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<i>Downton Abbey</i>: The Manor’s Worst Kept Secrets

Downton Abbey is a beautiful estate with friendly hosts, lush grounds and a helpful staff. It also happens to be the worst place in England to keep a secret, as evidenced by last night's episode. Here are the supposedly confidential pieces of information that everyone in the house was buzzing about... even though they weren't supposed to be.

Bates Is Back
Of course, we discovered that secret when Anna did in Episode 2. But Lord Grantham's prideful ex-valet requested her silence, not wanting anyone in the house to know of his current working arrangement at a nearby pub. But one of Thomas' pals spots Bates and blabs of his whereabouts in a letter that the (acting) sergeant shares with O'Brien. From there, word spreads to Daisy and then Mrs. Hughes and then to Carson and then all the way up to the Earl himself, who pays a visit to Bates and all but begs him to return to his duties. Although Bates was concerned about the embarrassment of seeing the Earl again after having parted on bad terms, he's also clearly relieved that his secret is out and he's wanted back. At the end of the episode, he and Anna seem back on their road to happiness... which, unfortunately, can only mean that another pothole is on the horizon.

Sybil and Tom, Sitting in a Tree
The mutual attraction between the youngest Crawley sister and the strapping Irish chauffeur has existed since Season 1, but the two have managed to keep it on the down low. That is, until last night, when Mary stumbled upon them discussing Tom's creative, yet foolish plan to humiliate the British army in the previous episode. One glance at their heated conversation and impassioned glances and Mary had the whole situation figured out. Turns out that the Dowager Countess had gotten wise to their "friendship" even before her eldest granddaughter did -- in fact, she was the one that implanted the idea that Sybil had a "crush" on someone beneath her social station in Mary's mind. (Too bad, that Inception technology is still a few decades off -- Violet would be a perfect fit for Dom Cobb's dream team.) Mary eventually manages to get Sybil to 'fess up and promises not to tell their father provided her sibling "not do anything stupid." So Sybil promptly goes and does something stupid by confronting the chauffeur and tipping her hand as to how she feels about him. Previously, Tom wasn't sure whether Sybil would actually run away with him. Now he knows it's only a matter of time.

Matthew and William Are Dead (Maybe)
A few days before they're set to return to Downton for a visit, Matthew and his servant William go missing behind enemy lines. The Earl telephones his contacts at the War Office and receives word that their status is uncertain. He grudgingly shares this piece of information with Edith and tells her not to inform anyone... before sighing to himself, "I shouldn't really have told you." She's able to keep that promise for a little while, but inevitably can't help but spill the gory details to Mary, who is basically the last Downton resident to know as the news has already spread through the downstairs part of the house. Then, during Mary's performance of "If You Were the Only Girl (In the World)" at a recital for the soldiers, who should happen to wander in but Matt and Will! Turns out they had managed to avoid detection by the Germans and turned up at a field station three days later, but because they weren't in any danger, their unit was never informed. Neglect! That's one surefire way to keep a secret.

While the Boss is Away...
Fed up with feeling like the odd woman out at the convalescence home she helped found at Downton, Cousin Isobel decides to take her talents to Northern France, where she'll work for a branch of the Red Cross' Wounded and Missing Inquiry Department. With both of their employers gone, Molesley and Mrs. Bird are left at loose ends. Desperate for something -- anything -- to do, Molesley offers his services to Carson and seems thisclose to landing a prime gig as the Earl's valet when Bates' return puts the kibosh on that dream. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bird turns Cousin Isobel's house into a soup kitchen for wounded and hungry veterans and enlists Mrs. Patmore's help in setting aside food for these once-a-week meals. No one at Downton is supposed to catch wise to the arrangement, but the ever-wily O'Brien spots Patmore handing over supplies to Bird and alerts the Countess, who pays a personal visit to Isobel's house. When she discovers what her staff is up to, she promptly... rolls up her sleeves and serves up soup right alongside them. Somewhere in Northern France, Isobel is smiling.

Knocked Up, Part II: An Officer and a Housemaid
Downton's newest housemaid, Ethel, has already chafed against the restrictions of her job and isn't shy about making eyes at the incoming soldiers. One officer in particular -- the mustachioed Major Bryant -- has caught her eye and their flirtations have grown bold enough to catch Mrs. Hughes' attention. Then Molesley catches Bryant hanging around the servant's staircase and that's the key piece of information that the housekeeper needs to bust their affair wide open and kick Ethel to the curb. At the end of the episode though, the distraught girl turns up with another secret to reveal: she's pregnant. Will that be enough to warm Mrs. Hughes' heart? Stay tuned...

Are Downton Abbey and Spartacus really the same show? Find out.

Are Downton Abbey and Spartacus really the same show? Find out.

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