TIME Television

HBO and Game of Thrones Dominate Emmy Nominations

From left: Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon and Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell in Season 4, Episode 2 of HBO's Game of Thrones.
From left: Jack Gleeson as Joffrey Baratheon and Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell in Season 4, Episode 2 of HBO's Game of Thrones. Helen Sloan—HBO

A strong showing by the premium cable channel and its hit show

Game of Thrones received 19 Emmy nominations Thursday, fueling HBO’s 99 total nominations, including two for best drama.

FX also fared well, drawing 18 nominations for Fargo and another 17 for American Horror Story: Coven.

Netflix, with Orange Is the New Black contending for best comedy, pulled in a total of 31 Emmy nominations, more than either Fox or Comedy Central.

Here are the highlights from this year’s Emmy nominations:

Outstanding Drama Series

Breaking Bad (AMC)

Downton Abbey (PBS)

Game of Thrones (HBO)

Mad Men (AMC)

True Detective (HBO)

House of Cards (Netflix)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Bryan Cranston, Breaking Bad (AMC)

Jeff Daniels, The Newsroom (HBO)

Kevin Spacey, House of Cards (Netflix)

Jon Hamm, Mad Men (AMC)

Matthew McConaughey, True Detective (HBO)

Woody Harrelson, True Detective (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Michelle Dockery, Downton Abbey (PBS)

Claire Danes, Homeland (Showtime)

Robin Wright, House of Cards (Netflix)

Kerry Washington, Scandal (ABC)

Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife (CBS)

Lizzy Caplan, Masters of Sex (Showtime)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Jon Voight, Ray Donovan (Showtime)

Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones (HBO)

Mandy Patinkin, Homeland (Showtime)

Josh Charles, The Good Wife (CBS)

Aaron Paul, Breaking Bad (AMC)

Jim Carter, Downton Abbey (PBS)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Anna Gunn, Breaking Bad (AMC)

Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey (PBS)

Lena Headey, Game of Thrones (HBO)

Christine Baranski, The Good Wife (CBS)

Christina Hendricks, Mad Men (AMC)

Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey (PBS)

Outstanding Comedy Series

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Louie (FX)

Modern Family (ABC)

Veep (HBO)

Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

Silicon Valley (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Matt LeBlanc, Episodes

Don Cheadle, House of Lies (Showtime)

Louis C.K., Louie (FX)

William H. Macy, Shameless (Showtime)

Ricky Gervais, Derek (Netflix)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Lena Dunham, Girls (HBO)

Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie (Showtime)

Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation (NBC)

Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep (HBO)

Melissa McCarthy, Mike & Molly (CBS)

Taylor Schilling, Orange is the New Black (Netflix)

Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Adam Driver, Girls (HBO)

Jessie Tyler Ferguson, Modern Family (ABC)

Fred Armisen, Portlandia (IFC)

Ty Burrell, Modern Family (ABC)

Tony Hale, Veep (HBO)

Andre Braugher, Brooklyn Nine-Nine (FOX)

Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Mayim Bialik, The Big Bang Theory (CBS)

Julie Bowen, Modern Family (ABC)

Anna Chlumsky, Veep (HBO)

Allison Janney, Mom (CBS)

Kate McKinnon, Saturday Night Live (NBC)

Kate Mulgrew, Orange Is the New Black (Netflix)

Outstanding Miniseries

American Horror Story: Coven (FX)

Fargo (FX)

The White Queen (Starz)

Bonnie and Clyde (A&E, Lifetime, History)

Treme (HBO)

Luther (BBC America)

Outstanding Television Movie

The Normal Heart (HBO)

The Trip to Bountiful (Lifetime)

Killing Kennedy (National Geographic)

Sherlock: His Last Vow (PBS)

Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight (HBO)

Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Dancing on the Edge (Starz)

Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart (HBO)

Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo (FX)

Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: His Last Vow (PBS)

Idris Elba, Luther (BBC America)

Martin Freeman, Fargo (FX)

Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie

Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful (Lifetime)

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Coven (FX)

Sarah Paulson, American Horror Story: Coven (FX)

Kristen Wiig, Spoils of Babylon (IFC)

