Downton Abbey Recap - Season 5, Episode 2
Downton Abbey - Season 5, Episode 2Credit: Masterpiece, PBS
January 11, 2015

We start this episode by saying goodbye to Jimmy the footman who's never really been of much use at Downton. He sniped at Barrow for being gay. He nearly date raped Ivy. For the longest time he was one of two interchangeable ginger footman, only noted for being the shorter of the two and only because the other was so gargantuanly tall.

Jimmy topped all of this off by getting caught in bed during last episode's fire with a lady aristocrat he used to work for, who apparently still had the hots for him. Due to the fire Jimmy was caught in bed with her by no less than His Lordship, earning him a sacking with a reference so as to avoid scandal. Goodbye short ginger footman Jimmy. Thanks to The Servant Problem, you will not be replaced, leaving Mr. Mosely to take up all the slack as the only footman left at Downton.

We can nearly count the Downstairs Staff on two hands at this point:

Carson, Head Butler
Mrs. Hughes, Housekeeper
Mr. Bates, Personal Valet to His Lordship
Barrow, Under Butler
Mosley, First, Last and Only Footman
Baxter, Lady's Maid to Her Ladyship
Anna, Lady's Maid to Ladies Mary, Edith and Rose
Mrs. Pattmore, Cook
Daisy, Assistant Cook

Add in one or two maids that seem to do some general cleaning but remain otherwise nameless in the background and that's the entire house staff, greatly reduced from when this series began, proving that The Servant Problem is rearing it's head with a vengeance. Just in time for the new education sensation that sweeping the British nation: Mathematics. It's all the rage,and Daisy is clamoring to get in on this fad.

Daisy was the briefest of war brides, her husband passing on from his extensive war wounds about two seconds after the wedding. Daisy's father-in-law doesn't make distinctions. As far as he is concerned, Daisy is the heir to his fairly prosperous farm. Every now and again Daisy runs out to the farm when things get rough at Downton Abbey, and her father-in-law always invites her to stay. He wants her to learn how to run the place. Now that Daisy has taken to learning math, there's no telling how much longer she's going to have to take Mrs. Pattmore's guff. Once she finishes her continued education, Daisy's days at Downton may be numbered.

This week also finds the household cleaning up from the fire Lady Edith accidentally set last week. Pining for her baby and lost beau who disappeared in the wilds of Germany, Edith managed to set her room on fire. What's this? A photograph of a baby girl under Lady Edith's pillow? Mrs. Hughes and Lady's maid Anna exchange glances but not a word is spoken. Hmmm...Servants in a household know everything, especially Anna and Mrs. Hughes, given that they work so close to the family. Until now there have been no indicators that any of the servants know about Lady Edith's love child. If these two ladies didn't know before, they do now or at least have a good idea.

The one secret that we are finally let in on is a scene stealer among other thefts. Turns out that Lady's Maid Baxter did it all for love. He promised her a new and better life, out in Arizona. All she had to do was steal That Ladyship's jewels, the woman she was working for at the time. Only when she did, she found out that there is no Arizona. Her love had gone, taking the jewels but not Baxter. She tried to cover up the crime but did such a bad job that she was sentenced to five years in prison but only served three.

I didn't expect Baxter's secret to be so shocking, but it really was, especially knowing she'd served time. Her story was made all the more heart rending by her utterly sincere remorse when she finally tells not only, Cora, but, what I suppose was even harder, telling Moseley, who has been her most stalwart support.

"I’d give a limb to rewrite that whole chapter of my life, but I can’t, Mr. Molesley. Even for you. I can’t."

The good news is, now that the secret has been told, Barrow has been reduced to bitterly sniping about his own near-sacking, but he can't hold the secret over Baxter's head any longer.

Lady Rose has been pestering Lord Donk to get a wireless. There are three people in the household you can always count on to be against and sort of technological progress: Mrs. Pattmore, Carson and Lord Grantham. The last two are dead set against getting a wireless no matter how many hints Rose drops about this early 20th century precursor to the iPod. Robert has a minor change of heart when no less than His Majesty The King decides to give an address to the masses on the wireless. The aristocracy must support the monarchy, even if it means bringing yet another modern appliance into the house. The Dowager's reaction to hearing the King on the radio is priceless.

Lady Rose is sorry Lady Mary had to miss out on His Majesty's Ye Olde Podcast for a boring sketching trip. Even “I dated Black Jack Ross” Lady Rose would be shocked to know what Mary is really up to.

Project Get Your Sexy On (Codename: Boring Sketching Trip) is in effect and Lady Mary has laid her plans for the journey. Like any smart woman she has a good cover story and someone to answer the telephone if anyone tries to reach her. Mary also decided to take a trip to Ye Olde Walgreens and get some contraception.

"I don't think one should rely on a man in that department, do you?"

You're damned right you shouldn't. Have condoms will travel. Except she can't go make the purchase herself, she might be recognized. She sends her ever loyal Lady's Maid Anna to Ye Olde Walgreens. The odd thing is, she only requested one item so it couldn't have been condoms. Whatever Anna is sent to blushingly purchase is left to the imagination but I'm assuming it's either a contraceptive sponge or a one-size-fits-all unfitted diaphragm of some sort.

Brava Lady Mary for taking care of yourself. I wish you or someone had chatted with your sister or at least lent her that book. Lady Edith is really making a pest of herself at the Drew's cottage.

One thing that's bothering me: Lady Mary is supposedly taking this trip because she's in love with Tony Gillingham. He's definitely put marriage on the table. If she really wants to marry him, why should she care if she gets pregnant? I have a feeling Lady Mary is mistaking love for lust and loneliness. I'm not the only one. Mary's other sadly hopeless suitor, Mr. Blake, seems to think the same thing. I think Mary is really just missing Matthew especially as she hasn't had sex since well before his fatal car crash.

Lord Gillingham proves his resourcefulness by acquiring connecting hotel rooms and introducing Mary to the concept of true lies.

"If you're going to tell a lie, make it as close to the truth as possbile."

Lord Tony and Lady Mary make plans to have dinner and make love afterward. As Tony puts it:

“We'll make love all night long. In fact, for as long as either of us has any stamina left.”

Sounds ambitious.

Julian Fellowes throws salt in the wound
Just when I thought it was safe to get back in the water, right at the end of the show, here comes a detective with shark bait. Mr. Bates is still not safe. He and Anna's life could be torn apart yet again. There's a detective poking around because another witness has come forward in Mr. Green's murder investigation. Mr. Green being the horrible man and ex-valet to Lord Gillingham, who raped Anna.

Seriously, this is the last thing I or anyone who watches Downton wants to see. The specter of last season's rape hangs over this series like a bad smell. No one wishes more than me that it had never happened and that Julian Fellowes would let the matter drop.

But like anyone who feels unfairly criticized, Mr. Fellowes has decided to drag this out. Just when Anna was starting to look happy again and just when I had stopped having dreams of her being raped.

Thanks for nothing, Julian.

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