The season three finale of PBS’ Masterpiece Classic’ presentation of Downton Abbey soared on Sunday, pulling in a record number of viewers for the British soap opera here in the U.S.! ‘Downton’ nabbed 8.4 million viewers for the finale!
According to TV Line, “That is a new series high, that bests the season premiere’s audience of 7.9 million viewers and marks a 50 percent increase over the period drama’s sophomore finale, which drew 5.4 mil.”
Meanwhile, Downton Abbey producer, Gareth Naeme spoke with EW.com about all the devastating plot twists this season that sent shockwaves to viewers all the way from England to Los Angeles!
If you didn’t need a hankie for when Lady Sybil died, you might have needed one for the last shot of season three with Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) with her newborn as her beloved husband Matthew gets killed in a car accident! Both points serviced the story, according to Naeme, because both Jessica Brown-Findlay (Lady Sybil) and Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley) let it be known that they wanted to exit the series! Here are a few excerpts below with Naeme on all the heartbreaking story endings and the future of ‘Downton’!
Naeme on the reaction of viewers to Lady Sybil and Matthew’s demise: “I think obviously in the structure of the storytelling, the Matthew death is done as a complete sudden twist in the last 30 seconds of the show, so you have no sense of bereavement in that episode. You just have shock. Whereas the Sybil episode, the whole way toward it, there’s a sort of hint that things aren’t going well, so when it happens, you suddenly think, ‘Oh my God, it’s happening.’ And it happens about three-quarters of the way through the episode so you still have, in the final act, all that sense of bereavement. I think that’s such an emotionally satisfying episode because you have all of the worry that something’s going to go wrong then you have this tragic death of her dying in front of all of her family and then you have just the emptiness and bereavement and you have it all in a single episode. Whereas, with Matthew’s death, of course, Mary doesn’t even know about it by the end of the program. So you’re going to see the bereavement she feels when you come back in the new season.”
Naeme on if Branson (Alan Leech) might be the new man for Lady Mary in season four since both are widowed and with children: “I think Mary is the heart of the show more than Matthew, actually. I’m not saying for a minute that people don’t love that relationship, they did. But I think that Mary is the brain and the heart at the middle of this show and I think there’s nothing more powerful than to wonder and speculate at what will happen to her next. It will not be a straightforward journey at all for her, but I know we’ll enjoy watching it unfold. I mean obviously, Branson is in a similar situation as Mary really. We know he’s a widow and he has a young child. Again, he has huge dilemmas to face. Who knows?”
So soapers, what did you think of this season of Downton Abbey? What moment was the saddest for you? Weigh-in!