Helena Bonham Carter, Burton and Taylor (BBC America)

Minnie Driver, Return to Zero (Lifetime)

Outstanding Reality-Competition Program

The Amazing Race (CBS)

Dancing With the Stars (ABC)

Project Runway (Lifetime)

So You Think You Can Dance (Fox)

Top Chef (Brav0)

The Voice (NBC)

TIME Television

Downton Abbey Addicts, Get Your 20-Second Fix of the New Season

The battle against stray forks continues


Judging from the newly-released trailer for Downton Abbey’s fifth season, the latest episodes will feature — spoiler alert! — polished silverware, heavy curtains and the return of a dinging service bell. And a plot line about things “changing.”

There isn’t much here beyond sumptuous still life porn, admittedly, but series creator Julian Fellowes did offer one clue as to what viewers might expect: “I think it would be very unwise to do any more deaths because the viewers don’t like them,” he said, according to Glamour. Expect things to change, gently.

TIME Television

The True Story Behind Downton Abbey’s Scandalous Royal Love Letter

Edward VIII
King Edward VIII in March 1936, at the microphone as he makes his Accession broadcast to the Empire Popperfoto/Getty Images

Lady Mary is fictional, but the future King's missives to Freda Dudley Ward aren't

Warning: minor spoilers for the Season 4 finale of Downton Abbey

As Season 4 drew to a close, Downton Abbey continued its grand tradition of having its fictional characters run into real history. In this case, that history involved the very highest level of English society: the royal family.

(MORE: Catch up with TIME’s recap of the Downton Abbey season finale)

On the show, Lady Rose has the opportunity to rub elbows with the Prince of Wales — the future King Edward VIII, who eventually came to the throne in 1936 — and his lover, Mrs. Freda Dudley Ward. The story’s main arc is set into motion when a letter from the Prince to Freda is stolen by a no-good card sharp hanging around the Crawleys. If he leaks the letter to the international press, it could cause a scandal, which sends Rose and Robert into detective mode.

As it turns out, there was correspondence between the Prince and Freda — as described in the book Letters from a Prince: Edward, Prince of Wales, to Mrs. Freda Dudley Ward. The socialite daughter of a rich businessman, she was already married when she met the Prince, but her marriage wasn’t in good shape. In 1918, the Prince began to send her the first of what would be many letters.

Though their romance ended abruptly in 1934 when the Prince began his relationship with Wallis Simpson, the woman for whom he would eventually give up the throne, the Prince of Wales didn’t exactly hide his feelings. Take, for example, one missive from June of 1919: “Darling darling beloved little Fredie,” he begins, “This is only just a teeny weeny little scrawl to catch the last post sweetheart and to tell you how fearfully madly I’m loving you this afternoon angel and looking forward to 4:30 tomorrow. Although I only said all this about 12 hrs ago I can’t help saying it all again this afternoon only I mean it even more sweetheart!!”

His affections are certainly potent. The letters also make clear the weakness of his knowledge of comma-usage standards (and his occasional tendency to refer to himself in the third person, which, ick) — but that didn’t diminish their value. Far from it: in 2003, more than 300 of those letters were offered at auction with an estimated value of up to $150,000; another single letter, sold last November, fetched a value worth more than $8,000.

TIME Television

Downton Abbey and Rape: Anna’s Excruciating Fridging Problem

Where the British series fails, House of Cards flourishes

Amid the hustle, bustle and period melodrama of Downton Abbey this year, one thread stands out as particularly problematic: the rape of lady’s maid Anna (Joanne Froggatt). What makes her assault so difficult isn’t the crime itself — although it felt as out of place in the normally placid series as Mr. Pamuk’s death-by-seduction in the first season — but its aftermath, and the character the show has emphasized as a result.

From the viewpoint of Downton Abbey, the person who suffered most wasn’t Anna, but her husband Bates (Brendan Coyle). At first, she tries to hide the attack to protect him from whatever calamities he’d cause seeking revenge, which leads to almost two full episodes focusing on Bates as the victim of circumstance, with Anna harangued for not telling him the truth.

