By popular request (at least five people, all relatives) the Curmudgeonly Professor has been persuaded to continue his blossoming career as a television and drama critic. Thus, we now turn to Episode 4 of Season 5. And where to begin? Episode 4 is a bundle of hanging enigmas, a cacaphony of grouchy and unhappy people, a cluster of obvious suspicions and lingering doubts.
So we begin at the beginning. Instead of the white dog wagging its tale, we have the slow and ponderous walk up the entrance to the Castle (Abbey) by one Mr. Barrow who lied his way out of the lower regions by professing to go see his father. In reality, however, Mr. Barrow was obviously plagued with the need to fix something or other in his muddled and troubled life that he obviously hoped, somehow, could be cured by squirting himself with something in a syringe. His nasty lines were limited in this episode and we are not quite sure whether to feel sorry for him about 5% of still hate him 100%.
Lady Rose wonders if daddy can stay at the Abbey. Papa, Lord G., according to one, is sounding more and more unreasonable. Molesley tells Baxter "You're too soft." Branson, Mary, and Lord Save My Abbey wander around in a pasture to consider a land plat for building houses. Later in the episode, we are favored with a reprise where Lord G, who up to this point has lost Lady Cora's fortune on Canadian railroad stock and has shown little interest in pigs, crop rotations, and grain sales, has all of a sudden and miraculously become Lord Entrepreneur as he announces his vision for something or other that can be built and save the Abbey and save the pasture. Whatever.
Well, Violet and Isobel trundle off to the soup kitchen to check on the Russian Princes, who in Episode 3, appeared at the Downton Abbey tea party, and one of whom apparently once upon a time owned acres of Russian sod and was swathed in diamonds, and who, we learn, even asked Violet to run away with him. Lady Rose is there ladling out the soup to the unfortunate denizens. Problem is, a princess is missing and the Dowager feels honor bound to find her. Lady Violet is quite mum in verbal assaults on Lady Mary in this episode for Lady M's possible lapses in romantic judgement.
Now to Mr. Molesley. Molesly lusted after the high title of First Footman. But now that he is First Footman, Second Footman, Third Footman, and Fourth Footman, all rolled into one, he realizes that his hopes and dreams have come crashing down since he has five times the work load that he had before. And everyone, to their sadistic delight, keeps lumping more duties and chores on his once temporarily blue-topped head, by reminding him that he is, in fact, indubitably, the First Footman. So get to hopping.
Now enter Daisy. Daisy is being tutored by Miss Bunting and apparently has moved beyond addition, subtraction, and long division to studying about revolutions. Revolutions! Horrors! "Put your books away," admonishes the otherwise kind Mrs. Patmore, "Are you studying to be a revolutionary?" or words close to those. We all know that those in the lower kingdoms of the Abbey have no need for any knowledge other than how to cook rabbits and partridges plucked from pear trees, and that a little learning will just inflate their heads. So, just to prove that Daisy knows what's what and that everything is legit, Mrs. Patmore and Daisy are summoned to stand before the court of Higher Mucky Mucks and Lords and Ladies at the dinner table to account for the book learning. Wait, there's more. Mrs. Patmore has a relative whose name is being kept off the local memorial because of some alleged cowardice or something. Daisy can now write letters so she has volunteered to write in behalf of Mrs. Patmore and stir Abbey lore up a bit to see if she can get the name approved and all past stuff forgiven.
Now to the flirting, romantic intrigues, and class warfare of 1924. Lord Merton shows up with a romantic proposal to Mrs. Crawley who obviously has no intention of marrying, having already thrown cold water on one proposal. Mr. Bricker, the art critic, shows up and renews his flirtatious flirts with Lady Cora, who sweetly and simperingly seems to enjoy taunting His Excellence, the Lord G. Lady Mary found that one night in the sack was not sufficient proof that Lord G. was the man to spend the rest of her life with so she has Anna do the dirty work by sending a message with her to Lord G's digs. This extra round was necessary because Lord G. was not ready to accept Lady M's announcement that he was past history despite his sad plaint about whether he wasn't a good lover. Well, Lord G. wasn't the only one who ran into problems spending a night with Lady M. And in a delightful exhibition of Lady M's best snooty and imperious behavior, Mr. Blake introduces Mabel Lane Fox to Lady M as the last person to dump Lord G. No one is sure whether Branson belongs with the lower kingdoms, whence he originated, or the higher kingdom, where he was adopted by marrying Sybil.
Now to the dramatic highlight of the evening. Things are going along at their normal picky, picky, snipy, grouchy pace when the firecracker of the evening was lit. Watch, boys and girls, Miss Bunting is at the dinner table! What will she do? Well, she will start by telling Lord G that he doesn't know Daisy's name! Slander! Plus a few other well chosen incendiary comments from Miss B., all of which throw Lord G into a fit of righteous rage, enough so that he gets up, blasts away, and leaves the dinner table. Things quiet down a bit while the rest of them continue their dinner.
Now just a few loose ends. Lord G counsels Lady Edith about her lover who may or may not be arrested somewhere in Germany for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, while Violet counsels her about letting Marigold go. Lady E can't do so and wanders down to the farm house once more to ask to see Marigold and has the door closed in her face. Meanwhile, at the Abbey, we get the obligatory 20 second appearance of the two children, Sybbie and George. The Mr. Green thing is fraught with new peril as Anna is seen looking down in the water at the spot where Mr. Green met his demise after she delivered the heave-ho note to Lord Pain in the Neck Gillingham.
So here we are left with two episodes. Will the Mr. Green thing be cleared up or left for next season or the season after? Is Bates innocent? Is Anna innocent? Now the policeman shows up once more since Anna was spotted at Lord G's. Will Barrow ever get back to work? Will the Abbey be saved? Or will it turn into a bed and breakfast with Lord G and Lady C leading tours with Mr. Bricker retained as the art critic? And we have left out Shrimpie. You have to watch it to learn about Shrimpie since we have run out of space and patience to deal with any more conundrums and enigmas. Good luck fellow Downton Abbeyites. May we have the patience to bear up under two more episodes just to see how much stuff is going to be left hanging over until next year. The Curmudgeonly Professor has learned that it is a lot harder to be a drama and TV critic than he originally thought.