Downton Abbey's Season 3 Finale: Just Deserts?

Downton Abbey S03E09: “Christmas Special 2012” (or S03E08 “Episode 8,” according to PBS)

And the award for most soul-crushing season-finale ending in TV history goes to... Downton Abbey. A year after Sybil's death, life at Downton pressed on. Tom and the baby had stayed, with Tom taking on a new role as the estate agent. Edith was still writing, even though Daddy still didn't approve. And Mary was happily knocked up. Even Thomas and Jimmy managed to overcome their differences and the damage wrought by O'Brien's manipulation to become pals—all it took was Thomas flinging himself into mortal peril to break through Jimmy's residual ill will over that whole surprise bunk buddies thing.

After a pleasant trip to Scotland and a tense early labor, Mary gave birth to a healthy baby boy... and Matthew flipped his car into a ditch on the way home from the hospital. Who damaged you so thoroughly, Julian Fellowes, that this seemed like the perfect conclusion to the episode that, in England, was billed as the Christmas Special? Happy Holidays, England! I guess?

To further up the resulting angst of Matthew's sudden and startling death, Downton Abbey's Season 3 finale was, itself, a rather cheery time—you know, as far as Downton Abbey goes. The family, sans Tom, headed north to visit relatives at Duneagle and you guys, it was like walking into the Twilight Zone. The MacClare family embodied everything the Crawleys could have become if their worst habits hadn't been kept in check by common sense and fate. Susan and Shrimpie could barely stand one another and Susan in particular seemed to routinely take her misery out on walking-scandal-in-the-making daughter Rose. HI ROSE! I missed your fabulousness.

While Susan and Rose represented everything that Cora and her daughters might have been had Cora not, well, been Cora; Shrimpie was the Bizarro World answer to Robert. A man whose power in his household was unquestioned, uncontested—he ruled over his estate with an iron (though ultimately apathetic) fist, and lacking figures like Tom and Matthew in his life to force him to modernize, he simply didn't... and lost his estate to ruin as a result.

Now, as a modern audience, it's hard to feel too bad for the MacClares; after all, much like the fate that threatened the Crawleys earlier in the season, "losing everything" doesn't exactly mean what the phrase implies to the rest of us. The physical estate will change hands, but the title and all the privilege and power associated with it will live on. Furthermore, as much as moving into a smaller mansion sucks, you're still in a freaking mansion.

Stuck in the middle of all this turmoil was our frizzy-haired sass machine, Rose, whose previous brattiness was notably toned down (slightly) when her cousins came to visit. Mummy was every bit the horrorshow we had reason to believe she was, but even so, managed to have her redeeming qualities. To Susan's credit, she realized she was miserable and she realized how hard she was being on her daughter. Unable or unwilling to change, she made the decision to allow Rose to head to Downton when she and Shrimpie relocated to India. I look forward to Rose's contributions to the family, especially given the total downer Downton Abbey left us wit— HOW COULD YOU DO THAT, MR. FELLOWES??? HAVE YOU NO DECENCY, SIR? AT LONG LAST, HAVE YOU NO SENSE OF DECENCY?

Actually, I guess if we want to be mad at someone, the proper culprit is Dan Stevens, whose decision to leave the series led to the death of his character. But did we have to kill him? Couldn't we just've sent him to the States for business or something? It wouldn't solve the problem of no Matthew, but at least he wouldn't be, you know, dead. I’m grasping at straws here. There are just so many semi-orphaned babies on this show. Furthermore, the number of people who actually think Mary is a nice person is now down to... uh... two? Maybe? I know their lovey-dovey kissy crap was meant to break my heart, and it did, but it also made me laugh because how about instead of constantly telling me that Mary Crawley isn't actually the worst, you SHOW me, writers?

The effect Matthew’s death has on Mary will certainly play a key role when we return to Downton later this year/early next year. It’s hard to say how the loss will change her—she could just as easily reveal to the world that sweetness we heard so much about from Matthew as she could retreat to her stoicism and snobbery in her grief. She won’t be the same Mary, though—that much is a given.

