Downton Abbey—Season 5

8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Solid cast and good looking

It is a soap opera with soap opera plots


The gang’s all here!

It is 1924 and things continue to change at Downton Abbey.  Edith (Laura Carmichael) tries to stay near her daughter and Mary (Michelle Dockery) experiments in dating again.  Isobel (Penelope Wilton) and Violet (Maggie Smith) find potential romance as Rose (Lily James) also finds love.  Robert (Hugh Bonneville) and Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) find a danger in their love with the arrival of an art dealer who is interested in more than Downton’s art and in the downstairs, much of the staff begins to consider the future.  The death of Mr. Green continues to haunt Bates (Brendan Coyle) and Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and even dead, Green still could be a danger.


Lord Grantham…man of action!

Downton Abbey—Season 5 aired from September 21, 2014 to December 25, 2014 on ITV and reaired in the United States from January 4, 2015 to March 1, 2015 on PBS.  The series continues to garner praise and rabid fans.

*****Spoiler Alert***** There are spoilers throughout this review.  I didn’t love the fourth season of Downton Abbey which felt even more soap-opera-y than previous seasons.  It has some pretty weak subplots, and the same could be said about this season…but this season seemed more intentionally mundane so I felt it worked a bit better.

This season was about romance and change.  The cast continues to shrink as like today’s market, jobs go unfilled.  The characters spend a lot of time thinking about their futures…something that really hasn’t ever been considered throughout the series.  Characters like Bates and Anna think about life outside of Downton along with Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and Carson (Jim Carter) who consider retirement.  Characters like Daisy (Sophie McShera) who had always been content are striving for different lives and even people like Branson (Allen Leech) are considering moving on.


Only one death this season…but its a sad one.

The season has a lot of coupling occurring.  There is young romance with Rose and Atticus but there is also a lot of secondary romance like Isobel and Violet’s chances at love.  In the Christmas episode, there are indicators that both Edith and Mary are also being paired for the future.  The biggest “surprise” of romance is that Carson and Mrs. Hughes finally make the jump in the season finale.

There were bad things this season.  I found Edith’s moping over her lost child wearing pretty thin (and the resolution was pretty rotten for the family taking care of Marigold).  I also found the Mr. Green plot rather tiring since Bates went to jail before…now it’s Anna’s turn?  I would have liked it if it was revealed in the season finale that she had murdered Green.


To carry on the soap-opera theme of the show, Hughes and Carson are going to murder a couple of people…

The story looks great and the cast continues to excel.  With such an expansive cast in previous season, it is kind of nice to see it pared down to a more managable size.  They feel really at ease in their sets and locations by now and it is how you expect them…but I would say that the group looked rather uncomfortable singing during the Christmas episode.

I have to say that Downton Abbey has gotten a little long in the tooth, but this season is an upturn because it feels like there is an ending coming.  It has been announced that Downton Abbey—Season 6 is planned as the last season of the series.  I think that is probably appropriate, but I’m hoping for a Six Feet Under type ending which shows how all the characters end up.

Downton Abbey—Season 5 Complete Episode Guide:


“Episode 1”

5.1       Episode 1 Airdate:  09/21/14

Edith (Laura Carmichael) finds herself trying to keep near to her daughter and a plot forms to keep her in her life.  Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) finds his pride injured when the town picks Carson (Jim Carter) to lead the forming of the war memorial.  Thomas (Rob James-Collier) tries to manipulate Miss Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) into giving up information on Bates (Brendan Coyle) and Anna (Joanne Froggatt), but Molesley (Kevin Doyle) tries to help.  Violet (Maggie Smith) learns that Isobel (Penelope Wilton) is being pursued by Lord Merton (Douglas Reith) and tries to interfere.  Lady Anstruther (Anna Chancellor) comes to Downton Abbey to be with Jimmy (Ed Speleers) which could lead to problems for him.  Lord and Lady Grantham celebrate their anniversary with a party leading Robert to butt heads with Miss Sara Bunting (Daisy Lewis).  A fire at the house could endanger some and redeem others.


“Episode 2”

5.2       Episode 2 Airdate:  09/28/14

Jimmy is fired for being caught with Lady Anstruther while Thomas finds himself back in favor due to his help with the fire.  Mosley and Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) try to find the mystery behind Miss Baxter’s crime.  Robert and Carson find themselves at odds about the location of the memorial, and Carson learns Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) has sided with Robert.  Anna is forced to make an embarrassing purchase for Mary (Michelle Dockery) when she decides to go with Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen) for a weekend.  Edith makes a bid to get her child closer to her with the help of Mr. Drewe (Andrew Scarborough).  Downton is visited by Simon Bricker (Richard E. Grant) who takes an interest in Downton’s art and Cora.  Daisy (Sophie McShera) begins to get math training from Ms. Bunting.  The king’s planned speech on the wireless radio leads Robert to make a decision on the modern item.  The arrival of a police officer at Downton Abbey could mean trouble for Anna and Bates.


