Episode six of Downton Abbey is certainly a turning point for the series. The darkness of episodes past has swung back into enjoyable drama, flecked with romance. We say goodbye to one character, and we’re introduced to another. The cycle of ever changing potential romance has been restored.
Central to the downstairs love antics are Daisy, Ivy, Jimmy, and Alfred. Since the last series we’ve watched the Midsummer Night’s Dream-esque situation remain static: Daisy likes Alfred; Alfred likes Ivy; Ivy likes Jimmy who likes her back. In episode six however, things finally change. Ivy realises that Jimmy is a bit of a scoundrel, and Alfred leaves Downton for a culinary opportunity in London. We’re offered a poignant scene of closure between Daisy and Alfred. Yet, when Ivy finally realises that she should have chosen Alfred, it’s too late and he’s already gone. With this plotline drawn to a close, we can expect entirely new downstairs drama next week.
Again this week, we’re subjected to the continual upset in the aftermath of Anna’s rape. Both Bates and Anna are pained every time they look at one another. And knowing that they’re the causes of each other’s hardships further pains them: they’re stuck in a vicious cycle and can’t seem to move on. Especially when Bates casually states at a fancy dinner “I want to murder.” Whatever closure they’ve attempted hasn’t been sufficient. We realise that the assailant must be identified before they can fully return to their old lives.
Episode six does also offer us a bit of fun though. Rebellious cousin Rose organises a band to play at Lord Grantham’s birthday. Interestingly, the band involves a black man named Jack Ross. Some characters are more put off than others at the situation. Carson asks him such questions as whether or not he intends to go to Africa. We’re very satisfied that Mr Ross isn’t at all bothered by the prejudice, however. He’s in fact very confident in himself, averting the potential ‘downcast victim of racism’ persona. Yet, perhaps he’s too confident, as we later discover him kissing Rose. Lady Mary was the only witness to this, and we certainly have yet to see the full repercussion of this event.
“So you must try to be witty tonight, Mr Blake. After that we’ll lower our expectations.”
In one of the series’ recurring themes, we’re introduced to yet another potential suitor for Lady Mary. We’re aware that this time however, it’s different, possibly because Charles Blake doesn’t come in a neat package labeled with ‘potential suitor’. And Blake himself is different as well. He challenges Mary; he engages her in a new and refreshing way, forcing her to examine her feelings about Downton. While the current status of their relationship could be defined as a ‘merry war betwixt them’ (to continue the Shakespeare references), we certainly see potential for something more.
Lady Grantham. This episode also sees the return of a sort of rivalry between Lady Grantham and Mrs Crawley. Mrs Crawley berates her about blaming a gardener for the loss of valuables, accusing her of prejudice. Lady Grantham certainly takes the high road though. She apologises to the gardener and permanently rehires him. This admittance of wrongdoing is new for Lady Grantham and displays a definite character progression.
How much are we over Matthew?
Not completely. This episode’s reference to Matthew is minimal but poignant. Mrs Crawley, Branson, and Mary all gather and discuss their lost loves. It signifies that Mary will join the ranks of those who have moved on with their lives. Although her heartbreaking recounting of Matthew’s proposal also reminds us that she can settle for no less in future romance.