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Review: ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 5 Episode 4 Is Full of Costume Porn and Proposals

Review: 'Downton Abbey' Season 5 Episode 4 Is Full of Costume Porn and Proposals

PREVIOUSLY: Review: ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 5, Episode 3, Digs Into ‘Russki Business’

Upstairs

Nothing happened that we haven’t been expecting: Lord Merton’s proposal, Mary telling Gillingham she doesn’t want to marry him, Edith mopes, Cora walks the line between flirting and merely allowing herself to be flirted with, and Robert gets increasingly annoyed with the servants, Bricker, Cora and basically everyone.

Rosamund is taking Mary to a dress show — think 1920s costume porn and you’re about right. Edith’s crestfallen expression when Mary tells her says it all — the illegal abortionist was probably the most exciting place Rosamund has ever taken her.

Of course, this is all just a clever plot device to land Mary face to face with Charles Blake and his new girlfriend Mabel Lane Fox — who also happens to be the fiancée which Tony ‘dirty weekend in Liverpool’ Gillingham dumped for Mary. 


MLF — oh, that’s some awkward initialing right there, especially as she’s clearly in her 20s — is magnificent. She out-Lady Marys Mary, who looks an odd combination of stunned, angry and a bit turned on. She has to come back in future episodes. In fact, MLF and Mary need a spin-off where they solve crimes and sass each other whilst wearing terrific hats.

Back at Downton, Edith is one bit of bad news away from burning the house down on purpose, now that it seems that Michael Gregson was murdered by some Nazis and she isn’t allowed to see Illegitimate Child Marigold anymore. To rub salt in the wound, Rose and Mary are still getting most of the attention, even though Edith’s fiancé was murdered. She doesn’t even get a hug.

Rose is lovely, though. Her divorcing daddy is in town, and she tells him that unlike them, she’s only going to marry for love. This is television code for “she’ll fall for someone poor or black or female in about two episodes.” 

Miss Bunting is still annoying, but Robert is so much worse that she seems pretty nice. He’s dealing with Branson’s rediscovered love of the working class by making it all about him — “It’s as if you’ve joined us and now you’re backing away.” This is the response of most people who get close to Robert. Because he is a terrible human being.

Downstairs

Daisy is studying the Glorious Revolution and is having one of her own. If this episode had an MVP, it would be Daisy. It’s Daisy, who was talked into a marriage she didn’t want a few seasons ago, who stands up to Lord Grantham when he publicly humiliates her for trying to better herself. Daisy is better than all of us and Lord Grantham doesn’t even know her name.

In My Lady’s Chamber

Aside from Anna accompanying Mary to London and Baxter being sympathetic to Thomas (who has shown literally zero reasons to deserve it up until now), the ladies maids have the episode off.

Nobody Cares About Cora

Back to Downton and her restrained color scheme, Cora is still trying to get her family to notice her. Good luck with that! Edith’s been trying her entire life.

Robert finally notices that Simon Bricker is flirting with her, but still lets him stay with them to look at Cora’s precious artwork. It turns out that most of the stuff at Downton was courtesy of an ancestor who went to France after the Revolution and basically looted all the belongings of the guillotined or exiled aristocrats. That must be where Robert gets his impressive tact and generosity of spirit from.

It’s The Future, Mr. Carson

Robert thinks there’s something jolly rum about these brown-shirted thugs stirring up trouble in 1920s Germany. This is the first time he’s been right — both historically and morally — in about two seasons.

December-December Romance

What tonight’s episode lacks in Carson-Hughes action, it makes up for in proposals and scandal. Violet visits her Russian silver fox and finds herself promising to help find his wife, which is a plan that will literally not backfire on her at all, even in the tiniest way. Especially since — gasp! — he once asked her to leave her husband for him. Which implies that he wasn’t all that keen on the wife Violet’s trying to return to him, but when has logic stood in the way of the Dowager’s plots?

In a plot twist that will surprise precisely no one, Lord Merton proposes. Isobel doesn’t exactly say no, but since he then goes into a spiel about how she’s basically the most wonderful person ever to set foot in Yorkshire and all he wants is to spend his last years on Earth basking in her politely socialist glow, she’d be a hard-hearted woman if she didn’t accept. Penelope Wilton has the most perfect reaction face in this scene — first disbelieving that anyone could think she’s beautiful, then gradually starting to glow. Because, of course, Isobel is the best of all of them and the only one who genuinely deserves her happy ending. It’s also frankly shocking that Penelope Wilton isn’t a dame yet, because she’s the best thing to happen to this show after Stoic Sex God Carson.

Let’s face it — we are all Lord Merton.

Who Killed Mr. Green?

Anna is looking guilty, at least if you’re a policeman. She’s forced to tell the local constabulary what a jolly nice man that Mr. Green was whilst he stayed, which might be one of the cruelest things Julian Fellowes has made her do.

Grade: B

READ MORE: Review: ‘Downton Abbey’ Season 5, Episode 2 Gets Closer to Modern Times

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