‘Downton Abbey’ season 4, episode 1 review: Mary’s reawakening; a kiss; a shocking return

What's ahead -Downton Abbey” is back, and we have to say that we really could not be happier. The crown jewel of British television may be missing Matthew Crawley, but there is so much talent here that the series was able to compensate for it in a variety of different ways. (Warning: Spoilers ahead for American readers from the British airing of the show.)

There is no need here to bury the lead here, and we shall start by talking about what is really the primary order of business right now: What comes next for Lady Mary. For most of the first hour of the season, she looked almost like a barely-breathing ghost. She did not want to work or take care of her child George, let alone even live. Jim Carter had some fantastic work here as his Carson was called upon to encourage her to dive back headfirst into some sort of employment, such as helping to run the estate.

It was ultimately this conversation with Carson that led to Mary finding her inner drive, and to fight for the changes that Matthew wanted for Downton. Carson nearly made us cry at the end of this! Not bad for a stone-faced butler.

The dalliances downstairs

What we were particularly fascinated in this week were the servants’ storylines, as we basically saw two men in peril taken in to try and improve their lives. The tale of Charles Grigg was perhaps the more intriguing of the two, as his past with Carson was something that the butler was in some ways willing to ignore. Meanwhile, Mosley did the equivalent of dropping the ball in a test to see if he could be a worthy butler for anyone.

Meanwhile, we had the shocking return of a maid in Edna who last we saw her was desperate to hit on Tom at almost every turn. Is she really going to behave herself this time? We are mostly surprised that there is even a need for more servants in an age when they are becoming less and less necessary. Only Mrs. Patmore seemed to be well aware that by stirring with a mixer, Daisy was potentially taking a job away from one of the cooks.

Also, Thomas’ evil ways actually had a strangely-happy ending this week, as he managed to get the pompous, “crossbreed”-hating nanny fired after planting a seed.

The tale of Lady Edith

Michael Gregson clearly loves Edith, but there is a major complication: He is married. Therefore, the editor was willing to take a major risk with her, in moving to Germany so that he can file for divorce against his insane wife. This story does still feel a Jane Eyre sort of feel to it, but for now, we enjoy the romance.

The major thing to take from this scene, and from this episode, is that change is coming to the show. It was a sharp, well-written hour that will certainly strike a chord with fans. While Matthew is missed, there is a still a future here worth celebrating.

Overall, what was your take on the “Downton Abbey” premiere? Be sure to share some of your thoughts with a comment below. Also click here to take a look at the preview.

Photo: ITV

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