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Downton Abbey - Season 3


But Downton, both the great house and the show itself, survive as they always have: with grace and dignity intact, one hopes. And despite my misgivings about how the twist was handled, I refuse to let the finale deter me from seeing Season 3 of Downton Abbey for what it is: a truly marvelous season of television that entrances, even as it breaks your heart.




Downton Abbey - Season 3


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When Downton Abbey first aired, Julian Fellowes (creator and producer) was annoyed at the media for pointing out anachronisms like TV aerials and the use of the word 'boyfriend'. (The word 'boyfriend appeared in print in 1889, long before the period setting of Downton). Fellowes said "they think to show how smart they are by picking holes in the program to promote their own poshness and to show that their knowledge is greater than your knowledge". In a later article coinciding with the start of the second season, Fellowes apologised and commented "I behaved rather badly by getting the hump."


You probably won't be able to avoid the third season of "Downton," even if you'd wanted to, so we might as well review the show's strengths and sins together. Oh yes, there are sins to be found, or rather, a series of mostly avoidable mistakes that are almost up there with mistaking the shrimp fork for the dessert fork.


I kid, because I know what "Downton Abbey" is -- it's unquestionably one of television's most contrived confections, and there's nothing wrong with contrivances as long as they serve a greater purpose. But what is that purpose, exactly? I wish I could ignore those questions and concentrate only on frolic among the footmen, but, especially this season, "Downton" insistently puts a certain kind of social system front and center and asks all the characters how they feel about it. As the granddaughter of an Irish housemaid, I'm both able to escape into the fantasy land of earls and ladies without forgetting the elbow grease and financial sacrifice required to make those frivolous lives possible.


And yet, just because the show shamelessly and sometimes shallowly manipulates me doesn't render all those manipulations ineffective. There were "Downton" moments that made me laugh and cry this season; there's no doubt that the show's mixture of rich-people voyeurism, light-opera follies and serious emotional business can be greatly satisfying when it works. Fair warning: It tends to work a lot better as the season progresses -- like a 19th Century train, this polished piece of machinery starts slow and needs to work up a head of steam in order to be enjoyed in all its Victorian glory.


The season has remained the #1 best-seller since September 2012 on shoppbs.org, as well as the #1 show on both iTunes and Amazon Instant Video since the January 7 launch. Seasons 1 & 2 continue to rank as the most watched TV seasons on Amazon Prime Instant Video.


Dan Stevens left Downton Abbey at the height of the show's success, which resulted in his character being killed off, but why did he leave? Stevens portrayed Matthew Crawley, the heir to the title of Earl of Grantham and the Downton Abbey estate. Matthew also became the husband of Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) and was one of Downton Abbey's lead characters. However, Stevens shocked and angered fans when he chose to leave the series - Matthew was abruptly killed off in the Downton Abbey season 3 finale in 2012.


Matthew was a distant cousin of Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), who suddenly became next in line to inherit Downton Abbey when the previous heir died aboard the HMS Titanic in 1912. Matthew and his mother Lady Isobel (Penelope Wilton) moved to the Downton estate, but they repeatedly clashed with the Crawley family in the first season; as a lawyer, Matthew found the way the estate was being run wasteful and he attempted to modernize Downton Abbey. Furthermore, Matthew and Lady Mary began a tumultuous romance that was interrupted in Downton Abbey season 2 when Matthew left to fight in World War I. Eventually, Matthew became a beloved member of the Crawleys and the co-owner of Downton Abbey. After two marriage proposals, Matthew and Mary were finally married but, in a shocking twist, Matthew dies in a car crash on the night their son George was born in 1921.


However, Stevens' decision to quit Downton Abbey created a problem for series creator Julian Fellowes - and not just because Matthew was the show's male romantic lead. As Fellowes told Vanity Fair, "Dan only decided to leave when we were about to start filming [Downton Abbey season 3], had already written five episodes and cast them." The showrunner explained that had Stevens given the production more advance notice that he wanted to leave the series, they could have written a different, less shocking death for Matthew. Fellowes also mused that he could have even killed off Matthew and Lady Sybil (Jessica Brown-Findlay) in the same episode (and the same car crash) since she had also announced she was exiting Downton Abbey in season 3.


