The fabulously wealthy family at Downtown Abbey is back in a new installment of the long story. Opening May 18, Downton Abbey: A New Era is set in 1928 and finds the Crawley family enjoying the late roaring twenties in several gigantic homes before the Great Depression hits. In a new era, the family discovers that they have inherited another beautiful estate: a villa in the South of France. Apparently, one of Grandma Violet’s former lovers left it with her, which will undoubtedly cause a scandal among the family members.
A New Age is Downton Abbey’s second film and follows six seasons of the television series that covered the many social and global changes between 1912 and 1928. This is where A New Age fits into the larger timeline of downton abbey, and a look at all the downton drama you may have forgotten.
downton abbey, season 1: 1912-1914
robert crawley (hugh bonneville) discovers that the heir to his estate has died on the titanic. His new heir, a distant cousin named Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), arrives at Downton Abbey. Robert is a bit of a snob, so Matthew’s working-class leanings (he’s a lawyer) immediately cause friction between the two. Robert’s mother, the Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith), tries to find a loophole that would allow Robert to give the inheritance to her eldest daughter Mary (Michelle Dockery), but fails. She spends the rest of the series dishing out spiky spikes to anyone who might cross her, usually Matthew’s mother, Isobel (Penelope Wilton).
Mary is involved in a scandal when a handsome young Turkish diplomat visits her room to play and dies in her bed without explanation. Mary’s mother, Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), and her lady’s maid, Anna (Joanne Froggatt), help Mary carry the diplomat’s body back to her room in an effort to save Mary’s reputation. everybody; If it is found out that Mary had a man in her bed, the whole family will be ruined.
mary and matthew fall into a love-hate relationship. Often bullied by Mary, Edith (Laura Carmichael) spreads a rumor about Mary and the diplomat as revenge for Mary’s cruelty. Mary finally admits to herself that she loves Matthew just as World War I breaks out and Matthew must head to the front lines.
Meanwhile, downstairs, two servants named Thomas Barrow (Robert James-Collier) and Sarah O’Brien (Siobhan Finneran) make everyone’s life hell. (Thomas is revealed to be a closeted gay man who feels isolated. O’Brien seems to be mean for no reason.) Anna falls in love with valet Bates (Brendan Coyle).
downton abbey, season 2: 1916-1918
matthew, thomas and another servant named william (thomas howes) join the war. Meanwhile, Downton is transformed into a home for wounded soldiers to convalesce, and Sybil (Jessica Brown Findlay), the youngest and kindest of the Crawley sisters, trains to be a nurse at the local hospital. isobel (also trained as a nurse) and violet (a know-it-all) butt heads over how the hospital should be run.
Mathew returns to Downton on leave and reveals that he is engaged to a woman named Lavinia Swire (Zoe Boyle). Bates’ crazy criminal wife shows up in Downton and threatens to spread the secret about Lady Mary and the Turkish diplomat if Bates doesn’t move in with her. To prevent the news from getting out, Mary agrees to get engaged to a newspaper imam, Sir Richard Carlisle (Iain Glen), who in return buys and then cancels the story. the crawleys look down on richard because he made himself, which is pretty snobbish. (To be fair to the crawleys, he turns out to be a vile fellow; after all, he’s blackmailing his fiancée.)
sybil falls in love with chauffeur tom branson (allen leech), a political firebrand who dreams of returning to ireland to throw off the yoke of english rule. (we will call him branson so as not to confuse him with the servant/soldier thomas). Sybil becomes increasingly interested in concepts like equality and becomes disillusioned with her life as a landowner. Sybil and Branson make plans to run away together. Mary and Edith find out about the plan and stop them. Robert tries to bribe Branson. Branson refuses, and eventually Robert gives Sybil her blessing to travel to Ireland and get married.
