All that Jazz, Downton Abbey Episode 5, Season 4 Review

Warning: Spoilers follow..

Winds of change  have finally arrived at Downton this week in the guise of a jazz band.  Not everything has changed though,  Isobel is back, in the words of inimitable Violet, fueled by  righteous indignation.   Give  those two and the awesome Mrs. Hughes  a spin-off, those three are the smartest cookies at Downton. It will be far more entertaining than the  Mary Crawley Show that Downton has become.  Speaking of Mary, we finally get someone who is not completely taken in by her Snootiness.  That someone would be Evelyn Napier’ boss Charles Blake who made an appearance this week.   Blake and Napier  are government bureaucrats conducting a study  about the estates in Yorkshire.  I have a question; what is so special about Yorkshire, why are so many novels/shows that focus on the landed gentry so often set there? Parade’s end is another example that I can think of.  Napier’s boss is concerned about the national food supply and not the survival of entitled twits like Lady Mary.  He may not have a title but is just as pompous as Mary and more rude. I predict he will start acting like a lovesick puppy before this season is over. Didn’t Matthew and Mary start off as antagonists too?

The highlight of the episode was a surprise performance by Jack Ross who we met in episode 3, engineered by Rose.  Except for Chopped Liver Edith, everyone was blasé about a black man performing in the Abbey.  This  comports with our twenty first century sensibilities but how realistic would this be in 1920s?   Carson’s reaction to Ross seemed more realistic, initial shock that wears off after he gets to know Mr. Ross.  Gary Carr who plays Ross is dashing  but the same cannot be said about his singing. His accent is confusing too, is he supposed to American? After the party Mary found Jack and Rose making out downstairs.  Knowing JF’s penchant for repeating plotlines, I hope that Ross doesn’t end up being Rose’s Pamuk.  I appreciate their attempt to bring diversity to Downton’s cast but I find anything to do with Rose boring. They need to either ship her off  to India, or she can elope with Jack on the Titanic. Unfortunately not only has that ship sailed but it also has hit an iceberg.

As for Edith, was she being racist or was she just flustered because she knows now that her goose is cooked, since she is indeed pregnant. She was so miserable throughout the hour that both her parents actually noticed her this week.   Edith did call Robert on his industrial strength horse-shit that he loved all his children equally.  I wonder why parents feel the need to say this, despite evidence to the contrary.

In the downstairs action, the tiresome trapezoid is over, since Albert is going to be on Top Chef, I mean cooking as an apprentice at the Ritz.  Daisy finally took out her frustrations on Ivy, and blamed her for driving Albert away which made absolutely no sense.  Also, Jimmy is a jerk, and  Ivy finally figured it out this week.  I used to like Daisy before, she has regressed this season.

The Batses went to dinner at a posh restaurant, where the host refused to even seat them before an intervention from Cora who was also there for dinner. Lesson,  the aristocrats are not the real snobs!  Coming back to the Batses, they are both still struggling to get past the Anna’s traumatic assault.  Thomas,  is still skulking in the shadows and plotting while Baxter is playing the reluctant accomplice.  Mr. Molsley is back  as a footman, as is the gardener who Violet suspected of stealing her letter opener. It was all an honest mistake, which came to light due to the smarts of Isobel.  Or was it all a plot by Violet to draw Isobel out of her grief?

Last but not the least there was a lovely scene, in the nursery where Isobel, Tom and Mary are reminiscing about their lost dead spouses, what could have been a sad scene concluded on a happy note when Isobel reminds the Tom and Mary that have been the lucky ones, to know what it is to be in love and be loved in return. Truer words could not have been said.  Isobel can be a pill at times but this week she had some great moments.

Grade: B

Full IMDB credits here

Links to reviews of previous episodes;  episode 1 , episode 2 ,episode 3 and episode 4

Posted on February 5, 2014, in TV shows and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. As you know, I have high hopes for Julian Ovenden (Blake). I thought their first scene was promising, if a bit of a rehash of Mary/Matthew. I realized this morning that I have exactly the same feeling about DA that I did about General Hospital in the early 1980s. I don’t care what they do or whether it’s interesting, these people are part of my mental furniture and I need to know what they’re up to.

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