Downton Abbey Recap: Season 5, Episode 3

By Julia Ricci

The drama in this week’s episode revolved around the ladies of the house. Here’s what went down:

Wedding bells? Not quite.
The episode begins with Mary and Tony Gillingham wrapping up their sex-cation in Liverpool. The whole point of this escapade is for the two to get to know each other so Mary can be sure Tony is the one, but Mary still seems uncertain if she’s made the right choice. Tony seems keen on marriage and even says he wouldn’t mind if they’re caught. Be careful what you wish for, Tony. Just as they are leaving the hotel, the Dowager Countess’ butler, Spratt, spots them.

Back at the Dowager’s, Spratt, who was in Liverpool for his niece’s wedding, tells Violet he saw Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham leaving the hotel together *wink wink.* Like the boss lady she is, Violet quickly makes up an excuse that Mary and Tony were in town for a landowners conference and that she knew they were there. Violet hopes that he was not imagining anything beneath the dignity of a butler of her house, and Spratt is thoroughly embarrassed. As he leaves, Violet breathes an exasperated sigh of relief.

    Violet subsequently summons Mary to her home for a smackdown. Mary says the news must be shocking to someone of Violet’s generation, but Violet says that although times may be changing, “this is still shocking to most people in 1924.” Mary assures her that Tony already proposed and wants to set a date, and Violet is relieved. When Mary tells her she’s not sure when the wedding will be, Violet is like, What the heck are you waiting for? “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.” Mary says she wasn’t seduced, but Violet isn’t having it. “A young woman of good family who finds herself in the bed of a man who is not her husband has invariably been seduced.” Mary asks, what if she was acting on her own free will? And in all her honor, glory, and sass Violet retorts, “Not if she’s the daughter of an earl.” *Mic drop*

Later, Mary and Tom have a siblings-in-law heart-to-heart in which Mary expresses her uncertainties about Tony. She says that she’s unsettled. He’s a nice guy, but she’s just not feeling it, and her judgment was probably clouded by the, well, you know. Although she doesn’t admit it outright, she’s seemed to have realized Charles Blake was right about Tony not being on the same intellectual level.

Cora’s night on the town 
Cora visits art historian Simon Bricker in London so they can look at Piero della Francesca works in the National Gallery. Bricker, who is obviously flirting, compliments her instinct for art and convinces her to join him for dinner so they can continue their discussions. Cora appears to enjoy the attention, especially since she’s been struggling to find her purpose since the war ended. On the walk home, she shares her background: she’s from Cincinnati and her father was Jewish–and reveals her fears about feeling out of place in English society. She apologizes for rambling, but Bricker says it’s no big deal; she’s talking freely because he’s interested in what she has to say (something Robert hasn’t been as of late). As they reach Rosamund’s home, where Cora is staying, Bricker looks like he’s about to kiss Cora but instead asks if she’ll go out with him again. Cora may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer in certain situations, but she’s not naive to Bricker’s advances, so she turns him down in the classiest way possible: “I doubt it, but I hear the offer as a compliment.”

When Cora goes inside, she finds Robert waiting for her, all dressed up. Although he turned down her invitation for dinner before she left for London, he decided to surprise her by taking her out anyway, but is ticked that she went with Bricker. Cora assures Robert that the dinner was pure business, but he doesn’t believe her. Upset at what he’s insinuating, Cora asks why her story is so hard to believe. Robert retorts by saying that he doesn’t believe an art expert would find her observations on Piero della Francesca “impossible to resist.” Ouch. Someone’s sleeping on the couch tonight.

Granny has a past
“Rose’s Russians” visit Downton for their field trip to see some artifacts the Dowager brought back from a trip to Russia with her husband for a royal wedding years ago. While mingling with the special guests, Miss Bunting continues her streak of insulting people she’s just met and offends one of the refugees by criticizing the country’s recently-exiled leadership. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that she’s not afraid to express her opinions, but her filter needs calibrating.

