IF YOU HAVE NOT YET SEEN THE END OF SEASON 3- You may not wish to read this post as it contains SPOILERS!
It seems there is much ado about the season 3 finale of Downton Abbey. The choice to kill off one of the fans most beloved characters has caused a great deal of outrage both home and abroad. However, I cannot help but wonder as I look back over season three if the dissemination is not limited to just the fans?
Last year I heard Rebecca Eaton speak at our local PBS station’s annual fundraiser and she alluded to a variety of surprises for season 3. She talked about the interaction of the cast behind the scenes and how close professionally they had grown during the duration of the project. However, she also said she was unsure how much longer the series could continue as she was not sure how much more “Downton” Jullian Fellowes has in him. I am curious now if she knew at the date of that speaking engagement (Feb 2012) that Dan Steven’s (Matthew Crawley) would leave the show? Even she mentioned she did not know how this season would end because Jullian Fellowes had not yet written it.
While fans are livid over the way Steven’s exit was scripted, there seems to be much finger pointing about the whole thing. Dan Stevens has stated he simply wants to move on to other things and does not want to be tied to another 3 year Downton contract. Jullian Fellowes claims he was painted into a corner by Steven’s choice and had no other solution but to abruptly and surprisingly kill his character off.
So Stevens can NEVER EVER come back to the series. Ever.
But who can blame Stevens for leaving the show? His character was extremely linear. Stevens is a talented actor (and writer). Perhaps he was bored with Matthew’s character? This entire season was devoted to Matthew devoting himself to Mary. Where was the depth to his character? It seems all that was left for him was to serve as Lady Mary Crawley’s eye candy.
As shocking and as well kept a secret to us Americans as the ending of season 3 was, I find the death of Matthew Crawley appropos for the storyline.
Think about it? Earlier in the season the “kindest and most loving” character was killed off. I am referring to Jessica Brown-Findlay’s character Lady Sybil. The world of Downton is a dog eat dog world. It is a world bent on maintaining the balance of the have’s and the have- nots. Kind, loving, “challenge- the- status quo characters” simply do not survive in this type of environment. So, it was fitting for Matthew Crawley to die so tragically and at the happiest moment of his life.
And I cannot help but wonder if the cast has fallen out of love with the series too. I was a bit dismayed this season as Mary and Matthew seemed more like an old married couple rather than two young lovers finally united after many many many hours of the perpetual “will they or won’t they?” There was just no chemistry between the two. It was disappointing really.
As of now, Jessica Brown-Findlay has not resigned a contract for the series (for obvious reasons). But neither has Siohban Finneran (O’Brian). Although she has resigned a contract, Michelle Dockery is rumored to be headed to Hollywood as are some of the others from the cast. Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore) will be making an appearance on ABC’s Once Upon a Time. And the rest of the cast makes no qualms about their willingness to head across the pond too if asked (see SAG awards interview).
Except for Maggie Smith. She plays by her own rules.
So whether or not you are calling foul and have banned your eyes from ever seeing another episode of Downton, I can guarantee once season 4 is released in January of next year, you too will be tuning in just like I will to see how all this drama unfolds. Because for all it’s ups and downs, we as Americans just can’t seem to get enough of Downton!
C’est la vie!