Downton Abbey Series 4 starts on Sunday, September 22, on BBC in the UK, and on January 5, 2014, on PBS in the US. Like most of you, I can’t wait to see what happens. After last season’s (miserable and miserably depressing) finale, I’m hoping that we get some juicy plots and new love-pairings (triangles and quadrangles are also welcome too).
(Before we dive into the speculation, be sure you're caught up and have watched the Downton Season 4/Series 4 trailer!)
Of course, the number-one issue on everyone’s mind is going to be how Mary copes with Matthew’s loss. Actually, how everyone copes with it. Poor Isobel! She’s all alone in the world now. And what about Baby!Crawley? The wee-little heir started his life in the midst of a massively tragic event! Other than that, I really want to know what’s going to happen to Thomas. I kinda fell in love with him a little bit last season, and hope that his new (semi) benevolent streak continues. You never know. He might slip back into his old habits. And speaking of evil people, who’s going to be the new resident meany now that O’Brien’s gone?
By now, we’ve all heard of the casting news for this upcoming season. Let’s do a quick recap and see what we can look forward to:
• Shirley Maclaine will reprise her role as the gregarious American grandmother at some point (word on the street is it will be later in the season). Personally, I can’t wait for her run-ins with Violet. Oh, who am I kidding? I can’t wait for Violet, period!
• Multiple award-winning, and all-around spectacular character actor, Paul Giamatti will be playing the role of Harold, Cora’s brother. Again, word is that he will show up towards the end of the season as well. I wonder what is going to happen that necessitates a family visit from Martha and Harold? Maybe Mary getting married again?!!
• On the “who’s going to replace Matthew as Mary’s new love interest” front, first, let me just say, “nobody!” I mean, come on! No one can take Matthew’s place. But, he’s gone, and Mary can’t be alone. There’s been some scuttlebutt on the internet about the yummy Tom Cullen being cast as Lord Gillingham, and he could be a possible love interest for Mary. The equally yummy Julian Ovenden has also been cast as the “aristocrat” Charles Blake, and he could also be a potential suitor for our Lady Mary. A quick glance at both their IMDB profiles shows them in just one episode (the first one!), but who knows? Anything’s possible on Downton Abbey!
• Daisy Lewis is reported to have been cast as the nanny, and possible love interest for Branson. Yay! Tom really needs to fall in love again. And of course, Baby Sybil needs a new mom. We’ll see how that works itself out. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of drama about the “chauffeur” falling for the “nanny.”
• The most interesting news (for me) is the inclusion of Gary Carr as jazz singer Jack Ross, who’ll be introduced in the first episode as well. The reason why I’m excited is that Gary will bring some much-needed diversity to the cast. It also brings us closer to what’s happening in the world outside of the Downton Abbey cocoon. Frankly, one of my biggest pet peeves with last season was the complete lack of connection with the real world, so it will be nice to see how they incorporate the fabulous Jazz Age into their little haven. Whether or not his role is recurring is still speculation.
Other online speculation about our existing cast members is pretty sketchy, so I’m just going to give you my own personal opinion. You should all feel free to come back at the end of the season and berate me for my lack of insight! Any way, I think that we’ll see Lord Grantham embracing change a bit more easily, now that he’s been made painfully aware of the fragility of life. I think Matthew’s death will probably affect him the most, after Mary, of course.
I think Edith is going to start an affair with her editor, if for no other reason than to show her independence. It will be interesting to see how the family reacts to this. Poor Edith deserves a break, and at the very least, Gregson seems to be genuinely in love with her.
Of course, the ever stoic Violet will probably bear this latest tragedy with elegance. I have a feeling her relationship with Isobel with evolve into a real friendship. Speaking of Isobel, I wonder what will happen to her now that Matthew’s gone? Maybe they’ll ask her to come live with them at the Abbey? Or, better yet, maybe she can move into the Dowager House and keep company with Violet! Or maybe she can reconsider the pseudo-romantic overtures from Dr. Clarkson?
The one “upstairs” character I could not care less about is Rose. I’m sure she’s going to create a ton of trouble for Cora, but I seriously don’t care about her. There was nothing about her character that interested me last year, and I saw her introduction as a (weak) replacement for Sybil, as the new “modern” girl, and nothing else.
Downstairs, as I said before, I’m looking forward to see who the new meanie is going to be, and how Thomas fares in general. Daisy’s situation is interesting too, and I’m hoping that she takes up the offer to take over Mr. Mason’s offer to take over his farm. I hope she gets over her crush on Jimmy, and I hope Alfred realizes what a gem she is and makes a move. Either way, I’m really looking forward to more banter between her and Mrs. Patmore.
I predict that Anna and Bates are going to be the one truly happy couple on the show for the entire season. They’re going to be the rock of stability for everyone else around them, especially now that they have their own house, and can retreat to its safety for some respite from the craziness of the Abbey.
Of course, Molesley can always be relied on to provide some much-needed comic relief, and it will be really interesting to see how Carson deals with the deluge of change that’s about to descend on Downton. If Julian Fellowes goes back to the initial way he was writing the show, and incorporates more historical events into it, then Carson is in for an interesting time. I’m sure that he is going to be especially worried about Lady Mary, and will try to be there for her as much as he is allowed. And Mrs. Hughes will be there for him. I love their relationship. They have such a great friendship, and I hope that it continues as the season progresses.
Well, that’s what I think is going to happen. What about you? What are your thoughts? Comment below and let’s have some lively discussion!
Editor's note: Those of you eager for more Downton Abbey S4 scoop may find the forthcoming book Behind the Scenes of Downton Abbey relevant to your interests. It'll be out in the U.S. on October 29, well before the premiere of Season 4 in the U.S....
P.S. Look for Naz's recaps of Downton Abbey Season 4 weekly the morning after the new episode airs, beginning this coming Monday, September 23!
Naz Keynejad is an avid reader, copy/story editor, and is currently working on her Masters degree in English literature. She’s a self-professed literary nerd and has a “thing” for period dramas. She will watch anything as long as it’s filled with British accents, suppressed sexual tension, angst, and of course, period costumes. Oh, and there has to be tea. Lots of tea.