Downton Abbey RECAP: Stupid Games (S5:E5)

da logo

In this week’s episode we bid adieu to two characters that won’t be missed but helped make Robert look good.

Alarmed by Mary’s report that Edith was driving a local pig farmer crazy, Aunt Rosamund drops by for a visit. This is any of Rosamund’s business because she accompanied Edith to the abortionist and then, when that didn’t go as planned, took her to Switzerland to have the baby and leave it there. Having devoted the better part of a year to protecting the family’s reputation, she’s not going to let her stupid niece blow it now.


“No, I’m sure they’ll be perfectly delighted to see us.”

Edith and Rosamund visit Mr. and Mrs. Farmer Tim, and Rosamund can see for herself that the Missus in on the “verge of explosion.” Edith, totally out of control, goes back to see baby Marigold. Farmer Tim won’t even look at her. He tells her she has to go and never come back or his wife is going to pack up the whole family—including Marigold—and leave without a forwarding address.

Not to worry, Violet and Rosamund have a plan: Get Marigold away from the only home she’s ever known and the parents who love her as their own, and send her to a boarding school in France, where Miss Clavel will take good care of her and she and the other little girls will have many excellent adventures. Also Edith can visit and probably see her more often than Tom and Mary see Sybee and George.


“It’s a Madeline reference. But, oh, that’s right, you never got to read to your child. Oops.”

Edith, after more sulking, takes matters into her own hands and makes a mysterious phone call to London. We know it’s important because she goes downstairs for privacy and calls from Carson’s office.

As for the center of the galaxy, a.k.a. Her Royal Highness Miss Lady Mary Crawley of the perfectly arched eyebrow, she goes to lunch with her would-be boyfriend Charles Blake and there’s a surprise guest—Mabel Fox Lane, not her porn-name, Tony’s jilted fiancée. Charles thinks it is to their “mutual advantage” to meet, as Mary is trying to get rid of Tony and Mabel still lurves him. Mabel denies this, says she’s not interested in Lady Mary’s leftovers, and walks away. Charles announces to Mary that his plot worked perfectly, and now things are set in motion. Huh?

“Uh, yeah, I totally meant for that to happen.”

Speaking of cold shoulders, what’s happening with Cora and Robert? Robert has to go to some meeting of the Raccoon Lodge or a class reunion or something that requires him to wear a silly red jacket and be conveniently out of the house when Simon Bricker comes over to  “research the dela Francesca,” which is totally an excuse to be around Cora.

Bricker sneaks into Cora’s bedroom after Miss Baxter leaves and attempts to make sweet, sweet love to her. She’s like, “Dude, seriously, NO,” and for a second it looks almost like he could get rapey. But before anything happens, Robert walks in on them. Again, we have a situation in which Robert, who is AWFUL and incapable of listening to Cora, is proved right by a character created to be worse than he is.

"This disapproving look should settle the situation."

“Prepare yourself to be looked at with disapproval!”

Will Robert hit Bricker? At first, it looks like he won’t, but then Bricker—who like Miss Bunting doesn’t know when to shut up—tells Robert this was bound to happen given the way he treats Cora, so Robert decks him. Edith, who was probably up crying or setting the house on fire, hears a noise and knocks on her mother’s door.

Cora explains, “Your father and I were just playing a stupid game and he knocked over a lamp.” Edith is like, “okay,” because maybe that’s how Cora and Robert used to explain the strange noises coming from Cora’s room back when she and Robert made passionate monkey love every night.

photo not available

The disgraced guest leaves before breakfast. Robert sleeps in his own room, and the next day he and Cora still aren’t speaking. Can this marriage of convenience be saved?


Violet, totally lacking awareness of her own motives, enlists Dr. Clarkson in her plot to keep Isobel from accepting Lord Merton’s proposal, which can only lead her to a “hollow existence in a drafty house with a man who bores her to death.” The idea is for Dr. Clarkson to challenge Merton on his medical knowledge and show him up in front of Isobel for her own good. Turns out, Lord Merton actually reads books and is the exact same kind of nerd as Isobel. The dowager admits defeat.

