New Show Recap: Downton Abbey, Episode 5×09

Well, Persephoneers, I hate to break it to you, but this is the last episode of Downton Abbey for Season 5. And the series is ending after its sixth season, which is next year. All my creys!

But let’s focus on this episode. This is the Christmas episode, and we end this season on a high note.

Anna is in jail, and Lady Mary goes to visit her. But there is concern for Mary’s reputation on Carson’s part, and even Anna’s. But Mary essentially says, “Fuck the haters, this is my lady’s maid.” She urges Anna to be strong. One witness’s testimony that Anna was “talking to” Mr. Green isn’t enough for a trial. Or is it? Remember, this is the 1920s. We can still go to trial even on circumstantial evidence!

Lord Sinderby has rented Brancaster Castle from one of the local lords for a week of grouse hunting and has invited the Crawleys to come. But he has conspicuously excluded Shrimpie and Susan, even though Shrimpie seems to be a pretty cool guy, because they are divorced, and we all know how Lord Sinderby feels about divorce. Violet and Isobel are staying home. Violet is having guests at the Dower House during that time and so she isn’t going. Princess Kuragin has been found, and Violet is allowing her and Prince Kuragin to stay with them and celebrate their reunion. Which isn’t going to be much of a celebration, since Princess Kuragin is basically the hell-beast from this week’s Once Upon a Time wearing a person suit. The family asks Violet why she has gone to all of this trouble to find the princess, but Violet replies mysteriously, “Never complain, never explain.” Edith is like, “LOL, Granny, we all know how much you love to complain.” Violet glares daggers at her. She disowns Edith and puts an advert in the paper for a new granddaughter. As if Edith’s life hasn’t been worse this season!

After the family leaves, Mrs. Patmore and Daisy go upstairs to break into the liquor cabinet, drink sherry, and listen to jazz on the wireless. Daisy keeps being all wishy-washy about whether or not she should stay at Downton Abbey and upsets Mrs. Patmore…again. I thought we resolved this last episode, Daisy!

On the train, the family decides they need to be on their best behavior while they’re with the Sinderbys. Tom is unsure of whether or not he should be going, but since he’s a good shot, Lord Sinderby totally won’t care that Tom is Irish, Catholic, a socialist, and used to be the family chauffeur. We meet Lord Sinderby’s pompous butler, Stowe (hi, Alum Armstrong!), who decides that Barrow can be a footman for the stay. Mary and Robert try to tell Lord Sinderby that he ought to be nicer to Shrimpie and invite him to shoot, since he is Rose’s father-in-law. Lord Sinderby still holds to his no-divorced-people-in-my-house stance.

So let’s get to the shenanigans part of the episode. Denker tells Violet and Isobel that she knows how to make this great restorative broth. Turns out she was lying to one-up Spratt, so she goes to Downton Abbey to get help from Daisy and Mrs. Patmore. They try to teach her a recipe, but Denker screws it up royally. Daisy tells Denker that she will make a broth for her and bring it to the Dower House so Denker can pass it off as her. The scheme almost goes as planned, except Spratt intercepts Daisy and finds the broth in the kitchen. He pours it out and leaves Denker to cook another broth for Violet and Isobel. Violet enters the kitchen and Spratt urges her to try the broth. Violet does, and even though it’s abysmal, she masks her distaste and informs Denker that the broth won’t be needed for a while. That’s what you get for lying, Denker. Linked is the recipe they may have used.

Bates visits Anna in jail, and she tells him that she has a terrible secret that she has been keeping from him and which could increase her chances of going to trial and being found guilty. When she was a teenager, her alcoholic stepfather tried to molest her, and she stabbed him in the leg before he could do anything. The authorities were called, and her mother filed a report, but her stepfather later said that he had accidentally stabbed himself. Because her mother had filed the report, and not the stepfather, it might not be admissible in court. But if it is admissible in court, it would show that Anna had a history of such behavior, and it would help the prosecution establish her guilt.

Shenanigans at Brancaster. Stowe is not only being a dick to Thomas, but he’s also being a dick to Tom, doing such things as deliberately forgetting the cream for Tom’s coffee. When Mary finds out, it’s on, and she decides to play Mean Girls and asks Thomas to “arrange a black mark” for Stowe. Thomas, all too happy to go back to his Team Rocket ways for a good cause, has a plan. At dinner, while everyone else is served a main dish, Lord Sinderby is served fish in aspic, or gefilte fish, which is a traditionally Jewish recipe. Sinderby is pissed and wants to know WTF is going on. Stowe explains that he received a letter from Lord Sinderby requesting the dish for dinner. Sinderby is pissed and yells at Thomas, too, calling him “a stupid fool.” Uh-oh. Stowe and Thomas meet up again in the servants’ hall and Stowe demands to see Thomas’s handwriting, as he suspects Thomas of forging the note. When he sees Thomas’s writing is different, he lets his guard down and thinks Thomas is innocent of the misdeed. They later get drunk together and Stowe lets his mouth run a little too much about Sinderby.

