By KELLY EMMRICH
The sixth and final season of Downton Abbey premiered in the United Kingdom on Sunday at 9 p.m. Set in 1925, the hour-long premiere episode promised viewers a season riddled with new and recurring hurdles for each character.
Downton Abbey fans, such as myself, have been through the emotional turmoil that comes with the scandals of the upstairs family and the downstairs staff.
Upstairs, Rita Bevan, a chambermaid who previously worked in the Grand Hotel, is blackmailing Lady Mary after her week long rendezvous with Tony Gillingham. Bevan threatens to go to the press with the scandalous news.
However, in typical Lady Mary fashion, she does not succumb to the effects of blackmail. In retaliation, the Bevan turns to Mary’s father, Lord Grantham, to disclose Mary’s clandestine tryst.
Proving that blood is thicker than water, Grantham does not cave to the blackmail either, and forces the maid out of his home. Hopefully after this altercation, Lady Mary and Lord Grantham will never see Bevan again.
After Branson’s departure to America at the end of last season, the position of running the estate lands is empty. Lord Grantham is considering having Mary fill the position, but he is unsure whether or not she will be able to handle the workload and the pressure that comes with managing the estate.
Ultimately, Mary assumes the position after Grantham sees Mary’s resilient nature in the face of her scandal. Viewers anticipate that she will thrive in this new role.
Frequently overlooked, Lady Edith has gone through many hardships during the entire series. Once she finally found Michael Gregson, who would marry her, he revealed to her that he was still married to another woman. He fled to Germany to try to get his previous marriage annulled, and, in doing so, left behind a single and pregnant Edith.
Last season, Edith received the news that Gregson had died in Germany, and she was distraught at the thought of delivering their child out of wedlock. This season Edith is struggling to figure out what she wants her life to be like.
Currently she is running a London newspaper company and caring for her child. Edith is still struggling with keeping her child’s identity hidden from Lady Mary and the downstairs staff in order to prevent the shame and scandal that accompanies an illegitimate child.
In downstairs staff news, Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson are struggling with choosing a date for their wedding. Mrs. Hughes is in no hurry to get married because she is nervous about whether or not Mr. Carson will want to consummate the marriage.
She and Mrs. Patmore, the cook, had several discussions about this topic. Ms. Hughes was mainly worrying about her age and the look of her body not being what Mr. Carson would want for a wife.
Ms. Hughes sends Mrs. Patmore to discuss the terms of the marriage, and Mr. Carson confesses that he wants a full marriage.
“I am happy and tickled and bursting with pride that she would agree to be my wife. And I want us to live as closely as two people can for the time that remains to us on Earth,” Mr. Carson said.
Mrs. Patmore delivers this message to Ms. Hughes, and in conclusion, Mr. Carson and Ms. Hughes share a long-awaited kiss.
As usual, Anna and Bates are unhappy. During the past season, both Anna and Bates were arrested for the murder of Mr. Green, Lord Gillingham’s former valet, after he raped Anna at a Christmas party.
Anna is still on probation for the murder after being taken into custody.
In the season premier, a woman has confessed to killing Mr. Green, so it seems like Anna and Bates are out of trouble for now.
However, the problems for this couple don’t stop there. Anna is also deeply upset because Bates had told her at the beginning of their marriage that he wanted a household full of children.
Anna reveals that she has miscarried three times now, and she is deeply saddened that she probably cannot carry Bates’ children.
Julian Fellowes, the creator and writer of Downton Abbey, has formulated a new stage for his characters as they tread farther into the 1920s and the glamorous Jazz Age.
Hopefully the rest of the season will be just as heartwarming as the premier and allow the characters to develop until the series finale.