Worse yet, when Bates learns of the attack, he blames himself for not being there to defend her or being man enough to magically prevent it from happening. Anna, in response, wants to put the whole thing behind them and start afresh, as if it were simply a mild disagreement that she wishes to pretend never happened.

Throughout comic-book fandom, there’s a term known as fridging, which refers to the practice of doing something horrific or tragic to a female character with the sole objective of causing an emotional reaction from the male lead of a storyline. (The term itself comes from a Green Lantern storyline in which the hero discovers his dead girlfriend’s body in a refrigerator. Subtlety was not a priority.)

In this season of Downton Abbey, the entire rape storyline is one long, slow, continual fridging of Anna, seemingly for the sole purpose of providing Bates inner conflict. While there are those who defend the treatment of the subject as being period- and class-appropriate, I’m unsure whether that feels enough of a justification for a show made today.

A plot line from the recently-released second season of Netflix’s House of Cards crystalizes these concerns about Downton‘s shortcomings. In the second episode, we discover that Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) was raped while in college. The revelation comes when she meets her attacker at an event in which he is to be honored by her husband, the newly-installed vice president.


Nathaniel E Bell / Netflix

Kevin Spacey (left), Peter Bradbury (center), and Robin Wright in a scene from “House of Cards” season 2

Initially, it appears as if House of Cards is heading down the same route as Downton; Claire tells Frank (Kevin Spacey) that her attacker is present, and he immediately jumps into alpha male mode, smashing a light in frustration at her refusal to allow him revenge. Later that same episode, however, Claire confronts Frank about the exchange. “You think I don’t want to smash things?” she asks him, adding “I know what that anger is, more than you can imagine.”

After recounting her experience, she talks about the way in which she deals with the memory. “Every time I think of her, pinned down like that, I strangle her, Francis, so she doesn’t strangle me,” she explains. “I have to. We have to. The alternative is — it’s unlivable.” When Frank prepares to leave the room, she adds, “You’ll still feel the hate in the morning. You’ll use that. But not on him.”

That one scene makes Claire the center of her own story in a way that Downton never allows Anna, while also setting the scene for Claire’s outing of her attacker later in the series, another event that emphasizes Claire’s ownership of her experience, with Frank explicitly placed in the scene as an onlooker unable to effect events at all.

For a series so obsessed with power and power exchange, perhaps it’s unsurprising that House of Cards manages to avoid the pitfalls that Downton Abbey couldn’t.

TIME Television

‘Downton Abbey’ Season Finale Recap: Having a Ball

From left to right: Brendan Coyle as Mr. Bates and Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates
From left to right: Brendan Coyle as Mr. Bates and Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates Nick Briggs—Carnival Films/PBS

Season 4 Season Finale Episode 8: Downton got a bit of a James Bond twist in honor of the season finale, complete with break-ins, forgeries and royal scandals

About eight months have passed since the last episode, leaving us in 1923 — just in time for Rose’s presentation and ball. The family and most of the staff goes down to London to do the thing properly. Even Cora’s family from America is coming to celebrate, which means that Shirley MacLaine is back as her mother Martha Levinson, and Paul Giamatti (!) is introduced as her brother Harold.

Downton also got a bit of a James Bond twist — well, as 007 as Downton goes, which is not very far, ultimately — in honor of the season finale, complete with break-ins, forgeries and royal scandals.

Spoilers below for the Season 4 finale of Downton Abbey.

(MORE: Catch up with last week’s recap)

The caper starts when Rose goes to the Embassy Club in London with her friend Madeleine Allsop. There, they run into Madeleine’s father, Lord Aysgarth, who was with the Prince of Wales and his mistress, Freda Dudley Ward. The Prince remembers Rose’s father, Shrimpie, from a visit to India, so they all get along well, and Rose invites the whole crew to all her debutante events.

At the first of many parties, the card sharp Terence Sampson shows up and invites himself to the after-party trip to the Club. The ladies are giggling about a letter Freda has in her purse; Rose makes a joke about the mysterious person who sent it. When Sampson is left to watch the bags while they dance, he steals the letter.

