How Downton Abbey's Lady Mary and Edith Will Shake Up the Show’s Last Season
Stateside "Downton Abbey" fans may still have four months until the final season's U.S. debut. But over in the U.K., lucky audience members are only ten days away from the show’s last-ever episodes. To celebrate, series stars Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael spilled a few tantalizing details about the end of Lady Mary and Lady Edith's upstairs adventures. (Warning: mild spoilers ahead.)
Last we saw of Lady Mary, the eldest Crawley sister was taking on estate-management responsibilities and making eyes with Matthew Goode’s Henry Talbot — a tall, dark near stranger with a sharp-looking car. (If you spotted a red flag in that sentence, bonus point: romantic interests plus sporty cars haven't exactly equaled happiness for Mary in the past.) When viewers catch up with the frostiest Crawley during the show's sixth season, Dockery teases that a personal decision from her character’s past will come back to haunt her.
"There's always a bit of scandal in her life," Dockery tells stv.tv of Mary. "There's an event that happens that doesn’t necessarily involve a man ... that's quite dramatic for Mary ... scandal's always on her back ... there's a brilliant character called who appears in the first episode, who is threatening to tell the world, tell the papers, about her scandalous night with Lord Gillingham in the series before, which is a great story."
Mary being Mary, however, doesn't exactly wilt under the blackmail pressure.
"Mary is a bit tired of the scandal," Dockery said during a press conference, "And as she says: 'You're not the first person who's tried to blackmail me.'" Explains Dockery: "She's a bit tougher now and perhaps she's like 'if it's going to happen, it's going to happen and I'll face it.' She's faced losing a sister, she's lost her husband. She can kind of take anything now and a little blurb in a newspaper is not going to break her down."
Essentially, her response to receiving the full Letterman treatment is this:
As for whether Mary will spend another season bouncing between suitors, Dockery dishes to the Radio Times that "Mary is just trying to find happiness within herself. It's not just about finding the right man ... She goes through quite an interesting time in her life in this [season]. She just wants to be content, I think, and happy. She's always just chasing the happy."
The actress does let on, at least with the Metro, that there will be a tinge of romantic drama: "What appears to be a good relationship for Mary, seemingly moving in the right direction, takes a cruel turn that sends Mary to a dark place again."
Although Dockery, like the rest of the actors, is careful to speak in vague statements about the new season, she does shut down one specific rumor — that Lady Mary would ever hook up with her brother-in-law Branson. When asked by DigitalSpy, Dockery said, "Absolutely not! We need to get rid of that rumor, he is very much her brother and always will be."
As for Edith, Carmichael tells the Radio Times, "Edith's sort of managed to settle herself into a cover story with Marigold. She's definitely nervous of making that jump, but she has this magazine in London and also Mary's now in charge of the house so it's less fun for Edith! Rose is married and Branson’s in America. It's just Mary, Edith, and their parents, so I think London’s looking a bit more appealing."
But will the middle Crawley sister find happiness? "I hope so," Carmichael tells Deadline. "It's what you hope for but [the show] doesn't make it easy. There is always the threat of living with this illegitimate daughter and there is always going to be that drama."
Not to mention the perma-drama between Mary and Edith, ever-rivaling sisters. In a separate interview, Joanne Froggatt, who plays Anna, reveals that tensions between the two will climax in the final season with an epic sibling fight. "There's a great argument between the sisters," Froggatt says. "They've sort of mellowed a bit over the years, but this is a reminder of how things were. I can't say what it's about, but it's great. Everyone's going to be [saying] 'I can't believe she actually said that!'"
Series creator Julian Fellowes hints that the pair might reconcile by the finale, at least if their narrative fits with the season's overarching sentiment.
"The theme of the season is resolution," Fellowes tells The Telegraph The fact that everyone watching it knows this is the end means they will, I hope, indulge us and accept more resolution than we normally go for."
Whether Mary and Edith end the season at each others' necks again or not, co-star Hugh Bonneville thinks Lord Grantham and Cora very much deserve a vacation for dealing with the dramatic duo — and household — for so long.
"I think Cora and he should jump in an open top car and speed off to the south of France,” Bonneville tells The Telegraph. “They should leave everyone behind and go off and enjoy their twilight years."
Take a look at a preview of and photos from the final season below.
More From Vanity Fair:
• "Downton Abbey" Cast Reveals Last Season Details
• Finale of "Downton Abbey" Has Already Made Grown Men Cry
• See Lady Mary, Edith, and More Looking Modern and Mega-Glam at Wrap Party
• See the First Photos from the Final Season of "Downton Abbey"
Photo Credit: David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images for The Ivy, London