The Downton Abbey Christmas special aired earlier this week, and it was a doozy. We’ll all need time to process it, so check out our recap of the episode and share your feelings below. All the spoilers below!

The episode begins with the house in a carefully controlled chaos, as Robert, Cora, Violet, Mary (who is pregnant), Matthew (who is worried), and Edith all hop aboard the train to Duneagle Castle in Scotland. Duneagle is the estate of Robert’s cousin Hugh (“Shrimpy”) MacClare and his wife Susan. Their teenaged daughter Rose – last seen in the season finale, though she is much more sympathetic and vulnerable this time around – is at Duneagle as well, and is thrilled to have company. Anna, Bates, O’Brien and Molesey come along as well to attend to the family in the various goings-on.

But frankly, not a whole lot happens up in Duneagle. Shrimpy and his wife have realized that they despise each other and they snipe among themselves at every opportunity; Lady Shrimpy vents her vitriol on Rose out of motherly concern. Remembering Sybil’s rebellious-ish days, Cora sympathizes, and it’s eventually decided that Rose will come to live at Downton while Shrimpy and Susan take up a military post for the Empire in India. (Maybe the food will improve their marriage, or at least their tempers.)

Robert lusts after the unadulterated privilege which Shrimpy’s vast estate reminds him of (Robert’s own has been dissipated by the war) and hunts, dines and lives as lordly as he could wish… until Shrimpy admits that he has lost the estate by neglecting to modernize its management, as Robert has. Lord Grantham realizes how lucky he is to be in love with his wife, and expresses at length his good fortune in having Matthew there to pressure him into taking Downton Abbey into the 20th century.

Really, what would we do without Matthew?

At the same time, it turns out that Edith’s newspaper editor Michael Gregson has more-or-less followed her up to Scotland in order to propose a not-marriage. Mary disapproves of Gregson instantly and lashes Edith with her acid tongue every time the subject comes up, though to be fair, she hasn’t got much else to do. Matthew (dear, dear Matthew) is much more sympathetic to Gregson and tries to make a good potential brother-in-law by hiking across the Highlands with him in an attempt to kill stags and fish.

That is, until the facts reveal themselves. The editor is still trapped in a marriage to his mad wife (maybe he should hire Bates?) and the best he can offer Edith is a position as his super-duper beloved mistress. Matthew insists that he end their flirtation after the Gillies Ball, but Edith once again rejects her man’s rejection of her and informs him that their relationship is not over.

Bates and Anna sneak away for a picnic, all memory of the former’s incarceration and death sentencing swept away by the scenery, or maybe the opening credits. They are sweetly flirtatious, especially when Anna surprises Bates by breaking out a killer reel in the middle of the ball. O’Brien and Lady Shrimpy’s maid at first seem to be kindred spirits, but then wind up in a battle of the ladies’ maids, with Molesey as the drunken casualty.

And Mary, after becoming increasingly uncomfortable in her nearly full-term pregnancy, decides to return home to Downton after dancing a reel, and falls into full-blown labor as the train pulls into Downton station. (Yes, that is apparently what it’s called.)

But before we go on to the really exciting parts, let’s rewind a bit. Meanwhile in Downton Abbey…

The younger servants left behind find their attentions wandering, though Carson and Mrs. Hughes provide plenty of work for them to do. Mrs. Patmore begins to be courted by the village’s new spice-shop owner, who invites everyone to a country fair. After a good deal of cajoling by the enternally-awesome Mrs. Hughes, Carson allows Thomas, Jimmy, Alfred, Mrs. Patmore, Daisy, Ivy, and new (and instantly loathed) maid Edna to attend the fair. While they’re away, Carson cuddles with baby Sybil in a scene which might have been worth the entire two hours combined.

Speaking (alas) of Edna, Tom Branson (who has not been invited to Duneagle) is left alone in charge of the estate while the Crawleys are on holiday. This continues to exacerbate Tom’s awkward comrade-to-superior relationship with the staff. Edna spies Tom’s discomfort and seizes her opportunity, flirting with him with narrow-eyed intensity and inviting him downstairs to dine with the staff. She ups her game at the fair and finally walks in on a shirtless Tom alone in his room. (Screencap it, it’s worth it.) Edna kisses him and tells him to meet her at the pub for lunch, which fact she (in a truly spectacular breach of brain cells) informs Carson and Mrs. Hughes when they ask her to actually do her job.

