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Downton Abbey: Season 3, Episode 7: We love to be in love

Amie Simon writes: It’s here! The Downton Abbey season three finale! (Already? Bummer.) This week’s 2-hour episode wraps up the season with love blooming in some very unlikely places, lots of hilarity, drunkenness, joy, and … an unexpected shocker. Here are the highlights—and season 4 cannot come soon enough!

We open on Downton one year later from the previous episode. The servants are busy packing up the Crawleys for their departure to Duneagle in Scotland—the residence of Lord and Lady Flintshire, aka precocious Rose’s parents (remember her scandalous antics in London?), and Robert’s cousins. O’Brien, Bates, Anna, and Molesley are in tow to help the Duneagle staff deal with all their extra guests.

Bates exclaims that this is “the high spot of his lordship’s calendar.” The family has gone every year … except during the war, and last year, after Lady Sybil’s death. (SOB!) We also see that Mr. Barrow seems to have settled into his under butler position quite well—his bossy demeanor is back.

Cut to Matthew and Mary’s bedroom, and … Lady Mary is finally pregnant! YAY! Matthew offers to go to Scotland alone, but Mary counters with news that “…it isn’t 1850!” and that she’s perfectly capable of moving around, even while she’s carrying their baby.

At breakfast, Edith takes a phone call from “the editor,” who will coincidentally be near Duneagle and wants to pop by to meet the family. That seems rather presumptuous, doesn’t it? Both Robert’s and Lady Mary’s eyebrows certainly think so.

The only family member living at Downton who’s NOT going to Scotland is Branson, but he honestly looks rather relieved. The Dowager seems concerned about Tom staying home unsupervised, but Isobel (who’s also not going) assures Violet she will keep an eye on Tom while they’re away.

Once the Crawleys are away, Alfred and Jimmy ask Carson the most impertinent question ever, which is whether they’ll have time off while the family is gone. Carson counters with, “I don’t understand. Has someone forgotten to pay your wages?” While Carson continues by explaining the boys will spend their time cleaning each piece of silver in the house, Mrs. Hughes shuts the giggling maids up by telling them they’ll be working just as hard cleaning all the rooms. Sorry, ladies!

New housemaid Edna seems a little extra snoopy … especially about Branson and his former chauffer status. Mrs. Hughes finds her poking around Tom’s room, paying particular attention to Lady Sybil’s apparently mind-boggling choice to marry beneath her station.

Over tea, Isobel and Dr. Clarkson discuss his worry over Mary going away (understandable after what happened to our bright spirit, Sybil). And a lonely Isobel invites him over to supper the next night. Whoa, whoa, whoa. Hold up a minute. Is romance in the air?

And then …. uh-oh. Edna appears to be after more than just information about Branson! She sneaks into the dining room to retrieve Tom’s dishes, and starts being a little more familiar than a maid should be, smiling in a particularly predatory way when he asks for her name.

Over in Scotland, Lord Flintshire (Hugh, aka “Shrimpy”), Lady Flintshire (Susan), and Rose welcome everyone to Duneagle, which totally looks like a fairytale princess castle. It’s huge! And there are turrets! All seem overjoyed to see each other, especially Rose, who is now enamored of Matthew after he rescued her in London (and didn’t spill to the details to her mama).  

Back in England, a strange deliveryman named Mr. Tufton arrives in the Downton kitchen to see Mrs. Patmore. Thomas is being very cocky and sure now that he’s in charge, but I can’t lie; I like seeing a bit of his old self shine through. Ivy & Daisy (who now appear to be BFFs) giggle over Tufton flirting outrageously with Mrs. Patmore. As Patmore shooed him away with a, “Be off with you, you cheeky devil!”, I laughed so hard I nearly passed out.  

Here’s where I need a “1900s servants for dummies” cheat sheet: The Duneagle butler, Mr. McCree, calls Bates and O’Brien Mr. and Mrs. Grantham!?!?! And also calls Anna Ms. Crawley. WHAT THE HECK. He seems to know Anna is married to Bates, but … I don’t know. I guess it’s his way of further dividing the classes. Like, you don’t even get your own name!

