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Downton Abbey: Season 5, Episode 1: Smutty Deliberations

Guest blogger Amie Simon is back with a Downton Abbey season 5 Premiere episode recap! Warning: this post is full of spoilers, so don't read through if you haven’t watched yet. For those that have—let’s dive in, shall we? 

Here we are again Downton fans; it’s been a long wait, but the season 5 premiere finally happened! It seems like almost everyone at Downton has ONE thing on his or her minds and it’s something that must be discussed privately behind closed doors. That’s right: residents both upstairs and down are thinking about S-E-X! Sure, it’s the roaring ‘20s, but is Downton ready for this? Lord Grantham certainly isn’t …   
 
One person who actually isn’t interested in intimate adventures is poor Lady Edith. Still devastated from Gregson’s mysterious disappearance, she frequently steals away to Farmer Drewe’s house to visit the daughter he has secreted away for her. Edith has serious trouble concealing her feelings for wee Marigold, which Drewe’s wife misreads as “a crush” on her husband! Whoops. Shades of Edith’s checkered past … remember her passionate kiss with Farmer Drake in season 2? I hope Edith isn’t falling into bad habits. Hmm…maybe she is interested! 
 
The rest of the Crawley clan are having their morning tea where politics and Lord Grantham’s aversion to his grandchildren are discussed. Cora pleads with him to stick around and visit with the little ones, but he declines saying he’ll wait “until they can answer back.” Oh right, babies are “women’s work” aren’t they, Robert? It’s then revealed he’s actually upset at Sybbie’s chosen nickname for him, “Donk.” AHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh my. That was the best laugh I’ve had in quite some time. 
 
 
 
Down in the kitchen, Daisy is enraged about the workload because Ivy wasn’t replaced and they don’t have a proper kitchen maid to pick up the slack. So much for riding on the high of that summer romance—bitchy Daisy is back in effect! Hughes and Patmore just roll their eyes at her, because really, what can they do about it? Hughes also drops a bomb and leaves: BY THE WAY it’s the Grantham’s 34th wedding anniversary in a few days! You know, just in case you want to make a cake. 
 
Meanwhile, Violet and Isobel take a stroll and discuss the problem of the persistent Lord Merton. Isobel seems like she’s protesting a bit too much about his hot pursuit of her, to which The Dowager says, “He just wants what all men want!” She clarifies later by saying, “I was referring to companionship…” But I’m not so sure that’s true! Remember, Merton was lamenting the lack of spark in his previous marriage, and he sure seems taken with Mrs. Crawley. 
 
Speaking of sparks, Jimmy and his coif have a problem! Good thing he’s discussing it with Barrow—that guy always has sensible ideas. Seems James’ former employer, Lady Anstruther, has been sending him scandalous letters and calling him “a naughty boy.” Thomas advises that Jimmy not encourage her, so of course it makes perfect sense that James sends her a Valentine’s card “as a joke.” OH, Jimmy. Will you never learn? Thankfully, Carson interrupts by telling them to tear themselves away from their “smutty deliberations.” 
 
Pre-dinner, the ladies of Downton are looking lovely in their fashionable flapper dresses (bare! shoulders!), and Robert brings up something about a war memorial in town. Apparently the committee is arriving later to ask Lord Grantham to be chairman … or so he thinks! Cora mentions that Lord Gillingham is also planning a visit—to refresh your memory, he’s one of “Mary’s Men”—and Robert encourages this development because he’s so eager to have his eldest daughter re-settled. 
 
 
Anna and Bates finally make an appearance! But it’s only to discuss whether or not Tony Gillingham has won Mary’s heart from (in my opinion, the much more interesting) Charles Blake. Barrow sees Baxter watching them and tries to pressure her again for dirt about Bates, but Molesley (oh, faithful Molesley!) steps in to intervene before he can threaten her into giving up what she knows. 
 
The war memorial committee arrives and shocks Robert with a few pieces of news: 1) they’d like a piece of land to erect the memorial on, and 2) they actually want Carson to be the chairman! HILARIOUS! His Lordship tries to act like it doesn’t bother him, but it’s pretty apparent it does. If only he could take his mother’s advice and just tell the village what he wants, just like his father always did. 
 
Edith, Rose, and Branson travel to the schoolhouse to administer prizes where Branson runs into Miss Bunting! There’s definitely still some chemistry there, even after she makes a flippant remark about “ruining” things by pushing to see the estate and being discovered there together. Rose notices the exchange with interest … those raised eyebrows! A new romantic scheme has started, and we all know young Rose will see it through. 
 
Over at The Dowager's, it looks like Violet is trying to start a war between Dr. Clarkson and Lord Merton for Isobel’s affections. Interesting! Let the battle commence? I’m not sure exactly who she’s rooting for, but she invites Clarkson to attend a luncheon with Mrs. Crawley, Lord Merton and the widow Lady Shackleton. Later, Cora makes a good point about Violet not wanting Isobel to move up in station—so maybe The Dowager is pitting the two men against each other hoping that Clarkson will win? Hmm….
 
