‘Downton Abbey’ s5e4 – Ghastly people, jolly proposals and the Battle of the Little Minx

1 Feb

Granny grabs gal-pal Isobel and sneaks off to the soup kitchen to determine the real story of the Russian ex-pats and Prince Kuragin. Does she doubt their story? Does she suspect other motives in his reappearance in her life? Or is she twenty-something all over again and terribly curious about the life of the charming prince? Regardless, she discovers the truth of their situation and determines to step in and get the missing Princess found.

Molesley may be back on his white horse, but he’s slipping again. Hopefully Baxter has the patience to continue to help him understand the concept of grace. Now that her own issues are settled, she’s free to exercise forgiveness and as it happens, even try to help Thomas. Thomas is back from his day trip to London (for typically nefarious purposes, we assume). And then we see the syringe. And then there’s the magazine article. I jump to the conclusion that Thomas has become an addict. But Baxter knows more and senses the truth…he’s ill and trying to treat himself. It’s hard not to feel sorry for Thomas. We need Lady Sybil to come back and nurse him.

Shrimpie’s returned, and there’s a divorce brewing. Divorce means the end of his career, and the end of their lifestyle. According to Lord Grantham Shrimpie “doesn’t have a bean”…that tatty little Duneagle Castle must be a ghastly little shack to live in (humph!). Both Lord Grantham and Rose ask him why they can’t just live apart rather than divorce, but he never gives a coherent answer to either. He says something like “if you’d ever been as unhappy as I am you’d understand.” What? When did divorce become the gateway to happiness? So…what are we really talking about here? He wants to remarry? He doesn’t want Rose living with him — good for the Downton tv show, but still somewhat nonsensical — unless remarriage is his aim. Recovery is far more possible with people we love around us helping to rebuild. Family sticks together, Shrimpie. Figure that out, and you might still have time to recover in life.

Is Susan ever going to return to England and bring O’Brien with her? When Shrimpie loses his job, she’ll be back lickety split.

Phew. The tension crackles between Lord Grantham and Cora. He’s using every opportunity to refer to “ghastly” Bricker and continues to block Cora out of any estate business conversation. The camera spent more time on her reaction than it did on the conversation between the three estate partners. But Cora serves it right back by inviting Miss Bunting back to Downton and NOT kicking Bricker to the curb after he repeatedly crosses the line. Will her grace help her recover as the bigger person in the marriage before Bricker goes too far? Shrimpie’s situation is not influencing Lord Grantham the way one would hope it would.

Lady Mary goes to the dress show with Aunt Rosamund…I should think I’d have chained her highness to a wall…in the dungeon. The dress show is a feast for the eyes, but Aunt Rosamund is gleaning what Edith is up to, and really Mary’s gone to London to let Tony down. Only Tony’s not going down without a fight. Shocking.

“A lady doesn’t give herself to a man without being sure.” ~ Tony Gillingham

Oh, Tony. You really are NOT a rocket scientist. Weren’t you the one who suggested the trist? But Tony isn’t the only one the chickens have come home to roost for. Mary accepts a dinner invitation from a very cool Charles Blake. Cooler than cucumbers, that one. All along he knows about the affair, but he never lets on until the end. The two have a lovely moment of honesty between them — certainly more than Lady Mary has with most — and then he lets her know HE KNOWS. Worse than any slap any woman has ever been slapped with. Mary, do you get it now? People’s feelings aren’t toys.

“I promise it’s better to know the truth than to live in a cloud of mystery and despair.” ~ Lord Grantham

Edith’s been informed of a Nazi trial in Germany where she may learn the fate of Mr. Gregson. And Mrs. Drew has the nerve to actually slam the door in her ladyship’s face. Come on, Edith. Let’s get it together here. Or somebody get in there and help her.

“I know you don’t like him — or any of them — much. But you forget one thing, they are good to me in their way and I love them.” ~ Tom Branson

Daisy praises Miss Bunting, but nothing will save the rude and mannerless teacher from a fate worse than death — altogether banishment from Downton. Lord Grantham is kind enough to apologize to Tom and remind him how he values him in the family, in spite of his superior attitude. But when Tom asks Miss Bunting to just be nice, her big opportunity to apologize or be the bigger person or show appreciation for kindness, she only replies, “I will be — if he’s nice to me.” Time to call the gravedigger, folks. She sure does put a nasty face on the people’s revolution. I love how Tom makes it clear it is an issue of love — how we treat each other says far more than what our politics are. Bunting may know math and help others in her own way, but she’s got a long way to go to learn true priorities.

Rose gets brownie points for being the one who learns/grows the most this episode. Soup kitchens? Parental divorce? Fighting words? Atta girl, Rosie. There’s hope for you.

The invisible chauffeur we never see — Mr. Spark — will we ever meet him? Dude’s not even at dinner downstairs.

There are several beautiful moments in this episode. One of my favorites is the moment between Anna and Bates in the shoe cleaning room. No need to ask “how was your day, dear?” because they work together. Can you imagine a world where you clean shoes with your husband every day? But it’s lovely, and I need more Anna and Bates. Please.

“I believe I could make you happy. At any rate I should very much like the chance to try.” ~ Lord Merton

And my other favorite moment is Lord Merton’s proposal to Isobel. My how still waters run deep! “I’m jolly well going over there to say it.” Adorable that Lord Merton’s “jolly well” going to do anything! His proposal is beautiful in its sweetness, simplicity and honesty. He may be boring at a party, but he’s a teddy bear at home. Apparently. I’d vote for him. Will Dr. Clarkson try again? Which suitor do you think would make Isobel happiest?

What will next episode bring? Mary’s fallen out of her tower. Tom has to make some choices. And so does Edith. And Lord Grantham and Cora. And where will we find the Lady Rose next? I’ll bring the tea. You bring the scones.

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