Bates’ wife (conveniently) dies of suspected suicide, paving the way for Bates and Anna to marry. Thomas is shot in the hand on purpose so that he can be sent home. William saves Matthew’s life but they both return to Downton injured. In an attempt to ingratiate himself with Robert, Thomas kidnaps and later “finds” Robert’s beloved dog, Isis. This involves Isis spending a very scary night in the woods. Fortunately, when Isis “magically” reappears, she seems bored with the whole situation. Chef’s assistant Daisy (Sophie McShera) agrees to marry William on her deathbed, and William’s farmer father (Paul Copley) basically adopts Daisy as her daughter.
mathew is crippled from the waist down and learns that he will never be able to father children, but then miraculously regains the ability to walk (and procreate) again. Lavinia (conveniently) passes away from the Spanish flu, but not before seeing Mary and Matthew kiss. Matthew is wracked with guilt that he betrayed Lavinia before she died. Mary is wracked with guilt that her date with the Turkish diplomat makes her unworthy of Matthew.
both get over their guilt. Mary and Matthew discover that Lavinia (conveniently) gave her blessing for them to be together before she died. mary reveals her turkish diplomatic sexual secret to matthew. Matthew is fine with that. mary breaks up with richard: he takes it badly and calls mary a bunch of nasty names. matthew heroically punches richard in the face. Mateo proposes to Maria in the snow. they kiss. everyone is glad that the dynastic situation has been resolved.
downton abbey, season 3: 1920-1921
If you thought war was depressing, Season 3 is a real bloodbath. Branson becomes embroiled in a rebel plot to burn down a nobleman’s home in Ireland, forcing him and a pregnant sibyl to flee to England. Sybil dies in childbirth after Robert insists that a city doctor will be better suited to help her deliver than her usual country doctor, Dr. clarkson (david robb). He is wrong. Cora stops talking to Robert for several episodes because she blames him for Sybil’s death. Alone with his new daughter, Branson is essentially stranded downtown with people he fundamentally disagrees with politically.
edith thinks she’s finally found love and gets engaged only to be left at the altar. she bounces back by becoming a columnist and writing about women’s issues. bates is arrested for the murder of his wife, but is eventually released. Thomas and Daisy are in love with the same handsome new servant, and Thomas comes out of the closet when she tries to get close to the man. he is allowed to stay, but many of the servants are terrible to him.
Cora gets pregnant. For some reason, O’Brien is afraid that Cora might fire her and deliberately facilitates Cora’s miscarriage by leaving a bar of soap next to her bathtub. Cora loses her baby and O’Brien realizes that she has finally gone too far.
matthew takes his place as co-owner of downton abbey with robert, and the two discuss how to modernize the property. Matthew and Mary struggle to conceive and worry that Matthew’s injury may have made children impossible after all. But Mary eventually gives birth to a baby, Downton’s new heir. Matthew cradles the baby in his arm, gets in his car to break the news to the rest of the family, and dies in a car accident on his way back to Downton. Like I said, season 3 sucks. Oh, and Matthew’s death comes in the festive Christmas episode. happy holidays!
downton abbey, season 4: 1922-1923
mary is extremely depressed, understandably. she has no interest in her child, although that seems fine because no one at downton abbey interacts with her children except once a day when the nanny takes them downstairs. Eventually, Mary begins to take over Matthew’s duties as part owner of Downton. She entertains two new suitors, one a handsome doll named Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen) and the other a smart guy named Charles Blake (Julian Hornden). At first, Mary loses interest in Charles because she believes that he is not a landowner. In a twist, it turns out that he is a secret landowner, but Mary still rejects him.
edith falls in love with her married publisher, michael gregson (charles edwards). He goes to Germany to get a divorce and is murdered by a group of would-be Nazis in the 1923 Brewery Putsch. Unfortunately for Edith, she finds out she is pregnant and goes on a “vacation” to Switzerland for a year with her aunt to have a baby. the baby. somehow no one in the family suspects that she is pregnant. she gives her child, marigold, to nearby farmers.
