Episode 4 is the fourth episode of the final season of the long-running UK-US produced period drama Downton Abbey.
This episode focuses on the aftermath of the wedding of Charles Carson and Mrs. Hughes; Thomas Barrow being the temporary butler, which opens up new opportunities for the perpetually scheming servant to cause trouble; Yew Tree Farm gets a new tenant, namely the assistant cook, Daisy Mason's father in-law; and the return of former housemaid, Gwen Harding, with her husband, John, to visit both the upstairs and downstairs families and to have luncheon.
Rose Leslie, who was a main cast member in the first series, reprises her role of Gwen for the last time in the series, as a guest star.
A few days have occurred since Carson and Mrs. Hughes went on their honeymoon to Scarborough after their wedding; the under-butler, Thomas, is subbing as butler while Carson is gone. He tends to throw a lot of non-existent weight around, which annoys the staff.
With the Drewes now gone, after Mrs. Drewe's attempted (and fortunately failed) kidnapping of Marigold from the Malton Market fest, Yew Tree Farm is standing empty. Daisy finds out from the nasty Thomas, intent on causing more trouble, now that he is butler, that her father in-law, Mr. Mason, might not get the farm.
She is so furious (due to feeling that Mr. Mason's loss of his farm was all her own fault) that she takes her anger out on those she is closest to. After a while, she cannot stand it any longer. She declares that she is going to have it out with Cora Crawley.
She was very hurt and very angry (no thanks to Thomas being so nasty), and was planning on exploding at her. A worried staff tries to talk the assistant cook down from her anger, but fails. To keep her calm, Phyllis Baxter, Cora's lady's maid, goes upstairs with her.
However, Baxter has her own share of difficulties, when Inspector Willis comes and asks her to come to court in York to testify against Peter Coyle, a former staff member who worked with her while she was in London.
At first, Baxter is petrified about the chances that he could get revenge on her, but Willis reassures her that it will not happen. Baxter realizes that this is a chance for her to save other girls who were troubled by the evil Coyle.
He profited from her theft of the jewelry that she had stolen from her mistress, but the minute he finds out about the list of witnesses, the evil former servant immediately realizes that he is sunk. He pleads guilty and Baxter isn't needed to testify. She and her friend, Joseph Molesley return to Downton, the problems with Coyle finally ended.
Meanwhile, Lady Mary Crawley agrees to Tom Branson returning as agent. Tom is busy trying to get back into the swing of things at Downton, and his daughter, Sybbie Branson, although quite tired, is glad that she is back home with her family.
Mary and Tom work well together and they are quite close, strengthened by the fact that they loved the late Sybil as much as they did.
He makes the first major decision since his return from America to agree to Mr. Mason taking over Yew Tree Farm. Robert thinks that more money could be made by farming the land themselves and letting the house out to someone.
However, Tom reveals that Daisy had brought up William (her late husband, a former Downton footman) and they felt compelled to take care of him, now that he was needing it.
Cora agrees, by utilizing Mary's absence (she was in London to help her lady's maid, Anna Smith Bates, with a medical issue), to accomplish it and make it a fait accompli. She uses her reasoning by asking what she thought Sybil would have done. The mention of his beloved Sybil moves Tom to make the decision he did. Robert is eventually swayed in this, and he agrees to Mr. Mason moving to Yew Tree.
During another dinner, the Dowager Countess of Grantham starts yet another argument about the direction of the village hospital. Her attempt to have her friend, Prudence, Lady Shackleton (Harriet Walter), be on her side ended up failing miserably.
With Cora, and Isobel Crawley Grey talking about the possibilities of advanced medical care being at the disposal of the village hospital with the merger, they argue that more modern treatments and more advanced medical care could be made available should the hospital be made a part of the Royal York Hospital. Once again, their argument is sound, while Violet rants that what they are discussing is NOT the point (although she knows full well that it is).
Her daughter, Rosamund, showing herself to be on the side of her sister in-law and Isobel, rebukes her mother, as does Robert, but she doesn't listen. Violet yells that Isobel may be entitled to her argument, but "she doesn't have a right to win it!"
