|The incredible Maggie Smith as Dowager Countess Violet Crawley|
The first season started in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic and was primarily concerned with the future of the estate. The Earl of Grantham (Bonneville) and his wife (McGovern) have been graced with three daughters — Mary (Michelle Dockery), Edith (Laura Carmichael), and Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) — and the law of inheritance at the time does not allow the estate to pass through the female line. The potential heir to the estate is distant cousin Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens). Should eldest daughter Mary marry the "usurper" in order to stay on as Lady of Downton? Would they confound everyone and fall in love? The most touching romance may be the one between housemaid Anna (Joanne Froggatt) and valet Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle). There was scheming, love affairs, and drama galore, with Maggie Smith getting in some fabulous one-liners. The series ended with war being declared and the fate of everyone and the Abbey up in the air.
|Mr. Bates and Anna are perfect for one another|
Why is Downton Abbey so intriguing? The costumes and period are beautifully done, which is a draw. But most likely it is the way the characters are so well-rounded. As much as Mary and Matthew are the central (doomed) romance, their characters aren't essentially heroic. They make decisions that don't appear to be exactly smart, or at least what the audience thinks would be the right one to make. Mary is frequently horrible to her sister Edith. Matthew can be holier-than thou. They are frustrating and human and extremely likable. The challenges that they have been faced with this season — Matthew coming back injured and possibly crippled, Mary engaged to a horrible, manipulative, and dangerous man (Iain Glen) — just make us like them more.
|Will Matthew and Mary ever be on the same page?|