Downton Abbey series 5, episode 2 preview and predictions: technology, tuxedos and torrid affairs

A look ahead to the second episode of series five, accompanied by Ellie Walker-Arnott's patented guessing game...

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It was all going on at Downton Abbey last week with fires, flings and our introduction to Edith’s secret love child.

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While Mary flirted with Lord Gillingham and pondered aloud the benefits of really (nudge nudge, wink wink) getting to know your prospective husband, the rest of the Crawleys made plans for Robert and Cora’s 34th wedding anniversary, plans which quickly turned into an impersonal banquet with poor, put-upon Cora barely bothering to bat an eyelid. 

Lord G was hosting some tiresome meeting about a war memorial that he suddenly became incredibly interested in when it transpired the board actually wanted to have Carson head the committee instead of himself. Both butler and master were equally perplexed. 

Meanwhile, Edith visited her little girl Marigold, who was living very happily with Mr Drewe, Moseley dyed his hair. Baxter revealed her secret thieving past to Cora, Carson muttered about how times were changing while rumours went around about similar stately homes sacking their staff and Daisy decided to teach herself maths. 

On the day of the anniversary itself, Branson’s pal Sarah Bunting offended the Crawleys with her liberal views while Jimmy’s former employer Lady Anstruther turned up unexpectedly at the Abbey and seduced him in her room. 

All was well, until a distraught Edith threw one of Gregson’s books into her fire and the upstairs of the Abbey went up in flames leading to Robert catching Jimmy and his old boss in the act. Eek. 

But what’s going to happen next? It’s time to put my thinking cap on and make some spurious suggestions… 

Looks as though Edith has pushed kindly Tim Drewe one step too far. It’s not enough that Mr Drewe farms the Crawley’s land, looks after their pigs, brings up their illegitimate offspring AND saved the country pile from burning to the ground last week, Edith is still asking more of him.

She’d better tread carefully. Who knows where we’d be without Mr Drewe. Mary and Robert might think they are doing a grand old job but he’s really the one keeping the estate running… 

A new face. Richard E Grant, aka Simon Bricker, just casually reclining against the cold and uncomfortable walls of the Abbey, gazing into the middle distance like dreadfully deep and thoughtful people do. 

It can only mean one thing. The Crawleys have decided to branch out and launch a range of high-end formal dining wear to supplement their dwindling income. All the celebs are doing it these days and a suave art dealer is the perfect face for their foray into fashion. Next page of the catalogue: Carson modelling practical undergarments and sock suspenders. Times are changing, don’t you know…  

Ah. It seems I may have misunderstood the meaning of Bricker’s visit. Though he does, of course, look rather dashing in a dinner jacket, it would appear he’s more interested in charming Robert’s missus than helping Downton turn their fortunes around.

We’d hate to promote a Downton divorce – can you imagine the scandal? – but we’d be rather tempted if we were Cora. The older Robert gets, the more obtuse he becomes. Perhaps it’s time for Lady Crawley to stop simpering in the corner and embrace a little excitement of her own… 

Look who it is: Charles Blake coming to see if Mary has made her decision yet.

It seems unlikely that he’ll get the answer he’s hoping for. Now that modern Mary’s so liberated and everything he’s more likely to be offered a dirty weekend away than her hand in marriage. I mean, if Edith’s going to keep her secret children at the pig man’s house, Violet and Isobel are going to joke about the ‘thing all men are after’ and Jimmy’s going to fraternise with the upper classes, what’s to say Mary can’t “try out” two men before putting a ring on her finger? Who isn’t breaking a social taboo these days?

This is all rather Christian Grey and Anastasia Steele…

Gone are the niceities and strict social formalities we’ve come to associate with Downton Abbey. It seems Mary has taken Gillingham up on his offer to make sure they are “surer than the customs of well bred court shall allow” by going away for a week alone and living “as lovers.” Gosh. 

If all goes well we’re fairly sure Downton Abbey has space for a red room… 

In far less racy news, Carson has another modern notion to contend with. Forget the electric mixer and the fridge, we present: The Radio. 

Clearly unimpressed by the moving forward of time, Downton’s steadfast butler is taking a few minutes to size up the strange newfangled contraption. He doesn’t look too sure but we think he just needs to give it time. In fact, give him a couple of episodes and he’ll be fighting with Hughes for a copy of Radio Times…

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Downton Abbey continues on Sunday at 9:00pm on ITV