Downton Abbey—Season 4

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8.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking, great acting

The stories are just standard soap opera material

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Downton shrinking? Nope, still growing!!!

Matthew has been killed in a car accident right after the birth of his child and all of Downton Abbey is still reeling.  Widowed Mary (Michelle Dockery) is fighting depression and now also finds herself burned with the management of Downton Abbey.  Edith (Laura Carmichael) continues dating Gregson (Charles Edwards) but discovers a new problem when Gregson tries to get citizenship in Germany so they can be together.  Branson (Allen Leech) struggles with his life at Downton and tries to find new love.  Rose (Lily James) prepares for her debutant party but finds romance with a band leader named Ross (Gary Carr) which raises eyebrows.  On the servant side, Molesley (Kevin Doyle) finds himself out of work with Matthew dead and struggles to find work in the village.  Daisy (Sophie McShera) competes with Ivy (Cara Theobold) for Alfred (Matt Milne), but Alfred only sees Ivy.  The marriage of Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and Bates (Brendan Coyle) is in jeopardy when a visiting servant attacks her.

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This season changes everything with society realizing that they can overthrow the wealthy…leading Mary to be a pig farmer (ok not really)

Downton Abbey—Season 4 aired from September 22, 2013 to December 25, 2013 in the United Kingdom and January 5, 2014 to February 23, 2014 in the United States.  The series continues to be praised by critics and a horde of rabid fans.

Downton Abbey is a good show, but it is an odd show.  I feel that Downton Abbey has pull a great con on its viewers.  With its classy look and strong acting, Downton Abbey has tricked viewers into thinking it is anything more than a glorified soap opera.

Part of the trick is that Downton Abbey looks fantastic.  The shooting style is so classy and feels big.  With nice tracking shots, and strong long dialogue sequences that still flow, the series just nails it.  The production quality of the show it tip top for a period piece.

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This storyline isn’t as edgy as they wished it to be…plus, Rose is obnoxious (at least it end realistically).

The show also casts fantastic actors.  The whole cast really jells and works together.  The evil characters are evil and the good characters but the acting is strong for the stock characters.  Plus the writing allows viewers to have favorites…good & bad.

The thing with Downton Abbey is that the stories are pretty contrived…they’re just done well.  You get the standard soap story (mostly from not even this decade), but done classy.  You have rape stories, interracial dating, and cheesy “I love you, I love you, but we can’t be together” dating stories.  It just soap opera tripe that if it wasn’t shot so well would be forgettable.

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This would have been a great end to the whole series

I do have to say the season-ender was pretty weak with Rose’s presentation and the Scooby-Doo attempts of Downton Abbey family to prevent a scandal for the Prince.  There was also a weakening of the staff stories…I never particularly cared about the Ivy-Alfred-Jimmy-Daisy storyline.  I did however like the addition of Baxter and her relationship with both Molesley and Thomas.

Downton Abbey feels particularly soap opera-y this season and it isn’t the strongest season.  It is a quick watch despite the hour episodes.  I do still recommend the series, but I think it is more like Falcon Crest or Dallas than what the show is made out to be by some of the viewers who think they are watching more than another version of “their stories”.

Downton Abbey—Season 4 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Episode 1”

4.1       Episode 1 Airdate:  01/05/14

The staff is shocked when O’Brien leaves during the night leaving an open position for maid to Cora (Elizabeth McGovern).  Mary (Michelle Dockery) copes with Matthew’s death and finds herself suffering from depression.  Joseph Molesley (Kevin Doyle) finds himself out of work and learns he’s going to be forced to leave Downton Abbey.  Robert (Hugh Bonneville) finds the fortune once again in crisis as George is the inheritor of Matthew’s fortune.  Carson (Jim Carter) is contacted by Charlie Grigg (Nicky Henson) but Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) finds herself dealing with the situation.  Edith (Laura Carmichael) goes to London to be with Gregson (Charles Edwards) and learns that he might have a chance to get a divorce if he leaves England.  A night out with Jimmy Kent (Ed Speleers) for Ivy Stuart (Cara Theobold) leads to problems and has Daisy Mason (Sophie McShera) wondering if Alfred Nugent (Matt Milne) sent her a Valentine.  Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) finds himself in battle with George’s nanny West (Di Botcher).  Lady Rose MacClare (Lily James) advertises for Cora’s maid and Edna Braithwaite (MyAnna Buring) finds another position at Downton.

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“Episode 2”

4.2       Episode 2 Airdate:  01/05/14

A package from Matthew leads to a possible change in status at Downton Abbey for Mary.  Grigg works to recover at the home of Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) and finds that Carson continues to ignore him.  Molesley is forced to work on a road crew and struggle to make ends meet.  Rose tries to convince Anna  (Joanne Froggatt) to attend a dance in York with her, and Anna is sent with Rose to watch over with Mary’s permission…which leads to a chance encounter with a local who believes her to be a housemaid.  Edna starts as Cora’s maid and finds herself siding with Thomas.  Jimmy gets tickets for Ivy for the theater in York and Alfred continues to believe that Jimmy is trying to make him jealous.  Mary finds herself teamed with Branson (Allen Leech) to see if she can possibly run Downton Abbey.

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“Episode 3”

4.3       Episode 3 Airdate:  01/12/14

Downton Abbey has visitors for a performance by Australian performer Dame Nellie Melba (Kiri Te Kanawa).  Mary finds herself spending time with Anthony Gillingham (Tom Cullen), and Branson realizes how out of place he feels.  Michael comes to Downton to meet with Edith’s parents and finds himself fighting to be respected.  Mary tries to find a way to deal with the Downton Abbey tax bill to keep the land together.  Jimmy fakes an injury to get out of serving, and Molesley is brought in to help.  Branson finds that he isn’t fitting among the upper class and makes a big mistake.  Anna finds that her friendship with Gillingham’s visiting valet named Green (Nigel Harman) leads to a dangerous turn of events.

