After watching all the gifs and reading all the comments, I agree that Henry is a very interesting character. He wins hands down over the other two suitors. However, after watching the older gifs of Mary with Matthew, I'm not sure anyone can replace him. From the very beginning, there was electricity between the two and say what you will, I don't see that happening again. That's just my humble opinion
Oh my dear, you’ll never hear me disagree with that. Herny Talbot is indeed an interesting and charming character, Matthew Goode is hot, and his scenes were lovely and funny and yes, they hinted at romance, but that’s way down in the future, if it is in the future at all! I’d like that, because I like both the actor and the character, but that same level of involment that I had with Mary and Matthew? Well, I’m not sure this show can ever cause that again for me, if anything else because I find it silly most of the times (while still enjoying it immensely, if that makes sense!).
But, in the end, I completely understand misslanefox when she says that since S3 she has felt it harder to connect with Mary as a character. I agree, because I feel like too much of her inner life has been left out from the storytelling, and actually watching her in S5 had me wondering more than once what the hell was going through her head. To be honest, I don’t think even Michelle Dockery knew at times and it kind of showed in how unconvincing some of her lines were (and I’m not even talking about the sex).
In the earlier seasons instead, we were privvy to her inner life, since the "I always apologise when I’m in the wrong" and the "I’m not as sad as I should be and that makes me sad" and these were in the first episode! Not to talk about S2 and all her inner struggles about her all encompassing love for Matthew, and her fear for his life, and the selfless way she loved him: we didn’t need to ‘imagine’ things to fill out the blanks, we saw Mary confide in Anna and Carson, we saw her cry and pray for Matthew, we saw her accept that she had to move on and tried to make herself do just that, we saw and we didn’t need long speeches, because a look from her, a smile, all was so meaningful because we knew what was in her heart in her most private moments and all the rest was easy to understand.
But later… why did she fight so vigorously for the money to save Downton? Yes, I could imagine it was because she felt Downton was her legacy and she felt responsable for the people living there (I even wrote so in a long post at the time), but it was never truly stated in the show and Matthew and Mary never truly had a confrontation on that. And now, yes, I can imagine she misses Matthew dearly, but in the end, if I am not given scenes like the one during the shoot with Mr. Talbot—a short, short moment only made of Mary’s frown and a slight softening of her voice, a staring into the distance—it’s just that, it’s imaginig, and quite frankly, for me to feel connected to a character, I need more than just my imagination based on the show’s writing from three years ago!
I need to see, and I need to feel like I’m seeing the depths of Mary’s soul. Sadly, at the moment, I’m not.
She is still funny, don’t get me wrong, glamorous, witty and generally enjoyable to watch, she is still Mary, but she a distant figure in a play and sometimes she doesn’t make much sense. For instance, I’ve never understood her attraction to that bore of Gillingham and never bought for a second that she could truly love him, even when she said it (even, apparently, when they were in Liverpool).
Turn the tables around and the same goes for Matthew’s character. Maybe we were not so inside his head and heart as we were with Mary, but he was a round, properly developed character, and we came to care about him as he was a real person whose heart we could feel.
When I shipped Mary and Matthew, I didn’t only want them to be together because they were pretty or attractive or had potential: they were all that and they were a lot more: they were two people in love and so different from each other, and yet so similar in many ways, that we knew they would be each other happiness if only their stubborn characters and the circumstances would allow them to see that!
We wanted them to be happy because we cared for them, we loved them, and they deserved it.
So, in short, yes, Herny Talbot is nice and charming and he has potential, and I had fun breaking down some of his scenes in the CS, because I genuinely enjoyed him and I will enjoy him still, if he is to ever come back into the show, but you’ll never see me going over all his and Mary’s scenes again and again over the next months, you’ll never see me writing a 5,000 words fanfiction on the progression of their potential romance, you’ll never see me putting together gifsets of paralleles between him and Matthew or gif all the seconds he was on screen.
Some (or many? :P) fans will do that and have a lot of fun doing so and good for them, I’m happy for them, and I will probably have fun doing some flailing over Matthew Goode’s face because honestly, but Mary and Matthew were and are something else for me. They have conquered my heart a few years ago, they have been real and deep and truthful and strong, and, for me, as interesting and fun and good(e) a new potential love is, nothing can compare to them or to what they gave me in my fandom and even personal life :)