Episode 4 of this season's Downton Abbey managed to make good use of every minute of its one hour air time. It confirmed several opinions I had of the key characters except for one, Mrs. Crawley, Matthew's mother. I had her all wrong. I thought she was a social climber merely interested in advancing her son's status as heir to Downton Abbey.
Mrs. Crawley it turns out is a compassionate activist interested in reversing the fortunes of the downtrodden. The good woman is bent on making an honest woman out of a prostitute who had been dismissed as a maid in Downton Abbey for making a rich house guest welcome to her bed. The ex-prostitute (hopefully) is now employed in Mrs. Crawley's home as the chief cook and bottle washer. She's off to a rough start but it appears that Mrs. Crawley's patience has no limits.
As for Robert, Earl of Grantham, aka as Lord Grantham and in my opinion better known as a prick, he proved in this episode that not only is he incapable of making good financial decisions, he can't make good family decisions. He's a pompous ass who thinks he knows best for every family member. He really scewed up on one. He now has one less daughter because he decided to heed the advice of an even more pompous gynecologist rather than the family physician. Lady Sybil died after giving birth to a daughter. It could have been avoided with a Cesarean which the family doctor strongly recommended. The Earl's IRA son-in-law is devastated and well he should be after standing by and letting the Earl take charge of how the baby was to come into this world. Tom is a rather wimpy IRA member. I hope he gets the balls to take his infant daughter out of the hands of the master of Downton Abbey.
Before I relegate Lady Sybil to the choir silent, never to be heard of again, I must acknowledege that her death bed scene rivaled that of Mimi in "La Boheme". It would have been appropriate to have Tom shout out, "Sybil! Sybil!" as the curtain of death came over her face.
To prove he's not all bad, Lord Grantham did arrange for Anna Bates to get a lawyer back on Bates' case. He's not exactly Perry Mason but I'm betting that he gets Bates out of the can.
One other development in this episode became apparent. Matthew Crawley's marriage to Lady Mary is headed for the rocks. She cares more about being the Lady of Downton Abbey than Mrs. Matthew Crawley. Her attachment to her father and the Abbey will make Matthew rue the the day he said "I do".
Commenting about Lady Mary makes me wonder why all the Lord's daughters are referred to as Lady. It's obvious that they are all ladies, why not leave it at that. I also noticed that the Lord refers to the late Sybil's husband as Tom rather than Thomas. Mary's husband is referred to as Matthew and not Matt. It would be great if Tom in the future addresses Lord Grantham as Bob.
The moment of truth comes next week. Downton Abbey will be on at about the time the Superbowl game should get interesting. Should I forgo Episode 5? We'll see. I know, I could record one or the other but its a lot more fun making it a critical decision.