4 Reasons To Be Psyched About “Downton Abbey” Season 5

If you just saw the trailer for “Downton Abbey”‘s fifth season and are dying to know what’s next for The Crawleys, we’re here to give you a taste of what we will see come January! (Or get on a plane to London, where the fifth season is already on!) “It feels harder this year to talk about than any other previous series,” acknowledged Laura Carmichael at a recent press event. “We’re so stuck in not wanting to overshare and spoil!”

So what can the cast reveal?! This season opens in 1924 and there will be lots of new changes and personal journeys for each character. While Shirley MacLaine and Paul Giametti won’t be present this season, (though they may come back in the future!) new characters are coming in, like Simon Bricker (played by Richard E. Grant) and troublemaker Lady Anstruther (Anna Chancellor). Read on to find out what you can look forward to.

1. Lady Mary Crawley (Michelle Dockery) is no longer a sad sack. The widow has moved on from grief and finally has a bit of her “bite back,” said Dockery.  “She’s in a more difficult position than ever really because she never would have imagined losing her husband. It was very neatly wrapped up that storyline, you know, her and Matthew (Dan Stevens) finally got together and they had the boy and then suddenly the rug was pulled from under her. So she’s now kind of retracing her steps and trying to find the next thing in her life.”

Dockery sees series five as a very new chapter for Mary. “Because she’s moved on, she’s through the grief now … she’ll never get over what happened, the tragedy with Matthew, but she’s moving on and  embracing the changes and the social climate. And the fashions too; we see her in color much more this year. She’s getting out more and enjoying herself…she’s in the next stage of her life which is embracing her responsibilities as a mother, as a co-estate manager with Branson (Allen Leech) and she also is looking for the next love of her life and a father for her son.”

Dockery added: “She grows and I think that’s the same for every character, it’s the same for Edith (Laura Carmichael) and Branson, you know, we’re growing up.  I look back at series one and she was very much a kind of spoiled young teenager and now she’s grown into a woman and so she evolves with each series.”

2. Mary and Branson develop an even stronger bond. Last season, fans were happy to see moments of friendship between Branson and Mary, as they helped each other through their newly widowed lives. (Though many fans want them together romantically!) Expect that friendship to continue. “It’s great,” said Dockery. “Their friendship is really growing, and to think that Mary couldn’t bear the idea of Sybil uniting with Branson in the beginning, it’s amazing how their friendship has evolved.”

And in season five, the duo definitely becomes closer. “They become confidants,” noted Leech. “So, at the end of the day, they are after the same thing for Downton, which is sustainability. They want to see Downton continue into the future, not only for themselves, but obviously now for their offspring.  So you definitely get a sense that they come together on a united front. With the idea of making sure that Downton is going to be around for a lot longer than even while they are around.  And in that, they kind of solidify their friendship as well. And they are happy to talk about looking for love with each other.”

And if you really want to get an idea of what’s happening next on the series, you might want to check Leech’s twitter account! “I’m probably the most active on Twitter.  Therefore, I’ve upset a lot of Americans with spoilers, accidentally talking about the episode that’s already been on! I’ve learned the hard way to keep my mouth shut until January in relation to that.  So it’s weird, the immediacy of being able to access an actor who is involved in the show, but the danger with that as well is the fact that you are opening up to the amount of people who follow you as well.  You have to be very careful.  And it is, it’s trial by error. I’ve made that mistake a couple of times!”

Sadly, don’t expect any more of Leech’s shirtless scenes. “I think I’ve done my lot in ‘Downton’ because otherwise it’s going to go from PG13 to something else if I have to take my shirt off again in the show. I’ve done it twice now. That’s basically gratuitous in relation to ‘Downton Abbey’, that’s HBO-esque! [laughs] If we do any more we’re verging on Showtime!” he quipped.

3. Anna continues to grow as a character, separate from her relationship with Mr. Bates. After being raped in season four, Anna (Joanne Froggatt) is just not the same person. “I think Anna goes into season five changed by what’s happened to her…. I thought it was so intrinsically important to me that for Anna, she’s changed by this, it doesn’t go away, this isn’t something that you go, ‘Oh we move on.’ It’s a life changing experience. You don’t ever move on from it. You hopefully learn to cope, learn to deal with it, learn to move forward,” Froggatt said.

As a result, there are a lot of questions for Anna and Mr. Bates. “They’re both keeping secrets from each other in order to protect the other person.  So it comes from a place of love and respect, but still there’s this thing between them that they both know they’re not quite being honest with each other, and they can sense it.  So for Anna, I think, in her heart of hearts, she really does feel that Mr. Bates hasn’t done this thing because she doesn’t think that he knows that it was Mr. Green who raped her.  However, she has this doubt, and it just doesn’t leave her.  It’s something that sort of haunts her in season five.  It’s this niggle that there’s so much of a coincidence and, you know, all these things. And it’s sort of this added anxiety, on top of everything else she’s going through, that she just feels compelled — that she sort of can’t leave it alone.”

4. Edith (Laura Carmichael) is more involved with her career this season. “I feel sort of proud that Edith has sort of grown and evolved and become, I hope, more than defined as the ugly duckling,” she said. ”She has become a writer and has a sort of world for herself beyond who she’s married to or any of that. So I’m very pleased about that.”

“I think she’s always going to have something to say about everything and I think that is just within her nature,” Carmichael said. “In terms of the focus on the estate and the house I think she probably cares less now than she used to because it used to be a competition with Mary and it’s not so much her focus anymore. She’s become more involved in London in her career in the newspaper yeah so I think that’s taken over. Which I think is another reason why she’s matured, it’s less about the petty squabbles.”