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‘Downton Abbey’ recap: A proposal to remember

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“Downton” was a bit dark this week. Is happiness really that hard to find for these mansion-dwellers? Apparently so.

Lord Grantham, the grump-in-chief, is being forced to consider selling off part of Downton’s property to developers. He isn’t thrilled at the prospect. He considers himself the keeper of a sacred tradition and doesn’t want to be the Grantham responsible for turning the estate over to the rabble. Tom and Mary try to convince him that the estate can use the money, but he’s not moved.

Lady Edith’s struggles continue to mount. There’s news from Munich that the Brownshirt thugs are on trial and Edith may be close to finding out what happened to Michael Grigson. She’d almost rather not know. And motherhood, such as it is for her, may be pushing her over the edge. This week we find her stalking the daughter she has handed over to the tenant farmers for safekeeping. This plan doesn’t seem to be working well for any of the parties involved. I’d feel sorry for Edith but she does a fine enough job of feeling sorry for herself.

“Edith darling, why so glum?” her clueless mother asks her.

“I’m not glum, am I?” Edith responds in her glum-glummiest voice.

No, Edith, you’re not glum at all. And Hillary’s not running for president.

In other grim plot developments, Mr. Barrow returns from visiting his ill father. Only, his father never was ill. Baxter seems to have figured out that Barrow is the one who is sick. But what’s wrong with him? She hears him call out in anguish and when she opens the door she spots a syringe on a table. Is he a drug addict? Not likely. It’s all a bit unclear, but by show’s end it seems the “illness” Barrow is trying to cure himself of is his attraction to men.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Patmore (and thank you to all the commenters who explained last week that heads of kitchens and house staff were referred to as Mrs. even if they were unmarried) is distraught that her nephew Archie will not be recognized on any war memorial because he was shot for cowardice. She sees this as a great injustice and is particularly perturbed with Mr. Carson for showing so little compassion.

The issue is brought to Lord Grantham who has noticed Mrs. Patmore’s despair. Grantham tells Mrs. Patmore that he agrees that her nephew should be recognized but that he can’t change the ruling. Mrs. Patmore takes some comfort from Grantham’s words and takes a shot at Mr. C. “It helps to see how decent folk can see how Archie was a victim even if Mr. Carson can’t,” she says.

Washington Post

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