Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas special Debutantes and Tiaras

To catch up on reading season 3 recaps 

Season 4


What on Earth? Yes, it is LILLIAN AND MARM! Finally. Just before the fifth season airs in America.

It's eight months later, Downton time, and Edith is home from Geneva. She visits Granny, who doesn't understand why Edith insists on being such a wet blanket, and Edith is all, well I went to Switzerland to put this whole ruinous mess behind me and get back to my carefree young self, but it didn't work.  I'm still miserable and  I have stretch marks. Is there any chance I can be happy before the season ends? This is the last episode!


Plus I'm really going to miss those comfy maternity jeans
The rest of the family is in London getting ready for Rose's Ultimate Grand Supreme Deb-stravaganza, and Cora is carping about not having enough bedrooms for everyone. It seems that Uncle Paul Giamatti Harold and sassy American Grandmama Extraordinaire Martha are joining the festivities. Right! Because who would want to miss their least favorite son-in-law's cousin's daughter's Puberty Party?  Not one boneheaded Crawley seems to recall that Aunt Rosamund's mansion is so close she can probably hear them squabbling, but Rosamund wasn't included in Mary's or Edith's  weddings so who knows if she is invited to the Deb-stravaganza.

Cora teases Mary about sharing a bedroom and one of those peculiar little quilts with Edith.  In this case, absence has not made the heart grow fonder, and Mary threatens to hang herself from the bannister rather than spoon with Edith.  Rose is wheedling to go clubbing with her squad. But has everyone forgotten that Rose is the same teenaged brat who was flouncing around London on the arm of a married man and wearing red lipstick and messy hair? I think a nice girls’ night out at a genteel jazz club is NBD.

If only we knew someone else who had a great big empty house in London

Lord Minturn drops by Isobel's to say, I got invited to your distant relative's Ultimate Grand Supreme Deb-stravaganza in London and I wondered if you'd be my date?

That soup looks yummy, is it Campbell's Chicken N' Stars?

Isobel is like IDK I'm pretty busy eating my depressing single person dinner off a tray and watching Sherlock re-runs on BBC, Then she realizes that going to a party with people who kind of don't mind having her around beats sitting alone in the dark, and agrees to be Lord Minturn's plus one.

No it's Progresso Cream of Celery

Rose meets up with her pal Brunette #1, a.k.a. Madeline Allsop, at the Embassy Club for some jammin' jazz.  Boy howdy--it's Brunette #1's [very] old man, Lord Aisgarth! And who is that at his table? The Prince of Wales (yes, the POW), just sitting there like a regular joe, or at least a noble joe.  He is wearing his royal sash though, so nobody accidently touches him without permission.

This club is full of old dudes

His Royal Highness says, oh hello, I know your pop Ambassador Shrimpy.  In fact I visited him in exile at his mandatory remote outpost in India.  Jeeze, it's bloody hot there. LOL Colonialism!

Can't touch this
Also sitting at the table is Brunette #2, Mrs Dudley-Ward (wife of the conveniently invisible Mister William Dudley-Ward, and mother of his two children) Of course, she is not the prince's date or anything, because that would be SCANDALOUS. 

Being a royal mistress is FUN and totally free of negative consequences. 

The next day Mary goes to lunch and then to a Fancy Art Museum Event with her other boyfriend, Charles Blake.  But who is already there chatting up Rose and Brunette #2? Tony Gillingham!  Both of them are apparently still chasing after Mary like stray dogs after a knucklebone. Am I the only one who is thoroughly annoyed by Tony and Charles bickering over Mary?

Mary is all,  hello Tony, shouldn't you be somewhere pining for me?  You can tell she has read ALL ABOUT Brunettte #2 on some gossip blog because she doesn't say how do you do, and glares at Rose, who invites everyone to her Deb-stravaganza after-party shindig.

Man, doing something besides chasing after Mary is kind of fun!

So do you and Mr Blake know each other?

Gurl, I know errybody.

Poor Irish Tom, alone at Downton, bumps into that irritating Miss Bunting in town and accidentally asks her to dinner at the pub. It would seem that everyone's storyline is just picking right up where we left it eight months ago, because Miss Bunting is just as grating as ever. She invites herself over to the Abbey and then dashes up the stairs before Tom can stop her. Gawsh, we do not like her at all.

Let's go back downstairs; I'm starting to perspire
Tom begs Miss Bunting to please for the love of God just leave, but before she can turn around, Barrow materializes from the shadows.  He clearly spent the past eight months practicing his murderous under-butler stalk. Tom fumbles his PG reason for the two of them being upstairs alone together, and of course Barrow spies an opportunity to do some meddling.

Wait! I can explain! No I can't!

