Nothing much happens downstairs this week. Daisy is making good progress with her studies despite Mr. Carson's reservations and with the full support of Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Pattmore. Thomas Barrow makes a mysterious phone call and asks for a day off, with the excuse that his father is ill, possibly dying. Thomas Barrow is lying if his lips are moving, but we'll have to wait another day to find out what he's up to.
Mr. Moseley gives Lady's Maid Baxter a bit more good advice to go ahead and come completely clean with her confession. Baxter does so and Cora allows her to stay on as Lady's Maid. Which seems kind and forgiving, but honestly, where Cora would find another experienced Lady's Maid at this stage is beyond me, so she might as well keep Baxter.
The most important downstairs happening is that the detective is still poking around trying to get details of Mr. Green's murder. He even gets so far as questioning Bates.
We finally find out a bit of what we've all wanted to know: Mr. Bates' alibi for Mr. Green's murder. He wasn't at Downton, but he says he wasn't in London either, he was in York, running an errands, having a sandwich, walking around, posting a letter. Nothing special. Unfortunately, York is just a train ride away from London and it is possible that Bates had time to have taken a train there.
We all know that Bates was in London that day. Fortunately, the train ticket that proves he was there was burnt up by Lady Mary in her fireplace. I can only hope the trail goes cold with the ashes.
I truly wish this series would move away from this storyline. The murder mystery is not enjoyable as it's a constant reminder of what happened to Anna, and it's awful to have Mr. Bates' neck one step from the noose again. He was already tried for the murder of his ex-wife. He won't be let go again so easy for a second murder. Let's just find him innocent and let the case drop.
Lady Edith, the Perpetually Dimwitted
One thing I've always disliked about Mary is how badly she twits at Edith. Every now and again, Edith deserves it. This is one of those times. Everyone but Mary, who couldn't care less about Edith's life has noticed how abstracted Edith is with her new little charge. Even Lord Grantham wonders if Drew's wife will get tired of Edith visiting. And he's right. Mrs. Drew has had enough. Mr. Drew is forced to tell Edith to stay away for awhile. Edith runs off for a cry and I'm sure to plot how to kidnap Marigold.
Sex Ain't Better Than Love
Tony Gillingham is a happy man. It's the morning after his all night sex romp with Mary Crowley. The sky is blue, the birds are singing. Tony is practically singing. "The moment you wake up, before you put on your makeup, I say a little prayer for you." Tony is obviously so very in love. He's been putting it down all night and now he's ready to start his life as an engaged man.
Mary feels they've pushed their luck enough, what with dining together in public and the secret yet very connected hotel rooms, but Tony is all for extending the road trip and the intimacy of the night before.
Tony “Does it matter if we're found out? We'll be down the aisle before you can say Jack Robinson."
Mary: “No we won't.”
The fact this his proposal has more than likely just been rejected goes right over Tony Gillingham's well coiffed head. Mainly because Mary goes on to phrase it in terms that are all about avoiding yet another sex scandal to tarnish her name (R.I.P. Pamuk) but what Tony doesn't know yet is that from now on, she'll be avoiding him like the plague. Lady Mary says it all in one look the second Tony's back is turned as he heads into his own room to fetch his room service breakfast: Mary is not in love. Mary is not even in like. And whatever she thought she felt for Tony Gillingham, you can cue B.B. King, because the thrill is gone.
The final downer to this trip is that they were spotted at the very end by The Dowager's butler, who wastes no time telling her. Violet concocts a great cover story, better than Tony & Mary's in fact. Violet allays the butler's suspicions but she is shocked.
Grandma Violet begs Mary to accept Tony's proposal since they've already slept together. Mary, the only person in this family as strong-willed as Violet, politely but firmly refuses. She not in love, but what she goes unsaid is that the sex probably wasn't all that great, and whatever the reason, she is not going to be tied to this man for life. Tony Gillingham is out of the running for good and all. Sex ain't better than love but Mary will not settle for less in either department.
Mary: "I learned a great deal that I never knew before."
If You Can't Be With the One You Love
While Cora fell in love with Lord Grantham when she met him, Lord Grantham has admitted that he originally married Cora for her money, and only fell in love with her eventually, and then only as much as you could expect of a repressed Englishman. Why he even shares a bed with her nightly, of his own volition, when anyone knows a man should sleep in his own bedroom, not actually with his wife.
I find Lord Grantham guilty of neglecting Cora. In the first episode of this season, the girls and Lord Grantham want a company dinner. When Cora reminds him that it's their anniversary, implying she would like a small celebration his loving reply is,"Oh, that doesn't matter."
Ahem. If it didn't matter, Robert, she wouldn't have brought it up. Cora, however, accepts the situation with her usual smile and good grace, knowing that he doesn't mean to hurt her feelings and that he's not a very sentimental person, like those pesky Americans.
An art expert, Mr. Bricker, was also invited to that same dinner and hung around Downton for two episodes. He originally came to see a particular painting, but stayed because of his sincere attraction to Cora. Before he leaves, he invites her to view an art exhibit in London. She makes plans to stay with Robert's sister, Lady Rosamunde, in London and meet Mr. Bricker at the museum.
Even the ever-obtuse Robert notices that Mr. Bricker is openly flirting with Cora. Unable to express his actual feelings, he tells Cora that he doesn't appreciate Mr. Bricker flirting with Isis, his dog and to ask him to stop. Cora smiles, yet again, and says she will tell him.
