ITV / PBS‘s Downton Abbey Season 4 Episode 1 TV Show Review. Downton Abbey: Season 4, Episode 1: featured a stand-in for Sarah O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) leaving in the early morning hours, leading into a morose but fitting beginning title sequence. The abbey was in mourning (or at least some of its occupants) and the foggy, pre-dawn title sequence reflected this plot point.
Nanny West (Di Botcher) was hilarious in all her brevity. She had no idea who she was dealing with when she began to butt heads with Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier). What set their confrontation apart from others was that Thomas was faced with a version of himself that was even more full of itself.
The baby talk-down sequence was completely out of the blue. How does someone “low born” look down upon someone born into privilege? It was intriguing to see Nanny West’s class hatred come out, especially considering who she was and where she came from. Her scramble to “spin” her deleterious words provided both drama and black humor during her swan song.
The staircase scene between Lady Edith Crawley (Laura Carmichael) and Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) was a single act play between two characters that could barely stand each other. Whenever something bad or adverse happens to Lady Mary, her bad side comes out. It didn’t fail to this time as she endeavored to kindle guilt and shame in her sibling (her emotionless stare was fantastic). It was a true-to-nature manipulation and Lady Edith was fully aware of it.
That dark side showed itself again with Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) but their background and candor allowed him to speak his mind (“over-stepping the mark”) instead of holding his tongue. Carson is the old friend that tells Lady Mary the truth to her face, whether she wants to hear it or not. If he doesn’t, most-likely, no one will.
Edna Braithwaite (MyAnna Buring) showed herself to be very shrewd with how and where she arranged her interview to be Countess Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern)’s new lady’s maid. The question of: “What does she hope to gain, besides a pay check and security, from going back to Downton?” was answered quickly by members of the abbey’s staff? Writer Julian Fellowes hopes for drama. The good reference not withstanding, Braithwaite left the abbey during season 3 under dubious circumstances. Her presence will bring those incidents back to the surface again.