All is well when Rose and Cora show the refugees the mementos. The Dowager arrives, and tells the story behind the fan. It was given to her by one of the wedding guests, who just so happens to be one of the refugees! His name is Prince Kuragin, and Violet is clearly shocked to see him. It appears the two may have had a fling during her stay in St. Petersburg. Oooooohh!

Mary is clearly amused by this interesting development: “My! Granny has a past!” As the refugees leave, she jokes to her grandmother that she must understand her predicament better than she has let on. Isobel, who’s been dealing with Violet’s teasing about Lord Merton, is just as entertained as Mary and slyly asks Violet if they’ll be seeing more of the prince in the future. The Dowager Countess is speechless, and hell freezes over.

Other Highlights
“Hide this for me”: Mary gives Anna the sex book and used contraceptive (ew?!) for her to hide at the Bates cottage. Where Anna’s husband, who has expressed his desire to have children, also lives. What could possibly go wrong?

Three’s Company: In this week’s episode of Three’s Company, Mrs. Drewe has finally had it with Edith. She panics when she arrives home and Edith and little Marigold are not in the house, fearing Edith has run off with the child. She finds them all in the yard with Mr. Drewe, and practically snatches the girl from Edith’s arms. Later, Mr. Drewe visits Downton to tell Edith to stay away for a while, which greatly upsets her and she runs upstairs sobbing. I guess this means we’ll be seeing even more moping from Edith in the next episode or two. Womp womp.

Baxter: Baxter finally tells Lady Cora the other part to her theft story: She became infatuated with a former servant at her former employer, who was an awful man that “turned her nasty” and told her to steal the jewels for him. He disappeared without a trace along with the stolen jewels, so Baxter ended up taking the entire blame for the theft while the man got off clean. Cora decides to let Baxter stay, putting a rather anticlimactic storyline to rest. But the real question is, will Baxter tell Molesley what she told Cora?

CSI: Downton: Sergeant Willis continues the investigation of Mr. Green’s death, telling Carson a witness claims she heard Green say, “Why have you come?” to someone before his “accident.” Later, it’s learned that Green complained about being mistreated while he was at Downton, which leads the sergeant to question Bates. Mrs. Hughes, who probably should just be the detective herself, tells Mary that Bates’s testimony explaining his whereabouts the day of the incident wasn’t very convincing. Meanwhile, Anna is freaking out because she’s afraid the investigators will find out that Mr. Green raped her, which would provide a motive for Bates to kill him and lead to his arrest, or worse. Basically, it’s a mess.

Memorial update: Mrs. Patmore gets sad news that her late nephew will not be recognized in his hometown’s war memorial because he was shot for cowardice. She asks Mrs. Hughes if Carson might ask the Downton memorial committee to include his name instead, but Carson thinks it’s inappropriate. Although he says he is sympathetic to the predicament, Patmore is still heartbroken.

Self-Help: Thomas makes a sketchy phone call in response to a newspaper ad titled “Choose Your Own Path” then takes time off with the excuse of visiting his dying father. If you remember from the previous episode, Thomas confided in Anna that he feels alone most of the time and that he wishes he could be more liked by everyone. So, it appears Thomas wants to change himself, but this “Choose Your Own Path” stuff sounds suspicious.

Stray observations
It was really sweet of Tony to thank Isobel for her kindness toward him, considering he’s practically taking the place of her late son. Or so he thinks.

Mama Hughes slays once again when she tells Daisy to ignore the haters (AKA Carson) and “go as far in life as God and luck allow.”

Is Pip’s Corner in the Hundred Acre Wood?

Mrs. Patmore reveals herself to be a Carson-Hughes ‘shipper’ when she tells Mrs. Hughes that, “Everyone knows you can twist him around your little finger,” trying convince her to talk to Carson about her nephew. Adorable.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve just about had it with this whole, “Is Bates a murderer?” plot. We already had to sit through a season and a half of this nonsense, and I’m not too thrilled about having to do it again. Will Julian Fellowes throw in a shocking twist, or will Bates go to jail a second time?

Best lines 
“Sympathy butters no parsnips” -Patmore

Isobel: “Servants are human beings too.”
Violet: “Yes, but preferably only on their days off.”