Season 3 of Downton Abbey claims its second big-name victim. Warning: Spoilers ahead.
Matthew Crawley managed to avoid the Grim Reaper during his time in the World War I trenches, but the Hooded One finally came calling for him on last night's Season 3 finale (or, if you're going by British continuity, the Christmas Special) of Downton Abbey. Considering the ignoble way he met his maker -- crashing his car on the way back to Downton just moments after meeting his son for the first (and last) time -- it might have been better if he had died in battle. At least then he would have gone out in service of a cause, rather than an inability to watch the damn road.
On the other hand, this demise was more in keeping with Matthew's character; let's face it, the dude always was something of a twit; a handsome, well-meaning twit, but a twit all the same, one who repeatedly fell back asswards into great fortune and almost inevitably found some way to feel miserable about it. Remember that he only became Downton's heir apparent by accident in the first place; he was just a simple lawyer of modest means when Lord Grantham informed him that the manor would be his, following the demise of the original heir, Patrick, on the good ship Titanic. (Unless you buy into the storyline floated last season that Patrick was actually alive and well... apart from his severe war-inflicted burns and partial memory loss, that is. But like Edith, we're still pretending all that never happened.)
And then there was the whole Mary mess, where he kept allowing his damnable male pride to get in the way Chasing Amy-style, resulting in one of the most annoying on-again, off-again romances in recent memory. At least Matthew can die secure in the knowledge that he fulfilled the role that Lord Grantham really intended for him all along: sperm donor. Now that there's a direct descendent of his line running around, Downton's future is secure... provided the Earl doesn't lose all their money again first. (Presumably, that's what Branson is for.) Along with Cora's miscarriage and Sybil's recent death, Matthew's passing confirms what we've long suspected: there's truly nothing more dangerous on Downton Abbey than a pregnancy.
What We'll Miss About Matthew
* His adorably floppy hair, with that perfectly maintained curl always front and center.
* His equally charming and unnerving naïveté about the male reproductive system.
* His flowering bromance with fellow Crawley son-in-law Branson. That poor guy will probably miss Matthew even more than Mary.
* His devotion to his mother, Cousin Isobel, who shares his good heart and flighty mind.
* His ability to get under Lord Grantham's skin, which always brought out fussy best in Hugh Bonneville.
Favorite Matthew Memories
* Standing up to the Dowager Countess's withering contempt (a contempt that would fell most mortals) and declaring that he was still going to pursue his legal career even after being named Downtown's heir. Granted, the war sort of got in the way of that and by Season 3, he was more or less employed by the manor full-time, but still... it was the thought that counted at the time.
* Realizing that the whole "I'm in a wheelchair" storyline was dumb and that he should just stand up already.
* Dropping to one knee and proposing to Mary a second time while snow is falling all around them. No wonder she replied with an unequivocal "Yes."
* Saving the family's face and Branson's reputation when he picks the belligerent Irishman (and victim of a mild drugging) to be his best man at a tense dinner party. Like we said, Tom is really going to miss that guy.
* Making up with Mary following a row over whether or not he'll accept his dead fiancee's father's inheritance by complying with her request to kiss her with his eyes closed. And just to make sure he's following orders, she opens her peepers while their lips are locked. (Yes, his eyes are indeed closed -- that boy's been well-trained.)
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