At the 2013 TCA “Downton Abbey” dinner, the room was treated to the first footage of the upcoming Season 4. Highlights include:
- It’s 1922 — the house is in deep mourning for Matthew and this season will cover Feb 1922 into the spring/summer of 1923. The roaring 20s are upon us.
- Lady Mary is not handling Matthew’s death very well: “My husband is dead. After all he suffered in the war, he’s killed in a stupid car crash. … Leave me alone.”
- It is Lady Violet who wants to bring Mary out of her grief, “It is our job to bring her back to the world,” comforting her and encouraging her to re-enter the world.
- One of the ways Lady Violet wants to help Mary move on is to involve her in the running of the estate, since it is her son who will be the heir. Lady Violet sets Tom out as Mary’s guide in teaching her how to help run the estate.
- Someone else not handling Matthew’s death very well is his mother, Cousin Isobel. She heartbreakingly says, “When your only child dies, then you’re not a mother anymore. You’re not anything, really.” *sniffle*
- Executive producer Gareth Neame teases a beautiful scene:
“Mary and Tom Branson and Isobel Crawley play the scene together and it’s with the children, all three of them are widows. … They all reflect on their great, deep loves. … It’s a beautiful scene where they describe how deeply they loved their partners and before it gets maudlin, Isobel says, ‘Aren’t we the lucky ones?’ and talk about just having known these deep loves.”
- Lady Edith is meeting with her newspaper man, Mr. Gregson, who is going to become a German citizen in order to be with her. He says, “I’d become an eskimo if it meant I could marry you.” Oooh!
- Lady Rose wants to hit the town for a dance and asks Anna to be her chaperone. Naturally, Anna’s not quite sure about that.
- Carson gets some bad news via a letter and Mrs. Hughes, like any self-respecting housekeeper, snoops to find out what it is, but we don’t get to know yet.
And in possibly big news, Thomas may have told Lady Cora about what O’Brien did with the soap. We cannot confirm that, but it’s maybe implied in the footage we saw. Intrigue! The actress who plays O’Brien, Siobhan Finneran, is not returning for Season 4, so it wouldn’t surprise us if Thomas spills the beans.
“Downton Abbey” premieres in September in the U.K. and returns to U.S. airwaves on Sunday, Jan. 5 2014.