Sometimes you don't know how much you have missed someone until they have come back. That's the way it felt sinking into the season premiere of Downton Abbey last night. After months of tense Sunday nights fretting over Carrie in Homeland and Beth in Walking Dead, dipping into Season 5, Episode 1 of Downton Abbey was like taking a hot bath after your first workout of the year. It was lush, proper, absurdly decadent, and just as melodramatic as ever.
Let's be honest: It's not the plot that keeps us coming back to visit the Crawleys and their great team of helpers. Last night we rejoined the family in the year 1924. Some time has passed, enough time to produce more walking and talking toddlers, but things are more or less where we left them. Edith is sadder than ever. Mary is blasé as ever. And that conniving footman Thomas is still sniffing around looking for trouble. Luckily, Carson looms large and doesn't let things get too out of hand. "If you can tear yourself away from your smutty deliberations," he bequests Thomas and Jimmy after overhearing them discuss how to handle a persistently randy mistress.
It seems that sex is on everyone's mind at Downton; even the Dowager and Isobel Crawley engage in a conversation that implies that they know a thing or two about pre-martial sex. You could blame it on the fashion of the time, as flapper style moves into the manor. We see knits (Rose wears wears a delicate floral number with a bit of angora-like fuzz around the collar), sheer panels, drapes of pearls, and ankles (!).
It's not all freewheeling though: Dinner remains strictly black tie for the boys and there are no bare hands or heads to be seen outdoors. "I'm going upstairs to take off my hat," says Mary as she comes indoors after a visit on the estate. One can only image the orchestration required to get that hat looking so perfectly perched on her head. Thank goodness it's there along with rest of the glorious details on Downton Abbey. Our Sundays nights will be blissfully stress-free and frilly—at least for a little while.