Downton Abbey series 5, episode 3 predictions: fancy dress, facial hair and secret meetings

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

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Last week’s Downton was a little departure from the prim and proper Abbey we’ve grown used to. Gone was all the decorum – all those social niceties – and instead we had condoms, pre-martial sex and Cora making eyes at an art dealer over dinner. Literally nobody was behaving. 

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In the aftermath of the fire, Drewe came up with a plan for Edith to become little Marigold’s godmother so she could spend time with her secret daughter without raising suspicion. The Crawleys were soon on board but Mrs Drewe looked less than impressed. 

Lady Rose was desperate for Robert to buy a wireless but, as ever, he was resistant. The King soon helped her out, though, speaking to the nation via the airwaves. If the monarchy is embracing technology so shall Downton, however much Carson protests. 

Mary, set on her decision to embark on a week of living in sin with Gillingham, made Anna pack all her dresses with easy fastenings and sent her off to the local chemist, Marie Stopes in hand, to purchase some suitable contraception. 

Meanwhile, Isobel and Violet went on a trip to Lord Merton’s house while Lady Cora found herself with an admirer when art dealer Simon Bricker came to stay. Robert was none the wiser, merely grumbling that Bricker was becoming over familiar with his dog Isis. Silly man.

And – dramatic pause, please – a policeman visited the Abbey during Carson and Hughes’ drinking sesh in the parlour to tell them there was now an investigation into the death of Green because a witness had come forward. Dun, dun, duuuuun. So the episode ended with Bates’ freedom under question and Lady Mary poised to unfasten her undergarments and make love all night, or for “as long as either of us has any stamina left.”

But what’s going to happen next? Time for some spurious suggestions, I think… 

Here you have it. This is the grinning face of an unmarried woman who has thrown caution to the wind, shrugged off the shackles of social convention and done the dirty all night long, thus coining the now widely accepted phrase “Going to Liverpool” – slang for having it off with your dashing Lord before saying ‘I do.’

Gone are the dark days of season four, Mary is positively radiant. Clearly Anna’s embarrassing trip to the chemist paid off and the eldest Crawley sister doesn’t regret a thing. In fact, she doesn’t even look a bit tired. Perhaps Gillingham’s stamina didn’t last quite as long as he’d hoped… 

Uh oh. Looks like everything isn’t quite so darned jolly after all. Spratt – Violet’s hilarious butler – is in, you guessed it, Liverpool. Either he’s here to give in to his lustful desires too (I’ve heard the city is teeming with adjoining hotel rooms) or he’s spied a post-coital Lady Mary. 

Sure, he looks concerned now, but if we know Spratt, that will soon translate into unadulterated joy and a pleasingly awkward luncheon at Dower House where Violet will learn that the only respectable granddaughter she had left can’t keep her legs shut. At least, thanks to Anna, there won’t be any secret love children this time… 

Good god, can nobody behave? What is happening to Downton? Times have been changing since season one (as time does tend to do) but Carson’s right about all that ground shaking underneath us stuff. We expect Lady Mary to be a little reckless, but Cora should know better than to wander narrow streets in the twilight looking all coy with a charming gentleman by her side. I suppose she must be in Liverpool, too…

Back at the Abbey, Robert, Carson and Branson have been left to their own devices and are indulging in a spot of fancy dress. While the cat’s away, eh? If all the women are running about having affairs, secret children and pre-marital sex, why can’t the chaps put on furry outfits, grow impressive facial hair and take up smoking? 

Robert never was the sharpest tool in the box and the older he gets, the more unaware he becomes. It looks like Rose’s exiled Russians have turned up at the Abbey seeking refuge and Lord Grantham – trying to make some cash wherever he can – is attempting to peddle some of Downton’s pricey heirlooms at a kind of up-market car boot sale in the drawing room. This grey suited chap doesn’t look impressed. Not really the right market, is it, Robert? 

Car boot sales, beards and sex aside, Anna’s loyal husband Bates has found himself in hot water again. Even if his presence in London on the day Green died is a complete coincidence, as a former inmate he’ll be first in line for questioning. And, as if by magic, kindly, crinkly-eyed Bates has been replaced by a mean and moody one. He’s probably already sharpening a shiv in his coat pocket.

Welcome back, prison Bates. We didn’t miss you. 

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