For the first hour and 55 minutes of the “Downton Abbey” season 3 Christmas special, it is likely that most viewers watching the show on ITV had the largest of smiles on their faces. However, these grins likely turned to frowns the moment that the show aired its closing scenes, which in many ways came out of nowhere.
Before we delve too deep here, a massive warning: if you are trying to avoid spoilers for the American broadcast starting on January 6, you seriously have to stop reading now.
In these closing minutes, we learned just what exactly the show planned to do with Dan Stevens for season 4, and it involves there being no lengthy contract negotiation at all. Rather, Matthew is dead; this is not the show to give us a cliffhanger where he massively springs back to life, and plus, Stevens has already confirmed his exit from the show. The way in which he passed did come as a shock: as he was driving back to Downton in order to inform the house about his newborn son and heir, another vehicle struck his own and his body lay crushed in a ravine. This moment, coupled with Robert’s speech wondering if he could ever truly “have it all,” made for a powerful moment … even if it was one that many may not have anticipated.
Meanwhile, the fact that both Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith are still around suggests that Julian Fellowes is still confident that both will return for a fourth season, and there may be a new addition at the house to go along with it: Rose, the rebellious daughter of Shrimpy from Scotland who clearly showed that his environment is a rather miserable one during the Granthams’ vacation to his castle. It was in this same locale that we also learned that Edith, despite protests of even the liberal-for-his-era (and then-alive) Matthew, still plans to pursue a relationship with her editor despite his status as a married man.
As sad and shocking as Matthew’s death was, we would be remiss to not discuss some of the other storylines this week, which included romances for Mrs. Patmore and Tom Branson that both went awry by the end of the special. The maid was seemingly being used for her cooking skills, while the story of Branson was interesting in that his pursuer was new maid Edna, and she genuinely felt she was doing nothing wrong in subtly convincing the late Sybil’s husband that he belonged among the downstairs crew. She was sent packing by Carson and Mrs. Hughes at the end of the episode, which means Tom is still free to accept his new life.
Finally (and more pleasantly), there was a lovely little story for Thomas this week as he and Jimmy are now friends after he saved the latter during a tussle at the fair. We do still feel ridiculously awful for Thomas, but this is a step above being near losing his job.
While we loved just about every second of this episode, now is the time to share what you think! Be sure to leave a comment below, and you can learn more about Rose’s character over at the link here.