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Downton Abbey: A New Era Has Two Key Characters Missing From That Wedding Photo, And It's Concerning Me

Tuppence Middleton and Allen Leech smile surrounded by flower petals at their wedding in Downton Abbey: A New Era.
(Image credit: Focus Features)

The wait for the sequel to 2019’s Downton Abbey: The Movie to arrive next March feels like an eternity. Though the fandom shouldn’t be too upset, as the first trailer for that very film has recently made itself known to the internet. While we got to see some prime snark from Dame Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, one moment has raised some questions about how long she’ll be in the film. That’s not all, as she’s only one of two key characters missing from Downton Abbey: A New Era’s wedding photo included in the trailer, and it’s concerning me a bit. 

Some caveats need to be laid down before we go too far: if you haven’t seen Downton Abbey: The Movie or the entirety of its bittersweet TV series predecessor, there are going to be spoilers abound. Not to mention that if you dive in without that knowledge, you might find yourself in a most peculiar position. If you want to get a taste of what we’re talking about, or if you just want to watch the teaser trailer again, here it is

Are you still with us, dear reader? If so, then prepare to start digging into just why a simple teaser trailer has fans talking. First, let’s discuss the cause for concern in greater detail. After all, what’s there to be worried about from a simple teaser? 

Part of the wedding photo from Tom and Lucy's wedding in Downton Abbey: A New Era

(Image credit: Focus Features/Carnival)

What’s Worrying About The Downton Abbey: A New Era Teaser?

Well, as previously stated, Downton Abbey’s sequel includes the Dowager Countess’ inheritance of a surprise villa in the south of France. Part of the adventure presented is destined to focus on the Crawley family’s journey to that villa, along with the most trusted members of the downstairs staff. Another huge focus happens to be the marriage of Thomas Branson (Allen Leech)  and Lucy Bagshaw (Tuppence Middleton), and that is where my worries lie. As seen in the teaser trailer for Downton Abbey 2, the wedding photo is missing two key members. Dame Maggie Smith’s Violet Crawley and Henry Talbot (Matthew Goode), husband to Lady Mary Talbot (Michelle Dockery) are both nowhere to be seen in this family photo. 

Here’s where the worrying comes into play: this is the movie where “an iconic character” is supposed to die, and that’s all but assured for one of those two parties. That doesn’t mean Downton Abbey is against throwing another legendary curveball, or worse, undoing a happy ending that was set by 2015’s series finale. Those of you worried about the pictured absence of Edith Pelham (Laura Carmichael) and Bertie Pelham (Harry Hadden-Paton), the Marchioness and 7th Marquess of Hexham, respectively, needn't worry. They're present, along with their daughter, but the scope of the photo required they be cropped out to focus on what we're about to discuss. 

Dame Maggie Smith sitting in the drawing room in Downton Abbey A New Era.

(Image credit: Focus Features/Carnival)

Why Violet Crowley, The Dowager Countess Of Grantham, Could Be Missing From The Downton Abbey 2 Trailer

At the end of the previous film, writer/creator Julian Fellowes sets into motion the eventual departure of the Dowager Countess. As she admits to Lady Mary that she’s been diagnosed with a terminal illness, the finale of our previous visit to Downton seemed to mark the beginning of the end. Circling back to the “iconic character” that’s allegedly going to take their last bow, it feels that this wedding photo has shown us that Violet Crowley will be dead before the end of the film. 

Michelle Dockery and Matthew Goode dance together finely dressed in Downton Abbey: The Movie.

(Image credit: Focus Features/Carnival)

How Henry Talbot, Devoted Husband To Lady Mary, Might Be Absent From The Downton Abbey Sequel

Death doesn’t seem to be in the cards for our next absent Downton Abbey cast member, or at least we wouldn’t expect it after his retirement from sports car racing. As you can see in the trailer for the forthcoming sequel, Henry Talbot is yet again absent for a family function. He was mostly missing from Downton Abbey: The Movie, as he was away on business for most of the royal visit plot line. That could be forgiven by fans and fictional characters alike, but for Matthew Goode’s character to be missing yet again? The worst case explanation seems like death, while the more likely culprit may be that Lady Mary and her husband might be experiencing some marital issues, which would destroy the series finale's decision to marry them off as a happy ending.

Imelda Staunton and Samantha Bond pictured side by side in Downton Abbey.

(Image credit: Focus Features/Carnival/ITV)

Who Else Is Confirmed To Return In Downton Abbey: A New Era’s Teaser?

It isn’t all about absences in the teaser for Downton Abbey: A New Era, as we’ve not only seen first glimpses at new characters, but there’s some old friends returning as well. Alongside Isobel Grey (Penelope Wilton) is her husband, Richard Grey (Douglas Reith), who are known together as Lady and Lord Merton. Right beside Lady Merton is a face we haven’t seen at Downton for quite some time: Lady Rosamund Painswick (Samantha Bond).

Lady Rosamund’s presence almost feels like a hint towards the Dowager Countess’ passing, as she’s another perfect candidate to spar with Isobel in the interim. Provided, of course, that Lady Mary doesn’t step up and start carrying on her grandmother’s legacy. Finally, Imelda Staunton’s wishes to return for the Downton Abbey sequel were apparently heard, as Lady Maud Bagshaw is seen front and center at her daughter’s wedding.

The concerns raised by Downton Abbey 2’s trailer might just be an overreaction to the select reel of footage we’ve been given to mull over. Or they could be valid issues in a world that’s been so merciless in the past, it gave us two major deaths in the same season; and one of them was in a Christmas episode! It’s moments like this that the delay of this long-awaited sequel is felt the hardest, as we almost got to celebrate another holiday season with the Crawley family in 2021.

Instead, Downton Abbey: A New Era will try to give us the answers to these questions, and more, on March 18, 2022.  The competition might be fierce though, as that month’s schedule is looking quite packed already. Also, be on the lookout for Julian Fellowes’ new show, The Gilded Age, as it’s set to debut on HBO starting January 24. 

Mike Reyes

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.