‘Downton Abbey’ Season 5, Episode 3: ‘Granny has a past,’ and other Crawley …

20 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

‘Downton Abbey’ Season 5, Episode 4 Recap: Lady Mary has made her bed, but won’t lie in it.

Sunday’s “Downton Abbey” opened with Tony Gillingham waking up in bed next to Lady Mary, warm smiles on both their faces after a week of slap-and-tickle in a fancy Liverpool hotel.Every week for the fifth season of PBS’s period drama Downton Abbey, Joe Reid, Sophie Gilbert, and Katie Kilkenny will discuss the intrigues, upstairs and downstairs, of public television’s favorite Yorkshire manor. The episode opens with Mary and Tony in bed—post sexscapade—in the Liverpool hotel where they’d spent time together, getting to know each other so that Mary could be sure that Tony is the one.

We got our first clue when Tony slipped back into his own room for breakfast, which was necessary because we wouldn’t want the staff at the Grand Hotel in Liverpool getting any ideas about what the people in the adjoining suites were doing, would we? If Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) ever asks you to “hide the thing,” please know she’s referring to the more-than-gently-used diaphragm she took to Liverpool for her weeklong fling with Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen).

The Great War may have changed attitudes and clothing styles immensely in Britain, but by 1924, the general mindset still was that women were second-class citizens who had no control over their emotions, sexual desires or opinions. In contrast to Mary, whose problem was deciding which of two handsome men to shoo away, Edith couldn’t even hang onto the tenuous thread of a man who was missing.

And since much of the action in this week’s episode was centered on female characters breaking the molds they were born into – and the men, as well as some of the women, in their lives either tut-tutting their decisions or throwing tantrums over them (except for Allen Leech‘s Tom Branson, who we know finds outspoken women to be the ultimate turn-on) – this was not an easy episode for anyone living in the year 2015 to stomach. The acting is strong enough to make even the most obviously contrived plot reversals seem nearly plausible. (Let us pause in remembrance of the wealthy, forgiving, conveniently flu-stricken Lavinia Swire.) It’s worth watching every week just for the mordant charm Maggie Smith gives the Dowager Countess’ every disapproving glance and trenchant aside. [Here is my polite warning that plot developments in recent episodes will be discussed hereafter. Skip the first 40 minutes of tonight’s episode and get to the good stuff: the Dowager Countess once had a romantic moment with a Russian prince, and he showed up at Downton several decades later!

I wish the Internet had done me the same courtesy when I innocently Googled “Dan Stevens” two seasons ago.] Of all the main characters, there is no sack sadder than poor Lady Edith. Patricia: Now that we are nearly one-third through the fifth season—sniff—Julian Fellowes is ramping up the tension and pushing new plot lines at a dizzying pace. Patmore’s sauces come to a hearty boil, somebody will go there, and it will almost certainly be your husband, who will want to know why you’re blockading his boys, which will remind you that you’d like to know what he was doing in London with a certain Mr. In short, Mary didn’t dislike the experience, but she’s not in any rush to pick out her trousseau, as evidenced by her tell-tale fallen face once Tony has his back turned. I don’t even know where this story might be going, but we’ve waited more than four seasons for the Dowager C to get a love story, and I’m just so pleased that it’s seemingly a Dr.

Genna, my fellow Downton Abbey Devotee, and I are a tad obsessed with Downton Abbey (Oh, if I only had a smaller head to wear those amazing feats of millinery excess) and have noticed that each episode has a theme. Oh, I admit this last part is pure speculation — when last seen, Anna (Joanne Froggatt) was simply slipping the diaphragm into her pocket — but there’s no way it can end well, can it, Abbots?

One night of passion with handsome, married newspaper magnate Michael Gregson, and miserable Edith gets knocked up, only to have her paramour disappear somewhere in Weimar Germany. With the help of a sympathetic aunt, Edith convinced her family she was dying to brush up on her French (see above re: nearly plausible plotlines) and took to the Continent to deliver the baby in secret. As she’s exiting the hotel and kissing her lover goodbye, who should spot her but the Dowager Countess’s (Maggie Smith) snobbish and vindictive butler, Spratt (Jeremy Swift), who of course tattles to Violet. Sure, Lord Grantham is nobody’s favorite, and the shabby way he treated Cora upon her return was enough reason for any of us to start rooting for an affair.