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“Episode 4”

4.4       Episode 4 Airdate:  01/19/14

Anna hides her rape from Bates (Brendan Coyle) and has help from Mrs. Hughes…and blames herself for the rape.  Branson learns that Edna is seeking word that he will marry her if she is pregnant from their one-night-stand…and finds that he must seek help.  A trip to London has Mary meeting with Gillingham again and considering her future.  Rose makes the acquaintance of a singer named Jack Ross (Gary Carr) in London…which raises concerns due to his race.  Alfred considers going to London to chef school.  Gillingham returns to Downton Abbey with an offer for Mary.

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“Episode 5”

4.5       Episode 5 Airdate:  01/26/14

Alfred gets ready for his cooking test in London and gets training from the staff.  With Edna out, a new maid named Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) is suggested by Thomas, and Thomas works to use Baxter to get information.  Anna continues to reject Bates and won’t tell him why.  Robert makes a decision about one of the farming families at Downton without consulting Branson and Mary.  Isobel gets Violet to hire a new gardener named John Pegg (Joncie Elmore), and Violet suspects him of theft.  Bates forces the truth from Mrs. Hughes about Anna and debates what to do about it.

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“Episode 6”

4.6       Episode 6 Airdate:  02/02/14

Robert gets a letter from Cora’s brother and learns that there are problems in America.  Rose decides to surprise Robert with a band and Thomas tries to find out what Mrs. Hughes knows.  Edith finds that she can get no contact from Gregson in Germany and gets bad news from London.  Alfred gets good news from the Ritz when a candidate drops out of the running.  Jimmy’s date with Ivy leads to a negative result.  Carson refuses to bring back Molesley due to his previous behavior, and Mrs. Hughes works to make Carson concede.  Evelyn Napier (Brendan Patricks) and Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden) visit Downton Abbey and Mary learns that they are there for the study of food production.  Jack Ross and his band comes to Downton Abbey for Robert’s birthday.  Branson considers moving to the United States to start a new life.  Mary uncovers Ross and Rose’s secret relationship.

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“Episode 7”

4.7       Episode 7 Airdate:  02/09/14

An emergency telegram from Cora’s brother in America forces Robert to head to New York, and Mrs. Hughes is forced to tell Mary about the situation with Anna to keep Bates at Downton.  Isobel finds Violet is ill and tries to take care of her.  Alfred plans a visit, but Mrs. Hughes and Carson decide that Alfred would cause more problems with Daisy and Ivy.  Rose and Edith head to London and Edith uses it as a way to spend time with Ross while Ethel tries to deal with her pregnancy by recruiting her aunt Lady Rosmund (Samantha Bond).  Downton Abbey experiments with pigs, and Mary finds herself teamed with Blake when the pigs get sick.  A trip to a liberal political meeting by Branson leads to a meeting with a woman named Sarah Bunting (Daisy Lewis) who shares his views.  A returning visit by Gillingham and Green leads Bates to learn the truth about Anna’s rape.

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“Episode 8”

4.8       Episode 8 Airdate:  02/16/14

Downton Abbey prepares for the big church bazaar and everyone is getting ready.  Anna is forced to tell Mary the truth about Green when she learns Gillingham is returning, and Anna worries that Bates also knows the truth.  Branson learns about Rose’s relationship with Ross and questions what to do.  Molesley reaches out to Braxton and tries to convince her to cut her ties to Thomas.  Ethel and Lady Rosmund try to determine what to do about her child and debate a plan.  Ivy is offered a proposal from Alfred and makes more problems with Daisy.  Violet learns the truth about Ethel’s condition and joins Ethel and Lady Rosmund in their plans to keep it secret.  Rose announces an engagement to Ross, and Mary tries to head off the situation.  Gillingham returns to Downton Abbey with shocking news, and Robert returns with news from America.

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“Christmas Special: The London Season”

4.9       The London Season Airdate:  02/23/14

Downton prepares for Rose’s coming out party in London and much of the staff is headed to the city for the celebration.  Edith copes with having given birth to a girl in Switzerland and considers going back on her decision to put her daughter up for adoption.  Mary finds Blake and Gillingham continue to clash over her and finds them both invited to the party.  Cora’s mother Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) and her brother Harold (Paul Giamatti) arrive for the party and Harold tries to avoid the Teapot Dome Scandal.  Terence Sampson (Patrick Kennedy) attends the party against the family’s objection and targets Harold for conning.  Branson finds himself alone at Downton and Thomas sees him with Sarah Bunting.  Harold’s assistant Ethan Slade (Michael Benz) finds himself working as a valet for the party and takes an interest in Daisy…and Daisy might have a big offer.  Isobel finds herself courted by Mary’s godfather Lord Merton (Douglas Reith).  The Prince’s mistress Freda Dudley Ward (Janet Montgomery) finds her personal letter from the Prince stolen by Sampson and Robert sets out to get it back with the help of his family.  Mrs. Hughes discovers evidence that Bates was in London when Green was killed, and Mrs. Hughes and Mary questions what to do with it.  Thomas tries to sabotage Tom and continues to harass Baxter for information on the family.  Harold finds himself courted by Madeleine Allsopp (Poppy Drayton) as his mother learns that her father Lord Aysgarth (James Fox) is seeking her for her money.  Mary learns the truth about Blake’s past from Gillingham and learns that it is a fair fight between Gillingham and Blake for her hand.

Related Links:

Downton Abbey—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 5 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 6 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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