'Downton Abbey' Recap: Series 5, Episode 8

So, Rose and Atticus are the cutest. (Photo: (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2014 for MASTERPIECE)
So, Rose and Atticus are the cutest. (Photo: (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2014 for MASTERPIECE)
Previously, on Downton Abbey:  Cora and Rosamund track Edith to London, where she’s fled with Marigold and convince her not only to return to Downton with the child, but that lying about the Drewes ability to take care of the child is enough cover for her to just adopt her. Sure, okay. Isobel gets engaged to Lord Merton, but his hellspawn sons ruin the dinner party the Crawleys throw in their honor. Daisy mopes about the state of progressivism in the world. Rose and Atticus are so adorable they are basically made of kittens and puppies and also they get engaged. Isis is diagnosed with cancer because this show hates me so much. There’s more stuff, but just see last week’s recap.)

It’s the penultimate episode of the season and there is a lot going on. Let’s dish. 

Surprise, Rose is Getting Married. Like, Right Now. Guess what, guys! Apparently another time jump has happened on Downton, because the folks that make this show apparently feel like we, the viewers, could never possibly want to see the immediate fallout from a super dramatic episode like last week’s or anything like that. Nope! We’d much rather if you just skipped it all entirely and moved on to the next thing, preferably some long amount of time from now! So now it would appear that possibly several months have gone by since last week’s episode – as it appears we’re a week away from Rose and Atticus’ wedding, Marigold has already moved into the abbey, Isis has apparently died, and the local war memorial has been constructed. Way to hit that fast forward button, guys!

ANYWAY. It is some unspecified time at some point a while in the future. Everybody’s in a tizzy at Downton, getting ready for the trip to London for Rose’s wedding. Daisy and Mrs. Patmore are baking while Rose is showing off outfits to Violet, Cora, Mary and Isobel. The girl power clothes hour is pretty adorable and I’m struck again by the thought this show should really give the ladies a reason to all hang out together more often. Cora laments the absence of Rose’s parents and implies that the Flintshires have been stuck in India at least an extra two months. Rose doesn’t care, because she hates her mother anyway, and we learn that the adorable couple is going to have to do a registry office ceremony combined with a church blessing because of their differences in religion. Rose is determined to try and accommodate the Judaism situation as much as possible, because she wants to make Atticus’ dad like her, or at least tolerate her, and it’s super cute. This behavior also represents about 100% more maturity than Rose has heretofore EVER displayed, which is how you know that Atticus has actually been good for her. (SO CUUUTE.)

Now That Marigold Has Moved In, Suddenly the Kids Are Everywhere. For some reason, the kids seem to be everywhere at Downton now that Edith’s brought Marigold into the fold. It’s possible that it’s just because the show needs to remind us as often as possible that there are children who a.) exist and b.) are plot points, if the pointed comments whenever Marigold is mentioned or shown are any indication. It’s still hilarious that suddenly everyone’s so interested in parenting, when prior to right now we were lucky if we saw Sybbie stroll by with a nanny for two minutes. 

So, if you really want to go hard, play a drinking game where you have to do a shot everytime Edith acts moony over her daughter, performs some action that is so overly maternal even strangers can tell that’s got to be her actual child, or someone makes a double edged comment about how familiar Marigold seems to them. At this point Edith might as well just make a sign in the nursery that says I HAVE A SECRET ABOUT THIS KID and start waving it around. It’s hard to tell what’s more ridiculous – that she’s this terrible at hiding her obvious connection to the girl or that the rest of the family is this stupid for buying her completely weak lie. Or, alternatively I suppose it’s possible that the Crawleys have been magically replaced en masse with alien pod people who suddenly want to spend time with toddlers and roll around on the floor playing games. But it seems unlikely. 

This Murder Plot Will Seriously Never Die. Carson receives word that those London inspectors are – after all this time has passed – headed back to Downton for some undefined reason. Apparently this police force has literally zero other crimes to investigate in the entirety of London, so they’re still digging about Green’s mysterious death, particularly where the Bateses are concerned. Anna and Bates are anxious about having the cops pop back up in their lives like this, for obvious reasons. 

The cops explain that they've learned Green had an issue with women, and seemingly had perpetrated a series of attacks on various women, who had all been too afraid to come forward about it until recently. (Let’s all remember that these idiots have been investigating this for months. Sheesh.) The police explain that his usual victims were small, slight women who’d never encouraged him – and here’s where they all stare at Anna in a completely not at all creepy way of course – and, thanks to even more new evidence they now know that Green was most likely killed by someone shorter than he was, who would of course, therefore be shorter than Bates. This is good news in that it puts Bates in the clear, but it’s so obvious that these idiots are back to suspecting Anna again. Ugh. 