The same can be said of Tom, who was forced to face the drastic changes his life has undergone when a new maid named Edna asked some super-rude questions. My only complaint about Tom’s storyline was that in a way, it felt like we'd already been over many of the issues raised. From his treatment at the hands of his former co-workers following his initial return to Downton after he married Sybil to his brother's antics at Baby Sybil’s christening, Tom has struggled to come to terms with putting his revolutionary past to rest and accept his new privileged lifestyle—without compromising his progressive beliefs.

Edna didn’t ask anything that hadn’t already been asked of Tom. She was just ruder about it and kind of stalkery and awful. The notion of Tom moving on and perhaps eventually re-marrying isn’t a bad idea. The same can be said of Mary. They’re both young and while Downton Abbey has led us to accept that they've lost their TV soulmates, realistically, they each may someday come to terms with their respective losses and look for love and companionship again. That’s fine. But Edna’s approach was just appalling.

“I’m just as good as Mr. Branson.” This is true, and I’m sure Mr. Branson feels the same way, but girl seriously went about things the wrong, wrong, amazingly wrong way. And then she was sacked—justifiably so—and Tom felt bad about it, which was also justified considering, as Mrs. Hughes pointed out, that he didn’t exactly go out of his way to discourage Edna’s advances. Her awkward, floundering, creepy advances. BYE EDNA.

With the exception of Bates and Anna, who were adorable and precious with their picnic and Anna learning how to dance (eee!), this episode was chock full of ill-fitted pairings, like omens that we were too busy giggling over to take seriously. Mrs. Patmore was courted by a new supplier, only to learn that he was a piggish womanizer who was after her... cooking? In a turn that, in my opinion, has been a long time coming, Dr. Clarkson courted Isobel, but gracefully abandoned his plan to formally propose after learning that she was rather fond of their current situation and reluctant to risk ruining it through change. Gregson crashed the party at Mancave Manor and endeared himself to the fam in hopes that it would lead to a solution to his lawfully-wedded-to-a-lunatic problem. Matthew didn’t have a solution and encouraged him to let Edith go, but when Gregson approached her, she seemed more willing to tough it out until things worked out. Crossing my fingers that this doesn’t end with Edith sobbing into her pillows. Again.

With the pain of Sybil’s loss starting to mellow to a manageable dull ache and the estate as a whole riding on a sort of optimistic high thanks to the positive changes Matthew and Tom’s plans brought, Robert reflected on his amazingly good fortune and questioned what he did to deserve such a charmed life. His mother, the Dowager, pointed out that “we don’t always get our just deserts” as Matthew’s car dodged a delivery truck and tumbled down a ravine, forever altering the fabric of a life he was meant to be a part of, a life he only knew due to the tragic loss of the previous Downton heir almost a decade earlier. His death casts a pall over the highly anticipated birth of his child and denies his wife the great love story they were cast in: After years of just missing one another, their happily-ever-after ultimately lasted just over a year... and they spent a good chunk of it bickering over the estate.

In a way, Downton Abbey Season 3 was a microcosm of the 1920s played out over a single year. The Crawleys had their rough patches, but they triumphed, and then it seemed as though there was no end to the family's good fortune... until there was, with one sudden and devastating crash.


What did you think of this episode? And the season as a whole?



NOTES


– Dowager Countess Sass of the Night: On Tom’s estate-sitting duties, “I don’t want the freedom to go to his head.” Poor Tom.

– “We’ve done our duty. Downton is saved.” Oh Mary, it’s a baby, not a business transaction.

– I can’t say that Thomas cleans up nicely, seeing as his work clothes are actually swankier than his play clothes, but damn. That. HAT.

– Thoughts on Rose moving in?

– What do you think we should expect in Season 4? For Mary? For Tom? For the estate?

– What do you HOPE to see in Season 4?

