Downton Abbey S5E6 – A Bob and a Flutter

Downton Abbey S5E6 Isobel

Thomas Barrow isn’t so depressing, though he leads a tragic life most of the time.  He finally confides in Baxter, looking even worse than he did last week.  He shows Baxter not only the medicine with which he’s been injecting himself, but the horrific abscesses on the small of his back.  He begs for help and admits he’s done something that might make her not want to help him, alluding to the letter.  Baxter is sisterly; she waves it off and moves on.  At the village hospital, Dr. Clarkson breaks it to Thomas that he’s been injecting unsterilized saline solution all this time.  It’s caused abscesses and fevers and will cure nothing.  He tells Thomas what he has known deep down his whole life: there is no cure for homosexuality and he ought to try to make the best life he can for himself.  Thomas is friendly with Baxter when they leave the hospital.  She considers his actions brave. It’s an odd twist on the expectation of what he’s done being based in some kind of shame.  She sees it as brave because he’s suffered so much to attempt to achieve a goal.  The last person who called Thomas Barrow brave was Jimmy Kent, after Thomas was beaten for him at the fair.  It’s nice to see Thomas get some credit for that quality, even if Thomas only calls Baxter daft for saying so.Downton Abbey S5E6 Thomas

Thomas has never had to fend off suitors (sadly), but Violet is doing so now.  Prince Kuragin is turning up the romance when she goes to visit him.  He says he truly loved her many years ago and still does now.  She thinks saying so makes it seem as if their marriages were unhappy. “You think to be unhappily wed is ill-bred,” Kuragin says.  And Violet has to admit that he knows her well.  But Kuragin’s wife, the missing princess, may soon be found in Hong Kong.  It’s hard to say whether this sweet romance will have a happy ending either way.

Mary is doubtless having the most fun of all.  Wanting to give even the rejected Tony Gillingham a taste of what he will miss, and Charles Blake a taste of what he might get, Mary bobs her hair in flapper fashion.  She races with the gentlemen to the shock of her grandmother, though she still rides side-saddle, which is frightening to watch as she jumps her horse.  Mary and Blake have angled to bring Mabel Lane Fox to Gillingham, to match them back up.  I think Fox is too good for Gillingham.  She’s spunky and wry and he’s a little creepy yet rather dull.  Lady Rose brings the jolly and adorable  Atticus Aldridge to the competition.  She does seem believably nervous when he sees Mary and Edith squabbling, embarrassing her in front of her would-be beau.  At the race, Isobel reveals that she’s going to accept Merton’s proposal after all.  I think I’m for it.  I’m excited to see what Isobel is capable of with a little money and power in her hands.

In other news, Molesley is loaning Daisy books, attempting to aid her in her studies.  He’s ignoring Baxter, still scandalized by her past.  I can’t tell if he’s romantically interested in Daisy (he did try to hit on Anna once too) or if he’s just being a friend.   And upstairs, Isis the golden lab is sluggish.  It would be nice to see some kind of comparison of overt concern for the dog outweigh concern for Barrow, who continued to work when he looked as if he were dying.  Then again, Fellowes doesn’t usually like to shoot for too much realism in upstairs/downstairs relations.  That’s just not this show.

The shippers hoping for romance for Carson and Mrs. Hughes must have been ringing church bells this week.  Carson suggests they go in on a cottage together as Patmore has done with her money.  Patmore plans to live in her cottage when she retires.   It’s unclear whether Carson means for he and Hughes to live together someday, though I imagine that’s what he’s thinking.

One last new little plot looks promising.  Violet has hired a new lady’s maid.  Her name is Denker (Sue Johnston) and she’s spunky.  She’s already giving the imperious Spratt a run for his money.  I expect big things from Denker.

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