Recap: Downton Abbey, “Episode Three” (5×03)

Our closest held relationships reveal things about ourselves we are not fully aware of. It sometimes takes a drastic change in these relationships for us understand our own selves. And in the case of Downton Abbey’s “Episode Three,” the shakeup in these relationships tell us more about our characters than we ever imagined.

Mary’s love den seems inviting but despite Tony’s plans that it’s right down the aisle for the two of them, Mary’s not so sure. Even with this dalliance, Mary is working hard to make sure nothing happens that isn’t properly announced, organized and executed. She’s been tarnished before and no research mission in a hotel is going to tarnish her again. She’s trying to be so careful but an innocent peck on the cheek as she gets into the car for her trip home is her undoing. Spratt, Violet’s butler, has found her out.

Spratt can’t HELP but prance around with the juicy tidbit when he returns home. When he finally cops to the information, Violet covers well, because she’s the freaking Dowager Lady Grantham, but she’s clearly concerned.  

She confronts Mary. “Let us not hide behind the changing of the times. This is shocking to most people in 1924.” While Mary admits that Tony is doing his best to make an honest woman out of her, she’s balking. There is a seed of doubt and Mary is not doing anything until she’s certain.

Mrs. Padmore has had a letter from her sister. The committee in her home town won’t put her nephew’s name on their war memorial. He had been shot for cowardice during the war, and while it had been kept under wraps, his name missing from the memorial is going to be a bit of a red flag. Mrs. Padmore asks Mrs. Hughes to talk to Carson about it. “Surely we know enough about shell shock now… ” But Carson won’t budge, despite the clear influence Mrs. Hughes has over him. Mrs. Padmore is heartbroken.

Robert’s cranky. He doesn’t want to go to the art gallery with Cora, his only concern is whether their painting is worth anything, whether Edith is bothering the mother of that “poor child.” He doesn’t want to go to London, he doesn’t want to go to his meeting. he doesn’t want to build houses on the estate.

It seems no one wants to come with Cora to London. She’s looking forward to it and it’s clear she is missing how busy, how useful she was during the war. Robert’s clearly not interested in including her in the planning for the new buildings and she’s clearly desperate for meaning and activity.

It’s beautiful to see Cora out of the Abbey. She really shines in the National Gallery with her new friend Mr. Bricker. He’s clearly a flirt but we haven’t seen much of who she is since the war and you can’t blame a woman for enjoying the company of a complimentary man. She accepts a dinner invitation and we learn more about her character on the walk home from that dinner than we have in five seasons.

Robert is waiting for Cora when she gets home and angry to be kept waiting while she’s dining with another man. He cannot comprehend that an art critic would be interested in Cora’s opinions about paintings. Mostly because he’s an asshole.

We learn about another character-defining intimate relationship tonight. Cora is insisting on hearing the rest of Baxter’s story – which is good because the rest of us want it too. It seems there was a handsome, controlling man with whom Baxter fell in love. She stole the jewels for him and then he ran away without her. She took the blame because she was ashamed of what she’d done. She wants nothing to do with him and won’t bring it back up. Cora considers it, and in the end, Baxter can stay.

The reminder of an even more disturbing intimate relationship comes in the form of a police officer’s visit. It seems a witness from the day Mr. Green’s died heard him say, “Why have you come?” right before he fell in to traffic. Green had complained about a quarrel at Downton to Gillingham’s other servants and now the police are investigating people at Downton.

Anna’s terrified about whether Mr. Bates knew about Mr. Green. She’s terrified that they’ll find a way to pin this crime on him. She’s terrified they’ll find out what happened to her. “Do you ever wonder what it would be like to go to a place where no one knows us? Just start again?”

Mr. Bates recounts his day in York to the policeman and it is left there. Mrs. Hughes and Mary, who found that damning train ticket last season, are very worried. I’d have been happy to push Mr. Green into traffic myself, and this is sure not to be the last we will hear of this.

Odds & Ends

– Daisy is enamored by Miss Bunting, so proud of her new found thirst for knowledge. Carson doesn’t think any of this extra work is necessary for Daisy’s place “in the scheme of things.”

– Edith continues to be a thorn in the side of Mrs. Drew and is now forbidden from visiting Marigold.

– “In my day, a lady was incapable of feeling physical attraction until she had been instructed to do so by her mama.”

– It’s beautiful to see the deep relationship Tom and Mary have built. It is clear that they love each other very much as siblings.

– It seems Violet knew one of the Russian refugees in a past lifetime. And he just so happens to be standing in the library at Downton.

– “There seems to be a good deal of emotional venting going on in the library. But then again, they are foreigners.”

Isobel: It seems odd to think of Spratt with a private life.

Violet: Yes, unlikely and extremely inconvenient.

Isobel: … Servants are human beings too.

Violet: Yes, preferably on their days off.