Another Downton Abbey Post: Series 4 Roundup

Downton Abbey Series 4 Is Rumoured to Premiere on September 22

Downton Abbey's Lady Mary may be in mourning, but will we get to see her eventually find happiness this season?

"Not yet. I don't know if she'll ever be happy for a long time," Michelle Dockery, who plays the widowed Mary, tells "Matthew made her happy and changed her from quite a spoiled brat into quite a nice person. At the end of [Season] 3, she had it all: She finally found the man of her dreams, she was married, she gave birth to a baby boy. It's all wrapped up very neatly. All of that has been shattered now."

When Downton Abbey returns for its fourth season, approximately six months will have passed since heir Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) perished in an auto accident immediately after visiting his wife and newborn son George in the hospital. And although we feel for Lady Mary, her suffering paid off with another Emmy nomination for Dockery. "I had one last year, and that was amazing. I wasn't really expecting it to happen again," Dockery says. "I feel I'm part of this time that writers are writing really well for women."

What kind of mother is Mary?
Michelle Dockery: She's very conscious that she wants to be a good mother. She finds it difficult to relate, to bond with the baby at the beginning because of the grief. Every time she looks at him, she thinks of Matthew. But she's also not the most maternal of mothers, as you can imagine. It's just not in her nature. And also, at that time and the world that she's in, women in the aristocracy didn't really spend that much time with their children. Mary, Edith and Sybil would have spent most of their childhood with the nanny or the governess. They'd see mother after tea, once before dinner or something.

Because you and your brother-in-law Tom Branson (Allen Leech) are both widowed and single parents, will you share many scenes this season?
Dockery: Yes, me and Allen have shared lots of scenes together this year because he is obviously the estate manager, so Mary has a lot to do with Tom Branson because she is also part of that process, taking charge and saving Downton. Because Matthew's death has put a real spanner in the works for the heir, who is too young to be the heir, even though he is. There's a great story line around that.

Is Mary more tolerant of Branson now? Not only do they have to work together, but they share the same grief.
Dockery: Yeah they certainly do. They share the same loss, and also Branson lost a friend. He was friends with Matthew. So there is certainly a bond between them, but there's always that divide between them still, as much as he's been included into the family. He was the chauffeur, so there is still a little distance between them. And he still feels at times uncomfortable being abovestairs and not belowstairs. It's a big adjustment for Branson.

Thank goodness a Branson-Mary romance won't happen, but there are other possible romances for Mary this season. Are you prepared for fans, loyal to Matthew, to be outraged by these new prospects?
Dockery: Yeah, of course! I think what's important is that Mary does not move on too quickly. Time moved quite quickly when it came to marriage back then because it's important, and particularly for Mary it's important that she finds a husband that's eligible and can father Baby George. And to replace Matthew, that's difficult.

Does she have to approach the subject of marriage as business now?
Dockery: Yes in some ways, but I think she still belives in romance. Matthew kind of teaches Mary that. She was in love with him, as much as it was a tricky start with them. She would want it to be both. But I don't know where it's going. Maybe she'll end up alone, maybe she'll never be able to replace him.

Did you catch the spoof Downton Diddy?
Dockery: I did! I loved it. He's so funny. I was so impressed. The production values of it were amazing! And I just thought it was so funny. I love the bit with Thomas, the footman when he puts his hand on his face, and whacks his hand out of the way. And a lot of it was [Season] 1 that they took off, which I hadn't seen in ages. Things like that are just a reminder of what a success this show has become. It's become this other thing. Spoofs are being made. It's wonderful really because it's flattering. It shows how much people love it.

Of course, the whole reason why Downton Diddy was made was because of the announcement that Downton Abbey added its first black character. Gary Carr plays a jazz musician named Jack Ross. How much is jazz involved in the story this season?
Dockery: The fourth [season] spans between 1922 and 1923, and there is an energy to the fourth [season] besides the mourning of Matthew. It feels like the Bright Young Things are out. The fashions have changed, and Edith and Rose are very much embracing this new era. What comes with that is music and dancing. The jazz era has just begun. [Jack] is this new character who comes in who performs in a nightclub that some of the characters go to.