The MacClares sure know how to welcome their guests in the authentic Scottish tradition: with a blaringly loud bagpiper at dinner. The Dowager looks less than thrilled about the commotion, and Matthew makes a classic Matthew face. Only Robert seems impressed by the tradition. “How marvelous!” he exclaims. But he doesn’t exactly feel that way early the next morning when the bagpiper starts up again.

Diversion plans at the castle including shooting for the men, and picnics and a grand ball for the women. Which prompts Edith to bring up her editor by saying, “a friend is staying nearby.” Hold up here a second, is Edith having an affair despite her resolve to not become entangled in Mr. Gregson’s tragedy? What kind of example will this set for Rose?

Regardless (and despite Robert’s protests), the MacClares invite Mr. Gregson to come for dinner and stay with them for a short visit. A bit of tension rises between Lord and Lady Flintshire over the offer. Hmm … glimpses of a bigger issue?

Mr. Barrow and Alfred discuss actually leaving the house to run some errands, but Carson is unconvinced this is necessary, until Mrs. Hughes informs him that Branson will be having his lunch at the local pub and won’t need service—a piece of information Edna seems very interested in.

Isobel has tea with Branson, and brings up the possibility of him visiting with the servants while the Granthams are away. When he objects, she reminds him since he has a position now as agent of the estate, and he can talk to anyone he pleases. Does this mean Branson is going to make a move on the new maid? INTERESTING.

Shooting practice ensues with Matthew and the boys, where Robert gets the lowdown on Lord Flintshire’s new “post,” which will be somewhere far away from Duneagle. He also gets a bit more information on Rose’s strained relationship with her mother. It doesn’t sound good, but what can you expect it to be like with a headstrong teenager and a frayed, unhappy mother?

In the drawing room, Mary pulls out her highborn snobbery and scolds Edith for inviting Mr. Gregson to Duneagle. I know everyone hates Mary when she’s like this, but it just proves to me that Matthew is truly the only person who can bring out the best in her. Plus, it would be pretty unnatural if she was suddenly supportive of Edith, wouldn’t it?

In town, Branson arrives at the pub to find Edna waiting for him! Oh, she’s a crafty one, isn’t she? He tries to play it off as coincidence, but she sets him straight by telling him that she knew he was going to be there—and then launches right into questioning him about his life, and trying to make him ashamed for acting above the servants. WHAT is this woman up to, exactly?

Alfred, Jimmy, and Mr. Barrow arrive at Tufton’s spice store, and he tells them about a fair taking place in town in a few days, and they should all come. He also slyly slips a note into the spice package for Mrs. Patmore. (tee hee) 

Cue Carson’s outage when they ask to go: “I can’t let them go gallivanting off to every fair at the drop of a hat!” Geez, Carson! He gets even grimmer when Mrs. Patmore asks for the afternoon off to go to the fair too. Patmore then talks Hughes into coming along as well, and suggests that Carson could go too. HA! That’ll be the day.

Gregson arrives at the castle to meet the family, where Mary continues her snotty remarks, and The Dowager gives him the once over. Robert tries to put down Edith’s writing ability, but Gregson deftly stands up for her—which seems to impress Lord Grantham. That, or stun him. Who knows?

The growing tension between Lady Flintshire and Rose prompts Cora to talk with The Dowager about how difficult raising a modern daughter can be … and causes her to start tearing up while remembering Sybil. (sniff)

Edna is wasting no time moving in on Branson, even going so far as to take his baby girl back up to her nursery. OH, IS THAT YOUR JOB NOW? Then she pokes Tom some more by asking him why he’s ashamed of his past. Lady, leave him alone. Seriously.

Anna and Bates discuss romantic plans for the next day—a picnic by the river! And stumble upon young Rose smoking (!!!) and crying over her mother’s attitude. They try to cheer her up, but of course mom overhears and demands she go back inside immediately.

Crawley House is alive with after-dinner drinks and conversation between Dr. Clarkson and Isobel. It’s clear that Clarkson is getting attached, but Isobel seems to be completely and totally OBLIVIOUS.

