The end of Downton Abbey Season 4 is almost upon us! After more than a month of Downton Abbey, we've arrived at the penultimate episode — our last look at the Abbey until the two-hour finale on February 23 (aka the Christmas Special in the U.K.). What all happened during tonight's show? Well, first off somebody died. Want to know who and how? We've got the details over in another article (there was just too much to say!)
As for the rest of the February 16 episode, keep reading to learn where your favorite characters stand... and if they're still breathing.
Talk About a Ménage
There's just something about Mary. Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), that is. The beautiful widow has not one but two handsome suitors interested in her hand in marriage. One, Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden), was slow to warm up to her, but after seeing Mary get down and dirty in the pigpen (literally) Charles realized what a jewel he had at hand.
The second suitor, of course, is old friend of the family, Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen). Tony returned to Downton in the February 9 show. Of course, he came back an engaged man, having popped the question to the Hon. Mabel Lane Fox just days after being refused by Mary. Despite his plans to wed, however, Tony is still head over heels for Mary, so much so even Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) comments: "He's the most unconvincing fiancé I've ever come across."
Tony knows it too and, after taking a turn around the Highlands to think, decides to call the whole thing off. He's just too in love with Mary. Her feelings, however, haven't exactly changed.
"I'm not on the market, Tony. I'm not free," she tells him upon hearing he's breaking off his arrangement with Mabel. That said, Mary isn't exactly disinterested. When Tony later tells her over lunch, "I won't give up, not until you walk down the aisle with another man and perhaps not even then," Mary flirts in turn, saying she finds his persistence equal parts beguiling and annoying.
Charles, meanwhile, returns to Downton during the estate's annual bazaar to make his own intentions known to Mary. He can't stop thinking about her, he says, and when she tries to dissuade him that she's a likely candidate for his love, Charles only seems more interested. He wants to give the whole matter a "fighting chance."
And a fight it might come to. This whole predicament is shaping into quite the nice love triangle with even the often emotionally dull Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) catching on: "What kind of ménage has that turned into while I've been away?" he asks as the ladies of Downton simper in silence. Only time will tell, Robert. Only time will tell.
Edith Looks Abroad for Answers
During the February 9 episode, Edith (Laura Carmichael) decided to keep the baby she conceived during a night of passion with Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards). Now with just several months left before she’s due and Michael nowhere in sight, Edith is faced with what to do next. Her latest idea? Give the child to a tenant farmer at the Abbey so she can stay in his or her life.
The idea is immediately vetoed by her Aunt Rosamund (Samantha Bond) and we can't say we disagree with Auntie. Having the child around would likely only keep Edith's emotional wound open and probably result in despair for both her and the baby. The alternative plan? Rosamund proposes an extended trip to Switzerland to "improve my French."
Everyone seems to buy the lie except the savvy old Dowager Countess. Traditional Violet may be but stupid she is not. She takes her daughter and granddaughter aside to get the truth out of them. She shows no judgement (making us love her all the more) and says she supports Rosamund's plan, so much in fact she'll pay for Edith's journey. And if Michael does return? Start again, the Dowager says.
With the two powerful forces of Rosamund and Violet driving her life, Edith seems set on a course to head abroad and, as much as it will pain her, give her baby up to another family. But will she? And what about Michael? Is he really gone for good? So many questions, just not enough answers.
Tom Branson and Sarah Bunting Give it a Little Gas
Is it just us or does Sarah Bunting (Daisy Lewis) just keep popping up everywhere? Ever since she and Tom Branson (Allen Leech) met during last week's show at a political meeting (pro: she has opinions!), the outspoken — and attractive — young woman has been bumping into the handsome widower at every turn. First we stumble upon her in the village where it's confirmed she works at the school (pro: she likes kids!). Then her car stalls on the side of a deserted back country road where Tom just happens to be driving (pro: she enjoys driving!).
Forever a chauffeur, Tom gives Sarah a hand and the two swap stories. It becomes clear Sarah's no fan of the upper crust — just like Tom was when he arrived at Downton all those episodes ago. She also know Tom's a widower. Been asking around about him, Ms. Schoolmarm?
Tom, meanwhile, refers to the dearly departed Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) as his wife, a strategy he may have employed to keep himself at arm's length from the lovely new woman/stalker in his life. Is he simply not warming up to Sarah or, like his sister-in-law Mary, just not ready to love again?
We think the latter but, as much as we miss Sybil, we hope he can find a way to open himself back up again. Tom deserves a little warmth in his life and Sybbie needs herself a mummy!
The End of Rose and Jack?
Couples named Rose and Jack don't have a great track record when it comes to the entertainment world. Thankfully for Downton's pairing, their romance didn't end in the frigid waters of the Atlantic. That doesn't make it any less icy, however.
Caught up by the beguiling charms of Rose MacClare (Lily James), Jack proposes despite knowing there can be no happy future for a privileged white daughter of the English aristocracy and an African American jazz singer in the world of 1922. It is only when Mary intercedes, however, that Jack agrees to call the engagement off.
How did Mary know about Rose's secret romance? She had her suspicions after coming upon them snogging after Robert's birthday party in the February 2 episode, suspicions that were confirmed when Tom tells her he saw Rose and Jack looking cozy together in town. Mary's attempt to talk to Rose about the choice at hand go nowhere with Mary suspecting Rose is more in love with the idea of shocking her hated mother than with her fiancé. Her concerns send her to London where she has a if not pleasant, at the very least eye-opening exchange with Jack.
The result? Jack breaks off his engagement out of his love for Rose. He "doesn't want to spoil her life," as he tells Mary, and knows a lifetime of whispers and sneers will only cause his Rose to fade. The headstrong (some would say foolhardy) Scottish lass doesn't understand this — or, if she does, refuses to agree — and so is left battered and bitter, particularly toward her cousin.
We, however, are pleasantly surprised at the relatively open-minded dialogue Mary had about her cousin potentially marrying a man of a different race, background, and social class. The issue for her was not necessarily about Jack being black or American or a jazz singer but rather about Rose complicating her life for the right reasons (read: not to just get back at Mama).
- New couple alert! Mr. Molesley (Kevin James) totally has a thing for Phyllis Baxter (Raquel Cassidy). Tonight, he two outsiders bonded over their shared fragility with Mr. Molesley proving there's more to him than meets the eye when he stands up for Baxter after Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) comes sniffing around, causing trouble. Could Baxter be the future Mrs. Molesley or will Thomas use whatever pull he has on the lady's maid to rip her new happiness asunder?
- Second new couple alert! Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) and some dude who turns out to be Lady Mary's godfather, Lord Merton (Douglas Reith). We see the Dowager's hand in this particular new romance. We're sure she'd be relieved if her forever bridge player found a new partner.
- Not so lucky in love is Daisy Mason (Sophie McShera). With Alfred Nugent (Matt Milne) rejected once and for all by Ivy (Cara Theobold) and with no other reason to return to Downton, it seems the fellow who stole Daisy's heart is out of the picture for good. She plans to leave it at that but thanks to the advice of good Mr. Mason — what an unexpectedly delightful character he is! — she decides to make things right with Alfred. The result has Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) as proud of Daisy as "if you were my own daughter." We're proud too but, as big a plot point as the Daisy-Alfred-Ivy romantic entanglement has been this season, we're not too sad to see it end.
- Robert returns from America and promptly begins drinking (darn that Prohibition!). Slightly intoxicated both on the love of his family and the alcohol he immediately begins indulging in, Robert shares the news that Cora's American family, including brother Harold Levinson (Paul Giamatti), are coming to visit. See you all next Sunday!