- introduce an African American character this season? Here, we meet Jack Ross, a bandleader/singer at the jazz club that Mary, Branson and Rose go to with Rosamund.  

Jack saves Rose from embarassment as a drunk John Bullock ditches his dance partner to run to the bathroom to vomit. He dances with Rose to deflect attention, but instead grabs the attention of Rosamund who is positively scandalized by seeing Rose dance with a black man. 

Later, back at home, Rosamund tells her: "Things have come to a pretty pass when you have to be rescued by a black bandleader." Ouch.

P.S.: What did you think of his singing? It was, uh, an acquired taste.

Edith behaving 'badly': Edith is still in so much love with Michael Gregson. Also in London, she spends the night with him (after signing papers to have some sort of power over his interests and property and such as he prepares to move to Germany -- romantic!) and is caught by Rosamund's maid after returning to her house at 6 a.m.

I'm beginning to think Rosamund needs some happiness in her life because she scolds Edith and then harshly reminds her not to trust people and that she trusted Anthony Strallan and that old guy left her at the altar. Remember that Edith!? "That was rather unkind," Edith says. Yes, rather. 

Gregson's goal: He's going to write a novel in Germany because he always fancied himself a novelist. Sounds like a solid plan.

Best interaction: Hughes giving Carson a framed photo of his lost love, so he can put it on his desk. "It's good for you to be reminded that you once had a heart," she tells him. "And it will reassure the staff to know that you belong to the human race."

Carson's rules for breakfast: Be quiet and don't show joy or happiness. "I always think there's something rather foreign about high spirits at breakfast."

Best Dowager Countess line: After watching Isobel gracefully give her approval of Lord Gillingham after earlier expressing how hard it is for her to see Mary move on from her dead son: "There are moments when her virtue demands admiration."

What's Barrow up to?: He's overjoyed when Edna leaves, but seems even more excited about being able to help fill the position of her ladyship's maid for the family. To Robert, he mentions he has a candidate. Does he still want to just know everything going on upstairs and feels worried now that he won't since O'Brien is gone, or is it something more devious? 

Continuing to be uninteresting: The Alfred-Jimmy-Ivy-Daisy love rectangle. In this episode, Daisy makes sure Alfred walks in on Jimmy and Ivy kissing. In related news, no one cares or in invested in any of this plot line. 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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