Downton Abbey Series 5 Episode 5 Review

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With only a few episodes to play with each year, it really is a wonder how Downton Abbey manages to make its yearly storylines feel so slow and ponderous. It’s possibly because each of those storylines has been brought over from previous series, such as Edith’s baby drama, Tom’s social position and Mary’s indecision about her love life.

This episode, then, marks the beginning of the mid-series lag, which sadly went on right up until the end of the series last year. Edith still can’t see Marigold and must figure out a way of removing her from her adoptive family, Mary wants out of Gillingham’s clutches and Tom must decide between the family he chose and the community he feels he truly belongs to.

The first one looks as irresolvable to the audience as it does to Edith, Violet and Rosamund, except for the fact that we all believe Edith’s inability to raise her own child to be backwards codswallop. It’s not an option, we’re told, but how moral is it for the three of them to tear Marigold away from the only family she’s known? I can’t see this one ending happily, if only because Edith can’t ever have nice things.

Tom’s lack of place has been a problem for the writers since the first series, back when his ascent from chauffeur to resident of Downton was compelling enough to warrant screen time. Now, as charming as all of Tom’s interactions always are – with Mary, Lord Grantham or any of the staff – I wonder how long the show can sustain this particular character beat. Miss Bunting has skipped town, so can that be the end of it?

One continuous storyline I’m not yet tired of is Barrow’s struggle, though embracing his misery seems like a bad idea when we know he can’t really have a happy ending as we perceive it. He lurked, looking peaky, and people have started to enquire about his health. Judging from the preview for next week, he may decide to place his trust in Baxter, so let’s hope she’s a better choice than previous confidantes.

The only bit of real action we got to see was the boiling point of Cora’s little love triangle. Richard E Grant (let’s face it, we don’t need to know his character name) has made his intentions pretty clear, as Lord Grantham’s frosty demeanour has demonstrated, so was this all to incite marriage problems between the two of them? We’ve been here before, without much consequence, but this feels different somehow.

And Anna is being investigated for Green’s murder, which shows a remarkable amount of competency from the police force. They’re wrong, we assume, but I also don’t buy that it was Bates. He’s creepy and had motive, but drawn-out murder mysteries don’t usually resolve on the obvious answer. My money’s still on Gillingham, especially now that Mary is trying her hardest to pass him off as quickly as possible.

What did you think of the episode? What storylines are you tired of? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.