Downton Abbey S5E4 – Love and Marriage

Downton Abbey S5E4 Thomas

Let’s talk about Sarah Bunting.  Bunting is on the right side of history which means she’s constantly on the wrong side of Robert Crawley. But her outspokenness comes off as blatant rudeness at times.  At dinner with the Crawleys, she suggests Daisy, who she has been tutoring, come up from the kitchens to be questioned.  Robert thinks Daisy’s studies have been distracting her from her work.  It could easily have been a tone-deaf move that might’ve humiliated a servant, but instead Daisy publicly and eloquently thanks Bunting for her help.  But Bunting never knows when to shut up, just as Robert never knows how to contain his temper.  She goes too far and Robert blows a fuse.  Why Tom can’t take his friend aside and strongly urge her to take it down a notch when she’s an invited guest or simply stop inviting her, I don’t know.  He seems continually uncomfortable with the tension between them all.  But Bunting’s antagonism and her mere presence is serving several purposes.  The more Robert acts like a baby, the more irritated is Cora and the more likely she is to fall into the arms of the charming Bricker, who returns to look at their paintings again (right, he’s there to look at the paintings).  Bricker’s advances are becoming more obvious and Robert has gotten wind of the flirtation.  I’m eager to see if Fellowes is willing to let one of his cherished couples explore actual infidelity or whether he’ll shy away.Downton Abbey S5E4 Mary

Bunting is also responsible for the Education of Daisy Mason.  When we met Daisy she was a mousy and somewhat simple scullery maid terrified of making a single mistake and tragically infatuated with Thomas.  Now she’s studying revolutions and encouraging Mrs. Patmore to write letters of protest to the war office demanding her nephew, Archie, be recognized for his service to the country.  All of her steps forward in terms of character have been motivated and made sense for her.  Best of all, not all the women of Downton are running after men.  Daisy has no love interest this season and she’s not missing the charms of footmen a whit.

Isobel Crawley may not end up with a man either, but she certainly has options.  Lord Merton proposes and not for want of comfort and a businesslike partnership.  He tells Isobel he’s fallen head over heels for her.  She says she’ll think about it.  Isobel’s feelings for either Clarkson or Merton are still up in the air.  She may well decide on neither, happy to remain single (outside of being friend-married to Violet) as she told Clarkson she was when he nearly proposed in series three.

Lady Mary may end up single as well.  Though she says wants to remarry, it’s not going to be to Tony Gillingham.  Though Tony does not take the news well, acting like a child who’s had his teddy taken away, he maintains that he and Mary will “get through it” even after she gives him a firm no in a scene that turns him from hapless wrong guy to possibly a villain.  He might turn out as dastardly as Richard Carlisle of series two.  For a guy who’s happy to live without a valet, Tony is awfully entitled when it comes to women, even for your average straight, rich, white guy.

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