Comments (60)
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Cheap, cheap cheap. Actors want to move on, writers want to keep milking the story for all it's worth. Why not just gracefully end the series instead of bleeding the story to death, drop by drop. Fellowes had the opportunity to make a tidy ending. Three seasons of excellent television is very respectable. Dragging us along with recycled story lines and sudden deaths that reveal the man behind the curtain for the sake of profit, with no end in sight (Maggie Smith next?)----rather insulting to the audience, no?
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I Hate Matthew dying!!!!!!
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When does season 4 start?
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maggie smith has been talking to her friends about leaving downton abbey-another dreadful sadness-i don't know how they will pull this off-every one is dead,fellows has also plans to write a new upstairs plot in america and vacate the sinking ship-er castle.
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It was stated in her 60 minutes interview just last week that she had already signed for season 4, which is already filming...
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Julian Fellowes- has gone mad -killing Matthew - however I will watch Downton until the last breath leaves the Dowagers body !!
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I won't. I'm done with Fellowes!
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Of course I didn't want Matthew to die. Of course it was shocking and sad. But truthfully, I think Fellowes was brilliant to do it. It's got his fans all up in arms and chatting about it. That's drama. That's good story telling. And I look forward to seeing how it affects Mary. I have a feeling she's not going to become sweeter for this loss. Great season for sure!
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I hope that Rose shakes things up a bit without becoming the annoying mistakes prone ahead of her time young lady. Gonna miss Matthew!
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Edith better not be thinking about having kids now! She'll kill off half the family!!
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In an American made soap opera ( for this is what Downton is ) Matthew would not have died...he would have had his face mangled to an unrecognizeable countenance, his voice box damaged...and a new actor would have taken over. We like to resurrect them over here!
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I can't believe that you Brits still think that the only way to make good drama is to go all Shakespearean and have the hero die! Matthew was so interesting and the relationship with Mary had gone through so much that we crave a happy life for them for awhile. We Americans like happier endings and therefor I will no longer watch what had been my favorite show. You should have offered the actor more money to stay and stop blaming Mr Stevens for your lack of imagination.
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Not much to say about Matthew, besides that bad actor decisions make bad storylines. Actually, scratch that - this was lazy writing. So you kill Matthew, fine. My issue is with the hurry-up baby (seriously, Sybil was preggo FOREVER, Mary, 45 minutes). No baby (or worse, a GIRL baby) would have forced the show to find another heir. That gives you a chance to do Downton Reboot. Find the next distant cousin, his wacky mother and whatever other baggage you can dream up. Figure out how he works in with the Widow Mary and Spinster Edith. Challenge yourselves to undo everything you've done and start anew.

That is the way you inject new life into a series where you've basically killed off or aged all your major characters to the point that they are no longer interesting. But no, instead we have a conveniently conceived boy baby and Cousin Oliver, err, oops, i mean, Rose.

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Funny stuff....
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Whine, whine, wine? Seriously folks, what's wrong with some serious high brow soapiness? Two things: First, in the early 20th century, up to the point where women routinely gave birth in hospitals, quite a few women died in childbirth or shortly thereafter, and some of them were even aristocrats (good bye Lady Sybil). Second, automobiles were extremely dangerous conveyances in the early 20th century because of (duh) road conditions. Matthew was done in as much by his middle class sense of I can do it myself, as anything. If there was any time to use a driver it is certainly when one is in the head space of being a new father especially to a long awaited male heir.

As I have posted in other places, I am actually intrigued by the possibilities of a widowed Lady Mary. Will she scheme to protect her son's birthright by actively promoting what she believes her late husband would have wanted for the estate and defy the wishes of her father Lord Fuddyduddy, I meant Grantham? Will Edith find herself in an extremely compromised position and need to go to Italy or the south of France for an extended visit?

I am thoroughly delighted by Rose and the plot boiling opportunities she could provide and the witticism to be inspired by Lady Violet.