Telling them this info seems to be the only reason for their visit (Worst. Cops. EVER) thought the lead inspector asks Anna if she wouldn’t mind stopping in to Scotland Yard while the family’s in London, just, you know, for reasons. [Cue ominous music.]

Prince Igor Has a Proposal. Prince Igor comes to see Violet, ostensibly to ask her to be with him come hell or high water. He says this time, right now, is their last chance to be together and happy, but Violet shoots this down immediately, saying that they left their “last chance” behind them years ago. Prince Igor proposes divorcing his missing Princess, should Shrimpie’s minions ever manage to find her alive, because he wants to spend the rest of his life with Violet instead. He insists that the last few years of his life have been so ugly and he doesn’t want that for the rest of it.

In some way, this seems to be meant as an uber-romantic gesture, instead it comes off a bit, well, creepy, for my taste? Violet is clearly taken aback by all this and says she can’t make any decisions right now, and Igor calmly insists that he’s mind is already made up on the subject. Though, does anyone really think that the Dowager Countess is going to up and run off with a married man? Or wait for him to get divorced? It seems so unlike her. Honestly, I just don’t know what to think about this storyline. Convince me about it, y’all. 

The Flintshires Are Back! The Crawleys all head to London en masse and when they get there, they meet Rose’s parents, Shrimpie (Awesome) and Susan (Awful), the Lord and Lady Flintshire. Susan is immediately pouty and rude, because she is The Worst, and makes a big deal about their sleeping arrangements. Since she and Shrimpie are divorcing she cannot abide having to share a room with him, insisting that she’ll go to a hotel first. Mrs. Hughes says she’ll take care of things, because she is amazing, and suggests they just make Edith share with Rose. Oh, and there’s a throwaway line that O’Brien’s gotten herself a job with the new Governor’s wife, and is therefore staying in India. Which is both good and bad I guess, as I always enjoyed her scheming and honestly Thomas could use a friend right now.

Rose, meanwhile, trips upstairs to see her mother, and they hug. It’s awkward because Susan is The Worst. She wants to know if Rose is 100% sure about marrying this boy and Rose says yes, absolutely. Susan says that’s all she needed to know but she looks so snotty about it it’s hard to believe she means it. Ugh, poor Rose. 

Hey, Another New Footman! Or, Thomas Gets a Random New Manfriend. Carson hires an extra footman to help out in London for the weekend of Rose’s wedding. Andy is pretty psyched about the chance to serve as a footman, even though it means he’s basically quit his old job for the chance at a week’s work with the Granthams and the experience. Which, whatever. Baxter thinks he’s brave for it, and Thomas is instantly looking all smitten. He offers to show Andy around and show him how everything in Grantham House works, which probably means he’ll be stalking him and watching him sleep within the next twenty minutes or so.

But he helps him smarten up his outfit and explains the rules of serving – apparently Grantham House is a bit more cosmopolitan and laid-back than Downton Abbey, and the family tends to do things like, fetch themselves second drinks. We live in amazing times. 

No, Really, Rose’s Mom is Just the Worst. Lord and Lady Sinderby arrive for dinner, with Atticus in tow, and Rose is so adorably excited about introducing him to her parents, and I’m sorry in advance but I’m just going to be the human version of the emoji that’s a cat with hearts for eyes whenever they are on screen together. (SO CUTE.) Anyway, Rose intros her man to the ‘rents, and Lady Flintshire doesn’t immediately mention her impending divorcing, settling for just saying that Atticus is a pretty weird name. (HATEFUL.)

Dinner goes about as awkwardly as you’d expect – though, thankfully, last week’s Merton and Sons family outburst has set the bar pretty high for failure, so it’s really not that bad. Susan keeps making weird, slightly racist comments about the fact that the Sinderbys are Jews, and seems bursting to tell them that she’s leaving Shrimpie, even though Rose has begged her to keep the news of their breakup under wraps until after the wedding, so Atticus’ father can’t find any more reasons to be a jerk to her. This is all super embarrassing and painful to watch as we bounce from awkward comment to dreadful comment, at least until Lady Sinderby – who is clearly where Atticus gets ALL of his awesomeness from – makes a snide comment about being Jewish just to rub Susan’s face in it. Actually it’s a money joke, so it’s terrible, really, but Susan deserves it so much I don’t care, and it’s 100% amazing, actually. Even Violet smiles. So, die in a fire, Rose’s mom. 

