A New Era’s Mary Change Is Secretly Downton Abbey’s Saddest Moment

Warning: SPOILERS for Downton Abbey: A New Era.,Lady Mary Talbot returns in 
Downton Abbey: A New Era with all her endearing sardonic glory but shares scenes with visiting director Jack Barber that unveil an underlying tragedy. With Matthew Goode too busy to return even for a cameo, Mary (Michelle Dockery) is left without her husband Henry by her side in the second film sequel to the hit series
Downton Abbey. Despite Mary’s newly mature demeanor and significant character development, there is a secret sadness to the nature of her marriage 
A New Era touches upon.,In 
Downton Abbey: A New Era, Hollywood director Jack Barber (Hugh Dancy) comes to Downton with a film crew of stars and technicians. The Crawleys and their exuberant staff equally assist and weaken Barber’s efforts to film a movie at the Downton estate. Mary comes in handy by voicing over the existing reel herself when the film must be made into a talkie and the lead star does not have the correct accent for the role. Jack and Mary become closer as the filming progresses with Mary even agreeing to go into town with him to watch a silent film together. By the time the film is finished, Barber asks Mary if he can kiss her but she refuses since she desires to stay loyal to Henry, despite his long absences as he’s supposedly racing cars around the world.,Related: Downton Abbey: A New Era Returning Cast & New Character Guide,The framing of Henry Talbot’s absence in the new film doesn’t bode well for Lady Mary’s marriage in
Downton Abbey since her explanations of his whereabouts are delivered passive-aggressively. While it isn’t Mary’s top priority with Downton’s well-being on her mind, she’s obviously unhappy with her husband’s frequent excursions out of the country. Jack Barber offers her a respite from the loneliness, a type most people in her life can’t remedy, and the bond they develop validates the tragedy of Mary’s character and the loneliness she feels. The underlying truth of this is especially clear at the end of the film when Jack confesses attraction to her and she admits that she’s actually tempted and wants to give in to his romantic pursuit. Her excuse for why she doesn’t is because she’s too mature to give in to what she wants when hers aren’t the only wants that should be respected. In season 1 of
Downton Abbey, Mary is waveringly impetuous, and by refusing to give into her impulses in
A New Era, she’s proved she’s changed. While the maturity she displays in the film may be useful for running an empire, however, it may just hurt her personally. Turning Jack down might be a bad choice for her future if Henry continues to badly neglect Mary and her needs.,Lady Mary further underscores the tragedy of her marital situation in
Downton Abbey: A New Era when she tells Jack that he reminds her of her first husband, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens). She describes Matthew as a dreamer and compares his aspirations to Jack’s. Though she is married to a much different man who covets a daring lifestyle, it appears in these new scenes that a part of her still yearns for something whimsical and more romantic. Her reluctance to give in to a man like Hugh Dancy’s Jack Barber is understandable given the era, but incredibly sad, especially since Jack reflects a willingness to be fully devoted in a way that Henry isn’t
. If another sequel is released and Matthew Goode continues to focus on other projects, Mary’s emotional well-being will need to be addressed.,The sequel to the previous
Downton Abbey installment proved there are more stories to tell in the Crawley household. Lady Mary herself still has unexplored depths that a third film could delve into, especially with Matthew Goode’s glaring absence in the franchise. Though Mary seems sure of herself, time will tell if her change in
Downton Abbey: A New Era foreshadows an even sadder future for her character.,Next: A New Era Properly Ends One Of Downton Abbey’s Oldest Storylines