Here in Ohio we are getting a very frigid start to the new year (the weather forecast shows a high of 3 degrees). On the plus side, with the start of the new year we also have a new season of Downton Abbey to look forward to! I first started watching this wonderful show when it first came out and have been watching since.
The first episode of season 4 aired this past Sunday, January 5, but I have - ahem - connections and have watched the entire season already.
This season opens with Mary still in mourning for the death of Matthew which happened in the last season (six months previously for the Downton Abbey timeline). As she tries to cope with depression and a new baby whom she has little feeling toward, the rest of the Crawley family try to figure what it best for their daughter and the estate which is now having to face the changes of a new era.
As the series progresses, she finds the motivation to keep moving forward through both her work and from her family. Soon enough, two contenders for her hand will enter the scene and lead the viewer on a back and forth debate of what may happen next for Mary.
When we last left the season 3 Christmas special, it was announced that Lady Rose MacClare would be joining the Crawley household. Lady Sybil may be gone, but Rose manages to fill in her place with keeping the Crawley family and the Downton staff on their toes between her various rebellious acts and interests.
"Let's face it, she is a flapper," remarks Lady Mary at one point. The Christmas Special will see a trip to London for Rose's court presentation which is not to be missed.
For those of us who know history, Lady Edith's own story is bound to get interesting. Not just in this season, but in future storylines as well. Her romance with Michael Gregson, the magazine editor, has become very intense but he is unable to obtain a divorce unless he travels to Germany to become a citizen.
The ensuing struggles Edith faces while she waits at home at Downton Abbey will have the viewer once again remarking, "Poor Edith!" It just seems inescapable.
Not to be ignored of course is the downstairs staff of Downton. Still caught up in the happiness of Mr. Bates' release from prison, he and Anna are living in marital bliss. Tragedy does strike however that will soon test their love and trust in each other. Sorry, but I can't really say much else without giving away the plot.
Of course no episode would be complete without Mrs. Patmore, Daisy, and now Ivy having a row of some sort in the kitchen. As the two young girls continue to vie for the affection of Alfred, one of the footmen, Mrs. Patmore is always there to offer a bit of advice.
Not to be missed of course is the Dowager Countess (played by the spectacular Dame Maggie Smith). She's back with more wisdom and wit than ever, but we do have a brief glimpse into the future in which there may no longer be a Dowager Countess. It's very depressing to think about.
Other returning favorites include Tom Branson, Lady Sybil's husband and prior chauffeur to the Crawley family, and Martha Levinson played by Shirley McLaine. Her and the Dowager Countess will get a few stabs at each other but not until the Christmas Special at the end.
There is a lot to look forward to in Season 4 and while it does not seem to move as fast as other seasons, there's a resolution in some of the open plot areas which are only opened by new story points that will no doubt continue into Season 5.
Costumes of course continue to be wonderful and drool-inducing. Since the series has now reached the early 1920s, there are a number of the loose, frock-like dresses making appearances along with the robe-de-style that I love in particular.
I would love to include so much more about what to expect this season, but then I would be giving too much away I feel. In short, tune in Sundays to watch the latest season of Downton Abbey. You just can't miss it!
Overall rating - 4.5 out of 5
Costumes - 5 out of 5
For enticement of those who haven't seen the entire season, here's some photos from series: