I just reblogged a Rose/Tony photoset…I’ve seen the idea of the pairing floating around the Downton tags the past couple weeks and because I liked it I even slipped a tiny hint of it into the most recent chapter of SWH. Not really sure why I like it, except PRETTY and something about their personalities seems like they’d mesh and come on Rose is twenty and stunning and sweet and a good catch so why can’t we ever see a realistic love interest for her? (TBH I’d ship Rose with anybody.)
But this post isn’t really about Rose/Tony, it’s mostly about Tony and how he’s yet another of those new characters on Downton who had a fleeting moment of potential but just hasn’t managed to do much more than be lovesick. That’s really a crying shame because really in the bones of his backstory is a great mirror to Mary’s.
Tony’s the heir to a title and an estate—what Mary always wished she could be—yet the post-war economy has forced the family to sell the manor house so he’s ended up being a landless lord—the very thing Robert did not want to see happen to the Grantham title were he able to break the entail for Mary. Now that Mary is co-owner of Downton (and I cannot imagine that at some point Robert won’t kick the bucket and leave the rest of the estate to Mary, too, so that he can at last give it to her but not break up the land from the title which will someday be George’s), Tony stands as a stark reminder of what she must do to stop that from being the fate of Downton and George. (If only anything were actually made of this--my constant frustration with Downton!)
When Tony was first introduced, there was a lot of speculation in the fandom about his motives: was it Mary he loved, or her estate? Of course S4 progressed and Tony became kind of a one trick pony with his constant surprise visits to Downton, his passionate declarations of love, the kiss, the quickly made and quickly broken off-screen engagement. I couldn’t help but think he might have been a lot more interesting if his motives had remained unclear, or if he’d been completely pragmatic from the get-go.
We know Mary really does care more about romance than she once let on (so that’s a point in Tony’s favor). It’s also true that Tony can’t get her estate, it belongs to George…But what if there had been a sort of reversal of gender roles, with Mary being the one with the property the man wanted, and the man being the one who needs to make an advantageous marriage so he’s not living out his days in a dower house? It’s not even that there’s not a precedent for Tony to have a more mercenary side to him, since he was presumably going to marry Mabel Lane Fox for her money. And I’d just kind of like to see Mary experience what it’s like to be on the other side of the power balance for once, to get a fresh perspective of the marriage market and where she’s come from—and perhaps even understand her parents a little better, given that their marriage began on a similar foundation.
So I guess all that’s to say…I don’t really have a stake in which suitor Mary chooses but…it could have been you, Tony. It could have been you.