Downton Abbey Relationships Infographic
Downton Abbey Relationships Infographic

Downton Abbey Explained & Infographics!!

SEASON 5 Spoilers and Downton discussions here!

Alright, I know, I know that for many of you I’m seriously late to the Downton Abbey craze. I get that. You’re the ones that have watched originally on the Beeb from day one, episode one. Great. But you early watchers have done such a poor job of documenting and discussing said show that I couldn’t NOT do it. I mean, it’s just awful how little there is online about this great show. And for those of you who have not yet seen an episode, you have just landed on the perfect page to find out about your next favorite show. I’ll walk you through it and explain what there is to love. But be mindful though, because this page is also for the seasoned veteran… It has plenty of spoilers to spare. But don’t worry, I’ll give a shout so you can avoid those bits and then you can come back and read the rest and join in on the discussion after you’ve watched the series properly.

(Not exactly sure why but I’ve slipped into my best Matthew Crawley accent as I type… It’s beginning to make me wonder if I need an intervention. Check that, it has confirmed for me I need an intervention!)

So, all of a sudden Downton Abbey is all the rage here in America. My wife and I were told by no less than 5 different friends over the past month or two that we just HAD to watch it. Eventually we broke down and capitulated. But because we killed our cable a couple years ago I had no real idea where to get ahold of a show that originally ran in the UK and then went to PBS here in America. But eventually I figured out the perfect solution. Amazon Prime. I went so far as to sign up for a 30 day “trial” in order to get access Downton hit. (And can I say that Amazon Prime plus Xbox is like an epic combo? Peanut Butter and Jelly good – but I digress). Once we finally had our access we couldn’t stop. It was quite the ride until we powered through both seasons. And now that it’s over and we have to wait for season three… I am not quite sure what to do with myself!! Hahah. But the number of people I know who still don’t know about it is startling. So let’s get the word out and then send them this direction to discuss and discover! So, for those of you who think I keep misspelling Downtown – what is this show about anyway – I give you “Downton Abbey Explained & Infographics”…

The Relationships of Downton
Before I get too far I want to include an infographic I created detailing out the relationships of the story. You might want to avert your eyes if you aren’t through season two as there might be a spoiler or two here if you watch the twine too closely.

Downton Abbey Explained & Infographics
Downton Abbey Relationships Infographic

Downton The Story
Downton Abbey is ultimately about – funny this – Downton Abbey. The castle is really the prime mover of this story and the center point around which everything else moves. The characters are staff are employed by the house. The family marry and lever their entire lives solely to keep the estate going in perpetuity. The house, the grounds and the estate are the most important characters in this show. “We do not own the house we are merely stewards of the house for the next generations”. What I find most interesting is that the survival of the house is a very real issue for the house today. Apparently the upper floors are in shambles – and something like 15 million quid are needed to renovate the place. It was so bad that Andrew Lloyd Weber made an offer to buy the place to store his artwork in – but the show, Downton Abbey came through and saved the day. Which makes me wonder, if the show marches on through to the present day will the show, be in the show? Things that makes you go, hrmmmm.

Beyond the house though, the story is about the men and women – both family and staff – that live together within the house and the fascinating machinations that threaten and endanger the number one character (see above paragraph), the house. Who will be heir to the estate to carry the legacy forward? How will the Crawley’s manage amongst the fact that they only have female children? How can we get Mary to marry the heir – whoever that might be? What do we do when scandal hits the house and threatens the reputation of the estate?

The plot lines are clever and generally not to obvious. The stories are interesting in that we watch the news and it’s relevance to the family as well as to the servants. The characters are worth while in that while they start as 2 dimensional foils, they grow and learn and change as they go. So much so that it is sometimes difficult to ascertain the prime mover, but when it becomes clear the pieces snap into place. I can’t recall a single episode that was poorly done, and the overall quality from beginning to end is very good.

The characters that wander Downton are really what drive the momentum of this show forward as it orbits the larger Downton preservation plot. Each and every character has a driving motivator that they stay true to throughout. For example Robert is motivated by protecting the estate and Downton whether it transfers to his children or not. Cora is passionate about her children, and protecting them at all cost. Bates cares more about honor and always being dignified. Even the evil characters are consistent in their motivations and exactingly specific in their actions. Its difficult to discuss the characters without spoiling the story at all, but take my word for it, these characters are extremely well written and thought through.

Historical Period
The story is made all the more interesting by the historical period and true to lifeness (yes, I did just say that) of the times. For example, the first episode centers around the sinking of the Titanic and the implications to the family. We also see the installation of the first telephone. Experiments with gramophones. And the new fascination with the automobile is prevalent throughout. It lends the story an interesting credibility to it and a fascinating angle into these new technologies I had never considered before.

