VOD TV review: Downton Abbey Season 4, Episode 1
Neil Brazier | On 08, Oct 2013
After the death of Matthew Crawley, nothing is the same at Downton Abbey. The whole family is in mourning, but life must go on and the pressures of work and how to run the estate are being hidden behind a veil of grief. While Robert tries to shield Mary upstairs, down below O’Brien has snuck off in the night to defect with Lady Flintshire – from the Highlands Christmas episode – who is on her way to India. They replace her with Edna, the former maid who hit on Branson thanks to Mrs. Hughes’ good reference, which was only written to cover Branson’s tomfoolery anyway.
Downton must prosper and Mary needs to come out of her stupor, if only for her son George who is being looked after by a live-in nanny, but little Sybil is being called a “half-breed” and mistreated. Just by pure luck, Cora spots this evil aimed at the Downton kids thanks to a tip off from Tom, who was trying to get the nanny in trouble. Can Mary move on and become ready to face the new world?
The problem with Downton Abbey is that it’s far too predictable. It was clear from the start that Mary would come good in the end; the cliché of shedding her black mourning clothes was layered on thicker than Nutella on a four year old’s breakfast. The writing has suffered, something that was evident in the last series, when the show shifted through time at great rates – depicted by Ethel and her child – while the residents of Downton seemed wrapped up in the same details for years. It just didn’t flow.
Season Four seems to be suffering from the same problem and with one daughter and a son-in-law dead, the landscape has changed – and not for the better.
Downton Abbey Season Four is available to watch on ITV Player or to buy on blinkbox and iTunes. Downton Abbey Seasons One through Three are available to stream on Netflix.