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Downton Abbey Series 5 Episode 3 Recap: Mary And Tony Do More Than Kissing, Baxter’s Secret Is Out & Violet Has Some Explaining To Do

We are now into the thick of things for the 5th season of  Downton Abbey. Onto episode 3 recap. As usual, this recap contains spoilers, read at your own risk if you have not seen the episode.

Upstairs

Mary and Tony have done it. The episode opens in post coital bliss. There is an old saying: “why buy the cow when you could get the milk for free?”. It seems like Mary is not sure 100% if she likes Tony’s milk.

We are back to poor Edith, a theme for the character which has not let up since the first episode of the first series.  Mrs. Drewe has in effect, banned Edith from seeing Marigold.  Mr. Drewe tries to soften the blow by telling Edith that it will only be for a short time.  I have to admit that it kind of broke my heart a little to see Edith trying to hide her emotions when niece and nephew are loved and part of the family while her own daughter is being raised by someone else only a few miles away.

Violet has a past. She is not the upright and proper society matron she would like the world to believe. In the 1870’s Violet and her husband traveled to Russia, where, despite the fact that she was a married woman and a mother of two, she had a flirtation with Prince Kuragin (Rade Serbedzija). Isobel enjoys the fact that Violet is not so high and mighty as she appears, especially when she condemns Mary for going away with Tony. Violet, those who flirt with men as a young woman should not throw stones at a grandchild two generations later who does the same thing.

Rose invites Russian emigres to visit the house and see the collection of the souvenirs that Violet and her husband collected during her trip. Among the visitors is the aforementioned prince. As usual, Miss Bunting is invited by Rose (naturally) and standing next to Tom (again, naturally) and insults the guests (naturally). Do I see a pattern here?

And finally, upstairs, while Robert is so daft that he is unaware that Mr. Bricker and Cora are enjoying their time in London. It’s cute, Mr. Bricker’s crush on Cora. Then he is reminded that Cora is not only a married woman, but also a mother and a grandmother. Robert surprises Cora and Rosamund’s London home to take her out to dinner. He practically accuses Cora of cheating. If he hadn’t been so daft, maybe he would have joined them. But Robert, for all of his title, wealth and status, is not always the brightest bulb in the box.

Downstairs

We finally learn Baxter’s secret. She stole for a man named Coyle who disappeared and left Baxter to be arrested and thrown in jail. The law of the Downton Abbey universe is that when one speak of the negative aspects of their past, someone or something that personifies that negative aspect will appear somehow. Molesley is trying to understand her motives. He didn’t get lucky with Anna, maybe he will with Baxter.

Mary gave Anna the diaphragm to hide. That’s really smart. Giving the diaphragm to the rape victim who has police sniffing around her because her rapist died under suspicious circumstances.

Daisy continues with her education. I think Daisy is smarter than she thinks she is.

Mrs. Patmore is trying to convince Mr. Carson to put her nephew’s name on the war memorial list. The problem is that her nephew was executed for desertion.  She enlists Mrs. Hughes to help her convince Mr. Carson to add his name to the memorial.

Thomas is trying to improve himself, by responding to ad in a magazine. He tells Mr. Carson that his father is ill and he needs time off. Responding to ad in a magazine is like responding to some rather suspicious craigslist ads.

Analysis

I’ve observed that most television shows, when they start a new season,  will sometimes require an episode or two to get the plot really going strong. In episode three, the plot is beginning to thicken, adding new elements of character and story while building on what has already happened. It’s going to be a good series.

Dowager Moment Of The Week

Isobel: Surely servants are people too.

Violet: Not until their days off.

 

 

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Downton Abbey Series 5 Episode 1 Recap: Sex, Poor Edith And A Hint Of Jane Austen

Like all recaps, these posts contain spoilers from last night’s episode. Read at your own risk if you have not see the episode.