"I fail to understand why the disapproval in my face is not enough."

“I fail to understand why the disapproval in my face is not enough.”

You know who are not a perfect match and not meant to be? Miss Bunting and Tom. This is the first episode where she is NOT invited to dinner. Tom dumps her because she is completely incapable of understanding why he doesn’t despise the Crawleys, who have been very, very good to him. What is it that keeps her from seeing how wonderful they are? Class warfare, obviously. But Tom has grown so much under Robert’s influence that he is no longer prejudiced against his betters.

And what of the lovely Rose? She’s coming out of a shop with cakes for her Russian refugees because you’ve got to let them eat cake. It’s raining. Rose can’t manage the umbrella and the groceries, what with being kicked in the head by a pony when she was ten—which they haven’t explicitly said happened, but it would be a reasonable explanation for her “childlike innocence.” A nice young gentleman helps her out, and they start talking.

"Yes, two things is quite too many for a lady to carry at once."

“Yes, two things is quite too many for a lady to carry at once, naturally.”

He’s Atticus Aldridge. His father is Lord Cinderbee. They’re in banking, and as he tells Rose, his family used to be sort of Russian kind of, but not anymore, and please forget he even mentioned it. When he stops by the crypt to see her the next day, she introduces him to Prince Kuragin and another displaced aristo named Nicolai. Rose thinks Atticus’ family sets a wonderful example. They came from Russia with nothing and look at them now! Nikolai walks away in disgust, saying that Atticus’ family isn’t Russian and never was. Kuragin apologizes for him because the good guys on the show may be extreme royalists, but they are never anti-Semitic or impolite.

Rose is bewildered by the “not Russian” remark. Then again, Rose is bewildered by milk.

Atticus explains that Nicolai doesn’t consider his family Russian because they are Jews. Rose still doesn’t understand: “You’re English now, and you’re still Jewish.” Such charming naivety! And a young woman who was kicked in the head by a pony shall lead them!

What else happens upstairs? They have a cocktail party, which is apparently one of those “changes” that may “ruin everything,” yet the world does not explode.

Where will this slippery slope lead?

Where will this slippery slope lead?

Meantime, downstairs:

Thomas, who is still on his new cure-the-gay regime, looks worse than ever.


Daisy is going to keep up her studies up even though a broken-hearted Miss Bunting is leaving Downton.

Baxter tells Molesly her whole story, and Molesly still loves her because despite what Mr. Carson thinks, Molesly is a stand-up guy.

Mrs. Patmore inherits some money, but Hughes talks her out of following Carson’s advice about what to do with it because while Hughes may love Carson, even she can see he’s a total dinosaur.

"Have you considered just handing it to the people who already have money so it's back where it belongs?"

“Have you considered just handing it to the people who already have money so it’s back where it belongs?”

And oh yeah, Anna was in London the day Green got pushed under the bus, and there’s a police detective who finds that very suspicious. After he questions her, Bates and Anna talk, but they don’t tell each other the truth—whatever that is. Bates promises Anna he’ll keep her safe and someday they’ll sit by the fire with their children. Let’s hope he doesn’t find Mary’s mysterious contraceptive device, which Anna hid in their cottage. If he does, Anna is going to have some ‘splaining to do if Bates doesn’t strangle her first.

Stray observation: Anyone else notice how Downton Abbey is just like Fiddler on the Roof but with landed gentry instead of shtel Jews? Both describe village life where everyone knows his or her place until everything changes. Both have a patriarch in a more or less arranged marriage, who has grown to love his wife. In both, the papa (accent on different syllables) tries to maintain tradition, but the daughters undermine him by marrying revolutionaries, or out of the faith, or even—gasp—not getting married at all.

Marion Stein

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

TV Show: Downton Abbey

You may also like...