The hill that will give the rest of the season momentum.

Spoiler Alerts

Like so many others, I cuddled up with a cup of tea and a scone to watch PBS’s Season 5 premiere of Downton Abby on Sunday night. Waiting on the edge of the couch to know exactly what would happen to Edith’s baby living in Switzerland, if Mary would (finally) choose a husband among her ‘desire’ of suitors, and if Michael Gregson would be found. And, although many of these questions weren’t answered, the episode didn’t disappoint.

The episode begins in 1924, with Edith meeting up with her little daughter Marigold. She has placed her with a family in the village, and although none suspect she is Edith’s daughter, she finds it difficult to break ties with her, and remains the sad, lonely girl we’ve come to know and love. Later in the episode, we find that Drewe knew all along that Marigold is Edith’s daughter, and he seeks to find a way for Edith to take charge of the child. This is complicated when Mrs. Hughes hears them discuss their plot, and although Mrs. Hughes is honorable, one more person who knows that Edith has a baby daddy is one too many.

On the romantic front, Tony Gillingham continues to try and court Mary, and devises a plot for Mary and him to take a vacation together to test drive their relationship, and “spend the nights together,” which she finds scandalous. She neither accepts nor declines, because let’s face it, she is never too great at making concrete decisions. Isobel and Dr. Clarkson are reunited at a dinner party, where she suddenly is jealous of Lord Merton’s advances towards Lady Shakleton. She, once again, has two suitors. When Branson and Sarah Bunting are reunited at dinner, she is forceful with liberal opinions, which comes across as rude and embarrasses Branson. While she is much like Branson used to be when he and Sybil began their relationship, her character is a bit unbelievable, as she is overly snarky with His Lordship at dinner and has no consideration for her actions. While we don’t expect her to be silent, she lacks a certain delicacy which made Branson appealing. After dinner, Branson reveals that he and Sarah are not lovers, and that she isn’t a harlot., and Subsequently, Lord Grantham’s opinion of her slightly increases, albeit only slightly.

Perhaps the most scandalous part of the episode was just brushed over—Jimmy and his former employer, Lady Anstruther, have a saucy one night stand in the Abbey. Thomas, of course, helps Jimmy get into her bedroom to have the affair, probably because he thinks he is cute. Jimmy is found out when there is a fire in Edith’s bedroom and Lord Grantham finds them in bed together as he sounds the alarm.

In the servant’s quarters, Mr. Mosley courts Miss Baxter, and does his best to be the White Knight to save her from the Evil Thomas. Evil Thomas continues to bully and blackmail Miss Baxter until she is forced to tell Cora about her shady past, where she stole some jewels from her former mistress. Cora doesn’t decide whether to dismiss her, and instead snaps at Thomas for bringing a convict into her home in the first place **cue cheering**. Thomas (unfortunately) redeems himself during the fire when he saved Edith from her burning room, but we can still hope he will get fired one day.

Lord Grantham continues to moan about the Labor government and is insulted when Carson is chosen to head a memorial committee instead of himself. Carson feels guilty because he knows Lord Grantham is a mopey whiny brat, and makes Patron of the committee to appease him. While the government has changed and makes it more difficult for the aristocracy to survive , Lord Grantham’s inability to adapt and his self-centered nature will test him over the coming years as England’s middle class establishes itself. His charm wanes in this episode as and his snobby personality emerges beneath it.

Overall, while the episode contains no ground shaking news developments, it sets up the season well for more interesting episodes down the road. David Letterman even joked, saying that the most exciting part of the episode was Mary saying, “Let me take off my hat.” While I agree there was a lack of earth-shattering news at the mansion, the potential trip Mary will take, Mosley losing Miss Baxter after her potential dismissal from the Abbey, and Marigold’s future makes me anxious to see what will happen in the next episode. The potential romance between Sarah and Branson will add a twist to the season, especially since Branson lives with his former in-laws. I do hope the excitement in the season increases, and while the first episode did not have the ups and downs we are used to in previous seasons, it acted as the first hill at the start of a roller coaster that gives the rest of the ride momentum.