Downton Abbey Recap: Down and Dirty

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Downton Abbey Season 4 Lady Mary Pigs
In this week’s Downton Abbey, Mary and Charles begin to see each other in a new light. Not coincidentally, they also see each other covered in mud. (More on that later… ) Of course, this turn of events means that Tony must be returning in 3, 2… Ah, there he is! Read on for all the sloppy details!

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WHEN PIGS FLY | For the first part of the hour, it’s business as usual for Mary and Charles. In other words, sarcasm and condescension. However, she’s so set off by his description of her as aloof that she asks Anna if she agrees. “Do you want me to answer truthfully,” Anna wisely replies, “or like a lady’s maid?” Clearly, Charles is getting to Mary. Later, when it turns out that only she and Cora will be on hand to dine with her antagonist, she uses his estimation of them against him, wondering aloud, “How can two brainless dullards like us ever hope to entertain Mr. Blake?” After supper, though, everything changes. A stroll to see the Crawleys’ newly arrived pigs reveals that Babe’s forebears have overturned their trough and are becoming dangerously dehydrated. Finery be damned, Charles leaps into action — and, shockingly, so does Mary! By dawn, they look like they’ve been mud-wrestling. But, as she scrambles him an egg (herself!) and thanks him for his help (“You completely saved our bacon — literally!”), it’s clear that their opinions of one another have been drastically altered. Certainly, their mutual admiration is clear to his old war buddy, Tony, who drops by to do some fishing to continue pursuing Mary in spite of his engagement. (Sorry, Evelyn. The Dowager Countess was likelier to invent twerking than you were to win Mary’s affections.)

NEVER SAY DIE | Speaking of the Dowager Countess, she takes ill. very ill. (And, given how fond of her I and all of us are, it’s beyond upsetting to see.) Luckily, Isobel — taking a break from encouraging Tom to rekindle his romance with political activism — volunteers to take care of her frenemy 24/7, lest her bronchitis devolve into pneumonia. Even when Violet is delirious with fever, demanding another nurse because Matthew’s mother talks as much as “a drunken vicar,” Isobel doesn’t leave her side. And — thank heavens! — Violet pulls through just fine. Upon learning from Dr. Clarkson that (all of) the nurses who looked after her were Isobel, Violet is even nice to her.

THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS | Meanwhile, in London, as Rose encourages Jack to live — and love — in the moment, Edith confides in a surprisingly supportive Rosamund not only that she’s pregnant but that, under the circumstances (Michael being missing at best, dead at worst), she is getting an illegal abortion. As she sees it, she has no option. If she kept the baby, she’d be an outcast. “Sybil might have brought it off,” she notes, “but not me.” However, when push comes to shove, she can’t go through with the procedure.

CATCH OF THE DAY | To keep Alfred from dropping by for a visit — once again stirring up the rivalry between Daisy and Ivy — Mrs. Hughes tells Carson to fib to “the Downton heartbreaker” that there’s a flu bug going around, and were he to catch it, he might miss some important days at cooking school. “You’re quite a plotter when you want to be,” he notes. “It’s a skill every woman must learn,” she slyly responds. Nonetheless, Alfred does pop in, and, much to Daisy’s chagrin, Ivy makes it as plain as the pert nose on her face that she’s now as interested in him as she is disinterested in Jimmy.

MAY THE DEVIL GET HIS DUE | When Robert is called to America to (reluctantly) try and bail Cora’s brother out of hot water, Mrs. Hughes reveals Anna’s secret to Mary so that she will persuade her father to take Thomas as his valet instead of Bates. (Along the way, Mary even shocks her papa by suggesting that Thomas will have a great time ogling the “handsome stewards” aboard their ship. How does she know about such things? “I’ve been married,” she says. “I know everything.”) And it’s an especially good thing that Bates does stay behind, too, because Tony hasn’t returned to Downton alone, he’s brought his valet, Green. No sooner has Mrs. Hughes (rather thrillingly) threatened Anna’s rapist than it appears that Bates has deduced the identity of the “burglar” who attacked his wife. (If he hasn’t figured it out, there’s no explaining the murderous gleam in his eye.)

Okay, your turn. What did you think of the episode? Are you Team Tony or Team Charles? Hit the comments!

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