The first promotional photos have been released for Downton Abbey’s fifth season, which Julian Fellowes tells The Telegraph will find the Crawley family discovering that “the world really is a different place to the one it was 10 years before,” while also “dealing with the fact that they’re now incontrovertibly living in the modern world.” The photos certainly bear that out, revealing that there are still harbingers of progress these Old World aristocrats will simply have to get used to: Electricity. Guitar bands. Black ties worn at dinner. Black people seen at dinner. Polio. And now, as this photo reveals, Downton Abbey is being encroached upon by the youthful fad of bottled water.
Some have suggested that the presence of a bottle of water is an anachronistic goof, similar to the TV antennas that have occasionally been spotted by eagle-eyed fans. But a far more likely explanation is that this next season finds the Earl of Grantham dismayed to learn his daughters have been caught up in the Roaring Twenties craze for putting your water in bottles—bottles molded over several, wild days of pressurizing and curing them from Bakelite. This makes it so that you can more easily take water along to your raucous jazz parties, then hold it in whichever hand you’re not using to smoke your jazz cigarettes.
Indeed, the expression on Lord Grantham’s face says he longs for the old days, when water was properly drunk from a chalice. The expression on Edith’s face says she is madly in love with that water bottle and wishes ever so that it would ask her to marry it. Oh, poor, pitiful Edith. That water bottle may be empty, but still there is no room inside for you.
Anyway, the invasion of bottled water and all the Jazz Age high jinks it brings with it definitely affects the rest of the household, as seen in some of these other photos. For example, here we find Mary, Tom, and Lord Gillingham arming themselves, determined to shoot any water bottles that may roll their way. Tom says something about how, because he is a socialist, he believes water should be liberated from bottles, so that all people may drink. No one is really listening.
Meanwhile, Matthew and Mary’s son George has matured considerably. Willfully modern, like his late father, he ignores the many crystal goblets of water that the servants have laid out for him, just in case Little Lord Shitbritches gets’um thirsty. Instead he insists that he be allowed to drink from his plastic horse. A nanny with trembling hands attempts to figure out how to make that happen so she doesn’t get fired and die in the streets.
Elsewhere, Mrs. Crawley spends most of her time attempting to tap water from trees, the way God intended. Really, she’s just happy she has something to do. Matthew is still dead, by the way.
In a moment of weakness, Thomas looks at a water bottle, admiring the strong and sturdy curves of its phallic shape, the dew drops of condensation tracing their way languorously down its sides, the heft that it would surely have if only he could close his hand around its girth, and—NO. ONE MUSTN’T THINK THESE THINGS.
And finally, Mr. Bates assures you that if a water bottle comes anywhere near his wife, he will fucking strangle that bottle to death. That is a promise, sir.
Downton Abbey returns to the U.S. in January.