Branson is torn between staying in Downton for the sake of his daughter or leaving to pursue his political ideals. A new maid appears, gets Branson drunk and seduces him. She is roundly dismissed and is generally thought to be a bad person because she tried to seduce someone above her station, even though Branson did basically the same thing a few years earlier with Sybil, albeit certainly without the aid of alcohol.
a cousin named rose (lily james) is coming to stay in downton. she’s young and hip and does a lot of outrageous things like briefly dating a black musician. Mary steps in to stop their relationship (which is not Mary’s best aspect). Cora’s mother and brother visit from America (played by Shirley Maclaine and Paul Giamatti of all people).
Meanwhile, downstairs, a new servant named Miss Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) falls for Matthew’s bumbling valet, Mr. molesley (kevin doyle). Anna is raped by a visiting servant, but hides the fact from her from Bates, fearful that he will try to avenge her. Anna’s rapist dies, leading everyone to suspect that Bates killed him.
We also have a lovely moment where the butler, mr. carson (jim carter), and housekeeper mrs. hughes (phyllis logan), hold hands on the beach.
downton abbey, season 5: 1924
remember that lady mary had two suitors? well, mary spends a weekend in a hotel with the jerk and realizes that her attraction to him was more sexual than intellectual. she dumps him because no one can measure up to matthew (which is accurate). Fortunately, another handsome man appears, playboy Henry Talbot (Mathew Goode). He races cars, and Mary’s husband was killed in a car accident. dramatic irony is too delicious to pass up; the two are meant to be together.
edith steals marigolds from the farmers who were taking care of the baby, which greatly distresses them. Edith also runs the magazine he inherited from his dead mistress. Branson dates a radical left school teacher for a while, and no one in Downton likes her because she’s too political. branson decides to leave downton forever and move to the united states.
isobel crawley has two suitors, the local doctor dr. Clarkson and a man named Lord Merton (Douglas Reith). She clearly prefers Merton, but Merton’s children are rude (one once drugged Branson because he had a crush on Sybil). So Isobel rebuffs Merton’s advances.
rose meets and marries a jewish man named atticus (matt barber). The Crawley family isn’t particularly upset about this because Cora is half Jewish, a fact that was hinted at by her maiden name but never discussed until this point in the show. But it is revealed that Rose’s evil mother is anti-Semitic and tries to stop the marriage by sending a prostitute to try to solicit Atticus. The gambit fools no one: Atticus is truly the 1920s equivalent of a Jewish good boy, and he turns down the prostitute, reveals what happened to Rose, and assures him of her undying devotion. they get married he and rose are cute together. It’s so cute when a crawley gets married and no one dies!
Below, both Anna and Bates are suspected and later acquitted of the rapist’s murder, but not before Anna spends time in jail. the crawleys don’t seem to care how long this couple has been in prison. Thomas becomes extremely ill when he tries a mysterious medical regimen to try to “cure” himself of being gay. Baxter realizes what’s going on, takes him to a doctor, and helps him get off his meds.
the season can’t end without a death, and this time, the end comes for isis the plowman. The opening credits, which heavily showcase Isis’s adorable butt and wagging tail, remain.
downton abbey, season 6: 1925
lady mary finds herself involved in another possible blackmail situation. This time, a random woman claims that she is going to spread a rumor that Mary spent a weekend in a hotel with a man. Robert pays off the would-be blackmailer, and Mary hooks up with Henry Talbot, though she’s hesitant to commit because of the whole race car driving thing. But after Henry’s friend is killed in a fiery accident, he decides to quit racing, and he and Mary get married.
lady edith also (finally!) finds a lasting love. She meets Bertie Pelham (Harry Hadden-Paton), a nice guy who is very supportive of her journalism career. Her romance is almost derailed by a jealous Mary, who at this point is suffering from her on-and-off relationship with Henry. Mary reveals to Bertie that Edith has an illegitimate child, and Bertie breaks up with Edith. A guilty Mary later facilitates Edith and Bertie’s reconciliation. Bertie unexpectedly inherits a new title, and when the two marry, Edith becomes the wife of a marquess, a position that ranks above all others in the Crawley family, much to Mary’s dismay.
