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Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Two

“Even kings must bow to pressure sometimes.”

Revolution comes, and when it does, the world as it is known crumbles. In this episode alone, both the French and the Russian revolutions were mentioned. When revolution occurs, it is the aristocracy who lose their heads or their ability to dance, shop, and see their friends as Rose so quaintly put it.

The revolution we are witnessing will not result in blood running in the streets. It will, however, bring the king’s voice into the house making both him and his family more accessible and human. It will also enable a young woman to have sex without worrying about the consequences.

There is still a sense, however, that the ruling class is more important and more worthy of protection than the working class. Mary’s sending Anna to get her diaphragm was truly awful. Anna does not believe in birth control, nor does she believe in sex outside of marriage. Yet, because her boss tells her to, she is the one who is forced to humiliate herself in front of the chemist. Bad show, Mary. Hope the sex is worth it.

Charles Blake doesn’t think so. He is back on the scene, trying to convince Mary that he is the better choice for her. I was surprised when he didn’t turn up last episode, believing that the whole love-triangle thing wasn’t going to happen. How silly of me.

Mr. Drewe is trying hard to find a way for Edith to help to raise her child. Being Marigold’s second godmother is one solution, but I understand why Mrs. Drewe is so hesitant. She does, after all, have three other children. It would be difficult to watch only one them being singled out for trips up to the Abbey. Mrs. Drewe does not strike me as unintelligent; I’m sure it won’t be too long before she figures out the truth. Of course, she might already suspect and live in fear that the child she considers her own will be taken from her.

The scene where Jimmy said goodbye to Thomas brought a tear to my eye. These two have come a long way together and Thomas has few enough friends. I know, he’s brought much of his unhappiness of himself, but it is difficult for us to imagine now how much Thomas’s sexuality would affect him and those around him in 1924. Jimmy’s hoping Thomas finds happiness would have been a rare statement from a straight man to a gay man.

Of course, we are quickly reminded of why Thomas is so often alone. Telling Molesley about Baxter’s past was beyond the pale, especially as it is clear how Molesley feels about her. I can’t understand why Baxter is keeping quiet about her reasons for doing what she did, but I do wish she’s tell Molesley and let the poor man off the hook. Their conversation in the courtyard was incredibly moving; my heart broke for both of them.

Daisy is moving forward with Sarah’s help. I like the effect Sarah is having on the majority of people in the house. She is kind to Daisy, genuinely teaching her and not talking down to her. I especially like the way she is with Tom. Clearly she has a massive crush, but a lot of what she says he needs to be reminded of. He was the one who got Sybil to live the life she wanted to live.

On the other hand, Sarah has a terrible effect on Robert. It must be said, however, that he is becoming more and more insufferable. Fighting the remembrance garden, refusing to even discuss the wireless with Rose, taking on Tom every chance he gets, he continues to alienate every one around him. His ridiculous rant before bed was nearly comical, except that I worry he might try to keep Tom away from his child.

Just when I begin to think that he is beyond all redemption, he does something kind. I like his sweetness to Edith and his quick agreement that she should do as she wishes with her money. It’s also endearing that he still assumes that she will marry and have children one day. Keep in mind that Edith is pushing thirty. She is no longer top of the social heap.

Finally, we have Carson and Mrs. Hughes. He seems genuinely upset when they disagree, and she becomes quite flustered when he flirts with her at the end of the episode. I like the relationship these two have, but would not be completely against watching them take it to the next level.

Another good episode, but a lot of it felt like set-up for the rest of the season. I’m all right with that as I am interested in seeing where a lot of these stories take us.

Historical Bits and Bobs:

— Marie Stopes was instrumental in fighting for women’s rights, pioneering birth control and founding the first birth control clinic in Britain. Her book was called Married Love. It made the discussion of birth control much more accepted in society.

— Congratulations to Joanne Froggatt who won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress on television. While I was not a fan of the Anna being raped story line, Froggatt’s acceptance speech acknowledged those who have suffered a similar fate. She, and her speech, were both lovely on the night.

Well Said:

Edith: “Oh, they’re all being marvelous, but I do feel such an idiot.”
Mary: “That may be because you behaved like an idiot.”

Isobel: “Honestly, I’m as good at being teased as the next man, but even my sense of humor has its limits.”

Anna: “Well, won’t he take care of it?”
Mary: “I don’t think one should rely on a man in that department, do you?”

Robert: “That people should waste hours huddled around a wooden box, listening to someone talking at them, burbling inanities from somewhere else… It’s a fad. It won’t last.”

Lady Violet: “Mrs. Crawley is never happier than when she has the chance to use her guiding hand. Are you, dear?”

Molesley: “You made choices and you’ve paid the price for them.”
Baxter: “Still, I’m not who you thought me.”
Molesley: “It’s not for me to pass sentence. You’ve had enough of that.”

Robert: “And, tell your friend Bricker to stop flirting with Isis. There is nothing more ill-bred than trying to steal the affections of someone else’s dog!”

ChrisB is a freelance writer who spends more time than she ought in front of a television screen or with a book in her hand.


  1. Robert was right, the wireless' days were numbered... when another box entered family homes! ;)

  2. There is nothing more ill-bred than trying to steal the affections of someone else’s dog!

    This, I thought, was the most genuinely upper-class English line I've ever heard on Downton. It absolutely rang with authernticity.

  3. Gah, my kingdom for an edit function! Ahem. "Authenticity".

  4. I wish Fellowes hadn't written out Jimmy - his relationship with thomas was one of my favourite things on the show. But I guess knowing when he's run out of ideas and needs to write someone out is one of his strengths.

  5. I am hoping for a Thomas redemption this season as you can tell even if he is not the nicest guy it's because he is tortured. Not that this excuses his behaviour but everyone should be able to turn over a new leaf as long as it is genuine. I feel for both Edith and Mrs. Drewe. They are in an impossible situation that neither of them really created. I hope they make the best of it and support each other. I feel for Robert. He feels it is his responsibility to keep things up but the rug keeps getting pulled out from under him. I certainly don't support his position in the aristocracy but I can relate to him as an individual in a difficult and changing world. How much has changed in a hundred years - even the second box is on it's way out the door!

  6. I never liked Mary except when she was with Matthew. They were the best part of the show. I hate the way she treats Edith.


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