Our “Downton Abbey” withdrawal will end when the fifth season premieres Sunday. Here’s a quick primer on where we left some of our favorite English folks, both high and low, and what we hope happens this year (and this is pure hope and speculation — we’ve avoided spoilers for the season that’s already aired in the UK). The year is 1924, corsets are loosening and jazz is in the air.
Lady Edith: Let’s start with the saddest Crawley sister (and that includes Sybil, who died in season three), who has grown tremendously since her petulant and petty early days. Her lover, Michael Gregson, is missing after running into a gang of uniformed toughs in Germany, where he went to try to divorce his wife, who is mentally incapacitated with no hope of recovery. Edith gave birth to their love child — in secret, in Switzerland — and, despite pressure from her grandmother and aunt, installed the girl with a Downton farm family. We’d like to see Michael return and the whole family reunited. We’d be satisfied if Edith doesn’t get found out and shunned by her family and continues her feminist awakening.
Lady Mary: As Matthew’s heir, she’s taking on more responsibility for running the place, and she’s open to love again after mourning her beloved husband. She’ll juggle suitors including Lord Gillingham and Charles Blake. We’re mostly Team Blake, with a soft spot for dark horse Eveyln Napier, although he really should have known not to bring Mr. Pamuk around. We’re hoping she’ll continue to stand up against her father’s old-fashioned thinking with the estate and take an active role, as active as the English aristocracy did, in raising baby George. And be nicer to Edith.
Daisy: She mooned over Alfred most of last year — that did get a little old — and finally got past it with the help of some attention from an American suitor in the finale. We’d hate to see her leave the Abbey and Mrs. Patmore, but we also want her to take over Mr. Mason’s farm someday, rather than become head cook if Mrs. P retires. And find a husband who loves her as much as tragic William did and wants to help keep the farm going.
Lady Violet: She continues to surprise — and deliver zingers — and was supportive, in her way, of Edith’s struggles. We were worried when she became ill; Downton can survive just about any death but hers. Don’t change, Lady V.
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Cousin Isobel Crawley: She came out of her grief over son Matthew’s death and caught the eye of longtime family friend Lord Merton. Go for the romance, Isobel. But we also want plenty of scenes with Lady Violet. Their contentious friendship is one of the delights of the show.
Tom Branson: Sybil’s husband still struggles to feel at home in the world, even as he does well running the estate with Mary and Lord Crawley. We’d like him to find love again with someone who shares his political activist side but also gets his affection for the aristocrats who have become his family. We don’t think that’s Sarah Bunting, the socialist who’s a little judgmental about the Crawleys. And we want George and young Sybie to continue to grow up together.
Anna and Mr. Bates: We love them, but our patience, like their romance, is being tested. Tragedy struck — again — when Anna was brutally attacked by a visiting valet. They were just rebuilding their lives when questions about the valet’s death by motorcar raised suspicions. Will one or both of them have more troubles with the law? And will this make us wonder whether Bates really did kill his first wife? We get that every story needs something to happen, but could these lovebirds get some lasting happiness?
Lady Rose: Our favorite almost-flapper has had a lot of fun, some might say too much, including with a jazz singer. It’s seems inevitable that she’s heading for marriage, since she had her coming out, and her bickering parents’ loveless union is far from a solid model. We’d like to see her embrace the Roaring ’20s and use her spirit of inclusiveness for social good.
Thomas/Baxter/Moseley: Thomas recommended Baxter to be Lady Grantham’s new lady’s maid after the sudden departure of O’Brien that kicked off season four. We don’t yet know what Thomas holds over her head, but it was enough to compel Baxter to spy for him. A budding friendship (romance, we hope) with Moseley seemed to give her the confidence to break free of Thomas. More of that, please. If nothing else, the beleaguered Moseley needs it after spending last year laying asphalt and going backward in his career by taking the open footman’s spot.
Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes: “You can always hold my hand if you need to feel steady.” Who didn’t cheer when Mrs. Hughes said that to Mr. Carson in the sweet end to last season? He did just that, the two waded into the English sea and our hearts exploded with the hope that the heads of the downstairs household staff might be headed toward a winter romance this year.