Upstairs

Julian Fellows continues with his semi-sadistic hatred of Edith. The episode opens with Edith bicycling over to the Drewe farm to see her baby girl, who is being raised by Mr. and Mrs. Drewe. While Mrs. Drewe has swallowed the story about Marigold’s “dead” parents, Mr. Drewe knows more than he lets on.  Back at the Abbey, Mrs. Hughes finds a book with Michael Gregson’s name written in it. At the end of the episode, she nearly burns the house down, when, in grief, she throws one of the letters from Michael into the fireplace, but it misses the mark.

Robert and Cora’s 34th wedding anniversary is fast approaching, but Robert is blase about the fact. What starts as a simple anniversary dinner with the family nearly turns into a rumble when Rose invites Sarah Bunting (Daisy Lewis), the schoolteacher from the village, who Tom met last season. Miss Bunting is not shy about sharing her political views, especially her approval of The Labour Party and the leader, Ramsay MacDonald.

While Charles Blake has yet to appear this season, Tony Gilllingham is back and still pursuing Mary with a vengeance. His latest scheme is trying to convince her to go away with him for a few days. He even goes so far as to boldly enter her bedroom when she is only in her dressing gown. We all know what happens to single men who dare to enter Lady Mary’s room.

Tom has not yet completely warmed up to the idea that he is part of the family. The mere presence of Sarah Bunting re-awakens his old political ideas. I have a feeling that Tom will be doing a balancing act this series between his former self and his present self.

We see briefly, the youngest and cutest members of the Crawley family, Sybbie and George. Sybbie’s nickname for her grandfather is donk. All together now, awwww.

And finally, Violet is playing matchmaker, a la Mrs. Bennet. Her co-conspirator is Lady Shackelton (Harriet Walter, Fanny in the 1995 Sense and Sensibility) The person she is matching for is Isobel. The the two men are Dr. Clarkson and Lord Merton. While Isobel tried to gently turn them both down last series, I have a feeling that Dr. Clarkson may need to up his game if his competition is a peer of the realm.

Downstairs

In this week’s mid life crisis moment, Mr.  Molesley tries to impress Miss Baxter by putting dye into his hair and trying to cover his slow balding. The person who notices is not his intended target, but Robert, who asks if Mr. Molesley is Latin.

Speaking of Miss Baxter, we know something of her secret. In an effort to get the monkey known as Thomas off her back, Miss Baxter tells Cora that she stole jewelery from a previous employer and was in jail for three years. When Thomas tries to tell Cora, she reads him the riot act (Go Cora!). But then Thomas saves Edith from death by asphyxiation from the fire and is the hero once again.

Daisy is convinced that because of all of the years she has spent in the kitchen, she has missed out on years of school and has an urge to return to schoolroom. Mrs. Patmore does not agree with her.

Bates and Anna are back to their pre-rape relationship. In fact, I think, if he would have, Bates would have taken his wife home for a little private time. But it is only the first episode, so we may see another roller coaster that is the married life of John and Anna Bates soon enough.

Jimmy’s old employer and Downton’s newest cougar, Lady Anstruther (Anna Chancellor, Caroline in the 1995 miniseries and a descendant of Edward Austen, one of Jane Austen’s brother’s) has come to Downton for obvious reasons. And it’s not just for visiting Cora.

And finally, Mr. Carson is appointed to lead the committee to build a war memorial in the village. The traditional choice has always been the Earl and not his butler. The times, they are a changing.

Analysis: First episodes of any season usually require some catching up (not that we need it), but it felt like it was a little too much re-hashing of the end of last season. But it is only the first episode, so only time will tell.

Dowager Quote Of The Week

Lady Shackelton: Of course, a single peer with a good estate won’t be lonely for long if he wants to be.

Lady Grantham: You sound like Mrs. Bennet.

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The American Heiress Book Review

In 1776, America won the war of Independence against the British. In the 1890’s, wealthy American parents returned to the British Isles, looking for titled and wealthy aristocratic husbands for their daughters.

