It’s early spring 1924. Mary continues to flirt with the ever patient Tony Gillingham and ponders aloud the benefits of really (nudge nudge, wink wink) getting to know your prospective husband. Try before you buy and all that.
As suspected, Edith is finding her new situation rather difficult. Her little girl Marigold is quite happy secretly living with the Drewes but Mrs Drewe isn’t too keen about her Ladyship hanging around all the time. At Robert and Cora’s wedding anniversary party, it all gets too much. Edith throws a book into the fire and the Abbey goes up in flames. Dramatic, right?
Luckily Thomas is sneaking around so is on hand to save his employers, while, mid-crisis, Jimmy is caught in the amorous arms of his former employer Lady Ansthruther – and is sent packing, sharpish.
Once the fire damage has been repaired, Mary still has sex on the brain and plans a week of living in sin with Gillingham. Anna is sent off to the local chemist, Marie Stopes in hand, to purchase some suitable contraception. But unfortunately for Gillingham the pair’s tryst in Liverpool doesn’t have the required effect. A week spent between Tony’s bedsheets persuades Mary against spending the rest of her life with him, and so she calls off their planned engagement, much to Gillingham’s outrage.
Meanwhile, Rose persuades Robert to buy a wireless, Sarah Bunting ruffles some feathers at dinner, Baxter reveals her secret past to Cora (she stole jewels from a previous employer) and Moseley dyes his hair to try and regain his youthful prowess.
A little while later, romance is on the cards. Lady Rose meets a handsome chap called Atticus in York, as well as a group of Russian refugees, who she invites back for tea at the Abbey. It soon transpires that the Russian prince once knew the Dowager Countess – and it would seem their relationship was a little more than platonic…
Lady Cora meets art historian Simon Bricker. The pair spend a few evenings together, there’s a little flirting and it soon becomes clear Simon is interested in more than just her art collection. It all comes to a head when Robert returns to the Abbey to find Bricker boldly propositioning his wife in their marital bedroom. A tussle ensues and Bricker is sent packing, his coat tails between his legs.
Violet’s Russian Prince then declares he wants to spend his final years by her side and Isobel’s admirer Lord Merton plucks up the courage to ask for her hand in marriage. Needless to say, neither men get the answer they were hoping for…
In less amorous news, the police begin an investigation into the death of Green after a witness comes forward saying they saw someone push him in front of that bus. Immediately all eyes are on Bates but Anna puts herself in the frame when she is spotted “loitering” near the spot where Green died.
Back at the Abbey, Branson’s friend Sarah Bunting, who has been tutoring kitchen maid Daisy in her spare time, decides to leave the village for good, Thomas risks his health trying to cure his homosexuality and the Crawley’s beloved dog Isis breathes her last.
Meanwhile, things go from bad to worse for Edith. News confirms that Gregson was killed by Hitler’s gang of thugs in Munich. Her frequent trips to the farm have also proved too much for Margie Drewe. The Crawley daughter is banned from dropping in to see her illegitimate mite, but Edith’s having none of it. She scoops up Marigold and flees to London (where she is now the owner of Gregson’s flat and publishing company) intending to stay there forever – until Cora arrives, concocting a plan which allows Marigold to live at the Abbey alongside her cousins.
But Edith’s back in London before too long. Lady Rose and Attitcus are engaged and the whole household head off to the big city for the impending nuptials.
The introduction of the love birds’ parents doesn’t get off to a great start, especially when it’s revealed that Rose’s mummy is an anti-semitic who can’t wait to divorce Rose’s dad and is willing to pay a prostitute to try and ruin her daughter’s big day. Nevertheless, all is resolved in the end and the happy couple manage to say ‘I do’
Away from the reception, the Dowager’s new sneaky lady’s maid Denker takes new footman Andy to Velvet Violin for a spot of gambling, Daisy ponders leaving the Abbey for the cultured pavements of London Town, but decides against it when she spies Mrs Patmore’s tearful reaction, and Anna is told to report to Scotland Yard.
She takes part in an identity parade and is later arrested for the murder of Green, leaving us with quite a cliffhanger…
Luckily Christmas comes soon enough. The staff scheme while the Crawleys head off for spot of shooting. Both Mary and Edith meet potential new love interests in the form of sexy racing car driver Henry Talbot and letting agent Bertie Pelham. (More on that in series six presumably)
Anna is released from jail after Bates falsely confesses to Green’s murder. The witness who identified Anna changes their mind too so the ill-fated couple are reunited under the Christmas tree as Mary sings a tuneful carol.
And, below stairs, fans finally get what they’ve been praying for since season one. Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes make their relationship official, getting engaged on Christmas Eve.
Fa la la la la, la la la la. ?