Recap: Downton Abbey, “Episode Five” (5×05)

Our characters talk frequently about the past and about how quickly the modern work is encroaching on them, their rituals and their lives. Most of them are not opposed to gradual change, and they’re starting to plan for their futures. This was an evening of planning and set up, and for two characters, a bit of crumbling. With an episode and Christmas Special left in front of us before the conclusion of the fifth season, the end is nigh.

Mrs. Padmore must start planning, after receiving an inheritance from an aunt. She asks Carson’s advice on how best to invest and Mrs. Hughes, perhaps unkindly, suggests asking Dr. Clarkson or Mr. Branson instead. Carson is clearly hurt; he has made it very clear how much he values Mrs. Hughes’s opinion. This relationship continues to deepen with every episode and I would suggest it is the slowest burning romance in television history. Right? Because we all agree it’s a romance? Right?

Anyway, Carson suggests Mrs. Padmore invest in the building trade after a tip from Robert. But when she asks if the company is public and offering shares, it’s clear the advice is hollow. Mrs. Padmore doesn’t want to invest in building since it’s not something she fully understands. When Mrs. Hughes asks why she even asked, Mrs. Padmore is at a loss “Well because he’s a man, I suppose.” Neither of them are quite sure if that’s reason enough. But Mrs. Padmore and Mrs. Hughes know the delicacy of the man’s ego. “I wish men worried about our feelings a quarter as much as we worried about theirs.”

A tea is set and Mrs. Padmore and Mrs. Hughes delicately and deftly convince Carson that Mrs. Padmore’s idea to buy a cottage to let as a B&B when she retireswas really his idea. And she’s so grateful for a man’s guidance and protection.

Someone worried for neither a man’s guidance nor protection, Miss Bunting has proven a thorn in the side of those less progressive figures at Downton. Robert hasn’t stopped giving Tom shit about her but he’s staying firm. “When I’m with her, I don’t feel like a freak or a fool, devoid of common sense.” The aspects of Tom’s character that stole Sybil from her family have taken a backseat to his finding a home at Downton. But there was no suppressing those traits forever.

In the end, Tom makes it clear to Miss Bunting that things were doomed before they ever started. She pitted herself against the family and his wife was one of them, his daughter is one of them. He disagrees with them but he doesn’t despise them. And so with that, Miss Bunting leaves us. But not before saying goodbye to Daisy and encouraging her to continue her studies. Miss Bunting’s influence is not gone though; it’s clear that Tom has some thinking to do.

Violet is planning for the future, but not her own. She goes to visit Dr. Clarkson to talk about Lord Merton. She is grasping at straws, clearly trying to stop this situation before it gets out of her control any more than it already is  Skirting around her honest motives for interference she questions Dr. Clarkson, “Do you want to see her live a life devoid of industry and moral worth?” But no matter what either of them may want, as Clarkson says, “The truth is they’re well suited, whether we like it or not.”

Edith continues to struggle against the plans that she has made and those she clearly wants to make for Marigold. Rosamund came up to Downton after hearing that she had taken a fancy to the farmer’s daughter. Edith expects nothing less than a scolding. But Rosamund clearly cares for both Edith and the child,  “I gave up ten months of my life to make sure she came safely into the world.” But as we all know, the situation cannot stand. “So, we have a situation of infinite danger to your reputation which brings you no emotional reward to compensate.” Well, yes. That, exactly that, Rosamund.

Mrs. Drew is wholly unamused that Lady Edith has decided to show Marigold off to her aunt. Mr. Drew sees it as a mistake to bring Rosamund there. If she doesn’t stop coming, they’ll give up the farm and move away – with Marigold. Violet and Rosamund suggest sending Marigold away to school in France. Edith, unsurprisingly thinks this is a terrible idea. She goes downstairs to make a private call. INTRIGUE

Despite being beset by the constant fear of the law, Bates and Anna are planning for the number of babies that will surround their heart. Sergeant Willis has come back, and with a man from London in tow. *eye roll* Why is this storyline still going? Seriously why? Can we really not think of anything else to do with these characters this season? It’s clear that Mr. Bates is no longer the target of their investigation – Anna is.  Thomas is sniffing around for trouble, twirling his proverbial mustache. And I just don’t care. I don’t. I know the stakes are actually high here but they just don’t feel it.

Still in the pre-planning stages, Rose has set her eyes upon a new beau, Atticus Aldridge, whose father, Lord Sinderby, just bought a title. She steps in a bit of a mess with her Russian refugees as they quickly explain their belief that Russian Jews weren’t Russian. “You’re English now but you’re still Jewish. I don’t understand how it’s any different.” The look on Atticus’s face, a mixture of relief, joy and surprise, is the look of a man who expects prejudice first. It was a beautiful moment and clearly the start of something fun.

The only people not setting themselves up for the future are Robert and Cora. Mr. Bricker’s visit was certain to annoy Robert but what transpired was more than even we thought would happen. With Robert away from the house, Mr. Bricker sneaks into Cora’s room, clearly uninvited. She asks him several times to leave, as we watch Robert walk up the stairs. “When did someone last cherish you?” You have to admit, it’s a good line.

Robert barging in was painful, but not as painful as Mr. Bricker calling him out on being a crappy husband. “When you chose to ignore a woman like Cora, you must have known not every man would be as blind as you?” But Robert hasn’t quite learned yet, and he’s clearly not done punishing Cora for the situation.

Odds & Ends

– Regarding a nudist colony in Essex, “Isn’t it terribly damp?”

– “You’re about as infirm as Windsor Castle.”

– “I’m afraid that you’ve read somewhere that rudeness in old age is amusing, which is quite wrong.”

– Lane Fox is still in love with Tony Gillingham. Charles Blake has a plan. Should be fun.