Downton Abbey, Season 5: “Episode 1”

Downton Abbey (Photo: Nick Briggs / PBS / ITV)
Downton Abbey (Photo: Nick Briggs / PBS / ITV)

Cheerio, pip pip, and all that rot.

Hello, What Else Is On!? Haven’t seen you since August!

First, I want to get on my soap box about Downton Abbey being labeled as a soap opera. Downton Abbey is a house, ya’ll. With people. Who have drama. Remember, the people in Downton did not have internet, video games, or Panera. They had books, hunting, and made everything from scratch. The story of Downton Abbey will always be about the ebb and flow of people in the house. Would you rather the people in the house be dull and boring? I think not. “The nature of life is not permanence, but flux” – Mr. Carson

“Episode 1” sees over 6 months pass. We meet baby Sybbie named for her late mother Lady Sybil and baby George Crowley missing his father. We meet Lady Edith and her daughter, while missing Mr. Gregson. All three are missing one of their respective parents. Lady Edith is still grieving Gregson’s disappearance and the loss of being able to raise her daughter.

Thomas is still a prick and picking on Baxter. Baxter shows him up and gets him trouble with Lady Grantham. Thomas is found saving Lady Edith’s life, and of course, Thomas’s merits are quickly restored. Mosley is still trying to win over Baxter, but she is not interested. Carson is chosen over Lord Grantham to head a committee to build a town war memorial. Lord and Lady Grantham have their 34th wedding anniversary during which Tom’s “guest” causes trouble at the dinner table over her shared beliefs with Tom. Later on, Lady Anstruther gets in bed with spry footman, Jimmy. Then, there is a FIRE in which aforementioned Thomas saves Lady Edith’s life. Yes, this is all very soap opera-ish.

However, there are some compelling storylines about women, particularly in this episode, that make Downton worth watching. Daisy is shown trying to learn arithmetic, despite Mr. Carson’s disapproval. Daisy says, “I’m too stupid to make out one solitary word.” We see Lady Mary dishing to Anna about how she heard of some woman wanting to be someone’s “lover” before marriage, insinuating sex before marriage. OH MY. Then, we see Lady Mary accepting Lord Gillingham’s offer to be secret lovers. We see the aforementioned Ms. Bunting speaking up in the face of Lord Grantham, at the anniversary dinner table no less. “Principals are like prayers; noble but awkward at a party.” We see the Dowager Countess telling her haughty butler: “Don’t be such a snob!” No holds barred on modern women! These are clear changes in the way women act and are perceived in British society post-WW I.

Funniest moment to me is the exchange from Lord Grantham to Mosley: “You look very Latin all of a sudden.”

Some thoughts on the horizon:

  1. Will Lady Mary be Lord Gilligham’s lover? Will they marry?
  2. Is Gregson ever coming back?
  3. Will Thomas EVER get fired?
  4. Is Jimmy getting fired? 🙁
  5. Will Bates get found out?

Welcome back, Downton. I missed you.

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