Downton Abbey Season 3: Episodes 6 & 7 Finale

WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS in this post.

Apparently I’m one of the last ones to find out what happens at the end of Season 3. Only a couple of weeks ago, I stumbled upon this video of the Downton Cast meet the Press after their SAG awards. Mrs. Hughes spilled the beans about Dan Stevens not coming back for S4 and what a bombshell for me.

I Googled it right away and found, lo and behold, it was already a known fact since last December. Of course, that’s when Britain had their first round of the Season 3 experience. So now the ripples have finally reached North American shore. What do you call it? Delayed shock? And we’ve just witnessed it. People, face the fact, Matthew Crawley is no more. Now, we have one whole year to process it, let it sink in, accept the fact, and move on to the next Season.

Just a brief recap of these last two episodes.

Episode 6

Mr. Bates is finally released from prison. All your Free Bates posters can now come down. While Thomas is the last one to join the welcome home party, ironically he is the one receiving the good graces of Bates and others. O’Brien has no place in any plot against anyone, for she has her soapy track record. She should have known better.

The clubbing fling of young cousin Rose with a married man old enough to be her father takes us away from Downton a while. The Gatsby-like 20’s atmosphere reminds us what the rest of the world is like if one is not a Downtonite.

And way to go for Edith, finding something to do before she is permanently settled into her destined role at home, at least this is what Granny Violet would have wanted for her Grand-daughter.

The Cricket Match

The cricket match is a visually beautiful scene. I love the colour scheme. The character that starts to come alive? Molesley. Wait till E7 where he will show what he’s truly made of.

Episode 7

By now we all know the ending. We have a whole year to forgive and forget. But of course, we’ll treasure the memories… The Scottish vacation takes us away from Downton for a short while to let us see how the usual characters behave in different situations. And that’s when we find O’Brien meeting her equal, Anna’s hidden talents, and Molesley’s true colours. Never underestimate a couple gulps of whiskey can do… total emancipation. Never thought Molesley can be so alive.

It’s the country fair again. Last year, Mrs. Hughes turned down an old crush there. This year, it’s Mrs. Patmore’s turn of stopping just in time of being fooled. Jimmy and Thomas come to an understanding that despite differences, they can still be friends. And Dr. Clarkson and Isobel Crawley? What will happen to them now? And oh, what will Mary name the young heir of Downton? Baby Matthew?

Downton Abbey Christmas Special

If you find Sybil’s death the saddest episode, I don’t know what to call this one. Matthew Crawley, the madly-in-love young husband and day-old new father, terminating his contract with a senseless car crash. After three Seasons, his demise covers less than a minute of screen time. What a difference between the endings of S2 and S3.

All these just show the cruel reality of media contracts and the inevitable plot treatment faced by TV script writers… killing off a character when his/her contract is up. Do you feel betrayed? Short-changed? Are you looking forward to Season 4? Will it begin with a funeral? Can you imagine how everyone will react… I think of Isobel first, then Mary, and Tom who has just found a friend in his new place in Downton. What about Robert, can he wait for another twenty years for the baby heir to grow up?

But most tricky of all… what will happen if another character or characters decide not to renew their contract? Wait, WWII is coming up soon, now that’s easy enough.

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CLICK on the following links to:

Season 3: Episodes 4 & 5

Episodes 2 & 3 

Episode 1

Quotable Quotes from Downton Abbey (S1 & S2)

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Published by

Arti

If she’s not birding by the Pond, Arti’s likely watching a movie, reading, or writing a review. Bylines in Asian American Press, Vague Visages, Curator Magazine.

23 thoughts on “Downton Abbey Season 3: Episodes 6 & 7 Finale”

  1. I watched the entire third season in mid-January with a friend who’d gotten it from the BBC. At first I was thrilled to see it so early, but then when it was over, I was just stunned and not even able to talk about it so I wouldn’t spoil it for anyone, not even able to say I was stunned and shaken. I don’t know how my friend, who had already seen it, could watch it again. She never hinted at anything, even when I asked, “Does Sybyl die?” and “Does Edith get left at the altar?” I sure wasn’t prepared for Matthew’s death and felt really cheated. I’d heard that Dan Stevens wanted out of his contract. I was really annoyed with him! Does Stevens think we’ll forgive him? Never!

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      1. Yes, I’ve received link to this article too. While it’s analytical within the context, I always think a story is alive in the hands of a creative writer. I’m sure if Matthew stays, there can be interesting plot lines for him. This is a contractual issue, not a storyline issue, of course. It might as well be best though, for Dan Stevens, for now he can branch out to other things … hopefully his Broadway show The Heiress can be a springboard to film contracts in the US. Then we’ll continue to see more of him.

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  2. We’ve had interesting comments on our FB and WKAR.org sites from people saying “I never want to watch season 4.” They were also appalled at the national pledging right after, and I have to concur (though we did get 21 gifts). Julian Fellowes has a statement on pbs.org/masterpiece about the contractual issue and the fact that he didn’t want Matthew and Mary estranged after finally getting them happy together.

    All that said, I still look at this series with a bit of awe for presenting so many good plot lines (sometimes it seems almost too many) with such incredible production values and fine performances. It is a tightly run ship. It makes me wonder if they’ll pick up right after (as they did this year) which is only early to mid 20s or go “One Year Later” (or whatever) and all of a sudden Baby X is older. I thought they very nicely wrapped up the Thomas/James issue and the Scottish maid should have known not to mess with O’Brien!

