Review: Downton Abbey ‘Episode Six’

Well, you wait for the pace to pick up, and it almost all comes at once in this week’s Downton Abbey. Even the camera ups the gears in the latest episode as we are witness to a horse race so vividly shot it almost leaps out of the small screen. Alas, there are some heavy emotional rides too, so hold on tight.

Cora is honest with the stubborn Robert, suggesting if he has not been on the receiving end of flirtatious behavior then he can gladly continue to sleep on his own. Robert, having had an extensive flirtation of his own several seasons ago, quickly returns to the master suite. Mary has a new hair cut in an effort to continue toying with Tony Gillingham and later, as part of the game she is playing with Blake, pushes Gillingham and Mabel Lane Fox closer together. In the midst of drama, she is becoming a little slapstick now.

ISIS

In other – sadder – news, Robert’s dog Isis looks rather sedate and, in one of the more touching scenes of the series, is eventually shown some affection by Robert and Cora. Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes go with Mrs. Patmore to visit her cottage, which later inspires Carson (who says he envies what the cook has done) to suggest he and Mrs. Hughes invest in a property – for purely business purposes.

The Countess Dowager, Violet, has a new maid, Denker, who is not a huge fan of Spratt it seems. And the feeling is rather publically reciprocated. When Violet apologies for these petty disagreements to her cousin, Isobel insists there is no need. She is entertained by these outbursts from house staff. Violet later visits the outcast Russian prince who is candid about his feelings he had for Violet in spite of her attempts to keep the past in the past.

The police come to question Miss Baxter, blurting out her crime in front of Mrs. Hughes, to ask about what she knows about Mr. Bates’ involvement with Mr. Green’s death. Looking extremely ill, Thomas finally asks for Miss Baxter’s help. It turns out he has been given a course of medicine to make him like other people – to curb his homosexual urges. Doctor Clarkson gives him some good advice and tells him it is something he is going to have to live with. Miss Baxter tells Thomas there is so much he can achieve, and that she thinks he has been brave.

Looking for something requested by Anna in their cottage, Mr. Bates finds the book and contraceptive belonging to Mary. He sulks a little bit and understandably gets the wrong end of the stick. He and Anna have an emotional exchange, confirming that their own fears or assumptions about the other (he is a murderer, she does not want children) were incorrect. And it’s about time. They seem to be passing each other by like ships in the night of late. It turns out Bates wanted to kill Green but changed his mind, not wanting to hang and leave Anna with that to deal with. The unused return ticket was burnt by Mary a while back (remember?), which turns out to be evidence that could prove that Bates is innocent. For now, Anna is relieved he did not go through with it.

I won’t be saying poor Edith this time around (though Cora does at one point), but good God give her some joy. She receives a telegram – and it is bad news. Gregson is confirmed as dead, and she in turn inherits his publishing company. “Every cloud has a silver lining” would not be appropriate here. This is the confirmation Edith, and everyone else, feared. And on top of everything else, the last sort of news she needed in her current melancholic state.

Edith

Following Miss Baxter and Thomas’ bonding and the Bates’ reconciliation, this rather emotional episode makes a teary mark when Edith claims back her daughter Marigold. The farmers, the Drewes, face up to the truth and have to accept and watch their adopted little girl leave in the arms of her real mother. It’s a scene that ties your heart in knots, so have some tissues close by. Having only told Tom thus far, Edith is planning on leaving Downton, but we see her smiling for the first time in I don’t know how long. In the meantime, or at least until next week, it is an unknown future – for them, and us.

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