Downton Abbey S4 Ep6 Review

I can’t be the only one who’s starting to feel this series of Downton Abbey is really dragging am I? It’s starting to feel like Julian Fellowes has run out of ideas for most of the main cast and we’re now being subjected to storylines involving marginal characters (the Dowager’s gardener) or people we just don’t care about (Jimmy and Ivy). What’s happened to Robert and Cora in this series? Neither of them has had a proper storyline, nor have Thomas or Mrs Patmore or even Daisy really. Come on Julian, we’ve spent three series (and two Christmas specials) investing in these key characters, please give them something to do.

It was fun to see the Dowager’s butler Spratt back this week, he of the ‘I’ll talk but I won’t open my mouth’ fame. But even he felt peripheral to what was going on. I would have loved to have seen him back with Mr Molesley, the scene in the first episode with them both butlering for Her Ladyship is still one of the stand out moments of this series. At least we got to see a little bit of Molesley but not before he’d almost had to beg Mr Carson to let him be a footman. He can have the position because Alfred’s got a place on the Ritz cooking course after all. So he’s off then, not that he’ll be particularly missed by anyone (only poor Daisy).

It looks like scandal is headed to Downton with the arrival of a letter for Lady Edith confirming she’s up the duff after her rendezvous with Michael Gregson, who now appears to have vanished in to thin air. Oh dear, the Earl’s daughter is (probably) going to be an unmarried mother. Who knew one house could generate so many one-parent families? (And before anyone says anything, I’m from a one-parent family and very proud of it). Lady Rose is doing all she can to bring shame on Downton too after inviting Jack Ross’s jazz band to play at Lord Robert’s birthday party. As always line of the week went to the Dowager ‘Do you think any of them knows what the other is playing?’. Rose was also caught getting a bit too friendly with Jack after the party.

Anna and Mr Bates continue to try and put her rape ‘behind them’. This week they had a romantic meal at a swanky hotel. Anna announced they haven’t done this since before they were married. Were they always sneaking off for illicit dinners before? They kept that quiet! Lady Mary also had a (probable) new love interest in the shape of Charles Blake who is touring Yorkshire looking at old houses or something (sorry it was so boring I zoned out for a bit). Anyway Mary immediately disliked him and thought he wasn’t ‘one of them’. Hmm, remind anyone of a previous storyline? Hello the new Matthew.

And a quick mention for Lady Sybbie and Baby George who were seen but not heard this week. Obviously last week’s immortal ‘Uh oh’ from Sybbie has worn  her out, dahling.

My hope is that next week’s penultimate episode is given a bit of life by the arrival of Cora’s brother Harold, played by the brilliant Paul Giamatti. If he can’t breathe some life into Downton I’m not sure anyone can.