Mrs. Hughes, having sniffed out the source of Tom’s newfound camaraderie with the staff – which is, for some reason, a problem – fires Edna and assures Branson that he has nothing to regret in his raised station. Tom gratifyingly breaks down over Sybil and expresses how much he misses her; Mrs. Hughes comforts him and tells him that someday he’ll find someone with whom to bear that loss.

(Disregard those words from the man behind the curtain, they will certainly not be important later.)

At the country fair, Jimmy gets drunk with cash to burn and winds up nearly the victim of a brutal robbery. Thomas (still pining, apparently) steps in to take the beating and gets his face bashed in. Feeling guilty, Jimmy visits a recuperating Thomas in his bedroom and admits that while he is not interested in a romance with Thomas, he is willing to make a go at friendship. Thomas happily agrees.

Also at the fair, Daisy wins a rigged game, and Mrs. Patmore’s beau flirts mercilessly with her and every other woman in sight. Mrs. Hughes breaks this news to her later, but Mrs. Patmore reacts with relief. Dr. Clarkson and Isobel attend as well, having shared a few plesant evenings together, but Isobel inadvertently rejects Clarkson’s proposal of marriage by telling him she prefers friendship to wedlock.

So! A ghostly pale Mary is zipped straight to the hospital, where she begins to labor in earnest. (The baby is early, but not worryingly so.) Isobel comforts her as news is brought to the Crawleys back in Scotland, who make arrangements to dash down as quickly as possible. With Downton in a tizzy as they arrive (even Carson is adorably ruffled) Matthew dashes to the hospital. Sweaty and terrified and joyful, he is just in time to meet his newborn son and – as Mary very pointedly reminds us, just in case we’d all forgotten the past three series of playing ‘Catch the Crawley’ – his heir. Mary, Matthew and long-awaited baby enjoy a few blissful moments in the sun-drenched hospital room, light glowing around them all like halos, enveloped in their collective love and the bright future ahead of them.

At Downton, the Crawleys breathe a sigh of relief and Robert recaps the past years of turmoil, wondering what he has done to deserve two healthy heirs. Violet agrees (that Robert has done nothing, apparently) and then cooly informs the audience that, “We don’t always get our just desserts.”

We have no idea what she could be talking about.

At the same time, Matthew drives back to Downton Abbey in his Chekhov’s car, bearing his tides of boundless joy. Smiling as only a new parent can as the wind ruffles his hair, he arrives back at Downton, and all is happiness, as fan-and-family dreams are fulfilled alike, and there are fireworks, and –

Oh, sorry. Actually, a lorry driving up the one-lane road causes Matthew to veer off down the unpaved hillside, where his his head is dashed in the dirt and his body crushed beneath his overturned car. Not being party to all the foreshadowing, Mary smiles down at her son in the hospital, waiting for her family and her husband to come back to her.

Happy Christmas to you too, Lord Fellowes.

Have you recovered from the Christmas special?

Newt’s brother was assigned to search for Grindelwald, new ‘Fantastic Beasts’ prop letter reveals

This likely has major implications for future Fantastic Beasts movies.

1:06 pm EST, December 9, 2016

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them included a mention of Newt Scamander’s “war hero” brother Theseus, and now it looks like the reference was something to think twice about.

Earlier this week Warner Brothers’ Los Angeles Studio Tour refreshed their Harry Potter exhibit with new props from Fantastic Beasts, and in one display is a letter from Theseus to Newt. Take a look at the photos thanks to Snitch Seeker:

fantastic-beasts-theseus-scamander

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them included a mention of Newt Scamander’s “war hero” brother Theseus, and now it looks like the reference was something to think twice about.

