'Downton Abbey' Season 3 Recap: Finale Breaks Our Hearts -- Again! (VIDEO)

Heartbreaking 8

downton abbeyPost-Downton Abbey Group Therapy is officially in session. Have a seat everyone. Grab a donut and some coffee. There's plenty of tissues here. And we have a soundproof room if you need to sob loudly, but of course, you're welcome to sob loudly here with the group if you need more support. Excuse me, I need to keen wildly: EEEGHAAAAGHHHHHH!

Well, that just happened. And if you watched the season finale you know what I mean by THAT. If you haven't watched yet, what the hell are you doing reading this?!? Come back later when you've seen the episode. This is a support group and we have some work to do. We need to tawk.

SPOILER ALERT SPOILER ALERT LOOK AWAY!

Well you've been warned. I'll dive right in. 

Okay. So. I'd read that Dan Stevens was leaving the show because he wanted to pursue a stage career. And I'd heard that he would be killed off in this episode. So I watched the whole thing under a dark shadow, constantly wondering: Now? Is this when they kill him off? I thought it might be during the hunting, or on the way back from Scotland. The way it finally happened, at the end, after he got to meet his son and declare his eternal love to Mary, was almost merciful. Oh, but honestly. How much more tragedy is this family supposed to take? It still felt brutal.

I'm feeling relieved, actually, that we didn't have to watch the family react to the horrible news. I think I was dreading that almost more than Matthew's death. But why does Julian Fellows keep killing off the kindest, most likable characters? It's so cruel. And what's with playing out the accident scene parallel to Grantham going on about how grateful he is and how bloody lucky they all are? That was just sick.

(And WTF with leaving Downton for a STAGE CAREER?!? That's like leaving pro football at the age of 25 for curling! No offense, Broadway.)

Shit. I was totally unprepared for this episode: I forgot to buy scotch.

Well, at least now there's an heir, and we know since this is England, they need that child to be male in order for the estate to carry on through the family. Good thing Grantham finally came around to Matthew's ideas for modernizing Downton. And hearing Shrimpy admit he was losing Donagle because he failed to modernize, that confirms Grantham's commitment to follow through. Gee, it's like everything is falling in line in order just so Matthew's death causes the least possible inconvenience. But I'm not bitter!

Let's focus a moment on bereft spouse number one, Tom. Poor guy, he's lonely without Sybil. It's no wonder he was so easily seduced by the new maid, Edna. But I thought his feelings of conflict about being a part of the Crawley family were interesting. We all want to believe in class mobility, and Tom has done that by marrying into a very wealthy family -- and then by earning the trust of that family with a position of responsibility. 

It was hard for Tom to win over Robert and feel at home in his new position at Downton. But what about the world he left behind? That's the other side to class mobility -- those feelings that you've maybe betrayed your background, wondering where you really belong. Isobel was wise to tell him, "You have a position now, and you're entitled to use it." But Mrs. Hughes is also wise to tell him, "You let Edna make you ashamed of your new life. But you've done so well, and Sybil would be so proud of you."

At least there's still Anna and Bates. Did you see his eyes get all misty when he saw her dance the reel? Dawww! Meanwhile, Cupid's arrows were misfiring all over the place. Poor Mrs. Padmore was almost taken in by that flirt, Mr. Tufton. Dr. Clarkson almost-sort-of declares his something-like-love for Isobel only to get the freakin' "let's be friends" speech. And Matthew tells Mr. Gregson it's no use pursuing Edith. I'm glad Edith's not giving up on him!

I didn't really like Rose in the last episode, but now that I see her in context of her family, I get it. Her mother, Susan, feel like she's losing her grip, and she just tries to hold on tighter. We've all seen that, haven't we? And now we know what's at stake -- the money is gone, so there's not much of a safety net if Rose doesn't make a good marriage. So many things are changing, and yet so many other things stay the same. I'm glad she'll be living at Downton -- would it be impertinent of me to suggest maybe she and Tom might make a cute couple?

Do you think Mrs. O'Brien will leave Cora to work abroad for Susan?!?

Back to the tragic couple -- Mary has been especially mean, especially to Edith. I'm hoping it was just her pregnant discomfort. Matthew kept saying he knows the real Mary, who is kind and wonderful (supposedly!). I hope she manages to dig out that kinder Mary at some point.

Well, on with my favorite lines.

Mary: "How do you know I'm kind?" Matthew "Because I've seen you naked, and I've held you in my arms, and..."

"I AM racy!" Anna

"We're not in a novel by Walter Scott." Matthew

"It's bad enough parenting a child when you like each other." Violet

"Either way, it was the cooking he was after, and not me!" Mrs. Padmore

"I wonder if he knows how much joy he brings with him," Matthew on his new son, also every other parent about their own new baby.

"I think I've earned a decent kiss." Mary

"Be your own master and call your own tune." Mrs. Hughes, FTW!

Watch Downton Abbey, Season 3: A Scene from Episode 7 on PBS. See more from Masterpiece.

Did you know Matthew would be killed in the season finale?

 

Image via PBS

 

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