Cora Cash, heroine of Daisy Goodwin’s novel, The American Heiress is one of the wealthiest young women in America. Mrs. Cash, her controlling mother, is not looking for husband for her daughter among the young men in their social circle.  She requires a title for her daughter, coupled with a large estate.  While riding in the countryside, Cora meets the Duke Of Wareham, known to his family and close associates as Ivo. Their engagement and marriage quickly follows.

But Cora is unaware of the stringent customs and traditions of her new country. Her husband is distant at times, causing Cora to question if she made the right choice.  While Cora is learning about her new life, her free black maid, Bertha is also learning about English customs while being courted by the Duke’s valet.

This book is absolute perfection. It is part Edith Wharton, part Jane Austen, with a dash of Downton Abbey. Ms. Goodwin balances the details of the period with a very entertaining story line and interesting characters.

I highly recommend this book.

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Downton Abbey Series 4 Episode 4 Recap

This recap contains spoilers from Sunday night’s episode. Read at your own risk if you haven’t watched it yet.

Upstairs

Michael Gregson has disappeared and Edith makes a mysterious visit to a London doctor.  A foreshadowing of what’s to come with her for the rest of the series, perhaps? I can’t help but remember a warning that Matthew gave to Rose last series about married men are unhappily married (or married to a lunatic) who seek younger, vulnerable women for a little something-something on the side.

Mary seems to be over whatever she was feeling for Lord Gillingham.  But, I’m not so sure, considering when her mother and sister walked into the library, they didn’t see her dry her eyes. His off screen pseudo fiance has become his off screen fiance.  Evelyn Napier is back (You remember him, the guy who introduced Mary to Kemal Pamuk, who died in Mary’s bed in series 1). He is working for the government to assess the status of the aristocratic homes in the area. Cora invites Mr. Napier and his boss to stay at Downton instead of staying at a hotel.  I have a feeling Mary will not be without male companionship for long.

Isobel convinces Violet to hire a undergardiner to work in the house. Violet suspects that he might have stolen a letter opener.

Rose and Cora are trying to secretly plan a birthday party for Robert. Tom still feels out of place and talks about leaving England for his American cousins, Mary convinces him to stay.  Both story lines felt like filler to me.

Robert actually does something smart business wise, for once. He helps a financially floundering tenant who is on the verge of loosing his family farm, while not putting the financial security of his family and his heritage on the line.

Downstairs

Anna’s rape is no longer a secret, at least between her and Mrs. Hughes. Believing that his wife no longer loves him, John “The Hulk” Bates figuratively twists Mrs. Hughes’s arm to find out what has happened to Anna. The threat is simple, that he will quit at that moment, never to set foot in Downton again. On that she relents , but he continues to twist her arm and find out who raped Anna, forcing her to swear on the memory of her late mother. Mrs. Hughes lies and says it was an intruder.

After speaking to Mrs. Hughes, John goes to his wife and tells her that he loves her. Perfect aww moment. Then he asks who raped her. Again, it’s an unknown intruder, not Mr. Green as he suspects.  I could literally see the vein pop in his neck when Mr. Green is mentioned.  Mr. Green should have a sign above him should he ever re-enter Downton “Dead Man Walking”.

Cora wants to purchase new refrigerators to replace the ice box. Mrs. Patmore is still a technofobe.

We have a brand new ladies maid. Baxter, or OBrien 2.0. Thomas seems to know something about her. Let’s see how long this one lasts.

Mr. Molesley is given the opportunity to temporarily take over as footman for Alfred while he is away.  The offer is turned down, but when Alfred returns, Mr. Molesley conveniently asks about the position. I’m convinced he is the downstairs Edith.

And finally while smug, full of it Jimmy is bragging and just talking about his dreams, Alfred is actually working for it. He doesn’t get into the trainee program at the fancy London Hotel, but Carson’s consoles him. I love Carson, under that traditional, conservative exterior is a soft heart.

Analysis

I think Julian Fellows is building up to something big. I don’t know what it is, but it’s going to be big. My favorite scene was with the babies. So cute.

Dowager Quote/Moment Of The Week

“I wonder your halo doesn’t grow heavy. It must be like wearing a tiara around the clock”.

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