SPOILER ALERT! This post is intended for those who have already seen Season 4 Finale (Christmas Episode)
Downton Abbey relocates to Grantham House in London for Lady Rose's presentation to the sovereign at court, the start of the British social season. I enjoyed the episode, even though some of the story lines were a bit daft.
We get to follow Julian Fellowes's obsession with the London season and the debutante ball where every year a new crop of young ladies "come out" to London high society and were then able to participate in other events such as Royal Ascot and the Henley Royal Regatta and other various balls and events.
The court dress is usually a white (or ivory or light pink), short sleeved dress with white gloves, a veil attached with 3 white ostrich feathers and a train. I would say Lady Rose nailed the 1920s version above! That girl never gets nervous does she?
|House of Worth Court Presentation Dress, late Victorian|
Started in the Georgian era, the court presentations were officially abolished by Queen Elizabeth II in 1958, although if you would like an account of the lives of London debs in the 1960s, Julian Fellowes has written an entertaining book called Past Imperfect (he also has another very entertaining novel along the same lines called Snobs).
But as usual, I digress!
Delightfully, we have the return of Cora's mother Martha Levinson (the always welcome Shirley MacLaine) and newcomer Paul Giamatti playing Cora's naughty American brother Harold Levinson, fresh from being rescued from scandal by Robert.
Martha gets wooed by an English nobleman in desperate need of a cash infusion. Thankfully she sends him on his way, but promises to send a few American dames his way. Harold similarly tries to avoid getting snared but seems a little more smitten...with Daisy's cooking at least!
There was some craziness in this episode, not least of all the saga of the Prince of Wales's love letter (eye roll). And Lady Mary's attitude towards Bates and the train ticket seemed like quite a departure from when she was trying to help Anna spring him from prison a few seasons ago! Sigh.
Poor Edith's story was sort of glossed over, but I sure am glad she has parked her progeny with the handsome farmer next door. I wondered whether the pigs were the only reason he was still around!
Now who else was thrilled to see Daisy courted by her American admirer? Ohhhh, I loved this part! And we got rid of the insipid Ivy all at the same time. Perfect!
But the best was saved for last as Carson and Mrs. Hughes get all friendly like and hold hands in the waves. Swoon!!!
Mrs. Hughes: We're all tired. But not as tired as we're going to be.
Daisy: What difference does it make if you peel potatoes in London or peel them in Yorkshire?
Lady Mary: I'd rather sleep on the roof than share with Edith.
Lady Mary: Your niece is a flapper. Accept it.
Violet (to Isobel): Can't you even offer help without sounding like a trumpet on the peak of the moral high ground?
Mrs. Patmore: Mr. Carson, all women need someone to show a bit of interest now and then. Preferably in a manner that's not entirely proper.
Uncle Harold: I like my food good. I don't need it original.
Violet: The British peerage is a fountain of variety.
Uncle Harold: I would find it very hard to respect any woman who wished to marry me.
Mrs. Patmore (to Lady Rose): If the family is like sardines my Lady, the staff are like maggots!
Martha Levinson: Well the gang's all here I see.
Countess Violet: Is that American for hello?
Violet: The combination of open air picnics and after dinner poker makes me feel as though I've fallen though a looking glass and into the Dejeuner sur l'Herbe.
Martha Levinson: I don't really want to spend the rest of my life among people who think me loud and opinionated and common. Why don't you come and visit Newport and I will rustle up rich widows who want titles much more than I do?
Martha Levinson: I have no wish to be a great lady.
Countess Violet: A decision that must be reinforced every time you look in the glass.
Baxter: You've made me strong Mr. Molesley. Your strength has made me strong.