Later, at the palace, when Rose is presented to the King and Queen, she runs into Freda, who tells her that the letter is missing — and, of course, it’s a love letter from the Prince. If the press get hold of it, it could become a major scandal. Rose deduces it must have been Sampson, and she tells Robert, who’s concerned that the Crawley family will be responsible for bringing shame to the royal family. Accordingly, he hatches a plan.

Using a forger Bates met in prison — who is actually just Bates himself, but they don’t know that — they fake a letter to the porter at Sampson’s building, saying he’s ill and they have to get inside to get some things for him. Then, Robert invites Sampson and a whole crew over to play cards. While the poker game is going on, Rose and Mary and Charles Blake use the note to get into his (depressingly shoddy) flat to look for the letter. Though they have no luck, Bates thinks to check in Sampson’s overcoat when he’s helping the guests with their things. He finds the letter and gives it to Robert, so Rose can return it to Freda.

At Rose’s ball, the Prince of Wales surprises everyone by coming to dance with her, making the party a huge success. Freda says that she told him he owes a lot to Rose, but not why exactly. Everyone comes out ahead, except for Sampson. (Also, that’s one heck of a party.)

(MORE: Downton Abbey and Rape: Anna’s Excruciating Fridging Problem)

The other main plot points go to Edith, Mary and the Levinsons.

Rose’s friend Madeleine Allsopp and her father Lord Aysgarth have titles but no money, so they have their sights on Harold and Martha Levinson. Though Harold initially offends Madeline by talking about money so openly, he eventually convinces her that she doesn’t have to follow her father’s schemes and she convinces him to be more open to love. There’s no romance between them, but it ends happily for both. Martha, meanwhile, strings Lord Aysgarth along for fun, but then turns down a proposal because she doesn’t care for a title — but she does promise that if he comes to Newport, she’ll find him a rich old widow who does.

Edith has from Geneva but she’s acting weird — and it’s because she’s having second thoughts about allowing her daughter to be adopted. Rosamund tries to encourage her to be confident about it, but Edith pulls the “You wouldn’t know because you’re not a mother” card. She also finds out that Michael got into a fight with some Nazis on his first night in Munich, and she’s concerned he might be dead. If there’s an inheritance, some of it should go to his daughter; Rosamund says that’s okay and to send it anonymously. (Also, he left Edith with power of attorney, so she’s suddenly become editor of his magazine, but that just gets glossed over. Oh well.) By the end of the episode, she’s decided to return to Switzerland for the baby. She’s going ahead with the Mr. Drewe plan: she tells him the baby belongs to a friend of hers who died, he agrees to pretend that she belongs to a friend of his who died, and the Drewes will raise the child. So, next season, another baby at Downton — though, considering the fact that George and Sybie seem to have disappeared, who knows what that will mean.

(MORE: The True Story of the Scandalous Royal Love Letter)

Also, Mary learns from Tony Gillingham that — though she’s been thinking Charles Blake is an outsider to her world — he actually stands to inherit a large fortune and a title from a distant relative. Unexpected!

And as for the rest of the family:

  • Sarah Bunting is super pushy with Tom and makes him give her a tour of Downton in the days between when the rest of the family goes down to London and when he leaves for the ball. Thomas sees them upstairs on the floor with the bedrooms and, though nothing actually happened, he tattles to Lord Grant
TIME Television

‘Downton Abbey’ Recap: Whole Hog

Downton Abbey
Nick Briggs / Carnival / PBS

Quelle scandale!

No Super Bowl this week means there’s no excuse to miss Downton Abbey, but just in case — here’s what you missed.

Spoilers for the Feb. 9 episode follow.

(MORE: Catch Up With Last Week’s Recap)

His Lordship is going to America! A telegram arrives with news about Uncle Harold, and Robert has to go help him. Something about a Senate committee. Uh-oh. He’s going to take Thomas with him as a valet because Bates needs to stay with Anna — which means Mrs. Hughes had to tell Mary what happened to Anna, so she could intervene on her behalf. Anna is glad that Mary knows, but she still doesn’t want to talk about it — though she may have no choice. (We’ll get to that later.)