Edith confronts Gregson about his intentions, and he admits that he’s there to win her family over so they’ll be “on his side,” and then declares he’s in love with her! So I guess she’s not having a affair … quite yet, anyway. Oh dear Edith, you sure know how to pick ‘em.

Mary and Matthew snuggle in bed, where our Lady admits that’s she kind of a pill, and that Matthew is the only one who thinks she’s lovely. Fellowes sure seems to be spending a lot of time on these two and their mutual adoration, isn’t he?

High on attention from her new beau, Mrs. Patmore convinces a reluctant Daisy to come along with the rest of them to the fair, and Thomas offers to buy everyone a pop (which of course Jimmy declines). Then she asks Mrs. Hughes for fashion advice, pulling a pink bow-adorned blouse out of a shiny new box! Pink! This is a side of Patmore we haven’t seen before, and it makes me smile. 

Rose finds Anna and thanks her for giving her a chin up, and asks if she can return the favor. Anna says there is something she can help her with! Ooh, a mystery.

Anna and Bates have a picnic near the stream with beer! Which is, as Bates says, “Racy.” Anna seems positively giddy about something, and Bates tries to get information out of her, but she’s not giving up her secret.

Lord Grantham and Flintshire’s hunting party is a success, with them bagging a large buck. But when Robert inquires about the state of Hugh and Susan’s marriage, his lordship admits that things have gone so far south he’s convinced it can’t be saved.

Ms. Wilkens (Lady Flintshire’s maid) fetches O’Brien and asks her to see to Susan’s hair. It seems she’s envious of Cora’s hairdo and wants O’Brien to teach Wilkens how to make it look the same. I’m not sure why her lady would ask O’Brien since her bangs looks positively antennae-like in this episode, but she does and it causes Wilkens to seethe with jealousy.

Dr. Clarkson stops by Crawley House and nervously asks Isobel to accompany him to the fair. Again, Isobel seems to be clueless about Clarkson’s intentions. Is she acting like she doesn’t know? Or just not interested? Has she never been courted before? I NEED TO KNOW.

To Hughes’ and Carson’s dismay, Branson joins the servants for dinner, and Edna boldly asks Tom to come to the fair with them and drive everyone there. He says yes, but asks who will stay at the house—to which Carson replies that of course, he will. When asked if he’d rather be at the fair instead, Mr. Carson says, “I’d sooner chew broken glass.” Oh Carson. Why do you hate fun?

While working, Alfred asks Jimmy to go easy on Mr. Barrow at the fair—and when Jimmy points out that Alfred was the one who called the police, he’s speechless. Then Jimmy does something super scandalous! HE SITS DOWN IN ONE OF THE GRANTHAM’S CHAIRS! Alfred follows suit, and Mrs. Hughes totally catches them. These two are playing with fire.  

At the fair, Mrs. Patmore is beaming with anticipation about meeting Tufton. The boys (Alfred, Jimmy, Thomas, and Branson) team up to enter a contest of strength for cash prizes. And Edna brazenly slips her arm through Tom’s and says she’ll come cheer him on. Oh, I’m sure she will. Among other things.

Hughes and Patmore drop by Mr. Tufton’s spice stand, and red flags go up when Mrs. Hughes sees him slap his assistant on the bottom! Patmore of course, completely misses this detail. Especially when he continues to flatter them both by telling Mrs. Patmore she looks like she should be in Vogue. Oh, dear. “I love to be in love, Mrs. Hughes,” smirks Tufton. Hughes excuses herself and leaves them to the courtship, but casts a wary eye their way as she goes.

Over at the pulling contest, Jimmy takes a 10 to 1 wager that the Downton team will lose, and then at the last minute he invites Mr. Tufton to join them. Smart move, James! Your coif found a clever way to cheat. On the way into the fray, Tufton flirts with all the ladies and Hughes sees him do it. Whut-oh.

While fishing, Mr. Gregson spills the beans to Matthew about his tragic circumstances, and his love of Edith; but although Matthew understand, he tells Gregson that there’s NO WAY Robert will consent to letting his daughter become an editor’s mistress. And after Gregon pushes, Matthew says he can’t imagine himself letting Edith slide into a life of scandal, but agrees not to tell Lord Grantham the whole story and urges Gregson to say a proper goodbye to Edith at the ball.

