Sunday, December 14, 2014

The London Season – Downton Abbey Episode Summary 4.9

The presentation of Lady Rose to the throne
Synopsis: The Crawleys are in London for Lady Rose’s debut.  Lady Rose becomes acquainted with Ms. Freda Dudley Ward, the mistress of the Prince of Wales.  All is well until Mr. Terence Sampson gets hold of a highly sensitive letter that will bring scandal to the monarchy.  The Crawleys go in a mission to retrieve the letter from Mr. Sampson’s possession.

Downton Abbey The London Season Episode Summary: It is 1923 and the Crawleys are at the Grantham House in London in preparation for Lady Rose McClare’s ball.  People of high society will be attending the debutante ball including Lady Cora’s family from America.  Mrs. Crawley, however, has decided not to attend.  Lord Merton, who has taken a liking to Mrs. Crawley, finds this a pity.  He later learns that Mrs. Crawley had indeed changed her mind.  She has decided to join Lady Grantham to the ball.  She explains that she felt smug to dismiss the invitation to an event she has come to realize a tradition practiced to measure a person’s progress through life. Continue reading...

Lady Rose could not wait to be presented to enjoy the life of an adult woman that she manages to convince Lady Cora and Lord Grantham to allow her to attend a party with her friend, Madeleine Allsopp, at the Embassy Club where the famous band, Ambrose & His Orchestra, is performing.  They find Miss Allsopp’s father there with the Prince of Wales in the company of Ms. Freda Dudley Ward.  Ms. Ward expresses her gratitude to Lady Rose for their presence, noting that the Prince of Wales had become grouchy before they arrived.

Tom Branson is alone in Downton Abbey with Lady Edith leaving for London to join her family for Lady Rose’s ball.  Mr. Barrow whines about having to wait on him knowing that the man used to be the family’s chauffer whose position would have been beneath him if he had not married up.  Tom’s only fault is that he was fortunate enough to have fallen in love with Lady Sybil, who reciprocated his love.  Not wanting to be a burden to the understaffed house at Downton Abbey, Tom decides to have his dinner at The Grantham Arms.  He bumps into Miss Sarah Bunting on his way to the pub.  Lady Violet sees them and she stops her car to bid him good-bye before she leaves for London.  She boasts to the uninterested Miss Bunting about Lady Rose’s debut that will involve supper at the Palace.  The encounter with Lady Violet causes Miss Bunting to rescind her refusal of Tom’s offer of dinner at the pub.  She then puts him in an awkward position when she asks to see the mansion at Downton Abbey.  Tom reluctantly gives Miss Bunting a tour of the main rooms of the mansion and he more hesitantly brings her to the gallery as per her request.  He confesses his uneasiness of bringing her to the mansion in the Crawleys absence, but Miss Bunting insists on seeing the gallery.  His uneasiness is with basis for malicious Mr. Barrow finds them at the gallery and he is sure to make something out of nothing.  Tom finds the need to clarify their presence at the gallery in the hope that Mr. Barrow would not give malice to what he saw, but knows well that Mr. Barrow has nothing but malice in his mind.  In fact, Mr. Barrow informs Lord Grantham about seeing Tom with Miss Bunting at the bedroom gallery the moment he had a chance to speak with him privately.  Lord Grantham confronts Tom about the information Mr. Barrow relayed to him.  Tom does not deny or make excuses about the fact that he had brought Miss Bunting for a quick tour of the house after dinner.

Mrs. Martha Levinson arrives at the Grantham House with her son, Harold Levinson.  The man was reluctant to leave America, but had to due to the Teapot Dome scandal that almost ruined him.  He and his mother will be spending some time traveling around Europe.  Mrs. Levinson alone is a handful and she without a maid is another level of nuisance.  Fortunately, reinforcements from Downton Abbey arrive.  Mrs. Hughes has come to take charge in the absence of the Grantham House governess, Mrs. Bute.  She brings with her Daisy Mason to help Mrs. Patmore.  Daisy relays a cryptic message from Mr. Barrow to Miss Baxter, one Mr. Molesley overheard.  There is no doubt that Mrs. Hughes is a welcome sight given the kerfuffle that will endure for a few days.  Mr. Carson welcomes her assistance and her opinion regarding the treat he is planning for the servants as per Lady Cora’s request to show gratitude for their hard work.  He has already chosen two sights to bring the servants, but could not decide between the two.  Mr. Carson plans a fun day for the servants, but he has yet to decide whether to bring them to the new Science Museum or the Crystal Palace.  Mrs. Hughes is disappointed at Mr. Carson’s idea of a fun day, but does not share her criticism.  Instead, she suggests getting the opinion of the staff.  He takes her advice and presents the sights he has chosen for their day of fun and quickly realizes the disappointment in everyone as he went over his list of attractions.