Dan Stevens did indeed find the new opportunities he sought after leaving Downton Abbey. He was cast in the lead role as David Haller, the psychic son of Professor X (Harry Lloyd) in FX's Legion, the X-Men spinoff which just wrapped its three-season run. As a mentally unbalanced mutant, the role of David Haller was as far from Matthew Crawley as Stevens could want - as was his biggest movie role to date, playing the Beast in Disney's 2017 live-action Beauty and the Beast opposite Emma Watson. By taking on an iconic Disney role, Stevens followed in the footsteps of his fellow Downton Abbey castmember Lily James, who played Cinderella in 2015.


After an emotional season three of Downton Abbey left fans mourning the death of two major characters, no one knows quite what to expect next \u2014 that is, if you've managed to avoid spoilers from the previous UK airing of season four. The Crawley family comes back to TV sets stateside Sunday night on PBS at 9 p.m. Since the shock of the finale may have left you in need of a refresher, we're taking a look at where we left Lady and Lord Grantham, their extended family, and their intriguing household staff. Here is everything you need to remember before the premiere. \n","id":33285501,"type":"gallery","photo_source":"Image Source: PBS","permalink":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/Downton-Abbey-Season-3-Recap-33285501","canonical":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/Downton-Abbey-Season-3-Recap-33285501","share_text":"Keeping Up With the Crawleys: Where Downton Abbey Left Off","use_tall_image":false,"omit_from_countdown":false,"caption_num":false,"slide_tags":"Downton AbbeyTV","is_cover":true},"image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/l4X-34uOnQ4xbksroMI8cxZndLM\/fit-in\/1024x1024\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/042\/n\/1922283\/2db28c70f9eea44e_Dead_Matthew\/i\/Matthew-Crawley-Dead.jpg","share_image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/YlE1dE5BaVjoak3jF8qtvVl8vMI\/fit-in\/2048xorig\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/042\/n\/1922283\/2db28c70f9eea44e_Dead_Matthew\/i\/Matthew-Crawley-Dead.jpg","title":"Matthew Crawley Is Dead","intro_text":false,"body":"In case you forgot, season three starts out on a happy note, with Matthew and Lady Mary's much-anticipated marriage. After wondering would they or wouldn't they for the entire series, fans could finally feel satisfied that the future of Downton is secured and Mary and Matthew are finally together. But it doesn't last long. The season ends with Matthew unceremoniously dying in a car crash. \n","id":33285522,"type":"image","photo_source":"Image Source: PBS","permalink":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/photo-gallery\/33285501\/image\/33285522\/Matthew-Crawley-Dead","canonical":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/Downton-Abbey-Season-3-Recap-33285501","share_text":"Matthew Crawley Is Dead","use_tall_image":false,"omit_from_countdown":false,"caption_num":false,"slide_tags":"TV","image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/ZDnsCEcHQGAHqJ-vCNAcS_sWnCs\/fit-in\/1024x1024\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/030\/n\/1922283\/a2ba42deb0ca87c0_He-Leaves-Heir\/i\/He-Leaves-Heir.jpg","share_image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/AtW3ECFuecHdAUwaAIGFrOqO24M\/fit-in\/2048xorig\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/030\/n\/1922283\/a2ba42deb0ca87c0_He-Leaves-Heir\/i\/He-Leaves-Heir.jpg","title":"But He Leaves an Heir","intro_text":false,"body":"During his fateful car ride, Matthew is on his way home from the hospital, where he's just met his new son and heir. Considering much of season three is dedicated to the whether or not Matthew could even have children after his war injury, this is quite a miracle and means the fate of the estate should be safe with Lady Mary's little boy. \n","id":33285517,"type":"image","photo_source":"Image Source: PBS","permalink":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/photo-gallery\/33285501\/image\/33285517\/He-Leaves-Heir","canonical":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/Downton-Abbey-Season-3-Recap-33285501","share_text":"But He Leaves an