Except Cora doesn't mention Robert at all. She goes down to London and has a smashing time with Mr. Bricker, who genuinely enjoys her company, actually listens to what she has to say (we find out she's from my hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio!) and enjoys her untutored yet instinctively insightful observations about fine art. His attraction to her is such that he can barely contain himself, yet Bricker remains a complete gentleman, refraining from kissing her when it is plain that he would have liked nothing more. If Cora had, he would have, but she didn't, so he wouldn't. So very sweet.
Cora gets back to Lady Rosamunde's to find Robert sitting alone, in the drawing room. She is completely surprised to see that he's come all the way to London and not because she's been fooling around. She's had a very nice day a the museum and a lovely dinner at the Ritz Carlton, all of it very innocent, even if it is with a man who likes her a bit too much, considering he knows she's married. Robert, however, isn't happy that she didn't get back until midnight when he had planned to surprise her with his presence and an evening out. Too much, too little, too late. He ruffles Cora by being angry that she went out at all and adds insult to injury by implying that the quite intelligent Cora is too stupid to have anything meaningful to say about art that an art expert would want to hear. Ouch.
Cora later tells him:
"You are allowed to be cross, but you're not allowed to be unjust."
And not allowed to be just a plain insulting jerk to your wife. If Robert doesn't want her to spend time with other men, then he needs to start spending more time with his wife himself.
There's been a revolution in Russia and it seems that a lot of Russian One Percenters had to hotfoot it out of the country or face certain death at the hands of angry Ninety-nine Percenters.
In the first episode of Season Five, there is big discussion of the revolution at dinner, which reduces Lord Grantham to shouting at Tom's teacher friend, Miss Bunting. Yes the same Miss Bunting who is also tutoring our favorite kitchen maid Daisy in math(s). [Brits get really pissed off when you leave the letter "s" off the end, don't ask me why.] Miss Bunting shares Tom's revolutionary spirit, but she is a commoner and not able to get that point across with the polite rhetoric you have to use at the Abbey dinner table. Her views might be tolerated if not condoned, except she managed to really insult Lord Grantham, who had to be saved from complete disgrace by Carson. Therefore she isn't much liked upstairs.
In the second episode of Season Five, we learn that there are Russian Refugees staying just a train ride away from Downton, down in York. By Episode Three, Lady Rose has taken up the cause of the Russian refugees as a fellow aristocrat, and has been showing them around town a bit and helping to ease their transition into their exile in England. Lady Rose invites the Russian refugees to tea at Downton, but she also comes across Miss Bunting in the kitchens and makes the mistake of inviting little Miss Rude Commoner upstairs as well.
Miss Bunting pisses off one of the honored Russian guests about two seconds after she is let upstairs. This guy is hopping mad and wants to leave the house and head back to York immediately. The situation is saved by the ever-gracious Cora, who implores the Russians not to leave without first seeing some gen-u-wine Russian nick-knacks from a Romanov Family wedding.
It seems back in 1874, Violet and her husband, the Late Lord Grantham, took a trip to Russia especially for the wedding of the Grand Duchess Maria, daughter of Czar Alexander, to Queen Victoria's son Lord Alfred.
The idea of the chance at seeing anything from One Percent Russia, let alone from such an august family and occasion is enough for the Russian refugees to immediately forget Miss Bunting's rudeness immediately and bring them to happy tears.
While viewing the items, Violet comes across a gold and lace fan that was given to her at one of the many balls held as part of the wedding festivities. She is reminiscing about the fan and how hot the castle was despite the winter weather. Her son asks her if the fan was presented to her by the Czar. She tells him no, it was given to her by someone else and just then, a Russian gentleman in the room steps forward.
"I gave you this fan. You hid it in your reticule, in case Lord Grantham should be angry."
Lady Violet, the always calm, is visibly staggered. I am completely floored. This was me when Prince Kurigan stepped up.
It's obvious to nearly everyone in the room, Mary especially, that Granny Grantham and the Russian Prince have an untold story together. So much for all that talk over tea about holding in your feelings until the proper moment.
Violet recovers her equilibrium sufficiently to introduce her son and to ask after the Princess. Sadly, the Princess seems to be missing.
Still, leave it to Mary to sum it all up.
"It's a good thing Papa and Rosamunde were already borne or we could spin all sorts of fairy tales."
Shame on you Lady Mary. You took Tony to task for a mild "vulgar" joke over working up an appetite and here you are implying that your grandmother stepped out on her husband. For shame.
Still, even if nothing physical happened, it IS a pretty hot story for staid, upright Violet. Wow!
But it's Cousin Isobel who really gets in the last smug smile. Isobel and Violet really are Downton BFF's despite their differences. Violet has been picking at Isobel over the attention the latter has attracted from a certain Lord Merton. Isobel lost her much vaunted patience at tea over being teased about him, so it's satisfying, as she rides away with Violet, for Isobel to be the one in this indomitable duo to get the last word for once:
"Have you made plans to see your admirer again?"
Violet doesn't answer but said admirer looks longingly at Violet as the car drives away. Violet hasn't planned it, but the look in that Russian Prince's eyes says he hasn't waited this long for nothing. Missing Princess or not, it's only a matter of time before he makes sure his path crosses Violet's again.