First, a word about the pigs. Last week’s recap wondered whether the pigs would be important, or if they were just some sort of token of modern farming that generated way more dialogue than they deserved. Apologies, as the pigs have turned out to be quite important. Robert is going to miss the arrival of the pigs, and Mr. Blake — the government man who thinks landed estates are phooey — is nervous that the Crawleys don’t understand how difficult it is to operate a pig farm. He argues with Mary over whether the gentry expect to be able to keep their power and land and money without working for it. He’s proven wrong, however, when he and Mary go to see the pigs in their new home and find that they’ve kicked over their water trough and are dangerously dehydrated. Blake and Mary work together, in the mud, to save the pigs, and by the end of the night they’re friends; he’s impressed that Mary got her hands (literally) dirty, had a playful mud fight with him and even made them scrambled eggs as a snack.

Though the pigs were important, the heart of this week’s episode was two potential scandals: one for Rose and one for Edith. Edith, still pregnant and still with no word from Michael Gregson, makes plans to go to London; Rose tags along, of course.

Rose’s potential scandal is the predictable one: she sees Jack, the handsome band leader, for a romantic row-boat ride. He asks what she expects to come of their interracial courting, and she tells him to just live in the moment. It’s a nice idea, but Rose is sure to find out things aren’t so easy.

Edith, meanwhile, knows things aren’t easy. The reason she’s gone to London is to have an abortion. Before leaving, she asks her mother whether she’s a bad person; Cora responds, “We all have bad feelings, it’s acting on them that makes you bad” — hardly a comfort to Edith who, when made to tell Aunt Rosamund where she’ll be when in London so that Rosamund can serve as her alibi, is reminded that what she’s about to do is illegal and dangerous. Rosamund tries at first to talk her out of it, but Edith has made up her mind that she can’t bear to be a social outcast with a bastard child — “I am killing the wanted child of a man I’m in love with, and you ask me if I’ve thought about it!” — so Rosamund says she’ll come with her. When they get to the shady abortion site, it’s an unmarked flat, clean-looking but dark. A woman is crying in the next room. Edith, remarking that she loves Gregson and thinks she’ll no longer be able to bear to see her niece and nephew after this, turns out to be less decided than she thought. She changes her mind, returning to Downton with Rose and a secret that she won’t be able to hide much longer.

Speaking of secrets coming out, Lord Gillingham drops by Downton, as he’s wont to do, and brings his valet, Green, with him — the man who assaulted Anna. Even though Gillingham is engaged, he makes no secret of his affection for Mary, and neither does Evelyn Napier, who comments that ever since the pigs incident there’s even more competition because she’s won over Mr. Blake. The real drama, however, is downstairs. Mrs. Hughes confronts Green in the boot room (if those walls could talk!) and tells him she knows what he did and he better watch himself if he values his life. He continues to be terrible, accusing Anna of being drunk that night, but Mrs. Hughes isn’t having it. Later, in front of all the servants, that night’s Dame Melba performance comes up and Green says that he hated the singing so much that he went downstairs, which we know to be where the crime occurred — at which point Baxter, who has been charged by Thomas with figuring out why Bates couldn’t go to the U.S., sees something pass over Bates’ face. This secret (and maybe Green himself) are not long for this world.

The night’s lighter entertainments were:

  • Tom goes to see a liberal MP give a speech and meets an interesting woman, but we don’t know her name yet.
  • Mr. Carson, Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore scheme to keep Alfred from coming to visit, but he pops by anyway, igniting further Ivy/Daisy jealousy.
  • The Dowager Countess gets bronchitis so Isobel volunteers to stay with her and make sure she doesn’t get worse. (This is a scary moment until you remember that the Dowager Countess is basically the heart of Downton, and the very last character they’d kill off.) The Countess is so delirious she thinks Isobel is a nurse, but when Dr. Clarkson tells her that it was Isobel — motivated partly by gratitude for the Crawleys keeping her close despite Matthew’s death — she’s moved by that kindness. They end up playing cards together and it may be, as they say, the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Dowager Zinger of the Week: [feverish mumbling]
History Lesson of the Week: The ship on which Robert and Thomas sail for the U.S. was a real liner. The first SS Cameronia was torpedoed during World War I and sank; a second ship of the same name launched in 1919 and plied the Glasgow-Liverpool-New York route. It was sold and scrapped in 1957.

