First off, we wish we could be privy to the aging secret of all the cast members of "Downton Abbey." Julian Fellowes, can you bottle it up for us?
The season 5 premiere picks up in 1924 -- 12 years after the show began -- and seriously, the characters really haven't aged a bit. But the political atmosphere has changed. Ramsey McDonald has just been elected as prime minister, which means the Crawley family members fear more change is on the horizon. It's a running theme throughout an episode filled with new discoveries, manipulation, secrets and romance.
There were a lot of dramatic moments, and plenty of humorous ones, too.
It's the Dowager Countess' (Maggie Smith) chance to play Cupid, and Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) still can't decide between her two men. We can relate -- how does one decide between two handsome men, especially with the charming and seemingly sweet Lord Gillingham (Tony Cullen) making a major play for Lady Mary in this first episode. Meanwhile, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) has so far kept her daughter, Marigold, a secret from everyone. Lady Grantham's (Elizabeth McGovern) maid, Phyllis Baxter (Raquel Cassidy), reveals her secret past, and it's a shocker: She's served time in prison. There's even a fire at Downton in the last few minutes of the episode, increasing the drama factor to 11.
Here are some of our favorite moments -- in no particular order:
Lord Grantham's reaction when he discovering James Kent (Ed Speleers) in bed with Lady Anstruther (Anna Chancellor), his former employer. Priceless.
The hilarious references to Mr. Moseley's hair throughout the entire episode. The best? Lord Grantham: "Please keep Molesley in the kitchens until his hair stops turning blue!"
The candid -- yet still under-wraps -- conversation between Lady Mary and her lady's maid, Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt), about sex before marriage. Progressive!
When suitor Gillingham, who wants to marry Lady Mary, tells her bluntly, "I want us to be lovers, Mary." Ohhhh...
Lady Mary tells her father, Lord Grantham, she's happy to hear that Mr. Carson (Jim Carter) has been chosen to spearhead a WWI memorial -- as her father is overlooked. We always loved the Lady Mary/Mr. Carson connection.
And Mr. Carson's response to the selection? "I feel a shaking of the ground I stand on."
Tom Branson's (Allen Leech) possible romantic interest Sarah Bunting (Daisy Lewis) gives a mouthful at the Crawley dinner -- even insulting Lord Grantham. Ouch!
And how about when the conniving (and likely, soon-to-be-fired) under-butler Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) saves the day? He notices smoke emanating from Lady Edith's room, runs in bravely through the flames and saves her -- and his job, at the same time.
Sunday's premiere introduced several story lines sure to play out the rest of the season. What's the fate of Baxter? Will others learn about Mr. Bates' more recent past? What will become of little Marigold? And who will Lady Mary choose -- will we see the handsome Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden) soon?
Tell us: What's your favorite moment from Sunday's episode?