TIME Television

Downton Abbey Will End After Season 6

The hit British period drama is closing its doors

Time to put away your teacups and scones: the coming sixth season of Downton Abbey will be its last.

“We wanted to close the doors of Downton Abbey when it felt right and natural for the storylines to come together and when the show was still being enjoyed so much by its fans,” executive producer Gareth Neame said in a press release Thursday. “We can promise a final season full of all the usual drama and intrigue, but with the added excitement of discovering how and where they all end up.”

TIME asked creator Julian Fellowes in February whether the show might leap ahead in time before it ended to follow the characters as World War II broke out, but he poured cold water on the idea. “[Lady Mary’s son] George would have fought in that war because he was born in 1921, I think,” he says. “He would be called up by 1941 or 1942. We’d have to hope he’d get through it. Of course fewer people died in the Second World War [than the First] but people did die, and we have to just hope little George gets through.”

Downton Abbey is the most nominated British show in Emmy history, according to ITV, with 51 nominations. The series will air its final episode in the United Kingdom on Christmas Day, and is likely to be shown in the United States in early 2016.

But that might not be the very last of it – a Downton movie could happen after the show ends. “[A movie is] definitely something we’re contemplating, it would be great fun to do,” Neame said, according to Entertainment Weekly.

For now, look at this farewell post on the Downton Facebook page and start emotionally gearing up to say goodbye to everyone in the Crawley household.

Read next: 7 Historic Moments Downton Abbey Could Tackle Next Season

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TIME movies

Lily James: My Cinderella Glass Slippers Didn’t Fit Me

CINDERELLA
Jonathan Olley—Disney Lily James stars as Cinderella in Disney's live-action movie Cinderella

The actress says this Cinderella is "not a victim"

Cinderella’s glass slippers are big shoes to fill, and Lily James is ready to fill them—figuratively, anyway, since the Swarovski crystal heels created for the new live-action Disney movie didn’t actually fit the Downton Abbey actress’s feet.

James says the Kenneth Branagh-directed feature offers a new kind of Cinderella, one with more bravery and strength, plus a better message for young girls. TIME caught up with her before the movie’s Friday release to talk about her Prince Charming (Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden), her ball gown and the next steps for her career.

TIME: I heard that hundreds of actresses tried out for the part of Cinderella. What was the audition process like?

James: Very long and very painful. I originally went in to play Anastasia, one of the step-sisters, and I was really into it. I remember practicing the night before and I put on my most garish pink-orange tie-dye jumper. I was really up for playing a character where you didn’t have to worry about being pretty, and you could just be more quirky and comical. But then when I was there, the casting director said, “You should just read for Ella while you’re here,” and I did. And it just felt right. In the breakdown of the character, Kenneth said she had a generous spirit. I met Ken, and then I did screen tests—the whole thing took a few months, actually, until finding out. And in the screen test, in one of them, Ken played Prince Charming, which was so cool—he’s a really good Prince Charming.

What scene did you read with him?

The scene on the horseback and also another scene that didn’t end up in the film. I even did a scene in the kitchen, and they built this entire kitchen out of pine wood, kind of like the one in the movie—not as detailed and exquisite, but I had to cook, and there was boiling water, and it all worked, and there was an oven, and there were mice that I spoke to, and I couldn’t figure out if I was more scared of pretending to like mice or pretending to be able to cook.

In the real shooting you didn’t have mice to talk to, right? They were CGI.

No, I had little squidgy soft toys, or I’d even have tennis balls, and the sound guys would make weird squeaking sounds at me in reply. I felt like I was losing my mind.

It looked like you had great chemistry with Richard Madden, your Prince Charming, on the red carpet at the film premiere. Did you become close on the set?

We did. He was cool. Because we both were entering this world together, and for both of us it was our first big film, we bonded on that. He’s a really good man—he really was a real support—and also we just had fun right from the start. We became like mates. We have a similar sense of humor, I think.

Cate Blanchett played your stepmother and Helena Bonham Carter played your fairy godmother, too. How was it working with them?

