Downton Abbey Season 3 Finale Recap: Matthew Dies in Car Crash, Lady Mary Has Baby Boy
Fast-forward a year and Mary is a glorious eight months pregnant when we start the Downton AbbeySeason 3 finale episode (which aired as a 2012 Christmas special in England). The Crawleys and some of the staff (Moseley, O'Brien, Bates, and Anna) take off to visit relative Shrimpy at gorgeous Duneagle Castle in Inverness. They leave behind Branson, Baby Sybil, Isis the family dog, and the rest of the staff.
Back at Downton, Mrs. Patmore gets hit on by an extroverted food supply guy named Tufton. (On the cook's blossoming romance, Daisy quips, "Why not? She's a woman isn't she?" Thomas snarks back, "Only technically.") Mr. Carson is all over the staff like white on rice, while Alfred and Jimmy try their hardest to slack off while the Crawleys are away. Branson is made to feel bad after being put in a series of awkward situations by saucy new maid Edna. What's up with this girl?
Meanwhile, could love really be blossoming between Isobel Crawley and Dr. Clarkson — or is it just a sad, one-sided romance?
Though things at Duneagle Castle seem idyllic, there is definitely some trouble in paradise, and we're not just talking about the bagpipes. Shrimpy doesn't like his wife and she doesn't like him. Evidence of their mutual dislike escalates throughout the episode, but it's not just their relationship that's painful. Despite Lady Mary's relentless bitchiness toward Edith and her new "friend", Edith braves introducing Mr. Gregson to the family. Is their love doomed because Gregson's married to a crazy woman — or is Mary unknowingly doing Edith a favor by denigrating Edith's burgeoning relationship with the wealthy London newspaper editor?
At the Thirsk Country Fair, Mrs. Hughes observes Mrs. Patmore's flirtacious new admirer being sleazy, while also on keeping an eye on the touchy-feely stuff developing between Branson and Edna. After a crafty victory at a game of tug-o-war, Jimmy gets roaringly drunk, flaunts his winnings, then puts himself at risk by ending up under a bridge for no real reason. Under the bridge, Jimmy runs into his pissed-off tug-o-war competitors who want a little payback for their monetary losses. Thomas swoops in to save Jimmy, and Jimmy scurries to safety just as Thomas starts getting the crap beat out of him. Could this act of sacrifice redeem Thomas in Jimmy's eyes? All we know is that it's the most selfless we've seen Thomas, well, ever.
Alfred reveals his desire to work with food and gets shot down by Mrs. Hughes, but we're sure he'll end up in the kitchen next season (which means Daisy will probably go take over at William's dad's farm). After gulping down a glass full of liquor, Dr. Thurston broaches the topic of getting married again with a clueless Mrs. Crawley, but the conversation is abruptly cut off by Jimmy, who's desperate to get beat-up Thomas some medical attention. Meanwhile, Mr. Carson plays babysitter and gets in some QT with Baby Sybil. Can we get an awww-men?
O'Brien just might have met someone more evil than she is — Marchioness MacClare's lady's maid, who spikes O'Brien's drink at the Gillie's Ball in a jealous rage over O'Brien's badass hair stylin' skills. Moseley ends up gulping down the spiked drink after O'Brien rejects it, and later gets crunk on the dance floor. This hot mess happens after Anna impresses Bates with her new Scottish dance moves. After dancing around a bit, pregnant Mary experiences some pain and tells Matthew she's going back to Downton early and without him.
Back at Downton, Mrs. Hughes finally sits Mrs. Patmore down for some real talk about creeper Tufton. Though at first we think she's hurt, Mrs. Patmore is relieved and the pair of tough old birds share a laugh. This might be the most endearing scene all episode!
Elsewhere in the estate, maid Edna busts in on a shirtless Branson, makes a lunch date with him, and steals a kiss — and Branson doesn't object! Ruh-roh. No good can come of this, right? After Edna brazenly (read: stupidly) admits she plans on meeting Branson at lunch, Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson agree that Edna needs to get to steppin'. After Mrs. Hughes confronts Branson about the Edna situation, he unleashes his grief over Sybil's death.
Mary gets off the train and asks to be rushed to the hospital — countdown to baby time! This news prompts the family to return to the estate a day early, but not before Lady Grantham agrees to take wild child Rose under her wings at Downton. Also, after seeing all of Marquess MacClare's drama, Lord Crawley finally comes to the realization that Downton will be just fine in Matthew's capable hands.
Jimmy ends up forgiving Thomas, who is clearly still obsessed with the blond footman. Though the scene could've gone terribly wrong, the two agree to a friendship. We like this new, humble Thomas!
At the hospital, Lady Mary has a baby boy (the new heir to the Crawley fortune!) a whole month early, but both mother and child are healthy and happy. While holding his newborn son, Matthew adorably proclaims, "I feel like I swallowed a box of fireworks!" The couple is beaming with love, and the scene is reminiscent of their first kiss at the end of last season's Christmas special.
Matthew, in a state of euphoria, drives back to Downton to tell his family the good news, but ends up getting into a head-on collision and dying. Just as we are basking in all the happiness from this episode, Matthew up and freaking DIES! And then it just ends! Will Downton be the same without Matthew and Mary together? Looks like unlike hero Branson will be the family's last hope, but what will the they do without Matthew's grand plan and legal know-how?