In 7 weeks Fellowes and company gave us a Russian novel's worth of social and cultural observations. Bravo Company
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I think the very heavy-handed conversation between Robert and Cora about Matthew's changes saving Downton (in the face of Shrimpie losing Doneagal) was the big flashing neon sign that Mary will not have to fight her father to maintain the modernization.
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so people aren't allowed to mourn over the death of these beloved characters? don't be so nasty. people are just sad.
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I can't blame Jullian Fellowes for killing off Sybil and Matthew. Both actors wanted to leave (Who knows why considering this show was going to make them famous) and replacements just wouldn't work. That's a device better left to US daytime soaps.
I wonder what he has in store for us in Season 4? I've read that Anna Smith, the actress that plays the Dowager Countess might want to work less next year. She's up in years and has not been well lately.
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She revealed on 60 minutes that she doesn't watch it. Not sure if that's all her work or just Downton Abbey, as I missed a bit of the interview..
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Her name is Maggie Smith and she said that she won't watch the show until it is over because she is too critical of herself.
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Downton Abby, you are the new Danielle Steele. You may have lost me forever. Before I understood much about her books in high school I read a few Danielle Steele novels. At first they seemed like harmless fluff, but part way through the 3rd one I decided to never read another word Steele wrote again. Every time anyone was loved by the main character, they got taken out. Good drama is one thing, reader/viewer abuse is another. This season sucked.
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I agree, Thomas keeps coming back up like a bad case of indigestion. Season 1 was my favourite, as the plot lines had more intrigue. Something bigger and more important has to happen in season 4 to keep my interest. But I'll keep watching if only for the talents of Maggie Smith.
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too much tragedy and soapy drama
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Here we go again. They sack a maid for being stalkerish, but she never snuck inside his room to caress him in his sleep like a certain THOMAS. Jeez. Just 'cause he's gay doesn't make him a SAINT. Sack HIM.
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Thank goodness I'm not the only one who can't manage to get over the Thomas issue enough to be sad over Matthew. Two semi-orphaned babies is believable; an openly gay servant is not. We went from "please Jimmy, let us give him a reference" to "come on Jimmy, can't you be nice to him?" Sorry, I just can't.
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I think this episode would probably have been better as a season 4 premiere. I kind of knew Stevens was leaving from reading news about it some while back, but I wasn't sure, as I couldn't exactly remember if it was him I read about or some other actor. His death came as no real surprise or shock, so it made the episode a little disappointing unlike Sybil's death where I knew nothing about the actress leaving.

Where was the Christmas in this?

Daisy and the new kitchen girl became friends? What happened to the jealousy thing over James and/or the other guy?

It took a year for Barrow and James to kiss and make up?

Is it me, or did Mary's baby look a little like Carson?

It's funny that a year goes by and nothing really happens until we watch. Maybe if they cancel the show, everyone will live happily ever after with personal issues getting resolved sooner and we won't be responsible for killing everyone off.

I'm not sure I like the superficiality of this series, as there are things that are developed and then seemingly dropped and forgotten about to move on to other plot ideas instead of being used a underlying fuel for deeper stories. The Dowager getting the doctor to lie about Sybil's death to make everyone happy, for instance, instead of using that to possibly have come out later involving those characters and deepening their relationships with each other for good or ill. Could you imagine that coming out if the doctor did get into a relationship with Isobel and he let that slip to her at some point?
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I think you are right that this would have worked much better as the start of S4 instead of the end of S3. Then the show could have pushed forward into other things that make us love the series. Instead it just ends the season on this note and leaves people grumpy.

Unfortunately PBS / Masterpiece Theatre's hands were pretty tied. They were already totally losing the war against spoilers (thanks for nothing TV guide). If they delayed the episode for another 9 months then everyone in the world would know that Matthew was going to die.
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I don't think Clarkson was lying. At first his feathers were all ruffled because he was over-ruled, but the Dowager persuaded him to really think about whether Sybil would have really had much of a chance to survive if they had done things his way, and he admitted that she probably still would have died.
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He was still adamant about getting her to the hospital while the other one was saying all would be fine. I believe he knew deep down she had a chance, if they had listened and trusted his as they have in previous years. He was doing it on her behalf to save their marriage and "what's done is done" and all that, but all of it seemed too swept under the rug, so to speak, to move on to other plot lines and such. He may have also convinced himself of the lie to absolve himself of possible guilt for not doing more and/or not being able to accept Sybil's fate any other way.