Heir","use_tall_image":false,"omit_from_countdown":false,"caption_num":false,"slide_tags":"TV","image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/SBOpyRyXIQPLbB8s79WC_Ipomnk\/fit-in\/1024x1024\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/927\/n\/1922398\/281a84cd6f7a1044_MV5BMTUzNjE3MzIzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTk2NDIwOQ_._V1__SX640_SY720_\/i\/Sybil-Dead-Too.jpg","share_image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/GCxBJHvbL6Wkv2U6IDACksT4_Nc\/fit-in\/2048xorig\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/927\/n\/1922398\/281a84cd6f7a1044_MV5BMTUzNjE3MzIzOV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMTk2NDIwOQ_._V1__SX640_SY720_\/i\/Sybil-Dead-Too.jpg","title":"Sybil Is Dead, Too","intro_text":false,"body":"Ahead of Matthew's untimely death, the Crawley family loses the youngest daughter, Sybil, to childbirth complications. But before her death, the spirited beauty who married the family chauffeur, Thomas Branson, gives birth to a baby girl, also named Sybil. \n","id":33285520,"type":"image","photo_source":"Image Source: PBS","permalink":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/photo-gallery\/33285501\/image\/33285520\/Sybil-Dead-Too","canonical":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/Downton-Abbey-Season-3-Recap-33285501","share_text":"Sybil Is Dead, Too","use_tall_image":false,"omit_from_countdown":false,"caption_num":false,"slide_tags":"TV","image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/biRdKmwyEsEMvGK3aqDKDOGq29U\/fit-in\/1024x1024\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/042\/n\/1922283\/6ce51ec0bccdca46_14\/i\/Edna-Maid-Making-Branson-Life-Complicated.jpg","share_image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/s13CKzxal7lC-X_smds31s7iAl4\/fit-in\/2048xorig\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/042\/n\/1922283\/6ce51ec0bccdca46_14\/i\/Edna-Maid-Making-Branson-Life-Complicated.jpg","title":"Edna the Maid Is Making Branson's Life Complicated","intro_text":false,"body":"Following Sybil's death, Branson is accepted by the aristocratic family at Downton, despite his humble past. But when new housemaid Edna Braithwaite sets her eyes on him, things get complicated. Edna begins flirting with Tom and even comes into his room while he's changing one night and kisses him. After Mr. Carson and Mrs. Hughes catch wind of what's going on, Edna is fired. \n","id":33285962,"type":"image","photo_source":"Image Source: PBS","permalink":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/photo-gallery\/33285501\/image\/33285962\/Edna-Maid-Making-Branson-Life-Complicated","canonical":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/Downton-Abbey-Season-3-Recap-33285501","share_text":"Edna the Maid Is Making Branson's Life Complicated","use_tall_image":false,"omit_from_countdown":false,"caption_num":false,"slide_tags":"TV","image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/6JVBTXkbkWK-c8CMHZyd06SNxMA\/fit-in\/1024x1024\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/927\/n\/1922398\/d0fe5d69115c0e2a_MV5BMjIzNTY4MDMyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjA3NDIwOQ_._V1__SX640_SY720_\/i\/Lady-Edith-Left-Altar.jpg","share_image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/6TNFhmb-r73q3-CgKHib6LcozFc\/fit-in\/2048xorig\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/927\/n\/1922398\/d0fe5d69115c0e2a_MV5BMjIzNTY4MDMyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjA3NDIwOQ_._V1__SX640_SY720_\/i\/Lady-Edith-Left-Altar.jpg","title":"Lady Edith Is Left at the Altar","intro_text":false,"body":"For much of season three, things aren't looking so bright for Lady Edith. For one, she is left at the altar by her older suitor, Sir Anthony Strallan. The mortified middle sister continues to be overlooked for much of the season and decides to turn her energy toward a new endeavor: journalism. \n","id":33285518,"type":"image","photo_source":"Image Source: PBS","permalink":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/photo-gallery\/33285501\/image\/33285518\/Lady-Edith-Left-Altar","canonical":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/Downton-Abbey-Season-3-Recap-33285501","share_text":"Lady Edith Is Left at the Altar","use_tall_image":false,"omit_from_countdown":false,"caption_num":false,"slide_tags":"TV","image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/oO5szps9UFJ3rkFqi53lQ83gM3Q\/fit-in\/1024x1024\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/941\/n\/1922398\/2dc747c835f4d7d0_lady-edith-2--a\/i\/Thankfully-She-Has-New-Love-Interest.jpg","share_image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/0HXzXlSkLRECJBTb7c7T4fV1jWA\/fit-in\/2048xorig\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/941\/n\/1922398\/2dc747c835f4d7d0_lady-edith-2--a\/i\/Thankfully-She-Has-New-Love-Interest.jpg","title":"Thankfully, She Has