Charles Blake takes Lady Mary out to lunch and to the viewing of the Summer Exhibition where they find Lord Gillingham speaking with Lady Rose and Ms. Dudley Ward.  They learn that Billy Aysgarth, Madeleine Allsopp’s father, introduced Lady Rose to Ms. Dudley Ward.  As it turns out, Mr. Blake is acquainted with Ms. Ward, both of whom are not invited to Lady Rose’s ball until now.  Ms. Ward immediately senses the friction between Mr. Blake and Lord Gillingham.  Soon, the grand soiree at the Grantham House commences.  Lady Rose introduces Lord Aysgarth and his daughter to Mrs. Levinson and Harold.  Lord Aysgarth rudely leaves their company to chat with his old friend, Lord Harrowby, leaving Miss Allsopp to make excuses for her father’s discourteous behavior.  The impudence is not lost on Mrs. Levinson.  Lord Grantham, on the other hand, is shocked and annoyed to find his sister, Lady Rosamund Painswick, arrive with the unwelcome guest, Mr. Terence Sampson.  The con artist obviously inveigled his invitation to the party, but the Crawleys, afraid of making a scene, could not do anything but receive him.  He begins chatting with his friend Lord Aysgarth, who is very much aware of his reputation as a card sharp.  Lord Aysgarth learns from him that the Levinsons are made of money.  In fact, they were responsible for keeping Downton Abbey afloat.  Lord Aysgarth takes an interest on the Levinsons after hearing of their wealth and he sends his daughter to mingle with Harold.  Meanwhile, Mr. Sampson once again gets himself invited to an after party at the Embassy with Lady Rose and Ms. Ward.  Lady Rose arrives at the Embassy with her friends and imparts to their male company of the letter Ms. Ward showed them.  The letter seems to be of value given the identity of its writer.  With them at the nightclub are Harold, Lord Aysgarth, and Mr. Sampson.  Lord Aysgarth persuades Harold to dance with his daughter embarrassing Miss Allsopp especially after learning that Harold is aware of Lord Aysgarth’s intentions.  Lady Rose decides to dance with Neil Foster leaving Mr. Sampson alone at their table to look after their bags.  This gave Mr. Sampson an opportunity to steal the mysterious letter from Ms. Ward’s bag.

The kitchen has been producing food relentlessly.  Mrs. Patmore could not thank Daisy enough for her assistance, which the assistant cook appreciates.  Ethan Slade, Harold Levinson’s valet, notices her aptitude at managing the kitchen and asks her about leaving Downton Abbey to further her career.  Daisy takes offense at the innocent question from the valet she had only known for half an hour.  The young valet who has not left America until now is finding the customs in England different from America.  He, however, remains tolerant and accepting of the requests asked of him including the demand for him to serve as a footman.  Unaware of the footman’s decorum, Ethan offers hors d’oeuvres like a traveling salesman causing Mr. Carson to scold him.  The reproach he received did not dampen his spirits and he returns to the kitchen cheerful as when he arrived.  He relays comments he overheard upstairs especially about the kedgeree that he learned Daisy made.  It was a dish even Mr. Levinson, a man averse to English food, devoured.  Daisy has been having a good week with all the compliments she has received for her cooking.  Alfred Nugent’s letter of good news adds to her cheer.  Alfred wrote to inform her that he has finished his course at the Ritz Escoffier culinary school and the school had offered him a job as an under chef at the Ritz.  Ethan sees the delight the news brought to Daisy and wonders whether she and Alfred are lovers.  He inquires about it to Mr. Carson and is pleased to learn that there is no romance between the two.

The day of Lady Rose’s presentation has arrived.  She rides in the car with Lady Cora as throngs of commoners greet them as they parade through The Mall leading to the Buckingham Palace.  Lady Rose and the other debutantes enter the Palace in awe including Lady Cora, who will be presenting Lady Rose.  Lord Grantham looks expectantly on as Lady Cora and Lady Rose wait for their turn.  At last, the master of ceremonies calls the Countess of Grantham and Lady Rose MacClare.  With a curtsey and a nod from the Throne, Lady Rose is now officially a woman.  However, unlike other debutantes, the King addresses her after the Prince of Wales informs him of her relation to Lord Flintshire.  King George V mentions the hospitality that Lord Flinshire extended to the Prince of Wales in Bombay and speaks of the success of the Indian tour under the command of the father of Lady Rose.  Lady Rose and Lady Cora join the other guests at the reception where the Levinsons are also in attendance thanks to Lord Grantham’s position as lord lieutenant.  Mrs. Levinson finds that Lord Aysgarth has become keen on her.  Harold notices the man’s sudden interest in his mother and informs Miss Allsopp of his mother’s finances.  Moreover, he tells her that when Mrs. Levinson dies, all the capital reverts to him.  His blunt discussion of money embarrasses Miss Allsopp terribly causing her to run away.  Meanwhile, Ms. Ward is also at the Presentation Court.  She confronts Lady Rose with troubling news about the loss of the letter she showed her and Miss Allsopp the night of the grand soiree.  Learning that Miss Allsopp does not have the letter, Lady Rose could only think of one other person who might have taken it, Mr. Sampson.