Barrow looms over Tom during breakfast, threateningly clenching his fists. What is your problem, buster? You have a pretty sweet job, especially considering how close you have come to living in the gutter. Remember that time you almost got fired for stealing but then you enlisted, then you got your job back and you almost got fired again for spreading gossip about Lady Mary, then you almost got fired AGAIN when Mr Bates got out of prison (granted, that one wasn't your bad), and then you almost got SUPER FIRED for being gay and putting the moves on Jimmy and then everyone rallied around to save your insufferable butt? And you were all like...boohoo,  I'm a changed man. Now it’s barely three minutes later and you are extorting that nice Mrs Baxter and being an absolute rattlesnake to Tom.  How would dead Sybil feel about that? Granted, you totally called that Nanny West thing, but only because nobody knows evil half as well as you do.

WTF is your damage, Barrow? 

It's finally here! The day of Rose's Grand Supreme Deb-stravaganza! Rose, Cora, and Robert all roll up to the palace in their horse drawn carriage. Just like Mary's wedding day, all the common folk line the streets to wave at rich people. Call me a communist but I think if I lived back in the day and the only fun I had was standing on a street corner straining to catch a glimpse of my local overlord, I might want to burn that shiz to the ground.

LOL Poor people!

ROFL  which is code for Ridiculous Ostrich Feathered Ladies

After Rose is presented there is a tea party at the palace and Brunette#2 is there.  Grandmama Martha immediately recognizes the royal mistress from the National Enquirer.  AWKWARD.

You  look older than your pictures, honey

The next morning Rose confesses to Uncle Robert that she maybe kind of not-on-purpose caused the downfall of the entire British empire by blabbing about a sexy letter the POW gave to Brunette#2, who stashed it unwisely in her party purse. The nefarious Mister Sampson helped himself to the letter while the girls were drankin’ and dancin’, and it’s all Rose’s fault.


Robert declares that yes, it clearly is all her fault and they hastily assemble The Justice League to figure out how get the note back. Robert and Harold will distract Mister Sampson, waving Harold's money in front of him over--what else?--a game of poker. Meanwhile, Scooby Doo and the Gang Mary, Rose, and Charles will sneak into Mister Sampson's bachelor pad and root around in his sock drawer (eew) and find the dang letter.

That just might be crazy enough to work!

Mary points out that this whole ruse feels rather flimsy, and they’ll need more characters to make it seem plausible. Rose suggests Brunette#1’s pop, Lord Aisgarth, and Mary is like yep, he has a hot crush on Grandmama. There are multiple flaws is only one flaw in this bulletproof plan--how will they get inside Sampson’s flat at the Club?  Rather than ask Rose to sleep with the porter, the team decides to forge a note “from Mister Sampson” granting them access. I told you: rock solid!

Mary ships Grandmama and Lord Aisgarth

But we all have classy British lady handwriting; who will forge the letter? Just then a tiny little lightbulb flashes over Robert's head (his only idea in the history of the series) and he asks Mister Bates if he "knows someone" who could assist the cause.  Luckily, he does know someone (also named Mister John Bates!), and gets out a pen and paper.

Just jotting down bible verses from memory

Meanwhile, Mrs Hughes finds time to go to church and learns that poor Russian refugees are in desperate need of old clothes so they can get servant jobs, too. So she asks Anna if she can spare any clothes, which of course she can't because she only owns two dresses. Anna decides Mister Bates should buy a new overcoat and snatches his old one right off the hook to give to Mrs Hughes. That Mr Bates even needs an overcoat in summer in London defies logic. As Mrs Hughes is digging in the pockets she finds....

What the what?

A train ticket stub to LONDON?  Now what? For some reason Mrs Hughes does not chuck the damning ticket straight into the fire, but passes it along to Lady Mary. We are relieved because we know Lady Mary wouldn't ever do anything outrageous or out of character, right?

Mary stares at the ticket and declares, I KNOW I JUST SAID I DON’T MIND LYING moments ago; and I’ve also completely forgotten that my personal history is suspect; and of course Mister Bates gave up virtually everything he owned to save my pasty white neck, not once but several times, including rescuing Downton from scandal and ruin; AND his long-suffering wife is my faithful maid: but SUDDENLY I FEEL COMPELLED TO TELL THE POLICE THAT HE WAS IN LONDON THE DAY THAT RAPIST “FELL” UNDER A BUS.  

At this point, both Lillian and Marm are overcome and faint on the floor.

I...I seem to have developed a conscience

Now look what you’ve done; Lillian and Marm may never recover.  Have you not one drop of compassionate blood in those veins? Are you NOT HOLDING A FORGED NOTE IN YOUR HAND right now? Is this not THE STUPIDEST SCENE IN THE HISTORY OF THIS SHOW? (And we thought that we had hit rock bottom with that asinine pig rescue, but clearly we have plumbed new depths of stunts Lady Mary would never ever pull, even in our wildest imaginations)


Mary's little burst of righteousness is short lived, because one minute later she is pulling on her Harriet The Spy costume to weasel into Mister Sampson's apartment.  Looks like the angel on her shoulder only sings when someone ELSE'S life is on the line. The gents all crowd around the poker table and Robert leans over to mention that he heard Tom had a lady visitor. Tom stumbles though some dirty-sounding excuse. I'm telling you, that Miss Bunting is repellent.

