Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), Edith (Laura Carmichael) and cousin Rose (Lily James) are ready to throw off the shackles of Edwardian England for good in the face of advancing modernism. Who knows, we may even get to see them vote!
Shirley MacLaine will appear again as Lady Cora’s (Elizabeth McGovern) mother and Paul Giamatti will join the cast as her brother.
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The show was upended last season by the sudden departures of Dan Stevens, Mary’s husband Matthew, and Jessica Brown Findlay, the rebellious sister who had the temerity to marry a commoner–the family chauffeur, no less.
Both were killed off, a sad turn of events motivated less by plot lines and more by their desire to exit the show for other opportunities. But the good news is Lady Mary and Lady Sybil’s husband, Tom Branson (Allen Leech) are back in play.
Both are single parents; she has a young son, he has a young daughter. Could they be any more right for each other? After a suitable period of mourning, Lady Mary is ready to kick it again and as the heir-apparent to the estate is besieged by suitors.
Would Mary dare to consider a penniless commoner, like Tom? And what a social climb he would make, from dinner downstairs to the master suite. But, alas, that seems a little too obvious.
Rebellious Lady Rose is sure to lead her cousins into the 20th century and the big question is whether she or Lady Edith will bed the African-American jazz singer Jack Ross, played by Gary Carr.
Lady Rose MacClare, you may recall, is the daughter of The Marquess and Marchioness of Flintshire. But she’s a Thoroughly Modern Millie, living as a ward of the Grantham’s. The young flapper is likely to be a catalyst for all manner of scintillating scandal.
Season 4 picks up six months after Matthew’s death in 1922. Beside Mary’s grief, financial problems loom again. Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville) must contend with the crown’s condemnable death taxes.
But it’s not all about the younger generation. Maggie Smith’s Emmy-winning character the Dowager Countess and Matthew’s mother Isobel Crawley, played by Penelope Wilton, will also get to turn the screw.
Downton Abbey premieres tonight (Jan. 5) at 9 pm on most PBS stations. To keep up with the latest developments be sure to follow TheImproper on Twitter.