Please stop here if you do not want to read any spoilers in week #5
This is the week of grrrrrrl power and greener pastures.
The pall of Lady Sybil’s death hung over the first part of this episode, but as life at the Abbey carried on, her passing began to lift. Of course her immediate family was stricken, and poor Tom Branson will suffer the loss of the love of his life for a long time, but life continues in both birth and death.
The most obstructionist character this week was Lord Grantham. I do empathize with the character, especially since he admitted culpability in the decision he made surrounding Lady Sybil, but otherwise he is running into obstacle after obstacle over his patriarchal role. Tom’s desire to baptize baby Sybil Catholic, Lady Edith’s pursuit of a journalist career path, Matthew’s handling of the estate and the Crawley women’s refusal to leave luncheon at Lady Isobel’s because she hired Ethel, a former Downton maid, who is reforming from an unfortunate turn as a prostitute just to feed her son, all have been decisions Lord Grantham vehemently objected to, but were also objectionable to those who were being dictated. The women all presented a united front, and leading the charge was the dowager countess.
And she is to whom my next comments are directed. The dowager countess met with Dr. Clarkson and persuaded him to deflect the blame from her son Lord Grantham so that he and Lady Cora could reconcile from the rift surrounding Lady Sybil’s death. I was surprised the doctor went along with it, and perhaps he consulted the evidence and found her chance for survival was slim, but I don’t necessarily agree with the countess’ tactics. Perhaps it was her way of speeding up the closure, but I wonder if that could have been handled differently without compromising Dr. Clarkson’s integrity.
And now to the downstairs. Looks like Mr. Bates was successful in his appeal to be released from prison, a bit of good news that was welcome at the house. Thomas is still after Jimmy and O’Brien is egging that situation onward. The footmen are flirting with the new cook Ivy but there is a lot of unrequited feelings being flung about. Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson continue to bicker over progress at the Abbey with Mr. Carson, ever the loyal butler to Lord Grantham. But stirring afoot in the dialogue are discussions about life after Downton Abbey. Daisy continues to visit her father-in-law Mr. Mason on his farm and this week he proposed that Daisy consider taking over farming his land. Matthew planted a seed for Branson to consider in managing one of Downton’s properties and turning it into a sheep farm. Mrs. Hughes wisely talks about a future without all the pomp and circumstance surrounding an estate such as Downton. All this change was summed up nicely in what Mr. Mason said to Daisy: he told her she has 40 more years to work, which would bring her to the 1960’s, and he opened her eyes to the fact that she just might not work her entire career in service.
Next week’s episode proves to be an interesting one – some of the scenes in the trailer for episode 6 look quite scandalous! Until next time…