Lately I’ve been submerged in the 1920’s as I conduct research for my next novel. So imagine my giddy excitement when Downton Abbey released its first major promotional image. Those gowns, the hair! The third installment of the series takes place from 1920-21, as Europe tries to pull itself from the wreckage of World War I. And everyone wants to know–how will the family and staff of Downton Abbey manage this enormous task?
The show is set to air in the UK this fall, while we poor Americans must wait until January to find out the answers to the questions that have been nagging us since series 2 ended (well, those of us who are patient and do not look up answers that can easily be found on the web). So before it airs, I wanted to put out some Downton predictions/questions that I hope will be answered in this latest installment. Warning: there are a few spoilers in here for those of you who haven’t read any of the teaser material out there about season 3.
1.) How much longer will the Mary & Matthew “will they/won’t they?” be dragged out?
From what I’ve gathered from the limited information that’s been released, it’ll go on for at least a bit longer. You know, I really had hoped we had finished with this one. We left Matthew and Mary hugging in the swirling snow after a perfect Mary/Matthew-esque proposal. But Fellowes isn’t quite ready to let it go. Apparently a bad investment on Lord Grantham’s part is going to be a major plot device for this season, and the problem is going to weigh more heavily on aristocratic Mary than on Matthew, who is used to earning a living. My guess is the situation will bring to the forefront the fundamental differences in the way Matthew and Mary see the world. Do I think love will win the day? Probably. But it looks like we’re in for a bumpy ride (but then, what else can we expect from Matthew & Mary?). And as a side note–if and when they do marry, are we going to get to see some happy honeymoon scenes between them? After having to see Bates and Anna’s night together, I think it’s the least Fellowes can do for us.
2.) And speaking of Bates and Anna…
Will Bates ever get out of jail? My theory: yes, and it may be thanks to Richard Carlisle. He was the one who heard Mrs. Bates’s rather blatant threat against her husband, after all. But I can’t imagine that Richard would provide a favor for the Crawley family so easily after being jilted by Mary (and I’m still wondering if the Pamuk scandal is going to resurface yet again). And what will Anna’s story line look like, with her husband in the clink? This is just a guess, but based on the picture that was released of the entire cast, it looks like Anna may become a ladies’ maid. She seems to be dressed the same as O’Brien. And of course that makes me think that Mary and Matthew do indeed get married, and Mary’s new marital status allows for a promotion for Anna.
3.) And speaking of promotions…
At the end of last season we finally saw Daisy grow a spine and confront Mrs. Patmore, asking for a promotion to assistant cook. Wonder how that’s going to work out? And who will replace Daisy as scullery maid? According to this article, she’ll be replaced by a doe-eyed girl named Ivy. You know, I hope Daisy finds a man this season, one she actually loves and isn’t guilted into marrying only to become a widow hours later. I’m pulling for you, Daisy.
4.) What will the downstairs dynamic be like?
So many changes! We’ll need a replacement footman for the deceased William, and a new scullery maid to fill Daisy’s vacant position. Plus, if the estate is in financial trouble, what will it mean for the hardworking folks downstairs? Job security will surely be on everyone’s minds. And will O’Brien and Thomas continue their conniving ways? Who am I kidding, of course they will.
5.) What does the future look like for Sybil and Branson?
The relationship between Sybil and Branson was boring in season 2, in my opinion. But now that they’re married, and Sybil’s pregnant, and Cora’s insisting they be allowed to come back to Downton, my interest has perked up. How on earth are these two “rebels” going to fit in around the dinner table? Branson, the former chauffeur, dining alongside his former employer? Should be interesting. And what will Granny have to say about the whole thing?
I’m concerned about Branson’s safety, and not just because of Granny’s barbed one-liners. He’ll most likely be involved in the Irish political movement, which was at times violent (though the civil war did not begin until 1922, which will be after the time period of the upcoming series). Speaking from a story/plot perspective, it makes sense in some ways for Branson to leave Sybil behind at Downton, and she and her “crazy” progressive notions will have to fend for themselves in a house full of traditionalists. Now, whether this “leaving” is in the form of taking off to fight in Ireland, or perhaps a more…permanent exit, I don’t know. One thing’s for certain, there’s going to be a lot of head-butting when these two re-enter the scene.
6.) Will Edith finally find her place?
Poor Edith. I hated her the first season, but mostly just pitied her the second. However, the war seemed to help her realize she had more valuable contributions to make to society besides sending off letters about her sister’s improper behavior in the bedroom. At the end of season 2 she went to see Sir Anthony Strallan, the man who almost proposed in season 1 until Mary intervened. He didn’t want to court her due to his crippled condition, but Edith didn’t seem inclined to take no for an answer. My prediction–she’s going to wear him down at some point and the two will be married (unless long-lost cousin Patrick Crawley somehow makes his way back into the picture–and boy I hope not, as that was one of the more soap-opera-ish plots in season 2 I could have done without).
Finally, an overall thought about the upcoming season. I think that the money issue will divide the house between the aristocrats (Lord Grantham, Mary, Lady Violet) and those who don’t quite “get” the English obsession with tradition (Cora, Sybil, Matthew, Cora’s mother, who will be played by Shirley Maclaine and who I can’t wait to see). I think this is where the main conflict is going to stem from. And I think (hope) it will reflect what was going on throughout England during this period of enormous change after the First World War.
So now it’s your turn–what are your Downton predictions for season 3? And what do you hope will happen?