If you like seeing the smug get mugged, this is your episode of “Downton Abbey” Season/Series 5, Episode 6 which airs Sunday night, 8 February 2015 at 9 p.m. ET. The episode begins with a message or rather a message about a message.
“Telegram for Lady Edith,” Molesley (Kevin Doyle) announces downstairs. He passes the telegram to Carson (Jim Carter) on a tray and Carson brings it to Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) who is having breakfast. Remember that in 1924, telegrams were sent when one had important news.
Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) receives news that she’s about to receive news.Her editor has information about Michael Gregson (Charles Edwards). Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), we won’t call him Robert since he’s formal, stiff and chilly, goes in to tell Lady Grantham, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) that Edith will be receiving news. Lord Grantham has moved out since he displayed that he could also be Robert Brawley when he found Mr. Bricker (Richard E. Grant) intruding into his marital bedroom.
“I was wondering if you might like to change your mind and come back,” Cora tells her husband who has been sleeping in a tiny bed (in his dressing room?). “If you can honestly say you have never let a flirtation get out of hand, then stay away. Otherwise, I expect you back in my room tonight.”
People both upstairs and downstairs expect it is bad news.
Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is a bit snippy. “Of course it’s terrible, what did she think? He was living in a tree?” She tells Anna (Joanne Froggatt), “He was a nice man, but what he saw in Edith…”
Lady Mary has a note that there’s going to be a point-to-point race and that Gillingham will be there. Gillingham wants to overnight at Downton Abbey because “he still won’t accept that I know my own mind.” Gillingham (Tom Cullen) still feels that Lady Mary will marry him.
Violet (Maggie Smith) has a secret assignation to meet Prince Igor Kuragin (Rade Sherbedgia), her Russian fling. She takes with her her new lady’s maid, Gladys Denker (Sue Johnston). They walk down a little alleyway. The door has no knocker and the neighborhood so modest that Denker makes a small comment.”I hope your standards are not so high as to prevent you remaining in my employment, Denker,” Violet replies.
Violet enters into a modest one-room. The walls are bare and a dreary color. The upholstery on the chair that the Prince sits on is tattered.
“I wanted you from the moment I first saw you, more than mortal man every wanted woman,” the Prince says.
“That’s a historical detail,” Violet protests.
“Nonsense. If Irina were dead, I would ask you to runaway with me now,” he replies.
“I can’t run away; there’s no one left to runaway from,” she tells him.
“I love you more than I love her, even today, even this afternoon,” he tells her.
“Please don’t,” Violet again protests.
“Why not? If it’s true,” he says.
“Because you make it sound as if we were both unhappy,” Violet replies. Is being unhappy in a marriage “ill-bred”? If that’s the drama then here’s the comedy. Violet’s new maid is having a turf war with Spratt. Spratt, you might recall, was unkind toward Molesley when Violet was attempting to find him a new job. He’s a snob but a skilled one. Yet without him, Molesley wouldn’t be back at Downton Abbey. Molesley had to leave school early, at age 12 because although his father wanted him to continue and he was determined to be bright, his mother became ill. He was forced to work though he wished to become a teacher. He hopes to help Daisy.
Things go much more smoothly in the downstairs world of Downton Abbey. Mrs. Patmore (Beryl Patmore) is going to visit the cottage she wants to invest in. Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) is going. They convince Carson to join them. Mrs. Patmore asks Daisy if she wants to join them. Daisy is too busy studying. She wants to prove Miss Bunting right. Yet when Molesley attempts to offer her something but Daisy ignores him. “We should always be polite to people who are kind.”
Cora and Robert do begin talking to each other after Edith receives her news, concerned for their very troubled daughter.
Knowing that Gillingham will be at the point-to-point Lady Mary doesn’t want to make things easy for Gillingham. She decides to do something crazy. She gets a haircut–the fashionable bob.
“At least she can carry it off. Most of them look like bald monkeys,” the hairdresser comments in an English accent as Lady Mary leaves. While talking with Lady Mary he had a faux French accent. Ah, yes…how one talks is what matters in Great Britain.
When Mary makes her entrance, Isobel proclaims “Pola Negri comes to Yorkshire.”