Surprise! The Downton boys win the pulling contest! HUZZAH! And with it, quite a hefty sum of money. Jimmy and Alfred spend their prize money on booze, booze, and more booze. Which is probably going to lead to some trouble.

Daisy and Ivy head to the ring toss, but Daisy doesn’t want to spend the money, believing the games are all fixed and only for suckers. Tipsy Jimmy wanders over at the opportune moment and buys them each a try. Ivy fails, but Daisy’s aim is true and she wins a shiny gold tuppence! What a nice surprise.

Isobel and Clarkson are having a jolly time playing games and listening to music. So jolly in fact, that Clarkson pulls the trigger after a shot of punch and sort-of proposes to her, but he botches it so badly that Isobel doesn’t even realize it. Or does she? She’s so crafty; it’s really hard to tell what she’s thinking.

Patmore and Tufton sit down to lunch, and he starts telling her that taking orders from her husband (presumably himself) will be much easier than taking orders from some Lord or Lady. But Patmore rightly says, “It’s still orders, isn’t it?” So true. Don’t fall for his… charms? He’s a womanizing cad trying to snow you for your cooking skills.

And … here comes the trouble! A drunken Jimmy is attacked by the bookie who lost his money to the Downton boys. He and his beefy cohort jump Jimmy, but just before they start the beating, Thomas steps in—and gets thumped to a bloody pulp while James and his cowardly coif run away. Fortunately, Jimmy fetches Dr. Clarkson to attend to poor beaten and bloody Mr. Barrow.

Rose descends the grand Duneagle staircase in a gorgeous beaded flapper dress that shows WAY too much skin for mommy to approve. (And quote: “She looks like a slut!” Which even the Dowager thinks is a little bit too rude of an insult. ) Young Lady MacClare asks for both her father and great aunt’s support, and Hugh supports his daughter, to his wife’s dismay.

In the hallways at Downton, Carson hears baby Sybil crying and goes in to scoop her up, which is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen happen out of every episode, any season. There is simply nothing better than hearing Carson talk to a baby. “Hullo! Let’s have a chat about it.” And Mrs. Hughes would agree with me.

At the ball, Mary wants to dance but Matthew is all, nut-uh, pregnant wife. It’s okay though, Molesley is doing enough dancing for everybody. When Lady Flintshire compliments O’Brien on her hair “help,” but disses Ms. Wilkins at the same time, the peeved lady’s maid spikes O’Brien’s refreshment with straight whiskey.

Speaking of spiked beverages, Rose is downing punch like there’s no tomorrow, and even though both Cora and Violet try to assure her that her mother loves her, the girl is having none of it. The Dowager says wisely, “Oh, poor souls. It’s bad enough trying to parent a child when you like each other!”

At the ball, Ms. Wilkens delivers the whiskey-spiked punch to O’Brien who catches on quickly, and a jolly Molesley takes it from her and throws it down with one gulp. Robert tracks down Shrimpy, who’s hiding in the billiards room. He admits to Lord Grantham that his marriage is awful. Well, really, his wife is just awful. Robert reminds him that at least Hugh has Duneagle to be proud of.

But then! Shocker! Hugh admits that Duneagle is actually lost. There’s no more money—he wasted it all and laments not “modernizing” as Downton did. DOES THAT CLEAR THINGS UP FOR YOU ABOUT MATTHEW’S WISDOM, ROBERT?

As a traditional Scottish tune starts playing, Rose grabs Anna and the BIG surprise is finally revealed. Rose has been teaching Anna how to dance! And dance well. Mary seems astonished that Anna can “reel,” and Bates gazes at her lovingly as she happily bounces around on the dance floor. Awww. You guys.

After the fair, Patmore joins Mrs. Hughes in her drawing room and tells her that Tufton has asked her to marry him. “Oh dear,” says Hughes, and gives Patmore the details on his behavior at the fair. To Hughes’ surprise, Patmore disintegrates into giggles and admits she’s relieved! “The more he said about how he liked his beef roasted and his pancakes flipped, the more I wanted to get away!” Oh, Patmore. I love you.

