Mary meets a new suitor during a visit to Brancaster Castle and Tom and Rose announce plans to leave for America in Downton Abbey’s season 5 finale, “A Moorland Holiday.”

Downton Abbey Season 5 Christmas Special

Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) visits Anna (Joanne Froggatt) in prison, where she is being held for the murder of Mr. Green, her rapist who died after being pushed in front of a bus in London. The Crawleys all believe Anna’s innocence, but they must leave to visit Lord Sinderby (James Faulkner) at Brancaster Castle. Unable to leave his wife, Bates (Brendan Coyle) stays behind, leaving Barrow to take his place as valet.

Bates visits Anna in prison and learns why she isn’t being allowed bail. When she was young, after her father died, she and her mother were left destitute. They were saved by her stepfather who then began to molest her. And one day Anna pulled a knife on him, a story that was never made public because her mother persuaded him not to press charges against Anna, but is now being used against her. Bates remains steadfast in his belief that Anna will be returned home to Downton.

In other Downton news, Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and Carson (Jim Carter) continue their search to find a house to buy. But when Carson announces that he has found the perfect place, Mrs. Hughes must put an end to their fantasy. She has no savings, having spent all her extra earnings taking care of her mentally disabled sister. She was having so much fun imagining buying property with Carson, but she simply cannot follow through.

Thomas vs. Lord Sinderby

On the way to Brancaster, Tom (Allen Leech) doubts whether he should have accompanied the family because of Lord Sinderby’s more conventional views and Cora (Elizabeth McGovern) worries about Robert (Hugh Bonneville), who went on a mysterious trip to York earlier and is looking somewhat ill. In fact, Tom was correct in his thinking. Upon their arrival at Brancaster, Lord Sinderby’s butler, Stowell (Alun Armstrong), refuses to serve Tom because of his original employment as the driver. Not only does Stowell insult Tom, he also demotes Barrow (Rob James-Collier) to footman, angering him to no end. So, when Mary approaches him with a plan to get back at Stowell, Barrow agrees quickly. The plan is simple: Mary and Barrow manipulate the cook into making Lord Sinderby a sickening dinner. The plan works, and Lord Sinderby is furious with Stowell, but Stowell won’t let himself be taken down alone, and is able to implicate Barrow in the scheme.

The weekend away is also complicated by the arrival of Prince Kuragin (Rade Serbedzija) and his insufferable wife. The Prince, once again, asks Violet (Maggie Smith) to run away with him, but she refuses. As tempted as she is by the offer, she simply cannot engage in an inappropriate affair with a married man. She and Isobel (Penelope Wilton) bond over their failed romances after Lord Merton’s (Douglas Reith) sons continue to voice their disapproval of a potential union between their father and Isobel. Isobel will only go through with the wedding if Merton’s sons approve, and, as that appears impossible, she calls off the wedding.

After the disastrous dinner, Cora finally convinces Robert to come clean about his mystery illness. Robert reveals that he did, in fact, go to see a specialist in York, who told him that the pain Robert has been having might be angina. The worry about his health has caused him to have a new perspective on Edith (Laura Carmichael) and her child, who she is still hiding from him. Resolved, he goes to see his daughter and tells her that, while he isn’t completely enthralled by the idea of his daughter having a child out of wedlock, he is happy for her.

Barrow, meanwhile, still has revenge on the brain, and goes down to see Stowell. Stowell feels ridiculed by the dinner drama and decides it’s a good idea to get drunk with Thomas. In his inebriated state, he lets sip that his boss is an adulterer who might have a host of illegitimate children. When he recalls gossiping about his boss the next morning, Stowell asks Barrow not to repeat anything he was told, but that is unlikely.

Mary Meets henry Talbot

The next day, the entire group goes shooting and both Edith and Mary meet intriguing new men. Mary engages in some passive aggressive flirting with Atticus’ friend, Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode), while Edith hit sit off with Mr. Pelham, the agent for Brancaster castle. The day isn’t without a few bumps. Thomas’ evil plan comes to fruition when Diana Clark appears at Brancaster Castle. Diana, a one-time mistress of Lord Sinderby and the mother of one of his illegitimate children, has come after receiving a letter she believed to be from Lord Sinderby inviting her and her son over. Rose covers for Diana and Lord Sinderby, greeting Diana as an old friend and getting Mary and Robert to follow her lead. If nothing else, the smooth way Rose handled the situation earns her Lord Sinderby’s approval. “You are clever, kind and resourceful, and I wish to put it on record now that we are lucky to have you in the family,” he says.

After the ordeal, Henry Talbot impresses Mary with his observational skills – he is able to figure out quickly what was really going on between Diana, Lord Sinderby and Rose. She watches him drive off in one of his fancy cars with a definite look of longing…

Anna And Bates Are Free!

Desperate to free Anna, Bates writes a confession of his own, which succeeds in freeing Anna on bail. However, as Anna rightly points out after her release, either way they lose because one of them will be found responsible for the crime. Not impressed with Bates’ master plan, Molesley (Kevin Doyle) and Baxter (Raquel Cassidy) decide to take matters into their own hands and travel to York for Bates’ alibi. They find the bar he frequented on the day of Mr. Green’s murder and get the bar owner to write a statement to that effect. The letter should be enough to clear Bates. As for Anna, the witness who placed her as the murderer is now questioning himself, and things are finally looking up for the couple.

Carson And Mrs. Hughes Engaged

Christmas at Downton reveals happy news for Robert: he doesn’t have angina after all, but is suffering from an ulcer, and the estate was able to hire a new footman, Andy. But the biggest news of the night came courtesy of Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes, who are engaged!

Unfortunately, it looks like a great chunk of the beloved Downton family is abandoning the estate for America. Rose (Lily James) and her new husband, Atticus, are leaving for New York after the New Year, and Tom has finally decided to move to Boston.

Downton Abbey will return for a sixth season next year.