To have scenes with actors like that makes you way better. All you have to do is respond because their characters are so deep and layered and colorful and rich, so in a way you just have to enter into their moment and share the moment, and when you look into their eyes, they’re telling the truth. It was the most unique acting experience I’ve had. And Helena is so funny. Those scenes were such a hoot.

She must not have been on set for too many days, since she’s mainly just in the transformation scene.

I was so sad when she left. Actually, we did these night shoots because they built everything for real—my whole garden and the house, everything was real, in the back lot of Pinewood [Studios, in London] in the forest. So we were shooting from seven in the evening til six in the morning, and it was freezing cold. We had hot water bottles and coffees, just trying to get through. It became like this parallel universe that we existed in together. We had these ridiculously gigantic skirts to navigate. Somehow, because she was there, we had a great time. She’s so spectacular—she just sort of improvises [in that scene].

Oh, really? Some of it was unscripted?

Yeah, loads of it. She came up with this idea that the Fairy Godmother perhaps isn’t actually that good at magic, and she’s a bit out of practice. So you know, all the stuff is like, “What have you got? Have you got a barrow? A cumquat? A melon?” She would try new vegetables every time, and I would genuinely be like, “I don’t know what that is.” And Ken’s great facilitating all that. He lets you go with the moment, and he’s so full of life. He directs with such heart. He really inspired all that sort of energy. There’s a lot of freedom.

What about all those period costumes? They seem a little less free and more constricting. What are the best and worst parts about wearing those dresses and corsets?

The best, which outweighs everything else, was in that blue gown—I felt completely transformed. And that’s what fairy tales are all about: transformation. When I put that dress on, I felt like I could be a princess. But then I’m glad that it only lasted a night! Or like, a movie-magic night. It was just so big, so heavy. With corsets, it’s interesting when you put them on, realizing that’s what women actually wore—that’s what they wore every day, and they’re just so constricting. I’m not surprised they ditched those corsets! In the blue dress it was particularly tight. On the one hand, it helps in the way you stand and the way you move, but on the other hand, it takes your breath right up into your chest. When I was trying to dance, I didn’t have the capacity to breathe to support the physicality, and so I had to keep taking breaks and loosening the corset. But as I said, it was worth it.

You also wore a pretty remarkable dress for the wedding scene in Downton Abbey, which we in the U.S. have only recently seen. Will we see Lady Rose again in season 6 even though she left for America at the end of season 5?

I hope so. I really hope so. It’s sort of down to what Julian writes—it’s down to timing—but I’m pretty certain that that’s not the end of Rose.

Americans, at least, have come to know you primarily through period pieces like Downton, and Cinderella kind of feels like a period piece. Then you have Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and War and Peace coming up. Is that a space you especially want to work in, or are you eager to take on more contemporary roles?

I definitely want to do some contemporary stuff now. To be honest, when I was growing up—I think it’s because of Kate Winslet and Titanic—I always wanted to do period. I grew up always wanting that, so I feel so happy that I’ve done a lot, but I’m definitely keen to challenge myself.

A lot of times when people talk about Disney princesses, they’re concerned about what the message will be for little girls. What do you want children to take away from this version?

The message in the film is quite clear, and it’s that if you have courage, be kind, then all will be well—that your strength can come from within. Oftentimes when they re-do the fairy tales, the princesses suddenly have swords and armor, that’s where their strength comes from—which is great, but with this one, we wanted to show that there are different kinds of strength. Any kid in the world can draw from strengths within—we all have the potential with that. She manages to find joy in life even though she’s having quite a bleak time and talking to the mice, imagining and dreaming. What’s inside is what really matters. At the end of the film we say, “This is the greatest risk we’ll ever take: to be seen as we truly are.” The reason the prince falls in love with Ella is because she’s such a strong, beautiful girl from the inside—she challenges him and they enrich each other. That’s not a very quick message. It may be the most long-winded answer ever. But I think there’s lots of little messages in the film that are really strong and empowering.

