Downton Abbey Season 1 Episode 1

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Set in April 1912…

The Titanic Sinks

The sinking of the Titanic throws the plot of Downton into action



The sun rises over Downton Abbey for another day of ritualistic eating and changing clothes. While the Crawleys stir above and the servants get the house ready for a new day, news of the Titanic reaches the kitchen via the newspaper. And then a telegram arrives for Lord Grantham with breakfast. All news at Downton Abbey arrives in small, worrying envelopes or by telegram. The Titanic sits at the bottom of the Atlantic, and presumably, so do the last two heirs to Downton Abbey – their names were on the passenger list.

Man of the manor, Lord Grantham has three daughters and no heirs now that cousins James Crawley and Patrick Crawley are sunk. Patrick Crawley was set to marry Lord Grantham’s daughter, Lady Mary. She is rather indifferent to her fiance’s death and doesn’t relish going into ‘full mourning’. The legal entail governing Downton Abbey states that the estate goes to whoever inherits the title. The women feel the entail is an absurd act of legal theft. Lord Grantham married Cora and her fortune years earlier to save Downton from ruin. All of Cora’s money is attached to the estate. The entail is what throws the plot into forward gear. But fear not, the Crawleys manage to dig up a distant and long lost cousin, Matthew Crawley, a solicitor based in Manchester. A plan is hatched whereby Mary will win the attentions of Matthew Crawley and marry him to keep the money in the family. Mary does not like this plan.

In the meantime, a Duke arrives to court Mary because of the new circumstances. When he finds out Mary won’t inherit the estate, he withdraws his attentions, revealing himself as a fickle fortune hunter. As it turns out, the Duke is more of a man’s man anyway.  Turns out he had a brief affair with Thomas the footman. During the Duke’s visit to Downton Abbey, Tom tries to blackmail the Duke into giving him a job, but the Duke stole the evidence of their dalliances. Under the auspice of exploring the house with Mary, the Duke steals old love letters from Thomas’s room so he can destroy evidence of their affair.

Thomas and the Duke Kiss

Turns out the Duke is more of a man's man.


Manly enigma John Bates arrives to work as Lord Grantham’s valet. He’s got a cane and the other staff are worried Bates won’t be up to the job. Anna is shyly smitten and hopes Mr. Bates is up for her! Master manipulator maid O’Brien and the scheming Thomas set to work on getting rid of Bates. O’Brien and her nasty sideburns waste no time planting a bug in Lady Cora’s ear saying Bates cannot do his job. Bates assures the Lord his dodgy leg is only a spot of bother. Connivers Tom and O’Brien succeed in convincing everyone he’s not up to the job, including Lord Grantham. After Bates is fired, Anna takes him some dinner and catches him crying. Bates gets in the car to leave but Lord Grantham has a change of heart. Bates stays.

Downton Abbey Quotes from Episode 1, Season 1:

Countess Violet: “Give him a date for when Mary’s out of mourning. No one wants to kiss a girl in black.”

The Duke: “One swallow doesn’t make a summer.”

Matthew Crawley: “[the telegram] is from Lord Grantham… he wants to change our lives.”

Countess Violet: ”Every mountain is “unclimbable” until someone climbs it. So every ship is “unsinkable” until it sinks.”

Cora Crawley: “We are rather a female party tonight Duke, but you know what it’s like trying to balance numbers in the country. A single man outranks the holy grail.”

Countess Violet: “Twenty four years ago you married Cora against my wishes for her money. Give it away now and what was the point of your peculiar marriage in the first place.”

Lord Grantham: “I’ve given my life to Downton. I was born here and I hope to die here. I claim no career beyond the nurture of this house and the estate. It is my third parent and my fourth child. Do I care about it? Yes I do care.”

Anna: “For once in my life I’d like to sleep until I woke up natural.”

Mrs. Hughes: “Heaven’s girl, you’re building a fire, not inventing it.”

Countess Violet: “I did not run Downton for 30 years to see it go lock stock and barrel to a stranger from god knows where.”
Lady Cora: “Are we to be friends then?”
Countess Violet: “We are allies my dear which can be a good deal more effective.”

Countess Violet: “Oh, dear, such a glare. I feel as if I were on stage at the Gaiety.”

Countess Violet: “I couldn’t have electricity in the house. I couldn’t’ sleep a wink. All those vapours seeping about.”

Lord Grantham: “It does seem odd that my third cousin should be doctor”
Mr Murray, the lawyer: “There are worse professions”
Lord Grantham: “Indeed”

Lady Mary: “Does this mean I’ll have to go into full mourning?”
Lady Sybil: “Mama says we can go into half mourning next month. And back to colours by September.”

Cora Crawley:  ”It is quite eccentric, even for you, to have a crippled valet.”

Mr. Bates: “Funny our job. The way we live with all this pirate’s hourde within our reach but none of it’s ours.”

Thomas: “I can’t believe I’ve been passed over for Long John Silver.”