Downton Abbey always spoons out the bad news with the good, and this year is no different. Lady Mary and Matthew finally reach the altar but will their family estate be intact after they get back?
Downton Abbey, starring Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith, airs Sundays at 9:00pm EST on PBS.
Go For Broke
It's common knowledge among Brits that most of the grand houses of the aristocracy are money-pits and broke estates, and it seems Downton might be heading down that road as well. While Matthew (Dan Stevens) and Mary ( Michelle Dockery) (or M&M) plan their lavish wedding, Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) is totaling up the bill in panic. I've never cried over old rich people losing their fortunes, but the sight of this poor old lion in a smoking jacket brought a slight tear to my eye. As luck would have it, the father of Lavinia (Matthew's former fiancé) has passed, leaving him as a possible heir with a boatload of cash. The resulting moral dilemma almost halts the wedding, but M&M make nice, leaving the quandary for another day.
Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
The scandal of last season was Lady Sybil ( Jessica Brown Findlay) eloping off to Ireland with the hot-tempered chauffer, Tom Branson ( Allen Leech). Now with her new driver-turned-journalist husband on her arm, she returns to Downton for Mary's wedding. This class role reversal has the upstairs and downstairs of Downton in a tizzy, as they struggle to make small talk with the man who used to drive them around. Branson gets drugged by some jerk in coattails to amp up his political vitriol, but in the end is saved by Matthew, who asks him to be his best man.
Bates Behind Bars
Looking a little gruff in his prison grays, it seems Mr. Bates ( Brendan Coyle) will be spending the majority of this season with his new bunkmate while his loyal-to-a-fault wife, Anna ( Joanne Froggatt) plays detective to prove his innocence. With Downton veering into Oz territory, I personally can't wait to see how Bates will fare behind bars. Whatever you do, don't call him "touchy". The Yankees Are Coming
Branson is the least of the Crawleys' worries when Cora's mother, Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine) arrives from the States for the wedding. Draped in fur with a Texas-sized ship on her shoulder, she cuts quite the character and is the perfect foil to the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith). The two matriarchs go head-to-head, flinging one barb after another at each other, leaving the family to crouch in fear, and the audience to cheer.
Every episode of Downton Abbey is so rich in stories and characters; it's like watching six movies in one season. We welcomed back the rest of the cast with open arms, Carson (Jim Carter) is still running the show, Daisy ( Sophie McShera) is staging her own Occupy Wall Street and Thomas ( Rob James-Collier) and O'Brien ( Siobhan Finneran) are still sharing shifty-eyed glances. Let's cross our fingers and hope this grand old house stays intact.
"I have no time to train new hobbledehoy."
--Carson referring to new hires.
"I shall make sure he behaves normally because I shall hold his hand on the radiator until he does."
--Dowager Countess discussing Branson.
"Tell me all of your wedding plans, and I'll see what I can do to improve them."
--Cora's Mother, Martha Levinson to Lady Mary.
"Oh dear, have you swallowed a dictionary?"
--Mrs. Patmore's (Lesley Nicol) reaction to Daisy's protest.
"It seems strange to be talking about estates and money, when the old me would have liked to put a bomb under the lot of you."
--Branson to Matthew during a pre-wedding pep talk.