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Worldly Distractions: Downton Abbey 5.5 - Episode Five





Back from the Great White North(ern BC) and only a day late with the Downton Recap. Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Our intrepid family faces yet another week of garden parties, slightly tedious love affairs, and a crushing class system which fosters deep-rooted oppression. All in a day's work.

Rosamund comes up from London, where she is served by the heroic First Footman. Rose mentions that a new nudist colony is opening in Essex, and Granny wonders that it might not be terribly damp. Robert is giving a party for some officers at  the weekend, which should cause a scandal or two, and Rosamund is desperate to get Edith aside to tell her to stop loving her child. Violet presses Isobel for news of the engagement, about which Isobel is tight-lipped, which of course drives the old lady even battier.

Mrs Patmore comes to Hughes and Carson with some good news - a childless old aunt has left her a significant inheritance. Carson is chuffed that she's seeking his advice on how to spend the money, though Mrs Hughes delicately suggests she ask Branson instead. This drives Carson up the wall, but he carries on bravely.

Apparently, Rosamund had no idea that Edith had brought the kid home from Switzerland, and is mostly upset that she screwed over the Swiss couple who were supposed to adopt the baby. Surprisingly, though, Rosamund wants to meet the baby. Edith tearfully tells her all about the drama with the Drews. Rosamund acknowledges that they've certainly got a situation, but that it was really Edith's fault for bringing her back to begin with. They decide to just drop in, because that won't upset anyone at all.

Tom joins Robert in the parlour, where they discuss the expulsion of Miss Bunting, Tom's status as a fish out of water, and Tom's vision for the future of England. Rightly, Robert points out that he has grown from his experience, learning about the other side and gaining experience in minor diplomacy. A not insignificant accomplishment for a lowly Irish chauffeur, right? Tom doesn't look quite so convinced. Mary arrives, looking fantastic in deep red, and should I point out that all the men are wearing black tie. Times have changed, indeed.

We get more tedious Anna-and-the-police talk, which is highly unconvincing and irritating. Violet goes to Dr. Clarkson, trying to save the family from the terrifying prospect of Isobel moving outside her class. The good doctor gets right down to the point, suggesting that Violet resents Isobel for her pernicious upward mobility. Violet babbles about "industry and moral worth", though she has a point that Isobel will find the upper-class life excruciatingly dull. She asks the doctor to intervene. So just like that, Isobel is wrapped and packaged for a good future as a doctor's wife yet again. Ladies and gentlemen, the Dowager Countess, Master Manipulator of the British Empire.

Rosamund and Edith go to visit The Bastard, which pisses off Mrs. Drew to no end. Rosamund gets a brief glimpse at her great-niece, which immediately terrifies the child into sobs. It's quite clear they're not wanted, and they head out posthaste. Once they're gone, the Drews argue raucously over whether Edith is going to take the baby away. Clearly, things are coming to a head.

Carson complains about the "modern world", as he is considering what to tell Mrs Patmore, but is interrupted when Scotland Yard shows up, looking for both Anna and Mary. Mary looks excruciatingly modern in a royal blue frock. It's also mentioned that she's heading down to London tomorrow, presumably to try to shove Lord Gillingham out of bed and replace him with Blake.

Tom goes to break up with Sarah, telling her that he can't despise his in-laws. She can't believe he won't hate the family his daughter comes from, for some reason. No, really, she said that. She even tells him outright that she's a black-and-white thinker. Good God, could she be more of a caricature if she tried? Anyway, she's been given the boot and I'm fucking thrilled. Dodged a bullet there, Branson.

Scotland Yard arrives, where Mary lies her ass off and Robert looks confused. SY doesn't appear to believe a word. I really don't get how this surfaced after a year with 1924 forensics being what they were. Isobel is summoned to the DC's for the arrangement of her marriage. Violet bitches about how servants think they're people for a while, and then maneuvers a meeting between Clarkson, Merton, herself, and Isobel, which is totally going to end well. Meanwhile, Shrimpy has possibly tracked down the missing Princess, who appears to be working as a nurse in Soviet Russia. However, it's clear that the DC hasn't given up on furious old people sex with the Prince, and Isobel makes a veiled reference to such.

