SPOILERS follow for the two-hour premiere of Downton Abbey’s Season 4:
1. Am I watching Downton Abbey or a weird zombie/historical fiction mash-up? Oh, right. Matthew died, the British believe in the “stiff upper lip,” so everyone walks around like a zombie. Got it.
2. There may not be any actual zombies, but on the other hand, THE WHOLE WORLD HAS COME TO AN END. In other words, O’Brien snuck off in the night and took another job. I think Cora was ready to hunt down her buddy Susan, the maid-stealer, and hack her to pieces. Susan’s daughter, Rose, the houseguest at Downton, is lucky they didn’t make her walk around in sack cloth and ashes, especially after they found out she knew.
Rose did proper penance by finding the new maid, who is an old maid, Braithwaite, who was let go because she tried to jump Branson’s bones. Everyone downstairs agreed to keep quiet about it, because how else are they going to have any juicy conflict this season?
3. THE WHOLE WORLD HAS COME TO AN END, Part Deux. Cora bought Mrs. Patmore an electric mixer. I guess that’s the 1920s equivalent of trying to get your great-grandmother to use Facebook.
4. If you discount abusive and neglectful fathers, Lord Grantham is the world’s worst dad, ever. Holy crap, what is up with this guy? First he kills his daughter Sybil by refusing to listen to the doctor who knew what he was talking about, now he encourages his mourning daughter to stay depressed and miserable. And the reason he does this? Because he doesn’t want her interfering with the running of the estate, which now belongs to her baby son, George. Obviously, he can’t wait to ruin his grandson’s fortune as efficiently as he ruined his wife’s. Geez, he even forgot that Branson was married to Sybil!
5. Now that Matthew is dead, Mary hates everybody. So she hasn’t changed at all.
6. Now that Matthew is dead, Isobel doesn’t want to interfere in anyone’s life. YIPES. That’s a BIG change. Never mind. Mrs. Hughes to the rescue. When Mr. Carson’s old stage partner needs help and Carson ignores his pleas, Mrs. Hughes hooks him up (platonically) with Isobel so she can have a project. Works like a charm.
7. Speaking of Carson and Mrs. Hughes, whoa, you can cut the sexual tension between those two with a knife! Seriously, guys. Get. A. Room.
8. Edith is in love with the guy married to an insane woman and is happy and glamorous. You know that won’t last. Come on, we’re talking about Edith. Already, the warning bells are ringing loud and clear. Lover boy wants to become a German citizen so he can divorce his wife.
Germany in the 1920s? Oh, that’s going to end well.
9. NEWS FLASH—NEWS FLASH—NEWS FLASH—NEWS FLASH!!!! Bates smiles at someone other than his wife! The recipient of the smile is Molesley, who is properly freaked out by it.
10. Just before Season 4 started, didn’t you say to yourself, gee, I really hope Molesley gets a storyline? Me neither.
11. We’re supposed to believe that stuffy Matthew, the lawyer, who became the heir when his distant relation suddenly died, who barely survived the war, then watched his fiancé unexpectedly die of the flu, didn’t make a will. O.K. Sure. Then we’re also to believe he dashed off a letter instead of a will and tossed it somewhere carelessly (without even sealing it up). Whatever. He’s dead. He doesn’t have to stay in character anymore. I guess.
12. We heart Violet. Well, that goes without saying, but how great was she telling her son (without actually telling him) what a loser he is, and helping Mary get out of her funk (kind of) and trying to help Molesley and trying to remember to call Branson Tom and tossing off her many classic one-liners. We love you, you darling snob!
13. Rose talks Anna into taking her to a low-class dance and meets Sam. SIGH. SAM. I have no idea if this character is EVER going to show up again in the story, but if not, WHY NOT? Rose pretends to Sam that she’s a maid at Downton and as they dance a fight breaks out. Anna grabs Rose and they escape before the coppers can nab them. Sam walks ALL THE WAY TO DOWNTON ABBEY to find out if Rose is O.K. Rose actually dresses up as a maid so she can let the poor bloke down gently. He wishes her well with more class than you see from some of the upper class characters on this show.
Aw. What a sweetie. I hope we see him again. Not for Rose. As she so correctly tells Sam, she’s not good enough for him. But maybe he can enliven the kind of dull Alfred/Ivy/Jimmy/Daisy kitchen quadrangle.
14. Yay Cora for annihilating the evil nanny’s ass five seconds after she heard her say horrible things to baby Sybil. And boo Cora for believing Thomas’ absurd lies about Anna—ANNA, who makes Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm look dicey in comparison. Just so he can get in good with O’Brien’s replacement Braithwaite, who can’t stop snickering and smirking at Anna now.
15. I can’t wait for the day when that smirk gets wiped off Braithwaite’s face. I’m guessing it will be the same day she realizes Thomas has absolutely no interest in her lady parts.