TIME Television

‘Downton Abbey’ Recap: No Surprises

Part FiveSunday, February 2, 20149 – 10pm ET on MASTERPIECE on PBSRose’s surprise party for Robert risks scandal. Mary meets an old suitor, and Edith gets troubling news.Shown from left to right: Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cora and Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham(C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECEThis image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only. USE ON THIRD PARTY SITES SUCH AS FACEBOOK AND TWITTER IS NOT ALLOWED.
Nick Briggs / Carnival Films / PBS

Season 4 Episode 5: Crying Lady Edith serves as your Super Bowl counterprogramming

This may have been the week you watched the Super Bowl instead of Downton — but, as the Dowager Countess might say, “What is a Super Bowl?”

Here’s what we do know: spoilers follow for the Super Bowl Sunday episode of Downton Abbey.

(MORE: Catch up with last week’s recap)

Remember how Robert’s birthday was coming up and the Crawley ladies were working on a surprise party for him? Remember how Edith hasn’t heard from Michael Gregson and she went to the doctor? Remember how Jimmy was cruising for a bruising by making fun of Alfred? Remember how Evelyn Napier didn’t really say what his mission in Yorkshire was? Remember how the Dowager Countess thinks young Pegg the gardener is a crook? Remember how Bates’ response to the assault on Anna was just a teensy bit strained (i.e. he’s says he’s going to kill someone)?

Well, all those things are — so far — playing out exactly as expected.

The surprise party: Obviously the surprise was that Rose hired Jack Ross’ band to play at Downton for Robert’s birthday. Though Thomas and Baxter (who doesn’t like being a snitch anymore) were worried the surprise was something bad, it actually goes over pretty well. The character who comes closest to being overtly racist is Edith, which seems very Season 1 of her, but her prickliness does have another reason, which is…

Edith’s trip to the doctor: Yep, she’s pregnant. Weird to find that out by letter. Nobody understands why she’s so upset — they reassure her that Michael Gregson is just missing, not dead — but obviously she has good reason.

Footman drama: Alfred is sad he didn’t get into the cooking class…but then it turns out someone else dropped out, so he’s in! Everyone is happy except Daisy. Daisy is sad. Later, when Ivy and Jimmy go on a date, he makes a move on her and she’s scandalized. She comes to appreciate that Alfred was a really nice guy, which pisses Daisy off because Ivy’s indifference is part of the reason Alfred wanted to leave in the first place. Daisy is not only sad, but also mad. (Also, Molesley gets the job as Alfred’s replacement.)

Evelyn and Mr. Blake: When Evelyn and his boss, Mr. Charles Blake, arrive for their stay at Downton, Mary et al. discover that they’re not in Yorkshire to help the landed estates, they’re there to assess how to government should profit from their demise. Mary is pissed off by Blake’s attitude, Blake snaps at Mary and Evelyn fawns over her — which, unsurprisingly, means there looks to be a love triangle a-brewing.

Young Pegg: A netsuke carving goes missing at the Dowager’s and Pegg was in the room again, so he gets fired. Isobel is outraged at the lack of due process, even more so when the netsuke shows up but the Dowager doesn’t think it proves that Pegg is innocent. So Isobel proceeds to pull her Isobel-est stunt ever: she pretends to feel faint while visiting the Countess’ house while the Countess is out, asks for a glass of water and snoops around while the butler is getting it. She finds the missing paper knife in the side of a chair and is totally vindicated — until she comes over to yell at the Dowager and finds that the Dowager has, upon receiving the knife back, already re-hired Pegg. [Note: Isobel has some great hats. Mary's supposed to be the fashionable one, but Isobel's hats are the items I'd want to wear.]

Broody Bates: Even though there’s no secret anymore about why she’s sad, Anna knows things aren’t right between her and Bates. She suggests they go out on a fancy date to make new memories. At the restaurant, the maitre d’ — who is channeling Rowan Atkinson in Love Actually — won’t seat them because they’re not fancy enough, but Cora is there and she makes it happen. Even so, the date doesn’t do the trick of making everything better again. Case in point: Bates actually says the phrase, “I want to murder.”

