The aristocracy cannot only not protect itself from financial losses and the premature deaths of its young like Sybil and Matthew. It also can't protect those who serve them. In the second episode of Season Four of "Downtown Abbey" Anna is raped. The villain is Mr. Green, valet to the Earl's friend Lord Gillingham.
Long-suffering, Anna now might have experienced the kind of emotional trauma she can't bounce back from. She had endured Mr. Bates' inability to return her love when he was tethered to his first wife. Then she stood by him when he was in prison for murder. As Lady Mary's groomer, Anna joined in the mourning for Matthew. Also, we wonder if Mr. Bates can absorb this very new blow. His life has not been easy. It would be a true tragedy if Anna became pregnant after the rape. Would the father be Mr. Green or Mr. Bates?
Another bit of darkness hanging over Downton Abbey is Branson's inability to feel comfortable among those who were once his betters. He is self conscious, not brash as he used to be. However, he could be the financial savior which makes the place operate like a business.
There are signs that Lady Mary, who softened in the love of Matthew, could harden again. She could become a shrew in the family, making life difficult for everyone.
The woman who could emerge as the bright spot in a stagnant clan is plain-jane Lady Edith. Her beau Michael managed to not only clean out the card shark. He also won back the Earl's money. They will marry when he gets his divorce from his insane wife. Edith could also become a force in journalism.