Downton Abbey: Season 5, Episode 8 Recap

Deborah Gilbert | February 22, 2015

Join Debbie as she live-tweets the finale (Sunday, March 1st 9pm – 11pm EST) from @ThirteenNY. Tweet @ThirteenNY and use #DowntonPBS to participate.

“Get down, you cat!” OK Downtonians, by a show of hands, how many of you were so startled by that you leapt off the couch? Come on, be honest! You wouldn’t be crazy if you did. And am I crazy to think the ending of this episode, with everyone walking back to the house, had the feel of passengers disembarking from the Love Boat? It did, didn’t it?

What’s in a Name: Get Along Little Doggie:

Funny how Lord Fellowes treats Isis’ death a bit like Matthew’s, and we pick up the story months later. He doesn’t care that Violet hates Greek drama, where everything happens off-stage. We don’t see the immediate aftermath. For that matter, we don’t see Rose and Atticus telling their parents about the engagement, or Edith bringing Marigold into the house, or even Aunt Rosamund being banished to Siberia for playing Three Card Monty with Cora’s grandchild (though hopefully she’s taken Lord Merton’s Spawns of Satan with her). All of that has been left to our imaginations. Something not hard to imagine: Once more the Crawleys are in need of money. (Ain’t they always?) This time it’s to rehab the estate’s cottages, which hopefully means Anna & Bates will finally be getting electricity. But where to get that money? Why not hock the very valuable della Francesca, the reminder of Cora’s adventures with Orange Julius? Call me kooky, but I have a feeling we’re going to find out there’s something fishy about that della Francesca. Something that involves Bricker and that finski he palmed off to Carson. I hope I’m wrong, yet I’m frightened. I do not want to have to become disenchanted with Carson. He is my North Star. But back to poor Isis. Poor, inconveniently named Isis. Shall Lord Grantham replace her with another Labrador, maybe named Osiris, or even Tut? Then again, maybe he should replace her with a large black poodle named O’Brien. That would make for a fun exchange if the traitor ever returns to the scene of her escape.

East End Boys and West End Girls: Werewolves of London:

Yes, it is a long way to Tiparary, and cougar Denker is going to have to walk there if she keeps it up. Sprat, poor diddums, is no match for her in the sabotage department. That hiding the suitcase prank was so summer camp one expects Denker to return from London to find Corn Flakes under her sheets. Thomas is made of sterner stuff though, and when you play with him you’re playing in the big leagues. After he spots Denker taking advantage of young Andy, it is SuperThomas to the rescue. In a fine Shaftesbury Switcheroo, he swoops in much like he did with Jimmy at the Faire to save Andy’s bacon and serve it to Denker on a karma platter. Will we see Denker and Thomas lock horns in future? I don’t know (though I am curious about what it was she was referring to when she said they have something in common). Till then, I’m thinking that, “Ask Your Uncle Thomas” sounds like the name of some creepy, local kids TV show from the 70’s.

Mazel Tov!: Come Back, Little Shiksa:

This week’s centerpiece is the wedding of Cousin Oliver Rose to Atticus Beefcake, of the Nomad Hebrew National Beefcakes. Into this steps the Bickersons, and Lord and Lady Sinderby. Lord Sinderby (who we would love to hear do a double act with James Earl Jones) has an official disapproval list that Rose is desperate her family stay off of, which is all Susan needs to hear. She wants on. This naughty list contains, but is not limited to, card sharps, undercooked fish, raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens – and divorce (though spending any time in the vicinity of Sourpuss Susan should cure him of that last aversion in a trice). Until that happens, Susan is trying mighty hard to work that list and spoil the festivities, attempting a duel of wits while not realizing she is the unarmed opponent. Sourpuss just pick, pick, picks, “Chai, not so happy to see Jew!”, “What are Jew doing here?”, followed by, “Do Jew have any English blood? Because if Jew do, my vampire, O’Brien, could use a snack.” Sweet Lady Sinderby has seen all this before and she is no pushover so the bizarre question about whether she finds it difficult to find good help is met by the naming of the elephant in the room, “not very, but then we’re Jewish so we pay well.” Booyah! Score one for Lady S! This causes Violet to perk up and think, alright, this is my kind of party! It does rival the Granthams in the bad dinner party department (which says the families are evenly matched).

Sourpuss isn’t the only one with doubts. Though when Lord Sinderby says to Atticus, “How easy you make it sound and how little you’ve had to fight”, we see that, for him, it’s not about intolerance. It is about survival. Then he has to go and think General Dyer was just doing his job in the Amritza Incident. Sigh. We love Atticus, but Rose, can’t you see? He’s only marrying you for the wedding cake! However Atticus is able to reach a détente with Lord Tevye: He will no longer call Rose “that little shiksa”, and instead refer to her simply as being, ‘Semiticly-impaired’. All that seems to be for naught though, as a certain someone throws a Hail Mary at the Hornby Hotel bachelor party. There’s a knock at the door saying, “Candygram!”, and of course our Atticus loves candy as much as cake and when he opens the door he is greeted by the same pushy broad who followed him into the elevator. The next day incriminating pictures are delivered to Rose. It is at these times when it’s comforting to have a former political anarchist in the family, someone who recognizes the dirty tricks played to unsuspecting innocents. All is resolved and the wedding goes on as planned (despite a last ditch monologue from Sourpuss).

