So, here we are finally able to see season 3 of the highly coveted Downton Abbey from the BBC. Favorite moments: Carson’s one-liners, especially “hobbledehoy.” Bates and Anna’s love affair continues to make me cry, Mary’s wardrobe, Matthew and Tom’s friendship, Matthew and Mary’s last kiss the night before the wedding, the men have wardrobe malfunctions and of course Thomas is the cause of it, Mrs. Levinson saves the day with an indoor picnic, the first baby. I stopped keeping this list after the first few episodes. It started feeling flat to me and didn’t really change until the huge scandalous event with Sybil.
Oh yes they did! And did again! The Brits are notorious for getting rid of major characters. All I can say is wow and sob for Sybil’s demise. If I thought the pacing was a bit slow this season, this shocker sure did wake everyone up. I fell back in love with the series in a big way after they dared to go there. I was hooked again through the final episode and then in a crazy turn of events, the writers basically repeated the same premise and got rid of Matthew. I had already heard Dan Stevens didn’t renew his contract, but I thought the writers were still getting paid. This can only be seen as unimaginative writing from the entire team. I was going to hold my breath and hope they didn’t actually kill him off, but then my friend Grace pointed me to this article. Apparently all of England is as pissed off as I am. And what about Shirley MacLaine? Did they purposely give her bad lines or is she unable to act? What was up with that? Maybe they should have ended after S2? I’m giving this S3 a 3 and downgrading my overall rating to a 4.
Update: 18 February 2013:
You know you’ve made a big mistake when you have to issue a disclaimer after an episode airs. From PBS,
PLEASE NOTE: The following statement from Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes on the dramatic Season 3 finale contains significant plot spoilers related to Season 3, Episode 7.
“After three successful series of Downton Abbey, Dan Stevens decided not to renew his contract beyond the initial three years he had been contracted. We wish him every success for the future. Michelle Dockery will be returning to her role as Lady Mary in series four which begins production in February, 2013.
Over the last three years, audiences across the world have been captivated by the ups and downs of Mary and Matthew’s relationship, culminating in their wedding. Fans have enjoyed what has become a solid and loving marriage.
It is for this reason that the Producers decided Matthew and Mary could not simply be estranged or parted, resulting in his untimely and tragic death at the end of the series’ finale.
In the next series, alongside all the usual drama, comedy and romance involving the much-loved cast of characters, viewers will see Mary adjusting to her life and attempting to move on without the man she loved.”
They could have made so many other better choices. They could have locked the writers in for a long weekend to hammer out a plausible and intelligent conclusion. Instead it seemed as if they wrote the death scene in-between checking their Twitter accounts. Even I would have accepted “a job in London” while they figured out what to do with Matthew, or better yet they could have done a Darrin. As my father used to say, “everyone is replaceable ” How many great actors are out there just waiting to take over that part? How hard would it have been for us to get used to a new Matthew?