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Downton Abbey: Season Five, Episode Five

“We’re the future; they’re the past.”

Honestly. If people would just talk to each other, there would be a lot less drama at Downton Abbey. There would probably also be a lot less show.

Edith needs to just talk to Mrs. Drewe, tell her the truth. As is the case with many secrets, I’m sure that Mrs. Drewe already knows the truth – at least on some level. Of course she is terrified. She is raising the child as one of her own, but always with the threat that she will be taken away from her at any moment.

If Edith takes Marigold from her family, I’m not sure how we are meant to forgive her. She has already taken the child from Mrs. Schroder, now she may do the same again. Devastating Mrs. Drewe is bad enough, but imagine ripping that small child from the only home she has ever known. The sheer selfishness of that act is breathtaking.

Mr. Bricker was told the truth, he just chose not to hear it. Cora has made it very clear that she is not in the market for an affair. To walk into her bedroom shows a shocking lack of that care and concern he accuses Robert of lacking. Even when she says no, he still refuses to listen to her. Again, not unlike Robert.

As I watched this episode, I finally realized what has been bothering me this season about the writing. Robert is the alpha male above stairs; Carson is the one below. Both are snobs, reluctant (at best) to accept change of any kind, and feel that the deference paid to them is their due. Julian Fellowes obviously has a great deal of affection for both these men and writes them in a way that we are meant to see them as good men trapped in a bad time.

The problem is that the rest of us see just how ridiculous these two have become. Robert’s reaction to finding Bricker in Cora’s room is absurd. While he has a right to question her about what happened, he does not have a right to jump to all the wrong conclusions and then freeze her out. It is so bad that his daughter and his mother notice. Bad form.

Carson is even worse this time around. He gives Mrs. Patmore some financial advice based solely on a conversation with Robert. As his boss’s financial decisions have led the family to near bankruptcy not once but twice, this is an amazingly stupid thing to do. Luckily, Mrs. Patmore sees through him and does what she thinks is right. Isn’t it interesting, however, that both she and Mrs. Hughes feel the need to feed his ego in that final scene. He is so oblivious, he accepts their words without question.

Only Baxter seems to the one who is willing to confront the truth and speak it out loud. Although I can’t understand why, she is worried about Thomas and implores him to stop trying to “cure” himself. She also tells Molesley the truth when he asks her to. In both instances, she comes across as the sensible and caring one. A lesson for us all.

Poor Tom has lost his crush. Sarah has gone to Preston to teach at a better school. I liked Sarah, but she was wrong for Tom. She couldn’t understand his loyalty to the Crawley family, even when he explained it to her in very real terms.

OK -- I’m just going to throw this out there, because the thought keeps coming back to me. Sarah is gone. Lord Gillingham is, at least for Mary, out of the running. Charles Blake proved this episode what an ass he is. Tom and Mary are running the estate together. Last episode, they had that heart to heart in the study when he told her he knew that she had slept with Gillingham. This episode, they had the conversation going up the stairs in which she supported him and he told her how nice she is. The look he gives her as she walks away from him is thoughtful. I may be reading far too much into all this, but am I?

Bits and Bobs:

— Once again, I can’t bring myself to write at length about the whole Green story. I’m bored with it. Of course, if Bates and Anna would just talk to each other, we might all be spared this ridiculous plot.

— Speaking of Bates and Anna, does anyone else suspect that, on his hunt for the bandage, he will find the Device and accuse Anna of preventing any children at this point?

— Lady Violet can be meddlesome and a nuisance, but she is the first to admit when she is wrong. I liked the quiet scene with Dr. Clarkson when she admitted that Isobel and Lord Merton might just be suited for each other.

— Rose has a new crush. Once again, he is reluctant to tell Rose the truth about himself, that he is Jewish. I love her reaction to the news. She couldn’t care less.

— I like Daisy’s new found confidence. A lot.

Well Said:

Robert: “Not that sort of colony, Mama. It’s for people who want to take all their clothes off.”
Lady Violet: “In Essex? Isn’t it terribly damp?”

Lady Violet: “Ellen Terry has nothing on you when it comes to stringing out a moment.”

Lady Violet: “But, I’m infirm. Why doesn’t she think about that?”
Isobel: “You’re as infirm as Windsor Castle.”

Mrs. Hughes: “Then, why did you ask him?”
Mrs. Patmore: “Because he’s a man, I suppose.”
Mrs. Hughes: “I’m not sure that’s a good enough reason.”
Mrs. Patmore: “Nor am I, now. But, I don’t want to hurt his feelings.”
Mrs. Hughes: “I wish men worried about our feelings a quarter as much as we worry about theirs.”

Tom: “You know, you’re a lot nicer than a lot of people realize.”
Mary: “Not always.”

Rosamund: “I’m afraid you’ve read somewhere that rudeness in old age is amusing. Which is quite wrong, you know.”

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. Dead on about Fellowes' depiction of Robert and Carson. Although I'm apt to forgive Carson more than Robert for some reason.

    On Rose's new relationship...I'm conflicted. I do like her quite a lot but she does do a lot of what she does for the purpose of shocking her family (I'm thinking of the musician from last season). She doesn't have a malicious bone in her body, but I just hope her interest in this new guy (whose name I'm scared to look up at risk of spoiling myself...is it Adrian?) is genuine and not another teenage rebellion. Or maybe she really doesn't think that being Jewish is a big deal at all. I don't know the history, does anyone know about anti-Semitism in England in this time?

  2. His name is Atticus. I remember it, because I was wondering if Fellowes wanted us to make a connection to Atticus Finch.

    Antisemitism was subtle, but very real, at this time in England. The upper crust was white and Anglican. Anything else was considered less than. Remember how appalled Robert was when Sybbie was baptized a Catholic? If Rose becomes involved with a Jew, my guess is we will have a similar scene.

    A wonderful depiction of this issue is in Chariots of Fire, another film that takes place in 1924.


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