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Worldly Distractions: Downton Abbey 5.8 - Episode Eight





Well, here we are, at the end of Series 5 already. And there's good news - we're already confirmed for Series 6! Now, presumably half the cast will desert and be killed off in the Christmas special, but that's neither here nor there. Everything is set up for a dramatic finale. Will the Downton crew live up to it? Let's find out.

I wonder if they'll continue to show Isis and her bum now that the dog has kicked the bucket? The downstairs staff is busy with preparations for what looks like a wedding. What, is this Rose and Atticus already? How the hell did they put this all together so quickly? Is there going to be an Aldrich baby in six months' time? Rose models her going-away outfit, the Shrimpys may not be coming to the wedding, and the Bateses are coming to London to get arrested again inspect their house . Rose also wants to have a blessing in a synagogue, which causes heart attacks all around.

We hear that O'Brien has a new job - oh my god, can this mean a cameo? - and everyone disapproves of the marriage. Carson dithers about staffing issues. Robert plays with his grandchildren, though he only realizes that two of them are his. Tom mentions that he's been invited to America to join his cousin's business, which drops like a bomb in the conversation. Rose and Mary discuss the Unsuitability of It All with gusto.

Britain's most persistent cop (seriously, Javert looks like a wimp compared to this) is back to interview the Bateses yet a-fucking-gain. Jesus Christ, this is the most boring plotline ever. Tom and Robert argue about estate issues, again. Baxter goes to the Bateses and promises to lie for them. Molesley and Barrow are left in charge of Downton, which I hope is chronicled in the spin-off, Molesley and Barrow's Day Off. 

Also, the war memorial's going to be unveiled in the village. Did they set up this entire plot for the sake of having it right before Remembrance Day? Because that is serious planning, Fellowes. Mrs Patmore bows out due to emotional reasons, and Mrs Hughes more or less makes Carson forgive her at gunpoint. Prince Kuragin visits the DC, and her servant totally believes they're having it off. He proposes to her that they spend their final years together, conveniently getting rid of the Princess while they're at it. I have to wonder how much of this is real passion and how much is gold digging. The DC hems and haws, but it's quite clear she's considering giving Downton its biggest scandal yet. GO FOR IT, DC - we're behind you all the way.

The police has uncovered that Green was a serial rapist, and now Anna is under suspicion (though Bates is not, since the real killer was too short). They set up an appointment at Scotland Yard for the next week, and it looks like Anna is in Deep Shit. That's right, Anna totally did it you guys oh my god oh my god. (To be honest, I kind of saw this coming after the fifth interview or so.)

The pet tombstone guy shows up to arrange the dog's burial, and are you fucking kidding me you guys. Denker and Spratt continue to spar, as they have all season. In fact, she actively appears to sabotaging his work. Carson asks Daisy to invite Mr Mason to the unveiling, since William died in Matthew's service and therefore the Crawleys feel responsible. Edith worries excessively about leaving Marigold at Downton, which makes Robert suspicious. Mrs Hughes introduces the new temp footman, Andy, who looks to be a bit of a lump but has some experience in London. Denker hits on him shamelessly.

Mr and Mrs Shrimpy show up, sour as ever and (it's implied) completely broke, and refuse to share a room. Rose greets her mother and gets nothing in return, except for some thinly veiled anti-Semitism. I have to wonder how such a rotten old cow raised someone so sunny and warm. Everyone gathers, including the DC, who's totally trying to look like she didn't just shag a Russian prince. Mrs Shrimpy bitches about the Jewish thing some more, and everyone kind of rolls their eyes. Atticus and family arrive, to a warm reception from everyone except guess who. I have to say, they're laying her character on a bit thick - she wasn't exactly great in her other appearances, but I find it hard to believe she would be so openly rude.

The rudeness continues over dinner, while everyone cringes and tries to change the subject. Also, Atticus is apparently planning a stag party, which sounds like the apocalypse if it's run by someone brave enough to marry Rose. Lord Sinderby gets on the topic of divorce for some reason, which makes everyone uncomfortable again. Lady Sinderby has a great moment of hoisting Mrs Shrimpy on her own petard. Lord Merton and Isobel have apparently broken up, which upsets the DC, who now has a new outlook on life because of her great new love. They should have found a Russian prince for her years ago!

Tom, Rose, Edith and Mary discuss 1920s upper-class parenting, and Tom's impending departure to America. Because they're about to part ways, Mary suggests that they go to lunch - "even you, Edith". WOW. Upstairs, Cora and Robert worry about all the scandal going on. There's chaos downstairs, which Robert interrupts by asking Mrs Patmore to come to the memorial, inviting her as a special guest. He's totally going to have her late nephew honoured, isn't he?