The following morning, Lady Rose asks Lord Grantham if Mr. Sampson is capable of doing something dishonorable.  Her inquiry forces her to divulge the story surrounding the letter and its significance.  Mr. Sampson must be looking into selling the letter to the newspapers in America for gossip of the love affair between the Prince of Wales and Ms. Dudley Ward has been all over America.  Lady Rose finds herself responsible for the theft, because Mr. Sampson would not have known its existence if she had not joked about it that night at the Embassy.  Lord Grantham’s loyalty to the monarchy prompts him to help retrieve the letter.  He devises a plan that involves sneaking into Mr. Sampson’s flat to retrieve the letter.  He enlists Mr. Bates’ help in forging a letter with Mr. Sampson’s signature informing the porter to allow them entry to the flat unaware that the forger is Mr. Bates.  He also enlists the help of Lady Mary who has the important task of retrieving the letter from Mr. Sampson’s flat, while Lord Grantham keeps Mr. Sampson in the card game he is hosting.  Lady Rose suggests inviting Lord Aysgarth to the card game for she is certain that he will not refuse.  Moreover, Mr. Sampson will most likely join Lord Aysgarth to the game without suspecting anything.  Lord Grantham will also invite Harold to the card game making the invitation too hard to refuse.  Lady Rose suggests inviting Miss Allsopp to ensure that Harold will stay for the game.  The problem now becomes Mrs. Levinson, who Lord Grantham believes will inadvertently divulge their scheme.  He suggests having Aunt Rosamund take her, Lady Violet, and Mrs. Crawley to a play just to keep Mrs. Levinson away for the evening.  Lady Mary is reluctant to play a part in the scheme that will help cover up a scandal that she believes the crowned Prince brought to himself.  Lord Grantham argues that it became their responsibility the moment they introduced Mr. Sampson to Ms. Dudley Ward and Lady Rose as good as handed him the letter.

Harold Levinson tries to make up for his offense and invites Miss Allsopp for a picnic alone with him following the advice of his valet, Ethan.  Daisy informs Ethan that in England, a man cannot go on a picnic alone with a young, unmarried woman, but learns that Lord Aysgarth and Mrs. Levinson will be joining them.  Ethan volunteers Daisy to be one of the staff that will prepare the food at the picnic.  Mrs. Patmore sees right through Ethan’s plan and welcomes it.  They set up the picnic in front of the Albert Memorial.  Harold could not believe his enjoyment of English food and the picnic despite the extra company in the persons of his mother, Lord Aysgarth, Lady Violet, and Mrs. Crawley.  He admits to Miss Allsopp of the reputation he has with women, one he managed despite his unprepossessing appearance, thanks to the wealth he inherited from his father.  He continues on the conversation about money and begins to offend Miss Allsopp again, but redeems himself with a confession of admiration towards the young lady.  He, however, as Miss Allsopp surmised, will not go along Lord Aysgarth scheme.  He does it out of respect for her whom he knows is a reluctant pawn to the plot.  Later, Ethan informs Daisy that Mr. Levinson has become such a fan of his cooking that he wants her to go with him to America to cook for him.  He informs her that she need not provide an answer right away for they will be touring Europe for a month or two.  If Daisy decides to accept the job offer, he will send her the fare and Ethan will meet her in New York.