(MORE: Hold On To Your Bloomers: Downton Abbey Gets a Porn Parody)

Why it doesn’t really matter that none of the above was a surprise: In between the plots moving forward as we guessed they might, the episode contained some real emotional highlights. Alfred’s good-bye won the evening, starting with his brief but moving public appreciation of Mr. Carson’s kindliness as a teacher and finishing with a a nice no-romance-but-I-care-about-you good-bye speech for Daisy. Second place goes to Isobel, Tom and Mary, who had a heart-to-heart in the nursery about parenting, love and death.

Besides, there were some actual surprises:

  • Jack Ross and Lady Rose are already up to the making-out-in-the-servants’-quarters part of their relationship, and Mary saw them. They don’t know. Also, what is this, Titanic?
  • The Crawleys have decided to farm pigs on the land. What’s surprising about this is that the first line of IMDB’s summary of the episode’s plot begins “Robert is perturbed when Mary and Tom suggest intensive pig-farming on his land” when that is, so far, kind of irrelevant.
  • A letter arrives from Uncle Harold, Cora’s brother, who’s in trouble, reminding us that we read some casting news about this last summer and that we’re excited about it — whether or not it’s surprising.

Dowager Zinger of the Week:

Evelyn: “Is this your first experience of jazz, Lady Grantham?”

The Countess: “Oh, is that what it is?”

History Lesson of the Week: The movie Ivy and Jimmy go see is The Sheik, a silent film starring Rudolph Valentino. According to NPR, it was part of a whole genre of “desert romance” stories that were popular at the time. Clips are available online:

TIME downton abbey

Downton Abbey Recap: Party’s Over

Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 2
Nick Briggs / Carnival Films / PBS

This season's drama ramps up, but not all of the developments are happy ones

The weekend house party mentioned by Edith in the previous episode has arrived — making it immediately clear that the Crawleys have a different definition of “house party” than we do today. Just a few seasons ago, the Dowager Countess was famously ignorant of what a weekend was, but now the whole family has embraced the concept by throwing a party that lasts for a whole one of them.

Spoilers for last night’s partying below.

(MORE: What Happened Last Week on Downton Abbey)
First, the guests arrive in time for a drink…

Tom Branson’s not very good at small talk with the Duchess of Yeovil, Mary chit-chats with their old (actually young and handsome) friend Lord Gillingham, Michael Gregson feels awkward, and nobody really knows who this guy Mr. Sampson, is. Rose is talking to Sir John Bullock and name-drops Al Jolson to hammer home the point that she’s a jazz-loving wild child. Downstairs, the staff (except for Edna, who continues to be evil) gets acquainted with the servants who have shown up with the party guests. Gillingham’s valet, Green, flirts with Anna and makes Bates mad, though she thinks he’s just friendly.

Meanwhile, at her house, Isobel feels weird that everyone is having fun, despite Matthew’s death still feeling recent. Still, she might show up for the party eventually because they’ve hired the famous Australian singer Nellie Melba to perform.

The next day…

The next day, Lord Gillingham and Lady Mary go for a ride. (Side-saddle alert!) Mary encourages him in his engagement to a young society lady, since she’s seen that a socially acceptable marriage and a loving one don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Mary confesses that she’s troubled by the thought of selling land to pay the tax bill, since if the estate gets too small it won’t be able to support the house; he encourages her to convince her father to meet with the tax people and discuss the options, which she does.

Michael Gregson tells Edith that he’s taking German lessons which is soooo romantic, but Robert won’t spend any time with him, even though that was the whole reason he came. Also the Crawleys own a Gutenberg Bible but Lord Grantham says he doesn’t know where in the library it is. Even if he’s lying, that’s maybe the nuts-est thing that’s ever happened on Downton and it just gets brushed aside. Crazy. Seriously. Like, pause the DVR and just think about that for a second.

Okay, hit play again.