In some of our shows (the better ones anyway), it's possible something like that could come back to rear its ugly head causing further issues and complications among the characters. On Downton, it's sort of glossed over. The show is good for simple, breezy storytelling with characters you come to care about, but don't expect any great depth. Then again, you don't have to get lost in convoluted storylines like some shows either.
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Whatever happened to finding a new actor to play a part when the old actor wishes to leave a show? I totally love Dan Stevens, but I would have preferred learning to love a different Matthew than losing him like this! Now we have to see Miserable Mary for who knows how long? I like Mary and I don't want her to be miserable. Anybody see Mary and Tom eventually getting together? Seems like it didn't take much of a relationship to end in a marriage proposal back then, ie. Mrs. Patmore and her new guy, Lady Crawley and the doc, and pretty much Edith and her editor.
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I study film in UK and we were doing period dramas this semester , and had to write an essay about it.. chose downton abbey cause I've heard (never watched before) that it was really good! I liked it so much, finished the entire series (so far) in 2 days ...can't wait for September
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I think that the series finale should be a huge meteor hitting downton and just killing everybody with explosions from space.
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Yes, without Matthew, this is the only solution that makes sense.
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I read the whole of opinions below. I think you all have about covered it. Except one detail: Mathew was becoming more and more a wuss.If he had professed his love one more time to that chilled CPA/wife Mary I was gonna die. Instead he did.
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hahaha. I couldn't agree more. I think Mary is a total you know what, I mean, after all her good fortune, she still had to keep Edith pushed down.
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What do I hope to see in Season 4? NOTHING, as I will not watch this show again. I've had it with being jerked around, and I'm going to spare myself the misery of watching Carson or Bates or Anna (or all three at once) get killed. Hey, Dan Stevens, I hope you tank.
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I think if any more young actors leave the show it will be easier to ship their characters off to Mrs. Levinson in New York than to kill them off. Remember Miss Elizabeth in Upstairs Downstairs? Maybe you're too young.
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I hope the Isobel/Dr. Clarkson story isn't completely dead. I kind of felt like Isobel didn't really realize what was going on regarding his feelings, so I hope they'll do more with her figuring it out.

I'm happy about Rose coming in. I think she's kind of like a new Sybil. Definitely not as awesome as the old Sybil, but she'll inject some new life here.

I felt, knowing the rumours, that the Matthew plot was a bit heavily foreshadowed in this episode. There were just too many comments about how important he was and how the family wouldn't survive without him. I do have to say, I'm really glad that while they killed him at least they ensured the future of Downton first. I did not want to embark on another "who is going to be the heir now" plot line.
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WHY Downton Abbey, WHY??? I give you my heart and you just stomp all over it? How dare you make me feel real feelings for pretend people and then pretend kill them like that??? You know what, I'm not even upset, I'm just disappointed. And also super angry. A-holes.

OK, pretending the last 60 seconds of the show didn't even happen. Thomas sure dirties up nicely! He was, dare I say, kinda heroic this episode!! And Jimmy is still an idiot. He def owes Thomas a gratitude kiss. I'm glad Anna and Bates are back to being adorbs together, I'm pretending the prison thing never happened. Moseley was positively cringe-inducing, as usual. And Tom and Sybil sure made a cu-YUTE baby together! That's what happens when you stop marrying your cousins: cute kids! I bet Mary and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's kid will be an uggo. Nice legacy you left, guy. Recessive genes.
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All I could think when Lady Crawley and Dr. Clarkson were speaking was, "Oh dear, permanently friend zoned." A shame because I kind of liked the idea of them getting together once it was presented as a possibility.

