TIME Television

Downton Abbey Cast Laughs Off Water Bottle Gaffe on Instagram

The actors posed for a group photoshoot to raise awareness about limited access to clean water in developing countries

The stuffy aristocrats of Downton Abbey have a sense of humor after all.

Last week, an uncropped publicity photo of Downton Abbey characters Robert, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) and Lady Edith Crawley (Laura Carmichael) revealed an embarrassing anachronism: a plastic water bottle that was clearly out of a place in a show set in the 1910s and ’20s.

After much mocking — the incident sparked its very own Internet meme — the hit program appears to be taking it in stride. Several members of the cast “embraced ‘water bottle-gate'” Saturday and posed with water bottles on Instagram in order to raise awareness for WaterAid, a U.K. charity that works to provide access to clean water around the world.

“After seeing the reaction the picture caused earlier this week, the cast and crew came up with the idea of turning some of this attention towards an issue around water that really matters,” said a spokesperson for ITV, the channel the show airs on across the pond, in a statement. The Instagram post includes a link to information about how viewers can donate.

“Raising awareness” doesn’t always make a difference, of course — but it certainly did with the ice bucket challenge this month.

TIME Television

Here Are the Adorable Kids Joining Downton Abbey‘s Cast Next Season

Your first look at the child actors playing Sybbie Branson and Master George Crawley

Finally, some good news for Downton Abbey fans. After killing off several beloved characters in recent seasons, the show’s creator Julian Fellowes has introduced a couple of adorable child actors to play the offspring of some of the show’s departed characters.

Downton Abbey
Allen Leech as Tom Branson and Fifi Hart as Sybbie Branson Masterpiece/PBS

The little ones already look adorable — now, just imagine them with British accents. Fifi Hart, 4, will play Sybbie Branson, daughter of the late Lady Sybil Crawley and Tom Branson, once Downton’s chauffeur. As a tearful refresher, Sybil died of toxemia shortly after giving birth in a heart-wrenching episode that was only the first to outrage fans.

Downton Abbey
Oliver and Zac Barker as George Masterpiece/PBS

Later that same season, Matthew Crawley died in a car accident on the drive back to Downton from the hospital where his first son and heir had just been born. Master George Crawley will be played by 3-year-old twins Oliver and Zac Barker, who look like they could be the actual offspring of Dan Stevens, who played their fictional father. Lady Mary, George’s mother (Michelle Dockery), is not pictured with her son, of course, as she’s probably too busy being courted by many a gentleman to bother with the nanny’s work.

The children, only seen before as infants, represent the time jump the show is taking for next season. Mary could be remarried by now, for all we know.

Downton Abbey season 5 will premiere in the U.S. on Jan. 4, 2015.

TIME Television

Here’s Your Chance to Win an Overnight Stay at Downton Abbey

Christie's is auctioning off an overnight stay at Highclere Castle

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Have you ever found yourself watching Downton Abbey and been so engrossed that you wished you could actually live in the world of the British period show? Well, here’s your chance, at least for a short amount of time.

Auction house Christie’s is offering an overnight stay at Highclere Castle—the English estate where some of Downton’s pivotal scenes have been filmed—which will go to the highest bidder. The overnight stay includes the use of three rooms on the castle’s first floor, including the Arundel bedroom, which has been used as Lady Edith’s room and the Mercia bedroom, which has been used as Lady Cora’s room. The winner will also have the chance to share a three-course dinner with the owners of Highclere Castle, the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

The auction runs online until Aug. 14, but unfortunately for the commoners, the overnight stay is likely to go to someone with Crawley-type money. Bids will start at £10,000 (about $16,800) and Christie’s estimates the overnight stay could go for as much as £15,000 (about $25,000).

Everyone else will have to make due with the show’s fifth season, which is set to air on PBS in January, 2015.

 

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

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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.

hoc_ps2_036_h

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:

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