Gregson tells Edith all about Matthew’s advice and tries to say goodbye– but she’s not having it. (This girl REALLY doesn’t know when to let go, does she?) She says she wasn’t sure how she felt about him before he tried to leave, but now she knows SHE LOVES HIM! Tragedy, gossip, and family be damned. This is going to get ugly later on, isn’t it?

And then, oh my, Molesley is DRUNK, dancing like a maniac, and woo-hoo’ing all over the ballroom. The Dowager is not pleased. Luckily, he passes out later in a chair snoring noisily. Always good for comic relief, that Molesley.

As a shirtless Branson gets ready for bed, Edna busts into his room, leans in super close to kiss him, and asks him to meet her for lunch the next day. What a hussy! So, is she just ambitious? Or truly in love with him? I’m betting on the former.

The ball continues, and everyone gets in on the act, even crabby old Susan MacClare. But oh no! Mary looks overly tired after a few spins and goes to sit down. I AM SO WORRIED ABOUT HER! She says she’s going to leave for home the next morning, but insists Matthew and the family stay on.

In preparation of Lady Mary and Anna returning to Downton, Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson tell Edna to clean up her room, and she’s gets all “What do you mean? I’m meeting Tom Branson for lunch in the village.” DUHN DUN DUNNNNNN. Oh, Edna. You just lost your job, honey. Fingers crossed she hasn’t ensnared Branson’s heart.

Lady Flintshire comes into Cora’s room the next morning to talk about Rose, and asks that her daughter be allowed to stay at Downton with the Crawleys while the MacClares move to their new post … in India. She finally sees that she and Rose need some breathing room, and that Rose will do better with a change of scenery. Aw, she does love her daughter!

Hughes confronts Branson about Edna, and tells him that she’s going to have to be let go. He claims he didn’t encourage her, but Hughes rightly says, “Maybe, but you didn’t discourage her either.” So true, Hughes! Then she tells him that no one should make him feel ashamed of his new life, and that Lady Sybil would be proud.

“I can’t bear to be without her.” Tom says as he breaks down, with Hughes taking his hand. Then she says the best, most heartbreaking thing ever: “You must bear it. And one day, I hope, and so would she, you’ll find someone to bear it with you. But until then, be your own master.”

Lady Mary gets off the train and looks troubled. Oh no! Not again! She tells Anna that the labor pains have begun, and she needs to head straight to the hospital. Matthew is told the news at Duneagle and immediately rushes back to be at her side.

Carson sends the servants into even more of a panic by riling them up with the news, just as Mrs. Hughes gives Edna the heave-ho. Edna protests, saying she’s as good as Mr. Branson, and claiming they did nothing improper. I am NOT buying that, at all. Whatever, Edna.

As Robert and Cora get organized to head home and make sure Mary and her baby are okay, Robert finally comes around on the whole “Matthew saved Downton” issue, realizes how lucky he is to have Cora, and gives her a big, thankful smooch. And with that, the Crawleys leave for Downton, with an ecstatic Rose wishing them luck and saying she’ll see them soon.

When they arrive back home, Anna and Carson talk about their own worries over Mary. EVERYONE IS SO WORRIED! And can we blame them? No. No, we can’t. Damn you, Fellowes! You better not do anything terrible.

In the hospital, Clarkson thanks Isobel for saving him from making himself a total fool, although Isobel still appears to have no idea what the heck he’s talking about. Anyway, she assures Mary that everything will fine—the baby will be a little early, but it’s nothing they can’t handle.

Jimmy stops in to see poor, mangled Thomas, and tells him, “You were brave, Mr. Barrow. Very brave.” Yeah, since you ran off and left him there, you jerk. When Jimmy pushes Thomas to tell him why he was following him, Thomas says, “You know why.” Uunnnngh. MORE excruciating heartbreak! But surprise, Jimmy asks if they can just be friends (and that’s all). It’s sweet, I mean, if Thomas wants to spend the rest of his life in a relationship with unrequited feelings. Poor Thomas! I wanna hug you so badly.