Not a fan of Rose moving in. Feels like they're just trying to create some drama with her wild ways but there is already lots to work with. On the other hand, depending on how she's written and how they move ahead, it could work as an overarching metaphor for old vs. new, which I think is what they were setting up a bit when they were at the manor.
(I almost booked a ticket to Scotland right then and there when they started showing scenery shots. Sigh.)

Random aside: Was anyone else puzzled as to why Thomas was able to take part in the tug-of-war? Isn't his hand totally damaged from the war? He still wears that fingerless glove thing....

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I think he still wears the glove more because of the scar than any lasting damage. It's an ugly scar, if memory serves
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Ah, thanks. I noticed he wasn't wearing it later too, so I did wonder.
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Let's all pretend that we're surprised Matthew died at the end of the Christmas Special (Those of us who spend way too much time on Twitter at least) ...
So Dan Stevens wanted to leave, Fellowes killed him ; the actress who played Sybill wanted to leave, Fellowes killed her... Guess in Fellowes' world, it would have been too difficult to write a decent end to the characters ...
To be honest, I didn't like the 3rd season of Downton Abbey. I really really liked the first, I liked the second... I found the 3rd boring, except for certain plots : Edith's story, Thomas' ... Anna and Bates' was boring (the time he spent in jail at least, after that, it was allright), as was the "saving Downton arc". I did not care for the new aristocratic family introduced during the Christmas Special but I loved the "Downstairs story" during the episode.
I don't know if I will watch the 4th season : I'd like to see more of Edith and her editor, I'd like to see Thomas have a boyfriend. I think I'll watch it grading essays ...
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A fabulous final episode - very full. Great writing. Disclosure - I read a spoiler so the utter shock and heart break I felt with Sybil''s death was not experienced this time around. However, when I read the spoiler I was flabbergasted; really set back a bit. At the same time, I was following the series Monarch of the Glen, in which Mr. Fellowes himself was an actor, and was utterly disgusted by the departure of the main character of that show as well. (At least they didn't kill him off, he just moved to another country and his wife followed, which meant she left the show as well). After these two experiences of disappointment, I vowed to never become emotionally involved with the characters again, no matter how elegant. I am now a detached viewer, enjoying the process, the writing, the peripherals. Time to grow up and accept these are actors with their own agendas. Thanks for the good times Dan Stevens - you were great. Now, on to the still good writing and story development and new characters- we hope. After all, Monarch of the Glen never recovered. PS my money is on Branson marrying Rose.
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After killing off two major characters this season (and two of the more likeable ones) I can't be bothered to keep watching. I didn't even bother watching the whole Christmas Special. The next series is just going to be so steeped in grief and drama that it just sounds more like work to watch than enjoyable, and Fellowes would've been wise to re-consider killing off Sybil if he knew Stevens was leaving.

When it comes down to it, the stories I watch on TV have to be a mixture of happy and sad, but with geniune promise in them (i.e. yes the person died but things will get better). Dowton Abbey no longer has promise...its just a bunch of memories of dead/grieving people and a dying estate. If I want bad/sad stories all the time I'll just watch the 6 o'clock news.
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The reason both characters were killed off is that both actors wanted to leave the show. Theoretically the characters could have left the county or ran off or something, but that really holds the story and their paired characters (Branson and Mary) hostage. The actors wanted to leave and the show needed to move on from them. It's a shame, but you have to move the story along.
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Killing off Sybil made sense in so far as it gave Tom the chance to have an interesting story with great character development and it Cora and Robert a good storyline as well.

I agree that Mathew's death has left me uninterested in season 4. What stories are left to tell? Rose being wild (I don't care). Mary being fickle about men (we've seen that before, and I don't care). Alfred becoming a cook (yawn) and blah blah blah Edith....

