Death, disappointment and 'Downton Abbey'

Monday, 18 February 2013 12:05 PM Written by 

downton season 3

Last night's third season finale of PBS's "Masterpiece" production of "Downton Abbey" contained quite a few surprises. Overall, I rather liked this season of the show, though I wasn't wild about the downer finale.

Spoilers after the jump. ...

Set a year after the penultimate episode, the season finale found Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) pregnant but joining the rest of the family for a trip to Scotland anyway. They all went to visit "Shrimpy," who presides over a Bizzaro, flip side of "Downton" where the servants are even more quarrelsome and the lord and lady of the manor can't stand one another.

"I'm glad to see the old ways being maintained," Robert said after a bagpiper wandered through the halls. He later came to realize how miserable everyone was. Even O'Brien met her more miserable match. On the plus side, evil servant Thomas reached a detente with Jimmy.

Back at Downton, new maid Edna threw herself at widowerTom Branson and love was in the air for Mrs. Patmore and Matthew's mother.

The episode ended with troublesome Lady Rose MacClare (Lily James) bound for Downton while her parents visit India.

But the bigger news, of course, was the birth of Mary's baby, a boy, thus saving the future of Downton since only men could inherit.

But all was not well. Even if American viewers had not been spoiled by reports from England about this episode that aired there on Christmas day, writer Julian Fellowes ladeled on the foreshadowing so thick, anyone paying attention would have gotten the correct impression that new father Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) would not be long for this world.

First Robert praised Matthew's stewardship of Downton, then Matthew cuddled with wife Mary and spoke of them being together always. There's foreshadowing and then there's telegraphing. Matthew's demise was a foregone conclusion given the amount of hints laid in. The only question was how he would die.

Driving home from the hospital after meeting his son, Matthew was a bit of a lead foot and distracted by his happiness. He didn't see another car coming around the corner on a one-way dirt road and ended up wrecking the car, the one Mary had just got done mentioning she sometimes puts scratches in. There was blood and while some might like to think he's just unconscious, no, he is dead. It was the second major death in a generally deadly season for "Downton" that also claimed poor Sybil during childbirth.

agent gates"Downton" has already been renewed with production gearing up this month for a fourth season that will reportedly focus on Mary and introduce a few new characters.

With Matthew's demise and the birth of a Downton heir, the show now moves beyond its initial premise. Will viewers move on with it? Will you?

Post your thoughts on this finale and the season as a whole below via our new Facebook commenting feature.

And in the meantime, if you're going through "Downton Abbey" withdrawl, there's a graphic novel spoof of the show called "Agent Gates and the Adventures of Deonton Abbey: A Parody" ($14.99, Andrews McMeel Publishing) by Camaren Subhiyah and Kyle Hilton.

In the graphic novel, a cast of doppelgangers of the TV show's characters interact with valet Jack Gates who is revealed to be an undercover spy for Her Royal Majesty's British Secret Intelligence Agency.

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