“Downton Abbey” Season 5 finally premiered in the U.S., and it brought plenty of drama to those who waited. A new prime minister from the Labour Party frightened many of the older characters while younger characters embraced change. However, politics couldn’t stop them from living their lives. The entire family had plenty to deal with as Lord and Lady Grantham’s 34th anniversary approached. After all, a party at the Abbey is never a simple affair.
The premiere started with Edith (Laura Carmichael) as she fulfilled her promise from the Season 4 finale. She brought her baby back to Downton in secrecy and visited her daughter at the Drewe family’s home. Mrs. Drewe (Emma Lowndes) noticed Edith’s affection for Mr. Drewe (Andrew Scarborough), but she didn’t suspect Marigold was Edith’s child. She instead thought Edith had a crush on her husband.
That wasn’t the only sad part of Edith’s story. Mrs. Hughes found a German book in the library, but it wasn’t one of the family's copies. It said Michael Gregson inside. They still had no idea what happened to him or whether he was dead or alive.
Mr. Drewe eventually told Edith he knew she was Marigold’s mother. It had been clear the whole time, but his wife had no idea. “We need a way for you to live the truth without telling the truth,” he said.
Tony Gillingham (Tom Cullen) called and said he would like to stay with the Crawleys while he had some business in town. Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) turned him down because it was her 34th wedding anniversary, but Robert (Hugh Bonneville) wanted her to call back and invite him. “I want to inspire Tony Gillingham with thoughts of marriage,” Lord Grantham explained.
Later, Lord Grantham assumed the postmistress wanted to meet about a new war memorial because she wanted him to lead the committee. He was surprised and a little jealous when Mr. Carson was offered the position. Carson knew more of the men in the war, and even Robert admitted the previous night he didn’t have enough experience to do that. Mr. Carson was equally uncomfortable, feeling bad Lord Grantham was let down. It seemed odd someone would ask the butler over a lord, but it also indicated the changing times in which they lived.
Modern times scared Daisy (Sophie McShera). She began to question her career when she heard news many people were downsizing staff. She didn’t know if she could handle a life elsewhere. She decided to order math books to ready herself for life after Downton. She thought she was stupid because she couldn’t understand arithmetic.
Changing times seem to indicate the Crawleys will interact with common people more. School teacher Sarah Bunting (Daisy Lewis) and Tom Branson (Allen Leech) met at an awards ceremony for the school. Tom said that he and Sarah were still on good terms. She worried that they weren’t friends after she made him take her up to the house in the Season 4 finale.
The Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) is not happy about the upper class mixing with the middle class. Lady Violet was medling in Isobel’s (Penelope Wilton) life. She thought Dr. Clarkson (David Robb) was a better suitor for her than Lord Merton (Douglas Reith). After all, Dr. Clarkson was middle class like Isobel. Lady Violet invited him to lunch with Isobel and Lord Merton. She even found a widow, Lady Shackleton (Harriet Walter) to set up Lord Merton, but it didn’t distract Isobel much. She seemed amused by Violet’s antics.
Barrow’s (Rob James-Collier) meddling also failed in the “Downton Abbey” Season 5 premiere. Barrow knew the new maid Miss Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) knew something about Bates, and he truly believed it would link him to the murder of Gillingham’s valet. He threatened to tell Cora about Miss Baxter’s past if she didn’t give him the information.
Molesley (Kevin Doyle) advised her to tell her secrets to Lady Grantham, but she couldn’t, saying it was too complicated. Eventually, she told Lady Grantham she stole jewelry from the last family for whom she worked. When Barrow came to rat her out, Cora was angry with him.
“If you’ve been using that knowledge against her, I’ll have to consider your future here, Barrow. Indeed whether you have one at all,” she said.
Lady Grantham couldn’t promise Miss Baxter had a permanent job, but she saw no reason to fire her right away.
Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and Lady Rose (Lily James) decided to throw a party for Robert and Cora’s anniversary. Anna (Joanne Froggatt) asked Lady Mary if she was excited to see Lord Gillingham there, but Mary wasn’t yet sure that she wanted to marry him. She wondered if maybe people should test the romantic side of a relationship before marriage.
When Rose sent an invitation to Miss Bunting, the teacher thought it was a prank. Lady Rose explained it was a surprised for Tom. They liked her, and they thought Tom enjoyed her company. Lady Cora even approved of the invitation.
Before the party, Lady Anstruthers (Anna Chancellor) arrived for tea and snagged herself an invitation to the anniversary celebration once Lady Grantham heard she was staying at a hotel. Lady Anstruthers immediately reprimanded Jimmy (Ed Speleers) for not answering her letters. They’d been flirting for quite some time. She didn’t tell the family of her fling with the footman, but she made it clear she was past mourning her late husband. “That’s the advantage of an older husband: One gets an early release,” she laughed.
Lord Grantham didn’t notice Lady Anstruthers’ interest in Jimmy because he was too focused on Sarah Bunting. Cora approved of the school teacher keeping Tom company, but she didn’t realize Sarah was the girl Tom brought to the house last year while they were gone. Robert didn’t want her there, and he picked a fight with her when she expressed her political opinions. She decided to note he wasn’t on the committee for the war memorial, but Mr. Carson interrupted and said Lord Grantham was being offered a position.
Mrs. Hughes asked how the position had come about. Mr. Carson told her he gave the committee an ultimatum. He told them he would only serve if Lord Grantham could serve, but they couldn’t tell the Crawley patriarch that. “Nobody has to know everything,” he said.
After the guests left, Tom tried to apologize for Miss Bunting’s inappropriate dinner conversation.
“We’re not lovers, you know,” Tom said. He worried Robert thought they were fooling around when he brought Sarah to the house. He was simply showing her the historical aspects of the home.
“The truth is I worry less about that than if Miss Bunting is taking you back to the role of rebel and hater,” Lord Grantham admitted.
Tom assured him he didn’t hate anyone, especially not his daughter’s grandfather.
Lady Edith was still mourning her child and her lover that night. Michael’s German book upset her so much, she threw it across the room without looking before she went to sleep. It was too close to the fireplace and was engulfed in flames, sparking a fire.
While Lady Edith was trying to sleep, Thomas was trying to get Jimmy into Lady Anstruthers’ room. They saw Tony Gillingham sneak into Mary’s room while they were on their way. Tony made it clear he thought he had won Mary’s affections. He wanted to take Mary on vacation with him. “I want us to be lovers, Mary,” Lord Gillingham said. “I want us to know everything there is to know about each other.”
Their reunion was interrupted by Barrow noticing the fire. After everyone was safe and the fire was out, he was commended and forgiven by Lady Grantham for his earlier actions. Jimmy, however, was fired after Lord Grantham found him and Lady Anstruthers in bed while clearing the house.
Edith was reminded of her daughter again when Mr. Drewe turned out to be one of the firemen. She was able to chat with him for a moment, and he told her that she needed to take a special interest in Marigold. He wanted them to have a reason to spend time together, and that was the only logical plan. However, that might not be enough to keep Marigold's parentage a secret.
“Downton Abbey” airs Sundays at 9 p.m. EST on PBS. Do you think Edith will be able to see her baby without causing suspicion? Sound off in the comments section below!