Downton Abbey Infographics

If you have not watched the show – you can go now. Within these infographics are many many spoilers. For example I pointed the family tree at the end of season 2. So there are obvious relationship connections and new character boxes that will blow your mind if you are only a few episodes into the show. So, please leave. Right, now that they are gone let us continue then, shall we?. Here are two Downton Abbey infographics. The first is a family tree for the family et al. And the second one is a hierarchy for the servants. Please click them for the full size, desktop worthy view.

Downton Abbey Family Tree
Downton Abbey Family Tree


Downton Abbey Servants Hierarchy Infographic
Downton Abbey Servants Hierarchy Infographic

I am considering doing one to highlight the political intrigue and relationships – but that one is a little more difficult to organize. Need it to clear up in my head first. If you have ideas on how that could work I’d be interested in your ideas. Maybe a clustering of characters by amount of time one screen together? So O’Brien and Thomas close to each other, Bates and Anna obviously… and then lines of connection with varying widths based on the strength, and coloring for good or bad? I don’t know. I’ll think of something. Now, let us away to the truly interesting portion of this blog post!!

Spoilers and Conjecture!

I know I don’t have the corner on the market as far as conjecture goes. But to just kick the conversation off I do have several theories as to what is going to happen in season 3. If potential spoilers scare you then, feel free to quit reading now. If you stick around though, I would love for you to give your own ideas and thoughts in the blog about where you see the show going and whether I’m smoking crack or not. Love dialoguing about this kind of stuff with readers.

What Happened to Bates!?
So most of my thinking has primarily centered on Bates and how he ended up in prison. I think I know what happened, and I have good guesses as to why. But I will also posit some alternatives just to keep the thinking going. My first theory is that Richard is behind it all. Think about it. Who else has had interactions with Bate’s wife Vera, other than Bates? And Bates obviously didn’t do it because he has shown time and time again he is willing to take the fall when he thinks he should. Here we are again, with Bates down 10-0 in the bottom of the ninth… and he has to come from behind fast. Richard paid Vera off in order to protect his then fiance’, Yes? Vera was 100% jilted by Richard and suckered into staying quiet. It doesn’t take much of a stretch for us to think that she tried to sell her story – or give it away free for that matter – in order to harm Downton and Bates. No? If she did, then would Richard rather take Vera to court or poison her tea? We have already seen that Richard is an evil guy. So maybe he didn’t put the rat poison in Vera’s tea directly, but I’m thinking he probably had someone do it for him.

So you don’t like the Richard idea much? What about – O’Brien? O’Brien is the one that brought Vera into play by maliciously informing her of Bates’ whereabouts and what had been going on at Downton. Eventually she came to regret doing that because she thought it might ruin Lady Cora (who she’s had a sudden turn of the sympathetic for after causing Cora to slip on the soap and miscarry). So maybe O’Brien cared so much about what Vera could do to the house she followed Bates up to London and poisoned her after a chat. They were on speaking terms already. No? Her framing Bates would also be a side benefit as well. What other thoughts do you have? Maybe you think Bates did it? Who knows, he was mad enough to!

Will Mary and Matthew get married?
True. It does seem like the most obvious possibility. I mean, it was written in the stars the moment it was clear that Matthew would become heir to the estate. But does she deserve him? I mean, she is the most opportunistic person on the show. She was decidedly absent when Matthew was suddenly on the outs because of Cora’s pregnancy. She was decidedly withdrawn when it was clear Matthew was a cripple. Lavinia was clearly her superior in all things, minus the fact that she was a paper thin character that no one cared about. I personally don’t think it will happen for 12 more seasons if the show has any sort of clue. I mean, look at Moonlighting for heaven’s sake. David and Maddie got together and what happened? Instant shark jumping – the show was over. Done. No more drama. No more intensity. But at the rate that this show is moving forward at – which is something like a year an episode.

Will the Ottomons Return?

Now that Richard has been spurned will we see more of the Pemuk affair? (Pardon the pun). What about the London society, what of them once word gets out about the scandal? Will Richard keep the story locked up or will he actively use it to hurt Mary? I personally think it will hit the fan, but the speed of the episodes zipping through the years will minimize this impact mostly. But what about you? What do you think?

Trouble Between the Lord & Lady?

The show’s producers have stated that there will be more conflict between the Lord and Lady in the coming season. We’ve already seen trouble coming from Jane Moorsum. She’s gone away now, but I think that Richard will seek her out and start something up with her from afar. He’s already helping her son Freddie out, no? I think trouble will mount in this arena quickly.

But who cares what I think. What do you think. I’d love to hear it in the comments section. Thanks!