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Downton Abbey Episode 5 Recap

In Episode 5 of Downton Abbey, Cora Crawley and Lady Grantham determine that they must find a "more enticing scaffold" for Mrs. Crawley.

Downton Abbey, Episode 5
OR
The Mysterious Case of the New Heir

The episode opens with Mary wheeling Matthew around the lawn as he laments his fate. We see Richard Carlisle speaking to her father in the window, as he inquires, “Am I to be jealous?”. The viewer can answer that question fairly easily: yes. Obviously, Mary is still in love with Matthew, whether he can give her pleasure and children or not.
Carlisle discusses buying a neighboring estate, Hacksby Park, and refurbishing it. Lord Grantham finds the idea of refurbishing an old estate ludicrous, and we learn more about the strange qualities of the old upper crust: they apparently only like comfort if comfort is an old heirloom.
In the same scene, we find out that a Canadian Major Gordon is coming to the house. He apparently has some unknown connection to the family and has been badly burned. It appears as though Lord Grantham has no idea who this relation is, but welcomes him nonetheless. Lady Edith seems very curious about his identity. Thanks for the clear foreshadow, Downton. I do not appreciate thinking too much about who is connected to whom when I must spend so much time admiring the scenery and costume choices.
Cora Crawley and the elder Lady Grantham meet with Mrs. Crawley to discuss Downton as a private home once the war ends. I personally find Mrs. Crawley’s zeal more annoying than honorable, most likely due to the fact that I cannot help but love every single one of Lady Grantham’s (Maggie Smith) one-line zingers. In this episode her wit did not disappoint. Mrs. Crawley asks the other two women if they are tired of “that life of changing clothes, killing things and eating them,” a great line in itself. When Mr. Molesley is asked about what he would like the do at the conclusion of the war, he answers that he would hope to maintain his job as butler to Matthew and Mrs. Crawley. Mrs. Crawley then declares that, “servants are always more conservative”. Lady Grantham steps in and responds, “Then I must be the exception that proves the rule”. Zing!
In the following scene, Edith meets the mysterious Canadian. He claims that they have met before and that they are in fact related. She struggles to place him, but cannot make out his face due to the heavy burns that obscure all of his features.
Later, Richard Carlisle asks Carson if he will come work at Hacksby Park. One must ask, what would Downton be without Carson? The old penguin strains the wine, checks the table setting and reports any shenanigans that are happening downstairs to his master upstairs. Images of Thomas stepping in and turning Downton into a zoo flashed before my eyes, and probably in front of Carson’s as well. In the end, he decides to go with Lady Mary to help set up her new home and keep her out of trouble.
Lady Grantham and Cora Crawley need to device some sort of plan to rid themselves and Downton of Mrs. Crawley. As Mrs. Crawley perceives herself to be a martyr, they determine that they need to find her “a more enticing scaffold”. I hope that these two women work together more in the future, if they are going to be making plans like this one or delivering lines like that.
Carson discovers that Mrs. Hughes is giving food to Ethel, the maid that was impregnated by the mustachioed Major Bryant. Carson and Mrs. Hughes tell Cora about the situation. We find out later that Major Bryant died at the very end of the war. All of Ethel’s hopes are shattered and she cries while rocking her baby. I cannot think of a better argument for birth control and abortion than this plotline. I might edit some clips and send them to the GOP myself.
We return to the plotline of the mysterious Canadian major. He now claims to be Patrick Crawley, one of the heirs who died with the sinking of the Titanic in the first five minutes of the first episode in season one. Patrick did not drown on the Titanic after all. He claims that he was saved but had lost all of his memory of his identity. While fighting in the war, there was an explosion that led to him regaining his memory of his past at Downton. The family begins a full investigation of the story, but there seems to be little that they can do to prove or disprove his identity. Lady Mary, who was engaged to Patrick, does not believe that this man is in fact her cousin. She wants Matthew to be the heir and she also does not want to have to honor an engagement to another man that she does not wish to wed, as she already has one of those. Edith, who always loved Patrick, believes this man’s story and sketches their future life together. I personally have a lot of questions. The first and foremost is: why does this man have a Canadian accent if he only lived in Canada for six years? This issue seems to me to be a lot fishier than the fact that there was a Peter Gordon from Canada in his unit in the war. Would be impersonators should take note: accents are not lost and made in that amount of time! Also, Downton, amnesia? You are getting soapier every minute.
Mr. Bates continues to receive bad news via letters that always force him to look grim and dramatically exit the servants’ dining room. This time, it seems that he is not divorced after all, as his wife is arguing that he paid her for a divorce.
O’Brian overhears the conversation; let the evil plotting begin, I say!
Unfortunately, there is not a strong Sybil plotline in this episode. There is one brief scene in which she pledges her love for the cabbie and asks to wait until the war is over. He replies, “I’d wait forever”. Downton, I know that you are a thinly veiled soap opera, but please, lines like this one remove the veil and reveal your hideous British teeth. Please keep the veil on so I can love you in peace.
Richard Carlisle speaks to Cora about the fact that Mary still wants to be with Matthew. He suggests bringing back Lavinia, and she agrees that she needs to take measures to ensure their lovemaking and future grandchildren. Lavinia returns with Richard the next week and is reunited with Matthew. She loves him, and promises to wheel him around for the rest of her life.
The war ends and some tears are shed. Rather, none of the actors shed tears; they are British, after all. The only tears that are shed seem to be my own. In my defense, the war plotline has been stressing me out, and I am glad to return to a time of peace, dances and romance. The supposed cousin leaves with the other majors at the end of the war. He leaves a note for Edith that says, “It was too hard. I had to go. – P. Gordon”. Is the P. for Peter or P. for Patrick? Did he leave out of guilt or did the family drive him away by not believing in his identity? I am inclined to think that this man is an imposter. Though I do hope that Edith finds someone, as I have heard rumors that she is not returning for the third season and I would not like to think of her as loveless and off the airwaves.
Finally, Matthew feels something….is he referring to his legs or his penis? Either way, we can expect a plot twist and a possible reunion between Matthew and Mary. Though I approve of their relationship, I do not know how I feel about her ending her engagement to Richard. Although he is rather slimy, he has done the right thing every time he has been put to the task. Episode six should prove interesting.
Especially because…Mrs. Bates has been found dead! This situation proves rather suspicious, as earlier in the episode Mr. Bates says that he would prefer if Mrs. Bates were the former Mrs. Bates, or better yet, the late Mrs. Bates, to Lord Grantham. Lord Grantham told him to not do anything rash, and I cannot believe that he would kill his wife. Move illegally to Australia, yes. Kill her? I doubt it. But perhaps someone like O’Brian would and find a way to make it seem as though Bates did? There are a lot of possibilities, and only Episode 6 will tell what actually happened to the nasty old woman.

  • r. szudzinski

    Funny. Ethel’s woes made me think no better an argument could be made for complying with Western society’s conventions and tenets.

    I guess there always will be people like Mr. Larsson’s bimbo who are too advanced to heed boorish customs but then want the laws of that society to be bent for them.