Missed out on Downton Abbey? I’ll be recapping and giving opinion on the show as it airs in Canada on Vision TV. If you’re not yet familiar, you can get aquainted with all the upstairs and downstairs drama this show has to offer. Trust me, it’s fantastic and didn’t sweep the Emmy’s for nothing! Downton Abbey, Season 1, Episode 1—1912. Upstairs in Downton Abbey, news of the Titanic’s sinking has just reached Downton Abbey, causing much chaos within the noble Crawley family. You see, Lord Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham has three daughters and no male heir and he’s just lost his two remaining cousins, James and his son Patrick who died on the ship. What a travesty!

What’s worse is that Patrick Crawley, was to marry Lady Mary (who’s not that upset he’s gone), the Earl’s eldest daughter. With both heirs now dead, the Crawley girls, including Mary’s sisters Lady Edith and Lady Sybil must find husbands of their own as the entire estate is entailed away from the female line. But when the family finds out Lord Grantham has a distant cousin, Matthew Crawley, a third cousin, once removed, all is lost on their plan to fight for Lady Mary’s entitlement. But Lady Mary’s mother, Cora, has a grand plan, why doesn’t Mary marry Matthew?

Downstairs, unaware yet of the news, the servants are bunch of busy bodies setting about the day’s work. Carson, the butler, is angered that the morning newspapers are late. And once you get to know Carson, it’s the details that matter. But once the papers arrive (and are ironed so that his lordship doesn’t get black ink stained on his hands), they all find out about the tragedy of the Titanic and that the two heirs have been lost. They, too, become worried.

While all this is going on, a mysterious fella, Mr. John Bates, arrives at Downton. He is to be the new valet to Lord Grantham. His limp and use of a walking stick worries the staff, especially the conniving footman Thomas and his partner in crime Miss O’ Brien, Her Ladyship’s personal maid. Only Anna, the head housemaid and Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper and Carson, make Bates feel welcome, although it is clear that Carson and the others have doubts. Poor Mr. Bates. He’s quiet demeanor certainly pulls at your heartstrings.

With the intent on taking his job, Thomas does all he can to sabotage Bates, including tripping him when a guest, the Duke of Crowborough (Charlie Cox in a great guest appearance!), visits Downton in front of Lord Grantham and staff making him look super incompetent. But it may be harder for Thomas and his scheming sidekick, O’Brien, to get rid of Bates. While the servants continue to gossip, they find out that Mr. Bates served with Lord Grantham in the South African war, giving them a deep bond.

The Duke of Crowborough is also a colourful fellow who has an agenda of his own. Not only has he been having a secret affair with Thomas (gasp!) he’s come to Downton in the hopes of nabbing Mary with the belief she is to inherit. He also tricks Mary into getting access to the servant’s quarters when he searches Thomas’ room to steal a bunch of incriminating love letters he once wrote to Thomas. When the ambitious Thomas learns the Duke won’t hire him on his staff, he threatens to expose their affair. But the Duke pulls out the letters and burns them.

But when the Duke learns Mary will not inherit after all, he quickly leaves Downton. Good, never liked him anyway. Meanwhile, the campaign to get rid of Bates (why don’t these people like him?) comes to a full head after Mr. Carson tells Lord Grantham that he cannot fulfill his duties leaving his lordship no choice but to let him go with a month’s wages. But just as the Duke and Bates both prepare to leave, Lord Grantham has a change of heart about his valet and insists that he stays (yes!). O’ Brien and Thomas are less than pleased about this but Bates is grateful for another chance. Thomas and O’Brien’s plans are foiled again, but don’t fear they are hatching up more drama.

In Manchester, lawyer Matthew Crawley and his mother receive a telegram from Lord Grantham, which tells them he is to inherit, forever changing his life and his lifestyle. He’s stunned and so is his mother.

—By Toni-Marie Ippolito

Downton Abbey stars Hugh Bonneville as Lord Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, Elizabeth McGovern as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess, Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith, Jessica Brown Findlay as Lady Mary, Joanne Froggat as Anna, Rob James-Collier as Thomas, Siobhan Finneran as O’Brien, Phyllis Logan as Mrs. Hughes, Jim Carter as Mr. Carson, Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley and Penelope Wilton as Isobel Crawley.


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