“Downton Abbey” s5e6 – “Pola Negri comes to Downton”

22 Feb

“Oh, it is you. I thought it was a man wearing your clothes.” – Dowager Countess

Fashion enthusiasts everywhere simultaneously squealed with delight this week as Lady Mary stepped off the cover of a magazine and claimed her bob. However, her character is unfashionably wearing her season one attitude, so overall she’s a draw.

“Will this cover it?” she says to her hairdresser. Would he tell her if it didn’t? Is Lady Mary a good tipper? Do the shop folk in London see her as a country bumpkin? Inquiring minds want to know. I’m sorely tempted to start saying that every time I pay for something, you know, so people can feel they’re truly in the presence of poshness. Lucky shopkeepers.

Cora puts her foot down about Lord Grantham’s petulant marital behavior, and back he goes to her room where he belongs. Of course, it also answers the question for her that he’s never been perfect concerning their marriage. But her question’s asked as if she already knows the answer. Disappointing we didn’t get to see him plop back into their bed with that very masculine, disgruntled-that-his-wife-is-right humph.

Daisy’s such a good little egg. But Bunting’s rubbed off on her a bit too much. Mrs. Patmore has to snap her out of it with a friendly reminder.

“Don’t be churlish. Mr. Molesley’s offering to loan you one of his prized possessions. We should always be polite to people who are kind.” – Mrs. Patmore

Mr. Molesley’s dreamed all his life of being a teacher. That explains a lot — always putting his nose in to share knowledge others don’t necessarily want to know — but it’s come from a good heart and intentions. Maybe Bunting rekindled some of those old aspirations.

“I’d like to help…make sure somebody got away.” – Mr. Molesley

No more movement with him and Baxter this episode, though Baxter certainly has her hands full. Thomas wrote one of his poison pen letters to the detective at Scotland Yard claiming that Baxter knew what happened to Mr. Green…and ratting her out as a convicted criminal. So now not only is she being grilled for information she doesn’t have, the inspector is also treating her as if she’s a suspect in the murder inquiry…even though she never even met Green. But then she meets the *real* firing squad. Her big secret finally comes to the attention of Mrs. Hughes, who naturally has a mini-stroke over the news. Virtually no one gets hired or fired downstairs without her involvement, so this human resource news comes as a bit of a shock. But — as usual — Mrs. Hughes handles it flawlessly.

“I won’t be coy and pretend I don’t know what you mean.” – Dr. Clarkson

Baxter also has Thomas to worry about. He finally decides he’s ready to get help, and instead of going to the doctor himself, he asks Baxter to help him. He tries to confess what he did to her, but she steps up and does the right thing for him. The look on his face when she tells him that he was brave to do what he did. Debatably Thomas has never done a brave thing in his life. Watching the interaction between the two of them, it’s crystal clear he needs more honest encouragement in his life. Baxter’s words make a big impression. How big remains to be seen — Thomas has a lot of digging to do to get out of the hole he’s made of his life.

“Harsh reality is always better than false hope.” – Dr. Clarkson

“Hair Hitler” (as Cora calls him) strikes the heart of Downton. Michael Gregson has officially been declared dead — killed in the Bierkiller Putsch in Munich. He’s left Edith his entire company…did he have a premonition of his own death? Or what inspired him to do such a thing at his age and before they were even married? Lady Edith has been too fragile for too long. She’s let herself be too precious, which could have a little to do with why she’s always so sour about how she’s treated. The second fiddle card she continually plays has become a broken record. So now that she’s finally gotten the news, and decided she’s just too mistreated, she packs her bag and sneaks out to snatch Marigold from Mrs. Drew’s heartbroken arms and strike out on her own. I’m glad she’s finally shown some initiative, and I think standing on her own two feet could be a very good thing for her.

However, the look on Edith’s face when she was taking Marigold from Mrs. Drew gave me cause for doubt. Mrs. Drew, an honest, loving, responsible woman’s life was overturned. All of the love and care and dreams she had poured into Marigold, not to mention her belief that her husband was always honest with her, were slashed to bits. And Edith stands there looking at her like she’s just taking a toy away. Edith was upset. Mrs. Drew was upset. This was a moment for Edith to express her own pent-up pain from being separated from her daughter and having to watch other people raise her. But she never tries to connect with Mrs Drew. Does Edith really understand the gravity of raising a child on her own? The responsibility it takes? That she won’t get to play the prissy teenager any more? There’s always hope she’ll figure it out. I’m just terribly sorry for Mrs. Drew it had to happen like it did. That was quite possibly the most honest, heart-wrenching scene I have ever seen. Not sure how she managed to get rid of the red eyes by the time Granny came ‘round to hunt down Edith. Granny, looks like it’s time for plan B. Hope you’ve got a plan B.

Granny’s got issues of her own this episode. It’s confirmed! She and the Russian prince did have a rendezvous. Previously, Granny said it never went that far. Was she telling the truth? She was a married woman secretly meeting a married man. Do we believe her? If Granny was as spoilt as Mary at that age, who knows?

What I love about this revealing scene with Granny is that she went there at all. She’s trying to help him by finding his wife, and she goes to the slums to let him know what she’s uncovered so far. Scandalous! But brave and lovely of her to deliver the sad news in person. Will the prince be reunited with the princess in Hong Kong? Or will the princess be deceased and give him the opportunity to run away with Granny as he wishes?

On a lighter note, Granny admits to her new maid Danker — who’s already at war with Spratt – that Isobel is a frequent visitor and “very nice.” That had to hurt. But seeing them cheerfully jabbing each other in the parlor so often made me wonder why they bother when it seems so painful for them both. I suspect that they’ve both decided to make the other person one of their projects. How do these retired dames come up with so much energy for this little game? They wear me out.

Bates goes home to find Anna’s button box and finds Mary’s paraphernalia instead. Whoops. But it leads to more beautiful dialogue, more beautiful relationship moments, and — FINALLY — more Bates and Anna on screen. About time! The full, total and complete truth about Green is finally aired in their home. Anna is now 100% free and can finally do some true mending of a non-button related kind. That terrible ticket was the proof of his innocence, not his guilt. Did Mary pull it out of the fire? Maybe??

“If I killed him, I would hang. I couldn’t do that to you.” – Bates

Bates is too smart to jump to conclusions about anybody…but he sure has a bee in his bonnet about Baxter.

Our other resident genius, Charles Blake, is becoming quite the man with the plan. For such a smart guy, he leaves me wondering where he keeps his x-ray glasses. To be able to see beyond Mary’s season one behavior into the woman of value within is quite an impressive feat.

I realize these characters are living in the 1930’s with a chauffeur and everything, but there’s an appalling lack of horses on this country estate. It takes a steeplechase episode to finally trot some out. It is my firm belief that all British shows need more horses. Including Doctor Who. Especially Doctor Who. Anyway, our token British sporting event of the season leads to some fabulously catty dialogue with Mary and Mabel…and hopefully the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I can live without Tony, but I certainly hope Mabel becomes a recurring character. Or gets a spin-off of her own.

“Who says I’ll live to retire?” – Mrs. Hughes

Did I hear Carson correctly? Mr. Carson approaches Mrs. Hughes about going in together on a property of their own. That is tantamount to a PROPOSAL. Just wait till Granny finds out.

Next week promises the beginning of new adventures for Edith and Isobel and the arrival of the Sinderbys — and Judaism — at Downton. Don’t forget to live-tweet with us over @pspetticoats on Twitter…”We’ll be as jolly as you like.”

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