I read that you didn’t actually wear the glass slippers in the film.

They didn’t fit me. They fit the wrong girl. They didn’t fit any human foot! They’re Swarovski crystals, so they were on set and I would hold them and be terrified, whereas Richard Madden would be holding it and carrying away and moving around, gesticulating, and these guys in white gloves would be terrified. My friend’s daughter came to visit on set, and I let her hold the slipper, and her face—it was one of the most magical moments. Her eyes just lit up and the shoes were reflected in her eyes. It was amazing.

Read next: This Honest Trailer for Cinderella Reminds Us How Sexist the Original Story Really Is

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TIME TV

Maggie Smith to Leave Downton Abbey After Next Season

Downton Abbey Season 5 on MASTERPIECE on PBSPart EightSunday, February 22, 2015 at 9pm ETSomeone tries to derail Rose and Atticus’s happiness. Mrs. Patmore gets a surprise. Anna isin trouble. Robert has a revelation.(C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Films 2014 for MASTERPIECEThis image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only. USE ON THIRD PARTY SITES SUCH AS FACEBOOK AND TWITTER IS NOT ALLOWED.
Nick Briggs—Carnival Films/Masterpiece/PBS

The Dowager Countess won't be back after Season 6 — but will the show?

Actress Maggie Smith will not be returning after next season of the hit TV show, Downton Abbey.

Smith told The Sunday Times that she will not be returning to the popular British melodrama to continue her role as Violet Crawley, the feisty Dowager Countess of Grantham — as well as giving a broad hint that the show itself would not be coming back either. “They say this is the last one, and I can’t see how it could go on,” Smith said. “I mean, I certainly can’t keep going. To my knowledge, I must be 110 by now.”

The fifth season of the show ended its run on PBS on Sunday, though British viewers caught the most recent season in 2014.

The veteran actress has won several awards for her Downton Abbey role including a Golden Globe, and multiple Screen Actors Guild awards and Emmys.

Read next: 7 Historic Moments Downton Abbey Could Tackle Next Season

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Television

The Historical Truth Behind Thomas’ Tragic Revelation on Downton Abbey

Downton Abbey
Nick Briggs—Carnival Film & Television Ltd/PBS Robert James-Collier as Thomas (far left) on Downton Abbey

What happened to Thomas happened to lots of men

Contains spoilers for the episode of Downton Abbey that aired in the U.S. on Feb. 8, 2015

After several episodes that left viewers wondering what Thomas was up to behind closed doors and what was making him look so ashen, Downton Abbey answered the question in a way that may surprise modern audiences, though perhaps not so much given the character’s history. His trip to London earlier in the season had been to receive electrotherapy that would “make [him] more like other people” (to change his sexuality, that is) and he had given himself an abscess through follow-up injections with an unsterilized needle.

Though Dr. Clarkson’s and Baxter’s attitudes toward the discovery were perhaps a little blasé for historical accuracy — as Downton viewers and people who saw The Imitation Game know, there were criminal penalties for homosexuality in England at the time — the tragic history behind that kind of electrotherapy is very real.

In fact, fans of Masters of Sex may remember that the technique showed up last summer on the show as well. As we explained back then, electroconvulsive therapy wasn’t the most typical method used to “cure” homosexuality, but it did happen, along with shock-based aversion therapy. And it wasn’t even all that historical — it happened to Thomas in 1924, it happened on MoS in the ’60s and it didn’t stop then.

It was as recently as Feb. 12, 1965, that TIME ran a story with the declarative headline “Homosexuals Can Be Cured“: “One reason why homosexuals are so rarely cured is that they rarely try treatment,” the story began. “Too many of them actually believe that they are happy and satisfied the way they are.”