“Episode 3”

5.3       Episode 3 Airdate:  10/05/14

Sergeant Willis (Howard Ward) continues to investigate the murder of Green in London, and Bates looks like a suspect.  Mary’s secret getaway with Lord Gillingham is found out by Violet who demands to know where the relationship is going.  Edith’s interference with her daughter leads to a forced separation.  Miss Baxter reveals why she stole from her employer to Cora, and Cora questions if action should be taken.  Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) tries to get her nephew on the war memorial despite the accusation of cowardice.  Rose (Lily James) invites exiled Russians to Downton Abbey which leads to a reunion for Violet.


“Episode 4”

5.4       Episode 4 Airdate:  10/12/14

Violet visits her former Russian love Prince Kuragin (Rade Sherbedgia).  Molesley finds being first footman might be more than he bargained for.  Mary decides she cannot marry Lord Gillingham but Tony refuses to take no for an answer.  Violet finds a proposal from Lord Merton.  Edith mourns losing time with her daughter but learns that the men behind Michael’s disappearance might have been caught.  Cora finds Mr. Bricker visiting again against Robert’s wishes.  Thomas returns from a trip to London, and Ms. Baxter discovers he’s treating himself.  A face-off between Lord Grantham and Ms. Bunting during dinner leads to an explosion.  Anna’s trip to London raises suspicion with the police.


“Episode 5”

5.5       Episode 5 Airdate:  10/19/14

Mrs. Patmore has come into money and learns  thinks she should invest in construction.  Anna learns her actions have cast suspicion on Downton Abbey in Green’s death.  Mrs. Drewe (Emma Lowndes) decides she’s had enough of Edith and cuts her off from Marigold.  Branson (Allen Leech) decides he has to make a decision about the future of his relationship with Ms. Bunting.  Mary finds herself trapped with Gillingham, but her friend Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden) has a plan to free her.  The return of Mr. Bricker to Downton Abbey leads to a sticky situation for Cora.


“Episode 6”

5.6       Episode 6 Airdate:  10/26/14

Ms. Baxter finds herself forced to testify to the police due to Thomas’ meddling and creates a wedge between her and Bates and Anna.  Bates reveals his real actions to Anna on the day of Green’s murder.  Thomas finds his self-treatment for his “condition” isn’t working and finds himself ill.  Mary finds that her attempts to hook up Gillingham with his former fiancée Mabel Lane Fox (Catherine Steadman) appear to be working.  Michael’s body has been found and Edith finds herself lost without him or Marigold…leading to big decision.


“Episode 7”

5.7       Episode 7 Airdate:  11/02/14

Thing heat up between Rose and Atticus Aldridge (Matt Berber) as Isobel announces her marriage to Lord Merton…much to the displeasure of his children.  Cora learns of Edith’s secret and works with Rosamund (Samantha Bond) to find a solution to the problem.  Daisy debates continuing her studies, but a plan by Molesley and Mr. Mason (Paul Copley) hatches to keep her involved.  Tom considers his future at Downton Abbey when he learns of an opportunity in the United States.  Robert gets bad news about the condition of his beloved dog Isis.


“Episode 8”

5.8       Episode 8 Airdate:  11/09/14

Rose’s wedding to Atticus is coming but Atticus’ parents Lord and Lady Sinderby (James Faulkner and Penny Downie) show objections to Atticus not marrying a Jewish girl.  A plot to frame Atticus develops with some suggestive pictures and the source of the frame-up is sought out.  A new footman named Andy (Michael Fox) is brought in to help the staff but falls under the control of Violet’s maid Gladys Denker (Sue Johnston) who has plans for him…but Andy’s got a friend in Thomas.  Robert begins to suspect there is something between Marigold and Edith.  As the wedding approaches, Bates and Anna get bad news in the case of Mr. Green.


“Episode 9: A Mooreland Holiday”

5.9       A Mooreland Holiday Airdate:  12/25/14

Anna has been arrested for the murder of Mr. Green, and Bates makes a desperate attempt to free her.  The family is invited to Lord and Lady Sinderby’s country estate, but Sinderby’s cold butler Stowell (Alun Armstrong) creates a problem that could end up ruining Sinderby’s name.  Isobel makes a decision about the future of her engagement as Violet must decide about her future with Prince Kuragin.  Carson and Mrs. Hughes dream about retirement and make a big decision.  Downton Abbey plans a Christmas party for the village as Branson prepares to bid farewell to Downton Abbey.

Related Links:

Downton Abbey—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 4 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Downton Abbey—Season 6 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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