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Downton Abbey Review: Give Thanks for Matthew

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PBS doesn't waste any time in cramming the episodes of Downton Abbey into a short time frame, as the Downton Abbey Season 3 was full of birth, death and other surprises.

That's surprising considering how little actually happened in the finale. It felt like it went on forever, yet it culminated in a mixture of happiness and tragedy.

Downton Abbey Tug of War

At least quite a lot has happened since the last time we checked in with the Granthams. Had it really only been a week? No matter. All of the disagreements and unpleasantness that were experienced in episode "306" are merely a memory now, having taken place at least eight months previous.

More of my stupidity in the ways of the household servant rankings - what was with calling Miss O'Brien and Bates "Grantham" and Anna "Miss Crawley?" Do ladies maids and valets take on the names of their bosses? How freaking weird is that? It's as if they have no individual personality at all. I can't say I'm a fan of that particular lifestyle.

The new house maid, Edna, looked far too much like cousin Rose for my comfort. Honestly, if they were in the same room, they'd look nothing alike. But at first I couldn't understand why Rose was making the bed with Mrs. Hughes. For the comfort of everyone else, her decision to hit on old house hand Tom Branson wasn't taken very well. Poor Tom was so uncomfortable being left in charge of Downton while the family was gone. He's just not the sort to honor all of that titling without a bit of embarrassment for having jumped ranks.

The household staff had a fun time by themselves without the pressure of constantly being "on" while the family was home. Jimmy even dared to sit in the parlor armchair. Everyone went to a fair and Mrs. Patmore was being wooed by the new spice merchant. Even those who accompanied the Granthams to Duneagle had an easy time of it. Anna and Bates even found time for a romantic picnic, while Anna herself learned to reel from Rose. I never thought of all the things staff weren't exposed to until Mary expressed her surprise at Anna's dance.

Edith exposed her entire family to her editor at the magazine when he just so happened to be in the Highlands at the same time they visited. Granted, we already knew things weren't going to turn out perfectly between Edith and Michael Gregson, but for Robert to greet Edith's editor by asking why he employs amateurs like his daughter was downright insulting. Every time I think I might be able to give Robert a pass, he sticks his foot down his throat again.

Matthew was willing to give Michael a chance, until he learned all Michael could offer Edith was a chance to be a mistress. He was good enough to give him time to say a proper goodbye, but Edith wasn't having any of it. I knew she would follow wherever the wind blew, and I think in her case, with as few offers as she had, I would have done the same. She's masking a lifetime of disappointment with a short term happiness, not seeing that in the long run it will be not be fulfilling and most likely joyless.

I have to note how beautiful Castle Duneagle was. While I'm not a fan of hunting, the scenery was absolutely stunning. Romping for hours under the dark, stormy skies over the green fields of heather made even hunting seem a sport I could get behind.

Cousin Hugh admitted to Robert that since he didn't modernize like the Earl did, all the money drained away from Castle Duneagle and he had to sell it all. That was the spur Robert needed to move forward with Matthew's plans. It was a requirement for Robert to give thanks for Matthew and his plans just before he was crushed by an oncoming lorry. What good soap opera would have it any other way?

There were plenty of the requisite scenes we've all come to love, of Mary and Matthew showering each other with love and affection. Matthew even talked out loud about seeing Mary naked. We won't have any of that any more. It's too bad, because I think Matthew was the one person who was keeping Mary bearable. Without him, she could very well become the harpy, nasty Mary she was before she learned about love with Matthew. It will be interesting to see what path the writers have in store for her.

Mary, herself, will be fine, because Mary is always fine. She has that golden touch in life, always finding herself on top of the world, most likely even after the death of her beloved husband. She may have felt as if she was only half herself without him, but she'll no doubt find a new half quicker than Edith will find her first full half, poor dear.

The question is, will Downton Abbey be the same without the drama and love that was Matthew and Mary?

Other thoughts:

  • It was a shame that it took Thomas coming to Jimmy's rescue for Jimmy to offer a hand of friendship, but at least he got it.
  • I was surprised Matthew got to see his baby before his life was taken.
  • Am I the only one who wished Isobel had let Dr. Clarkson propose?
  • How sweet was the scene with stuffy pants Carson holding and rocking baby Sybil?
  • Have you notices that Molesley has become comic relief at Downton?

There is no way to know exactly what Downton Abbey Season 4 will hold because each new series jumps forward in time. We might be watching the children of Sybil and Mary romping in the gardens of Downton and Edith could have a child, as well as Anna. The landscape of Downton should be changed if Matthew's plan is put into place and that might mean a larger cast, with more characters outside the Abbey proper and into the town.

Share your thoughts on the finale and what you think the future holds in the comments!

Review

Editor Rating: 3.7 / 5.0
  • 3.7 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.1 / 5.0 (66 Votes)

Carissa Pavlica is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

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I hope Dan Stevens' decision to leave come back to bite him is the arse. Things may be different across the pond, but here in the US, an actor playing a main character on a show leaving at the height of popularity of said show usually doesn't get a bump in their career, expecially if the show crashes as a result. Never underestimate the power of the fans! We can either support you in your future projects, or hang you out to dry becaus. e we're pissed you left our favorite show leaving it to cancellation. Sign on for a fourth season. Ride the wave of popularity all the way to the bank. Your career will thank you for it later!

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Carissa, you're gonna have to rent Gosford Park. When people visit other houses and bring servants, the visiting servants are referred to by their masters' names below stairs. It may SOUND dehumanizing, but it does eliminate confusion. I was wrong abt Rose--I figured she'd be carted off to Scotland and that'd be that. Apparently, she's to replace Sybil as" the appeal to the younger demographic." That poor baby--his birthday will forever be the day his father died. What a MEAN thing for the writers to.engineer.

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IMO the last episode of season 3 lacked depth and breadth - it was like a buffet at a cheap cafeteria - and the ending was the most predictable - hopeless rice pudding. Matthew's death scene was a creative cop out. A fourth grader could have written a more creative ending than that. My interest in the development of all of the characters has declined significantly because, at this point, I expect that none will be left with an ounce of joy in their heart. Just plain awful.

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After three seasons, I still like this show. But I am not as invested in the characters as before.