Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 2 (ITV) Review

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Now that we’re officially over the death of Matthew, Downton Abbey can back to what it does best – offer up a weekly does of tedium with a side of heart-warming sweetness. We barely see Mary this week, after all of that heavy grief in episode one, and the action this week largely concerns the servants and their various entanglements.

We’re not done with Molesley despite his lack of job at Downton, and Anna and Bates are forced to help him out when they see him so down on his luck. I can’t think it’ll be too long before he’s back in the servant’s hall at Downton, but for now at least he’s got friends in fortunate places. Bates claims it’s his skills learned in prison that allowed him to get Molesley 30 pounds but it was, in fact, his learned ability to ask the family for cash whenever someone’s in need. These guys talk a lot about speaking out of turn, and maybe it’s a sign of changing times, but that seemed awfully cheeky.

Meanwhile, Thomas has a new scheming partner and his brief dalliance with kindness last series seemed to have been buried deeper than before. He and Edna make an even more unappealing team that he did with O’Brien for so long, and their plot to frame Anna for a bit of clothing sabotage is surely a sign of worse things to come. It feel like a shame to bin all of the character development we got with Thomas last year, especially since he’s a character most of us want to like, but that seems to be the way Downton are choosing to deal with things this year.

At least we have the new relationship between Mary and Branson – one that has developed over time into something very sweet. With Mary and Edith having absolutely no relationship, it’s lovely to have a sibling-esque bond between two of the younger characters. He’s the perfect opposite for Lord Grantham’s backwards opinions when it comes to Mary’s role in the estate and, with Matthew’s letter finally giving her more control than her infant son (also missing this week), that was needed. I’m hoping this is a dynamic that sticks around, even with the love interests due to arrive from next week.

And Carson’s theatre-buddy storyline was resolved quickly at the end of the episode, with details of his romantic past slowly eked out by Isobel and Mrs Hughes across the hour. I guess that was the ultimate point of the storyline, but I kind of wish it had brought some more drama. The same goes for Rose’s storyline, as I’m finding her very unlikeable so far.

What did you think of the episode? Are you enjoying Rose’s rebellion? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

Downton Abbey airs on ITV in the UK.