You personally sing jazz, but how does Mary feel about jazz?
Dockery: I don't know. I've never really thought of that. ... Now she's a little bit older, she's not really into the partying scene. She adapts to change really well. She's not one to harbor on the past like Robert, but maybe she doesn't embrace it as much as someone like Rose or Edith.

She's not about to get her hair --
Dockery: -- her hair bobbed or anything? No.

What are the differences in costume for the era that we'll see on Mary?
Dockery: The hems are higher, the waists have dropped, everything's loose, no corsets. It's just slightly less demure. There's more flesh on show. It's not a bad thing to have more of your back showing, your shoulders. The jewelry is  a little bit more extravagant. The tiara is back. There are a lot more diamonds because during the war -- there was a brilliant quote that I saw at the imperial war museum of something like, "Dressing extravagantly is an insult to your troops" or something -- so for a while, the fashions were a lot duller during the war because people were in constant mourning. The '20s kind of gave everyone [the opportunity] to sort of go a little madder. It's full of diamonds and pearls.

Are Rose and Edith (Lily James, Laura Carmichael) actually going out together socially?
Dockery: No, not really. Everyone sort of has their own little story lines going on. Edith spends quite a bit of time in London. That's very new, that she sort of has this independence.

What is Mary's relationship like with her sister Edith this season?
Dockery: There's a little tension still between them. They've never really forgiven one another for the bad things that they did to each other in the first [season]. I think it's that thing that they love each other, but they're not friends. Mary can still be quite nasty towards Edith, and through the mourning, she can be quite cutting with some of her remarks. I think people understand that it's through the grief, really, in those early episodes. For me and Laura, it's fun. If Julian [Fellowes]suddenly wrote that they hug it out and make up, it wouldn't be as fun to play. As much as I think that if they had put their differences aside and on the table, they'd be really good mates because in some ways, they're similar I think.

Speaking of family, Paul Giamatti makes a guest appearance in the Christmas episode as Uncle Harold, Lady Cora's (Elizabeth McGovern) brother. What energy does his character bring to the show?
Dockery: He and Martha (Shirley MacLaine) kind of rock up. It was just coming to the end of the shoot, so it was a lovely energy boost for everyone, especially Shirley coming in. He plays our uncle who has got himself into a bit of trouble financially. He plays this slightly caddish [character]. We've talked about Harold in the past a lot, so it's nice to finally see him. He was so great to work with. And always seeing Shirley in the same room as Maggie [Smith] -- I pinch myself.

Downton Abbey Season 4 Spoilers Roundup: Everything We Know So Far

For some lucky parts of the world, Downton Abbey Season 4 is just around the corner. But whether or not you get to watch the season in September or next January, all Downton fans can enjoy a good spoiler. Not only did we get some photos from the final days of shooting, but we've rounded up all the latest details on the series to come. More to come as we get the deets!

Life after Matthew: Downton creator Julian Fellowes said Matthew Crawley's (Dan Stevens) death on the Season 3 finale would dominate future episodes, adding that "Mary trying to rebuild her life" would be a key theme of Season 4. We’ve already read that she’ll be getting a new boyfriend (or two). And, thankfully, we shouldn’t expect more major character deaths; many major players just renewed their contracts so that should offer some security, right?

Time jump: Season 4 begins six months after we left Downton, which means babies Sybil and George are getting big! And although we'll skip seeing Matthew's funeral, we'll still get an eyeful of Matthew's gravestone. Please, pass the tissues. Pass them now.

