Downton Abbey, Season 5, Episode 1

Oh, why not?  Why not blog about Downton?  I’m not sure if I will blog about every episode of season 5, but…then again, maybe I will.  I love the show.  I love talking about the show.  So, I’ll just capture some of my thoughts here.  For posterity.  Yes, that’s it.  For posterity.

My disappointment in season 4 was nothing I kept a secret.  When a show only has 8 episodes and you wait ten months for it to be broadcast, you build up a tremendous amount of anticipation.  And so, I felt let down by the plot lines during season 4.  I also hated Anna’s attack and the aftermath because I did not feel it was in keeping with the way Anna and Bates would have dealt with such a tragedy.  But, I digress…

I found myself last Sunday with great anticipation for season 5, but bracing myself for possible disappointment.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Not at all.

The season premier was a fantastic blend of drama, humor and wonderful lines.

The episode opens with Lady Edith on a bicycle, early in the morning, on her way to the Drewe home to visit her secret daughter.  At first, Edith is watching the little girl interact with Mrs. Drewe from a distance and the next moment she’s sitting at their breakfast table with the little girl on her lap.  I found myself thinking, “On what pretense is Lady Edith in this home?”  I was a bit mystified by the whole thing because Mrs. Drewe was explaining how they happened to have Marigold living with them.  Mrs. Drewe incorrectly perceives Edith’s visit as an interest in Mr. Drewe… not Marigold.  I don’t see this plot line getting any prettier.  I see it solidifying Edith as the black sheep of the family.  And Marigold… that’s a name I hadn’t considered.

It’s 1924 and a working class Prime Minister has been elected and Lord Grantham finds this disconcerting.  He also isn’t pleased that his granddaughter, Sybbie, calls him Donk, but I like it.  I hope it sticks.

It appears as though Rose is a permanent fixture in the household and I’m not thrilled about this because I don’t trust Rose.  She’s a plotter.  I was hoping that she would only stay until she had been ‘presented’ and had her first season, but unfortunately no.  There was a little scene where Rose goes and visits Tom at his office.  It was almost as if she was flirting with him.  Almost.  And I didn’t like it.  And, let me say again, I don’t trust Rose.

Rose was behind the plan to invite schoolteacher Sarah Bunting to the house for dinner.  Funny, Miss Bunting states up front she initially declined the dinner invite because she didn’t want to be part of a prank, but she was so outspoken and rude while at the house.  I almost typed that she was rude during dinner, but it didn’t stop there.  Her insistence about going downstairs after dinner to meet / thank the staff… and then when she was down there, she continued creating controversy, “Why are you fixing those trays?  Why not a tray for Lady Edith or Lady Rose?”  Gheesh.  She’s sure got a lot of curiosity about a lifestyle she so disdains.  I don’t like this character at all.  And I especially don’t like her for Tom.  After all he went thru with Braithwaite, my goodness, I would rather see him single than with someone so controversial.

Tom has become one of my favorite characters and I admire him.  There were so many moments in this episode where I thought Tom really shone.  I appreciated Tom’s humility and candor in the fireside conversation he had with Robert.   I agree with Robert’s concern about not wanting to see Miss Bunting “take you back into the role of rebel and hater”.  And, note how many times Robert called out for Tom to do this or do that during the fire.  Tom is a valuable member of the family and I hope good things are in store for him this season.

Lady Mary seems to have really taken to the business side of things, researching things on her own and taking initiative in running things.  But being the conservative that I am, I was disappointed to hear the character of Mary being a mouthpiece for such a prevalent lie: that one must investigate if the bedroom chemistry is really all that you want it to be before you commit to someone.  Chemistry and passion follow commitment, not lead it.  And for all the painstaking work to make sure Downton stays true to the culture of it’s day, Mary’s sexual emancipation seems out of place.  And what was the first thing out of Mary’s mouth after she accepted Lord Gillingham’s offer to go away, “No one must ever find out.”  Ha!  That’ll never happen.  But how messy will it get?  That’s what we must wait and see.

I always enjoy Mrs. Patmore and Daisy.  I appreciated Mrs. Patmore validating me in such a personal way, “All of the best people were rubbish at numbers in school.”  Well, thank you Mrs. Patmore.  You know me so well.  Let’s see what will become of Daisy’s mathematical pursuits.  I think Daisy’s quest to improve herself and prepare for the future is an admirable one.

The Dowager Countess had some of the best lines (as always), but I have one tip for you Violet, jealousy doesn’t look good on you.  I was not pleased to see Violet resort to such childish games in an attempt to throw Lord Merton off the trail of Isabelle.  But Isabelle is a class act.  Nothing that Violet can do can ever change that.

Oddly enough, some of the biggest laughs I enjoyed last Sunday were related to Moseley.  Funny, Moseley’s never been one of my favorites and for most of season 4, I felt his relevancy had run it’s course.  But man-oh-man, this little bit with the hair dye produced two of the best lines:  Lord Grantham to Moseley, “You’re looking very Latin all of a sudden” and Carson to Moseley after the dinner, “Take steps, Mr. Moseley, take steps.”  That cracked me up big time!

I was surprised of Baxter’s secret.  It was a biggun’ and I guess I didn’t expect it to be that juicy.  But, Cora’s right.  There’s more to it.  Baxter’s words were, “I tried to make it look like a burglary” and “I didn’t have the jewels to return” – I wonder if someone put her up to it and she took the fall.

Scenes where Cora comes off intelligent, confident and on-point are rare, but when she confronted Barrow (regarding Baxter) I was so proud of her.  It paralleled the scene last season where she fired Nanny West on the spot!  And then she went on and forgave Barrow hours later simply because he carried Edith out of her fiery bedroom… c’mon… one doesn’t cancel out the other.  My Mother said it best, “Thomas is a cat with nine lives.”

Jimmy… will he really leave?  I’m kinda tired of him.  And he smokes and gossips with Thomas.  Reminds me of O’Brien.  I hope pretty boy Jimmy moves on.

And lastly, (I’ll finish where I started), Edith.  She didn’t intentionally set her room on fire, did she?  She threw the book into the fireplace and went to sleep…right?  But Lady Mary’s comment was, “Lady Edith chose to set fire to her bedroom.”  I’ve grown accustomed to the snarky jabs from Mary toward Edith, although I don’t approve.  I conjecture that while the staff are working to clean Edith’s room, they will find the photograph of the baby under her pillow.  Again, I believe this is all going to unravel, I just don’t know how messy it’s going to get.

So much to look forward to lords and ladies.