At the Dower House, the Kuragins are reunited, and Isobel and Dickie are there to help them celebrate. The hellbeast is rude to Isobel when she mentions she has never been to Russia. The hellbeast goes on to hint about her last meeting with Violet, which Violet conveniently has forgotten. Violet speaks alone with the prince and tells him that he belongs with his wife, even if she’s a horrible hell-beast. The two leave for Paris to live together in exile. Later, when Isobel asks her about what exactly happened when the hell-beast and Violet last met, Violet confesses that she did almost run away with Prince Kuragin, but the princess intercepted them and dragged Violet out of the carriage. Violet returned home to her husband, who seemed none the wiser. She was thankful that the princess caught up with them and stopped them, because she would have lost her marriage and everything she held dear. Isobel laughs and tells her that she must not have had any other love affairs again, but Violet says she only learned not to take risks like that again. “After all, we were the Edwardians.”

Robert tells Cora that he might have angina. Cora is pissed that he kept it from her and is very concerned. Robert finally broaches the subject of Marigold with Edith and tells her that he has figured it out, and that he has no problem with the arrangement, but that they ought to keep it in the family for everyone’s sake. Edith tells him Mary doesn’t know about Marigold and that Tom might know, but she would like it to remain that way for now. They hug and all is well between them again.

Both Mary and Edith meet guys at the grouse hunt. Edith meets Mr. Pelham, a poor relation of Atticus’s who is the estate agent. Mary meets Henry Talbot, a wealthy businessman. Robert has an episode during the grouse hunt, and the family decamps to the house for tea.

During the tea party, a mysterious woman and a little boy show up. Lord Sinderby seems alarmed, and Rose jumps to action and pretends that the woman, Diana Clark, is a friend of theirs who had just happened to be in the neighborhood and whom Rose had invited for tea. Mary, Tom, and Edith play along, while Lady Sinderby asks about the little boy, who happens to be named Daniel. Diana discloses to Rose that she had received a note to come to Brancaster from London. I think we all know who sent the note. Later, Mary and Edith dance with their guys, and Henry had been able to see what was going on with Diana and tells Mary, “Nice save!” Mary seems to have finally gotten a decent guy with a brain and who has a swell ride. Sinderby is relieved Rose stepped in when she did and tells her how clever and kind she is, and Rose tells him that he needs to be kinder to her parents and Tom and make sure the help is, too. Since he has skeletons in his closet.

Carson tells Mrs. Hughes that he has bought their bed and breakfast and that he put her name on the property. She tells him that she can’t retire, and that she hasn’t saved anything because she has been paying for care for her disabled sister. Proof that Mrs. Hughes is an amazing person and that she and Carson would be very happy together.

Robert goes to the doctor and finds out his angina was an ulcer, so he has to be careful of what he eats and drinks until Christmas.

Bates sends letters to the police telling them that he killed Green, and the police are forced to let Anna go on bail pending further investigation. Bates goes on the run and the Keystone Kops are after him! Baxter and Moseley team up and, with the help of Scooby-Doo, find the inn where Bates had lunch, and the publican remembers Bates’s limp and that they served in the same battalion. Bates has an alibi! But the lawyer is certain the police won’t arrest Anna because the case against her is still weak. So they get a break, and Robert sends a message to Bates. Wait, what is Scooby-Doo doing here?

Isobel dumps Dickie because his sons are jerks and they hate her, and she shows him the letter from one of his sons telling her they will always hate her. She’s not going to marry a man she loves and be miserable because his sons hate her. There’s other fish in the sea, Isobel. Maybe Violet knows some other dashing former Russian aristocrats.

Tom, Edith, and Mary remember Sybil in the nursery. Then they go downstairs and celebrate Christmas. Robert gets drunk and gives a bon voyage speech in Tom’s honor, because Tom is taking Sybbie and going to America, and Tom gets the crowd singing, “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow,” for Robert. More singing and tree-trimming. Tom tells Edith he guessed about Marigold. Bates sneaks in and surprises Anna, and the two go to the cottage to celebrate Christmas together. And Carson proposes to Mrs. Hughes.

And that’s it for this season! As for season 6, same time, same place, next year over at P-Mag, with yours truly!

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