Earlier this week Warner Brothers’ Los Angeles Studio Tour refreshed their Harry Potter exhibit with new props from Fantastic Beasts, and in one display is a letter from Theseus to Newt. Take a look at the photos thanks to Snitch Seeker:

fantastic-beasts-theseus-scamander

fantastic-beasts-theseus-newt-grindelwald

The letter reveals that Theseus was tasked with searching for Grindelwald himself — a very interesting development for this film series. Though some words on the letter can’t be seen due to another prop covering them up, the note to Newt appears to suggest that Theseus was honored to be assigned the role. Here’s what it says, again courtesy Snitch Seeker:

Well, little brother,

I don’t know how much you have heard wherever you are about what’s going on in jolly old Europe but this chap Grindelwald has been making a lot of noise since you have been away.

Charismatic blighter, but the Ministry doesn’t like him and nor does the International Confederation.

He has upset a few of the big wheels and he’s gone underground. I have been chosen to go away and ferret him out. _______ at the chance to be picked, actually, because the whole _______ want to be on this case and it’s taken some _______ hard work to reach this status.

_______ wishing you well – wherever you are. _______ whatever beastly quests you are undertaking!

Best regards,

Theseus

The fact that this letter was made for the movie is very interesting. It suggests that Theseus at one point may’ve had a larger role in the movie — or at least, he could’ve been referenced more than once.

Further, this letter could mean that Theseus’ll have an on-screen role in future movies. In fact, Theseus’ role as Grindelwald Hunter could be J.K. Rowling’s ticket to getting Newt deeply involved with the search for Grindelwald.

johnny-depp-grindelwald

Theseus will surely be pleased to hear that his brother helped capture Grindelwald. Theory time: What if Theseus dies in a future Fantastic Beasts movie as the fight against Grindelwald (inevitably) continues? What if this leads Newt to avenge his brother’s death?

What else do we know about the character? Not much, but Snitch Seeker says that during an interview with Colin Farrell the actor revealed Theseus “was a British Auror with whom his character, Percival Graves, corresponded.”

How do you think Theseus will play into future ‘Fantastic Beasts’ movies?

Daily Show host Trevor Noah takes his experiences growing up in South Africa and puts them together in Born a Crime for our entertainment and enlightenment.

‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

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Daily Show host Trevor Noah takes his experiences growing up in South Africa and puts them together in Born a Crime for our entertainment and enlightenment.

‘Born a Crime’ by Trevor Noah

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Trevor Noah’s unlikely path from apartheid South Africa to the desk of The Daily Show began with a criminal act: his birth. Trevor was born to a white Swiss father and a black Xhosa mother at a time when such a union was punishable by five years in prison. Living proof of his parents’ indiscretion, Trevor was kept mostly indoors for the earliest years of his life, bound by the extreme and often absurd measures his mother took to hide him from a government that could, at any moment, steal him away. Finally liberated by the end of South Africa’s tyrannical white rule, Trevor and his mother set forth on a grand adventure, living openly and freely and embracing the opportunities won by a centuries-long struggle.

Born a Crime is the story of a mischievous young boy who grows into a restless young man as he struggles to find himself in a world where he was never supposed to exist. It is also the story of that young man’s relationship with his fearless, rebellious, and fervently religious mother — his teammate, a woman determined to save her son from the cycle of poverty, violence, and abuse that would ultimately threaten her own life.

The stories collected here are by turns hilarious, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Whether subsisting on caterpillars for dinner during hard times, being thrown from a moving car during an attempted kidnapping, or just trying to survive the life-and-death pitfalls of dating in high school, Trevor illuminates his curious world with an incisive wit and unflinching honesty. His stories weave together to form a moving and searingly funny portrait of a boy making his way through a damaged world in a dangerous time, armed only with a keen sense of humor and a mother’s unconventional, unconditional love.

Born a Crime Trevor Noah

‘Born a Crime’ book review

Trevor Noah is best known for his current hosting gig on The Daily Show where he had huge shoes to fill following Jon Stewart’s departure — shoes that he has, by the way, filled with grace, humor, and a sharp wit.

