Even though the US premiere of the PBS drama's fifth season is still almost six months away--Sunday, January 4--some of the cast gathered on Tuesday night for the last night of the TCA Summer Press Tour to give preview the new season and reveal a few tidbits about their feelings regarding season four.
Stars Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech, Michelle Dockery, and Joanne Froggatt took the stage along with executive producer Gareth Neame to answer questions about everything from guest stars to Mr. Bates' status as a murderer, and we've compiled the Top 5 things we learned about the upcoming season to help satisfy your "Downton" craving.
1. Season five will pick up six months after the season four finale, so somewhere around 1924.
2. There will be a few new characters, including Lady Anstruther (Anna Chancellor) who Carmichael calls "a troublemaker," and Neame says is "looking for something." New characters also mean less room for old characters, so Neame confirms that guest stars Paul Giamatti and Shirley MacLaine will not be returning this season, but we may still see them again in the future.
3. Get ready to meet the new/old Mary! After a season of mourning the death of her husband Matthew (Dan Stevens), Mary is ready to get back out in the world again. "I think this year, she's quite impulsive," Dockery said. "She's embracing her new life, really." Not only will her wardrobe be a little brighter thanks to the lack of funeral black, but she's also sort of back to her old self. "She's got a bit of her bite back." A return to snarky Mary? We're so in!
4. The show will continue to deal with Anna's rape, and how it affects her relationship with Mr. Bates (Brendan Coyle), according to Froggatt. "I think that starting season five, you see her obviously changed by what happened to her. There's a lot of pressure for her and Bates. They're both keeping secrets from each other," she said. In response to a question about who Bates will murder this season, Neame joked, "All bets are off."
5. Could some new fan favorite romances be blooming? Maybe, maybe not. It seems that Mary and Tom are not on their way to a romantic relationship, at least this season, but their friendship will only get deeper as they work to make sure "Downton" prospers into the future. "They come together on a united front," Leech said.
As for Mrs. Hughes (Phyllis Logan) and Mr. Carson (Jim Carter), who were seen holding hands on the beach, there might be a little more hope there. "We all hope for them to get together," Leech said. "It would be a lovely story."
The fifth season of "Downton Abbey" premieres in the US on January 4 on PBS.