So, if you've managed to avoid the "Downton Abbey" spoilers being tossed at you like exploding crumpets in a very refined video game, then this almost two-hour premiere was a welcome return to the hallowed halls of the grand estate. The good news? The soapiness of season two seems to have been (judging from this episode) set aside, and the plot seems character driven as opposed to being the fever dream of a crazed "Dallas" fan. Huzzah (clink glasses discreetly with second knife to your left)!
Before we get started, I solemnly vow to you "Downton Abbey" fans -- no spoilers. Yes, these are recaps, so by their very nature they spoil the episode if you haven't seen it, but even as I watch ahead of air dates, I won't spill. Why not? Because this season has been halfway ruined for me by two spoilers I ran across, and I know how disappointed I am to know what's ahead -- and I won't do the same to you.
So much happened in this opening episode, I'll just break it down by story lines. You can also read Alan's review (again, no spoilers) here.