Series four of Downton Abbey will (at least in our house) forever be known as ‘the one where Julian Fellowes went too far’. We are, of course, referring to Anna’s rape at the hands of sinister valet Mr Green – an event that scarred the entire season as far as we were concerned, and put all the other tangled storylines in the shade.
But will that dark incident cast a shadow as far as the festive episode, I wonder? It’s going to be impossible to ignore, especially with the cloud of suspicion hanging over Bates. What really happened on his day off? Fingers crossed we’ll find out one way or the other.
The fourth season was a mixed bag of emotion for other characters too, most notably Edith, who started off deliriously happy (in marked contrast to her elder sister’s grief at Matthew’s death), thanks to her romance with the dashing Michael Gregson. But, just when we thought things were finally going the pouty lass’s way, her lover did a Houdini in Germany, leaving her high, dry and up the duff. Even I couldn’t hold back a tear when she was forced to put the tot up for adoption, in Switzerland of all places. Maybe Father Christmas has a baby-sized bundle in store for her, come December 25th?
I’m also hoping Yuletide sees a change in fortunes for Tom. Maybe I’m being harsh, especially after his ‘dealings’ with scheming minx Edna, but he’s really starting to get on my nerves. Fingers crossed someone has the foresight to buy him a spine for Christmas. Rose, too, is going to need some TLC over the holidays after her controversial and doomed dalliance with handsome musician Jack, but I don’t think it will be too long before she’s up to her fluttering eyelashes in suitors. The big question is, will any of them be suitable?
As for Lady Mary, she’ll no doubt be dreading Christmas, after the death of her beloved Matthew, but given she’s spent pretty much the whole of series four fending off potential second husbands, I’m hoping she gets a bit of a rest for the holidays. She might be prickly and whatnot, but she’s also a single mum, and if that doesn’t earn her the right to put her feet up and scoff chocolate from morning till night (while still finding time to change for the evening, of course), then I don’t know what does.
Rampant my speculations for this year’s Christmas episode may be, but one thing is for sure: Paul Giamatti is going to be among the guest cast and I can’t wait to see what Julian Fellowes does with such a fine actor. That, and the prospect of more ding-dongs between Violet, Isabel and Martha – the three grandest of grande dames of Downton Abbey – means no matter how preposterous the plotlines, I’ll be inches from my TV screen, clutching a plateful of goodies, and counting the minutes until the show begins.
Downton Abbey Returns Christmas at 8.30pm on ITV.
Contributed by Scheenagh Harrington