Plodding along at a steady pace, Downton Abbey ambles into the fifth season’s third episode with some anticipation of drama and conflict. Perhaps not the high drama of Games of Thrones or the conflict of Breaking Bad, but it would be preposterous to expect such things. I’m starting to sound like the Earl of Grantham. And perhaps I’m the only one whose expectations aren’t being met, though I am a relatively patient and tolerant viewer.
We open with Mary and Gillingham in bed at the end of their clandestine week together. They are covering their backs to the extent that they actually have ordered separate breakfasts (they have booked adjoining rooms). Mary doesn’t seem super keen on the relationship any more, or is she being her normal flippant self? Are we touching on the end of the affair?
Butler Spratt has plans away from opening doors for Violet, the Dowager Countess, and her guests, and he spots Mary leaving the hotel with Gillingham. When Violet pries the information from Spratt, she immediately covers for the couple, saying they were at a conference. Well played, Countess. Well played.
Violet later confronts a naïve Mary and wisely informs her, “Don’t let us hide behind the changing times my dear, this is shocking to most people in 1924.”
Mrs. Patmore receives some mail that causes grief – a letter from her sister regarding her nephew that was “shot for cowardice.” The cook asks Mrs. Hughes if she could speak to Carson about having his name on the war memorial there. Mrs. Hughes obliges, and of course Carson sits on his high and moral horse with the matter, turning down her request.
Mr. Carson speaks to the Sergeant about Alex Green’s complaint at Downton Abbey (Green served as valet to Lord Gillingham). Mrs. Hughes discusses the police inquiry with a worried Anna. The Sergeant later returns with news that Green mentioned Bates’ name as he aired his apparent poor treatment when at Downton. Bates is interviewed, and it seems pretty straightforward. It would have been a different, faster outcome had Columbo closed this out.
Miss Baxter agrees with Cora that she tell her whole story so that a decision can be finally made about her employment. Mr. Bricker and Cora look at paintings in London and get to know each other a little. In fact we learn more about Cora’s past while she and Bricker stroll through the London streets than we have for many an episode. Bricker is clearly still flirting and implores her to join him for dinner. With little resistance, Cora agrees. Later, she is surprised by her husband, who is hardly subtle about finding out she had dinner with another man.
Meanwhile, Edith continues to (unintentionally) brush the farmer’s wife the wrong way, and he later asks that she stay away for the time being. You can clearly see the wife’s side, but he can’t help but feel for Edith. And just when you wonder what Rose inviting some Russians to the house has to do with anything, it seems a stranger from Isobel’s romantic past is amongst them. That final revelation caused quite a stir in my household… or at least my wife jumped up and down.
Congratulations to Joanne Froggatt (Anna) on the Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actress Television last weekend. Somewhat a (pleasant) surprise win, but also evidence that the Downton Abbey cogs are still turning. Here’s hoping the drama continues to unfold next week.