‘Downton Abbey’ Season 5 Episode 6 review

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Mr. Bates didn’t do it! What a relief.

His search for Anna’s button box turns up Lady Mary’s contraceptive device and instruction manual instead, and he assumes that Anna thinks he murdered Mr. Green and has been trying to prevent a pregnancy. Accusations ensue and they finally hash it all out.

Everything appears rosy until he mentions the return train ticket from London that proves his innocence because it isn’t torn in half. Yep, the one that Lady Mary burned. It looks like Mr. Bates may be wrongly accused of murder – again.

Lady Edith gets the news that Michael Gregson’s remains have been found, and that she’s inherited his publishing empire. After a few murmured sympathies, the family moves swiftly on to planning a picnic and discussing Lady Mary’s modern new hairdo, leading poor Edith to the decision that it’s time to gather Marigold and escape. The scene where she takes the child from Mrs. Drew is expertly drawn and truly touching. But hang on, Lady Edith – we have a feeling that he’s not really dead…

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Mabel Lane Fox has a change of heart and makes a play for Lord Gillingham (now definitely outstaying his welcome), leaving the field open for Charles Blake and Lady Mary, and garners an invitation to join the crowd staying at Downton.

The lovely Atticus Aldridge continues to advance his cause with Lady Rose, while Isobel confides in the Dowager Countess that she’s accepted Lord Merton’s proposal, stating it may be her “last chance of a new adventure before I’m done.”

Meanwhile, Cora delivers an ultimatum to Robert: unless he’s never let a flirtation get out of hand during their marriage, he’d better move back into her bedroom that night. Damned if he does; damned if he doesn’t!

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The saline injections that Mr. Barrow has been giving himself result in a raging infection and he turns to Miss Baxter for help. She whisks him away to Dr. Clarkson, where all is set right and Mr. Barrow’s secret is revealed. In a sweet moment on the walk back to Downton, she pronounces him very brave for trying to change himself, and observes, “What you could do in this world if you just set your mind to it.” He appears to take notice.

Will this finally be the nudge he needs to set him on a better path? After all, a decade of scheming still doesn’t seem to have actually got him very far!

Downton Abbey 5 6 Thomas

While Isis appears distressingly listless and overweight – a story line we don’t want to think about – Spratt and the Dowager Countess provide some comic relief. He’s in a snit over the refusal of her new lady’s maid (The Royle Family’s Sue Johnston) to grasp the laundry arrangements at the Dower House.

When he bursts in on the DC and Isobel to complain, she reminds him, “You’re losing the sense of the appropriate, Spratt. You’re losing your sense of occasion.” When her new maid airs her frustrations over Spratt, she advises, “We all pander to Spratt in this house, Denker. He rules us with a rod of iron.”

“And you wonder why I have neither lady’s maid nor butler”, Isobel remarks.

The episode ends with a touching exchange between Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson. Having accompanied Mrs. Patmore to look at the cottage she’s decided to buy, Mr. Carson suggests to Mrs. Hughes that they might buy a place together – strictly as an investment, he hastens to add, to fund their retirements. Mrs. Hughes knows better, and the realisation makes her (and us) glad.


Aired at 9pm on Sunday 26 October 2014 on ITV.

> Order Season 5 on DVD on Amazon.

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