RECAP: The Wheels of Change Are Turning on DOWNTON ABBEY - Ep. 5
If you were distracted by (American) football, Beyoncé and blackouts last Sunday and didn't have a chance to catch Episode 5 of DOWNTON ABBEY, here's a summary of what you missed!
As the cars pull away from Downton Abbey, leaving Lord Grantham at his front door, the house towers dauntingly above, reminding him that a new life without Sybil begins once he crosses the threshold.
For Robert, this means facing an evolving world, one that he is neither prepared nor willing to accept. His defiance comes to a head at a lunch party at Crawley House. Isobel, in an effort to cheer Cora and her girls, asks Ethel to make the arrangements for a luncheon. With the help of Mrs. Patmore, she finally masters a few impressive dishes. The meal is a success and the women enjoy a brief reprieve from their sorrow. Unfortunately, not everyone is quite as impressed as the ladies. When Carson informs Lord Grantham that Isobel allowed a former prostitute to serve his family, he is appalled. But
when he storms into the dining room, he is met with indifference from the ladies. Though they were unaware of Ethel's tainted past, in a moment of female solidarity, they stand by her and refuse to leave. After all, "it seems a pity to miss such a good pudding." I quite agree, Dowager, I quite agree.
The lunch party is only the tip of the iceberg. Robert has far more serious problems that have been brought about by his tendency to "[make] decisions based on values that have no relevance anymore." Not the least of which is the fact that Cora continues to blame him
for Sybil's death. Despite his most desperate attempts to mollify his wife, she keeps her distance and her cold demeanor.
Sybil's passing has also left Robert further at odds with his widower son-in-law. As Tom plans his and his daughter's future, the two men have difficulty seeing eye to eye. Firstly, he plans to name the baby Sybil in order to preserve her mother's memory. Robert finds this isa morbid choice and fears it will only cause sorrow for the family. An even more heated debate arises over the religion of the child. Tom, an Irishman, is adamant that she be Catholic, while Robert
believes she should be Protestant, as is proper in the Crawley lineage. Happily, Mary holds the key to ending the bitter discussion- Sybil had asked her older sister to lobby for Tom on this particular Issue. Sybil's opinion silences her father and her concern touches her husband.
Matthew also puts pressure on the Earl and attempts to bring up the management of Downton once again. And Robert Is, once again, reluctant to hear any of it. Branson, on the other hand, agrees with Matthew and even offers some suggestions in the running of the property. Could there be a job in Downton in Tom's future? That would be a happy compromise- Tom could earn an honest living while the Crawleys would still be involved in the baby's life. I doubt things will tie up so neatly, but nonetheless, it's sometimes nice to conjecture.
Mary attempts to mitigate her father's frustration. She can see through his outbursts that his anger does not stem from any one person in particular, but is instead rooted in the fact that "the world isn't going [his] way- not anymore." Though she does not concede any points
concerning the christening or the reevaluation of Downton's management, she does offer Robert comfort at a time when he is feeling most vulnerable.
Is seems the tides of change are being felt at all levels of society. Mr. Mason, William's father, senses the days of service and society will soon be at an end and wishes to offer Daisy an alternative path. He therefore proposes that she not only move in with him and learn how to properly manage his farm, but also that she eventually take over his tenancy. This would surely secure a drastically different fate for Daisy, the once oft-overlooked scullery maid, one hopefully filled with prosperity and the independence she so desires.
Though lucky in land, Daisy is still unlucky in love. Cupid continues to aim his bow in all the
wrong directions downstairs. Ivy attracts Alfred's attention by wearing rouge, but is outright rejected by Jimmy. Meanwhile, Daisy and Jimmy find themselves the object of Carson's outrage when he catches them dancing the foxtrot. Alfred escapes his reprimand by mere seconds, as it was he who had asked Daisy to teach him the dance step, though sadly only for the purpose of impressing Ivy. More notably, O'Brien's scheme is slowly coming to light. It appears that she is egging Thomas on in his affections for Jimmy when she knows very well that the footman is uncomfortable with Thomas' overfamiliarity.
One bit of change that all the Crawleys can agree is positive is that Anna and Mr. Murray finally manage Bates' release. But not before overcoming one final tribulation. When the lawyer visits Mrs. Bartlett, she refuses to corroborate the evidence needed to overturn the verdict. Bates, hearing this news, suspects his former roommate and his crooked guard friend are behind her change of tune. He has a plan to set things right, but Anna fears he might jeopardize his
exoneration doing so. And rightly so. With the prospect of freedom at his fingertips, Bates' temper overcomes him. Using a makeshift weapon, he threatens Craig, saying he will tell the Governor that he and Durrant are smuggling drugs into the prison. Fearful that this will prolong his sentence and lose Durrant his job, Craig arranges for Mrs. Bartlett to change her testimony. At long last, Anna receives a letter informing her that her husband's release is imminent. And the Crawleys, yearning for some good news, are all overjoyed to hear that he will be returning to Downton. But what does this mean for Thomas? Between O'Brien's plotting and the former valet's return, are Mr. Barrow's days at the big house numbered?
With the encouraging news of Bates' freedom, Robert goes with Cora to visit his mother. When they arrive, they are met by Dr. Clarkson, who has some information to share. He tells them he had misled them to believe that, had he been allowed to operate on Sybil, he would have been able to save her from the effects of eclampsia, when in fact, "in all likelihood she would have died anyway." The truth of this statement is dubious, as Violet had previously asked the doctor to make this admission in order to reconcile the couple. Dr. Clarkson at that point believed that it would be a lie to do so, but agreed to do some research into the matter. Whether he found information that changed his mind or Violet persuaded him that the truth was less important than Robert and Cora's relationship is unclear. Regardless of the reason, his confession softens Cora to her husband's remorse and the two finally grieve together. Perhaps with the support of his wife again, Robert will be better prepared to face the changes ahead.
What will go down at Downton Abbey next week? Where will Tom go to build a new life and will he bring his daughter with him? Will Daisy agree to take over Mr. Mason's farm? Will she and Jimmy be dancing the Charleston next? Tune in Sunday, February 10 at 9 PM ET/CT on PBS
to find out.