Pola Negri (1897 -1987) was born Barbara Apolonia Chalupec and was a Polish stage and film actress who was famous known for her tragedienne and femme fatale roles during the silent eras of Hollywood and European film.
Mary’s debuting the new ‘do and the family’s plans for a tea party upset Lady Edith as if this was all planned.
Oh, it is you. I thought it was a man wearing your clothes,” Violet says.
The men are endlessly polite. “It suits you,” Tom says.
“It’s certainly just the sort of thing I would expect of you,” her father comments.
“I suppose you disapprove?” Mary asks a frowning Edith. Edith is dressed in black–black gloves, black dress, black shoes and black necklace. She is in full mourning.
“Not especially,” Edith replies. “I’m just amazed that even you would choose the day after I learn the man I love is dead to try out a new fashion!”
As Cora points out, that it isn’t quite fair.
“And if that weren’t enough you’ve planned a jolly picnic on Saturday,” Edith continues. “Am I really expected to join in.” Edith forgets that the picnic is also for Atticus and Rose.
She angrily leaves, acknowledging that it might seem a bit rude to Rose’s beau, Atticus Aldridge (Matt Barber). “I’m sorry Mr. Aldridge, but you might as well known what we’re like.”
“Maybe it would be good for her to have a bit of time on her own to think,” Robert advises.
“Oh, all this endless thinking. It is over-rated,” Violet interjects. “I blame the war, before 1914 nobody ever thought of anything at all,” Violet proclaims.
Edith rushes down to see Marigold. Mrs. Drewe isn’t happy. You can’t doubt her love for Marigold. Mrs. Drewe learns that her husband wrote the letter that asks them to take the child in and that he always knew the child was Lady Edith’s. She tells Mr. Drewe that he couldn’t have done worse than if he had been unfaithful to her. Can we consider that the child will be happy and readily accept her new circumstances?
Back at Downton Abbey, the others have left for the event and only Tom is there. “I can’t stay Tom, not if I’m ever going to be happy at all,” Lady Edith tells Tom, warning him not to let the others “flatten” him out.
The house isn’t going into mourning for several reasons and after all, everyone else thought he was dead. “He didn’t die for Lady Edith until this year,” Anna comments downstairs.
In this episode, we finally learn what Mr. Bates really did and why he kept that ticket to London. Anna is relieved until she realizes, “I gave away the proof of my husband’s innocence.” We know that Mrs. Hughes and Mary destroyed the unused ticket.
Miss. Baxter is forced to admit to Mrs. Hughes she was a thief because of a letter sent to Scotland Yard. The police have come to question Miss Baxter and Mrs. Hughes wont allow it unless she is present. Who do you think wrote the letter?
A few moments later, Thomas asks to speak with Miss Baxter–in private. He has a rash that continues to get worse. “You’re always asking me if I need help so now’s your chance.” She tells him to bring everything–the pills and shots. He warns her that she wouldn’t be helping him if she knew what he had done.
The smug Thomas has been taken for a mug. He’s paid a pretty sum for electrotherapy, pills and injections. He tells the doctor it was “to change me to make me more like other people. Other men.”
Doctor Richard Clarkson clearly understands but advises Thomas “to accept the burden that chance as seen fit to lay upon you and to fashion as good a life as you are able” because “harsh reality is better than false hope.”
There are other harsh realities to be faced. Carson is getting old. The cottage deal makes Carson think. He tells Mrs. Hughes, “I envy her. You ever thought of your life in retirement?”
The point-to-point race goes well. Mary’s former rival and Gillingham’s ex-fiancée, Mabel Lane Fox (Catherine Steadman) describes Mary as “a cross between a Vogue fashion model and a case of dynamite.” It looks like Gillingham may be headed for a rebound romance.
Rose meets Atticus’ parents. And then Lady Cora invites them to dinner the next day, Violet and Isobel confer. Isobel lets out to Violet that Atticus is Jewish.
The episode ends with Lady Edith and a quiet Marigold together in a hotel room. Edith tells her, I know it’s not ideal, but it’s such an improvement on being a part,” but they will have fun. They can have “ice cream and champagne and we’ll be as jolly as you like.”
“Downton Abbey” Season/Series 5, Episode 6 which airs Sunday night, 8 February 2015 at 9 p.m. ET. Check local listings. After the premiere airing, it will be available VoD on PBS.