Anna is in prison for the murder of valet Green. Lady Mary goes to visit. Bates goes to visit. Even we’re not sure who did it anymore. The police find out about Anna’s secret past; she stabbed a sex offender. Mrs Baxter and Mr Molesley canvas all the pubs in Yorkshire looking for a witness that proves Bates is innocent. Mr Molesley finds the evidence Bates needs, but Bates confesses anyway just to get Anna out of prison. And then Bates does a runner to Ireland.
Shrimpie finds Princess Kuragin. She comes straight to Violet’s house and a reunion is arranged over dinner with Lord Merton and Isobel. It’s a tense reunion but for better or for worse, the Russian Royals are stuck with each other since Violet won’t accept the Prince’s indecent proposal. We learn some truths about the romance between Violet and the Prince; the young lovers almost escaped together on the Prince’s yacht, but the Princess tore Violet out of the carriage on their way, effectively saving Violet from a life of shame.
Lord Grantham keeps shifting uncomfortably, as though he’s in pain. It reminds us of the sudden onset of illness with Isis. But Lord Grantham isn’t dying, he just has an ulcer.
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Isobel says she would be happy to marry Lord Merton if his sons were more welcoming. The sons don’t seem ready to change and Isobel won’t spend her final years in conflict. It’s goodbye to Lord Merton forever. Violet tells Isobel that Dr. Clarkson will be delighted. Maybe there’s a chance between those two yet.
Spratt challenges Denker to make a chicken broth. Denker has no idea how to make the broth, so she goes up to Downton to enlist Daisy and Mrs Patmore’s help. Spratt catches Denker and throws the secret broth in the sink. She concocts her own broth and Violet pretends to like it, just to shut up Spratt.
Robert and Edith share a touching moment when he tells Edith he knows about Marigold. Father and daughter share a touching moment. Branson has also figured it out.
Mrs Hughes and Carson are still house hunting. Mrs Hughes finally confesses she’s broke because she’s been looking after a sister who’s ‘not quite right’ all these years. She has no retirement savings, effectively a pauper. Carson asks Mrs Hughes to marry him anyway. Finally.
Mary has her eye on a fast driving man. Could this be the one?
Quotes from Downton Abbey Season 5 Christmas Special
Countess Violet: Did she take a cake with a file in it?
Countess Violet: You know me, never complain, never explain.
Countess Violet: Why do you always talk of me as if I were a salmon, laid my eggs in the gravel and then swam back to the sea.
Lord Grantham: Daniel Sinderby is a prig.
Countess Violet: The presence of strangers is our only guarantee of good behaviour.
Lord Sinderby: We all know that people who live in glass houses are ill advised to throw stones.
Lady Mary (to handsome new love interest): Naturally I’m not going to answer any of your questions but I’m impressed you should ask them. Well done.
Countess Violet: I will never again receive an immoral proposition from a man.
Branson to Edith: You see where I grew up, there were quite a few Marigolds.
Evil Butler Stowell: I am not a novice anywhere.
Spratt (to Denker): Your unmasking is at hand.
Lady Mary: You’re in for the Downton Christmas and if that doesn’t put you off, nothing will.
Isobel: Proposals. Propositions. Not what one expects at our age.
Carson (to Mrs Hughes): I do want to be stuck with you.
Mrs. Hughes (to Carson): Of course I’ll marry you, you old booby. I thought you’d never ask.
Downton Abbey costs an average of one million pounds per episode to produce.
As of 2013, Downton Abbey is the highest rated PBS "Masterpiece" drama series of all time, seen by an estimated 120 million viewers in 200 countries and regions.
Gillian Anderson reportedly turned down the part of Lady Cora Grantham.
The real estate that "plays" Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle, has been the home of the Carnarvon family since 1679. In 1922, George Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, co-discovered the Tomb of the Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun. On the show, the names of the Earl of Grantham"s beloved dogs, Isis and Pharaoh, are nods to the real castle"s connection to Egyptian history.
According to Julian Fellowes, the parts played by Hugh Bonneville, Brendan Coyle and Maggie Smith were written for the actors.
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It was reported that Steven Waddington auditioned for the part of Bates.
When Downton Abbey first aired, Julian Fellowes (creator and producer) was annoyed at the media for pointing out anachronisms like TV aerials and the use of the word "boyfriend". (The word "boyfriend appeared in print in 1889, long before the period setting of Downton). Fellowes said "they think to show how smart they are by picking holes in the program to promote their own poshness and to show that their knowledge is greater than your knowledge". In a later article coinciding with the start of the second season, Fellowes apologised and commented "I behaved rather badly by getting the hump."