New characters! Out with the old, in with the new. We've been keeping tabs on the latest additions to the cast at Downton. Some of the highlights include Tom Cullen as Lord Anthony Gillingham, a potential love interest for the widow Mary; and, for the Christmas special only, Paul Giamatti as Countess Cora's (Elizabeth McGovern) playboy brother. See photos of the new crew.

O'Brien leaves: Last season Thomas showed he's willing to use the infamous Soap Story for his own gain (surprise, surprise) so it's probably best Sarah O’Brien hightails it. And hightails it she does. Siobhan Finneran, the actress who portrayed O'Brien, decided to not renew her contract, and although we're fairly certain she's not killed off the show, she will be leaving us. Good riddance? The change does mean Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) will need to find a replacement for Lady Cora telling TV Guide, "Until we find a replacement, I have to step into the breach, which isn't really part of my duties, but needs must. I don't think it suits either of us really that well." Do we detect a hint of upstairs drama?

Mary struggles: As hinted at in the 10-second trailer, Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) faces a tough road after the death of her beloved Matthew. Specifically, she has difficulty bonding with baby George but finds strength in her relationship with brother-in-law Tom Branson (Allen Leech). But, in case you're wondering, things stay completely platonic.

Kitchen woes: In Downton's ever-challenging mission to stay up with the times, Mrs. Patmore (Lesley Nicol) gets a new electric mixer and thankfully has up-and-coming assistant cook Daisy Lewis (Sophie McShera) to help. "Patmore is like, 'It's the devil! Send it away!' But Daisy is like, 'I think it's really good,'" Sophie told TV Guide. Sadly, her character's love life doesn't go as well with Sophie explaining, "She's no Lady Mary. Nobody has come a-calling." At least the expected cat fights with kitchen maid Ivy over charming footman Alfred Nugent (Matt Milne) should be good.

What's up with Branson? Now that Tom will be sticking around to keep the Abbey running, we can expect him to play a bigger role in day-to-day life. One of the upcoming plot twists includes a potential new love for the widower with Tom getting close to Downton's new nanny. Sounds like the new nanny could use a friend with fellow downstairs maid Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) telling TV Guide, "She has her meals with the children, but she's not one of the family either. So she's kind of a midway person who is kind of on her own a lot really."

Edith’s independence: At the end of Season 3, Lady Edith (Laura Carmichael) was pushing the boundaries and, it seemed, starting to a new relationship with yet another emotionally unavailable man. She does appear to be blooming in the latest cast photos. Could Season 4 be the season of Edith?

Thomas gets a new O'Brien? Even without O'Brien on Season 4, Thomas Barrow (Rob James-Collier) will have someone to spar with. “O’Brien’s replacement is quite interesting because Thomas has brought her in without a reference,” said Rob. “He, obviously, has some kind of hold on her, but what that is, who knows? He is using her, manipulating her with the secret he has on her to feed back to him the stories and goings on from upstairs so he can use it to his advantage.”

What about Anna and Bates: Finally reunited at the end of last season, John (Brendan Coyle) and Anna were last seen sprucing up their new little cottage. But in case you're worried we won't be seeing as much of the beloved couple, Joanne told TV Guide the move "doesn't really affect how you see Anna and Bates on the show because they would have spent so much time at work." As for if life's a little more kind to the couple, Joanne's a little more guarded. "Anna and Bates start the season in a very happy place, which is lovely," she says, "but as always, there are some trials and tribulations for Anna and Bates." What does it all mean?!

First black character to play a key role: After months of speculation, British actor Gary Carr was confirmed as a new cast member for the show. He'll play jazz singer Jack Ross and we have a feeling he'll be getting up to some trouble with the already troublesome Crawley cousin Rose MacClare (Lily James).

How will this season end? Executive producer Gareth Neame says Season 4 will be “very different” from Season 3’s ending, which we hope means no more sudden deaths. Judging from photos of the cast spotted out filming, we have a hunch the season will conclude not on Downton's rolling laws but among the academic halls of London. And so the plot thickens.

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Not here for Branson and that girl.
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