Downton, You Disappoint

I acknowledge that I am years behind on this. Or is it just one year? I don’t know. I have a hard time keeping matters straight in TV land, considering my favorite method of media consumption is a bit on the binge heavy side. That being said, I just recently concluded the third season of Downton Abbey, ending with the “Christmas” special after over a year of grueling watching (I had to keep taking long breaks because I found the content too emotionally gripping). Now I have to say, I am disappoint. *Warning* From this point on there will be CONSIDERABLE and LIFE-ALTERING (is that too much? perhaps) SPOILERS. You may click away now should those things upset you.

I have decided to stop watching Downton. I will not be catching up on season 4. This is because my major dissatisfaction with how the writers/producers decided to handle the departure of one, very key actor. The episode was so light, that final episode, that allegedly holiday episode (which actually had nothing to do with the holiday season, but rather was released around the holiday time). It was so light that I could have never anticipated they would tear my heart asunder in the last ten minutes. Liz said this episode would kill me and I would cease to be after watching it, and while I remain, it has tainted my relationship with the show.

They killed Matthew. How on earth can you kill off Matthew? Mary had just had the baby,  Downton was safe,  duty fulfilled. Matthew was blindingly happy. That, I feel, would have been a great place to end the series, should one of your lead actors decide he no longer wants to do the show (i.e., Dan Stevens did not renew his contract). Rather than forever ruin the happiness of Matthew and Mary, why not end things on a high note?

But my desire for the character’s to be happy aside (especially after having suffered so much misfortune!), the way they killed Matthew was just too awful for words – not in that it was just so sad, but rather that it was just completely hokey and tactless and abrupt and, dare I say it, random. The slow motion driving. The voice over of Lord Grantham saying how things were going to be so glorious from there on out with two happy, healthy heirs. The improbability of the car crash. The vacant look in Matthew’s eyes as blood courses down his face. And finally landing on Mary, alone in the hospital with her babe, leaving the viewer knowing ALL HAPPINESS IS DEAD. Neil said that the randomness bothered him most. Matthew might as well have been hit by a meteor. It would have been just as unsettling and unlikely.

The entire death was handled in such a rushed, gauche manner that I could not buy it. It’s presentation clashed with the usual grace of the show. Downton has the unique ability (and usually fantastic writing) to get  me to care deeply about this English estate, the family that inhabits it, and all the little quirks of custom and history. With the death of Sibyl, I bought it completely. It was sad and I didn’t want to see her go, but I accepted it. The writing made sense, as did the situation. But with Matthew, his death was completely out of sync with the rest of the show. I mean he survived the war for god’s sake and was able to walk again and yet this car crash is what takes him out? For this reason, I refuse to believe it as canon. This simply would not have happened had Dan Stevens not wanted to leave the show. There is no way the writers would have killed off Matthew, at least not in that way, utterly without dignity. And for this reason, I will leave Downton here and keep in my mind that shining image of Matthew holding his child for the first time, Mary’s happiness, and the tranquility of Downton’s future.

I think, maybe, I care a bit too much about this… Oh well. I suppose this is what happens when you dedicate your life to fictional worlds.

In other news, Alex and Sierra won X Factor and I am pleased. Plus it is almost Christmas, which is very exciting! More on that later, I am sure (or am I?).  Must keep the mystery alive. Until next time!



2 thoughts on “Downton, You Disappoint

  1. I agree with almost everything you wrote. I honestly believe that the car crash scene could have and would have been removed if Dan had agreed to stay on Downton which they were trying to persuade him to until the last. I agree with you as to how abrupt the wreck came about as there were no hints that anything was of concern with the car or Matthew such as getting back spasms, etc. They had telephones, chauffeurs and other drivers and obviously word had gotten back to the house. I haven’t been able to rewatch the last 2 minutes and 35 seconds of the Christmas Special of series 3. However, I will keep watching at least for a while because I want to see Mary and George and how their relationship develops.

    1. The more I sit on it, the easier it is to accept it, I find. Plus, if you look at it as the story of the house itself (as opposed to a love story), it makes more sense that Matthew’s role is less important and I am a bit curious to see what happens in season 4.

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