After all that there is no actual ceremony because Lord Fellowes’ thoughts are that the run up to a wedding is more interesting than the actual ceremony itself (unless the groom sprints for the hills), and he might be right. On the other hand, by not showing the actual ceremony, we missed the moment where they got to the “speak now or forever hold your peace” part and Sourpuss Susan stood up and aired her list of grievances. I bet she’s fun at Festivus parties. At the reception the usual collection of misfit toys gather. Bright Young Thing is back, and this time, instead of a picnic with Martha Levinson, she’s dining on her own sensible shoe inserted squarely in her mouth. Poor Lady Thing; those Jews are everywhere. Run for your lives! And then Lord Tiger and on again fiancée Mabel Lane Fox turn up, giving Mary the chance to invite herself to the wedding. Tiger says he’s learned his lesson, don’t mess with Mary…or Texas. So Mary will be attending the December wedding of Tiger and Killer. What could possibly go wrong there?

That Darn Cat: The Cheese Stands Alone:

Lord Shrimpy and Lady Sourpuss have been circling the drain for a long, long time. Possibly always. Now that they have barely a few small suitcases to their names it has reached critical mass. They are so skint they don’t even have a decorative cover for their checkbook! And it was that tatty checkbook, and the realization of the kind of misanthropy required to attempt to be the wedding spoiler that rumbled Susan’s devious plan. Has all this time with O’Brien taught her nothing? In society at large, tough economic times always bring suppressed prejudices bubbling to the surface, causing resentful, bigoted people to reach for traditional scapegoats. So when Lady Sourpuss tries to excuse her behavior towards those people by whining about losing “everything the children have grown up expecting as their right”, we see that entitlement in a nutshell (or, a nutty little shell). She is so obnoxious and resentful about those people, one wonders how she was able to tolerate Cora all these years? But now that they’ve walked down the gangway, where shall she go? What shall she do? Frankly my dears, Shrimpy doesn’t give a damn. And neither do we. Meow.

Rollin’ On a River: On the Rocks:

Mary seems at once sadder and softer. Letting her vulnerability flag fly, she’s a bit more like Matthew’s Mary. Even her “even you” digs at Edith have the feel of familiarity rather than the hard-edged nastiness of the “you ruin everything” of a week or two ago. Mary is sad about all the endings. She’s losing her ally Tom to Boston, Rose is leaving, and worst of all, her SisterFriend Anna has been taken away; it’s all just too much to bear to think of how she might end up on trial for smothering Edith in her sleep if left alone with her. The girl has clearly been hanging around with the Bateses too long. Mary goes to Rose’s wedding wearing the gender-bending suit she saw at the London dress show. When she first saw the garment hit the runway, she muttered something about how she’d feel strong in it. One wouldn’t think Mary needed help in the strength department. Then again, occasionally, we do see hints that that hard candy shell hides a soft center and that soft center was on display in this episode. And who is the only person who can comfort Mary, and give her the draft of self-confidence she needs when she needs it? Carson. To the strains of Matthew and Mary music, he recharges her batteries, giving her The Talk and tells her to win one for the Gipper, which makes her a little confused but she’s going with it. What will a recharged Mary do next? Should Mabel Lane Fox batten down the hatches? Should we? I don’t know; but just to be safe I’m keeping a flashlight at the ready.

Baby Love: There’s Something About Marigold:

Have we ever seen Edith so happy and content? I think not. It is nice to see for once, even though we just know it’s not going to last. For now though, with Marigold in her arms, she is transformed. She can even toss off Mary’s barbs with a knowing, eye rolling laugh, instead of grinding her teeth and sticking pins in her Mary doll. The talk around Downton is about how she’s obsessed, like she invented Motherhood, which I think means she actually spends time with her child outside the daily presentation. Lord Can’t Pull The Wool Over My eyes sees something more; a sense of déjà vu which we think means he recognizes that baby Marigold looks like baby Edith. But no, he thinks she looks like Editor Charming, though one suspects he’s only done the math, and when he mentions it to Cora, she folds like a cheap card table. That’s OK; he’s oddly accepting. So, Edith and the Schroeders and the Drewes (and even Marigold) went through all that sturm und drang – and then pffft! Nada. After all the fears of shame and scandal dictating wrong-headed decisions and clandestine dealings, and oceans of tears, when Lord Que Sera Sera finally finds out Edith’s Big Secret, he’s all ho hum about it. He didn’t even suggest she go to America and find a cowboy in the Middle West to bring back and shake them up a bit. This time he was stirred, not shaken. And so are we…while we wait for the other unlucky shoe to drop.