The Bateses Go to Scotland Yard. Anna and Bates are summoned to Scotland Yard, which is presented as a big jail, which is kind of hilarious. They are steered through a dark, scary looking part of the building – lots of shots through bars, and dank lighting etc – and Anna is ushered into a room with a bunch of other women. This room actually turns out to be a police lineup because there is actually a lower place this storyline can go, apparently. Anna is made to stand in the lineup and hold a number with the other ladies and a unidentified man comes in to look them all over. No one in authority will tell Anna anything about what’s going on, despite her asking repeatedly and loudly. Bates is glowering ominously (hilariously) in the background, so this is sure to turn out well. 

Atticus Gets Set Up at His Bachelor Party. Atticus has his stag night at the hotel he’s currently staying in – to give his parents more room for guests at their London house – and he has a great time but decides to turn in early. He leaves his tab open for everyone else though, so the party rages on. There’s a weird, pushy girl who tries to follow Atticus into the elevator though – he shoots her down, firmly, and it’s all very awkward and weird, because he in no way seems like the sort of man who would be even flirting with anyone who wasn’t Rose. He gets upstairs to his room, and the same pushy girl barges in again, but just long enough to drop the top of her dress off of her shoulders, smile at him and walk out, posing strangely a couple more times. It’s incredibly weird, which is how you can tell immediately that someone is trying to set Atticus up and make it look like he’s having some sort of affair.

Sure enough - surprise, surprise, Rose receives an anonymous note while out at lunch with Mary, Edith and Tom, and it contains what appear to be compromising photos of Atticus with the girl, who Mary immediately calls “some tart”. Mary is many things, but sometimes she is straight awesome, and this is one of those times. She shoves water at Rose, who starts crying, while Tom, the practical one, tells Rose to go see Atticus as soon as possible. Tom’s also suspicious of Atticus’ father, and tells Edith he thinks Lord Sinderby might have set this up to stop the wedding.

(Hmmmm…it does seem worth pointing out, however, that Susan was very obviously shown mailing a mysterious letter to an unidentified someone the morning after Attitcus told everyone the location of his stag do. In case you need someone to be suspicious of.)

Daisy Makes a Life Decision. Under the influence of Molesley – who is apparently a secret art junkie in addiction to loving Vanity Fair – Daisy goes out to see some museums while she’s in London. Molesley and Baxter come along with her and they make a day out of it. Daisy’s just super impressed with, like, the existence of museums, that there are all these places dedicated to history and learning and self-discovery and what all. I’m wondering if Daisy literally spend her entire life under an actual rock in Yorkshire, because her reaction to, like, the mere existence of things like paintings is ridiculously over the top. Sheesh.

Anyway, now that she’s seen ART and CULTURE are real things that are real, Daisy’s moping because she feels like going back to her life at Downton is basically taking up chains again because her life is so empty. Daisy has missed a calling to the stage, IMO. She’s so dramatic. Daisy now feels that she’d be better off studying in London, where she has immediate access to all this art and history and culture and libraries everywhere. So she spur of the moment decides to hand in her notice, despite having no job or friends or prospects in London, but whatever. Mrs. Patmore is visibly upset, and that is upsetting to me. 

Atticus Confronts His Dad. Atticus and Rose talk – well, more like they meet in the park and she yells at him – and then he goes straight to his father to confront him about the photos. Lord Sinderby denies all involvement in The Great Tart Set Up, and seems surprised that his son would think him capable of such a thing. This seems like the truth, actually, particularly when Sinderby has no qualms admitting that he is is quite against Atticus marrying Rose – not for her own sake, he says she seems quite decent, but she’s English and Anglican and he’s just real mad that Atticus isn’t marrying a nice Jewish girl. He insists that their family has made something of themselves and are leaders in their faith community and he doesn’t like seeing his son throwing that all away for some girl and guaranteeing the third Lord Sinderby won’t be Jewish anymore. He hates that, but he gives his son his word that he didn’t have anything to do with this photo thing.

Meanwhile, Rose fills her family in on things – she says Atticus claims he’s innocent and thinks it was all some sort of prank. She says she doesn’t believe that – either he’s lying or someone is trying to stop her wedding. But, she seems to firmly pick the latter category when, after Atticus apologizes again, she decides she believes him about things. 

Team Shrimpie Forever! Mary fills in Shrimpie on the Rose/Atticus mess, and tells him that she and Tom suspect Lord Sinderby of meddling. She says she doesn’t know whether they can confront him or not and Shrimpie looks worried. He begs off a nightcap with the family though, and heads upstairs.

