In the strictly regimented world of “Downton Abbey,” you”re only as good as your skeletons. A rich, fulsome closet bustling with terrible secrets, each one threatening ruin at any moment, means screen time, Golden Globe nominations and international acclaim.
On the other hand, whether you are upstairs, down or just visiting, a wholesome, blameless life is a sure ticket to the margins of life on the Masterpiece Theater production.
Not all skeletons are made equal though. Here is your tip sheet on the current standing of all rattling bones ready to ruin lives at any moment:
1. Skeleton: Lark in Liverpool
Closet Owner: Mary
Latest Rattle: Retroactively delegitimizing her week-long frolic, Mary hands Tony his papers, sparking the spurned lover to argue convincingly that she does in fact want to marry him because, “I refuse to believe that a lady would have slept with a man without being sure that he is the one.”
Consequences of Exposure: Stories of foreign ambassadors slain by her embrace are bound to resurface, after which – the deluge.
2. Skeleton: Youthful pre-revolutionary dalliance with Prince Kuragin
Closet Owner: Lady Violet
Latest Rattle: After visiting him in the basement where he keeps his cot, the Dowager determines to track down his lost wife.
Consequences of Exposure: Violet would be forced to give someone her most withering stare.
3. Skeleton: Math lessons
Closet Owner: Daisy
Latest Rattle: Not content with getting above herself learning these high and mighty mathematics, Daisy has now moved on to history, studying the Glorious Revolution no less.
Consequences of Exposure: She”ll be of no use to Mrs. Patmore if this keeps up.
4. Skeleton: Pushed wife”s assailant into traffic
Closet Owner: Bates
Latest Rattle: The infernal police inspector comes poking around again. Anna strangely moping around at the scene of the crime, oblivious to the very tall plain-clothesed man walking right behind her.
Consequences of Exposure: The gallows and worse:his Lordship will be forced to dismiss him from his chambers. Also – will have let down Carson.
5. Skeleton: Secret Cure Regimen
Closet Owner: Thomas
Latest Rattle: Returns from fake visit to see his dying father with hypodermic, hand bandage and a not-very-well-secured copy of a newspaper advertisement for the “Choose Your Own Path” program. Now what could Thomas be trying to cure himself of?
Consequences of Exposure: Difficult to say, given that Carson has already accepted Thomas” preferences. Might have reverse effect of allowing him to fully embrace his role as scheming, gossip-mongering gay stereotype character.
6. Skeleton: Coward nephew
Closet Owner: Mrs. Patmore
Latest Rattle: After crying in the village square on the spot where her nephew will never be honored, Mrs. Patmore makes a clean breast of it to His Lordship, who shockingly takes her side against the rigid Carson.
Consequences of Exposure: There will be tears.
7. Skeleton: Toying with Baron Merton
Closet Owner: Isobel
Latest Rattle: After playing with his heart like a cat”s toy, Isobel forces the wretched Baron Merton not only to propose marriage, but even worse – to confess his love. “Romantic” love!
Consequences of Exposure: An eternity of cutting remarks from Violet.
8. Skeleton: The weight of first footman duties
Closet Owner: Mosley
Latest Rattle: Having waged a brilliant campaign for the title, Mosley is forced to give it up and return to life as a mere non-numbered footman after a harrowing day with a roomful of china.
Consequences of Exposure: The scorn of Thomas.
9. Skeleton: Secret daughter
Closet Owner: Lady Edith
Latest Rattle: Banned from direct contact, Edith takes up stalking – only to have the cottage door slammed in her face.
Soundest Course: “Why don”t you leave it for a few months, they they”ll be glad to see you when you return,” – Lord Grantham
Consequences of Exposure: Even with a terrible secret., Edith will still be the drippy nerd daughter.
10. Skeleton: Past Stage Career
Closet Owner: Carson
Latest Rattle: This sleeping giant thankfully appears ready to slumber for a fourth straight season, since rearing his head in Season One.
Consequences of Exposure: Complete and utter degradation. The end of all one has worked for and accomplished. Ruin and a painful descent to the very lowest rung of the social ladder, to realms where even debtors and fallen women dare not go, until at last, death”s sweet embrace brings freedom from shame.
11. Skeleton: Leftover johnnies in jacket pocket
Closet Owner: Anna
Latest Rattle: They appear to have been spirited off the estate without discovery.
Consequences of Exposure: Bates, having killed twice, isn”t likely to trouble much about one more murder to his name.
12. Skeleton: Passionate art dealer
Closet Owner: Cora
Latest Rattle: Simon comes to stay and then invites himself to extend his visit, on the flimsiest of pretext – wanting to talk to Her Ladyship about art.
Consequences of Exposure: Will have to have her family send over another fortune for Robert to lose.
13. Skeleton: Shrimpy”s divorce
Closet Owner: Rose
Latest Rattle: Shrimpy stops in back from Calcutta and breaks the news that he plans to spit in the face of God and England by seeking a divorce.
Consequences of Exposure: As long as she can stay on at Downton and keep Shrimpy from making any more walk-ons this season, Rose should be free to continue throwing parties for cellar dwelling Russian exiles. No respectable gentleman, however, will ever give her his name.
14. Skeleton: Secret schemes for the subdivision
Closet Owner: Lord Grantham
Latest Rattle: After plotting in secret, Robert reveals his plan to have a better contractor tear up the fields and build tract housing.
Consequences of Exposure: Mary might have had to put him in his place.