‘Downton Abbey’ Season 6 Episode 5 review: Shocking dining room drama

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The fifth episode of Downton Abbey’s final season opens as Daisy helps Mr. Mason move into Yew Tree Farm.

Mrs. Patmore supplies a hamper of refreshments and is soon serving tea to a grateful Mr. Mason. We suddenly see – as does Daisy – that Mr. Mason and Mrs. P are perfect for each other. Will there be more romance below stairs at the Abbey? We hope so.

Mr. Carson requests that he and his new bride take dinner in their cottage. Mrs. Patmore comes to the rescue, again, as she sends Mrs. Hughes home with their meal. Mr. Carson cannot resist finding fault with everything from smudges on the flatware to the choice of vegetable.

We lose our patience with him when he ask Mrs. Patmore to give Mrs. Hughes cooking lessons, saying that “It’s been a while since she’s played with her patty pans and she’s got some catching up to do.” Watch out, Mr. Carson – you’re on very thin ice.

Downton Abbey 6 5

Henry Talbot makes an appearance and prompts a thoughtful discussion between Tom and Mary about romantic relationships.

“There’s no such thing as safe love. Real love is giving someone the power to hurt you,” he tells her. For heaven’s sake – stop beating about the bush and realize you’re crazy about each other!

Lady Edith goes to London to hire a new editor for her magazine and has a date – that she swears is not a date – with Bertie Pelham. He kisses her and sparks fly. That’s what we call a date.

Downton Abbey 6 5 Edith

Miss Baxter travels to court, in the protective company of Mr. Molesley, to testify against the odious Peter Coyle. She is spared this indignity when Coyle withdraws his plea of not guilty. Maybe she and Mr. Mosley will finally find happiness together. All these almost-couples had better get a move on though; don’t they know we’ve only got a few episodes left!

Peace reigns below stairs at both the Abbey and the Dower House. Mr. Barrow discovers that new footman Andrew cannot read and promises to teach him, in confidence. Andrew is apologetic and Barrow is gracious. Denker gets herself sacked for upbraiding Dr. Clarkson over the hospital issue.

When Denker expresses her surprise at the Dowager’s reaction, the DC utters one of her classic lines: “If I withdrew my friendship from everyone who had spoken ill of me, my address book would be empty.” No to be put out, Denker forces Spratt to intervene on her behalf, citing his concealment of his jail-break nephew in the shed. Denker 1, Spratt 0.

Downton Abbey 6 5 Maggie Smith

The high tension in this episode revolves around the hospital issue. The Dowager has maneuvered Neville Chamberlain – the Minister of Health – into dinner at the Abbey.

In one of the most shocking dining room scenes of the series, Lord Grantham pleads for Isobel and his mother to stop bickering. When they refuse, he rises to excuse himself and projectile vomits blood all over the table (twice), falling to the floor while continuing to spew blood. As Cora kneels to comfort him, he utters, “If this is it, just know that I have loved you very, very much.”

Doctor Clarkson is, fortunately, one of the dinner guests and springs into action. Lord G’s ulcer has burst and he’s rushed to hospital for surgery. We’re treated to a touching scene of the sombre staff, waiting in the servant’s hall for the eventual good news.

As if that weren’t enough, Lady Mary overhears a snippet of conversation between Cora and the Dowager and finally twigs that Marigold is Lady Edith’s child. We don’t know how she’ll handle this news, but we think the context of its delivery has changed and softened Lady Mary. We can only hope.

Aired at 9pm on Sunday 18 October 2015 on ITV.

> Buy the complete Season 1-5 boxset on Amazon.

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> Visit Barbara Hinske’s official website.