We saw interracial relations and out of wedlock pregnancies this week; pretty darn scandalous for the 1920's!
Downton Abbey is moving through the years with gusto, and already we're seeing some of the effects of time play havoc with the lives of some of the landed gentry trying to keep up with the break neck pace of the Roarin' Twenties. In the latest episode there were taboos of yesteryear broken at every turn. We look back at episode six of the current (fourth) season and try and keep up with the changing face of the 20th century along with the cast. The rest of this article contains spoilers.
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One thing that did become clear early on in the episode was that, with the season hitting the half way mark, plot devices were being shoved in here there and everywhere to gear up the season for its final episode, which will air around Christmas time. The first little glimpse of the season closer came when the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) received a letter from Uncle Harold in America, stating that he had gotten himself into “a proper fix” over oil leases. The letter will make Paul Giamatti's entrance into the series at Christmas just that little less surprising now, but chances are you've already heard about his special guest spot by now anyway.
On with the scandals then, and they sure did take up a chunk of the storyline for this week's episode, but they would do, being so scandalous (for the 1920's). Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) was first to have her wayward antics rock the foundations of Downton, when she discovered this week that she is expecting a child. Joyous news normally, but out of wed-lock! Such thing is unheard of in the traditionalist walls of the famed fictitious walls of Downton.
If this wasn't bad enough, her lover and father of the child, Michael Gregson, has vanished into dust, seemingly gone along with Edith's hopes of a considerable chunk of the Earl's wealth in his will. As Edith frets over where her lover could be, fearing he may have been kidnapped or may even be dead, we're probably not alone in assuming he's simply jilted her, off on his next early post-war love crusade. We hope not, but one can't help but think the worst. Of course, the whereabouts of Gregson aren't even the worst part of this, as the mere fact the a daughter of the Earl pregnant out of wedlock is enough to bring generations of aristocracy crumbling down.
And the scandals weren't over there either, as our presumptions were confirmed towards the end of the episode when it was at last revealed that Lady Rose (Lily James) and the black singer Jack Ross (Gary Carr) have indeed been getting intimate behind closed doors. As the two were spotted smooching by Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), it seems as though this is one plot device that won't be going anywhere just yet.
Whilst Rose and Jack were getting it on, it was Mary who was having trouble with her own love life, struggling to click with new boy Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden) as poorly as she did with Matthew (Dan Stevens) when he first arrive. Lets hope that Charles doesn't come to the same grizzly end as Matthew and her first lover Patrick Crawley.
The episode didn't lack drama, but it did lack the sense of urgency that some of the other episode have had this season, namely the third instalment of season four. Then again, maybe this slowing down of pace has just been used to accomodate the viewers who were left unnerved by the graphic rape scene, and prefer to see the show a pure escapism from the dreariness of modern life. A few secret love affairs should be just the ticket then!
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