SPOILER WARNING: Plot points will be revealed in this episode-by-episode discussion of ITV period drama Downton Abbey.
Written by Julian Fellowes. Directed by Minko Spiro. Originally broadcast: 19 October 2014, ITV.
Isobel considers whether to accept Lord Merton’s marriage proposal, Rose meets a new man, and Simon Bricker comes to visit… while Robert’s away in Sheffield.
When is it set? Summer 1924.
Where is it set? The house. Dr Clarkson’s office. Violet’s house and back garden. York (including the crypt at St Mary Magdalene’s church). The Drewes’ farm. London (including Simpson’s restaurant).
Debuts, deaths and guest stars:
* Mr Vyner (Louis Hilyer) is an inspector from Scotland Yard who comes to Downton to ask Anna and Mary about the day Mr Green was killed.
* Rose meets a young man called Atticus Aldridge (Matt Barber) when he helps her with her umbrella during a rainy day in York. He then joins her in visiting some Russian refugees – in part because his family has Russian roots. However, a pompous refugee takes against Atticus because he’s Jewish.
* After Tom says he sees no future in their relationship, Sarah Bunting quits her job so she can move to Preston.
* Mrs Patmore says, “I’ve got some good news for a change. An old aunt’s died… No, that’s not the good news.” (Mrs P has inherited a few hundred quid, which Mr Carson suggests she invest in a local building firm.)
* Poor Edith lashes out at dinner – her forced separation from secret daughter Marigold is clearly upsetting her. She’s then devastated when the Drewes moots moving away and taking Marigold with them. Soon after, Edith’s grandmother works out that something is amiss and confronts Edith. Learning the truth, she tells her to send the child to a foreign school. But we later see Edith make a secretive phone call to someone in London…
* Rosamund tells her mother, “I’m afraid you’ve read somewhere that rudeness in old age is amusing.”
* Almost every exterior scene takes place in heavy rain, which adds a bit of texture to the episode. It also means we get the sound of rain dubbed onto interior scenes just before we cut to some location filming.
* Simon Bricker visits Downton (again) to take a photo of a painting for a book he’s writing. Well, that’s his excuse: he’s clearly sniffing around Cora, and happens to stay at the house while Robert is away. Later, Simon sneaks into Cora’s bedroom in the hope of some action! Aghast, she asks him to leave… Meanwhile, downstairs, Robert is returning home unexpectedly. When he walks in on Cora and Bricker together, Simon at least admits that’s he’s not there by Cora’s invitation. But then he taunts Robert – so Robert punches him and they brawl.
* Hearing the commotion from her mother’s bedroom, Edith knocks on the door to ask if everything’s okay. Cora answers and calmly says that she and Robert were playing a game and knocked over a lamp!
* Sarah Bunting is surprised that Tom’s family don’t like her and she can’t understand why Tom keeps defending them. Really?!
* “You never told me what the inspector wanted yesterday,” says Mr Bates to wife Anna. Hang on, a married couple are both suspects in a murder investigation and a copper from Scotland Yard comes to interview one of them… and they wait 24 hours before discussing it?
* Rose reads in the paper about a nudist colony called the Moonella Group, which opened in 1924 at Wickford in Essex.
* Violet says that Ellen Terry has nothing on Isobel when it comes to stringing out a moment. Terry (1847-1928) was the leading Shakespearean actress of the late 19th century.
* Mr Carson mentions American portrait painter John Singer Sargent (1856-1925) and British writer Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936).
* Rosamund says ‘Atticus Aldridge’ sounds like “the hero of a novel by Mrs Humphrey Ward”. Mary Augusta Ward (1851-1920) was a social campaigner as well as a novelist.
* Atticus’s family were forced out of Odessa in Russia during the pogroms of 1859 and 1871.
* Charles takes Mary to dinner at Simpson’s-in-the-Strand, a high-class restaurant in London that began in 1828 as a smoking room.
Maggie Smithism of the week: Violet uses some forced bonhemmie when Isobel twists her ankle slightly: “Lord Merton will have you on the table before you can say knife.”
Mary’s men: She heads to London to meet Charles Blake for dinner and he surprises her by also inviting her love rival Mabel Lane Fox. Charles wants Mary’s help in convincing her to give Tony Gillingham another chance.
Review: It’s a shame Richard E Grant’s stint on the show comes to an end with this episode. He’s been good value.