Episode 05.08 is the next-to-last episode of the fifth series of the jointly produced UK-US period drama, Downton Abbey. This focuses on the marriage of Rose MacClare and Atticus Aldridge; and the unveiling of the new Downton village war memorial.
This episode serves as the final appearance of Phoebe Nicholls as Rose's troublemaking mother (and Violet's niece) Susan MacClare. This also serves as the debut of actor Michael C. Fox in the role of footman, Andy Parker.
He becomes a regular in the sixth and final season.
Preparations are under way for Lady Rose's marriage to Atticus Aldridge. Everyone is looking at how beautiful Rose is. However, things are rather strained, because of the tensions between Rose's parents, Lord and Lady Flintshire.
Her mother, Susan MacClare, is most antagonistic towards everyone, especially Shrimpie and again, is antagonistic towards Rose, showing her absolute disapproval of Rose's choice of husband.
Meanwhile, Atticus' father, Daniel Aldridge, Lord Sinderby, is just as antagonistic, though for a much different reason. He doesn't like Rose because she wasn't Jewish (Lord and Lady Sinderby were the leading figures in the Jewish community).
Although her family; her cousin in-law, Cora Crawley, most specifically; has some Jewish family members (since her maiden name was Levinson), Lord Sinderby is worried about the fact that she won't expose their children to the Jewish side of their heritage, although both Rose and Atticus had stated that they will expose their children to both heritages.
The family congregates at Grantham House, the family's house in London, for the wedding. Immediately from their arrival, Susan and Shrimpie are sniping at one another. Despite Susan and Lord Sinderby's opposition, Shrimpie and Lady Sinderby (Atticus' mother, Rachel Aldridge) are on Rose and Atticus' side.
However, Susan, who wants nothing more than to scuttle Rose's marriage and happiness (again, it shows that she favors her older children, James and Annabelle, over Rose), fakes pictures of Atticus being with a prostitute (whose advances Atticus rejects). When Rose receives this, she breaks down in tears and confronts Atticus.
Atticus, thinking that his father had done this, confronts him, and then realizes that he hadn't done so. Later on, Shrimpie finds out about a cheque was missing from their book. He realizes that Susan had paid off a prostitute to try to sink the wedding. He confronts his soon-to-be-ex wife about what she did, and threatens to tell Rose what she did.
However, at the registry office, the troublemaking Susan is still intent on sinking Rose's marriage. She announces to everyone that she and Shrimpie were divorcing. This angers Lord Sinderby, who is against divorce.
However, his wife assures Susan that because they are forewarned, they are forearmed. When Lord Sinderby complains, she threatens her husband with leaving him and really causing a scandal if he tried to stop their son's wedding to Rose. Despite the antics of Lord Sinderby and Susan, the wedding goes off without a hitch.
A defeated Susan moans to Violet about having to be a good loser. Violet coldly tells her that it is far too late for that to happen. In this case, Violet finally sees that her niece is a troublesome woman and what she did to Rose was beneath contempt.
Meanwhile, below stairs, a temporary footman, Andy Parker is hired for the wedding, and he falls prey to the conniving of Gladys Denker, the lady's maid to Violet Crawley, the dowager countess of Grantham, and her evening escapades at an underground casino. She gets plastered (upon returning to Grantham House, she is singing "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" totally off-key to the shock of Mrs. Hughes, who promptly scolds her) while Andy loses all his money.
Daisy Mason goes on an outing with Joseph Molesley and Phyllis Baxter, and gets a taste of London. (Later on, it is Baxter who helps Violet get ready for bed, because Denker is so plastered) She gives Mrs. Beryl Patmore her notice, which sends her to tears. However, it wouldn't be until the war memorial unveiling that things between the two cooks would improve.
Once more, Denker cons Andy to go with her to a place called "The Velvet Violin". This time, Thomas Barrow accompanies them, and he wins back all of Andy's losses; and blows the whistle on Denker's scheming, which ends up costing her 4 pounds and 10 shillings for three nights of drinking!
Rose is pulled aside by Susan and she feebly explains that what she did, she did out of love. A furious Rose, not buying her mother's explanation, snaps at her, "Then we must have very differing meanings of the word!"
It is presumed that because of this, Rose never speaks to her mother again. It is also presumed that Susan is never heard from again, as by the final season, Shrimpie had finally divorced her.
The War Memorial is unveiled and the entire village turns out. After the main unveiling, Robert announces that there is another soul who should be honored. A small stone is also unveiled revealed to be paying tribute to Mrs. Patmore's nephew, Archie Philpotts, who had been shot for desertion, but was later revealed to be a victim of shell-shock (what today would be called Post-traumatic stress disorder).
It is at that point that Daisy reveals that she would be staying at Downton after all, at least until after her exams were finished. This news makes Mrs. Patmore very happy, as she did not want to lose her Daisy and shows how much the cook loves her friend and assistant. Through this, Daisy also realizes just how much Mrs. Patmore relies on her day by day. Mrs. P. tells Daisy, "You have a father figure that you can turn to and depend on, just as you can depend on me."
Robert finds out what ties Marigold Gregson to Edith and that she reminds him of Michael Gregson, Edith's dead paramour. Cora reveals that yes, Marigold is his granddaughter. He then quips that it is the first secret in the house he is privy to. And to his surprise, he discovers that he will indeed love Marigold.
After the wedding, Anna Smith Bates is arrested for the murder of Alex Green, the hateful valet who raped her at Downton during the house party in the fourth season. She was in a lineup and the witness thought it was her.
She is hauled off by the highly aggressive Inspector Vyner of Scotland Yard, despite Lady Mary Crawley's protests that her lady's maid was innocent. Vyner didn't care if she were the Queen of the Upper Nile, as he snidely told Lady Mary, Anna was going with him!
While all of the family was on their way back to the Abbey, Bates would talk with Mary, who reassures him that Anna would not be charged or even be brought to trial. Charles Carson and Elsie Hughes are also upset about Anna's arrest.
Edith and Tom talk about the latter's upcoming move to America. She makes it clear to her late sister's husband (he had been married to her younger sister, Sybil) that Mary won't be the only one who will miss him, but that she will also.
Robert and Cora also discuss the situation with Edith and Marigold. Robert states that he finally realizes that Edith's late paramour, Michael Gregson, was the father. Cora pleads with him to not let it be known that he knows. Robert quips that it's a relief that there is a secret that he is privy to. He also states, to Cora's happiness, that he well could love Marigold, and that he already does.