Recap: Downton Abbey, “Episode Six” (5×06)

We are deeply midstream in our Downton storylines. We may have an inkling of where most of our characters are going to end up by the end of the season, but there are still plenty of turns to come. Only one of the twelve (12!!) active storylines came to any sort of resolution this evening. The rest are in the throws of intrigue – so let’s get to it!

Let us start with Edith, as we so rarely do. A telegram arrives for Lady Edith, with news that her editor is on his way. The news is, of course, not good. Gregson is dead, at the hand of Hitler’s “gang of thugs.” It’s so interesting to see history on this side of such oncoming horror. Cora’s comment shows how much is still to come, and how few saw it coming, “At least they’ve locked Hitler up for five long years.”

But back to Edith. She inherits Greyson’s publishing company and while her family tries to be supportive in their own ways (well not Mary, but really, that should surprise no one), Edith is lost in her grief. She goes to see Marigold, her last link to the man she loved, and it doesn’t go well. She writes a quick note to her family and tells Tom to keep his chin up. “I can’t stay Tom. Not if I’m ever going to be happy at all.” Honestly Edith, I believe you. And good on you, after five seasons, to reach out and find your happiness.  Edith takes Marigold, leaving a devastated Mrs. Drew in her wake, and is off to London. The image of Edith in her hotel room ordering champagne and ice cream is such a welcome joy to see after that woman has endured so much misery. No one can assume that that joy will be everlasting but that moment was a beautiful one.

Back at Downton, Mrs. Hughes is going with Mrs. Padmore to see the cottage she’s looking to purchase. Mr. Carson tags a long and is inspired to ask Mrs. Hughes what she thinks she wants from her life in retirement. She pushes him off demurely. Carson comes back and asks her if they should invest in a property together. They could buy a place, spruce it up and split the income.  Mrs. Hughes is so touched. It’s adorable.

Down at the Dowager House, Violet has welcomed a new lady’s maid, Denker. Spratt is unamused by the change and brings their fight out in front of Isabelle. Violet apologies, especially because she knows Isabelle is enjoying it.

Thomas continues to look and act terrible. He finally pulls Baxter aside and asks for her help. He’s been injecting himself with something awful and has a disgusting infection. After being dragged to Dr. Clarkson, Thomas admits that he had electroshock therapy and the injections and pills were supposed to continue the process. “To change me, to make me more like other people.” “I’ll not be coy and pretend I don’t understand. Nor do I blame you. But there is no drug or electric shock that will achieve what you want.” If only the medical community had listened to Dr. Clarkson in 1924. “My advice to you is to accept the burden that chance has seen fit to lay upon you. And to fashion as good of life as you’re able. Remember, harsh reality is always better than false hope.” So. Very. British.

Robert seems to be trying to get out of his own way, finally. He has some drawings for renovating some of the houses. “You can’t get an A-1 population with C-3 housing.” He is still pouting about Cora and her “friend” but she won’t stand for it any more.

“If you can honestly say you 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 in my room tonight.” And there it is. Robert skulks back, tail between his legs. Violet goes to see Prince Kuragin, to give him an update on the search for his wife. In response to hearing that the princess will soon be found, Prince Kuragin offers this:

“I wanted you from the first moments I saw you. More than mortal men ever wanted a woman… “If Irena were dead, I’d ask you to run away with me right now… I love you more than I love her. Even today. Even this afternoon.”

But Violet won’t hear it because it suggests that she wasn’t happy in her marriage, which she was. But she wouldn’t admit it if she would, as the prince points out. She’d consider it ill-bred. He does know her well.

From one set of star crossed lovers to a set of lovers who seem to always cross the law. Sgt. Willis and the man from Scotland Yard are coming back again, this time to see Miss Baxter about the Mr. Greene affair. It seems the police have received a letter (from Thomas) indicating that Baxter knows pertinent details about the case. She says that she knows nothing for sure, that there might have been a journey to London unexplained but she wasn’t certain.

Mr. Bates, going to get Anna’s sewing box for her, finds Mary’s secret book and sex paraphernalia. He confronts Anna and she’s defensive even though it’s not hers. Despite the fact that they started the argument hours before, when they get home, they kick it off like no time has passed. This is a special skill married people develop over years. Holding on to the exact level of exasperation, resentment and anger and pausing the fight until the opportunity presents itself again. Bates thinks that Anna doesn’t want to bear his children because she thinks he’s a murderer. Bates did know that it was Greene who had raped Anna, not that it was too hard to figure out considering her cover story and reasonably poor acting skills when he came back. Sure, Bates wanted to kill him, even thought about doing it. He bought a return ticket from York, planned to get there and back in the same day. But he never got onto the train. Because he couldn’t do that to Anna. He kept the ticket in his coat pocket like a talisman, because if he’d have travelled, it would have been torn, he would have had to turn in both halves. It seems that Anna gave away the proof of her husband’s innocence.

Mary gets a scandalous new hair cut from a French hairstylist in York – only, he’s most certainly not French. “At least she can carry it off; most of them look like bald monkeys” She debuts her look to a shocked drawing room. “Granny, what do you think?” “Oh, it is you. I thought it was a man wearing your clothes.”

The crowd has all gone to the point-to-point, a race right out of Mary Poppins. Ladies are allowed to race with the men, shockingly. Mary, of course, is the first woman to cross the finish line. Charles Blake’s plan to get Tony and Lane Fox back together seems to be working quite easily, even if Mary can’t help toying with him a bit.

Odds & Ends

– Isis is not feeling well, again. Poor puppy.

– The family meets the Aldridge family – Atticus’s parents. Mr. Aldridge is clearly very grumpy and Mrs. Aldridge does her best to gloss it over.

– “Oh all this endless thinking. it’s very overrated. I blame the war. Before 1914, no one thought about anything at all.”

– After leaving school at 12, Molsley is the most qualified to help Daisy with her studies.

– There was no better reaction to scandalous news than Mrs. Hughes after hearing about Baxter’s prison time. “Does her Ladyship know your story Then we’ll say no more about it.”

  • leeapeea

    I read that the UK version and the US version of this ep had different scenes and were cut in a different order?