    It does open up interesting options for Tom, now that Robert has come around on the managing of the estate. And Edith’s Nancy Mitford spin could get more fun as we go on. I’m ready, willing and waiting! Bring it on!

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  3. Do I feel betrayed? Short-changed? Oddly enough, I do. Of course this is just a television show. We must remind ourselves of that. Yet, it’s seemed so real and become such a part of our lives that the characters seems to have a living quality…

    Stupid Matthew, onto ‘better’ things in giving up his contract. What could be better than continuing this fabulous series? At least we still have the Dowager…

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    1. Bellezza,

      I know, that’s the success of the show, isn’t it? You feel like you’re living it. Anyway, we’ll have lots of time to forgive and forget. I hope that DA can maintain its momentum until next year, esp. with two major characters absent, will audience still long to see it as much as before?

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    1. Stefanie,

      Nobody would want to kill off two major characters, one more major than the other. Yes, a contractual issue. And I wish both Dan Stevens and Jessica Brown Findlay all the best in their future endeavours, esp. in films on the big screen.

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  4. We saw the sad ending over a week ago but our daughter was just going through season 3 late last week so I made sure she watched the final episode in the daytime instead of just before bedtime!
    On another note. I’m really enjoying the Bonhoeffer book but do not foresee any reviews coming out of my brain. If I get a handle on my over the top schedule right now I might just post my favorite quotes…

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    1. Ellen,

      In a way, I think Sybil’s deathbed scene is much sadder. You can actually see the reactions of everyone. But Matthew’s just so instant, and the next Season, according to Julian Fellowes, will start six months later. So we won’t see any immediate reactions, let’s just say, JF has spared us all of the emotions.

      As for the Bonhoeffer read, don’t worry if you’re not posting a review. I’m glad you’re enjoying it, and that’s what’s important.

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  5. I enjoyed this last episode. I was surprised by Mathew’s death but at the same time I thought there would not be that much going on for his character apart from fighting with his father in law about the estate and cooing with his baby. I hope they won’t move the show up years too quickly – I’d love for them to stay in the 1920s – the clothes, the colors, etc. who wants to me reminded of the second world war (if they went through it…) I so enjoyed looking at Scotland – it is going up my list of countries to be visited.

    You asked me what birds where these in my Callaway Gardens post. Did you mean the statue? They were trumpeter swans – if you mean did I see birds in the gardens? Yes, but nothing unusual, the same as we have in my back yard. We did though watch 2 predator bird shows – owls, falcons, etc., and I took photos. That will have to be in another post – maybe when we go back there in the spring we can attend the shows again and I’ll have even more predator photos.

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    1. Vagabonde,

      You’re right… the sights and sounds of the 20’s sure beat WWII. S3 definitely has expanded the locations and made it more scenic than the previous Seasons. As Julian Fellowes mentioned in the NYT article, S4 will start six months hence. So I think it’ll be the 20’s that they’ll stay on.

      And yes, I was wondering what kinds of birds were there. So, I look forward to your future posts.

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  6. Yes, it was a blow when I heard the news late last year. I suppose all series have to deal with the comings and goings of their actors, but this one was a bummer. I didn’t expect Sybil’s exit either. I haven’t seen the last two episodes but just got the DVD (streaming from PBS has gotten progressively worse). I don’t mind spoilers and am looking forward to having a couple of hours to enjoy the end of Season 3.

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  7. Maybe, it helps to live in a bubble sometimes since I didn’t know about Matthew’s impending death…until foreshadowing signs began appearing early in episode seven…. e.g., the appreciation voiced by Robert to Cora, of Matthew’s intervention in putting the estate on a more solid footing, for example … .. or his reaching out to Edith’s beau to learn the truth of his situation and his hopes for a relationship with Edith… but then not telling anyone of the outcome, to make one wonder… but what will happen to Edith…. if Matthew were to die…?

    Surely his character will be missed, but in a way, it’s a relief, too — I’ve found Mary’s and Matthew’s interaction already unsatisfying from indulging in squabbles either too contrived or beneath them from this season’s get-go…. It makes me wonder which character will fill that reasonable middle way that Matthew has left open … other than the good Mrs. Hughes?

    A good story, like a good life, is something to savor and look forward to… I don’t mind the wait. Though I’ve read somewhere that there is talk that PBS may move up the airing of S4 to coincide with Britain’s airing.. and if so, we’ve only half a year to wait rather than a whole.

    Arti, I’ve enjoyed your series of DA posts. Thanks for hosting us.

    Janell

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    1. Janell,

      “A good story, like a good life, is something to savor and look forward to…” Maybe that’s why DA is so well received, because we can, somehow, despite the gap in historical eras, glean some interesting and identifiable elements of our life in it. But shortening the wait sure would increase the enjoyment. So, it’s good news indeed if we can watch S4 the same time as the Brits. At least, there won’t be any problem containing the spoilers. 😉

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  8. I don’t dare read your Downton Abbey posts, as I’ve yet to watch Season 1! But I do own a DVD box set of that first series, and maybe it will enchant me into watching them all. My mother is a HUGE fan (though she is not so sure about the rather melodramatic turn of events towards the end of this series and in the Christmas special, if you still have that to come!).

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    1. litlove,

      “… the rather melodramatic turn of events towards the end of this series and in the Christmas special…” is exactly what I’m writing about on this post. So, don’t read it until you’ve watched all the three Seasons. When you’ve some time, do start it. But it’ll probably have the effect just like the P & P (BBC, 1995) DVD’s set I have, you’ll have to watch them through and finish them all once started. 😉

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