*THIS WHOLE DISCUSSION CONTAINS SPOILERS*
This is the first time since the onset of the show that I’ve felt a slight dip in the quality. It still remains really good and my favorite show ever, but it is decidedly less fantastic as the previous three. Honestly, the death of Michael might be the main reason. Michelle Dockery did a fantastic job bringing Mary’s grief so well to life – Mary Crawley has never been a perfectly friendly person or a very kind one, and Matthew made her into the best person she could be. Her grief has so many stages – the stunned mourning, the tumbling tears and her eventual decision to start taking a part in Downton’s management and her son’s upbringing was wonderfully done. I also for the first time thought that Michael’s mother, Lady Isobel (Penelope Wilton), did a fantastic job in her role. I’ve been annoyed by her and mildly entertained, but I’ve never before thought that she’s particularly amazing in the acting department. Her relationship with Lady Violet was also beautiful and how the two ladies evolved and became really good friends.
I really dislike the decision of Lady Rose MacClare’s inclusion in the storyline. She’s annoying AF and I just can’t bring myself to like the character. Her mother is downright atrocious and I could not enjoy this story arc even if they brought Matthew back to life and made him a part of that particular story line. I also just can’t get a liking to Lily James. Maybe it is because of the mediocrity Cinderella turned out to be, but I just don’t enjoy her in here.
Oh, Edith. Just when I think that this poor girl actually has a chance of happiness and finds an interesting, engaging man, he goes and gets into a fight with some Nazis. Furthermore, she’s pregnant. One thing this show has done excellently is portray how lives have really improved for women. I mean, we still are underpaid and an alarming amount of women are still being abused, but at least we can get contraception relatively easy and it is not the end of the world if you get pregnant out of wedlock.
I really felt sorry for her because in giving up her child, not only did she give up the girl she carried for nine months but also the only memory of the man that she would have ended up really happy with. (Great job to Laura Carmichael for her work here!)
Bates and Anna.LeSigh. I’ve mentioned before that the melodrama becomes too much for me sometimes and it peaked here again. I was so sad for Anna and her whole horrible experience and thought that also excellently showed how backwards female rights were in the 1920s. I thought it was well done and all, but the subsequent death and surrounding drama was too much. Honestly, can these two just be married and happy now and neither one in prison?!
Mr Carson and Mrs. Hughes.Two of my favorite characters finally edging towards a romantic entanglement?Hells yes.
I really disliked the whole crown Prince story and his dance with Rose. WHAT MADE THEM THINK THAT WE WOULD WANT TO WATCH THIS NONSENSE? ROSE ISN’T EVEN A DAMN CRAWLEY MAN.
Sarah Banting was such a pain man. I get that they are trying to show that Tom knows that this is not his life, but really, Sarah Banting was not so cool.
I really liked the inclusion of both Tony Gillingham (Tom Cullen) and Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden). If Mary ends up with either of these men, I would really choose Charles Blake for her. Let’s face it – Tony is incredibly gorgeous and so sweet, but Blake challenges Mary and is her intellectual equal.
Overall, there were some great decisions made and some not so great ones. I think I’ve had to deal with the departure of my dear Matthew – that scene killed my soul in Season 3 – and I only recovered by Season 5 😀 This is a great season, just not my favorite, but builds well enough that season 5 took over from this with great success.