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Downton Abbey premiere recap: Episode 1

Let’s not talk about sex, baby. Let’s talk about wifely duties.

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Nick Briggs/PBS

Downton Abbey

TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
Hugh Bonneville, Brendan Coyle, Jim Carter, Maggie Smith

If the entirety of Downton Abbey’s six-season run — through upstairs-downstairs drama, accidental Mr. Pamuk deaths, and sex tryouts — had to be summed up in a single sentence, you could do a lot worse than “the times, they are a-changin’.” Whether it’s been the handing over of the estate to a relative stranger who happens to be the heir or staff downsizing or being less racist toward the Jews, the Crawleys have had most of their not-so-perfectly enclosed world upended time and time again, but as the final season of your and your mom’s favorite show kicks off in the States, it really seems like the times may be a-changin’ for good.

Nowhere else on TV will you see a vision of the apocalypse as delightful as Downton Abbey, and while these aren’t the literal end times for the upper class, the clock is tick-tick-ticking toward midnight for this way of life. “Sic transit gloria mundi,” Edith so casually rambles off as the family walks up the steps of Mallerton Hall, an estate that once belonged to friends of the Crawleys that’s now being sold off at auction. (Party tip: Never be the person dropping Latin phrases into the conversation, no matter how ominously relevant.) The phrase literally means “Thus passes the glory of the world,” and it dates all the way back to at least the early 15th century. But you’d be amazed how well it applies to your favorite TV show’s ending.

“Hey, Kevin, did you hear that Downton Abbey is ending?”

“Yeah, man. Sic transit gloria mundi.”

“…This is why we don’t invite you to parties anymore.”

Things aren’t all doom and gloom, however. This is a new season of Downton​, after all, and the show is simply as it’s been when it’s delightful. If the season premiere is any indicator on how these final hours will shape up, all signs point to lighter dramatic fare weaving through subplots about small-scale scandal, the possibly of unemployment, and awkward sex talk.

Yes, awkward sex talk, and we need to talk about this right now because there may never have been a more Downton-y story line in the history of Downton. When we last left Mrs. Hughes and her favorite “old booby” in the world, Mr. Carson, the two were happily and surprisingly engaged. Now, I have a question. In the down time between season 5 and 6, did your mind get to wondering what life would actually be like if these two fan-favorite characters tied the knot? We’ve seen them hold hands, but surely they couldn’t…you know. I’m talking about boning, shtupping, the old Horizontal Clarkson. It’s tough to even say out loud, and that’s exactly why Julian Fellowes and his television show’s classiest group of sadists dedicated an entire story line to it.

NEXT: Will Mrs. Hughes be performing “wifely duties”?