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really close readings

Let’s Dive Deep Into the Downton Abbey Trailer

Sure, it's only a minute long and kind of grainy, and there is some very British laughter added in around the halfway point. But let's be honest: A new Downton Abbey trailer is too exciting to ignore, especially when the show is not slated to air for another four months in the U.S. Vulture will therefore now call to order a special television meeting of the Trailer Mix Society, so that we can all obsess over the season-three hints together. Shall we, friends?

Hope you spent the summer boning up on early-twentieth-century estate history!
The plot lines of season three appear to be that Downton is broke, Mary doesn't want to marry a penniless heir (or a man who decides to renounce his inheritance, again, because he'd rather just work for a living and actually make money), Cora's rich mother shows up to gloat about the fact that Downton is broke, and Bates is in prison. As you will have counted, three of those four story lines revolve in part on the complex business and inheritance rules that governed major British estates. This is the kind of thing that PBS didn't think Americans would sit through — season one was edited to avoid the great entail debate — but apparently we have become more sophisticated! Or else the entire money debacle will be explained as, "We don't have any, the kitchen maids ate it." (They kind of did, actually, when you think about it.)

Does Shirley MacLaine stand a chance against Maggie Smith?
We've all been looking forward to the standoff between Shirley MacLaine, as Cora's American mother, and the legend that is Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess, just because it's fun to watch two accomplished actresses bicker in fancy dresses. Maybe it's time to put those expectations in context, because really —  can anyone out-sass the DC? Granted, it's only a brief trailer, but it sure looks like the show is engineered for a Maggie win. Even Cora is negging her own mother! And could Downton really be Downton if an American gets any respect?

Bates is still in prison; Bates is still on this show.
If you thought that lifetime prison sentence would put a stop to the googly-eyed "Our love can fix anything!" scenes between Bates and Anna, well, you were wrong. At least they're not in bed!

Mary and Matthew will keep fighting (because this is a television show).
But, like we said before, come onnnnnn, Mary, it's twenties-something England, people are getting jobs, and having money is optional anyway. Doesn't every Evelyn Waugh novel include two very posh characters who are totally skint (it's a British word) and always skip out on the check and nobody cares, because it's gauche to talk about money? Right, just be those people.

Speaking of the twenties, wasn't Mary supposed to get a flapper cut?
It's still looking like 1914 at Downton. Can we get some feather headbands in here?

Did the entire downstairs staff get axed?
We're Matthew and Mary shippers as much as the next person, but seriously, where are all the servants? Carson? O'Brien? The new hot guy who is supposed to play a footman? Don't think we've forgotten about you, Ed Speleers.

Baby Branson!
If Branson is back at Downton, that means Sybil is back, too, and she doesn't seem like the kind of mommy that would leave a newborn alone in Ireland. Please, please, let there be a small child for Maggie Smith to scold on Downton Abbey this season. It is the only thing the show is missing.

Photo: spoilertv.com