TIME Television

The True History Behind Downton Abbey‘s Scandalous Sex Book

Dr Marie Stopes
Ron Gerelli / Getty Images Marie Stopes (1880 - 1958), who popularized the use of birth control in Britain with her books 'Married Love' and 'Wise Parenthood'

Marie Stopes' work made another appearance on the show

Contains spoilers for Season 5 Episode 2 of Downton Abbey

In the episode of Downton Abbey that aired for U.S. audiences on Jan. 11, the name is only mentioned briefly. Lady Mary hands a book to her maid Anna and mentions the author as she sends Anna off on an embarrassing errand — but to a British woman of the early 1920s the implication was clear: the name Marie Stopes meant birth control.

Stopes is famous as the author of the 1918 marriage manual Married Love, which she was inspired to write after her own marriage was annulled. She was a scientist — an expert on plant fossils — and challenged the Victorian idea that it was improper for a woman to enjoy sex. She also wrote about contraception; in fact, she was a proponent of the belief that waiting to conceive a child would result in a stronger relationship between husband and wife. The book was a bestseller in England, though still controversial, and it was banned in the U.S. for obscenity for more than a decade.

Though Married Love made Stopes famous — and got a shout-out on Downton last season — its sequel, Wise Parenthood, published within a year of the first, is more likely to have been the book Mary turned to for help. Stopes wrote in the introduction to the sequel that she had received a deluge of inquiries for more specific information about how to actually obtain and use the contraceptive plans she advocated. In 1921, she went even further, opening the world’s first birth-control clinic, and then following that up with others throughout the country. (The item that Anna ends up buying at the pharmacy, in its nondescript paper bag, is likely to have been a cervical cap.)

Stopes wasn’t always ahead of her time — there was often an undercurrent of eugenics to her ideas on birth control, and when she died in 1958, TIME remarked diplomatically that “she got a few weird ideas” over the years. But her books helped bring women like Lady Mary into a future where their love lives didn’t have to be controlled by the ever-present threat of motherhood, and where there were alternatives to the illegal abortion to which Lady Edith was almost driven last season.

That shift, from past to future, is what Downton is all about — and Marie Stopes, as TIME wrote when she died, was right there with them:

As a Harley Street admirer put it: “In these days of family planning, female emancipation, and ideas of equality in sexual pleasure, it is easy to see Dr. Stopes and say, ‘So what?’ We have to place her in her own age, when such things were quite beyond the pale—and that was not so long ago.” The times had passed her by, but it was because she had done so much to shape them.

Read the full story here in the TIME Vault: Early Crusader

TIME

See What Happened When Lady Edith Played Cards Against Humanity

"Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb" New York Premiere - Outside Arrivals
Jim Spellman—WireImage/Getty Images Laura Carmichael attends the Night At The Museum: Secret Of The Tomb New York premiere at the Ziegfeld Theater on December 11, 2014 in New York City.

Bonus: Mrs. Patmore talks about farting

It’s rare that Downton Abbey viewers get to see Lady Edith smile. But this new video changes everything. Laura Carmichael, who plays Downton Abbey‘s saddest sister, sat down with Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) and Phyliss Logan (Elise Hughes) to play the least appropriate of games: Cards of Humanity. Things escalate quickly to behavior that’s better suited for downstairs than upstairs.

“We’ve never played before so bear with us,” Nicol’s says at the start. But if you’ve ever played the card game, you can probably imagine the turn it took. Lady Edith talks about balls, Mrs. Patmore gets on the subject of farting and Mrs. Hughes says “bitches.” Lady Cora would be appalled. The three women can hardly control themselves. See if you can by watching the full clip at EW.com.

TIME Television

See Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess Recreated as a Cake

Masterpiece/PBS; Karen Portaleo From left: Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey; Dowager Countess cake by Karen Portaleo

She’s like a mini Madame Tussauds figure made with cake batter!

The Dowager Countess, the acerbic grand dame played by Maggie Smith on Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey, was recently reborn as a life-like dessert for a season five premiere event at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

In a two-minute video made by the event’s host, Georgia Public Broadcasting, Portaleo can be seen creating her work of art while actual scenes from the period drama are spliced in to make it seem like the characters are commenting on the cake.

