Will Downton Abbey soon close its doors? Will Mary’s broken heart mend? And will Edith finally find love?
The cast and executive producers of the hit PBS drama gathered at the Television Critics Assoc. press tour in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night to unveil the first footage from Season 4, debuting Jan. 5. They also offered up some juicy teasers about what’s in store for Lady Mary, Edith, Daisy and the rest of the residents of the famous estate.
A LOOK AHEAD | A sneak peek at the new season featured an emotionally distraught Mary throwing down her napkin at dinner and remarking that after everything Matthew went through in the war, it’s a cruel twist of fate that he would perish in a car accident. Seeing how much pain her granddaughter is in, the Dowager Countess tells Mary, “You must choose either death or life.” The matriarch also takes it upon herself to find a purpose for Mary: She enlists Tom to instruct the widowed mom in the running of the estate since she or her son own half of Downton. Also spotted in the clip package: Edith glams up to have dinner with her editor at a posh London restaurant; Rose tries to recruit Anna as her chaperon so she can attend an event; and everyone is atwitter over Valentine’s Day.
WORKING GIRL | Edith isn’t just flirting with her editor. “She is still involved with the paper [as a journalist], and it is a lot more complicated than that,” said her portrayer Laura Carmichael, who thinks of her character as “the Carrie Bradshaw of the ’20s.” “The death of Matthew really affects the whole family,” she continued. “So when we start, she hasn’t seen Michael Gregson for some time because the family’s been in mourning. … Their relationship is interesting and different to any of the others.” Executive producer Gareth Neame added that it is a “very different season” for Edith, full of “very active stories.”
MENDING HEARTS | “There are a number of new characters,” teased Neame. “There’s certainly some eligible bachelors.” As Michelle Dockery hinted to TVLine, “It’s important for [Mary] to eventually move on, so [Tom Cullen's character] is a potential love interest.” One person who won’t be wooing Mary is Branson. “We’re aware that there is suspicions about Tom and Mary’s relationship,” said the actress. “They are very much friends. He is her brother-in-law still. They become close because of what they’ve both been through. But romantically, I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”
MOTHER AND SON | “[Mary] was never going to be a very maternal mother,” admitted Dockery. “But also, she’s within the aristocracy. They didn’t see their kids very much. You don’t see much interaction between the baby and Mary. To begin with, it’s hard to bond with the baby because she’s going through the grief, and she looks at him and sees Matthew. It’s a slow process with motherhood.”
SERVANT ROMANCE | Mrs. Hughes and Carson won’t give in to their feelings just yet. “We still have a very nice working relationship,” shared Phyllis Logan. “We still have spats. We occasionally get to drink a glass of sherry.” Meanwhile, Daisy is “still in that bratty teenage stage with Ivy,” who’s attracting a lot of male attention, said Sophie McShera.
LOVE TO HATE | “It’s going to be a complex world for [Thomas] going forward,” previewed Neame. “[With O'Brien gone], there’s going to be a shake-up to what happens to his story.”
TO THE FUTURE | “What’s wonderful about the show is it’s opened doors for all of us,” said Dockery. “So many of the cast are doing things in between [seasons]… As far as we know, we’re all doing Season 5 next year. Beyond that, we really don’t know. As long as the core cast remains…” Neame chimed in that the series won’t be going off the air “anytime soon” thanks to its global appeal. “The show is so popular around the world now,” he said. “It’s beloved, and it’s in fine form. … The fourth season is in extremely good health. I think the show has got a lot further to go. If people around the world love the show, we want to make it.”Follow @VladaGelman