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I think it may have been OK to kill Matthew off as Dan Stevens was leaving, but I was totally taken out of the story while it was happening - I was having flashbacks to the end City of Angels while he's driving around staring off into space. And even when he got in the car and started going what was obviously too fast - you knew he was going to crash and die, and it's just too melodramatic - I can't suspend my disbelief for that melodramatically woeful of twist, it's such barefaced emotional manipulation - which the whole season of course is, but I felt this was an abuse of power. Also, apparently babies like cosmically fatal in Downtownverse. Apparently. I would have rather he died on a business trip or somesuch, ideally a bit after the baby is born, possibly off-camera at the beginning of season 4 or something, so it's not as ridiculously pathetic as this was.
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I was thinking of City of Angels as well. I knew that character was doomed as soon as she said, "We have our whole lives together..." The death knell of any character on tv/movie.
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I would have rather the ended D.A. at season 3, with everyone happy thank kill Matthew and do a season 4. I truly love the series, I have all seasons on DVD and I have re-watched them many times, but honestly they should have put a few more episodes in season 3, wrapped up Barrow and Alfred and Miss O'Brien a bit better and ended it there...
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I thought the Dowager Sass of the Night was going to be her response to Roberts "They say there's a wild man inside all of us" "If only it had stayed inside."

This was the one episode I hadn't watched online so I'm still reeling from the ending. I was so busy thinking that something was going to happen to Mary or the baby (I kept thinking miscarriage) that I didn't see Mathew dying until he was in the car and I thought "Slow down buddy, that's way too fast for a dirt road". Way too much death for one family.
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Great review.
I only need to add: I hate you Dan Stevens.
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I think all the comments here and on Twitter about Matthew being alive are kinda funny. It's interesting how, even in a fictional character's death, people go through the Five Stages of Grief. Most seem to still be on that first stage: Denial. But alas, poor Matthew is dead. Dan Stevens killed him. Season 4 is already in production and Mary is moving on. RIP Matthew.
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I don't care if Dan Stevens' said he's left, I'm not accepting that Matthew's dead just yet, it IS a cliffhanger after all!

I really liked season 3, it fixed a lot of the silly elements that crept in during season 2. I think season 1 is still my favourite though.
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The decision of killing Matthew was the consequence of the decision of Dan Stevens of not coming back even of sporadic appearances. Sending the character in US or something like that would have meant to freeze Mary's character too, by make her play a sort of white widow for the endless wait of her husband's comeback or giving her unpleasant storylines of cheating and such.
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Season 3 of Downton Abbey was good, but I think I prefered the second one.

1. The loss of Sybil and Matthew.

Sybil was my favorite character (Mary is the second one - yes, they are people who actually like her). She was bright, full of life and independent (remember how she was a nurse during the Great War?). I will miss her. I suspect Rose is supposed to fill the void left by Sybil's departure - we'll see if she manages to do it.

As for Matthew - he was nice to look upon. Damn you Dan Stevens for leaving Mary (and me)

2. Tom - I expected season 3 would focus on Irish Civil War in the same manner as season 2 was about the Great War. No luck so far. I hope Tom returns to Ireland in season 4 to kill few of his kinfolk.

3. I'm glad Bates and Anna are together again. I think Anna will get pregnant in season 4. Fingers crossed.

4. I still can't understand why everyone forgave Thomas. Is he supposed to be a good guy now?

5. I don't like the idea of Edith being in relationship with a married guy. Split them up writers.

Great review, MaryAnn - thanks!
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I believe the more appropriate comment for Matthew would be "apparent" death. You may not remember, but the "Who Shot J.R.?" episode of Dallas made many believe that the old boy was dead, too. Mark my words...Matthew will have a "miraculous" resurrection! :)
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This season was the best so far. You'd think the WW1 season would be the most devastating but season 3 blows it out of the water (mind the pun). I was gushing tears when Sybil died, and in a state of shock when Matthew crashed.
In the last episode I actually thought Toms storyline very deep. I think he's been in a state of shock himself ever since Sybil died and is only now starting to process his grief and see a light at the end of the tunnel. Loved the scene with Tom and Mrs. Hughes.

It seems Downton Abbey hates anyone who is genuinely an all-round decent human being. The only way to survive it seems, is to have some kind of dark character flaw.
OH NO Anna better watch out, with this trend she'll be next.
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ahh, not Anna!
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