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Downton Abbey: Our Favourite Moments, Part 1

While we await the premiere of Season 5 of Downton Abbey, on Sunday, January 4, we thought we’d revisit some of our favourite moments from the previous seasons. Guest blogger Amie Simon takes us through the scandals, heartbreaks and joys that have been visited upon the Crawleys and their staff to date. SPOILER ALERT: these recaps tell all, so if you haven't reached a certain episode or season, you enter at your own risk.

Downton fans! Can you believe we’re already approaching season five? In order to prepare for myself for what might occur next—and refresh my memory about some of the major happenings on the journey that both the Crawleys and their staff have taken so far—I’ve decided to compile a list of some of the biggest moments from the previous seasons. Today we'll look at season 1 and 2 — stay tuned for season 3 and 4 next week.

In which we’re introduced to the Crawleys and their staff, and learn that they may all lose their home thanks to an iceberg sinking the Titanic—with Lady Mary’s intended aboard. 

Lady Mary and Kemal Pamuk , Season 1

Lady Mary and Pamuk
I know I keep coming back to this, but the Pamuk scandal is a BIG one in the first season of Downton. Who could have predicted that a handsome foreigner would break down Lady Mary’s icy resolve, and then cause problems that would spread over the next few seasons by dying during their forbidden night of passion?!?! In the end, poor Mary punished herself more than anyone else ever could—well, OK, maybe not as much as her ill-matched second-season fiancé, Sir Richard Carlisle, but pretty close. 

Bates and Thomas
The battle of stoic valet Mr. Bates and entitled footman Thomas began in season one and never really finished. Jealous over being booted out of his “temporary” position as Lord Grantham’s valet by the arrival of Bates, Thomas set about trying to sabotage him immediately by framing him for theft! Of course, overly cocky Thomas’ wits were no match for Bates’ smarts—and that’s when we learned he wasn’t used to losing.  

The Dowager and Mrs. Crawley
Our introduction to Violet was immediately hilarious, and even more so once Isobel Crawley entered the picture. Already unhappy about Downton being passed off to some stranger, Isobel was dismayed to find out that Matthew and his mother were just “common folk” and that Isobel didn’t even have a lady’s maid! The headstrong Mrs. Crawley did her best to deflect every barb the Dowager threw at her, and even threw a few good zingers back. Who knew these two would end up friends in the end? Not me! 

Edith & Mary | O’Brien & Lady Cora
The rivalry between elder sisters Lady Edith and Lady Mary was apparent from the very first episode of Downton, but their claws really showed after the Pamuk debacle, which spurred Edith to write a very strongly hinted letter to the Turkish embassy in order to ruin her reputation and prospects. Mary retaliated later by making sure Edith’s suitor, Sir Anthony Strallan, knew he wasn’t wanted—even though was her plain(er) little sister’s best chance at a decent match. 

And just when we thought Downton’s fortune might be saved by a new male heir, the scheming and hot-tempered O’Brien misunderstands Lady Cora’s request for a lady’s maid and does something even more awful than we thought her capable of: placing a bar of soap next to the bath which causes Cora to slip and lose her baby! Oh, O’Brien. We know it wasn’t really your fault; we blame the BANGS.

In which war comes to Downton, half of the males head off to serve their country, the estate is turned into a convalescent home, and Bates’ evil wife frames him for murder.

Anna and Bates 
At least one good thing came out of the turmoil World War I caused this season, and that was Anna and Bates FINALLY admitting their feelings for each other, sharing their first kiss, and sweetly planning a domestic future together. A little on the saccharine side, sure, but it definitely warmed the heart—pre-Vera Bates’ appearance, anyway. 

Sybil and Branson 
Chauffer Branson was obviously smitten by Lady Sybil in season one, but her affections for him didn’t become clear until the end of season two, when she married Tom and ran off to Dublin with him to fight the aristocracy! Poor Sybil was disowned by her own father for falling in love with someone so far beneath her station, but eventually ended up back at Downton when Tom took his political aspirations a bit too far and needed help.  

Matthew and Livinia < Matthew and Mary 
The rollercoaster of love continued this season for Matthew and Mary, even with Matthew bringing his new fiancé, Miss Lavinia Swire home. A crippling war injury left him trying to free Lavinia from the arrangement, but she stuck by him—which for some reason made him realize he still loved Mary. 

Unfortunately, Miss Swire realized it too, shortly before she expired from the Spanish flu! She managed to give Matthew her blessing to go after Mary before she did, though, which resulted in a magical Christmas proposal at Downton in the snow. See, it all ended up OK! (For a short time, anyway.) 

Stay Tuned...

Look out for our next post covering more favourite moments, this time from seasons three and four. In the meantime, get your Downton Abbey fix by rewatching season 1 and 2 this month during Tea Time and be sure to subscribe to Tea Times to keep apprised of blog posts (like this one) and air dates for all your British faves!


Courtesy of Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011, 2012, for Masterpiece