Downton Abbey, Season 5 Episode 5: Review

(Beware, spoilers below!)

Aunty Rosamund has come to stay in Downton, whilst we still wait in anticipation for Isobel to make up her mind. I’ve come to root for Edith over the past few episodes and hers is possibly one of the more engaging storylines, fresh against some of the repeating themes. Mrs Drew’s want for privacy is understandable, but it hard not to root for a girl whose happiness has been so hard to come by. Both the Dowager Countess and Rosamund come up with a solution, one that hardly makes things better for poor Edith. I’m hoping this storyline will end up happy for once.

Meanwhile, downstairs, the ongoing saga with Mrs Patmore has been given a decent inheritance, and she enquires after advice for what to do with the sizeable sum. The amusing scene containing Carson’s indignation is brilliant, but as he tries to advise her, in this ‘one shot’ story, we’re treated to how times are – albeit slowly – a’changin’. ‘Why did you ask him?’ asks Mrs Hughes, ‘Because he’s a man.’ says Mrs Patmore. Not anymore, it seems.

Maggie Smith shines again in this episode, mediating between Lord Merton and Isobel’s potential marriage. She’s worried Isobel is being drawn in by Lord Merton only feigning interests in order to woo the lady, and tries to rope in the Doctor in order to suss him out. Meanwhile, Rose develops a blossoming friendship with a Mr Aldridge, who were emigrants from Russia, but from the Russian pogroms in Odessa. He’s therefore Jewish, leading to a small but unnecessarily dramatic confrontation between one of Prince Kuragin’s friends.. It’s a very small story that shows the opinions of the more modern, though arguably naïve Rose versus the exiting generation.

Branson’s position in this episode has been quite an interesting one, and one I feel has been gladly in line with the character. Whilst I understand the position Miss Bunting’s been taking, it makes sense for Branson to find the best way to manage his most recent position on the border between the classes. I’m glad it ended the way it did. Branson’s journey means that it seems like it would be too out of character for him to simply up and run off with her, which could have easily been the dramatic and easy way out for the writers to take it.

Other smaller story recaps: the as of yet only slightly interesting storyline with Cora explodes tonight, whilst we’re once again reminded of the turmoil surrounding Anna, Bates and Barrow. Will those three never get a happy ending?

Sometimes Downton doesn’t quite manage the balance between all its interweaving storylines but I feel they just about got this episode on track by providing resolution to storylines that otherwise might drag, whilst piquing the interest of others. It’s still not at the heights of the First or Second seasons, but tonight reminded us of the potential it has. More, please!

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