It’s Christmas in February as Downton Abbey celebrates the holidays, and Rose’s big coming out party which means a ball! A ball!
Lady Edith has returned from Geneva without a baby. She’s headed to London to look in on her near-German’s affairs and get some clothes now that she’s “back to normal shape,” and Mrs. Hughes and Daisy are going as well to help with Rose’s ball. Before the big night, Rose goes with her flapper friends to a nightclub where she meets the Prince of Wales. The Prince knows her father, “good old Shrimpy.”
Back at Downton, Tom is still pretending like he’s not wooing that lovely political lady he keeps running into, Ms. Bunting. He brings her back to the house for a tour. Naturally, Mr. Barrow catches them skulking about and it doesn’t look good.
There’s a letter that has Rose and her friends giggling. It’s a love letter from the Prince to a young Ms. Ward. And there’s Mr. Sampson, the guy who tried to swindle money at that poker match, stealing out of the ladies’ purses. Oh wait, what? He’s stealing the letter? Well that’s not going to end well for Ms. Ward. Or the Prince.
Edith’s near-German gave her power of attorney before he went and disappeared, so she might take over as editor of his newspaper. Another person moving up in the world is Alfred. He’s finished his course and has been hired as an Under-Chef at the Ritz-Carlton. Speaking of Daisy (because there’s no Alfred without a Daisy), she has caught the eye of one of the American Valets. He’s adorable, but so unskilled in the ways of the English.
I guess this whole debutante thing is a big deal because the Granthams and Rose are riding in a procession to Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen, with throngs of onlookers waving and cheering. The king decides to speak to her about Shrimpy’s hospitality, and I think that’s probably a really big deal.
Mrs. Hughes finds a ticket stub in Mr. Bates’s pocket that places him at the place of Mr. Greene’s death-slash-murder. She puts it on Lady Mary to decide whether Anna should know about it or not, and Lady Mary is torn. So we will have to wait and see.
Uh oh, the near-German got into a fight with “a gang of tuffs,” which are men who say horrible things and wear brown shirts. Edith is worried about what happens if he’s dead and she inherits his estate. Will she have to give half to the baby? How…awkward.
Rose tells everyone about the letter from the Prince that fell into Sampson’s hands. Robert calls it a “ghastly debacle” and insists on righting the wrong since they are the ones who introduced Mr. Sampson to Ms. Ward, and Rose all but handed him the letter.
There’s an elaborate picnic where one of Rose’s young friends, Ms. Madeline Olsam, is being wooed by Mrs. Levinson’s son, Uncle Howard. And Mrs. Levinson is being wooed by the young lady’s father, so that’s convenient. Uncle Howard is the perfect American combination of repugnant and intriguing. But everyone knows the matches are all about money, so that’s convenient.
Mr. Levinson wants Daisy to cook for him in America! New York! It was not the big news she was expecting from the Valet, but it is big news indeed.
While Mr. Sampson plays cards with the men, Lady Mary, and Rose rummage through his things in search of the letter. They don’t find it, but Lady Mary does find herself a man. Mr. Blake. He thinks they’d make a good team, which is about as romantic as these things ever get. And oh! Mr. Bates has the smarts to check Mr. Sampson’s coat pocket, where he finds the letter. Good old Bates. A crisis for the Monarchy has been avoided. And with that, Lady Mary burns the ticket stub.
It’s time for the ball! The Prince of Wales asks for the first dance with Rose which solidifies her place in society. It’s sort of repayment for that whole letter thing, and it is graciously accepted. The gowns are simultaneously understated and opulent, with the style wholly in drop waist territory, and so many tiaras! I’m unclear on the hierarchy around the tiara, but I fully support wearing one as often as possible.
Mr. Gillingham and Mr. Blake are vying for Lady Mary’s attention. For some reason, Mr. Gillingham lets Mary know that Mr. Blake is set to inherit some sort of massively huge estate. Mary finds this bit of information enticing because it means that they are both on the same side of wealth. How romantic!
Edith decides to move her bastard baby to a nearby family in Downton. Is it that farmer she helped earlier in the season? I think it is. They come up with a thin story about it being the baby of his dead friend and blah blah blah, happiness.
The staff gets a day at the beach, which is kind of funny because the Brits are so prone to sunburn. Daisy says no to the American Valet, and no to the job in New York. But she tosses old Ivy his way as a consolation prize. Carson puts his feet in the ocean and he looks so out of place, like a penguin on a marshmallow. He holds Mrs. Hughes’s hand, just to steady himself in the water, but is it the beginnings of a romance? Oh I hope so.
And that’s the end of Season Four. Sigh.
photos via Huffington Post