For three seasons I’ve enjoyed Downton Abbey. Characters have ebbed and flowed, matured and changed. Characters had resilience. But I didn’t watch the series when it was broadcast last winter. I DVRed it to watch it all at once. I began peeking earlier this month. It was disappointing, and it was difficult to watch (3 1/2 programs).
The immediate problem were character, development during and after an incident and consistency with that prior character. I’ve watched these persons for three seasons, and bought those DVD discs. In the development of any character are experiences which guide (control) and influence future actions. That can be anticipated, unless actions are out of character. Now those characters are using training wheels.
The audience never saw the after-marriage story of Lady Mary and Matthew, complete devotion and final love. They saw mostly, the social and business transactions surrounding that marriage. Mary had told Matthew she is neither powder-puff nor pure, unlike his previous flu-ridden finance. The audience should expect experiences in Seasons 1-3 to make Mary tougher and mature.
But Lady Mary mourning for six months, reclusive and shunning people. Lady Mary loved Matthew, but she has suffered loss before: The cousin on the Titanic, the Turkish gentleman, and the newspaper publisher. Remember also, Matthew was almost lost in the war, to wounds and to another woman. Loss or near loss are not new to Mary.
Rape of Anna: That is an attack on the institution of Downton Abbey. No other person better than Anna should appreciate that. The Bates experience with its connivings and near execution of Bates has taught her the power and influence of that institution. Mrs. Hughes as head housekeeper should know that, and not follow the spontaneous reaction of a woman so traumatized. This was a very poor story point to raise this issue.
Tom and and Lady Grantham’s maid. We have learned that Tom has a good, progressive business mind. He can change things in this area of England. In Season Three he purports to love his daughter, but in Season Four? He seems to toss it away for quick convenience, sullying his own name and marring the memory of his wife. It is hard to believe.
Lady Edith: She has had no character development. She is the same pathetic Edith. Hanging out with the card-shark newspaper man who will become a German citizen so he can divorce and marry Edith, she is the most consistent character in the series, but she is not worth watching.
So Downton Abbey, I can no longer watch further episodes. I’ll let the people drift inexpertly toward another war with Germany without me.