a New Love Interest","intro_text":false,"body":"Edith's adventures in magazine writing bring her to London, where she crosses paths with a handsome editor, Michael Gregson. He encourages her to explore her talents, and it finally seems Edith has found someone who can give her attention and appreciation. Unfortunately, there's a catch: he's technically married to a mentally insane woman and cannot get divorced under English law. \n","id":33285896,"type":"image","photo_source":"Image Source: PBS","permalink":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/photo-gallery\/33285501\/image\/33285896\/Thankfully-She-Has-New-Love-Interest","canonical":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/Downton-Abbey-Season-3-Recap-33285501","share_text":"Thankfully, She Has a New Love Interest","use_tall_image":false,"omit_from_countdown":false,"caption_num":false,"slide_tags":"TV","image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/PPTwh9aOzyzMMA4rfydFayPoIOE\/fit-in\/1024x1024\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/927\/n\/1922398\/dc30177e4d3e4668_downton-abbey-thomas-kisses-jimmy1\/i\/Thomas-Secret-Out.jpg","share_image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/GmZdVC9ERlMGHmHqVjjarrlBsQ8\/fit-in\/2048xorig\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/927\/n\/1922398\/dc30177e4d3e4668_downton-abbey-thomas-kisses-jimmy1\/i\/Thomas-Secret-Out.jpg","title":"Thomas's Secret Is Out","intro_text":false,"body":"In season three, Downton Abbey gets wind that longtime servant Thomas Barrow is gay when he makes a pass at footman Jimmy after misinterpreting some flirtation. Jimmy reports the incident, and Mr. Carson orders Thomas to leave without reference. But after former Thomas-rival Mr. Bates surprising intervenes with a generous-minded Lord Grantham, Thomas's job is saved. Plus, Jimmy and Thomas eventually make up, after Thomas protects Jimmy when he is attacked. \n","id":33285523,"type":"image","photo_source":"Image Source: PBS","permalink":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/photo-gallery\/33285501\/image\/33285523\/Thomas-Secret-Out","canonical":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/Downton-Abbey-Season-3-Recap-33285501","share_text":"Thomas's Secret Is Out","use_tall_image":false,"omit_from_countdown":false,"caption_num":false,"slide_tags":"TV","image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/xGFzi8wLVLpX6m5I8Z--hSFWn-E\/fit-in\/1024x1024\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/927\/n\/1922398\/7b9afae41e72a5b9_New-lady-servant\/i\/Daisy-Fan-Ivy.jpg","share_image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/n4kS6J1LNm2yKQADX_bsBfoZIk8\/fit-in\/2048xorig\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/927\/n\/1922398\/7b9afae41e72a5b9_New-lady-servant\/i\/Daisy-Fan-Ivy.jpg","title":"Daisy Is Not a Fan of Ivy","intro_text":false,"body":"Meanwhile in the kitchen, there is a bit of a love triangle \u2014 or maybe it's a love square? Ivy, the new and pretty kitchen maid, arrives at Downton and captures the attention of Alfred the footman. Only problem is Daisy, the more experienced kitchen maid, is in love with Alfred. To make things more complicated, Ivy has a thing for Jimmy, who appears uninterested. \n","id":33285515,"type":"image","photo_source":"Image Source: PBS","permalink":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/photo-gallery\/33285501\/image\/33285515\/Daisy-Fan-Ivy","canonical":"https:\/\/www.popsugar.com\/entertainment\/Downton-Abbey-Season-3-Recap-33285501","share_text":"Daisy Is Not a Fan of Ivy","use_tall_image":false,"omit_from_countdown":false,"caption_num":false,"slide_tags":"TV","image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/wOGV1flgaNMA_OOA7g384cDqfWk\/fit-in\/1024x1024\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/927\/n\/1922398\/724f46cfd0367fa1_article-2227927-15D15010000005DC-281_634x485\/i\/Downton-Gains-Rebellious-Niece.jpg","share_image":"https:\/\/media1.popsugar-assets.com\/files\/thumbor\/xgqUl776Mynz0ag0OdGi7CG93fg\/fit-in\/2048xorig\/filters:format_auto-!!-:strip_icc-!!-\/2014\/01\/03\/927\/n\/1922398\/724f46cfd0367fa1_article-2227927-15D15010000005DC-281_634x485\/i\/Downton-Gains-Rebellious-Niece.jpg","title":"Downton Gains a Rebellious Niece","intro_text":false,"body":"We meet Lady Rose MacClare, the daughter of Lord Grantham's first cousin, in season three, when she comes to Downton for a visit and manages to find her way to London for an inappropriate night out at a jazz club. 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