 
Barrow makes a strong move to pressure Baxter into providing him with information, or he’ll tell Lady Cora all about her terrible secret! Pre-hair dye disaster, the sometimes-wise Molesley offers Baxter some excellent advice: tell her ladyship the truth before Thomas can; that way he will lose his leverage. And so Baxter does! 
 
In a tearful confession, Baxter tells Cora that she lifted jewelry from a former employer and went to prison for 3 years. Lady Grantham thinks there’s more to the story, and so do I—but it seems like it might be awhile before we learn that is. While Cora determines whether or not Baxter is reformed, she gives Barrow a good chewing out and threatens to dismiss him for being such an oily jerk. Go, Cora! I really like that she’s taking matters into her own hands, instead of asking Robert. 
 
And now it’s Anna and Bates’ turn to talk about SEX! But eeeesh, is it hard. It sounds like the happy (???) couple haven’t been intimate since the tragic events of last season, as Bates slyly alludes to “something they could do” if they wanted to start trying to have children. Anna’s response is heartbreaking, as she’s clearly not ready yet. Bates! You better not pressure her, or I’ll have to start hating you. 
 
Daisy’s efforts to try and learn something new start a discussion amongst Hughes, Patmore, and Carson about people knowing their place in life. Unsurprisingly, Carson’s opinion is that Daisy doesn’t need to “learn” anything. Patmore kind of agrees, saying that Daisy doesn’t need to be an expert in algebra to be a cook. Only Elsie is pro-Daisy, and shoots both Patmore and Carson an exasperated glare just before she downs a stiff drink.  
 
 
The half-hearted planning of Robert and Cora’s anniversary dinner continues with the ladies, and Rose has the brilliant idea of inviting Lady Bunting to dinner! Man, she is REALLY pushing this on Branson, isn’t she? Robert is so not going to be happy about this, especially because he expressed his “disappointment’ to Cora about Tom’s choice of company earlier. Also, Jimmy’s special lady friend used the evil telephone to call and say she’s “dropping by” Downton the day of as well. 
 
While getting ready for bed, Mary admits to Anna that she hasn’t chosen between Gillingham and Blake yet because she’s curious about her compatibility with both of them between the sheets! Without being “so graphic” that anyone feels like fainting, she asks Anna how she’s supposed to know which one to pick without knowing about, you know, bedroom stuff. That’s a great point, Mary! If only you wouldn’t be considered a ruined woman if you attempted to find out. 
 
The game is afoot at Violet’s, with a bevy of widows and widowers to choose from. Isobel snarkily remarks that it seems like The Dowager has “gone to a lot of trouble,” Lady Shackleton flirts with Lord Merton, Violet’s butler continues to ignore Clarkson, and the jealousy in the room is so thick people can barely move around. It’s still not clear exactly whom Isobel prefers, though! How long will she torture these two men? 
 
Surprise! Lady Anstruther has arrived, and her car has broken down so she absolutely HAS to spend the night. Jimmy is so unnerved by this news that he almost drops an entire tray of tea. Good thing he’s resolved to keep away from her with Barrow’s help! Thomas is so good at helping, isn’t he? 
 
 
Bates and Gillingham have an awkward moment in which Bates questions Tony about his former valet, Green. Bates! EVERYONE knows what you did. Why are you even bringing it up? Barrow is on to you, and you are so going to end up in prison again if you don’t knock it off and start laying low … and I can not handle another boring season of you in prison, so just stop. 
 
After a romantic shooting expedition in which Mary admits to loving Tony Gillingham in her “own cold and unfeeling way,” the handsome Lord shows up at Mary’s bedroom door unexpectedly to propose that they discover exactly how steamy their relationship is by going away together to become LOVERS! What, what, what! I can’t even. I’m still in shock from this confession! Mary agrees, but stipulates, “no one can know.” 
 
Molesley’s increasingly BLUE hair dye causes Robert to remark, “Molesley, you look very Latin all of the sudden! Do you have Italian in your blood?” AHAHAHAHAHAHA. The comedy stylings of Molesley continue. I guess it’s a comfort that he’ll never change. 
 
Schoolmistress Bunting causes some drama at dinner by questioning the point of a war memorial and stirring up Branson’s rebellious side! She pushes it even further by insisting she go down to thank the staff for dinner. Robert is POSTIVELY livid! Later, he’s a little less enraged after Branson takes him aside to apologize for his behavior and explain that he and Bunting didn’t “do it.” YIKES. That had to be rough for both of them.
 
 
Edith’s grief over Gregson takes a tragic turn after she tosses a book he left at Downton into her bedroom fireplace, and somehow doesn’t notice it falls out onto the carpet, starting a blaze that alights her whole room! Thankfully, Thomas notices the smoke while he’s on the lookout for people discovering Jimmy with Lady Anstruther, and carries Edith out before she’s engulfed. 
 