Lady Crawley calls Downton from the hospital to inform everyone that the baby and Mary are both fine. But of course, Carson hasn’t asked what the sex of the baby is. Oh, men!

Matthew finally arrives to greet his new baby … boy! His son and heir! Aw, shucks. So many happy tears. Matthew tells Mary that she’s going to be a wonderful mother, because she’s such a wonderful woman. The point is hammered in again that he’s the only one who sees Lady Mary’s good, loving side: “You’ll be my Mary always, because mine is the true Mary. I fall more in love with you every day that passes.” Oh, my. I think I just fainted over here.

Everyone is so relieved! It’s a happy time at Downton, and there are smiles all around, especially from Matthew, who is racing home in his fancy sports car with the top down. Hey … wait a minute. Why do I have an ominous feeling? Oh, it’s because they keep showing him speeding along, and OH MY GOD THERE IS A TRUCK COMING THE OTHER DIRECTION!

Matthew crashes head-on into the truck, and shots of his mangled body are juxtaposed with Mary and the baby in the hospital. ARE YOU KIDDING ME, FELLOWES? ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME??? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! How could you?

I hate him so much for building us all up with a bunch of happy moments in the Downton universe, and then smacking us upside the head with this out-of-nowhere tragedy. But of course, at the same time, I can’t wait to see what he does next season.

I definitely need a very, very stiff drink (or three) after that one. How about you?

Season 3 finale highlights

Best line from Dowager Countess:

“I know he’s housebroken … more or less. But I don’t want freedom to go to his head.” Re: leaving Branson at Downton by himself.

Most scandalous moment:

Edna throwing herself at Branson with absolutely no decorum.

Most romantic scene:

Bates watching Anna dance and declaring, “Yes. She is marvelous.” (Excuse me, I’ve got something in my eye.)

Most ridiculous bit of soapy melodrama:

Even though there were definitely sweet, the moments between Matthew & Mary seemed a little bit much after awhile. Of course, now we KNOW why there were so many loving declarations.

Most devastating betrayal:

Fellowes, killing Matthew at the end of this episode. UNFORGIVABLE!

New characters:

Edna Braithwaite: A new housemaid, intent on gossip … and also intent on catching Tom’s eye.

Joss Tufton: A cheeky spice purveyor who’s set on wooing Mrs. Patmore.

Hugh MacClare (Marquess of Flintshire, aka“Shrimpy”): Cousin-in-law to Robert and Lord of Duneagle Castle.

Susan MacClare (Marchioness of Flintshire): Cousin of Robert, frustrated mother to Rose, and unhappy wife of Hugh.


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At least we didn't have to watch this on Christmas Day, like the people in England did.


Ouch. Ouch. Ouch! That HURTS!
Feel like you've been punched in the stomach? That's because you have been. Along with the story and the characters too.

We love Matthew, and we don't want him to die. We love the other characters, and this death will be horrible for them too. But not only that. it doesn't feel right; it's hard to believe. It not only hurts, it's wrong.


Why is this so hard to believe?
After all, death happens, and sometimes out of the blue. it's always in character, isn't it?

Well, yes -- no arguing with that. But then why do we feel so upset, and so set up?

Because the whole season has been like this. Too abrupt, too set up for a later purpose, too manipulated to fit a plot. Which is not the same as the story. The characters aren't going in any of the hundred directions they could, as good complicated personalities, go -- they're going in ways they WOULDN'T go.

We've seen Lord Grantham's character change from someone who tries to be kind, fair, and reasonable, into someone who makes rude remarks about a guest at his table, flinches visibly when asked to be photographed with a priest, and orders his wife and daughters out of his mother-in-law's house. Not to mention putting the kybosh on his daughter's wedding, and worse.

Yes, some men, in that time period, in this time period, in any time period, would do these things easily. But not this particular man.

And then there's Mary. Poor Mary. From going through fire, learning compassion, learning to keep silent when it would be devastating to speak, this year she reverts to her former outspoken nastiness -- except when Matthew asks her not to. how does that work? It doesn't. Except as a horrible set up for losing him.