Despite finding a wealthy and presumably loving family to adopt her daughter, the pain of separation eventually became too great, and she went back to Europe to retrieve her. Cora had been feeling marginalized by Lord Grantham, maybe a little more marginalized than usual, when she accepted an invitation from Simon Bricker to see an out-of-town art show.

As if Mary wasn’t dithering over her decision to marry Tony enough – plus Anna (congrats on your Golden Globe, Joanne Froggatt!) isn’t helping matters with lines like, “I do feel I’m aiding and abetting sin” – now she must face a supreme slut-shaming from her grandmother: “Don’t let us hide behind the changing of the times, my dear. Despite characters being anachronistically progressive when it suits modern viewing sensibilities (almost everyone took it in surprising stride when scheming butler Thomas was outed as gay), it would be ridiculous to expect contemporary mores about adoption to apply to a woman with Edith’s social constraints. But that dead-to-the-world stare Mary gives after he walks out of the room tells you the romantic Gillingham getaway has has become a get away Gillingham.

This is shocking to most people in 1924!” (Thanks for the exposition for us clueless 21st-century dwellers, Violet.) Now, I get that Violet has to be all conservative because, again, that’s what people of her station were like back then. Mary’s sexy getaway with Tony, meanwhile, felt like it was riding an uncomfortable middle ground between actually daring (it wasn’t; everything was so chaste and polite in that opening post-coital scene) and genuinely romantic, but there seems to be precious little heat in their scenes these days. All that said, Mary’s entire pre-marital subplot has been worth it for the sequence of events in which Spratt (that self-satisfied goon) ratted out Mary to her grandmother. He did convince her to join him for dinner, and while she diplomatically deflected his attempts to bond further, the dinner date made things interesting when Cora returned to Lady Rosamund’s place and found Lord Grantham sitting there in his black tie outfit, waiting for her.

And he made me nasty.” Moseley has been crushing on Miss Baxter this whole season — one must be very in love to wish to darken one’s greying hair with shoe polish — but now their relationship has taken a fantastically interesting turn. Lord G. is trying to press his advantage, but I don’t see Mary (or the audience) tolerating him for much more than another episode or two, barring some game-changing revelation.

Violet knows about all three of these scandals and seems to have gotten over them quite nicely, even going so far as to assure Tom personally last season that he’s a loved member of the Crawley family. This season sees Edith’s solution to the problem of separation, which was to place her daughter with yet another adoptive family, this time the estate’s friendly pig farmer and his wife. Cora apologized for his trouble, but said that since she didn’t know he would be there, she was hardly out of line when she agreed to dinner with their mutual friend. Ten to one she hightails it back to Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden), at least until a character played by Matthew Goode — fresh from lighting a fire under “The Good Wife” — is introduced in the finale, called the “Christmas episode” (which, in the United States, will air in the thick of spring).

Gilbert: It did rather feel like all the sexual chemistry missing from Mary and Lord Gillingham’s Liverpool love nest had been extracted for the purposes of injecting it into the reunion of Violet and her former Russian acquaintance. But however much she loves the girl she cannot raise, it doesn’t change the reality that another family is now raising her as their own, and loving her just the same.

Our attention was soon diverted from their sniping, however, by a bizarre scene in which Miss Bunting somehow got into an argument with one of the visiting Russians. Seems the two of them seriously heated up the Winter Palace back in the day, and they’ve got the fan to prove it. (The Oscar Wilde nod is intentional, I’m guessing.) Meanwhile, fires flicker beneath the limpid blue eyes of Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) as she traipses off to London for a gallery tour with her admirer, Simon Bricker (Richard E. It can’t be just so we could hear Dame Maggie lusciously quip that a woman couldn’t possibly have sexual yearnings “if she was the daughter of an earl.” The pressure on Mary heats up when Lady Rose’s (Lily James) cute little band of the disposed Russian upper class stop by Downton for tea, and oh, look!

