It’s been six months since Matthew’s (Dan Stevens) death, but Mary (Michelle Dockery) is no closer to moving past her grief. In her case, it means she’s even more cold and short with people.
The family and staff are both very worried. Mary can barely even force herself to pay any attention to baby George. Isobel (Penelope Wilton) is also overwhelmed with grief at the loss of her only child.
Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) decides to give Isobel a new project to focus on. Mr. Carson’s (Jim Carter) old vaudeville buddy needs someone to take him in until he could find work. Mr. Carson wants nothing to do with it, but Mrs. Hughes interferes. It ends up helping Isobel reclaim her purpose.
When Mr. Carson tries getting through to Mary, she's cruel. Branson (Allen Leech) is still helping implement Matthew’s ideas at Downton with Robert (Hugh Bonneville). He also tries talking to Mary, and hopes to get her involved, but she won’t bother.
Valentine’s Day had downstairs all atwitter. Alfred (Matt Milne) sends Ivy (Cara Theobold) a valentine, but Jimmy (Ed Speelers) encourages her to believe it was him. This made Daisy (Sophie McShera) assume Alfred sent her the valentine, but it was really just Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) being kind.
Miss O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) vanishes in the night to become Lady Flintshire’s new maid in India. The whole house is scandalized Cousin Rose’s (Lily James) mother “stole” Cora’s (Elizabeth McGovern) maid. Well, except Branson, who looks at them all like they are crazy. An embarrassed Rose decides to quickly find Cora a replacement.
Enter Edna (MyAnna Buring), the horrible maid from last year’s Christmas special, who’d sexually harassed Branson. She’s since trained as a lady’s maid, and because of a stellar recommendation letter from Mrs. Hughes (which she only wrote at Branson’s insistence), Cora hires her on the spot.
Thomas (Rob James-Collier) being Thomas, quickly becomes embroiled in a new feud. This time it's with George and Sybil’s new nanny. She thinks she is better than the downstairs servants, and he resents this. He suckers Cora into questioning the nanny’s diligence.
When Cora goes to check she catches the unsuspecting nanny being cruel and neglectful towards Sybil since her father was Irish and/or low class. Cora is outraged and fires her on the spot.
Meanwhile, Moseley (Kevin Doyle) is let go since he no longer had someone to serve. The Dowager tries to get him a new position, but her own butler nastily sabotages him, fearing he was to be replaced. Poor Moseley, nothing ever goes well for him!
Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) continues to be courted by Gregson (Charles Edwards). He comes up with a plan to become a German citizen, since it’s legal to divorce your crazy wife on grounds of lunacy there. Then, he and Edith would be married.
Eventually, everyone’s machinations and kindness works, and after a good cry Mary is able to rejoin the land of the living. She changes out of her black garb and joins Robert and Branson at their meeting with the tenants.
The episode skips ahead to March 1922. After Matthew’s office is cleared out, a letter is found that Matthew wrote shortly before his death. It is an informal will he’d written naming Mary as his sole heir.
Robert is fairly disgusted at the thought of having to share Downton again. Everyone else is supportive, and Violet (Maggie Smith) encourages Mary to learn the business from Tom.
Later, Robert’s lawyer declares the letter legally-binding. Robert comes around to the idea of Mary getting a say in Downton’s affairs.
However, now Mary and Robert are at odds at how to pay the death duties. Robert wants to sell some land off, while Mary and Tom wanted to farm it. It’s really nice seeing the Tom-Mary friendship develop more. I can’t help but feel their relationship might eventually turn romantic, now that they’re both widowed.
Thomas and Edna become close. She replaces O’Brien in their schemes to make Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates’ (Brendan Coyle) lives miserable. What’s really sad though is Thomas has been doing this for 10 years now!
The beleaguered couple never lets anything keep them down for long. Anna also accompanies Cousin Rose when she wants to go to a servants’ dance in York. Rose dances with a charming under-gardener, named Sam.
After a scuffle breaks out, Rose and Anna flee. Later Sam turns up at Downton. Rose had lied, saying she was a maid there. Anna helps her perpetuate the ruse. Rose lets Sam down gently by saying she is engaged.
After Anna becomes concerned Moeesley has fallen on hard times, Bates sets out to put his wife’s mind at ease. He gets some money from Violet, and then pretends to pay back Moseley for an earlier loan.
Carson also makes peace with his old friend, Mr. Grigg. He is staying with Isobel, before he leaves for a new job Isobel secures him in Belfast. When they were younger, Grigg stole Carson’s girlfriend, Alice, and they were married.
She recently died, and told her husband on her deathbed to tell Carson she regretted her choice. Ouch! I felt really bad for the husband, but both Carson and Grigg seemed to find peace.
Elsewhere, Edith is still seeing Gregson and invites him to a party at Downton. Downstairs, Daisy, Ivy, Jimmy and Alfred still all had crushes on one another, just not on the person who liked them. Eventually, Jimmy decides he might actually try dating Ivy.
Also, there was a Gwen (Rose Leslie) mention! Everyone’s favorite house maid left Downton to become a secretary. She writes Anna to tell her she’s getting married. Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay) would have been happy.
What did you think of the Season 4 premiere of Downton Abbey?
Photo Credit: PBS