Mary confides that she's only half a person without Matthew. A sweet thought. It kills you to remember it -- except she's never HAD such a thought, about anyone, in her life.

The story has been forced to walk the plank at swordpoint. I'm not sure whether it's more painful to think about Matthew lying at the side of the road, or the story lying there right next to him.


No one lives forever. But they also don't have to die at the drop of a contract. When an actor leaves a show, something does need to happen but it doesn't have to be this.

So what might have happened, seeing that Dan Stevens didn't renew his contract for next year? Well, he's great, but so is every actor that's ever played Sherlock. Let someone else play him next year.

Or there's the O'Brien path. Siobhan Finneran also has not renewed: did we see an enraged Thomas lunging at her with a knife? No, for some reason she's been saved from the chop, and the way has been paved for her to emigrate along with Lady Shrimpy. Maybe Matthew goes to India too. There's the still somewhat mysterious question of Reggie Swire's other beneficiary, and we know what Matthew's like when something good's landed in his lap -- question it! Be sure it's really fair! Or maybe he's off to Canada, for the same reason, to look into a new claim by the Patrick-impersonator, or his son. Or maybe he's sick.

Or ... a hundred other possibilities, all keeping him in as part of the story. Then, in the following season, if you want to, you can bring him back -- it's not unknown for actors to change their minds after a year -- or you can write him out entirely, slowly and carefully.


The audience is an essential part of any story. The purpose of all that writing, designing and acting, is for the story to be watched. There are many precedents for the audience to feel so strongly that a story's gone wrong, that they write to say so -- and the story comes back.

It's not too late. We can't change what we've seen, but maybe, we can help change what it means. He's there, at the side of the road. If he didn't die, then what? Was he badly hurt, in a coma? Or was it a horrible nightmare, of Mary's, or Lord Grantham's? Maybe we can think of something more graceful than these ideas; whatever it might be, once it's in place, the story can continue in a way that works.

Julian Fellowes wrote this story, and it was wonderful for two years. Let's play our part as the audience: write to him, at, and tell him what we think.

This is a really well-thought out take on the episode/season! Thank you for sharing.

I have to say that even though Robert and Mary weren't amazing human beings this time around, I'm not inclined to hate on them as much as everyone else is. :)

Fellowes is a master manipulator, and a great character writer - which is why the audience gets so attached/enraged at character's leaving the narrative. Honestly if they tried to cheat Matthew's death somehow and pull a "coma" situation or whatever, I'll be as pissed as Annie Wilkes in Misery (when Paul cheats by claiming his main character hadn't died in the last book he wrote). No way, uh-huh. That guy is GONE.

I love/hate JF so much right now! Which is exactly how I feel about one of my other favorite writers, Joss Whedon -- who also kills main characters almost completely out of the blue, and not even for contract-ending reasons, most times. I am definitely excited for Season 4, to see where it goes!!!

I'm hooked, until the sobbing, heartbreaking end.

OH -- Mr. Fellowes, how could you!!!!! I could eventually forgive you for Sybil's death, but not this! This final episode of Season 3 .... after the wonderfully skilled writing and character development up to now, is so disappointing. I feel "sucker punched".

Just so you know it wasn't Fellowes' choice....Dan Stevens decided not to renew his contract so Matthew had to go permanently one way or the other...

KRB - I mean, I get it wasn't his choice to lose him, BUT COME ON MAN. There wasn't a gentler way to do it?

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.

Great synopsis as usual! As for the servants being called by their employers' names, I first became aware if it watching Gosford Park. Apparently the servants are called by the name of The Lord or lady that they work for when traveling (thus Anna being Miss Crawley and O'Brien and Bates being the Granthams). Apparently it helps to keep all of the new servants straight when traveling to homes where other staffs are established.

Thank you!!!

Oh, I had totally forgotten that from Gosford Park! I clearly need to re-watch that now to help fill the hole in my heart left by Downton.

The two most attractive characters killed off in the same season, for off-camera contract reasons?
Methinks not.
Matthew will return, looking different after much surgery (necessary because he will be played by a different actor).
I may be wrong...but no one on the show thinks Matthew has died or even knows he is hurt.
I believe this is known in the trade as a cliffhanger.
I'll be back, and I bet Matthew will too.

