Spoiler alert: If you don't want to know what happened in Sunday's night's Season 3 finale of "Downton Abbey," read no further.
Because PBS chooses to air "Downton Abbey" months after the series is shown in the UK, news of the gut-wrenching death of a fan favorite had been all over the Internet long before Sunday's Season 3 finale.
But even though we knew that Matthew (Dan Stevens) was going to meet his demise, via a car crash, in the final minutes of the episode, it still had us reaching for the Kleenex and wondering if writer/producer Julian Fellowes is just one cold, heartless bloke.
OK, so Stevens wanted off the show. He needed to be written out. But did Fellowes really need to do THAT to poor Lady Mary? Or to us?
It was an especially cruel thing to do, considering that we and the Crawleys were still mourning the sad passing of sweet Lady Sybil. But to see Matthew, the moral compass of the show and the most decent man among the Downton bunch, taken out in such a brutal manner right after his wife had given birth? Well, that was one gut punch too many. And a very cheap shot,
Oh, but Fellowes really knows how to milk the emotion from a plot twist. First, he built some suspense by having Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) being abruptly rushed to the hospital from a vacation in the Scottish countryside. Would there be complications a la sister Sybil?
But then, she comes through with flying colors, delivering a son. And Matthew is in a
He follows that with a scene back at Downton, where an overjoyed Robert is reflecting on the fortunate turns life has taken over the past year. Ah, bliss. But then the Dowager Countess delivers an ominous line:
"We don't always get our just deserts."
Next thing you know, we're staring at a lifeless Matthew lying alongside a country road next to the wreckage of his car. Blood is streaming from his ear.
If Fellowes keeps this up, the "Downton" body count will soon rival that of "The Walking Dead." But if his intention was to pull off an incredible cliff-hanger, he certainly succeeded. Now, we'll all be dying to see what happens next with Mary and her baby boy.
So what did you think of the Season 3 finale? How much will you miss Matthew? Was there a better way to write Dan Stevens out of the show?