Lady Edith informs Aunt Rosamund that Michael Gregson had given her power of attorney to give her authority over his affairs including decisions required from an editor.  She wonders about the rights of their child, but Aunt Rosamund makes it plain that their daughter’s rights to her biological parents’ affairs have been dissolved the moment the Schroders adopted her.  Lady Edith, however, has second thoughts in the vow she made to keep her bastard child a secret.  Her change of heart arose after learning that Michael’s disappearance and potential death was borne out of a noble deed.  Michael got into a fight the night he disappeared with a gang of toughs who preach about the most horrible things.  Lady Edith would like their child to receive half of the inheritance.  Aunt Rosamund recommends giving the inheritance anonymously, but Lady Edith’s concern is not really about the inheritance and truly due to the guilt of giving her child away.  Her guilt overcomes her so that Lord Grantham could not help but ask her daughter about the sadness that exudes her.  Her vague but loaded answer perplexed him.  Lady Edith intimates that she would never intend to hurt her father.  Later, a statement from Tom Branson about fighting for their wishes gives Lady Edith the courage to decide for herself.  She informs Lady Cora and Lady Rosamund of her decision to leave London the day after the ball and her plan to go to the Continent to settle matters regarding Michael Gregson.

Mrs. Hughes relays to Anna the appeal at the Scottish Church for old clothes for Russian refugees.  Although Anna did not bring to London clothes she would want to donate, she informs Mrs. Hughes of convincing Mr. Bates to buy a new overcoat and donate his old one to the cause.  Mrs. Hughes finds a ticket stub as she looks through the pockets of Mr. Bates’ overcoat to ensure that he has not left anything of his inside it.  She brings to Lady Mary’s attention the ticket stub that places Mr. Bates in London the day Mr. Green died and gets the impression that Lady Mary already knew of his presence in London that fateful day.  Lady Mary assures Mrs. Hughes that Anna does not suspect anything.  Mrs. Hughes wonders if Lady Mary will inform Anna of their discovery and intimates of her reluctance to tell her.  Moreover, Mrs. Hughes finds no reason to condemn Mr. Bates for avenging his wife’s honor if he truly killed Mr. Green.  Later, she learns from Mr. Bates that he has not been in London since he buried his mother during the war.  She then overhears Lady Mary trying to trick Mr. Bates into revealing the crime he may or may not have committed against Mr. Green and she intervenes to prevent her from pushing him to a confession.  Lady Mary speaks privately with Mrs. Hughes confessing of her unease in covering up a potential crime.  Mrs. Hughes speaks of the repercussion their unearthing the truth will produce.  She would rather not see Mr. Bates punished for taking the life of a vicious man.  Lady Mary believes that the end does not justify the means.  Mr. Bates senses the insinuation from Mrs. Hughes and Lady Mary of his presence in London.  Anna informs Mrs. Hughes of her husband becoming upset for handing over his overcoat before he has gone through its pockets.  Miss Baxter intensely listens to the conversation between Anna and Mrs. Hughes trying to make something of it.  Mr. Molesley does the same with her when Mr. Barrow speaks to her about hearing her report.  He calls for her in order to rescue her from doing something she obviously is hesitant to do for Mr. Barrow.  This offered a reprieve to Miss Baxter though only temporary.  Nonetheless, Mr. Molesley advises her not to allow herself to be part of Mr. Barrow’s schemes for the consequences of doing so are graver than the unearthing of the secret that Mr. Barrow holds over her.

The ladies and Harold return from the picnic and learn of the card game that evening.  Lord Grantham did not count on them refusing the offer to go to the theater and Lady Edith sensing that the card game is a ruse.  Mrs. Levinson arrives at the drawing room and learns of the evening she is to spend with Lady Rosamund Painswick at the theater.  Much to Lord Grantham’s surprise, she is the least to provide the most reluctance for the imposed night out in the town.  The male guests arrive at the Grantham House for the card game.  Meanwhile, Lady Mary along with Lady Rose and Mr. Blake gains entry to Mr. Sampson’s apartment through the signed note from him.  They soon return with news of not having found the letter.  However, not all of them found the unsuccessful escapade futile.  Mr. Blake took pleasure at knowing that Lady Mary reached out to him for help.  He forthrightly expresses his desire to be her lover.  She is uncertain of their future given their diametric background and thinking, but Mr. Blake believes in a future where caste becomes trivial.  News of the failed mission reaches Mr. Bates despite the success of his forgery.  Mr. Bates realizes that if he were in possession of a valuable document, he would carry it with him wherever he goes.  True enough, this is indeed what Mr. Sampson did.  He kept the letter in the breast pocket of his overcoat.  Mr. Bates snatched it as he helped him into his coat.  All who partook in the plot rejoice with the retrieval of the letter that would have ruined the crowned Prince, while Mr. Sampson realizes that he had lost the letter that would have brought him some fortune.  Given the Prince’s reputation, Lady Mary is uncertain that the monarchy is safe from scandal.  However, as Anna puts it, the next crisis would at least not involve the Crawleys.  Lady Mary and her family are grateful to Mr. Bates for without him the Crawleys would have been entangled in a scandal for which they are partly to blame.  Anna explains that Mr. Bates is very loyal to the family just as the Crawleys are loyal to him and Anna.  Lady Mary shows her loyalty to Mr. Bates by throwing into the fire the ticket that proves that he was in London the day Mr. Green died.

