Downton Abbey S5 E3 – Cora’s Night Out

Downton S5 E3 Cora and Bricker

This week two women of the Crawley family often relegated to putting Robert in his place and smoothing over wrinkles (and in the Dowager’s case flinging out the zippy one-liners) are finally given proper story-lines.  Cora takes a jaunt to London to look at Piero della Francesca pieces with Bricker, the art expert.  He is enchanted by her and rather enchanting himself.  They’re electric together, not least because Elizabeth McGovern looks gorgeous in copper and teal as she speaks of her family history; nouveau riche and Jewish in Cincinnati before Robert found them in New York. They were frowned upon, but Cora was pretty and their money couldn’t be denied.

Hopefully this possible outing into infidelity will be a little more interesting than Robert’s slight dalliance with a maid during the war, which only ended when Cora nearly died from flu and he remembered that he loves his wife. Yet so far the plots very much mirror each other.  When Robert was on the verge of cheating, Cora was suddenly acting like a shrew. The difference here is that Robert is nearly always a bit of a jerk, though not often to Cora. But he is working on her last nerve, especially when he’s angry that no art expert could really be interested in her opinions.  During one of Robert’s talks with Jane, the war widow maid of series two, Robert got existential and wondered what the war was all for.  Here, Cora says to Bricker that she doesn’t imagine anyone will remember anything she’s done by the time her body is cold.  She even calls back that era when Robert strayed, nostalgic for the time when she was “running everything with Barrow” and had something to do with herself.  But Robert is blind to her thirst for a function, even as Bricker wants to know all her thoughts.

Downton S5 E3 SprattThe Dowager’s story closes the episode. Lady Rose has befriended Russian aristocrats who have fled the new Soviet Union.  She brings them to Downton to visit and look over some memorabilia the Crawleys brought back from St. Petersburg in 1874.  Violet reminisces over a fan given to her by a certain Prince Kuragin who then steps out from the small cluster of refugees.  We’ve never see Violet fluttery over a boy. It’s a delight.  It’s a delight for Mary too, who has taken a lecture from her granny on the subject of Tony Gillingham, and now finds they may have common ground.  Mary and Gillingham were spotted by Mr. Spratt as they exited the hotel in Liverpool where they’d spent a lusty few nights.  Spratt spills the beans to the Dowager and she’s smooth as ice, assuring him that she knew all along and it’s all quite innocent and goodness, whatever could he be implying?  But Violet is shocked when once confronting Mary, she discovers marriage might not be the endgame.  Mary seemed to enjoy her rolls in the hay with Gillingham well enough, but she’s not overly interested in him as a partner (neither are we, frankly).   My money’s on Charles Blake for the next man to take Lady Mary’s hand in marriage.

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