The first episode begins as dramatically as the third series ended, its 6 months since the death of Matthew Crawley and downton is in deep mourning; the house is awaken to the sudden departure of O’brian who has upped and left in the middle of the night to go on travels to india with a women she meet when the crawleys visited Scotland (i can’t remember what the womens name was but i think she was a family friend).
With departures we also have new characters, the childrens nanny, nanny west has moved into downton to look after baby George and little Sybbie, she’s popular with the family but its a different story downstairs. Its interesting to see how even in the 1920’s nannies and governesses (as they used to be) still have a difficult and almost limbo state in the whole household, not quite one of the family but to good for the servants.
As the story progresses its evident that Mary is struggling to deal with her grief, she is withdrawing from life and time spent with her son. Another new (or reappearing) character is Enda, the maid who was asked to leave for trying it on with Branson, it becomes clear what it is she is back for.
Things are also moving fast for Edith, she’s making long and elicit trips to London to be with her lover who is contemplating drastic actions to be with Edith and marry her. It seems to be Edith is now the one living the most exciting life and this is demostrated through her wardrobe which is lovely.
However, life is still as dramatic as ever at Downton, Thomas is still causing trouble up and downstairs and this time has it in for nanny west, by luck (for him) he suggests to Cora that she should keep an eye on nanny west, and is found right when she make nasty remarks to little Sybbie about her parentage and that George is of pure blood. She is fired on the spot and not heard of again.
Thanks to Branson and other influences, Mary is encouraged to come out of her shell more for the benefit of her son and his inheritance, Downton Abbey and its estates.