Downton Abbey: Thoughts about Season 4

season 4 cast image

Warning: There are a few spoilers below for Downton Abbey seasons 1-3.

While the fourth season of Downton Abbey airs in the UK, we in the US must sit around twiddling our thumbs until January, attempting to avoid spoilers (well, some of us, anyway).  So far I’ve been successful, but I had a near miss this morning when Twitter started to discuss last week’s episode (I closed the window just in time).  No doubt I’ll eventually run into something, or my willpower will give out.  We’ll see which one comes first.

But until then, I’d like to share a little bit about what I hope to see (and what I’m concerned about) regarding season 4.

Here’s the trailer, for those of you who haven’t seen it yet:

Kissing, tears, dancing, and Dowager Countess wisdom–all the staples of the show are there.  There was a lot of positive buzz around the first episode, and it appears this season is going to focus on Lady Mary climbing out of her grief.  So here’s the big question for Downton Abbey: is there life after Dan/Matthew?

Lady Mary

And that leads me to one of the things I am really looking forward to this season.  Mary is one of the most dynamic characters on the show.  I want to see how she will move forward after the loss of Matthew, who was always such a huge part of her story.  I know Michelle Dockery will do a fantastic job, I just hope Julian Fellowes doesn’t do one of his classic “Let’s talk about this for one episode, and then bounce back and pretend like it never happened” moves.

Several new characters are coming on board this season who are being labeled as “Lady Mary’s suitors” and I just wonder if they can live up to the Matthew/Mary dynamic.  And how Mary will feel about them after the loss of her beloved husband.  And I can’t help but feel concerned for whoever she might choose, given the fate of all of her former love interests (Note: I still find it suspicious Richard Carlisle is never heard from again, and if any story about Mr. Pamuk made it in the papers, we certainly never heard about it…).

I truly loved Matthew and Mary together, but I do agree that “happily ever after” doesn’t drum up much drama, which leads me to…

season 4 anna and bates

What might be in store for Anna and Bates?  At the end of season 3 they were finally together, finally happy.  And given Mr. Fellowes’s philosophy on happy couples, I can only imagine what he has in store for them.  But judging from the trailer, it will involve some tears.  One guess is that Bates may not be as innocent as we think he is, or he may do something that shakes Anna’s steadfast faith in him.  Because otherwise those two are rock solid (unless Anna becomes pregnant, in which case she’s doomed, because that never marks a happy occasion at Downton).  Dare I say it?  I’d actually like to see a little shake up in their relationship this season, as long as it’s believable (again, I’m counting on you, Julian!).

branson

What about the other household member who lost a spouse last season?  I feel like Branson might be ready to move on, more so than Mary.  Maybe that’s because his entire relationship with Sybil revolved around her visiting him in the garage a few times, a botched elopement, and then some time in Ireland that we never saw.  Don’t get me wrong, their relationship was sweet and all, but they’re no Matthew & Mary.  But Branson himself is becoming a very intriguing character, caught between upstairs and down, unsure of what his social position is.  And now that one of his main allies is gone (Matthew), how will his relationship with the Crawleys fare?  Maybe Mary will step in to fill the gap left by her husband.

edith

I’m on the fence about what Edith’s story might be like this season, and whether or not I’m looking forward to it.  Sure, I want to see Edith come into her own at long last, and she deserves some happiness.  But I hope she doesn’t become some sort of walking cliche for the “working, independent girl” of the 1920s.  And speaking of cliches…

lily-james-as-lady-rose

This is the girl I’m really worried about.  Yes, Downton needs some new, young blood walking its halls.  But Rose got on my nerves in season 3, and I’m worried they’ll load her up with “flapper girl” cliches and make her a walking representation of a new decade.  But maybe I can forgive that if they give her character a little more substance.

daisy

I don’t even have any guesses as to what will happen downstairs this season.  From the trailer, it looks like we’ll have more love triangles going on, and some new faces.  What will it be like without O’Brien?  And who will replace her?  What evil business will Thomas get into, and who will be his new partner in crime?  His new buddy Jimmy, perhaps?  And will Daisy ever get her life sorted out?  Here’s hoping she doesn’t stalk around the kitchen with a perpetual scowl on her face this season.

What else?  I’m sure Robert will still walk around with his chest puffed up, spouting out bad advice, and Cora will quietly stand by his side.  I’m sure there’s some great Dowager quips to look forward to, and I’m excited to see Maggie Smith paired up with Harriet Walter (who played Fanny in the 1995 adaptation of Sense & Sensibility).  Let the sparring begin!

What are you looking forward to most about season 4 of Downton Abbey?  What are you most concerned about?  And are you trying to avoid spoilers, or do you feel they don’t impact your viewing enjoyment?

And as a reward for getting all the way through my rambling thoughts about Downton, click here to see the PBS preview of the first episode of season 4.

Photos copyright PBS and ITV.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Downton Abbey: Thoughts about Season 4

  1. I’m pretty much in agreement with you on everything here. I’m looking forward to seeing Mary’s growth, and I do hope Fellowes doesn’t start the suitors storyline too soon. I do wonder now what the endgame for Mary will be. And I thought I’d never say it, but other than Mary’s story, I’m most looking forward to Edith’s this season. I’m just hoping that Fellowes doesn’t go too Jane Eyre on us, or that would be a bit much as far as borrowing is concerned.

    Downstairs, I hope the plot reaches a bit beyond the love triangle (or quadrangle or pentagon) it was towards the end of last season. I am curious to see if Daisy decides to take Mr. Mason’s farm. As for Anna and Bates, like you, I can’t see Fellowes leaving them alone.

    Of course, we still have the Dowager’s wit to look forward to, and regardless of what else is going on in the show, that would be reason enough to keep watching.

    • I agree! And I also hope the downstairs plot becomes a little more substantial this season than love..shapes, ha! It will be interesting to see where Edith’s story goes–I do hope she finally comes into her own, but like you said, I hope her love life doesn’t become too Jane Eyre-esque! Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Enjoyed reading your thoughts on Season 4 of Downton Abbey. I hope I don’t hear about or see any spoilers! Looking forward to seeing the costumes of “20’s”. Diana, I’ll be looking forward to your comments throughout the season!

    • Thanks, Suzanne! I’m looking forward to getting back to writing them! And the costumes–yes, I can’t wait for those. I’ve seen some of Edith’s just from the previews, and they look gorgeous.

  3. linda s

    I can’t wait for season 4 to start. I’m looking forward most of all to Edith, Branson, and Ethel’s stories. And, of course, who doesn’t love the Dowager. Mary has become somewhat boring to me. I hope I don’t see any spoilers. I accidentally saw one last season and I will be extra careful this season.

    And I look forward to the great pictures and comments that you post.

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