Feb 232015

Downton Abbey, Season 5, Episode 8, Lady Mary and Lady Edith

Love may not conquer all, but it can conquer quite a lot.

Downton Abbey, Season 5, Episode 8, the official season finale—although the “Christmas Special” will serve as the season finale in the U.S.—did the usual combination of wit, and stupid, and fun, and dull. It’s the must-watch TV that we wonder why we watch. But I cannot escape the knowledge of one thing: The entire plot surrounding the death of Isis the Big Dog was a machination to introduce Lord Grantham to the stone carver, so that he could suddenly be inspired to help Mrs. Patmore.

Really? We killed a dog for this?

We open with wedding preparation, and while we may briefly imagine it is Isobel and Lord Merton, of course it is Rose and Atticus, and their love is Star Crossed, because he’s Jewish, and so everyone is talking about the scandal. He’s Jewish, her parents are divorcing, these people are filth! You can hardly even call it a marriage! My word!

Rose has few character traits besides being adorable, and kind-hearted, and just a little wild, but I think she likes to be scandalous. She likes to believe that True Love Conquers All, and she likes to prove it by choosing someone who will raise eyebrows, so that she can rise above. For Love! The black singer was a bridge too far, but an upper-crust Jew fits the bill nicely.

Hurrah for intolerance on both sides!

Upstairs, “Donk” plays Snakes and Ladders with Sibby, and considers that this is just not proper, or English, or dignified. It’s a wonder any English child ever survived her upbringing. Tom is still announcing that he’s moving to Boston as if it’s news. YOU TOLD US LAST WEEK.

Downstairs, there’s Bates, there’s Anna, there’s cops. We are meant to be shocked and horrified by the ending of this episode, but they really foreshadow the shit out of things, don’t they?

The real action is with the Dowager Countess, and I am cynically imagining that Fellowes knows his audience, because Hot Geriatric Love is very demographically slanted, isn’t it? Still, I don’t mind.

I don’t want a scandal, just love.

Prince I’ve Longed For You For Fifty Years proposes an illicit sexy relationship, and Saucy Violet is sorely tempted.

Don’t pretend your intransigence as if it were a virtue.

Meanwhile, the Spratt versus Denker war is turning out to be a whole lot of nothing. He hides a suitcase. The iniquity! The deceipt! The insidious cleverness of it all! The result? He…goes back in for it. So what? Sure, later in the episode, we find out that Denker is a mean drunken crook, but Spratt has no part in it.

Throughout the episode, and in previous episodes, we are told over and over that each Young Lover has one parent supportive of the marriage, and one against. Once Lord Sinderby denied plotting against Atticus’s marriage with the little (little) sex scandal, surely Susan the Sourpuss was the obvious suspect? Again, I have to ask, are we meant to be surprised?

Susan Flintshire: Tell me, do you find it difficult these days to get staff?
Lady Sinderby: Not very. But then we’re Jewish, so we pay well.

Ha! I died!

Downton Abbey is absolutely delicious at these barbed dinners; introducing Jews allows people to be bigots within the veneer of civility, and I snorted through my nose quite a lot. And they all look so damn good doing it.

Oh, God the clothes. Can I just say? Oh, God. I can’t even.

At first I thought Denker was involved in the sex plot against Atticus somehow, but that would have gotten her fired, and clearly we need her back next season, to torment Spratt and go to war with Thomas. Tally ho!

You’d be surprised at what people can sink to, to get their own way.

This week’s effort at historical relevance was a brief mention of Amritsar. Since it happened five years before the episode takes place, I don’t see the point of the mention, except to reinforce that Sinderby is a dick—at least, if you know your history.

Anna’s arrest was all the wrong kind of drama. Lady Mary forbids it? Really? These people really do think that nobility is next to godliness, don’t they? The memorial ceremony, on the other hand, was the right kind of drama, and very moving.

So, what did the Basketcases think? Was Archie’s memorial worth a dead dog? Is Thomas sweet on the new kid? will Daisy enter politics?


  8 Responses to “Downton Abbey Season 5 Episode 8: Love Conquers Quite a Lot”

  1. I’ve been calling my hour of snark

  2. It’s the must-watch TV that we wonder why we watch.

    This. A hundred times this.

    Re: Isis and being unable to locate Edith and all the other examples of What Does it Take for These People to Think of something, is unintentionally I think, hilarious. I keep thinking of Monty Python and the upper class twits.

    No wonder “their kind” is in danger of extinction!

    I mean, Mary coukdnt have thought of kissing the other guy on her own about three episodes earlier? It needed brainstorming by others? A full scale plan?

    I know this show tends to work better as high production value soap, but the storylines covered in this entire season could have been dispensed with in two episodes. It reminds me of one of my early jobs in college in a non college job setting and I realized the full time people all did about 20 minutes worth of work stretched out over an 8 hour day!

    Holy Jesus!

    But still I watch and feel dirty afterwards.

  3. Season Two was so soapy that it’s little surprise that S5 is sudsy.

    I must have swallowed this show sinker and all because I’ve just been mostly entertained and occasionally charmed this season – even by the usually villianous Tom Barrow doing a good turn for the new houseboy turned footman.

    I loved the exertion of power by Lady Sinderby as she quashed the Lord’s reaction to Lady Shrimpie’s last-minute-hoping-to-ruin-her-daughters-wedding-revelation. I was pleased that Lord Shrimpie preserved what was left of his daughter’s regard for her mother: “you don’t know him”.

    I sympathize with Prince Kuragin and wonder whether similar fires smolder in me over “one that got away” nearly 30 years ago (and whether they would re-fire if I were to meet her again).

    I’ll admit, though, that the Scotland Yard harrassment is tiresome and entirely lacking in tension over whether Anna will be unjustly punished.

    • I read a recent article–now I’m thinking it was by the editor of the love column in the NY Times, surveying hundreds and hundreds of submissions she’s received–maybe elsewhere though? Anyway, the author states that men and women have almost identical ways of idealizing love, but men project it into the past, and women project it into the future, so that the prototypical fantasy for a man is “the one that got away” and for a woman it’s Prince Charming (coming in the future).

      • Was it this one?


        Women and men may feel love similarly, but they write about it differently.
        A lot of men’s stories seem tinged by regret and nostalgia…
        Women are more inclined to write with restlessness….Many keep mental lists of their expectations, detailing the characteristics of their hoped-for partner with alarming specificity …

        (this reminds me of a joke, in which women shop for men in a multistory dept. store. Each successive floor has men conforming more closely to an ideal)

        Love stories are full of romantic delusion (but) men and women delude themselves (differently) A woman is more likely to believe her romantic ideal awaits somewhere in the future…A man’s romantic ideal typically exists somewhere in the past in the form of an actual person he loved but let go of, or who got away….

    • ” the Scotland Yard harrassment is tiresome and entirely lacking in tension over whether Anna will be unjustly punished.”

      One thought that occurred to me is that Scotland Yard strongly suspects Mr. Bates, but without any evidence they hope the drama surrounding the arrest of Anna will force a confession out of him.

  4. I wonder if the British audiences got tied of this storyline as we Americans apparently have?

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