Last Sunday’s episode, number six in this fifth Downton Abbey series was this season’s most emotional episode so far, reminding us again what had made this a drama series. And with two more episodes to come plus the Christmas Special and some painful story lines yet open, it is very likely that we will need to replenish our tissues boxes again. Until there, let’s talk about episode 6.
Lady Edith receives the confirmation of what everyone had already suspected, that Michael Gregson is dead. The poor young lady with her already devastated heart by the whole Marigold situation, decides to take drastic measures, which is the only chance she has to be happy. After telling the truth to Mrs. Drewe, she leaves with little Marigold to begin a new life in London. By the way, I wonder who is the child that Edith took to London with her because that’s definitely not the same Marigold we’ve seen in previous episodes. Anyway, productions choices apart, I must to confess that I was surprised by the scene between Edith and Tom, for what had appeared to be a plea for help from Edith to her selfless brother-in-law, proved to be a touching farewell scene. And I’m sure (although in the case of Julian Fellowes and Downton Abbey one can never be sure of anything when it comes to feelings) that Edith’s goodbye words must have reached Tom right in his confused heart: “Good Luck. You are a fine man, Tom. You mustn’t let them flatten that out of you.“
To keep the balance of the happiness in the family, which says that happiness can’t shine at the same time to all Crawley sisters, if Edith is miserable, Mary lives exactly the opposite. She seems to have embraced with all her strength the irreverence of the 20’s, as we have seen since the first episode. Now, Mary receives a letter from Charles Blake informing her that he and Lord Gillingham (back after kicking and pouting in front of Peter Pan) will take part at the point-to-point horse race at Canninford Grange, and she decides to join them. Feeling a little frumpy (her words, not mine) she goes for a new haircut that leaves the now almost daring Crawley family pleasantly surprised, except, of course, for the Dowager. But if Mary shows a new haircut, the old traits of her personality that had been softened by Matthew are back. Her sharp tongue doesn’t spare her devastated sister, taking the quarrel between the sisters to a new level, especially now that everyone knows about Gregson’s death. “Of course it’s terrible, but what did she think he was doing? Living in a tree?“, the brunette fires while chatting with Anna. Even though, if she seems cruel and heartless with Edith, her witty and sassy remarks are always brilliant when she’s with Blake and Mabel Lane Fox. The obvious difference is that both, Blake and Mabel, can take it. By the way, Downton Abbey has never had before a secondary character as wonderful as Mabel Lane Fox. (I know, I know… By now, I’ve probably mentioned this so many times in other posts that I’m already seeming as repetitive as Lord Fellowes with his story line of Edith’s eternal suffering. So let’s do as Lord and Lady Grantham, let’s move on.)
Mary and Rose convince the family to go to a picnic at Canninford Grange to watch the races and who shows up by “surprise”? Mabel Lane Fox, of course, that seems to have overcome her recent argument with Blake and has now stuck to his plan to regain her place at Tony Gillingham’s heart. Mabel throws the bait that the kind Lady Grantham picks easily, inviting her to join the others in Downton Abbey to spend the night. So in the next episode we will have a new fire in the big house, right? Because what else can you expect from Tony, Charles, Mabel and Mary under the same roof? (Be prepared Lord Grantham. Be prepared.) But at least, like Lady Grantham, Tony Gillingham seems eager to catch the bait cleverly planted by Blake and Mabel. This is, if he is not disturbed by Mary. And here we (and Mary) will have to rely on Blake’s wits.
We hardly see anything of Tom or Rose in this episode, except that Rose’s romance with Atticus Aldridge seems to have advanced since she already knows his parents. Violet and Isobel also had little time on screen, but as always, gifted us with good scenes. The Dowager has a new ladies maid that doesn’t seem willing to accept Mr. Pratt’s impositions, and the potential altercations between the two servants can bring us good laughs in upcoming episodes. Between Mr. Pratt and Dunkers arguments about where Violet’s “little things” should be washed and solving puzzles with Isobel, the show remains with the very poorly exploited story line that “Granny has a past” and Violet meets her lost Russian Prince to finally tell him about the progress of Shrimpie’s investigations about the whereabouts of Princess Irina. Meanwhile, Isobel makes it clear that she will accept Lord Merton’s marriage proposal and she plans to announce it at a dinner where everyone will gather. Finally we see that Violet might be most worried about losing her constant companion than in the fact that the marriage will make a Lady from Isobel. So we have two potential weddings in Downton. But when it comes to Downton Abbey we all know that happiness never came to any Crawley so easily without having some drama and tears before, and neither Rose nor Isobel may escape the fate of suffering in the path to the altar. After all, as Violet Crawley says, “There’s always something, isn’t there?”
Lord and Lady Grantham, who came until here by leaps and bounds, start this episode sleeping in separate rooms and barely talking to each other after the electrifying fist fight at Cora’s chamber last week. Robert continues behaving like a twelve-year-old boy hurt by someone who had broken his favorite toy. And after giving him the space and time he needed to absorb what had happened, Cora definitely loses her patience. She leaves no doubt about who’s in charge and gives her husband a clear message to summon him back to her room: “Very well. If you can honestly say you have never let a flirtation get out of hand since we married, if you have never given a woman the wrong impression, then by all means, stay away. Otherwise, I expect you at my room tonight.” Lord Grantham even thinks in switch off his lamp and to have a comfortable night of sleep, but certainly the memory of a certain maid must have passed through his hard head (if he doesn’t, we all remember…). Then we see he slowly walk in to her bedroom to… Oh! Wait! Where is the scene where he asks her to forgive him and she receives him with open arms for a night on lust and passion (that kind of night when they use to play silly games that might break even lamps, you know, that kind that scares Edith)? Oh, sorry, no. Wrong show. This doesn’t happen in Downton Abbey. We can’t even see Lord Grantham get to his bedroom door in his silk brown pajamas. So, we have to imagine. And deducting by the smiling faces of Lord and Lady Grantham in the next day, they must have had a terrific night of fun. Lord Grantham even allows Cora to see the drawings of the houses they are planning to build, proving that he may have finally seen the truth in the words of that scum of Mr. Bricker, although Cora seems more interested in the yellow Labrador health (is likely that in the next episode we know more about it too).
Next post I’ll talk about the Bateses, the downstairs trio and Thomas Barrow.