Christmas Special (2011)
It is Christmas 1919 and Downton prepares for Christmas, although looming in everyone’s thoughts is the fate of Bates who is on trial for Vera’s murder.
Cora is delighted to hear from Dublin that Sybil is pregnant with her husband Branson’s child, though the Earl is lukewarm and still seems to be having trouble accepting her choice of a servant for a husband.
Violet’s daughter Rosamund visits for the holidays with her maid Marigold Shore and a new fiancé, Lord Hepworth. Violet sets her face against the marriage, knowing that Hepworth is penniless and suspecting he is only after financial advantage. Rosamund ignores her advice and is determined to proceed, until she catches Hepworth in bed with Marigold.
The Earl is baffled by Mary’s continued engagement to Sir Richard, considering how badly he has behaved in trying to poach the servants and his jealousy of Mary’s friendship with Matthew. Eventually he discovers the truth from Cora about the night of Pamuk’s death and the subsequent coverup and how Sir Richard is using it to blackmail Mary into marriage. The Earl urges Mary to break off the engagement even though they are both aware this risks Sir Richard ruining the family reputation through his newspapers. With great relief Mary follows the Earl’s advice.
Despite support and testimony from the Earl Bates is convicted of Vera’s murder and sentenced to death, although this is later commuted to life imprisonment. All the inhabitants of the Abbey are shocked by this, even Bates’ old enemy O’Brien. Thomas, however, sees a chance for advancement and starts hatching plans to have himself appointed as the Earl’s valet. The Earl and Matthew undertake to have Bates’ conviction overturned.
Mrs. Patmore uses a Ouija board to trick Daisy out of her guilt over her marriage to William; meanwhile Sir Anthony Strallan visits the house and renews his prewar acquaintance with Edith. He was wounded in the war and tells her that he is too old for her, but it seems there is some hope of a relationship.
Mary discovers that Matthew is not bothered by her not being a virgin, and he finally proposes to her. The episode ends with her acceptance.