The guests arrive at Lady Rose’s ball and just as the ball commences officially with a dance between the master of the house and the debutante, the crowned Prince graces the ball with his presence.  Who better to open the ball but the Prince of Wales, heir apparent to the throne? All are in awe as the Prince dances with Lady Rose.  The rest of the family and the guests join the dance including Harold who uncharacteristically dances with Miss Allsopp.  They remain friends despite agreeing not to be part of Lord Aysgarth’s scheme.  Mrs. Levinson, on the other hand, turns down Lord Aysgarth’s marriage proposal, but offers him introductions to rich, old ladies who covet a title.  Lady Violet learns that Mrs. Levinson rejected Lord Aysgarth’s proposal, much to her surprise.  She could not fathom the lack of desire for a title that Mrs. Levinson had to remind her how Lady Violet’s world is slowly slipping away to make way for Mrs. Levinson’s world.  The thought gave Lady Violet a terrible fright.  Meanwhile, Mr. Blake is annoyed at watching Lord Gillingham and Lady Mary dancing.  He becomes much more peeved at seeing them sneaking out of the ballroom to speak privately.  Lord Gillingham learns that Lady Mary had turned down Mr. Blake, but he has refused to accept it.  He soon learns that Lady Mary had refused him for his resentment for nobility.  A true gentleman, Lord Gillingham, tells Lady Mary the truth about Mr. Blake despite the disadvantage it will cause him.  He tells her that Mr. Blake is in fact heir to his father’s cousin, Sir Severus Blake.  Mr. Blake is to inherit the baronetcy and one of the largest estates in Ulster making him a nobleman.  He, in fact, will soon become more eligible than Lord Gillingham.  Mr. Blake had always known this, but he is one who felt no desire to display his status.  To learn that she and Mr. Blake share a similar background makes a difference in Lady Mary’s attitude toward Mr. Blake.  Lady Mary confronts him about keeping it from her and learns that Mr. Blake did not want her to think that they share the same prejudices given their upbringing.  Moreover, Mr. Blake wanted to win her on his merits.  He is surprised to know that Lord Gillingham had told her about his social class.  Lord Gillingham wanted a fair fight to win Lady Mary’s heart.

Morning has come and the masters and guests are still in the ballroom, while the servants continue their service without sleep.  Mrs. Hughes brings up the matter of the outing to motivate them and is relieved to learn that Mr. Carson has finally gotten it right.  Mr. Carson has decided to spend their day off by the sea.  Meanwhile, Lady Edith is back at Downton Abbey.  She speaks with Mr. Drewe about adopting the daughter of her friend, a child she will be bringing to Downton from Switzerland.  Lady Edith explains that her parents disapproved of her friendship with the child’s mother, which is why the child cannot live with them.  She asks for Mr. Drewe’s confidence in keeping the truth about the child secret.  Mr. Drewe senses that the child is Lady Edith’s daughter and sympathetically offers to keep the secret only between the two of them.  Mr. Drewe plans to send a letter to himself, a letter from his friend who passed away and asked in her will for him to take the child.  He is certain that his wife, Margie, will not question the request and will love the child like her own.

After days of hard word, the servants at last get their day off at the beach.  All enjoy their respite from the drudgery of service, but Mr. Barrow is set on tormenting Miss Baxter.  She, however, has taken Mr. Molesley’s advice and at last stands up to Mr. Barrow despite the consequences of getting his ire.  Miss Baxter thanks Mr. Molesley for giving her the courage to confront the things in her past that had caused her fear.  She has yet to see what will happen, but she is relieved that she is no longer afraid.  Daisy also has reached a decision.  She has decided not to go to America to work for Mr. Levinson.  This disheartens Mr. Slade, who had pushed for her recruitment as Mr. Levinson’s cook to be with her.  Daisy is aware of this and is grateful for his affection.  Ivy Stuart overhears Daisy’s refusal to go to America and pleads Mr. Slade to allow her to take Daisy’s place as Mr. Levinson’s cook.  Daisy helps her get Mr. Slade to accept arguing that Mr. Levinson will not notice the difference if Ivy took her place.  Mrs. Patmore witnessed this all.  She is surprised that Daisy is not upset with Mr. Slade’s advances.  On the contrary, Daisy is ecstatic at having a man keen to court her.  The thought of it will keep her happy for months to come.  She and Mrs. Patmore watch as Mr. Carson holds Mrs. Hughes hand as he walks through the beach for the very first time.

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