Robert announces to a stunned Daisy, who was with Miss Baxter, that Mr. Mason would get the farm, putting an end to that issue. Afterwards, Daisy talked with Mrs. Beryl Patmore, her superior and her close friend, about how she felt. Mrs. P. wisely tells Daisy that it was a good ending to a trying time for Mr. Mason. The next day, Mr. Mason and Daisy go to see the new place he would be living at.
During her extended stay, Rosamund has a couple named Harding come to Downton to discuss the idea of becoming trustees of a school called Hillcroft, which catered to women who wanted a trade more than going into service.
Rosamund herself was a trustee of said school and was interested in having Edith to become a trustee as well. However, there is a surprise when the Hardings arrive. It turns out that Mrs. Harding, was a familiar face, a VERY familiar face. The new Mrs. Harding was Gwen, a former housemaid from all the way back in Series One.
Anna recognized her instantly, and they had a quiet reunion. As did Tom, who had been chauffeur when Gwen was a housemaid (and who, along with Sybil, was one of her biggest champions in helping her get out of service). Thomas, however, was angered that she would not visit her old friends as he thought she had become too grand to visit them, which was clearly not the case. Anna pointedly asked him, "When were you ever her friend?!"
Gwen had been the one who recommended her husband to be a trustee for Hillcroft, as she was a supporter of the school herself. She explains that she met John when she was in local government, and they married soon after. (John had known his wife was once a servant, so he knew about her beginnings, but he hadn't known that she had worked at Downton) However, the spiteful Thomas, angered that his plan to rile Daisy failed when Mr. Mason got Yew Tree Farm, plots to humiliate Gwen at the luncheon table!
During Luncheon, he reveals to the table that Gwen used to work at Downton as a house maid. The initial shock is leavened when Gwen firmly tells him, "Thank you, Mr. Barrow, I can tell it."
Gwen then reveals to everyone her whole story. When she brings up that Sybil was the one who made her new life all possible, by helping her with the jobs, lending her clothes and driving her to interviews, the family is pleased and they realize just how wonderful she really was.
Meanwhile, the servants are very angry with Barrow for trying to humiliate Gwen in front of the family. Barrow, not at all ashamed for what he had done, attempts to defend what he did by saying that he had devoted years of his life in service, and would be soon chucked out on his tail, while she took the first opportunity she could and bolted for something better.
He then scolds them all and reminds them, once again, that HE is the butler (earlier in the episode, Mrs. Patmore reminds him that he is only temporary as Carson was on his honeymoon). He then walks off, smugly assured that he had humiliated Gwen for not revealing who she really was!
However, to his dismay, Gwen, John, and the family come down to the servants hall, and Gwen has a wonderful reunion with the people she used to work with and knew well all those years ago, effectively bridging her old and new lives. Barrow had been wrong, she DID have time to talk with her old friends.
It is revealed that Gwen, besides her work, was a wife and a mother to two children. Mrs. Patmore says that Mrs. Hughes would have sorely missed seeing Gwen, but they would be sure to tell her about the visit.
Robert pulls Barrow aside and scolds him for trying to call Gwen out, by revealing her past work as a maid.
While scolding the conniving under-butler, Robert realized that Gwen had a lot of gratitude for her time at Downton, but she knew that service work was not was she wanted to do the rest of her life. She was also grateful for her time at Downton, as she had got her start there and she also was greatly helped by his youngest daughter.
Baxter mildly rebuked him by saying "You are your own worst enemy!" A furious Barrow, upset that he had been told off by the Earl, retorted, "Maybe I am, but I also have competition!"
Later on, Carson and Mrs. Hughes return from their honeymoon to a welcome from both Upstairs and Downstairs. They agree to their names remaining as they were before they were married, which was a relief to the Crawleys.
Their situation was similar to Anna and John Bates' situation where she was known merely as Anna and not as Mrs. Bates, although everyone knew that they were married.
The episode ends when Carson goes to his old room and removes the card that was in the door slot. This was the end of his old life in his room, and the beginning of his new life, with Mrs. Hughes.