The Crawleys and their merry band of servants are back in action in all of their post-Edwardian-era glory on Sunday, when “Downton Abbey” returns to the small screen.

So let’s see, how were things left at the end of season two, and what questions loom about season three?

Here we are in 1920. Matthew Crawley, the heir presumptive of the entire Downton Abbey shooting match, is finally engaged to Lady Mary Crawley. Theirs has been a romance to rival the drama of Luke and Laura. Yep, it’s kind of creepy that they have the same last name. But that tends to happen when two people are distant relatives. Are they headed for happily-ever-after?

Mary’s sister, Lady Edith Crawley, is the Jan Brady of the family due to her middle-child status, and struggles to find her place in the world. She carries a nutty torch for Sir Anthony Strallan. Good luck with that, Edith.

Lady Sybil Crawley is the youngest daughter and the rebel of the family, a status earned when she married chauffeur Tom Branson and they hightailed it to Ireland. Have we seen the last of them?

Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess, has kept busy sharpening her claws and wits while she awaits the arrival of Cora Crawley’s mother, Martha Levinson (Cora is the Countess of Grantham). This should prove to be a celebrity death match of thinly veiled insults between Maggie Smith (Violet) and Shirley MacLaine (Martha). Bring it on!

Meanwhile, John Bates, loyal valet to head cheese Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham, is serving a life sentence for the murder of his ex-wife, Vera Bates. She was just as bitter as the poison that killed her. Bates’ new wife, head housemaid Anna Smith, is beside herself. Rumor has it, she ordered a “Free Bates” T-shirt online. She was none too pleased that the day after she married her beloved John, he was arrested.

As for Downton Abbey itself, it may be headed for its own fiscal cliff due to money mismanagement by the Earl. Oops. Cora can add this to her long list of things to worry about.

And here’s a couple of other burning questions: Will O’Brien, Lady Grantham’s lady’s maid, reconfigure her strange hairdo? Will fill-in valet Thomas Barrow ever simmer down and not ooze ulterior motives with every breath he takes?

And last but not least, will sweet Daisy ever get her well-earned stripes in the kitchen?

Buckle up, “Downton” fans, and let the games begin …

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

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