Nick Briggs—Carnival Films / PBS
January 2, 2015 9:30 AM EST

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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Write to Lily Rothman at

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