Anna is brought to Scotland Yard to stand in a police lineup. Jesus Christ, were all the women in the line victims of Green? That is horrendous. I get that they have to catch his killer and all, but they are handling this spectacularly badly. Denker continues to hit on the new footman, much to Mrs Patmore's disapproval. Daisy is cynical about it, of course.

Rose asks her dad for his opinion of Atticus, which turns out to be favourable. We cut to the bachelor party, which is raucous as promised. I hope he doesn't wind up choking on his own vomit in a gutter or something. Aaaand here come the trollops. A Theda Bara lookalike tries to seduce him in the elevator, but Atticus turns her down. She then follows him to his hotel room, then walks out of the room adjusting her dress, pretty obviously trying to trap him somehow. Edith and Tom show up for luncheon at the restaurant, where Tom proves himself to be the only person sympathetic to Edith's loss. Rose is sent some compromising photographs of Atticus and the trollop, which at least diverts the conversation. Rose dissolves into tears. Mrs Shrimpy's behind this, right? As usual, Tom is the only one suggesting a solution - and pins the trap on Lord Sinderby, who is also a very good candidate. Good work, Tom.

Carson and Mrs Hughes discuss the wedding. Carson blusters that he's not prejudiced in the slightest, which does not fool Mrs Hughes. Denker begs for some time off with the hot footman, giving some kind of transparent excuse. So this is the second footman to get fired in the course of a season for rampant fucking, right?

Molesley, Baxter (wait, I thought they were left at Downton?) and Daisy go for a walk in a park, and talk about Daisy's education. Daisy is starting to feel discontent in her position, now that she has seen a bigger world. They also catch Rose and Atticus fighting quite vocally. I'd be concerned if I didn't think the wedding would be back on in about ten minutes.

Atticus blames his dad, which gravely offends Lord Sinderby. However, the Lord admits he's still hung up on the religious differences, even calling Rose a "shiksa". There's an argument about how any kids will be raised. Is Rose going to convert, I wonder? Anyway, Daddy Dearest gives his word that he didn't do it, and the Crawleys arrive for the world's most awkward dinner.

The four young Crawleys discuss who could have possibly committed this indecent act. At the very least, Atticus appears to be back in Rose's good graces. When Rose is whisked away to meet some cousins, Mary complains that all her friends are leaving her - Sybil died, Rose is getting married, and now Tom and Sybbie are taking off. With everyone gone, she's probably going to wind up murdering Edith. Shrimpy mentions that he thinks Britain is losing its grip on India, which upsets everyone, especially Lord Sinderby. Robert attempts to put him in his place. Mary mentions to DC that they suspect Lord Sinderby of trying to prevent the wedding.

Denker is still trying to con Andy into bed, which is getting more and more pathetic. Thomas, of all people, tries to get her to back off, and she accuses him of being gay. Daisy keeps going on expressing her discontent with life. She decides to look around for a job in London, where at least there is more to explore. NO NOT DAISY! YOU CAN'T LEEEEEAVE. Mrs Patmore is just as heartbroken as I am.

Shrimpy is now in on the Lord Sinderby conspiracy. Carson harrumphs around when Denker and Andy miss curfew. Mrs Patmore smooths it over with cocoa. She's clearly still upset over Daisy potentially leaving. Shrimpy has clearly pinned down the correct suspect, accusing his wife of arranging the pictures. A certain cheque proves him right. He tells her to stop her tricks, or he's telling Rose, who will never forgive her. As well, he orders her to keep the divorce under wraps, or Atticus might leave Rose due to fear of scandal. A lightbulb goes off. Oh, shit. 

Robert is going to sell a painting Bricker liked, as it reminds him of the whole sorry episode. Rose tells the DC and Isobel about the Photograph Saga, which leads Isobel and Violet to argue about giving up Merton again. Tom plans to leave Downton after Christmas, after his affairs are wrapped up in Yorkshire. Mary tells him how much she'll miss him. Seriously, Tom is just the best, no matter who he's with. Denker shows up drunk as a skunk. Everyone falls all over each other to cover it up, assigning Baxter to look after the DC. Daisy goes to brew some sobering coffee and finds Mrs Patmore in tears. They share a tender moment. Andy the footman also returns, disgraced. Thomas sends Carson away and interrogates the man about their sordid whereabouts. Some well-placed threats are issued, and Andy is cowed. For now.