On his trek to bed, Shrimpie stops by Susan’s room and clearly demonstrates that Rose gets all of her awesome from her father’s side of the family. Susan makes even more anti-Semitic remarks, just in case this episode hasn’t given us enough reasons to despise her, and gets snarky about Shrimpie being tolerant. He tells her that she needs to stop interfering, and if she doesn’t behave herself he’s going to tell Rose that she’s the one responsible for setting Atticus up. He even has proof – in the form of the checkbook stub from the mysterious payment Susan sent off earlier in the episode, because I guess “Tarty Girls Here to Help You Set Up Nearly Married Men, Inc” is a rather noticeable expense in one’s personal banking ledger.

Susan starts whining and crying about how much it sucks that they’ve lost all their money and status and now Rose is becoming an outcast by marrying a Jew and isn’t life horrible. Shrimpie says that no one’s life is easy, and this is their daughter’s choice. He tells her to suck it up and not say anything about the divorce until after the wedding or else. Susan looks mulish and rather hopefully asks whether Lord Sinderby might put his foot down finally if he found out about that. Shrimpie glares at her because Susan is trash and storms out, triumphant, because he is the best thing ever. 

Mary is Sad That Her World is Changing. Mary’s moping because Rose is getting married and Tom’s decided to go to America, and complains that everyone she loves is basically leaving behind, stuck back at the abbey with Edith. Tom says that he has a plan now, he’s going to go to Boston to work with a cousin, and he’ll stay through Christmas and help find a new agent for the estate and that will be that. Mary is terribly sad, and says she doesn’t know what she’s going to do without him. Tom smiles and mentions how far the two of them have come since way back when he used to drive her and her sisters into Ripon for dress fittings. This is such a super sweet scene, and while I know there is a not insignificant contingent of fans online that want Tom and Mary to get together, I sort of just adore their friendship as it is now – especially when you look back at how much they’ve been through together. 

Atticus’ Mom is Amazing.  Despite all the stag night drama, the families gather for Rose and Atticus’ registry office wedding ceremony. Susan is still freaking out – whether its because she’s upset about her daughter marrying a Jew, or the fact that the situation isn’t all about her, or that her daughter’s getting married at all is unclear. I mean, I get that this is drama but the fact that she has no motivation for her behavior beyond the fact that “hateful cow” appears to be her default setting is so frustrating. Anyway, Susan just suddenly sands up and starts loudly informing the Sinderbys that they just HAVE to know that she and Shrimpie are getting divorced. And she doesn’t just tell the Sinderbys, she announces this to an entire roomful of people, some of which are complete strangers to her, because Susan is the absolute worst. She says that the dissolution of their relationship will be all over the papers and that sadly that’s going to drag their family into things too. ISN’T THAT A SHAME.

Lord Sinderby looks ready to explode, but his wife, who is the most awesome person ever, is ON IT. She smoothly thanks Susan for letting them know what’s up, because forewarned is forearmed and all that. She smiles and then turns to her husband – who is still spitting mad – and calmly tells him that if he does anything to stop her son’s wedding she’s going to leave him and show him what a real scandal looks like.  Lady Sinderby is everything and she can join my Awesome Ladies spinoff any day. (That’s the one in my head where basically it’s just Violet and Mabel Lane Fox and Rose and Isobel and Mrs. Hughes sometimes Mary when she’s not being irritating just sit around drinking and being amazing together. It would be the best show.)

Meanwhile, Rose has missed all this because she’s out in the hallway with her father, nervously awaiting her cue. Thankfully, at least one of Rose’s parents isn’t actually Satan, because Shrimpie’s just awesomely telling his daughter all the things that a Great Dad would do. He tells Rose that if she’s sure about her decision to get married, then that’s enough for him, and that he never doubted Atticus for a second. He also covers for Susan, for Rose’s sake and says she doesn’t know the person he’d discovered was responsible for the bachelor party “prank”. Shrimpie is amazing. He wishes Rose all the happiness in the world and they hug and he walks her down the makeshift registry office aisle. Atticus is standing there beaming at her and it’s all just too cute for words. Well done, you crazy kids. 

Onward to the Reception. Everyone heads to the hotel where there’s a big reception in honor of Rose and Atticus. Tony Gillingham arrives with Mabel Lane Fox, because I guess anyone who has met the bride and groom before is invited to party with them, apparently. Rose has changed into a, quite frankly amazing dress, and makes a sweet speech to her new husband’s parents about how much she loves Atticus and that she’ll do whatever she can to make him happy. Lady Sinderby is beaming and Lord Sinderby finally just gives up, in the most graceless manner possible, and says that since the thing is done now they might as well try and go forward in hope.