You Take the Low Road and I’ll Take the High Road, and I’ll Be in Scotland Yard Before Ye:

This is what comes from being happy and making plans. Every time. When the Bates respond to Baxter’s offer of help with, “How do you know that?” We’re thinking, oh, everyone knows you ninnies! At least the Einsteins at Scotland Yard finally have the real Green monster sussed. We knew his attack on Anna could not have been the only one. Now they know there were a series of attacks on women which, one supposes, puts every woman he encountered back in the frame. They are trying to bully the info out and the least forthcoming ones seem the most suspicious. Was there something to be read into the look on Anna’s face when the detective said Bates was in the clear because the person of interest was shorter? Was it a poker face fighting a mission accomplished kind of face? I’m left wondering about that. In the past, I have thought that Anna may have killed Green to save Bates from doing it, and that’s still an open question for me. It does seem there was a look of sympathy for Anna in Mr. Vyner’s face though, when he saw her reaction to the news of what they learned about Green. But she didn’t tell them everything. Instead she asked Mr. Bates for advice because, naturally, the go-to person to ask for advice in dealing with the cops is Mr. Bates. After all, he’s so wise in that regard he’s only done time twice – the last time because he didn’t listen to her advice to (HELLO!) tell them everything! Sigh. His, “I’m not one to give up my secrets unless I have to,” reminds us that there’s still a lot we don’t know about our Batesy. And, am I crazy or did that first woman (on the right) in the lineup look familiar for some reason? Anyone else think that as well? And now another injustice. They come in the night to arrest PollyAnna and there’s nothing to be done about it. Even Mary’s imperious Lady Voice holds no sway, much to her shock. Is this a show Mr. Vyner is putting on to try and bully a confession out of someone else? Is there someone else they are targeting or do they really think Anna did it? I have been worried about this since she walked to that spot in Picadilly. Now Bates and Mary, and their true love (Anna) will never be the same. When Bates was talking to Mary, he was so sure Anna wouldn’t be convicted it makes me wonder why. Is it because he is planning to sacrifice himself and confess, to try and take her place in jail to spare her? Would that even work? Did she do it? Then again, I still say someone should be looking at potential serial killer Mabel Lane Fox. She’s cold-blooded, she’s manipulative, and she’s got three names. I rest my case.

I Wanna Be Your Loverboy: Friends With Benefits:

When Prince Badenov tells Violet he wants to shack up, and why shouldn’t they because they’re too old to have kids, so it doesn’t matter if there’s a random princess wife floating around out there, she practically faints. Only the sound of Sprat hitting the floor on the other side of the door jolts her from falling unconscious. I have to say I am of two minds about the threadbare swain formerly known as Prince: Is he really a romantic, or is he just another broke, aristocratic opportunist? Sadly, no Lord Merton this week. Hopefully it’s because he was busy huddled with his legal team, trying to figure out a way to break the estate’s entail and leave his two little darlings, Leopold and Loeb, on the bread line. When the plotting and plotzing over Rose and Atticus’ wedding causes Isobel to voice her fears about a future with Dickie, given said darlings, Violet gives her best advice, “why let them cheat you of your future?” Yes, why indeed? Just know your enemy and be forearmed.

Before the Parade Passes By: Day is Done, Gone the Sun:

Mr. Molesley is never more alive than when he is recounting a Walter Mitty fantasy. Whether it’s his glorious cricket expertise, or the experiences of great museums he has only visited in books, there is a kind of sadness that so much of his life has been led vicariously – and he feels that it’s too late for him to experience much more. Daisy sees that now and doesn’t want the same thing to happen to her. How are you going to keep her down on the farm now that she’s seen gay London? Her continued education, and the chance to see more of London than the basement kitchen of Crawley House, has awakened her to both possibilities and resentful discontent. A day out has convinced her that it’s time to fly the coop and move to the big city. But Mrs. Patmore, who is genuinely upset to be losing her surrogate daughter, dishes out the guilt with the dexterity of a veteran Jewish mother, and reels her back in for now – or forever? And with Miss Baxter right there by his side, not in a book, will Molesley be able to make the jump from vicarious to real? The dedication of the WWI memorial is the chance for Lord Thoughtful When He Wants To Be to make things right for Mrs. Patmore and her family. And sharp-eyed Downtonians will see something else about those dedication scenes. Historical Oracle Allastair Bruce. Last season he appeared presenting debutantes to the King and this episode he appears in uniform, standing next to Robert. Where will he turn up next season? Maybe in the dock for a certain infamous shoving? Not sure that would be proper, unless he was standing up straight when he did it!

The Dowager Countessdown (Violet’s Best Zingers):

6. It’s too late for that, my dear. Far too late.

5. Funny is one word for it.

4. I’ve been reminded recently that one is not given many chances in life and if you miss them they may not necessarily be repeated.

3. Love is a far more dangerous motive than dislike.

2. Don’t proclaim your intransigence as if it were a virtue.

1. Love may not conquer all, but it can conquer quite a lot.

The ‘Jolly’ streak continues: Have you noticed that, this season, someone has used the word ‘jolly’ in every episode? They have. I’m keeping track so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

This episode was kind of like a walk down memory lane. With all the subtle and not-so-subtle references to Downton past, it’s almost as if (when it was written) it was thought that it might be the swan song. But it won’t be.

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