Every week for the fifth season of PBS's period drama Downton Abbey, Joe Reid, Sophie Gilbert, and Katie Kilkenny will discuss the intrigues, upstairs and downstairs, of public television's favorite Yorkshire manor.
Gilbert: For four weeks now I’ve been stuck in a Sisyphean game of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Each week, the guest is Miss Bunting. Each week, Rose suggests what a lovely thing it might be to invite her, and Mary and Cora agree how nice it’ll be for Tom to have one of his working-class friends at dinner, and Robert gets huffy and everyone ignores him (which is usually a plus, but not on this occasion). Then Miss Bunting comes, to dinner, says something rude, infuriates Lord Grantham, and ruins the meal for everyone. But lo and behold, the next week she’s back, with her sharp northern vowels and her class warfare and her laser-sharp ability to goad Lord Grantham “with a surgeon’s accuracy.” I can’t take it anymore. For the love of all that is genteel, Downton, please just stop inviting her. No good can come of it.
Unfortunately, Groundhog Downton continues in more ways than one. Once again, Sybbie and George were paraded through the house and patted on the head by Grandpappa before instantly disappearing, never to be seen again. Mrs. Patmore was still heartbroken over her nephew. A member of the Bates family was possibly investigated for a crime s/he may or may not have committed. Mary spent time with Lord Gillingham and Charles Blake. Edith stalked Marigold. I know it’s the 1920s and the idle rich didn’t have much to do beyond go to fashion shows, debate the pros and cons of newfangled technology, and occasionally dispense their largesse in villages like Oprah with a hereditary peerage (you get a war memorial! and you get a war memorial!), but if Downton doesn’t figure out new things for its characters to do soon I’m going to take that della Francesca and beat myself into oblivion with it.