Do three twos beat a pair of tens?  Anybody?
Despite their iron-clad plan, super sleuths Mary, Rose, and Charles fail to find the letter in Mister Sampson's flat. The place doesn't look too turned over, so I'm not convinced they even looked that hard.  I'm not blaming anyone, but whose stupid idea was this?  Robert's, that's who. 

Sad trombones
They return to the London house in defeat and everyone frets about having no backup plan. Luckily, the resourceful Mister Bates ALSO happens to "know a guy" who is a pickpocket and smoothly fishes the note out of Mister Sampson's overcoat right under his sneaky pink nose. 

Let me help you with that
Robert shows the letter to Rose and Mary, and graciously says that Mister Sampson must have dropped it (pickpocket-speak for "it fell off the back of a truck").  Rose is relieved because now she won't become a pariah, and Mary realizes that once again, not just her family, but the entire Monarchy have been redeemed by Mister Bates. 

Is this what you're looking for?
Faced with incontrovertible evidence that Mister Bates deserves her loyalty after all,  Mary marches right upstairs and FINALLY tosses the incriminating ticket into the crackling fire. But not before we get a close up look at it and notice there's not even a freaking DATE ON IT.  All that matters is that this idiotic story line is finally over and we can forget it ever happened. 

OK now I will finally do the right thing

Now that all that useless hand flapping and moral flip-flopping are over, we can all enjoy Rose's Grand Supreme Deb-stravaganza Ball! Both of Mary's boyfriends show up.  As it happens, Charles Blake is secretly rich which means she can continue to string them both along for the foreseeable future.  Edith (who has been here all along like a dark grey cloud over everyone's picnic) says some ominous but obscure things about hurting people's feelings and both Robert and Cora mostly ignore her. All the other upstairs folks get wrap-ups to their stories (that we didn't bother writing about because they were boring and not important.)

And who should arrive just then but the PRINCE to start the party by dancing with Rose! Apparently,  having a first dance with a prince is the golden key to happily ever after.  It must have worked too because a few days later she gets cast as Cinderella in Disney's new live action movie. How about that? Daisy is cast as an ugly stepsister; not precisely the happy ending she, or we,  had in mind.

Turn down for WHAT?

Back at Downton, Edith corrals the pig farmer and says she’ll give him a suitcase full of money to adopt a certain baby, who she intends to snatch out of the loving arms of its new Swiss parents.  She tells him it’s “her friend’s baby”. Edith's obvious desperation clearly makes Mister Drew uncomfortable and he offers to keep it a secret from the others, even his own wife. Everyone who thinks Mrs Drew will assume little orphan Annie is his love child, raise your hand.

I...I mean my friend... would appreciate it. 

Rich people are weird. 

Since the servants have been working even MORE than their usual schedule of  six a.m. to midnight, six and a half days a week, Cora asks Carson to take them on an outing. After much back and forth and with a large push from that crafty Mrs Hughes, the staff get to take a trip to  Brighton Beach! It's no Hawaii, but it will do for a day trip. 

Old timey Pinterest
All the servants remembered to pack their bikinis and beach towels, and we get to see them in cute summer shifts instead of dreary grey sacks with aprons over the top.  Mister Molesley and Baxter have a cute little moment, right after Barrow hints at Baxter's troubled past.  Maybe it's just exhaustion from all the dopey stories this season but I just do not care at all about Baxter's crap. 

Me?  Strong?  
Uncle Paul Giamatii Harold's valet has spent the whole episode trying and failing to woo Daisy. He offers her a cook's job to get her to move to America but she is like,  well, actually I am an heiress to a cool farm in Yorkshire, so nope.  Ivy, who has been complaining all season, pipes right up and says TAKE ME WITH YOU! And he says okay. So long, Ivy! Sorry you and Daisy never got to be friends.  I wonder if you will wear a cap in America?

No thanks, Americans are just so icky

The writers must have realized everyone was so sick of the entire cast at this point that they gave us a spoonful of sugar to end the episode: a charming shot of Mrs Hughes and Mister Carson holding hands and wading into the cold sea.  Awww, I almost forgive you, Julian. 

Their hems will be all wet and seaweedy

Hooray! So this terrible, awful, no good, very bad episode recap is finally over. Just in time for us to start all over again! With any luck, the new season will be more fun, because if it's as dreadful as this Christmas special, we will never get through it. Hope to see you soon!

Recap by Lillian and Marm!


  1. I love your recap! So glad I added you to my Feedly reader; I'm looking forward to the coming season. And hoping for better plot lines.

  2. *contented sigh* Now I feel ready for January 4.

  3. Ahhhhh! Thank you so much! Enjoy your recaps VERY much, and hope you'll continue with the new season.


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