REVIEW: Downton Abbey: Richard E Grant Flirts With Lady Cora And Lady Mary Gets Close To Lord Gillingham

Last week’s episode of Downton Abbey re-introduced us back into the world of the Crawley family and set about documenting the beginning of ‘the change’. But what did tonight’s episode offer us? Well, the topic of change was still prominent, but this time it focused on the impact it was having on Lady Mary and Tom Branson. The household also welcomed a new face in the form of Richard E Grant’s Simon Bricker who didn’t waste time in flirting with Lady Cora.

After his shenanigans with Lady Anstruther, Jimmy was sent packing and he made his exit in quite a heartfelt way when he said his farewell to Barrow: “If anyone had told me I’d be friends with a…man like you, I would have not believed them but we have been friends and I’m sad to see the back of you.” And if you weren’t already welling up with Jimmy’s kind words, he went on to wish Barrow: “In case we don’t meet again, I hope you find some happiness. I do truly.” This was particularly poignant in a time where Barrow had to hide who he really was.

As we said farewell to Jimmy at the start, the episode began to get exciting when the storylines from last week began to get more interesting. After Mr Drew reassured Lady Edith that she would be able to see her daughter on a regular basis last week, the farmer suggested that Edith should become Marigold’s Godmother in tonight’s episode. As Edith jumped at the chance of having the chance to know her daughter without anyone suspecting, there was a less than positive reaction from Mrs Drew who wasn’t keen on the idea of Edith’s growing involvement in Marigold. Julian Fellowes pulled on our heartstrings once again this week as Edith excitedly announced the idea of financially supporting Marigold to her parents. Later on Lord Grantham said of the idea later to Lady Cora: “In all probability, her beloved Gregson is dead and she has to sit and watch her sisters children play. She wants someone to love. It’s as simple as that. Of course the problem will come when she has a child of her own to distract her.” Oh if only he knew!

Lady Edith is given hope that she can see Marigold on a more regular basis (ITV Pictures)

Whilst things were looking up for Edith, the same could be said for Lady Mary as she put her plan to spend a dirty weekend away with Tony Gillingham, into action. With her story set – a sketching getaway with Annabel Portsmouth – Lady Mary had one more thing to sort…protection to avoid “consequences”. But of course a lady of high society could not go in to a pharmacy and ask for a condom. So it was up to Anna to awkwardly get one for her. Hilariously enough, Anna put her embarrassment aside when she complained to Lady Mary that the woman in the pharmacy judged her for wanting to use contraception. She quipped: “I feel like going back and ordering a baker’s dozen.”

The preparation for Mary’s getaway also made us giggle as Anna worried about packing clothes that Mary could take on an off easily. Getting into the idea of spending a weekend of debauchery with Gillingham, Mary responded with: “Well I’ll have his help.” And that she did as Tony Gilligham revealed exactly what they were going to get up to when they met up in Liverpool. After telling her about their dinner plans, Gillingham then said: “We’ll make love all night and in fact for as long as either of us has any stamina left.” Too. Much. Information!

The Abbey settles down to listen to the King on the wireless (ITV Pictures)

But before Mary went away, Charles Blake made an appearance. He knew that he had lost her heart and through a heartfelt conversation where Mary aplogised for hurting him, he declared that he was happy for them both. But something tells us that he hasn’t admitted defeat just yet. Charles’ return to Downton made way for Richard E Grant to make his debut as Simon Bricker, an art historian who seemed more interested in Lady Cora than he did the paintings that he had come to see. Surely Robert saw what was going on between Simon and his wife, right? Wrong! He hilariously asked Lady Cora to tell Bricker to stop flirting with their dog! “Can you tell your friend Bricker to stop flirting with Isis, there’s nothing more ill bread then trying to steal the affections of someone else’s dog.” Um, we think the dog should be the least of Robert’s worries. Back to Bricker and we were expecting to see more of Richard E Grant. Perhaps the best is yet to come.

Simon Bricker flirts with Lady Cora (ITV Pictures)

Back downstairs and a lot of attention was given to Baxter and the aftermath of her admission to Lady Cora that she was a criminal. Unhappy that Baxter almost got him fired when she told Lady Cora about her secret, Barrow made sure he got his own back when he told Molesley all about Baxter’s secret which she had chosen to keep hidden from him. It was quite sad to see Molesley so upset but even more so when Baxter told him how she had changed and that she was unable to change what she did in the past.

The episode also featured some light relief in the form of Lady Mary’s telling Edith: “maybe you behaved like an idiot” when the subject of the fire arose, and Lady Rose’s constant request to Robert about getting a “wireless” – a piece of technology that he or Carson couldn’t get their head around, including Ms Patmore who remarked whether the King could her them when Robert finally succumbed to getting a wireless to listen to the King. Dame Maggie Smith also provided the laughs as she continued to share her thoughts on Lord Merton and Mrs Crawley.

So, what’s in store for next week? Well, it looks as though Mr Bates is going to have some answering to do about Mr Green….