'Downton Abbey' recap, Episode 5, Lord Grantham vs. everyone

  • Take it down a notch, Lord Grantham.
Take it down a notch, Lord Grantham. (Carnival Film and Television…)
February 03, 2013|By Jordan Bartel, assistant editor, b

It's the day of Lady Sybil's funeral (which we don't actually get to see) and Lord Grantham is, understandably, in a foul mood. So he takes it out. On basically the whole house.

Yes, he's greiving. But he's also acting like a stubborn mule. Let's countdown his fights: 

1. The baby's name
An inconsolable Branson ("My wife is dead. I'm past help, but thank you," he tells Matthew) announces that he plans to name the baby Sybil. "I want to remember her mother whenever I look at her." Makes perfect sense, and is very reasonable, right? To Robert, "it's ghouiish!" he tells Mary while scrunching his face up very angrily.

2. Catholicism

In the same baby-name conversation, Edith mentions that it's time the baby is christened, but Branson announces that the child will be christened as a Catholic. "My daughter is Irish and she will be Catholic like her father," he says. Robert is, to put it mildly, flabbergasted and leaves the dinner table. "There hasn't been a Catholic Crawley since the Reformation!" Robert later says. Because people are keeping tabs on that.

Robert decides that right now is the perfect time to invite a priest to dinner, a Mr. Travis, who also, coincidentally, doesn't enjoy the Catholics, especially their "bells and incense." Travis says that all that is not "pleasing to God." "Is he not pleased by the population of France? Or Italy," Branson offers.

Edith throws in, "South America? Portugal? Have they missed the mark, too? Matthew adds in Russia and the entire Indian subcontinent, you know, for good measure.

Travis is unmoved, even though the Dowager Countess has no issue. "The Duchess of Norfolk is a dear friend," she says. "And she's more Catholic than the Pope."

Mary ends up solving things in a heartbreaking way. "Sybil would have been happy for the child to be Catholic," she says. "She said so to me. On the day she died." Branson is thrilled and heartbroken at the same time.

3. Managing Downton

Meanwhile, Matthew is having a devil of a time deciding how to fix Downton's crumbling finances. He's walking with Branson around the property and discovers that his brother-in-law has property management experience. Well, Branson's grandather was a farmer in Ireland taking care of sheep, but still, it's something.

Matthew seems to be getting some sort of plan together on how to run Downton better, but when he even tries to broach the subject with Robert, Robert is uber-offended and raises his tone in the angry-Robert way.

4. Ethel

One of the bigger fights involves Ethel, whom I'm beginning to tolerate more in this episode. When Isobel wants to invite the Crawley ladies for lunch, Ethel offers to try her best to make something lovely for them. Since Ethel even has problems even tea, Isobel says (in a nice-ish) way that she doesn't have to cook.

So she enlists the help of Mrs. Patmore for a surprise. Carson sees her at Isobel's estate and scolds her for taking to Ethel, since she's a former prostitute and all. "Ypou've been frolicking with prostitutes," Carson says. "Do I look like a frolicker?" Patmore offers. Kind of, Patmore, but we'll move on.

Still Carson is livid, so he runs off to tell Robert about the dinner and how Ethel is about to ruin/corrupt the family by serving them. Ethel actually succeeds with the dinner, though Robert high-tails it over to get them to gop home.

"We're going! Do you know who prepared this lunch for you?" Robert yells

Cora: "Yes, Ethel."

Robert: "Who bore a bastard child!"

Cora — and everyone else — refuses to leave, even though Robert stares her down. He leaves in a huff.

Later, Carson finds out what went down.

"Not even the Dowager?!" Mrs. Hughes says, shocked that DC didn't bolt. Yes, even the Dowager.

5. Sybil's death

The saddest and most interesting fight is between the grieving parents. Robert is still in the doghouse in the worst way, though in the beginning of the episode, he asks to "move back in" to his bedroom.

A nice scene from Elizabeth McGovern:

"You believed Tapsell because he's knighted and fashionable and has a practice on Harley Street," Cora says, discussing what went down the night Sybil gave birth. "You let all that nonsense weigh against saving our daughter's life, which is what I find so very hard to forgive."

Robert: "Do you think I miss her any less than you?"

Cora: "I would think you miss her more, since you blocked the last chance we had to prevent her death."

Yikes. True, but yikes. How will these two (ever?) resolve things? Robert is shaken, and goes to mom for advice on what to do. Saying that "people like us are NEVER unhappily married," the Dowager urges Robert to keep up appearances and perhaps have Cora visit her mother in New York. "In these moments, a couple do not see as much of each other as they like."

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