Catch Up Before Downton Abbey 2

Courtesy of Focus Features

It’s been more than two years since we last caught up with Downton Abbey‘s beloved Crawley family and their downstairs help. And now with the highly-anticipated premiere of Downton Abbey: A New Era finally just one month away, there couldn’t be a better time to brush up on Julian Fellowes’s period drama series-turned-film. The sequel, which hits theaters on May 20, follows the Crawleys’ journey to the south of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess’s newly inherited villa. In case you needed a quick refresher, Kevin Doyle (better known as Mr. Molesley) is here with a quick recap to remind you where the household left off in the 2019 movie.

Watch the video below, then keep scrolling for everything you need to know before tuning in the upcoming film.

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The film begins with a letter from the royal family.

When we last left off, the year was 1927. The first film starts with a mysterious letter being delivered to Downton, which turns out to be from King George V and Queen Mary. They intend to visit the Crawleys during their royal tour of Yorkshire, England. Frenzied yet excited, the Crawley family and their servants begin preparations for the royals’ stay. But as the planning begins, Robert and Cora Crawley’s first-born daughter, Lady Mary, feels that butler Thomas Barrow isn’t fully equipped for the festivities and asks the newly retired Mr. Carson to return to make sure things are in order.

Violet discovers an estranged relative.

After hearing about the royals’ upcoming visit, matriarch Violet Crawley learns that the Queen’s lady-in-waiting is Maud Baugshaw, who also happens to be Robert’s late father’s first cousin. This complicates things since Lady Baugshaw apparently inherited the Brampton Estate, which once belonged to the Crawleys. So in true Violet fashion, she begins plotting to win back the estate for her family.

There’s a showdown between the downstairs staff.

Upon arriving at Downton, King George and Queen Mary and their staff are pleasantly greeted by the Crawleys and their help. But shortly after, tension begins to brew among many of the downstairs servants. The unkind royal staff comes in thinking they’re going to run the show, determined to remove Mr. Carson, Mrs. Hughes, and the rest of the clan from their duties. Fortunately, power couple Anna and Mr. Bates have a plan to retake Downton’s operation: she slips the royal chef a sedative and footman Andy locks the King and Queen’s butler in his guest room, while Barrow and the King’s charming valet (more on him later ), trick many of the royal staff into returning to London early. The Downton entourage is then tasked with serving the Crawley family’s very important guests.

Tom comes to the rescue twice.

downton abbey movie

Jaap Buitendijk

When the royal parade in Yorkshire is about to begin, an Irish radical tries to kill the King, but that plan gets thwarted when Tom Branson stops him and Lady Mary disarms him. Later on, Tom comes across Princess Mary crying on the Downton lawn about her marriage. He consoles her and motivates her to stay with her husband, which leads King George to thank him while also implying he’s aware of how he stopped the assassination attempt.

Barrow finds himself smitten.

While the royal staff is in town, Barrow develops a crush on King George’s dresser, Richard Ellis. When Barrow tags along with him to York on his day off, he visits an underground gay nightclub but gets arrested shortly after when the police raid the place. Luckily, Richard uses his connections with His Majesty to get Barrow out of jail.

Lady Edith receives happy news.

Now happily married to Bertie Pelham, Lady Edith learns she’s expecting again. But this complicates things because Bertie just agreed to join the Prince of Wales on a three-month tour of Africa, leaving the couple in a predicament. Fortunately, a little intervention from Cora and the Queen helps convince the royal to rescind his request.

Tom begins to fall for Lady Baugshaw’s maid.

ace Downton Abbey fans are well aware, Tom hasn’t had much luck in the romance department since Lady Sybil’s tragic death in the original series. Finally, he meets Lady Baugshaw’s maid, Lucy Smith, and the two form a budding romance.

Lucy is connected to the said Brampton Estate drama.

While Violet plots against Lady Baugshaw, she learns that Lucy is set to inherit Brampton Estate. This makes the Dowager suspect that Lucy is actually her illegitimate daughter, which Lady Baugshaw privately confesses to her later. Violet drops her agenda against her estranged relative, reconciles with her, and once again begins plotting to keep the estate in the Crawley family through a Tom and Lucy union.

Violet makes a heartbreaking confession.

4127jbd0080033rc michelle dockery stars as lady mary talbot in downton abbey, a focus features release credit jaap buitendijk © 2019 focus features, llc

Jaap Buitendijk

Meanwhile, Lady Mary is happily married to Henry Talbot but she’s grappling with how her way of life is changing. She doesn’t know how to keep Downton running in the modern world, and turns to her grandmother for advice. Violet confesses she’s very sick and may not be around for much longer. The news upsets Mary, but Violet reassures and tells her she is confidant Mary will do a good job at keeping the legacy of Downton safe.

Should you need another refresher on all that has happened beforehand—starting from when the heir of the Crawley family died on the Titanic—T&Cs has everything you need to know ahead of the movie.

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