Robert suffers from a stomach ulcer that ruptures in a scene far more graphic than anything they shot during the WWI season. branson returns from the united states and opens a car store with henry. cousin isobel is finally marrying lord merton, which is a shame because she and dr. Clarkson seemed like they would be a perfect fit. Rosa moves to New York. Mr. carson and mrs. Hughes marries and Thomas is promoted to butler. Daisy helps her father-in-law get a lease on downtown land to farm and flirts with a lackey named Andy (Michael C. Fox).
downton abbey, the movie: 1927
the crawleys and their staff prepare to receive a visit from the king and queen of england. The Queen’s Maid of Honor, Lady Bagshaw (Imelda Staunton), turns out to be another distant cousin of the Crawleys. (It’s a fun Harry Potter reunion for Staunton and Smith!) The Dowager Countess wants Lady Bagshaw, who has no heirs, to leave her estate to Robert. But Lady Bagshaw plans to leave it to her servant, Lucy (Tuppence Middleton). Over the course of the film, it is revealed that Lucy is, in fact, Lady Bagshaw’s daughter.
mary thinks that branson might be involved in a plot to assassinate the king, but it turns out that branson is just trying to stop an assassination attempt, on his own without the help of the police for some reason. he manages to save the king’s life. branson, at this point, has pretty much given up on his political ideology because he thinks crawleys are nice, which is kind of depressing. But Lucy and Branson bond over feeling trapped between the worlds above and below and share a kiss. everyone accepts lucy inheriting the land from lady bagshaw when it looks like she and branson may marry and the crawleys will get the land through branson anyway.
thomas discovers a gay bar while dating one of the king’s servants, which is funny, but then he gets arrested during a police raid, which is not funny. The king’s servant gets Thomas released from prison and the two begin what will become a long-distance relationship. At the end of the film, the Dowager Countess reveals to Mary that she is dying. she fortunately, she clings to starring in another movie.
downton abbey: a new era: 1928-1929
Although no character explicitly says the year, several signs suggest that a new era begins in 1928. The title of the film implies that the crawleys are on the cusp of, well, a new era. Creator Julia Fellowes is no doubt alluding to the Great Depression, which began in 1929.
in the movie, thomas and lucy get married. then the family splits up to go on two different adventures. When Violet learns that she has inherited a villa in the South of France from an old friend, she bequeaths the house to Sibbie, Branson and Sybil’s daughter. Violet reasons that all the other crawling children will inherit some property except for Sibbie, and she would like to correct that. But it turns out that the man who left Violet the villa also had a wife, and she wants to fight for the villa in court over the house. Robert, Cora, Edith, Branson and a few others travel to France to check out the house and resolve the complicated legal situation.
Meanwhile, Mary and Violet stay in Downton to host a film crew that is paying the family to make a romantic movie there starring an actor named Guy Dexter (Dominican West). Mary’s husband, Henry, is nowhere to be found. he is “travelling”, as he was during most of the previous film; Matthew Goode seems to be uninterested in reprising his role in these films.
The director (Hugh Dancy) flirts with Mary and talks about how the jazz singer’s success, which was released in October 1927, has led Hollywood producers to demand more sound films. a new era unfolds in late summer or early fall – crawleys talk endlessly about how it’s become fashionable to visit the south of france in the “warmer months” rather than winter, which means the movie will probably takes place nearly a year after the jazz singer’s debut. At one point, Mary and the director walk past a theater showing Terror, the first talking horror film, which opened in September 1928.
The movie flashes forward about a year, and given how happy everyone in the scene is, it’s likely that the slump hasn’t hit yet. So it’s safe to say that the movie ends around July or August 1929 and any future Downton movies will likely see at least some of the characters facing financial difficulties. However, it is unclear if Henry Talbot will be forced to curtail his travels and appear in a third Downton Abbey film or if Downton creator Julian Fellowes will have to do the unthinkable and kill another one of Mary’s husbands to that she can flirt. with other men.
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