I would disagree that the two most attractive characters in the show were killed off. Sybil certainly. But Matthew was a wimp. His blonde shock of hair was quite attractive but I, for one, was tired of his apologizing to Mary every time she disagreed with something sensible that he said. He had no gumption. He asked her why she had to be such a bitch to Edith (of course he didn't use that word but should have)and then immediately told her he would love her to eternity. Ugh! Guess he did. Our moderator says Matthew brought out the best in Mary. Just which moments did I miss? The real crime was not in killing Matthew off but using the same plot line twice. Both Sybil and Matthew were killed off the moment they produced a heir. Couldn't we have had something different?

Love Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore. Two salf-of-the-earth characters - good common sense, keen observers, and kind-hearted. Only thing, why didn't Mrs. Patmore see what a dolt her would-be suitor was the minute he kept sticking his grubby finger in her cooking. Ugh, again.

Could Matthew return in the form a different actor? Yes, why not? He may not be really dead. Just in a coma. He's been comatose with Mary all season. And, remember, he wasn't really crippled. Wasn't really impotent. So perhaps he's not really dead.

I DID so love Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Patmore in this episode! So hilarious together. That is definitely one of my favorite developing relationships. :)

Have you seen the internet campaign calling for Judi Dench to appear in an episode (or two) in Season 4? What fun that would be! Dame Maggie and Dame Judi! Of course, Fellows would have to give Dame Judi better lines than he gave to Shirley McLaine and, no doubt, he would. She a Brit!

(In "Gosford Park," Fellows also made the Americans boors.)

I did see that! And agree it would be a lot of fun. The back-and-forth between Isobel and Violet was amazing in the last episode (before they went to Scotland) so I can only imagine adding Dame Judi would up the fun. :)

Bring him back as another actor. There relationship in the story was too strong to lose. The program is monumental. Who could dare to miss it?

Bring him back as another actor. There relationship in the story was too strong to lose. The program is monumental. Who could dare to miss it?

First Thank You for each and every memorable episode in Downton Abby. I've enjoyed the entire series as this portrayal of each family member and housekeeping staff in each and every one ofthe pisodes....BUY, WHY DID YOU HAVE TO KILL DEAR MATTHEW JUST WHEN HE WAS SO VERY HAPPY AND PROUD TO BE A FATHER AND DOING SO WELL WITH THE REVITALIZATION OF DOWNTON ABBY? Will this mean a bright future for Tom Branson at the Abby and all its lands and working side by side with his father-in-law? Anyway I was so shocked (although I was aware of the time which didn't have much to the end and all of a sudden I felt a bit nervous)and the sight of Matthew lifeless body was bit too much. Losing him wss like losing a dear friend.

I was outraged at the ending. One, what a horrible way to go. And two, why not use another actor? I was so angry at the ending that I didn't shed a tear. It seems that just when things are going great, someone dies - what an awful view of life.

I totally agree with you! VEry few families have that much grief in their families!

If Matthew is indeed permanently killed off, it would be fascinating to see a historically accurate depiction of the contrast between poor and wealthy single mothers of that period, in Ethel and Mary. I'd also like to see more historically accurate explorations of that time woven into the plotlines (as with the introduction of the telephone into the house) inventions, health care practices, world affairs, the rise of manufacturing, and the birthright class system in Great Britain.

Really? This writer has to kill all his main characters? Hey, someone needs to find out if the actor that plays Matthew was offered a contract for next season? That way we would know for sure that he wasnt killed off. Really, I guess it would be about 1920 or 1925 by now? If the show makes him a vegetable or kills him off, sorry I am done watching!

Ok! sO THE ACTOR DIDNT want to renew to play Matthew again! Well, pay him some more. I wont watch if the writer has to keep killing off the main characters. So we have to wait until January of 2014,right? I am not holding my breath-too many dead characters for me.

well really the actor that played Matthew didnt want to renew? Well, pay him some more money. I am not going to watch if they keep killing off the main characters.

Pay the actor more money! Really, they can not kill off Matthew!