Everyone shows up at the fancy hotel for the wedding, a neutral location considering the couple's differences. Lady Flincher puts in a last-moment attempt at wedding derailing by announcing her divorce. Lord Sinderby is prepared to call the wedding off, but his wife graciously thanks Lady F for "warning" them, then threatens to leave her own husband if he does anything to stop the marriage. Rock on, Lady S, you're already in our hearts forever. Lady Flincher and Lord Sinderby are both shut down - for now. Shrimpy tells Rose that she has nothing to worry about, and can forget the Photograph Saga. They agree to drop it. The sparsely-attended wedding - seriously, what's with the rush? - commences, and it's lovely.

Carson barks out orders for what sounds like a chaotic day. Thomas takes on the job of babysitting Andy and Denker, because even Thomas has his moments. Everyone goes to the chapel to get the marriage blessed, though there's apparently no synagogue equivalent. Lord Sinderby has resigned himself to his new daughter-in-law, though he's not really any happier. Tony and Miss Fox show up, just to make things awkward. They're also getting married, which makes Mary squirm. Edith is desperate to get home. Robert clearly knows what's going on but doesn't say a word. Tony and Mary have an honest conversation, which helps dissipate some of the tension and shows that they are Over. Carson looks on. The Sinderbys are now all buddy-buddy with the Crawleys, to Lord Sinderby's dismay. Rose confronts her mother about her outrageous behaviour. Mrs Shrimpy claims she's doing this out of love, to which Rose reacts exactly the way you'd imagine. Some people express their sympathy to the Crawleys about their new "burden", to which Cora sweetly replies that her father was Jewish, which never fails to be a hilarious interaction.

Mary goes off to mope about Tony. Carson arrives to comfort her, and tells her that Tony was never good enough anyway. Rare as their interactions are, it's always gold when these two get together. Denker manages to lure Thomas and Andy to her favourite seedy pub. Thomas immediately starts to gamble, though I'm sure he'll come out on top in the end. Mary and Anna discuss the wedding. They're interrupted when the police arrive - to arrest Anna for murder. Dun dun DUN.

Back at the club, Thomas offers to cover Andy's gambling debt, saying he'll "see to" Mr Shute, the opponent. He promptly sets the bar's management on Denker, who is immediately thrown into a heap of trouble while the men walk away laughing. Mary and Robert try to stop a terrified Anna's arrest, to no avail. Bates is devastated, as is the rest of the household. You guys - they wouldn't hang Anna for getting raped and avenging the attack, would they? WOULD THEY?

We cut to the memorial ceremony, because Julian Fellowes has no heart. Everyone gathers, including Mr Mason and Mrs Patmore, and it's incredibly moving. World War I was really such a bloody awful waste. Just before they leave, Robert asks them to gather to honour "another gallant chap" - Mrs Patmore's nephew, who has his own separate spade in the garden wall. Mrs Patmore is moved to tears, even Carson gives in, and all is well. Robert notices Edith playing with Marigold - and something clicks. Mr Mason, Mrs Patmore and Daisy discuss the memorial, and Mrs Patmore mentions that Daisy may be moving. Seeing how disappointed her father-in-law will be, Daisy decides against leaving. Mary goes to Bates and tells him she won't be convicted, no matter what. Isobel decides to go after Lord Merton again, Violet is still waffling about Prince Kuragin. Tom encourages Edith to get more involved in the publishing business. Mrs Hughes and Mr Carson discuss the new Bates case, and despair of any kind of happy ending. Robert tells Cora that Marigold reminds him of Michael Gregson - "you're not wrong," she says. She begs him to keep silent a little longer, and he agrees, just happy to be in on a household secret for once. I don't know, I don't buy him being this cool with it, but then again, he's had to handle a gay footman, a diplomat dying in his daughter's bed, and his youngest child running off which a chauffeur, so I guess he's desensitized. They return to the Abbey, and Series Five is wrapped up.

First of all, Jesus Christ are you fucking kidding me with the Bates storyline. This is the worst storytelling decision television has made since...I guess killing off the Mother on HIMYM, but anyway, it sucks and I am not pleased. As for the rest, it played very well. I still find Lady F a little beyond believability. OTOH, the rest of the wedding was quite fun. At the very least, it brought a whole lot of drama, which is always a plus. Series Five as a whole felt repetitive and dull, unfortunately, but I'm eager to see what the Christmas special brings us - and whether Tom will indeed go to America.  I guess there's only one way to find out...


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