No word on what Smith thinks of her sugary likeness but the show’s consultant, Alastair Bruce, attended the Atlanta premiere and made an observant comment. “He said the cake is so very American, which I thought was hysterical,” Portaleo told Today.com. “It is very American to create a human out of cake.”

Consider it the sweetest tribute of all.

This article originally appeared on People.com

TIME Television

Downton Abbey Returns to 10 Million U.S. Viewers

Downton Abbey, Season 5 on MASTERPIECE on PBSSundays, January 4 - March 1, 2015 at 9pm ETJIM CARTER as Mr Carson, ROBERT JAMES-COLLIER as Thomas, RAQUEL CASSIDY as Baxter, KEVIN DOYLE as Molesley, LAURA CARMICHAEL as Lady Edith Crawley, PENELOPE WILTON as Isobel Crawley, ALLEN LEECH as Tom Branson, MAGGIE SMITH as Violet, Dowager Countess of Grantham, HUGH BONNEVILLE as Robert, Earl of Grantham, ELIZABETH McGOVERN as Cora, Countess of Grantham, MICHELLE DOCKERY as Lady Mary Crawley, MATT BARBER as Atticus, LILY JAMES as Lady Rose, LESLEY NICOL as Mrs Patmore, SOPHIE McSHERA as Daisy and PHYLLIS LOGAN as Mrs Hughes. (C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2014This image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only. USE ON THIRD PARTY SITES SUCH AS FACEBOOK AND TWITTER IS NOT ALLOWED.
Nick Briggs—Carnival Film & Television Ltd The cast of Downton Abbey

'Downton' continues to rank as PBS’ most popular show of all time

Downton Abbey returned a massive audience and came thisclose to setting a new ratings record.

The fifth season premiere had 10.1 million viewers Sunday night, which is huge for a PBS drama. The number is just shy of the show’s all-time peak U.S. viewership of 10.2 million viewers for its fourth season premiere. “We’re incredibly excited that Downton Abbey’s fans came out in force for the premiere of what has become a cultural phenomenon,” said PBS chief programmer Beth Hoppe. “We’ll also be looking at time-shifted and online viewing over the next few weeks as the season progresses.”

“America has whole-heartedly embraced the Crawley family and those who serve them since the first season of Downton and we are very appreciative,” added executive producer Gareth Neame. “We’re thrilled to have season five, of which we are quite proud, off to such a strong start.”

Downton ranks as PBS’ most popular show of all time. The premiere picked up Crawley family melodrama in 1924 and EW’s Melissa Maerz gave the episode an A-. You can check out her review here.

This article originally appeared on EW.com

TIME Television

This Man Is Why Everyone on Downton Abbey Was Talking About Politics

Ramsay MacDonald
Hulton Archive / Getty Images circa 1900: James Ramsay MacDonald (1866 - 1937), Scottish politician and Britain's first Labour prime minister

Which real politician was making news back in 1924?

The first episode of the fifth season of Downton Abbey — which premiered for U.S. audiences on Sunday night — was, predictably, focused largely on the comings and goings of the suitors and staffers who populate the estate. But those characters, upstairs and down, were also concerned with someone who didn’t show up at all: Britain’s new Prime Minister, recently risen to power when the season kicks off in 1924.

But who is this new P.M., and why is he such a big deal?

The man in question is James Ramsay MacDonald, and he was Britain’s first-ever Labor (or ‘Labour,’ per the British spelling) Prime Minister. Early in 1924, the then-Conservative leaders in the House of Commons informed the king that, with the help of Liberal Party support, a Labor Party push for a no-confidence motion had succeeded. Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin resigned, along with his cabinet, and recommended MacDonald as his successor. The king agreed.

All of this was, at TIME noted back then, “the usual procedure of an outgoing Cabinet.” What was worth noting — and the reason why the folks at Downton would have been talking about the news more than usual — was MacDonald’s unusual personal background.

