‘Downton Abbey’ s5e3 – Paging Dr. Clarkson

25 Jan

So, Mary. Where are all your sketches?

Tony & Mary’s weekend special turns out to be almost a week of being seen together all over Cheshire. None other than Spratt himself comes to Liverpool just in time to see them depart the hotel together. But nobody knows, right? The smashing good fun is watching Granny’s mini-stroke when Spratt tells her. Paging Dr. Clarkson! The composure it takes to come up with such an adequate lie so quickly and deliver it so sweetly…the woman is a diabolical genius. Granny manages to actually turn it around so that Spratt feels embarrassed for even knowing about it, and when Mary arrives for a little chat, Granny slides behind Spratt to let him ask Mary how Liverpool was. My sides still hurt from laughing at Mary’s turn to have a mini-stroke. Almost makes up for the nausea I had watching Mary use Tony like he’s a dish towel. Just wait till she throws over Tony, and he goes (unknowingly) to Sir Richard Carlisle seeking retribution for it. I predict that Mary will be taking the same boat to America as Tom.

I’m sure we’ll need Dr. Clarkson again when Bates finds the “paraphernalia” stashed in his own house.

We get a tiny glimpse of Granny’s past when Rose brings “her Russians” to Downton for tea. The room gets about 20 degrees warmer when Granny is reintroduced to Prince Kuragin. I love the tiny slice of backstory, and I love that now the Russian timeline is crossing streams with the British timeline. Can’t you just see Granny twirling in her silks and tiara with Anastasia? Sigh.

Miss Bunting brings her own rope and ties her own noose at the Russian tea party. The woman knew she was walking into a powder keg when she went upstairs. She knew who was up there. Why didn’t she just say “no, thank you?” I swear that girl was born three planets to the left of the moon. The sheer hypocrisy. Everyone else has to behave and be nice, but not her. Have whatever common attitudes you want in your political opinions, Miss B, but as I think Granny would say, never be common in your manners and treatment of others. Chivalry, graciousness and respect should never be set aside for agendas.

Loved how Tom never believed for a minute that Mary actually went on a sketching trip! But why is he the only one? And I also loved that Mary didn’t try to pretend with him or lie about it. Golly, remember how Mary chased Tom and Sybil to the inn of elopement? Clearly, Mary is the only Grantham child who is legally allowed to be scandalous.

I had a mini-stroke of my own when Sergeant Willis reported to Carson that Green claimed he had been “badly treated” at Downton. Badly treated? That bus was too good for him. I confess. It wasn’t Bates that did it. It was ME.

Some days I really feel like I can identify with Edith. I wish I could club her over the head for sitting around waiting for what she knows is right when she could be doing something about it. Then I get up and look in the mirror…it’s not a pretty sight. So I’m still rooting for Edith. I can see a Downton Abbey spin-off…Edith leaves the original series to kidnap her daughter and live off her trust and her earnings as a writer in the Italian Alps. In due course she will meet a married painter who lies about being single and begins an affair thinking he will marry her but doesn’t. He murders his wife and frames Edith, who spends the rest of her life in a moldy Italian prison and the painter runs away with Marigold, dropping her on the doorstep of the Swiss family who adopted her when she was born. Nah, too depressing.

Thomas plays the “my dad is dying” card to manipulate Carson into letting him off work. What’s he up to??

I love Cora. She has a way about her where she can give Baxter an ultimatum without giving her an ultimatum. Maybe Cora’s graciousness comes from having experienced so much awkwardness herself. I was SO excited to FINALLY get some of Cora’s backstory this episode…fresh out of school her mother put her on a boat and threw her into London society for a husband because she was too far down on the New York social ladder to make a respectable match, no matter how much money they had. And she’s from CINCINNATI. Man, if I were on the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, I’d be making a meal out of that. Anyway, I’d be willing to bet that her knowledge of what it feels like to be an outsider must affect how Cora sees the world and how she treats others. She and Granny have certainly had their differences, but in the end Cora has proved smart enough to figure out which battles were worth fighting and which hills to die on — probably not many. And here comes Lord Grantham trying to take her down a peg, not too long after he told her their anniversary wasn’t important. Did you catch the scene in their bedroom where Cora tells him she misses having the responsibility of managing the estate affairs, asks him about the days business, and he totally shuts her down like she never did any of the things she just said she did? He’s gonna have a rocky next few episodes, isn’t he? Such a princess.

“I’d abandoned everything to please a worthless man.” – Baxter

Baxter is forgiven and is clearly on cloud nine from it. Amazing what one act of undeserved goodness can do. However Baxter’s character impacts the world from now on would never have happened if Cora wasn’t so forgiving. Thinking back on how she forgave O’Brien and Thomas all the time, no matter how much that irks my sense of justice, I can see now that it’s much better for Cora to be wired that way in general. It’s better to forgive everyone who doesn’t deserve it than no one. But she still cracks me up every time she says “Golly.”

This episode generated more questions for me. Feel free to share your thoughts about them…or other questions of your own:

  • Are our reformed characters, Bates & Baxter, both truly reformed? What exactly is it that reforms them? Why do we love them so?
  • Will Daisy still be allowed to sit for an examination with Miss Bunting? Will Miss B still have a job?
  • What ways do I “hide behind the changing times?” What excuses do I make in my own life?
  • Why is Tom the only one who didn’t believe Mary was going sketching?
  • What really happened to Michael Gregson?
  • How have Edith’s challenges affected her character? Have they affected it?
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