‘Downton Abbey’ Refresher: Where We Left Off Downstairs

The long-awaited Downton Abbey movie opens this week but before its premiere, let’s recap what the ‘downstairs’ crew was up to at the end of the series in 2016.

Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, and Allen Leech |Gary Mitchell/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

John and Anna Bates

Seasons 5 and 6 of Downton Abbey found circumstances just as unrelenting for the valet and lady-in-waiting as they ever were. These two never had it easy, did they?

You’ll recall in season 5 both Mr. and Mrs. Bates are questioned by the police regarding the suspicious death of Alex Green (valet of Lady Mary’s former boyfriend, Lord Gillingham), who raped Anna in Season 4. Mr. Green is killed after falling into the path of a bus in London.

A witness claims to have seen John Bates in London the day Mr. Green passed away. As it turns out, Mr. Green was suspected of raping other women and the police now suspect Anna and the others for his murder. Soon, she is arrested for his death. Though the Grantham family tries to protect her, Anna is arrested.

By season 6, the police announce someone else has confessed to Mr. Green’s murder and Mr. and Mrs. Bates are officially off the hook.

Happily, Anna, after several miscarriages, finally gets pregnant again thanks to Lady Mary’s gynecologist, who fixes her weak womb. And by end of season 6, on New Year’s Eve, the very pregnant Anna, in Lady Mary’s chambers, feels great pain and goes into labor. She eventually gives birth right in Lady Mary’s bed to little Johnny Bates. Perhaps we’ll meet her little one in the Downton movie.

Charles and Elsie Carson 

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What’s your favorite quote from Mr. Carson?

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The former Mrs. Hughes (she wasn’t married previously but felt it was proper for a head housekeeper to be a “Mrs”) marries butler Charles Carson in Season 6, a union fans and the cast were clamoring for.

Mrs. Hughes gets Mrs. Patmore, head cook, to go have a talk about the birds and the bees with Mr. Carson on her behalf. Mrs. Hughes is feeling quite shy about getting intimate with Mr. Carson and hopes Mrs. Patmore can iron this all out between them. She wants him to agree to a very loving sibling-like arrangement. He does not and their wedding takes place at Downton. By the end of season 6, Carson begins to exhibit palsy-like symptoms and eventually resigns as butler of Downton.

Thomas Barrow

Thomas is one of the complicated yet satisfying characters of the series. He’s diabolical, vulnerable, and likable all at once. Thomas has struggled with his sexuality from the start and one can’t help hating his unkind side and rooting for him all at once.

By season 6, the big house is winding down and Thomas gets word that he along with others, will eventually be let go. He looks for and finds similar work at other estates, but they are not a good fit for him.

In his despair at not finding work and feeling alienated, he attempts suicide in his bath. He is found by another downstairs creature, the family rallies around him and, as Carson is retiring, offers him the position of head butler. Thomas, shocked and overjoyed, accepts the offer.

You’re all caught up with the downstairs crew now but if you still need a shot of Downton, go ahead and binge-watch the series before the movie’s U.S. release date on Friday, Sept. 20.