2. Patrick Crawley, Bandaged Imposter
The entire Downton Abbey series starts with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. This event breaks up the line of succession to the estate because the heir, Patrick Crawley, went down with the ship. The uncertainty fuels the perfect pacing of Season One. Seemingly desperate for copy, the 15-year-old girl version of Julian Fellowes wrote into Season Two the arrival of a strange, mysterious soldier to the hospital. (See #1 above; shark jumps beget more shark jumps). He claims to be Patrick Crawley, the cousin whose death was the genesis of the entire series. Nobody knows if it is really him, of course, because his face is bandaged from war wounds. His mummy-like presence, sulking around the estate for weeks courting Lady Edith, was as silly as Pam’s “it was all a dream” moment in Dallas. Ultimately, we learn that the wounded man was a fraud, sort of like the whole diversion.
3. Matthew’s Pool of Bethesda Moment
In Season Two, Matthew Crawley was paralyzed in World War I. This injury drives much of the plot, until it is too inconvenient and is abandoned with a miracle straight from the Pool of Bethesda. His paralysis was certainly permanent, until it wasn’t. And then suddenly, once the paralysis can’t drive any more plot, it’s time to rise up out of that bed, fall in love with Mary all over again (yes, this device repeats, over and over), and get engaged.