Sorry, was out of town and didn't see the requests!
We start in 1916 with Matthew in the trenches in France at The Somme. He gives orders so must be an officer. He receives a letter that their company is being relieved and plans to go home to Downton - "There's a girl I want to see."
At Downton: Anna shows a new housemaid the ropes as they set up for a charity concert. Mr. Bates is in London, his mother has died. Lord Downton is Lord Lieutenant, but it's an honorary position. He is appointed colonel of the North riding volunteers and is happy to return to service. At breakfast, Sybil receives a letter that a schoolmate has been killed in the war.
The chauffer is teaching Edith to drive and they discuss him getting called up. William wants to enlist but his father won't let him. The Dowager arrives to the setup and wants to help with flowers (I'll let you experience her hilarious dialogue). Anna and the new housemaid, Ethel, are fixing the drawing room and we learn that Ethel has an attitude and came from a house with a staff of 3. Carson is cleaning silver and Mrs. Hughes admonishes him for working too hard.
Mrs. Crawley speaks to the Granthams and says Matthew is returning from the war and he is engaged to Miss Lavinia Swire. They invite him to the concert but are worried about him seeing Mary, who has been in London. Sybil tells Mrs. Crawley that she's upset about not being able to help, and Mrs. Crawley suggests a nursing course. O'Brien interrupts their conversation, and tells Lady Grantham.
Downstairs, Ethel continues to be snobby about the food and sharing a room with another servant - "I want the best and I'm not afraid to admit it" - and insults O'Brien in the process. Lady Grantham discusses Sybil being a nurse with Mrs. Crawley and the Dowager, both of whom agree that Sybil should be allowed to be a nurse. Moseley received a letter that he's not suitable for war service. Bates and Mary return at the same time. Edith breaks the news of Matthew's return and engagement in the most c-u-next-tuesday passive-aggressive way possible (honestly, she's so one-note it's bordering on ridiculous). Mary pretends she's not upset and says she's friendly with a newspaper magnate in London.
At the concert, Mary and Matthew reunite with a friendly conversation. His fiancee is a nice person. The concert is interrupted by two women who hand white feathers to the young men there, calling them cowards. Bates discusses his future with Anna, because his mother left him more money than he thought and he's going to pay off his wife to get a divorce. Mary and Matthew bond over dinner, a nice intimate "former lovers" conversation. O'Brien sends Ethel up to the drawing room while everyone is there to embarrass her. Everyone but Ethel realizes it's a joke.
Mrs. Crawley discusses the hospital overcrowding issue with a military person, who reveals that the Dowager has asked him to write letters excusing Moseley and William from service on medical grounds. Moseley overhears but doesn't say anything. Sybil is trying her hand at cooking and it's not going well. Anna and Bates talk about selling his mother's house, buying an inn near Downton and starting a family.
Matthew goes to the train station very early in the morning and Mary is there to see him off. She gives him a small stuffed dog as a good luck token, and asks him to promise to bring it back to her. He says he's very happy they made up and she sends him off to war a happy man, and asks her to look after his mother if something happens. They both look bittersweet about the parting.
Mr. Bates's wife (Maria Doyle Kennedy - forever the unwanted woman!) appears and demands that he return with her to London, or she'll tell everyone about the incident with the Turkish diplomat's death and Mary's involvement. Lady Grantham watches Sybil in the kitchen and looks proud of her. Bates resigns to Lord Grantham, who is very upset by his leaving. Bates breaks up with Anna and won't tell her why. Anna is devastated and insists she won't be happy without him.
William is upset by the white feather "coward" comment and talks to Daisy about it, who tries to cheer him up by kissing him. We return to the Somme with Matthew, who makes a point of taking Mary's token with him to the front. He runs into Thomas, who is a medical officer. At Downton, the women help pack Sybil up and say goodbye.
The Dowager defends her decision to save the servants from service. The military man decides to readmit Moseley and William for service. Mrs. Hughes had let Mr. Bates and his wife use her sitting room to talk and overhears the threat, which she tells to Carson. Sybil arrives at the college and Branson the chauffeur says he's in love with her. She politely turns him down.
Lord Grantham realizes his new appointment is only honorary. Moseley asks the military officer not to correct his medical exemption. Carson informs Lord Grantham that Bates only left because of his wife's threat (Lord Grantham is unaware of the circumstances of the Turkish diplomat). Ethel and Anna bond over disappointments, and Mary prays for Matthew (which of course Edith interrupts and mocks her for). Matthew and Thomas discuss Downton in the trenches, and Thomas decides he hates it so much that he purposely gets shot in the hand by holding up a lighter.
And the preview for episode 2:
Mary brings Richard Carlyle to Downton, and it turns out he knows Lavinia. Carson advises Mary if she still loves Matthew she has to tell him. A woman we don't know spies on Edith kissing someone in the garage (Branson?). Carlyle proposes to Mary at the train station. William is a soldier and Carson has a heart attack while serving dinner.
Overall season preview (very mild spoiler):
They're covering 1916-1918 in Season 2, with the Christmas special to be set in 1919. Episode 1 was November 1916 and Episode 2 will be April 1917. Too fast!! I need more DA!