He was, as Lady Mary put it on the show, the son of a crofter (a farmhand), and as TIME put it in real life, “once a country yokel.” He studied and worked his way from a village to London and from manual labor to a political career. His pacifism got him shut out of the mainstream during World War I, but in 1922 he was reelected to the House. “The Times of London, says he is one of the most noteworthy of British Prime Ministers—an idealist and a pacifist guiding the country when idealism and pacifism are not the ruling passion of the world,” TIME reported in the Feb. 4, 1924, issue. “Henry William Massingham, famed Liberal editor of London, summed up Macdonald thus: ‘Not eloquent, but a statesman. A man of principle, but not a fanatic. Elastic without being supple. A character as stainless as Burke or Gladstone.'”

Though the makeup of Parliament meant that the left-leaning and once-radical MacDonald couldn’t do anything too extreme — the Labor party still needed the support of the Liberal party to maintain a majority over the Conservative party — he still represented a major shift in British political life. Just as Downton Abbey‘s Mr. Carson remarks again and again, the old ways were changing. Rigid lines between the classes had begun to blur, and it was possible for the first time for a man of modest background to exert power over politicians from wealthy and middle-class backgrounds.

The following year, TIME published a round-up of the Prime Ministers who had resided at No. 10 Downing Street since it was established as the official home of the office in 1735, and the difference was made clear. “Twenty-five were peers or the sons of peers, 8 were country gentlemen or members of well-connected families, 5 came from the so-called middleclass: Addington, son of a doctor; Disraeli, grandson of a merchant; Gladstone, son of a shipowner; Asquith, son of a manufacturer; George, son of an itinerant teacher,” the summary read. “The remaining one, Mr. Ramsay MacDonald, was born in the humblest circumstances, his relatives being fishers and farm hands.”

And, though nobody on Downton Abbey mentioned it, that political shift in 1924 brought change in more ways than one. McDonald’s new government included a new Parliamentary Secretary of the Ministry of Labor. Her name was Margaret Bondfield, and she was the first woman in British history to become a cabinet minister.

Read TIME’s original coverage of MacDonald’s rise to power, here in the TIME Vault: Advent of Laborism

TIME Television

Everything You Need to Know to Watch Downton Abbey‘s New Season

Downton Abbey Season 5Premieres Sunday, January 4th, 2015 on MASTERPIECE on PBSShown from left to right: Allen Leech as Tom Branson, Tom Cullen as Lord Gillingham, and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary(C) Nick Briggs/Carnival Films 2014 for MASTERPIECEThis image may be used only in the direct promotion of MASTERPIECE CLASSIC. No other rights are granted. All rights are reserved. Editorial use only. USE ON THIRD PARTY SITES SUCH AS FACEBOOK AND TWITTER IS NOT ALLOWED.18.72x12.48
Nick Briggs—Carnival Films / PBS

Who's alive, who's dead, who's missing, who's in love and who's got a secret

The fifth season of Downton Abbey premieres in the U.S. on Jan. 4, nearly a full year after the most recent episode of the British hit aired stateside. For viewers who have forgotten what’s up at the estate — and who haven’t succumbed to the temptation to watch illicit British steams of the show — here’s a quick refresher on everything you need to remember going into the new series.

Warning: Lots of spoilers for Downton Abbey Season 4 follow (obviously)

What year is it? Last we checked it was 1923, but the trailer for the new season makes clear that considerable time will have passed by the time we return.

Who’s still alive? Everyone except Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley, but that’s old news — with the possible exception of Michael Gregson, who went missing after getting into a fight with some Nazis in Germany.

Who owns Downton Abbey now? Mary, as sole heir to her late husband’s possessions, owns the half of the estate that he had invested in; Lord Grantham is still holding onto the other half despite a run of terrible financial decisions. Lord Grantham wanted to sell off some land to pay the tax bill on Matthew’s estate, but Mary worried that doing so would mean the estate wouldn’t be big enough to support the house. Tom Branson is still the estate manager, and he and Mary decided that raising pigs will be a good way to drum up more money.