Noah has been candid about growing up in South Africa under Apartheid and the troubling parallels he sees developing in the United States, especially since Donald Trump’s rise to power, but Born a Crime puts a spotlight on his childhood adventures in a way that his segments on The Daily Show cannot.

Born a Crime is an interesting mix of heartbreak and humor. There is no denying that Noah’s childhood was not easy. He talks extensively about trying to find a place for himself at school and in life. He was too White for the Black kids and too Black for the White kids. As a child, what do you do when you have nowhere to belong?

You adapt.

Unless it wasn’t abundantly clear already, Trevor Noah is an intelligent man. Born a Crime documents the way he viewed the world and used his situation to his advantage while living in South Africa. He learned dozens of languages, either in part or in full, in order to survive the endless dangers of his hometown. He found a way to make money and build himself a tiny empire using only a computer and his wits. He took what was given to him, which was, honestly, next to nothing, and found a way to make his life fulfilling.

Born a Crime Trevor Noah feature

Noah’s mother has a huge impact on the stories presented in this memoir because she had a huge impact on her son. Strong, independent, stubborn, reliable, hardworking, clever, pious, strict, and loving, Trevor makes it explicitly clear that his mother is the reason he turned out the way he did. We should all give thanks to her.

Her story is tragic, as is growing up under Apartheid, but despite their circumstances, both led vibrant lives in which they became partners in an us-against-the-world kind of way. Hearing Noah speak about his mother infuses you with a warmth and respect for a woman you have never met, and yet that feeling is as genuine as they come.

For his part, Noah was a handful as a child and a teenager, though it’s that spunk and comedy that we so look forward to seeing now. He got into trouble — he even broke the law — but he experienced life and all the ups and downs that comes with it. He is a wealth of knowledge because he has gone far and wide to gather that knowledge himself.

Born a Crime will certainly make you laugh far more than it’ll make you cry, but don’t be so bold as to put the tissues away before the final chapter of the book. This memoir is a lesson in humility, love, faith, and perseverance. Hopefully it will affect you as strongly as it has affected me, especially if you are so lucky as to be able to listen to Noah narrate the book himself on Audible.

Add ‘Born a Crime’ to your Goodreads list or purchase it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or IndieBound

The first full Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight and we once again got a great look at Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

The first Spider-Man Homecoming trailer is here, and it doesn’t disappoint! In what totally feels like a coming-of-age/high school flick (but with a Marvel twist!), Peter Parker decides he wants to grow up and fight like the Avengers. But is he ready? Maybe with a little help (and no hug) from Tony Stark, he will be.

Watch the full-length trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming

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The first full Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer aired on Jimmy Kimmel Live! tonight and we once again got a great look at Tom Holland as Peter Parker.

The first Spider-Man Homecoming trailer is here, and it doesn’t disappoint! In what totally feels like a coming-of-age/high school flick (but with a Marvel twist!), Peter Parker decides he wants to grow up and fight like the Avengers. But is he ready? Maybe with a little help (and no hug) from Tony Stark, he will be.

Watch the full-length trailer for ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming

The main theme of Homecoming certainly seems to be Peter’s desire to prove that he’s a capable member of the Avengers team. If you remember in Civil War, Tony wouldn’t let him get too deep into the fight, for fear that he wasn’t ready. But Peter doesn’t want to be treated liked a kid.

Except he definitely is a kid, and it’s a nice break from the other Spider-Man movies we’ve seen so far, which depicted an older Peter Parker that never quite fit the high school vibe.

Tom Holland’s Peter is undoubted an awkward teenager, and the younger character lends itself to a lighter, more humorous tone for the movie. Marvel has always been good at balancing action and comedy in their movies, and Homecoming is already promising to be a fun romp.

We get a lot of great looks at other characters in this trailer, too, including a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo from Donald Glover and Zendaya. Michael Keaton will be playing Vulture, and of course we also get Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man.

How cool was it to see Spidey swinging along next to Iron Man like an equal?

As is often the case for Marvel movies, ABC and Jimmy Kimmel debuted the trailer for Homecoming following pretty high expectations from fans. Did it live up to your hype?

‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ hits theaters on July 7, 2017