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Tom Cullen on Downton Abbey as Lady Mary's new love interest

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Peter Bregg/Getty Images

In Downton Abbey‘s fourth season, which picks up six months after the Christmas episode of doom that left Matthew (Dan Stevens) crushed on the side of the road, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) will have a new love interest.

Actor Tom Cullen has been cast as Lord Gillingham, otherwise known as the man who will take Matthew’s place (at least, in my head).

Now, I’ll admit — the time dynamics of Downton might make room for a new man in Mary’s life. (The first season ran from 1912 to 1914, the second from 1916 to 1920 and the third from 1920 to 1921). And of course, we want her to be happy. But he better not come to court her after she’s only spent six months as a widow. Matthew and Mary have been involved — through better and worse — for nine years. Nine! Are you telling me she’s going to forget him in six months and move on? Nope.

We need to see Mary mourning Matthew, we do not need to see her in love again so quickly. As fans of the Crawley cousins’ relationship, we are owed this. The Matthew and Mary story was  — to paraphrase Logan Echolls — “epic … spanning years and continents. Lives ruined, bloodshed.” If Mary doesn’t honor that, then we’ve definitely been cheated.

If — and that’s a big if — there is a significant shift into the future before Gillingham in introduced, I might be OK with it. Cullen is not terrible to look at — in fact, he’s pretty hot — and Mary does need a little action in her life. (Although for his sake, I hope he doesn’t end up like Mary’s other lovers.) However, six months is way, way, way too soon. Don’t you think?


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