BWW Recap - Life Must Go On in the Season Premiere of DOWNTON ABBEY
The fourth season of Downton Abbey opens with an eerie darkness. Without any warning, O'Brien has snuck out in The Middle of the night, leaving nothing behind but an empty room and a handful of notes for both her employers and fellow staff members. It is revealed that O'Brien has accepted an offer to work for Lady Flincher up in Scotland.
It is now six months after the tragic death of Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary appears disinterested in the child her husband has left behind. Wearing only black, she refers to her son, Master George as an orphan.
With his employer Matthew no longer alive, Molesley has no function at Downton. Carson tells him that he can no longer stay on so he plans to move back home with his father. Yet he worries about his future. Countess Violet wants to help him secure a new job and invites him to help serve lunch at Lady Shackleton's luncheon to prove how indispensable he is. But Lady Shackleton's current butler feels threatened by Molesley's presence and manages to successfully make Molesley look incompetent and fumbling at the luncheon.
Feeling somewhat responsible for her mother stealing O'Brien away from the family, Rose puts an ad up in town for a replacement Lady's Maid. Edna Braithwaite, who once worked at Downton, sees the ad and applies for the job. Cora decides to put her back on the Downton staff, after Edna shows her the positive review she had received from Mrs. Hughes. Yet later, Mrs. Hughes tells Lady Cora that she no longer stands by her own recommendation, (which she only wrote in the first place at the request of Branson.) Carson tells Mrs Hughes that there is not much they can do to prevent Edna's employment but they will have to keep a close eye on her to make sure she doesn't cause trouble or try to lure Branson into a romance.
Thomas continues to cause trouble downstairs at Downton. He deeply resents being told what to do by Nanny West. In an attempt to get his Revenge, he tells Lady Cora that Nanny West is neglecting the children. Later that night, Lady Cora overhears Nanny West calling baby Sybil an "evil little crossbreed" and fires her on the spot. She tells Thomas that she owes him a great debt for bringing Nanny West's evil ways to her attention.
Mrs Hughes finds a note which was thrown in the garbage, by Carson. She discovers that one of Carson's old theatre friends, Charley Grick, has fallen on hard times and is working in a deplorable workhouse which is affecting his health. Carson is outraged that Mrs. Hughes meddled in his affairs and tells her he would rather not return to his past and will not help his former friend. Against Carson's wishes, Mrs Hughes enlists the help of the grieving Isobel, who agrees to give him a home. Charlie is released into Isobel's custody. For the first time since her son Matthew's tragic death, Isobel feels needed and begins to come out of her deep period of mourning.
Edith goes to London for a party given by Michael in which he introduces her to his literary friends. They talk about their plans for "living in sin." Micheal wants her to move to Germany with her where he can become a German citizen and legally divorce his wife on the grounds of lunacy. He tells Edith he would do anything to be with her for the rest of his life.
Back at Downton, Branson urges Mary to take an interest in things again following Matthew's death but Mary refuses. So Branson asks Mr. Carson if he would ask Mary to help out in the running of the estate to keep her mind off her sadness. Carson agrees to help and boldly confronts Lady Mary to suggest she begin to help out on the estate. He is strongly rebuked by Mary who tells him he is overstepping his boundaries. Later in the episode, Lady Mary apologizes to Carson and breaks down sobbing. The two agree it is time she return to the land of the living.
Lord Grantham firmly believes Mary is still too weak to be involved in matters relating to Downton. Half of the estate is Lord Grantham's, and his plan to to exclude his daughter from being involved in it. Since Matthew left no will, Mary has little to no rights as a woman, yet Branson wants to include her. In Branson's words, Lord Grantham considers Lady Mary a 'little woman' who shouldn't be troubled by reality.