Episode 1 – It’s now 1924, and while Britain feels the winds of change swept in by a new Labour government, Downton’s residents – both above and below stairs – are undergoing alterations too. After mourning the death of his beloved wife Lady Sybil for four years, Branson decides it’s time he got on with his life, although Robert isn’t comfortable about the ex-chauffeur’s relationship with local teacher Sarah Bunting. Mary is also ready for love again – but which of her beaus is her Mr Right? Meanwhile, Edith struggles to cope with being parted from her baby, Jimmy receives unwanted female attention and plans for a war memorial cause tension.
Episode 2 – After the fire in Lady Edith’s bedroom and the departure of Jimmy, the household, both upstairs and down, is still coming to terms with what has happened – and it falls on Robert’s broad shoulders to make what could be a far-reaching decision about the situation. Rose, meanwhile, seems more concerned with persuading him to buy a wireless than what is happening to those around her – but then again, she’s always been trapped in her own self-centred little world. In the kitchen, Mrs Patmore thinks she may have found a way to help Daisy cope with her studies, while Thomas’ devious ways look set to scupper Baxter’s friendship with Molesley. Finally, as Lord Merton continues to woo Isobel, Anna is reluctantly drawn into Mary’s latest scheme.
Episode 3 – When it comes to the opposite sex, Lady Mary is a little ahead of her time. A foreign diplomat died in her bed during the first series, and following the death of her husband, she’s been involved in a love triangle. Now she’s getting up to mischief with Lord Gillingham. It’s supposed to be a secret, but her cover story is almost blown – until Violet saves the day. It seems that the battleaxe may have more reason than most to sympathise with her granddaughter’s position when a face from her past reappears, hinting at a hidden past of her own. Meanwhile, Carson is dismissive of Mrs Patmore’s latest problem, Branson receives a proposition about the estate’s future and the circumstances of nasty valet Green’s demise are scrutinised – again.
Episode 4 – Schoolteacher Sarah Bunting continues to wage her one-woman war against the Crawleys – before pushing them too far. Violet is too busy getting flustered about Prince Kuragin to notice, and finally confides in Isobel the truth about their shared past. Following her illicit trip to Liverpool with Lord Gillingham, Mary makes a decision about their relationship – but does it have any future? Thomas returns to Downton a shadow of his former self, and Baxter wonders if there’s more to his mystery illness than he’s letting on. Rose’s father Shrimpie is also back on the estate – with shocking news.
Episode 5 – Art expert Simon Bricker and Lady Cora – have grown close over the past few weeks, and their flirting reaches boiling point in the latest episode. She’s enjoying the attention he gives her, but is he about to cross a line – and does she want him to? Cora’s eldest child, Mary, is also enjoying male company, this time that of Charles Blake, who’s about to do her a big favour. Meanwhile, Rose meets a dashing stranger, Branson makes up his mind about Sarah Bunting and Anna is disturbed by a visit from Inspector Vyner.
Episode 6 – Following the altercation, relations between Robert and Cora are strained, while Blake’s scheming starts to come to fruition when Mary is unexpectedly pitted against her love rival. Edith decides to take drastic measures after receiving terrible news, leaving various parties reeling. Baxter is embroiled in the investigation into Green’s death following a mysterious tip-off, and as Thomas’s health deteriorates, he finally reveals the truth to the maid. Elsewhere, love is in the air for more than one member of the Crawley family.
Episode 7 – Secrets could be exposed as Rosamund arrives at Downton following Edith’s shock departure. Rose is delighted to introduce Atticus and his parents to the Abbey, while Anna and Bates start thinking about a fresh start, now that the worst of their problems are seemingly behind them. Molesley is concerned to see Daisy becoming disillusioned with her studies, and Isobel makes a happy announcement, but there may be trouble on the horizon. Violet has her hands full with her warring servants, while Mary and Blake seize an opportunity to send Gillingham a strong message.
Episode 8 – Preparations are under way for Rose’s wedding, but family tensions on both sides threaten to derail proceedings. Edith’s arrangement with Marigold is happily working out, but how long can she and Cora conceal the truth from Robert? Denker reveals an unexpected side to her personality, which causes trouble for more than one of the servants. With the war memorial due to be unveiled, Mrs Patmore is still upset, but Robert has something up his sleeve. Branson comes to a heart-wrenching decision, and the storm clouds that have been gathering over Anna and Bates finally burst.
Costume drama, starring Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Lily James, Rob James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Elizabeth McGovern, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol, Ed Speleers, Penelope Wilton, Douglas Reith, Julian Ovenden, Raquel Cassidy, Tom Cullen, Daisy Lewis, Samantha Bond, Emma Lowndes, Andrew Scarborough, Helen Sheals, Jeremy Swift, Harriet Walter, Anna Chancellor, David Robb, Richard E Grant, Christopher Rozycki, Rade Sherbedgia, Catherine Steadman, Peter Egan, Matt Barber, James Faulkner, Penny Downie, Sue Johnston, Howard Wardand and Louis Hilyer.
*** Be careful !!! Spoilers ***
I was so looking forward to watching this series to see how Lady Mary would choose between Blake and Lord Gillingham. I have to say that Julian Fellowes has some nerves to let us imagine that a Lady would do such as Mary as to live with someone a whole week to see how it goes with her future fiancé, even before any engagement ! But, well, she did show us what she was capable of doing in the first series … and it does spare her a divorce after years of boredom … so, I can only sigh and wait to see what will happen next … Regarding the Bates, another disappointment, are we to relive what happened on the third series when he was wrongly accused of having killed his wife ? Are we to see Anna’s trial for having killed Green, who attacked and raped her in last series ? She is a victim among others it seems, I’m quite sure another woman will confess at the very last minute she did it – at least, I hope so ! … And Tom Branson wants to leave the family after Christmas ! … Too many sorrows for one series … And seriously, everybody think that’s fine that Lady Edith has a child out of wedlock, as long as it’s a secret? Only Mary hasn’t guessed – yet … I’m so looking forward to watching Fellowes’s conclusion for this year. Only five weeks of waiting !