Downton Abbey Season 2

Synopsis

Catch up on what has happened in the sprawling world of Downton Abbey. Watch a short video recap for episode 5 or read the full synopsis below.

1918

As the war promises to draw to a close, uncertainty still reigns. With its ruined aristocratic houses, rationing, and fallen officers, war's aftermath opens some doors for the present and former servants and slams shut others. Meanwhile, Isobel's post-war plans create an indomitable, if unlikely, alliance. But when a mysterious stranger arrives, Downton faces more turmoil.

Sir Richard is anxious to take not just Downton's most beautiful asset, but one of its most treasured as well. In return and against Robert's wishes, he restores a powerful replacement in its halls. And Vera Bates takes startling action.

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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers

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Warning: Contains significant plot spoilers

As Mary, now Matthew's practiced caregiver, wheels him around the grounds, Sir Richard Carlisle watches from afar, jealous of their comfortable intimacy. Mary reminds Matthew that she needn't marry Carlisle but Matthew, convinced he is unfit for anyone, would never let her throw her life away with him. Meanwhile, Carlisle informs Cora and Robert of his plans to purchase the nearby Haxby Park and outfit it with all the modern conveniences for him and Mary. What he doesn't tell them, or Mary, is that he plans to bring Carson with him.

Word that peace is imminent circulates and Isobel is ready with post-war plans. Rather than allowing Downton Abbey to return to its former state, she urges Cora and Violet to make it a recovery center after the war; naturally she will run it. Desperate, Violet researches causes that might tempt Isobel away from Downton, finally landing one irresistible to the well-meaning Isobel: helping refugees displaced by the war. Isobel departs and Cora, for once, is immensely grateful to her mother-in-law.

Mrs. Patmore, however, is worried by one aspect of armistice: food rationing. This gives Thomas an idea — worried about his own future after the war, he considers a venture in the black market. The new housemaid, the war widow Jane, encourages Daisy to accompany her to a local organization for war widows, but Daisy refuses, feeling it would be dishonest. She confronts Mrs. Patmore about pushing her into marrying William.

Meanwhile, Sybil is beginning to yield to Branson. She asks him to be patient for a little longer, unwilling to leave while the war is still on and Downton needs her.

Clarkson tells Robert they have received a request from a Canadian major, Patrick Gordon, who has asked to convalesce at Downton because of a family connection. Puzzled, they accept the request and Edith welcomes the officer, who has been burnt beyond recognition. He tells Edith that they spent a great deal of time together during their childhood and is visibly hurt that she doesn't recognize him. Finally, he reveals that he is none other than Patrick Crawley, Downton Abbey's heir who had allegedly perished on the Titanic six years before. Edith is shocked — though Mary had been intended for Patrick, it was she who loved him. She believes the officer, amazed at how much he remembers from their childhoods. He had suffered from amnesia ever since the tragedy, taking his surname, Gordon, from a gin bottle, and only since his injury at Passchendaele has he begun to recover his memory.

Edith reports the revelation to Robert, who doesn't know what to believe and feels it necessary to consult their lawyer. During a family conference, Mary is defiant in declaring Patrick an impostor and Matthew, for his part, seems bitterly reconciled to the revelation. Edith informs Patrick that the lawyer's report is inconclusive and she urges him to carry on in his pursuit of the truth. But she is crushed to discover that he has fled Downton.

Planning his new life with Mary in Haxby Hall, Carlisle asks Carson to come work for them there. The butler is torn, heartbroken at the thought of leaving Downton but resigned to accompany his beloved Mary, who will surely need him. Carson is at odds with Mrs. Hughes, whom he has caught aiding the increasingly desperate Ethel. When he informs Cora, she suggests that Robert might contact Major Bryant to see if he will visit, with a view to convincing him of his responsibilities. Ethel is hopeful until she learns that Bryant was killed at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto.

Carlisle sees Matthew as the true threat to his happiness. Preying on Cora's concern that Mary would never produce children with Matthew, he convinces her to help him return Lavinia to Downton and Matthew's side. When Carlisle brings Lavinia back to Downton, Robert is incensed at Cora's complicity. Only the new maid, Jane, can make him smile, laugh and feel needed as he offers to help her son in his academic pursuits. Carlisle threatens to ruin Mary if she breaks their engagement.

Bates receives a phone call alerting him that Vera has succeeded in stopping the divorce by revealing to the judge that Bates had paid her to end their marriage. Furious, he ventures to London to reason with Vera, but not before Robert cautions him to watch his temper. On his return, sporting a fresh abrasion on his face, Bates confides in Anna that his meeting with Vera was worse than could be imagined.

A solemn gathering of the family and staff marks the end of the war and, in Robert's words, "the dawn of a new age." Indeed, it may be so for Matthew, who experiences a mysterious sensation he is reluctant to share. But the happy occasion abruptly ends when Bates receives a telegram stating that Vera Bates is dead.

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