Downton Abbey RECAP: Happy Horsey Picnic Time People! (S5:E6)

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Breakfast at the Crawley’s, time to chat about all their exciting plans—noblesse oblige, luncheons, dinners, teas, shopping trips. Telegram for Lady Edith. Her editor will be stopping by with news about Gregson. Downstairs, Carson speculates it must be bad or they would have telephoned.

Edith takes it as expected, and everyone else—upstairs and down—is like oh crap we’re not going to have to be fake sad about this guy we hardly knew what’s been dead for like two years, are we? Lady Mary, in particular, is having none of it: “What did she think? He was living in a tree?”


All heart that one. Kind of makes you wonder exactly what she and Tony were into.

By lunchtime, Edith is practically dying in front of them as the family solidifies plans for some horsey-picnic thing over the weekend.

Violet has a new maid, Miss Denker, who uses sarcasm and doesn’t get along with Sprout. Ah, the servant class! How childlike and comical they are! Violet takes her along when she drops in on Prince K in his dingy room, but leaves her outside like a pair of wet galoshes. What is one to do when there’s no indoor servant parking? Kuragin is surprised she tracked him down, but mentions it’s not their first “secret assignation.” Oh, Granny! She tells him Shrimpy has confirmed the Princess was alive when she left Russia and it’s only a matter of time ‘til they find her. He’s not overjoyed, as Violet is the only woman he ever really loved—and still does. Does she fall into his arms and surrender? Nope, this is Violet. She makes arch remarks, but we know there’s a hot lava ocean of emotion roiling beneath that ice-cold exterior.

Pretty much the entire series in a nutshell.

Later that afternoon, Robert tells Cora that Gregson is dead. “Was it that Herr Hitler?” Cora asks. Indeed, it was Herr Hitler in the beer putsch with a candlestick. Not to worry. This Hitler chap is going to prison and will never bother anyone ever again. Also, Edith is inheriting the newspaper.

Edith has gone out for “a walk” to Yew Tree Farm where Mrs. Farmer Tim straight out slams the door in her face.

Robert is still pouting over the Bricker thing. Cora confronts him, reminding him that Bricker told him he hadn’t been invited into her bedroom and nothing happened. “How do I know that wasn’t just his gallantry?” Robert asks the woman whom he married for her fortune. Instead of slapping him upside the head or letting loose with 35 years’ worth of resentment, Cora says if he’s never in the entire time they’ve been married had a flirtation that went a little too far or given someone “the wrong impression,” then he’s free to sleep alone the rest of his life. Then she goes back to her room. Robert comes around. Well played, Cora!

Tom, Mary, Robert, and Cora—who’s now an honorary member of the group—are all discussing the poor people’s housing they are going to build. Cora notices that Isis, Robert’s dog, doesn’t look well. Oh crap, show. DO NOT GO THERE. She’d better be having puppies.

"You're not seriously going to kill me off over the name thing, are you?"

“You’re not seriously going to kill me off over the name thing, are you?”

Rose’s young man, Atticus, who is of the Mosaic persuasion, comes to dinner, but everyone has to wait for Queen Lady Mary to make her entrance because she has a surprise. What is it? She got her hair cut! Seriously, these people need to get out more. This is too much for Edith, who blurts out she can’t believe Mary chose the day she found out about Gregson to make a fashion statement.

Even without Miss Bunting, the Crawleys can’t seem to get through dinner without an incident.

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“This is more than a fashion statement. It’s a manifesto.”

Before we proceed to the exciting horsey-picnic, let’s take a look at what happened below stairs, shall we?

Thomas is still sporting his zombie look. It’s a good thing there are no children in the house or they’d be frightened. What? Oh yeah. What happened to those kids? Haven’t they sent them to boarding school already?

"Will you be taking braaaaaains with your tea today, sir?"

“Will you be taking braaaaaains with your tea today, sir?”

Mrs. Patmore invites Mrs. Hughes to see the new cottage she bought. Mrs. Hughes asks Mrs. Patmore to invite Carson as a way to put out “the olive branch” and end the bad feelings about the memorial. Didn’t that happen last week when Patmore asked Carson for his advice? How many times does this damn olive branch have to be offered?

Carson finds the new home not up to his standards and says things no one should ever say when visiting. Samuel L. Jackson’s Stephen in Django Unchained had nothing on Carson when it comes to over-identifying with massa. Later, though, he asks Hughes if she’s made any retirement plans. She replies, “Who says I’ll live to retire?” THIS BETTER NOT BE FORESHADOWING, SHOW! Then he suggests that maybe the two of them should go in on a place together, as a business deal. Hughes doesn’t say no, and smiles when Carson is gone.

"We will, of course, be spending most of our time naked."

“We will, of course, be spending most of our retirement naked.”

Bates is looking through Anna’s things for her “button box” (not a euphemism) and finds the Marie Stopes How to Be a Slut and Avoid Having the Babies book, along with the mysterious but “cunning” device. Does he kill Anna? No, he does not, because he is not a murderer (maybe). But he thinks that she thinks he is and that’s why she doesn’t want to have little Bateses. Anna tells him that’s not it, but she doesn’t rat out Mary. Bates admits he was going to kill Green—he even bought a ticket to London—but he didn’t go because he knew they’d hang him and he couldn’t do that to her. Then, when he found out Green happened to die that very same day, he kept the unused, pristine ticket in his coat pocket to prove he never went to London should he ever be questioned. Anna cries with joy because he’s not a murderer, which probably means she’s not one either unless she had amnesia. But later it sinks in that the missing ticket really was his alibi and she was the one who got rid of the coat, so if her husband hangs, it’s all her fault. Given that Green’s death was considered an accident ‘til the witness came forth, that was very forward thinking of Bates, wasn’t it?