Mrs Hughes and Anna are interviewed next, where it's clear that SY is still fishing around for anything suspicious. Scary Rapist Music plays yet again, just so we know that Anna's in danger. Can someone check if Joanne Froggatt is scheduled to leave the show soon, please? Meanwhile, Robert has an equally troublesome problem, involving the sale of Downton's land to that developer. It's fascinating stuff, I tell you.

Happily, Rose gets into another tangle in the very next scene, meeting a handsome young fellow who seems rather well-bred, and loves cake, too! They go for tea and talk about Russia. The guy's name is Atticus Aldrich, which may be the most pompous name I've heard on this show yet. Expect a scandalous love affair in about thirty seconds flat.

Carson has come up with a suggestion - Mrs Patmore should invest in the building trade. Oh, hell NO you didn't. I can just see Mrs P being fleeced by her supposedly trustworthy boss. However, Mrs Patmore has more street cred than Mr Carson gives her credit for, and refuses to invest sight unseen. Upset at all this uppittiness, Carson turns his rage on Miss Bunting, who is offending the house with her presence once again. Apparently, the schoolteacher is leaving the town because she's butthurt about Tom, though she urges Daisy to continue her education if she possibly can. Mrs Hughes walks in and is completely confused by the chaos at hand.

Thomas has heard about the visits from Scotland Yard and is sniffing around for information. Mrs Hughes sarcastically tells him to ask the cops, even though it is a very bad idea to give Thomas any suggestions whatsoever. Also, Thomas looks completely strung out, which is probably due to his drug addiction/gay conversion treatment/syphilis remedy/whatever the fuck this is. Sometimes this show can be a little too oblique, you know?

Cora gets a call from her art critic/potential boytoy Simon Bricker, who wants to come up to Downton on the precise night that Robert's away. Wary of Edith and Tom's ability to protect Cora's virtue, Robert gets super pissed off, to which Cora retorts that she can invite whomever she damn well pleases. He's wrong, she's wrong, and can we just ditch the dweeb already and move on to something marginally more interesting.

Daisy corners Tom and begs him to make up with Miss Bunting in order to keep the teacher in town, reminding him of his fish-out-of-water status to boot. Tom tells her he can't do that. Carson walks in and upbraids Daisy for being upstairs, but Tom covers for her ably. At dinner, Rose casually brings up her new boyfriend, whose dad is a lord, and it is implied that his family is New Money, which is of course as offensive as farting in an elevator. Everyone comments that Thomas looks ill, and blame Carson for overworking him. The gossip turns to the upcoming cocktail party for the lieutenants, the very concept of which excites the younger generation and horrifies the elder, with the exception of Isobel, who wants to prevent tradition from controlling us. Practically a basket case, Edith seems terribly upset and leaves the table, pleading a headache. Rosamund and the DC exchange a look while everyone else speculates as to the cause of her troubles.

Mrs Patmore doesn't quite trust Carson's financial sense, and asks the always-awesome, pseudo-feminist Mrs Hughes for  . Heading upstairs, Mary and Tom talk about their life choices while Sybil's Theme plays. Mary urges her brother-in-law to choose what's right for him, and not the Crawleys.

Granny, in control as always, has summoned Rosamund to spill the beans about Edith. After some coaxing, the truth comes out. Meanwhile, Edith heads down to the Drew house yet again, which pisses off both parents. Mr Drew asks her to leave them alone, or else they'll move away. He counters that they could leave her at the Abbey, which also leaves Edith flummoxed. Edith is shattered and runs away, for the umpteenth time this season. Can we have some actual plot here, please, instead of this endless back-and-forth?

Dr Clarkson and Lord Merton find themselves surprisingly kindred spirits, as Merton has an interest in medicine. It also turns out that Merton disdains all the pointless traditions of the English upper class. The DC and Clarkson conclude that all hope is lost. Anna tells Bates about her interrogation, and he promises to protect her forever, but she tells him that their future is unlikely to happen now, though the passel of kids he imagines does sound tempting.

Tom says goodbye to Sarah, who is a bit more conciliatory and admits that she loves him. Of course, it's his fault for not turning his back on his dead wife's family. He gives her the "let's just be friends speech", she wishes he'd never met the Crawleys, and then she is whisked away to the train station and off the show for at least a while, thank God.

