For the past five and a half years, I’ve been a Downton Abbey outsider. I’ve had to watch and listen to pretty much everyone else in what feels like the entire world bond over the triumphs and tragedies of the family they all seem to be surrogate members of. I’d like to say I’ve been envious, but to be honest, I haven’t. Despite the feeling of exclusion, I somehow never felt the desire to join the party and drink the Kool-Aid (or fine wine)—no matter how many shocking storylines made the world (and the critics) buzz, how impressive that mansion was, or how lovely their accents are to listen to.
But then, about a month after the final episode aired, after the party was over and everyone had moved on to something else, I decided to show up. Typical.
To say I’m hooked—three seasons in, so no season four, five, or six spoilers, please!—seems much too insignificant of a description. I’m consumed by every part of this show, from the colorful characters downstairs to the regal, oftentimes disparate ones upstairs. But mostly, I’m captivated by the relationships between both.
Since being tardy to the party never stopped me from barging in before, and because I know there are many of you who still haven’t been successfully Downton-detoxed, here’s my list of the best and most shocking moments of season one, as well as some dynamic duos. Make sure to chime in below to let me know your thoughts (or hit me up @urmyfavetoday), and don’t forget to check back in the coming weeks for posts on upcoming seasons. But TBH, I’m still emotionally wrecked from the events of season three, so it might be a while.
Mary “spoils herself” before marriage
Maybe it’s because she was so done with everyone telling her who she had to marry, maybe it was in retaliation for learning that her inheritance was in grave jeopardy, or maybe it was simply the undeniably smoldering sexiness and persistent seduction of Turkish diplomat Kemal Pamuk that finally brought Mary down (ba-dum bum). Whatever it was, Mary easily became powerless to his charms and quickly threw all her highbrow respectability out the window when he showed up in her bedroom. I mean, really, can you blame her?
Dead in the bed
Whether you take it as a testament to Mary’s prowess in the bedroom or just a weak heart, the fact remains that shortly after wrecking her (virtue—wrecking her virtue!), the dashing Turkish diplomat died in her bed. HER BED OF SIN. Panicked at the thought of her immorality being discovered—not to mention the naked dead guy in her bedroom—Mary has her faithful servant Anna (and her sweet but incredibly dull mother) help her drag him back to his own room, which sets off a chain of ramifications for poor, ruined Mary that are to last all season long.
The Dowager Countess’ surprising act
My favorite character on Downton—and probably yours as well—is Grand-mama Violet. Her spunk, wry wit, and biting opinions are everything.
However, it was the unexpected humanity that she showed to Bill Molesley at the Downton flower show (episode five) that made Violet a little bit more rounded. Do I want her to change into a totally giving, selfless person? Absolutely not, but it was nice to see that there actually is a bit of water under all that delicious ice, which I suspected all along.
Crawley daughter MVP
Right away it becomes clear that of the Crawley girls, Mary is the most popular, and the proper hope for the family’s future (even after the unspeakable incident with Pamuk). Edith is the poor, unfortunate, preordained spinster (seriously, give that girl a break and a better hairstyle already). And Sybil is the young, fiery independent who immediately shakes things up with her radical feminist views. From helping one of the maids realize her dream of becoming a secretary (you do you, girl), to wearing—gasp!—pants, to falling for the—double gasp!—chauffeur, Sybil is the Crawley daughter who bucks tradition and lives life truthfully, and who doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks of it.
The Grantham heir disaster
When Cora discovers she’s pregnant, things get complicated, not only for the Downton heir situation, but for Matthew and Mary’s relationship as well. However, after mistakenly believing that Cora is having her replaced, the nasty, scheming O’Brien places a bar of soap outside her ladyship’s bath, causing her to fall and lose the baby, which was a boy after all. Noooooo!!
Dynamic duos of season one
Mary and Edith: Sure, they’re awful and spiteful to each other, and take sibling rivalry to a whole new level, but it sure is fun to watch.
Bates and Anna: Think what you will about their age difference (it took me a while to get used to it), but their instantaneous and intense love for each other is nothing but pure, even if you can’t understand what he’s saying most of the time.
Thomas and O’Brien: Calculating and duplicitous, these two bullies are nothing but trouble … which makes them so much fun to watch, no matter how much you want them to get what they deserve (or how much you want to cut off O’Brien’s random curls over her forehead).