It's all your fault.

It’s all your fault.

The detective is back, and this time it’s Baxter he wants to talk to. Seems “somebody” sent a note to the police that Baxter knew something. Mrs. Hughes is there for the interview, and the detective brings up Baxter’s past, making it clear that if she doesn’t cooperate it’s back to the slammer. Baxter doesn’t have any information except that there may have been an incident with Green and there may have been a journey to London that no one knows about, but she couldn’t swear to any of this. The detective doesn’t ask for any details or further clarification because this is a period historical drama and not a police procedural. Baxter dies a little because now yet another person in the household knows her secret, but Hughes only asks if Cora knows, then says they’ll never speak of it again.

"Thank you for your cooperation, ma'am. At this rate, we hope to have the investigation wrapped up sometime before the Thatcher administration."

“Thank you for your cooperation, ma’am. At this rate, we hope to have the investigation wrapped up sometime before the Thatcher administration.”

Thomas confronts Baxter—not about having sent the note to the cops, which he totally did, but because he needs help. He shows her a very yucky-looking injection site, and she makes him pack up his works and drags him to Dr. Clarkson. Turns out Thomas had some kind of “electrotherapy” in London and was continuing the “treatment” with pills and injections. The injections were saline, but the site got infected. All this to make him like the ladies instead of the dudes. Clarkson tells him there’s no cure for the gay and to “fashion as good a life” as he is able. Thomas tells Baxter she wouldn’t have helped him if she knew what he did. She tells him she does know, and forgives him, and thinks he was very brave to try so hard to change, and says it shows how much potential he has. Will this FINALLY be enough to get Thomas to stop being evil?

"Actually, sir, your homosexuality is the only thing about you that's not deplorable."

“In my medical opinion, your homosexuality is the only thing about you that’s not deplorable.”

And now it’s Horsey-Rich-Time People!

Tony, Charles, and Mabel Lane Fox (not-her-porn-name) are all there. Along with Mary, they will all be riding in a horse race. Tony, who, like a much used Christmas light, seems dimmer every time we see him, asks Mabel if she’s stalking him. Her presence is actually all part of Charles’ plan to get Tony off Mary’s back (and Mary’s front). Mabel manages to snag an invitation to stay the night at Downton, where both Charles and Tony are staying as well. That should be cozy!


It’s time for the race. Mary is doing it side-saddle (not a euphemism) for propriety and Granny’s sake, while Mabel is riding astride. You go girl! Mary still beats her because it’s not like she’s going to let anyone else win unless she really doesn’t want the prize, and even then the other party better realize Mary let them win.

How not to ride a horse like a slut.

How not to ride a horse like a slut.

Isobel tells Violet she has accepted Lord Merton’s proposal. Violet puts on a happy face but is totally thrown by this not-unexpected news. Then she’s thrown some more after Atticus’ parents, Lord and Lady Sinderby, are invited to dinner, and Isobel mentions that his lordship is a big macher in the Jewish community. “There’s always something,” mutters a shaken Violet.p

Meantime, Tom has stayed home because no Irish allowed (or because he just thought he’d rather have nails driven into his skull), and Edith has stayed home because she has a plan. She tells Tom she’s leaving and to tell the family that she wasn’t “hysterical” when she left. But given that hysterical is her baseline, won’t that look suspicious?

She somehow forces her way into Farmer Tim’s and shows Mrs. Farmer Tim the birth certificate, which Mrs. Farmer Tim promptly tears up because everyone knows those things can be faked.

Courtesy: Huffington Post

Courtesy: Huffington Post

Besides, she saw a letter to her husband from Marigold’s “dying father.” Farmer Tim admits it was a forgery, which he wrote, and that they have no claim on the child. Apparently, Mrs. Farmer Tim didn’t notice it was his handwriting because she’s not too great at visual recognition. Giving up, she hands Marigold a teddy bear and makes a speech that sounds cribbed from every melodrama ever, extolling the wee babe to be good to her new mommy who loves her, but never to forget that “we loved you too.”

I suppose now that everything is out in the open, going back to the old arrangement is out of the question?

"Say goodbye to the only family you've ever known, sweetheart."

“Say goodbye to the only family you’ve ever known, sweetheart.”

When the family arrives home and finds out that Edith is gone, Violet stops by the farm. Mrs. Farmer Tim is still upset, as anyone would be if the child they took in and raised as their own was just taken away by a crazy woman who’d been creeping around for months AND YOUR HUSBAND COULD HAVE JUST EXPLAINED THIS TO YOU! The dowager is assured they won’t tell anyone what happened. So thank goodness that important matter is settled and nobody’s wedding prospects will be ruined by scandal!

Edith is at a London hotel with Marigold. She orders ice cream and champagne to celebrate. Let’s hope she doesn’t get the baby drunk. But how will she cope without even a lady’s maid or a nanny?


Marion Stein

Marion writes television recaps and reviews for the Agony Booth, and books you can find over at Amazon.

TV Show: Downton Abbey

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