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Downton Abbey Season 3: Where Will the 20s Take Us?

April 13, 2012

Downton-AbbeyFor fans of Downton Abbey, January 2013 cannot come quickly enough (unless you have the great fortune of living in Britain, in which case you only have to wait until September!).

Production has already begun on Season 3 of the wildly popular British series, yet surprisingly few details have trickled out. No doubt fans will speculate as to the fates of their favorites characters for the next nine (or five) months, but creator Julian Fellowes and his staff have offered up a few precious bits of foreshadowing for us. Mild spoilers and wild speculation below…

Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley: Everyone’s favorite will-they-or-won’t-they couple finally came together at the end of Season 2. Executive Producer Rebecca Easton assures us that Mary and Matthew will get married in Season 3, but I wonder if their romantic troubles are over. Though Matthew was able to walk again after his war injury, we don’t know if he can still have children, and what would happen if he and Mary cannot produce an heir? I predict a late-season inheritance scare, followed by the birth of an absurdly cute baby boy just as the family realizes their way of life is becoming increasingly untenable.

John and Anna Bates: Everyone’s second favorite couple will face huge obstacles in Season 3. Though John’s death sentence was commuted, he must still fight his appeal, which will surely last throughout the season. Fellowes has said that, while he doesn’t want to undermine the love between John and Anna, “they’ve got to suffer a little.” I predict a late-season reprieve, and John and Anna will go on to run Mary and Matthew Crawley’s new household.

O’Brien and Thomas: Season 2 saw Ms. O’Brien developing a conscience while Thomas seemed determined to shed his, and the gulf between them widened. O’Brien seems genuinely regretful of her actions toward Lady Cora at the end of Season 1 and spent most of Season 2 trying to make up for it. Thomas, on the other hand, came back from the war greedier than ever. I predict Thomas will turn on O’Brien now that she’s no longer his ally, and both will end up leaving Downton.

Lord Grantham and Lady Cora: We didn’t see much character development from Lord Grantham in Season 2. In fact, the entire season seemed built on the idea of his family and world changing around him while he clung stubbornly to the life he’s always known. Other than a brief dalliance with a housemaid, not much happened for Lord Robert last year. Lady Cora, on the other hand, found real purpose with the running of the convalescence home. I predict the return to normal life will weigh heavily on both of them, and may even cause a rift. Especially if Robert tells Cora about the housemaid.

Lady Sybil and Branson: Since Sybil and Branson took off for Ireland last season, we haven’t heard much from them. They’re married and she’s pregnant. By all accounts they’re happy. I predict they will return to Downton in Season 3, though briefly, and will go on to make lots of fat Irish babies.

Lady Edith: Poor Lady Edith. Girl can’t catch a break! First she falls for Sir Anthony Strallan, only to have Mary wreck that before he can propose. Then she falls for the wounded soldier pretending to be the original heir to Downton, Patrick Crawley, before he runs back to Canada. THEN, she reunites with Sir Anthony, only to have him tell her that he won’t have her be his nursemaid. She just wants to be loved! I predict that she will wear Sir Anthony down and they will marry by the end of the season.

The Dowager Countess: Season 3 brings the introduction of Lady Cora’s mother, played by Shirley MacLaine, who will no doubt give the Dowager Countess a run for her money. I predict an end-of-season Youtube snark-off between the two old broads.

Fellowes has hinted that Season 3 of Downton Abbey will be the last and will deal primarily with the changing landscape of Europe: women getting the vote, the Russian Revolution, the social upheaval that is bound to leave its mark on the Abbey. Eaton has let it slip that a beloved character will die, though of course we don’t know who that will be (but please not Carson!). Beyond that, we’ll all just have to wait through the long, slow summer to see what happens to our beloved protagonists.

Downton Abbey Season 3 will air on British television beginning September 2012 and in the U.S. beginning January 2013.

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