'Downton Abbey' recap: Episode 5
Though it might seem like a lot of bad things are starting to happen at Downton Abbey—specifically nosy detectives, kidnap plots, and man-to-man open-palmed slaps—it’s not all bad.
Ms. Bunting is gone!
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s circle back, and we can discuss the world’s worst dinner guest in a bit.
Rosamund arrives in London and quickly becomes curious about the dear little farmer’s daughter that Edith has taken a great interest in. It’s quite obvious to her that Edith has invoked the right of Take Backsies from the Swiss couple she originally gave Marigold to, but round two of “Here, Take My Daughter” isn’t going as well as expected. Mrs. Drewe, acting like a responsible and sensible parent, appears to be creeped out by the pale, waifish aristocrat who’s obsessed with her adopted daughter. Nope, nothing weird about that. Be cool, Mrs. Drewe! It’s not like she’s bringing around her aunt to gawk at—Oh no, wait. She did. Never mind, you’re justified, Mrs. Drewe, but don’t worry. Things will be fine as long as they don’t conspire to steal the baby back.
Back in the main house, Carson is doing his best to appear “hip” and “with it” and “not stuck as a cog within an outdated class system” by cribbing a move from Robert’s playbook and suggesting to Mrs. Patmore that she invest her recent inheritance in a building company that he keeps hearing about. Mrs. P doesn’t end up taking the advice, instead opting to buy a cottage to rent out until she’s ready to move there and take on boarders, but she very much appreciated Carson’s advice. I’m not entirely sure what the point of this subplot was, but any amount of time shared with Carson, Mrs. Patmore, and Mrs. Hughes is a goddamn delight.
Elsewhere, the two most eligible bachelorettes of Downton, Violet and Isobel, are up to their usual saucy bit of madness. Mrs. Crawley is still considering the proposal of her “follower” Lord Merton, who’s a rather boring chap. Violet, the Thelma to Isobel’s Louise, can’t stand to see her best friend tied down in some drafty manor without any of the spunk and grit, or as she so eloquently puts it, stuck in “a life devoid of industry and moral worth.” For help, Violet turns to Dr. Clarkson, the bad boy of post-WWI, small-town medicine, whose will-they-won’t-them chemistry with Isobel keeps me up at night. Their plan is to tag team a luncheon and drive the would-be couple apart. There’s a lengthy discussion of goiters and how easily they can be cured with the right know-how, which should have dampened any existing flames, but Violet and Clarkson have to agreed: Merton and Isobel make a pretty cute, boring couple.
Since Clarkson didn’t tear open his shirt and confess his love for Isobel, let’s turn our attention to something awesome that actually happened in the episode. But what?
Oh, yeah. Tom totally dumped Ms. Bunting.
After a conversation with Robert about how close he has become to the family over the years, Tom decides that it’s probably best to nix things with the woman who has on a number of occasions picked fights with the people who were kind enough to invite her into their home and offer her food. It’s one thing for Sarah to stand in as reminder for Tom’s humbler beginnings—that’s all well and good—but there’s a line. And her insistence that Tom should hate the Crawley’s just because of their status crosses it. That position seems unnecessarily hostile, even if the family is snobbish, and thankfully, Tom isn’t feeling it. He tells her that he wants to “call it a day,” which, all things considered, is one of the nicer ways to dump somebody. Daisy tries to intercede, and Tom kisses Sarah before she leaves. Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. She’s gone, and I’m not sorry.
NEXT: The slap heard round the world…
Speaking of not being sorry, Downton is still haunted by the specter of Mr. Green, the valet who everyone collectively agrees needed to die. Sgt. Willis is back, and this time he’s brought Mr. Vyne, a detective from Scotland Yard who wants a word with Anna and Mary. The focus of the investigation has shifted away from Mr. Bates’ whereabouts on the day Green got what was coming to him and to where Anna was. She had been in London at the time, with Mary, and it’s because of this that Vyne cautions her not to “go away,” meaning take off. It doesn’t look good, but things could only be made worse if Bates, in an attempt at sweetness, promises her that nothing bad is ever going to happen ever again. Then Bates promises her that nothing bad is ever going to happen ever again, so I guess we can assume something awful is going to happen to Anna soon.
In the meantime before her no-doubt imminent demise, Anna has to return to London with Mary, who is still reeling from the failure of Tony Gillingham’s sex tryout. There, Mary meets with Charles Blake, who is up to something. He’s clandestinely arranged for Mary and Miss Lane Fox to unknowingly reunite at dinner, something he claims could be mutually beneficial to both of them. A strong, independent woman, our girl Mabel refuses to sweep up “the discarded leavings of Miss Mary Crawly, dust off the fluff, and put them on my own play.” Damn, girl! “Eat it, and I hope it chokes you.” Maybe a tad too far. Pump the brakes, Mabel.
Oh, hey! Budding young love. Rose met Atticus Aldridge while walking to take care of the Russian refugees, and here’s a quick rundown of this guy’s credentials: 1) cool name 2) polite 3) wants to “give Rose dinner” because she’s nice and not anti-Semitic, unlike Prince Kuragin’s dickish friend Nicolai. Yes, Rose is continuing her progress parade with another suitor that might scare codgery people. Good on you, Rose!
Now to our main event! Robert versus Mr. Bricker’s stupid face. (No offense to Richard E. Grant.)
Mr. Bricker announces that he will be calling on Downton to photograph their valuable painting for a book he’s working on, when Robert just so happens to be out of town. Cora welcomes Bricker “as long as he behaves,” which is one degree too flirty for me. The evening is without incident until Cora goes to bed and Bricker shows up—that’s right—in her room. The balls on that guy! Anyway, while he’s busy trying to convince Cora that Robert and the family don’t appreciate her, Robert comes home early. (Fun fact: That screaming you heard during this scene didn’t come from the show’s audio track, but was, in fact, your own voice.) Naturally, Lord Grantham barges in at just the wrong moment.
Of course, it’s just a misunderstanding. Mr. Bricker was just leaving, so no need for anyone to get slapped. Or not, just keep talking, Mr. Bricker. Tell Robert how he’s mistreated his wife all these years.
That’s what happens, dude.
And here’s a tip, Cora. If the sound of your husband and the man who inappropriately propositioned you wrestling wakes your daughter, don’t tell her that the noise was a lamp that you and her father knocked over while playing a “stupid game.” She’s going to justifiably assume you were having sex, and Edith does not need that right now.
Anyway, the episode wrapped up with a casual cocktail party, where Edith, Rosamund, and Violet casually discussed the proper way to kidnap Marigold, prompting Edith to call London for some reason, but that’s not what I’m concerned about. Why did Bates ask Anna for a bandage, which he himself said he didn’t need? Was it a vague reference to the fact that Barrow looks sick, like seeing-Tom-and-Sarah-Bunting-kiss-sick? Very confusing.
The war is over, but intrigue, crisis, romance, and change still grip the beloved estate.