Spoiler alert: We’re about to discuss the ending of Downton Abbey: A New Era, now in theaters. If you haven’t seen it yet, make like O’Brien and get lost!
From long-buried family secrets to a Singin’ in the Rain-inspired storyline, Downton Abbey crams plenty of plot into its latest big-screen venture. But let’s be honest, there’s one moment from A New Era that we have to discuss above all others — and it’s one we hoped would never arrive.
We’re speaking, of course, about the death of Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley, better (and forever) known as the Dowager Countess. It’s heavily foreshadowed throughout the movie, with several characters wondering aloud if it’s wise to leave home for a month with Robert’s mother so ill, but no amount of preparation can soften the blow of watching this family suffer another unimaginable loss.
True to form, Violet makes the most of her final moments, thanking Robert for taking such good care of her and — believe it or not — apologizing to Cora for doubting that she’d last at Downton. She shares sweet exchanges with Mary and Edith, then with her best frenemy Isobel, before getting one last laugh via these parting words: “Stop that noise, I can’t hear myself die.” (If you aren’t sobbing while this goes down, you’re a bigger monster than Bates’ ex-wife.)
Her death is instantly felt throughout the house, with the biggest display of emotion coming from poor Carson, for whom serving the Dowager Countess has practically been his life’s work. Violet’s funeral procession is followed by a time jump, one which reminds everyone that life goes on, before the camera pans over to an enormous portrait of the iconic character and the screen fades to black.
To be fair, Smith has been preparing us for her character’s passing, even if we didn’t take note at the time. “I certainly can’t keep going,” the actress said in a 2015 interview. “To my knowledge, [Violet] must be 110 by now. We’re into the late 1920s.”
Tell us: How many buckets did you sob during the Dowager Countess’ earthly departure? Grade Downton Abbey: A New Era below, relive more of the movie’s biggest moments, then drop a comment with your full review of the bittersweet sequel.