Downton Abbey review series 5, episode 5: Period drama falls disappointingly flat

Lord Grantham is off on some jaunt with his army pals, which gives the slimy Mr Bricker the chance to make his move on Cora

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The Independent Culture

It's monsoon season at Downton Abbey, and in the midst of such tumultuous weather it seems only right that emotions are running high.

 In terms of recapping what happened last episode, it must be state-the-obvious week, as everyone has congregated to tell each other what’s going on in their lives, regardless of whether or not the conversation sounds realistic. “You’re having trouble with your illegitimate child. You’re very upset about it,” etc. etc. Despite Downton’s considerable size, it seems that in rushing to give every single character a decent narrative the writers have actually run out of room.

Thomas is looking more and more ill, perhaps mere seconds away from falling face-first into the blancmange he’s serving. It must annoy him that everyone keeps telling him how awful he looks, it’s all: “Thomas you look most unwell”, “Thomas do you need to go and lie down?” “Thomas do you think you should stop injecting yourself with poison?”

Lord Grantham is off on some jaunt with his army pals, which gives the slimy Mr Bricker the chance to make his move on Cora.


Fashion-wise this episode does very well, although with the ominous, ‘he’s behind you’ sense that the Second World War is approaching, red and blue seems to be cropping up an awful lot. Perhaps it’s the fashion, but it would be nice to see Lady Mary, Lord Grantham and Sarah Bunting model something other than the British flag.

Lady Edith is devastated to learn that the couple who adopted her child are moving away. So she flounces off again. The farmer does a bit of flouncing as well this time. It’s unclear if he has a soft spot for Lady Edith or he just really loves his farm.

Lady Rose is enjoying the miserable weather because it’s led to her meeting the charming Atticus Aldridge. After telling her that he has Russian blood, a tense moment involving him and Lady Rose’s Russians reveals that his family are actually Jewish. Cue history lesson about pogroms during the revolution.

After being told a hundred times that Lord Grantham was definitely going to be away all night, Mr Bricker rocks up unannounced in Cora’s bedroom. Of course the Earl arrives home early and rightly lands a smack on his smug face. Cora tries to break up their scuffle by saying “stop” half-heartedly a few times, which is so ineffective that she might as well have stood there shouting “FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT”.

The men are only interrupted when Lady Edith knocks on the door, where Cora reassures her that they’re just playing “a stupid game”. Lady Edith shuffles off again, Mr Bricker slithers back to his own room and starts packing his things, and Lord Grantham storms off to sleep on the posh equivalent of a sofa for the night. Maybe it’s the weather, but the “drama” in the series so far has been something of a damp squib.