Lady Mary in Downton Abbey Season 4, photo by Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECEOf course Downton’s coming back for another season–not even Matthew can kill of this juggernaut. And now we get to watch Mary grieve, doesn’t that sound fun? As for whether Robert will wake up and become an actual human being again, or Edith will go through with becoming her editor’s mistress we can only speculate. Here’s what we know to expect:

Hotness. This guy and this guy have been cast as aristocrats visiting the house. And this guy’s playing a valet. I think Thomas will be pleased. The first man is Tom Cullen, recently seen in World Without End, here playing Lord Gillingham, an old family friend who shows up for a house party. Guy number two is Julian Ovenden, playing Charles Blake, an aristocrat. Nigel Harman plays Green, a valet, presumably serving one of these visiting gentlemen.

Lots more aristocrats. In addition to Lord G, we’ll have some friends of the Dowager’s stopping by: The Duchess of Yeovil, played by Joanne David (aka, Lizzy’s nice aunt from Pride and Prejudice) and Lady Shackleton, played by Dame Harriet Walter, whom I rather love, so that brings me joy.

Music. New Zealand-born soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa will play a guest who sings in the house.

Diversity. Allegedly, a casting call has gone out for a black musician to join the cast. Does this mean that Edith will be venturing back into some of London’s jazz clubs, perhaps accompanied by Rose?

Shirley MacLaine. Yes, apparently she’ll be back for the season finale, and I think we can assume it won’t be for any milestone event in poor Edith’s life.

What I Hope to See

More Edith. You know I love her, and frankly, the idea of watching sad Mary all season bores me to tears. Let’s let Edith loose in 1920’s London and see what happens. She actually has a somewhat compelling character arc here, so why not use that?

A believable story for Branson. Speaking of character arcs–let’s get Branson one that makes sense. Although his handling of Sybil’s tragic death last season was interesting, his story went all over the place, seeing him ricochet between upstairs and downstairs (in not terribly believable ways), flirt with a disposable housemaid, and take over the running of the estate. He also ditched his republican ‘I hate the aristocracy’ principles mighty quickly and settled in rather well in the big house. Can we give him something to do that really makes sense, please? He’s a good actor–he can handle it.

Better writing. Dear God there’s been some awful writing on this show. Just AWFUL. It’s clear that Julian Fellowes can handle a story that takes place within a constrained period of time (like, say a weekend, a la Gosford Park), but he has no idea how to properly draw a story out so the pacing and character development make sense. Get this man some help so we don’t have to listen to likes like: ‘I feel like I just swallowed a box of fireworks.’ Ugh.

What do you think, readers? Are you excited about the upcoming developments? What are your hopes for season 4 (or have you given up on the show altogether)?

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4 thoughts on “Downton Abbey Season 4 Update

  1. Another update – O’Brien is leaving the show and will not be on season four. She apparently leaves sometime between the timeframe of season three and season four. Bummer.

  2. I agree there is something not right about the writing. Sometimes I get the feeling that Fellowes is testing storylines out on the viewers (like what ever happened to that burn victim soldier that claimed to be the rightful heir?”. He seems to dead-end some of the storylines rather abruptly. I wish there was less of that. I am not sure why it is so addicting, but I reluctantly still have to acknowledge that it is…I think the writing in the new Upstairs Downstairs show has been pretty good so far and with racy topics (abortion, Nazis, etc.)

    1. And there are articles saying that she is “still” mourning him, as if six months grief is such an unreasonable amount of wallowing.

      Fellowes needs a script editor, and fast. I read somewhere that he writes and his wife reads and gives her opinion. Not good enough. He needs an expert eye to pick up the inconsistencies and the bloopers and the plot holes. And I’d like Robert back, get rid of his evil twin.

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