What have they been up to? Last season, Mary‘s old friend Tony Foyle, a.k.a. Lord Gillingham, showed up and ended up backing out of his engagement to another woman in order to propose to Mary. When she told him she was still grieving Matthew, he went back to his other fiancée — but only temporarily. Her former suitor Evelyn Napier also showed up with his boss, the secretly-wealthy Charles Blake, while doing a study of how the downfall of the landed estates could be managed by the government. All three are still potential romances for Mary.

Edith moved forward with her affair with Michael Gregson, who decided to move to Germany so that he could get a divorce from his insane wife. Before he left, she spent the night with him, and ended up getting pregnant. Then he disappeared in Munich, leaving her stranded (and as the editor of his magazine). She decided to have an abortion, with the logistical assistance of Aunt Rosamund, but backed out at the last minute; Rosamund’s back-up plan was that the two of them would go on an extended trip to Switzerland to work on their French and secretly find an adoptive family while they’re there. The Dowager Countess guessed the secret but agreed it was the right thing to do. However, even after they returned, Edith didn’t think she did the right thing. She wanted her baby back, and decided the thing to do was to tell Drewe, a tenant farmer who’s now managing the estate’s pigs, that the baby belonged to a friend of hers and to ask the Drewe family to raise her. He agreed to go along with the plan.

Tom was seduced by evil Edna, the housemaid who came back to Downton when Miss O’Brien (Cora’s lady’s maid) quit to move to India, but Mrs. Hughes saved the day and fired Edna. Edna’s replacement, Miss Baxter, somehow knew Thomas from before, and was recruited by him to get gossip from the Granthams; she has some sort of mysterious secret, so he’s able to blackmail her. Later, Tom considered running for a seat on the local council, and while at a political meeting hit it off with Sarah Bunting, a teacher at the local school. Cousin Rose fell for Jack Ross, a black American band leader she met at a club in London, and decided to marry him — but he refused to, knowing it would ruin her life. Dr. Clarkson made moves on Isobel, and the Dowager also tried to set her up with Lord Merton, perhaps more successfully. Lord and Lady Grantham debated the management of the estate and how they should deal with her rascally family, but they didn’t do too much else.

Anna was raped by Lord Gillingham’s valet, Green, and tried to keep it a secret, thinking that Mr. Bates would kill Green if he found out. It nearly destroyed their marriage, and even though Mrs. Hughes told Bates that it was a stranger, he swore — as predicted — to find and kill the man who committed the crime. Mary finds out and asks Gillingham to fire Green, at which point it’s revealed that Green died mysteriously. Even though it was pretty clear that Bates did it (by pushing him in front of a truck), he seems to be in the clear.

Mr. Molesley went into debt but the Downton staff helped him out; he developed a crush on Baxter, who also started to feel bad about gossiping with Thomas. Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson sorta-kinda seemed to be flirting. Mrs. Patmore was really nice. Daisy and Ivy both liked Jimmy, but he wasn’t interested in a real relationship. Alfred left the estate to go work for a chef in London. Ivy ended up leaving Downton to go work for Harold Levinson, Cora’s brother, in the United States.

What exactly happened in the most recent episode? That was the one where Cousin Rose met the Prince of Wales, and almost caused a royal scandal by allowing a letter he sent to his mistress to be stolen. Shirley MacLaine and Paul Giamatti guest-starred as Cora’s mother and brother. Edith decided to go to Switzerland for her baby, and to give her to a tenant-farming family to raise.

What are some of the big questions this season may answer? Which suitor will Mary choose? What happened to Michael Gregson? Will Edith succeed with her plan to keep her baby nearby but secret? Will Tom Branson find love and political radicalism again? Will Bates’ crime come back to haunt him? What is Baxter’s secret? What new and fascinating twist of British inheritance law will we learn this time?

Is time still marching forward, bringing an unavoidable tide of modernity that threatens the old way of life at Downton? Duh.

Where can I get more detail? Catch up with TIME’s recaps of Season 4.

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