After the pig farmer (no dummy) susses out that the child’s biological mother is Edith and not some unnamed unfortunate, he colludes with her to allow the two to spend more time together, suggesting that she “take an interest” in the girl and even making her godmother. Miss Bunting apparently had expressed some sympathy for the cause of the revolutionaries who killed most of the other royalty, and this led her Russian conversation partner to announce he was so insulted that he was leaving.

Lord Grantham had asked the Downton staff to dust off some artifacts that his mother and father had brought back from Russia when they visited the royal family in St. Alone and vulnerable and pleasantly piqued by another man’s attention, Cora summons up memories of her London youth: “My father was Jewish, and the money was new. Mary plasters on her best fake grin and undergoes yet another bout of badgering to announce her engagement – in the form of another snappy quip – courtesy of Violet: “In my day, a lady was incapable of feeling physical attraction. While, to the show’s credit, we are at least allowed to see the mounting frustration of the farmer’s wife as Edith’s interest in her adopted daughter steadily increases, neither the farmer himself nor Edith seems in any way attentive to the damage they are doing.

But please, Downton, stop boring us for the length of a bible and then dropping things like blazing infernos and Violet’s secret past in right at the end so we tune in next week. I’ve had a soft spot for Lady Edith for the past few seasons, ever since it became obvious that the writers were going to foist every ridiculously humiliating travail on her that they could. (Think back to the second season, and that ludicrous episode featuring a mysteriously disfigured man who may or may not have been an inheritance-grabbing cousin.

She can make conditions, so can you.” While Baxter’s evil ex-beau bent her to his will, Moseley encourages her to take control of her life and exercise her own power. McGovern is exceptionally touching here, and when Robert makes insinuating remarks about Bricker’s motives, Cora’s native reticence gives a special sting to her rebuke: “You’re allowed to be cross, but you’re not allowed to be unjust.” It’s an under-remarked aspect of this show that its moral compass is a middle-aged American woman.

Or better yet, don’t.) Nothing would make me happier than for her to wind up with Gregson’s millions, move to London, and find a man every bit as attractive as Laura Carmichael really is when they’re not styling her to look dumpy. Best line: I’ll suppress the urge to nominate Lord G,’s “Surely there are some delights of Liverpool we have yet to share” or that homey coinage of Mrs. She almost disappeared when she was sitting in her chalk-colored nightgown amid the sheets, even with Tony making ghastly “vulgar” jokes about working up an appetite. But when Mary tells her she’s not sure when it will be, Violet tells her, get a move on it, girl! “If I was seduced by a man, I would not let any grass grow under his feet if he offered to do the decent thing,” Violet says.

Isobel lofts her usual straight line: “Servants are human beings, too.” Violet spikes it: “Yes, but preferably only on their days off.” Let’s not kid ourselves, though. Mary said, “Granny has a past,” which was especially satisfying to her because Violet earlier in the episode had lectured Mary at some length about the impropriety of her week with Tony. Mary tried to say she knew someone of Granny’s generation would be shocked, but Violet said it wasn’t just an old-age thing, that what Mary had done would shock almost everyone even in 1924. Come and carry the spotted dick.” (And if the people of England didn’t want us to laugh, they wouldn’t have given it that name.) * Is Bricker really the best name for a would-be cad and seducer? Violet seemed most concerned that this fellow would seduce Mary and then leave her stranded, to which Mary replied that 1) the seduction was mutual, and 2) he had proposed.

It sounds like something that goes wrong in cricket. “Hedgepeth bowled a real bricker that last innings ….” * Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) finally identifies the guy who talked her into stealing her mistress’s jewels: a nasty footman named Coyle. Mary – who is as pleased as punch with this revelation – gives a much better reaction than I ever could come up with: “Granny has a past!” Isobel Crawley (Penelope Wilton) also falls into that “pleased as punch” category, because now she has a vast arsenal of comebacks at the ready when Violet next gives her grief about Lord Merton (Douglas Reith). “Downton” writer Julian Fellowes is quick to slip in a line of dialogue that confirms both Lord Grantham’s and his sister, Lady Rosamund Painswick’s (Samantha Bond), births prior to the Prince Kuragin/Violet encounter, but this surprise reunion completely shatters any sort of moral high ground Violet was trying to hold over her granddaughter. Also trending in a downwards direction is Lord Grantham, who was the most supercilious, vile, and sexist he has ever been in this episode, and boy is that saying something.

