It seems to me that viewers may have preferred another actor to step in and take Dan Stevens place rather than kill him off. It wouldn't be that hard to accept. Killing him off at the same time he had a newborn infant seems insensitive to the plight of women who loose their husbands with babies or young children whether by accidents, combat, illness or other causes. My brother got killed when his son was an infant (in an auto accident). He also had 2 young daughters. His death devastated our family. It devastated my sister-in-law for years and significantly effected how she coped with single parenting and the raising of those children. His death still shadows our lives. Is Fellowes' going to imagine that the majority of Mary's grief will abate in 6 months? I hope he does some research regarding this issue from both the mother's point of view and the children's. At least he had Branson still grieving for Sybil one year later. But Branson has a lot of help. In the fictitious Downton Abbey household, many people are there to help care for the baby, but it's not like that for most women without living fathers for their children. Surely, it's not much easier for men who have lost their children's mother. For me Fellowes' fiction in this season was just too close to a painful reality to have been enjoyable entertainment as it was in Season I and II. Not sure I can bear to watch Season IV.
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