TV Club: A manipulative Downton Abbey settles down, breaks up, and mends fences

This episode is transparently, cynically manipulative, and I resent how efficiently it worked on me, from the tense race scene to the cozy proposal to the puppy kisses. With talk of putting down roots, pulling up sticks, mending fences, and breaking barriers, the story’s all over the place, and I don’t mean just geographically. But let’s start there.

Still incensed at her unceremonious ouster from the hospital committee, Violet Crawley plans to protect her family and herself from her temper by taking a trip to the South of France. “While angry, I say things some people find hard to forgive,” she confides in Isobel, and viewers could be excused for thinking, “… really? Only when you’re angry?”

(Maggie Smith) (Photo: Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2015 for Masterpiece)

But her visit to Miss Cruikshank (Phoebe Sparrow), Lord Merton’s future daughter-in-law, shows how much more …

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