Sure, Genna likes how it’s slowly evolving, and I know this is a soap opera that stretches every juicy plot line over several episodes, but would it really take so long for Cora to decide whether to keep a convicted jewel thief as her personal maid? She never wants to see him again, so it’s too bad no one told her about the Downton Rule of Exposition: Once you have named a character, he or she will appear before the season is out. * Hissing Thomas (Rob James-Collier) answers some ad in a London magazine about “Choose Your Own Path.” Which could mean sexual liberation or Dale Carnegie.

As Prince Kuragin and Violet share a moment – a longing glance – while Violet’s car pulls away from Downton, our couple-name generator goes into overdrive: Kuralet? If, gentlemen, you show up in London unexpectedly after clearly stating to your wife that you were staying at your estate in Yorkshire, do not then throw a fit when she comes home late and imply that no one could ever respect her for her brain.

This is the kind of behavior that throws women smack into the arms of slightly oily art historians, who promise to appreciate their views on Piero della Francesca and the magpies of Umbria. Is Tony not clever enough for her?) “He’s a nice man, a very nice man, but not, of course we talked about things, but I think my judgment was rather clouded by…,” Mary says, looking for the words.

Lady Mary and Gillingham: When I heard Gillingham talk of the “rites and routines” that will govern their lives, I knew that relationship was foundering. And I assume his “dad” will make some miraculous “recovery.” Maybe we can even hold out hope for a father-son smackdown in the Christmas episode? * If you didn’t know that Baron Julian Fellowes, the creator of “Downton,” was a Conservative M.P., you might guess it from his characterization of the firebrand Sarah Bunting (Daisy Lewis), who insults her hosts at every turn and then, for good measure, insults their Czarist guests. She’s the most tiresome possible representative of the Socialist left — like the first half hour of “Ninotchka” on endless loop. * Completely random fact: Baron Fellowes once auditioned to replace Hervé Villechaize on “Fantasy Island.” How might history have changed if he’d been Tattoo 2. Elinor Glyn likes to write about in her novels.” Because Glyn was a writer whose romantic-fiction novels were deemed scandalous at the time, that’s quite the helping word choice from Tom.

They have little in common, yet perhaps that’s why they can talk so freely — he saw right through her faux sketching trip. “I’ll back you up if you support me,” Tom says. You can’t dump an adorable baby on a fireman’s wife and then expect to get her back after a few years when everyone’s forgotten you ever had a boyfriend (and a job), or when pre-marital sex becomes the norm (because by the time that happens, Marigold will pushing 50).

True, Simon’s intentions are more than likely of the dishonorable kind, but remember, it’s 1924, and an earl’s bruised ego can only be the fault of his wife’s minx-like behavior, even when it’s not. Hughes and, well, everyone: The housekeeper is protecting Anna, lying to everyone about whether Green caused problems when he visited Downton, then helping Mrs. There was general agreement he was suffering from shellshock, but that was not considered enough of a mitigating circumstance to consider his death a noble sacrifice. Kilkenny: Downton Abbey is beginning to feel like the latter seasons of The O.C., when the teen romance got so contrived the married folk had to make up for it with tales of California yore and affairs galore.

Hughes to ask Carson if Archie could be included on the local memorial, because of the family connection, in hopes that would persuade officials in Archie’s hometown to add him there as well. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) riled up enough to transform herself into Downton’s resident Gloria Steinem: “My advice, Daisy, is to go as far in life as God and luck allow.” Truth be told, Mrs. She went to scary London in Victorian times and all she got was this lousy husband. (Grantham’s worst guff this episode: “Tom, keep her under control.”) On the bright side, Cora’s primer in della Francesca stole some screentime away from the insufferable Mr. I imagine this battle of perspectives will continue. (Not saying Robert was in line—but Simon was clearly flirting with Cora, right?) Cora is having multiple hard conversations in this episode: Baxter asks her if she’s made a decision about her employment.

