Downton Abbey, Season 3 / by Krista Boivie

The 1920s were a time of radical change around the world and the people of Downton Abbey are not spared any of these changes in the latest season of the show. The differences in class begin to blur a little more and characters that we have always hated begin to evolve and show their softer side.

Season three begins with the highly anticipated wedding of Matthew and Mary.  I have been rooting for them since the first season, and their wedding did not disappoint. Amidst the joy of the wedding, looms the possibility of the Crawley family losing the estate and most of their fortune, due to Robert’s bad investments.  Fortunately, Matthew is able to use some inheritance money to keep things on track.  However, Robert and Matthew begin to share ownership of the estate and also begin to fight about the best methods to keep the property running.  Matthew advocates bold modernization plans, which puts him at odds with Robert who can’t imagine why anything needs to change.

A few new faces joined the show this season. I especially loved the appearance of Shirley Maclaine as Cora’s mother.  She gave the Dowager (Maggie Smith) a run for her money and provided the show with some of its more humorous moments. I also found the addition of a new kitchen maid and two footmen added some much needed youth to the aging downstairs staff.

Fans of Downton Abbey have been furious at the death of two beloved stars this season.  As an ardent fan, I too was saddened by their deaths, but I don’t look at the loss of these characters as a betrayal—but the natural evolution of the show.  Originally, Downton Abbey was designed to just be a mini-series, but the popularity of the show allowed the creators to extend the initial run.  Consequently, some of the actors have decided to capitalize on their recent notoriety and pursue other opportunities.  Their departures will undoubtedly create further conflict and should allow for a few more seasons of interesting storylines.

Besides death, season three was full of other life changing events—weddings, births, and health scares. Even with all the excitement and drama, the magic of Downton Abbey is still the quieter moments and small interactions between the staff and the family that make this a consistently excellent show.

If you haven’t watched season three yet, you can still watch all the episodes online at PBS until March 3rd or get it on iTunes.