Before dinner, footman Jimmy tries to open a tightly screwed-on jar lid and ends up falling over (huh?) and hurts his wrist so he can’t carry a tray. Carson recruits Molesley, who has been working as a delivery boy, to do the job, even though it’s below Molesley’s level of experience and that’s somewhat insulting.

After dinner, Sampson arranges another poker game and Gregson thinks that’s the perfect opportunity to corner Robert for a conversation. (Downstairs, Gillingham’s man Green teaches the other servants how to play a new card game too.) Sampson is a little bit too lucky and a little bit too sure, which makes Gregson a bit suspicious and Lord Grantham a lot poorer. He asks them not to tell Lady Grantham that he lost so much money, but he respects Gregson for taking it like a man.

Rose brings out a gramophone to get some dancing going, but Mary sees it and freaks out because it was Matthew’s, so she stops dancing with Gillingham and runs away. Edna uses the party and how awkward Tom feels as an occasion to be sympathetic to him. Ugh. The worst.

(MORE: How Americans Almost Missed Out on Downton Abbey)

The final day of partying…

Dame Nellie Melba shows up, and Lady Grantham is shocked to learn that she wasn’t invited to dine with the guests — so she punishes Lord Grantham by making him sit next to the singer at dinner. It’s not so awkward though, because they both love wine and can talk about it. At dinner, Gillingham basically asks Mary out but she says his fiancée wouldn’t approve and Isobel is sad to see Mary laugh. Branson is sad too, mostly because he still feels like an impostor.

After eating, Dame Nellie sings and all the staff members come upstairs to listen…but mostly everyone whispers among themselves or sneaking out. For example, there’s another card game on, where Gregson card-sharps the card sharp and wins back all the money, which he gives back to all the players and thus uses to get in Robert’s good graces. There’s also Mrs. Patmore congratulated Alfred on the sauces, which he had to make because she had a panic attack about getting dinner ready. And there’s Anna, telling Bates that she has a headache and is going to get something for it.

Downstairs, Anna is taking some aspirin when Green shows up and offers her a drink and flirts with her. She tries to return upstairs and he gets in the way, creepy talking to her about whether “that sad old cripple” of a husband keeps her happy — at which point we TV viewers know what’s going to happen, which doesn’t make it any easier to watch. In a television season that, like many others before it, has seen brutalization of major female characters as a common plot point in modern-day shows (SVU, to name one), here’s a reminder that the problem has been going on for far too long.

Green grabs Anna and kisses her, and then hits her hard across the face. Upstairs, Dame Nellie sings a song dedicated to lovers, while we see an empty hallway downstairs hear Anna’s screams and the sound of slaps and punches. Upstairs, Bates wonders where she went and guesses she fell asleep as Green returns to the concert, straightening his jacket. Anna is nowhere to be found.

“No!” screams every single person watching.

After the concert, amid the bustle of guests, Edna brings Branson some whiskey. More than some — a lot of whiskey. Later, when he’s drunk, she sneaks into his bedroom. (“No!” says every single person watching, but at a lower volume, considering the shock of what’s just happened.)

Downstairs, Mrs. Hughes walks into her sitting room and we finally see Anna, conscious but battered, hiding in the corner. She’s weeping, disheveled, bleeding. She tells Mrs. Hughes to make excuses for her and tell nobody, especially not her husband, who we know to be capable of more than a bit of violence. He’ll kill her rapist if he ever finds out, she’s sure, and she also knows he won’t go free when he’s tried for murder a second time. When Mr. Bates does see her injuries, she says she fainted and hit the edge of the sink on her way down — but she can’t hide that something’s the matter as she flinches from his touch and insists on walking home alone, crying in the dark.

Dowager zinger of the week:

Robert, about Branson’s small-talk skills: “Not everyone can be Oscar Wilde.”

Violet: “That’s a relief!”

History lesson of the week:

Dame Nellie Melba, the soprano who performs at Downton, took her stage name from her hometown of Melbourne, Australia. ( Kiri Te Kanana, who plays her on TV, has a lot in common with the legendary singer: she’s a soprano from New Zealand who’s also officially a “Dame.”) After from her singing, she’s best known as the namesake of Peach Melba, a dessert of poached peaches with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream.

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