Once his daughter is safe, Lord Grantham sets out to rescue the rest of the guests, discovering Jimmy and his lusty lady in the midst of lovemaking! The heat in her bedroom was apparently so fierce they didn’t even notice the fire. However, Robert noticed enough to suggest to Carson that Jimmy be relocated. Whoops. What will Thomas do without the object of his affection? 
 
But huzzah! At least we don’t have to worry about Thomas leaving too now that he’s (temporarily) a hero and safe from being dismissed by Cora. Good save! I’m relieved he’s sticking around to help fill the villainous, scheming void that O’Brien and her bangs have left. 
 
I can’t wait for the next episode to learn whether or not Mary will actually go through with her planned getaway! What are you looking forward to? Tell us what you desperately want to see happen this season in the comments. 
 
 
Best line from Dowager Countess: "There’s nothing simpler than avoiding people you don’t like. Avoiding one’s friends; that’s the real test.”  
 
Most “Molesley” moment: Asking Baxter how old he looks after dying his hair blue-black, and then getting all Molesley on her when she replies “52”. 
 
Most scandalous moment: Gillingham telling Mary he wants her to go away with him to become “his lover!” Mind. Blown. 
 
Most romantic scene: Robert toasting his marriage to Cora with this beautiful (yet still very Robert) speech: “Marriage is a lottery as we are often been told, but I’ve got the winning ticket. I’ve been awarded a bumper prize: beauty, brains, a heart, a conscience, all in one. I give you, my Cora.”
 
Most devastating betrayal: I’m gonna go with Patmore agreeing that Daisy “doesn’t need to learn anything new.” Mrs. Patmore! C’mon! You’re supposed to have her back.  
 
Most ridiculous bit of soapy melodrama: Bates questioning Lord Gillingham about his deceased valet, Green. I thought we were done with this! And why would Bates bring him up? So dumb. 
 
 
Photo credit: Courtesy of Nick Briggs/Carnival Films 2014 for MASTERPIECE

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Several interesting elements here. I love Daisy trying to acquire new skills so that she can one day run Mr. Mason's farm, even though Sophie McShera admitted in The Manners of Downton Abbey after the show that it would be "rubbish" for her if Daisy went anywhere else because she would have to leave the show. As usual, I am all about Anna and Bates and their happiness (or lack thereof) will pretty much determine whether I am happy at season's end. The fact that one of the trailers shows Anna crying and exclaiming "God in Heaven!" leaves me less than optimistic. I love the scene with Tom (Branson) and Robert, where Robert worries that Tom's association with Miss Bunting will rekindle his rebellious political persuasions. I admire his struggle to reconcile his conscience with his politics and respect for his family. Several seasons ago I never dreamed that Branson would be one of my favorite characters.

Great comments, David! Cheers to Daisy doing what she wants! And Tom's evolution has been so amazing to watch. I love who he is now, and I hate to think of him leaving the Crawleys. And oh my, yes. It seems like Anna & Bates might never be allowed to be happy, doesn't it? Still, we can hope! Theirs is a great, tragic romance. You never know what twists and turns it will take before the season's end ...

love Amie Simon's blog!

Oh my! THANK YOU so much for saying so, Dorothy! That's lovely.

Love the blog by Amie. Yes, Branson has turned into a favorite character and wouldn't like to see him ruin if all with Miss Bunting. She's a little too pushy. Rose is a fresh breath of air and you know she will always be up to something and seemingly getting away with it. But not so poor Edith. I hate where this story line is gong for her. Last season she was so lovely and enjoying herself until she got carried away. Why can't something good ever happen for her.
Why must Mary have everything going for her, her loss of Matthew was terrible but now she has everything going her way again.

Annna! Thank you. :) Bunting IS a little over-the-top, isn't she? And I agree, it would be nice to see Edith happy and carefree again. As for Mary, well, who knows if she'll get what she wants? We never know what might happen by end of season!

I really appreciate the blog, some times I don't catch all the words so this helps me to put it all together. I agree about Edith, she really has had a bit of bad luck. She deserves a gorgeous Lord to sweep her off her feet and her daughter.

I do not like Tony. Hope Mary does not chose Tony Gilliham. He is not the right person for her. I do not think he is the best person for her.
the world is changing . Soon the depression will be upon them and if she is to save the estate for George Tony is not the person to help her.

I am definitely with you on that one, Nancy. I've been rooting for Blake all this time! Hope he makes a reappearance soon ....

Wouldn't it be interesting to have either flashbacks with 2 of the favorites who are deceased, or their spirits returning since the love and attachments were so strong? Perhaps someone seeing Sybil by her sleeping daughter's bedside, or Matthew visiting Mary on a walk in Downton's expansive garden?

where's the episode 2 recap from Sunday Jan 11th?

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