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'Downton Abbey' closes season four with royal ball

In the London house and ready for the ball on  Downton Abbey season 4 episode 8.
In the London house and ready for the ball on Downton Abbey season 4 episode 8.
©Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

The season four finale of Masterpiece Theatre's "Downton Abbey" aired in the U.S. on Feb. 23, 2014 on PBS. The aristocrats gathered for an elegant debutantes' ball at Buckingham Palace, bringing an opportunity to don the best jewels, gowns and tuxedos, creating a magnificent visual treat. Attached are pictures of the season finale of "Downton Abbey."

Season four's eighth episode takes place eight months after the seventh episode. Downton Abbey gears up for season four finale on PBS

"Downton Abbey" will return for its fifth season in Jan., 2015.

The story takes place during the season of the debutante ball at Buckingham Palace. The family and key servants are in London preparing for a round of parties and the ball at Buckingham Palace.

The Crawley family and their servants are in a flurry of activity while getting ready to present cousin Rose to society. Cora's (Elizabeth McGovern) mother, Martha Levinson (Shirley MacClaine) and Harold (Paul Giamatti) have traveled from America to experience the season and get away from Harold's Teapot Dome scandal.

Harold and Martha become the target of high-class fortune hunters, a father and daughter duo that eye the Levinson's money. Harold is a cynical sort who is used to having fathers throw their daughters at him because of his wealth. He comes to enjoy the young lady's platonic company as she is much different from the women he is used to seeing in his playboy lifestyle back home and friendship develops.

Lady Rose (Lily James) is presented to the King and is a great success at the palace. While at a jazz club, Rose is introduced to the Prince of Wales and his mistress. During the ball, the mistress tells Rose that a letter from the prince has gone missing and wonders if an acquaintance is responsible. Rose tells Lord Robert and the Crawleys devise a plan to retrieve the incriminating missive. They ask Bates if he knows a forger so he can provide a letter allowing entry into the man's apartment so they can find the letter. The letter is not in the apartment, but Bates saves the day with skillful pickpocketing.

Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) has returned from her eight month trip to Switzerland, where she secretly gave birth to a baby girl and gave the baby to Mr. and Mrs. Schroeder. She looks slim as ever, but she does look a little tired. She spent four months with the baby because they felt it was healthy for the birth mother to ween the baby. This has also given her time to bond with the baby and she is feeling regretful about her loss in a time when an illegitimate child would bring shame to the house. In spite of advise from Aunt Rosamund and Lady Violet (Maggie Smith), Edith asks the local pig farmer to take care of the baby of a 'friend,' so her child can be nearby.

Anna (Joanne Froggatt) gives Bates' (Brendan Coyle) jacket to Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) for a charity. When Mrs. Hughes goes through the pockets, she finds a ticket to London, which shows that Bates lied and went to London instead of York. If Green's death was indeed a murder, the ticket might be incriminating evidence. After much thought, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) burns the ticket after Bates shows his loyalty to the family by producing a forgery for Lord Robert (Hugh Bonneville).

Harold Levinson's valet quickly falls for Daisy (Sophie McShera) and tries to persuade her to move to America to be Levinson's cook. Daisy is flattered at his attention but turns him down. Ivy (Cara Theobald) steps up and asks she can take the position in Daisy's stead, so Ivy will be moving to America.

Mary still juggles two suitors, Lord Tony Gillingham (Tom Cullen) and Charles Blake (Julian Overdon). Tony informs Mary that Charles is the heir to a large estate and she begins to see Charles in a more favorable light because they have similar backgrounds.

The Prince of Wales makes a surprise appearance at Lady Rose's after-party and opens the ball by opening the dance with Rose, guaranteeing that she will be the toast of the season.

Lady Cora asks Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) to arrange a day of fun for the staff in appreciation for all their work. After attempts to interest the staff in outings at various museums, they finally send a day at the beach. Bates and Anna walk hand in hand. Miss Baxter tells Molesley (Kevin Doyle) that she is no longer afraid of Barrow (Robb James-Collier), Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) take off their shoes and wade into the ocean hand-in-hand as Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nichol) smiles.

The ensemble cast of "Downton Abbey" includes: Hugh Bonneville as Lord Robert, Earl of Grantham; Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Crawley; Jim Carter as Mr. Carson; Brendan Coyle as John Bates; Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley; Kevin Doyle as Molesley; Joanne Froggatt as Anna; Lily James as Lady Rose McClare; Rob James-Collier as Thomas Barrow; Allen Leech as Tom Branson; Phyllis Logan as Mrs. Hughes; Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cora, Countess of Grantham; Sophie McShera as Daisy; Matt Milne as Alfred Nugent; Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore; David Robb as Dr. Clarkson; Maggie Smith as Lady Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham; Ed Speleers as Jimmy Kent; Cara Theobald as Ivy Stuart; and Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley.

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