Robert, resplendent in full uniform with Isis at his side, leaves just as Bricker is arriving to seduce the Countess. Cora urges her dweeby boyfriend to behave, and they go off to look at some paintings. Atticus comes to the Russian refugee centre to meet up with Rose, who introduces him to the increasingly despondent Russian refugees. The Princess is still missing and they've given up ever being reunited. Rose tells them of Atticus's Russian blood in an attempt to encourage them to make a new life in their new land. However, the timeline clues the Russians in to Atticus's heritage, which is distinctly Jewish and therefore completely unacceptable. The Russians stomp off, Atticus is humiliated, and Rose is still totally into him. I legitimately cannot wait to see how the Crawleys react to this one.

Mary goes to dinner with Blake, who has brought his girlfriend, Miss Laine Fox (I thought her name was Mabel last season?) along without telling her. He's totally going to propose a menage a trois, isn't he?

Baxter interrogates Thomas about his weird habits. However, she has bigger problems on her plate, as Molesley asks to hear about her sordid past. Will honesty tear them apart? Miss Whatsername Fox proves to be pissed at both Mary and Handsome Tony for their betrayal, which is unfortunate, as Blake was intending to Parent Trap them back together so that they would forget about him and Mary, allowing them to run off into the sunset together. It's a ridiculous plan and it's totally going to work, isn't it?

The Crawleys gather in the parlour, where Violet immediately steers Edith and Rosamund to the library. Isobel is disappointed to hear that both Tom and Sarah and Rose and Atticus are toast. Rose tells Atticus's back story, unwittingly to exactly the people in the house who should hear it. Meanwhile, Rosamund and Violet are convinced that the Drew situation is about to explode, and suggest packing the toddler off to the Continent for boarding school. Edith can visit, but must keep her identity a secret. Edith, torn between scandal and her own happiness, is utterly devastated by the plan. Cora walks in, and judging from the vapid look on her face, has heard absolutely nothing incriminating.

Baxter spills all to Molesley, who immediately forgives her, but . Mrs Patmore speaks to Carson about her investment. She's decided to investigate in a building - a little cottage that she will rent out, then retire to. She's grateful to Carson for his input, but boldly going her own way. They puff up Carson's ego just enough to get away with it. The matter is settled, with very little consternation on either end.

Bricker, the old dog, sneaks out of his bedroom in the night and surprises Cora in her nightgown. Meanwhile, Robert has arrived late and is barrelling down the fateful hallway. The cad tries his best to get Cora into the sack, but she's not having it. Robert gets closer and closer, and finally he sees something he should never have seen. To his credit, Bricker insists that he's "not here at Lady Grantham's invitation," to which Robert retorts that he should "please leave at mine". BOOM, drop the mic. However, Bricker throws one last blow at Robert's spousal skills, and FISTICUFFS result. That's right, FISTICUFFS. And we're talking a knock-down, drag-out old man fight here. Edith is even woken up by the noise. Cora convinces her through a crack in the door that all is well, while the two men tussle on the floor. Bricker is tossed out, and Cora and Robert are left to deal with the fallout. Robert, by his own choice, goes to sleep in the other room.

Mrs Patmore is horrified to learn that the upcoming party does not include dinner. Thomas interrogates the Bateses about the police presence in the house while Bates glowers. Meanwhile, the house is in a flurry of activity once more. Does this house throw a party every week? Bricker leaves, bruised up and getting serious shade from Carson. The Granthams put on a show at the cocktail party, but are not feeling it. Meanwhile, Edith and Violet discuss the situation out in the open, which seems strangely imprudent, and Isobel arrives on Merton's arm.

Daisy keeps at her studies, which is admirable without a teacher. Edith arrives downstairs to make a very private phone call to London on Carson's line. God only knows what plan she's cooked up this time.

Next: Horse racing (with Mary involved?!), Spratt crosses the line, Anna accuses Bates of murder, Edith fesses up to Tom, and Thomas asks for help from Baxter. Looks like next week's a real humdinger.

Okay, first of all - ditch the police crap, please, it's boring and repetitive. However, it's good to see that we might finally get some progress in the neverending Saga of Edith, and a real shakeup if Isobel remarries. I'm also interested to see what happens when Atticus shows up at Downton. (Mary's love affairs are, as usual, deadly dull in comparison to everyone else.) I do believe that some of the drama might be shifting downstairs, concerning Daisy, the Bateses, Thomas and Baxter. Plus, you know, maybe more FISTICUFFS. There's only one way to find out, I guess. Tune in next week!


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