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Drama and intrigue as Downton Abbey's Season 5 premieres

The Crawleys attempt to figure out the roaring 20s.

Daisy Mason has her own dreams and aspirations as the fifth season of Downton kickPBS

The combination of gossip, secret affairs and 1920s-era dresses can mean only one thing: and that’s that Downton Abbey has finally returned to PBS.

When we last saw the Crawleys it seemed like the future of everyone’s favorite family of aristocrats was up in the air. Lady Mary was being courted by a gaggle of suitors, but didn’t seem to care for anyone. Lady Edith was being torn apart by both the mysterious disappearance of her lover Michael Gregson and the fact she had to give up her illegitimate daughter to avoid the hint of scandal. But, as the creator Julian Fellowes constantly likes to remind us, change is coming to Downton and the entire world is about to be turned on its head.

Here are six of the things that surprised us the most about last night’s night’s season five premiere.

Mary admits to having feelings: Lady Mary has always been the Abbey’s resident ice queen, but during a walk with her devoted suitor Lord Gillingham, she hints that he may one day become the winner of the (now years long) marital sweepstakes. “Tony I do love you, you know, in my cold and unhappy way,” Mary admits. And as longtime viewers know, getting anyone in this family to admit to any sort of vulnerability should be considered a landmark victory.

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Lord Gillingham proposes a rendezvous: It turns out that merely talking about feelings isn’t enough for Viscount Tony Gillingham. Sneaking into Mary’s room late one night, he delicately suggests that the pair sneak away for a few days and become lovers, as a sort of trial to see if they’ll suit. While Mary doesn’t answer directly, she is clearly intrigued. After all, it’s 1924 now and Mary is clearly ready to embrace the Roaring 20s.

Edith attempts to figure out how to (secretly) be a mother: Strangely, no one at Downton seems to notice that Edith is constantly sneaking away to visit the Drewes, the estate’s resident tenant farmer family, ever since their mysterious adoption of a baby girl. Also, we find it hard to believe that the otherwise sensible Mrs. Drewe has yet to figure out that Edith is the child’s biological mother. But it’s touching to watch Edith’s all-too-brief moments with her daughter and it’s hard not to root for this small and unconventional family.

Branson’s inner-revolutionary returns: Tom Branson’s transition from Irish revolutionary chauffeur to quasi-aristocrat always seemed a little too simplistic to be plausible. But it looks like this season will be the one where Tom figures out who he really is. With the return of Miss Sarah Bunting, a local school teacher who is not at all awed by the glamorous lifestyleof the Crawleys, Tom Branson may finally have someone in the neighborhood that he can talk to honestly.

Daisy expands her horizons: We have to admit that we’ve always had a soft spot for Daisy Mason, Downton’s loyal assistant cook. After serving the Crawleys for most of her life, young Daisy is beginning to think about her future and her sad lack of education. She secretly orders some textbooks and begins to try to make her future a little brighter.

Thomas manages (once again) to avoid all consequences: Whatever you can say about Thomas Barrow, Downton’s manipulative under butler, one thing has consistently remained true over the last five seasons: he always manages to be in the right place at the right time. Last night, it was when he was conveniently keeping watch on the main gallery just moments after Lady Edith accidentally sets fire to her room. After rescuing the overcome Edith, Thomas can now do nothing wrong in the eyes of the Crawleys. At least for now, anyway.

 
 
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