We Need to Know: Why Is Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary Crawley So Indecisive?
I’ll admit it. The season 4 finale of Downton Abbey underwhelmed me. I had been enjoying a number of aspects of the storyline this season, particularly Michelle Dockery‘s portrayal of Mary’s grief. It was so tough to watch her in those first few episodes of the season. She seemed so dead inside and it didn’t look like she would recover at all. And I was such a big fan of her and Matthew. I loved (almost) everything about their story – the Lavenia Swire stuff was a bit ridiculous, but I kind of didn’t care because it allowed them to be together in the end. And I was so excited when they got together. I knew Dan Stevens was leaving the show, so I assumed I was prepared for his death last season. I was not. It was devastating, but also a great piece of storytelling.
So I was looking forward to seeing what the writers would come up with for Mary after such a loss. I knew it would be difficult for her at first. She wasn’t ready to move on or participate in her – or her child’s – life and I got that. She needed time to mourn the love of her life. So when she met Lord Anthony Gillingham and eventually started to show signs of life, I got excited. She knew he was going to get engaged to someone else, but there was something in this man that lit a spark. But Mary told him she wasn’t ready to move on yet and she didn’t think it was fair to keep him waiting. Gillingham respected that and requested a kiss – which she granted – before their parting.
Her relationship with Charles Blake was a great study in contrast. Here was a man who had a very negative preconceived notion of Mary and her kind. He had no respect whatsoever for the landed gentry who refused to do anything to save their estates. But that isn’t Mary or the Crawleys and eventually, she proved that to him. She and Tom have been working so diligently to keep all the entitled land and to make sure they respected their job as custodians of Downton. They wanted to make sure its there for future generations. Charles just had to see it to believe it. Mary was equally unimpressed with Charles, until that fateful night. Watching them get down and dirty and save those pigs was exciting. After that, their relationship changed.
So somehow, Mary got herself involved in a menage (Lord Grantham’s word, not mine). And at first, I enjoyed it. But I think the time jump in the finale threw me off. Of course I understand the necessity of it. We had to see Edith leave to have her child. And Rose’s coming out was a thing that had been in the works for ages. I just find it hard to believe that Mary would string these two guys along for so long. Maybe she just wanted to get to know them both better. Maybe she still wasn’t ready to move on. Maybe she enjoyed the attention. Mary isn’t a cruel person, but her behavior seems unkind to me. These guys are in love with her and she knows it. She’s tried to dissuade both of them from pursuing her, but they both remain steadfast. Why? Because she’s subtly encouraging both of them. I do think she’s good at articulating her feelings and I understand the appeal of each man. But she says “game on” at the end of the episode. Really? It just rubs me the wrong way.
So I’m glad it’s the end of the season because, quite frankly, I need a break from the Crawleys. Some of the other characters have also lost their luster. I used to enjoy the dastardly deeds of Thomas. But without O’Brien there (both when they were allies and when they weren’t) has put me off him. I’ve never been a fan of Rose. I think her immaturity irks me. It just really hard for me to like her, especially when she’s always acting like a spoiled brat. I liked most of what was going on with Edith this season, but even that storyline was getting tiresome. I am cautiously optimistic about her agreement with tenant farmer Tim Drewe though. He seems like such a good guy and Edith can be assured that he and his wife will take very good care of her daughter. And whatever happened to Tom setting off for the new world? I understand that the Crawleys now consider him one of their own – which I love – but if he really feels like he needs a fresh start, he should go. And I’m not quite sure where I stand on the Bates’ struggle this season, so I’ll remain quiet on that topic.
What did you think of the finale?
If you missed any of this season’s episodes, they’re available atÂ pbs.org.
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