Gillingham and Mabel Lane Fox chat with Tom and everyone’s awkward together because they don’t know what to say to each other and there’s like zero reason for these people to be there. Mabel announces that the two of them are getting married at Christmas and actually invites Mary, which is both amazing and hilarious. Later, when they have a minute alone, Mary tells Gillingham that he was exactly what she needed when she needed it. He makes a bit of a face, and says that he hopes things come right for her in the end. Mary looks depressed after he wanders off.

Carson discovers Mary hiding in the stairwell moping. He asks if she’s alright and she says she feels like their household is breaking up around her. She supposes that’s normal, that people change and grow up and move away, but she’s still blue about it. Carson hopes Gillingham hasn’t upset her and he says it in that adorable way that you know means Carson would absolutely go break his nose if he had, but Mary says no, she’s happy that he’s happy with Mabel. Carson says Gillingham wasn’t half good enough for her anyway, because Carson is awesome and perfect. He goes on to explain that it’s not just that he thinks so, but that he saw Mary figure it out for herself too, and that she could realize that this man wasn’t right for her is a good thing. He says he knows Mary will triumph in the end and it’s so sweet and I’m so mad that this isn’t the sort of show where the two of them can hug it out right now, because that’s absolutely what should happen here. 

Surprise: Daisy Changes Her Mind. Daisy, who’s busy making coffee for Violet’s new ladies’ maid who’s come back to the London house totally wasted, which is a storyline so ridiculous I’m actually ignoring for purposes of this recap, stumbles upon Mrs. Patmore crying in the kitchen. Not even really crying even, more like full on ugly sobbing. She’s so upset that Daisy’s planning to leave, and says she’ll miss her so terribly. Daisy tries to make her feel better, telling her that she’ll give a month’s notice and she’ll be back for the memorial ceremony blah blah. Mrs. Patmore just tells Daisy not to worry about it, she’ll figure it out, and for all the studying that Daisy’s been doing she’s still kind of an idiot in the ways that matter.

But, luckily, things turn out okay. After the dedication of the village war memorial, Daisy, Mrs. Patmore and Awesome Mr. Mason are walking along chatting. Mrs. Patmore brings up Daisy’s idea of moving to London, and Mr. Mason looks shocked. In a twist that will surely shock no one, Daisy confesses that she thought of a life in London but has ultimately changed her mind. She says she’s not planning to go anywhere for now, at least not until she’s passed her exams. No idea what these exams are, of course, it’s not like Daisy’s secretly at Hogwarts during her downtime, but whatever. It’s unlikely that anyone seriously thought she was going to leave, and again I’m left wondering why the threads of the Mason farm storyline aren’t picked up more frequently – if Daisy needs something to do, she has a story sitting right there for her. Ugh.

Anna Gets Arrested. Yes, Really. This storyline. I can’t even. Anna’s busy helping Mary get ready for bed after Rose’s wedding and their chatting about the happy couple and inane things when Mrs. Hughes comes in. She is awkward and kind of nervous, and that’s because the cops have arrived and they’re waiting to arrest Anna. It seems a bit…weird to do this in what amounts to the middle of the night, but this whole storyline is ridiculous so what’s one more thing, I guess.

Anna goes downstairs, where she is actually handcuffed even though she weighs maybe 90 pounds soaking wet and is unlikely to wrestle any of the four officers who’ve shown up to claim her to the ground in her bid for freedom. Anna’s freaking out –obviously – and says she can’t go anywhere until Bates gets back. The cops think maybe Mrs. Hughes ought to be the one to break things to him, after they’ve gone, so Bates can say or do anything (like murder possibly probably) that might get him into trouble once he knows.

Mary protests that she forbids all of this and then Bates actually does arrive, insisting that he can’t let them take Anna. Robert even offers to stand surety for his daughter’s maid but the idiot police officer just says that a witness has identified Anna as being near Mr. Green when he fell. Anna’s crying, Mary’s being the most awesome version of her ice queen self as she threatens to call her lawyer immediately, and everything’s a mess. Can you believe we have literally spent over two seasons of this show now with one member of the Anna/Bates relationship either in prison or living under threat of arrest? Get some original ideas please, Julian. 

Allright, gang. We've got one episode to go this season and a lot's going on. What did you think of this week's episode? What do you want to see in the finale? Hit the comments. 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB