Lady Violet’s final goodbye on Downton Abbey: A New Age was a wonderful send-off for one of our time’s most acceptable characters.
On Downton Abbey: A New Era, Dame Maggie Smith’s final farewell as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, could not have been more fitting. Lady Violet was one of the clear standout fan favorites among the excellent ensemble cast, with few characters commanding the same level of respect and devotion. It was a masterstroke of the arts for one of the drama’s most known and adored actors and the role she played.
Change is a significant subject in Downton Abbey: A New Era, including changing times, attitudes, finances, romances, and personal choices. The show has never been one to try to hold back the tides of change as the roaring ’20s come to an end and modern living in the 1930s creeps in around every corner. It has always done an excellent job of juxtaposing those who wanted to hide from change with others who welcomed it. The joy of birth and the pain of death are two of the most significant changes that any character may go through. Downton Abbey has never shied away from the impact that the death of a beloved character may have on viewers. Death and its consequences have always been a part of this fictitious world. So it was a tall assignment to figure out how to deal with the departure of one of modern art’s most iconic positions.
Even before the first film, Maggie Smith has expressed reservations about repeating her role in Downton Abbey. She even quipped in interviews, now in her late 80s, that the first film should have begun with Lady Violet’s funeral. That did not occur. Her legendary role was even present for most of the sequel, A New Era, but the film ultimately granted her wish when it was all said and done.
One of the series’ lynchpins was Smith’s turn as the Victorian-era matriarch of one of the last great British homes. With her departure from Downton Abbey shortly, how she left and how fans reacted played a significant role in handling it. It was difficult not to lose fans due to the absence of such a focal point.
The new film has a lot to welcome and farewell, yet it develops in a reassuringly familiar manner. The preparation for Lady Violet’s death was done with the same care and respect that Downton Abbey’s creative team has always shown for the show, which is why Smith’s character’s ending was handled so brilliantly. The film made sure she was written out of the larger Downton Abbey plot on her terms while honoring her character and the Grantham Household’s wider story arc. As a result, her departure benefited everyone: the show, the audience, and, most crucially, the show’s star matriarch.
It’s anyone’s guess where writer and creator Julian Fellowes will lead the Crawley family next. However, other indicators in his latest film, including past interviews, suggest the events of the Yorkshire Household might last until the Second World War. Fans will have to wait till the next and potentially final chapter is written until the third big-screen installment is released.
Downton Abbey: A New Era is currently in theatres if you want to see where the new film leaves its key characters.