Because:” Everyone knows you can twist him round your little finger.” Has everyone downstairs seen what Downton’s two solid, longest-serving servants do not?) Cora and Mr. Speaking of the ladies that have begun to swarm the Abbey with their diabolical, educated ways, Sarah Bunting only has one moment of shame this episode.

Given what we know about Bates’ insufferable martyr complex, it’s far more likely he was simply skulking around one city or other premeditating where he might acquire the perfect pair of penny lace-ups. Cora accepts Baxter’s condition, and Baxter tells her. (Warning: Like many secrets on the show, this isn’t as bad as it was built up to be.) A footman, Peter Coyle, who Baxter worked with convinced her to steal the jewels. The DC is a quick thinker and tells Spratt her granddaughter traveled with Gillingham to attend a conference of northern landowners. “Why, what did you imagine you were witnessing?” she asks Pratt incredulously. “Nothing vulgar I hope. Baxter got herself entangled with a handsome, Thomas Barrow-esque footman who persuaded her to commit the robbery, and then after she gave him the stolen jewels, he absconded without taking her along, leaving her to pay for both of their crimes. Green and his awful legacy, it was a shame that after Joanna Froggatt’s truly powerful Golden Globes acceptance speech this past Sunday, Anna wasn’t given anything better to do with her trauma than thumb her nose at Lady Mary’s contraception.

Sunday’s speech had Froggatt emotionally dedicating her award to survivors of sexual assault, a few of whom thanked her in the wake of Anna’s brutal off-screen rape. That anecdote only made me wish that one season later the series would empower Froggatt more, if only to rebuke Mary’s passive-aggressive demand she store a controversial lady-technology in her cottage, which portends more tears for the long-suffering lady’s maid. She thinks Mary is jeopardizing the family name by her carnal cavorting and she is even less pleased to learn that Mary is not planning on marrying Gillingham. The award for underachievement this week goes to Tom, whose slow devolution from scorchingly hot activist driver to milquetoast son-in-law reached its nadir when Fellowes tasked him only with delivering this week’s dispatch from the Changing World—that land developers want to build on some field called Pip’s Corner.

What’s more, he continues to attract the fallouts of ill-timed visits paid by Miss Bunting, whose overbearing personality is bulldozing any chance for him to recalibrate his personality. The best performances this episode were fleeting: Margie’s eyeball-rolling after Edith left the Drewe household in Yew Tree, the collective sigh when the cute Grantham offspring was carted into the sitting room for Downton’s now-routine pause to appreciate the adorable heirs to the estate. She agrees to, even though both go against her natural feelings: She doesn’t like Sarah, and she admits it would break her heart if Tom decided to move to America, which is still a distinct possibility. Mary, too, is concerned. “There can’t be any evidence against Bates,” says Mary. “They would have found it by now.” But there’s a look of deep worry on her face as Anna walks away. During a moonlit stroll around London, Cora tells Simon her American princess tale, in which we finally hear from Cora’s own lips that her father, Isidore Levinson, was Jewish.

Rose, Downton’s dim bulb, organizes a field trip to Downton for a group of Russian refugees who escaped Putin-land before they could be done in by the Bolsheviks. The scene was also a nice little plug (although somewhat tardy) for the Elizabeth McGovern-hosted Smithsonian Channel documentary “Million Dollar American Princesses,” which explored the real-life inspirations for the Cora Crawley character. He steers her about confidently, the big bad wolf of the art world, and whispers sweet whispers. “You have a key instinct for the elements of every picture,” he tells her. “I envy that.” Bricker, you sly dog. The episode ends with Isobel’s quip: “Have you made plans to see your admirer again?” Thomas makes a mysterious call about an advertisement, something about choosing your own path. She’s sure that Bates didn’t know Green was the one who assaulted her, but if the police were to find out what happened, it would give Bates a motive.

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