Overall impression--I didn't enjoy this season as much as the two that preceded it. Several reasons why--it was hard to handle Sibyl's death and then to know that Matthew wasn't going to make it past the final episode.
But also I think the driving force behind the two first seasons was the Mary/Matthew story. Will they ever get together and find happiness. My favorite episode ever was when Matthew was reported missing. They hold a concert at Downton and Matthew appears in the middle of it when Mary is singing. Corny but so romantic.
I'm not thrilled about the way it's turning into gothic melodrama/soap opera. The man with the mad wife, a la Jane Eyre? Surely there would be a provision in the courts that if someone was no longer able to recognize their husband the marriage could be terminated?
And I never felt the whole Bates story was properly explained. She made a pie with arsenic to poison herself? I don't believe it. She was the worlds most selfish, heartless woman. She made a pie wanting to poison Bates when he came to tea. I think she was taking a little arsenic herself to build up tolerance and took too much but that is never made clear.
I also found it hard to go along with Thomas being promoted, given the feeling on homosexuality at the time. And the fresh and flirty maid was too much. So there was a lot I didn't like. But i did like the way Sibyl's death brought the family together. I liked Edith becoming her own woman, to the point of deciding to be someone's mistress knowing they can't marry. I liked the way Branson is adapting to a new life and is being accepted for his good qualities (and the fact that he can catch a cricket ball).
I just wish they hadn't had to kill off Matthew. Couldn't he have been disfigured in the accident and a new actor could have taken over (having had a face operation)? Or have been in a coma for a couple of seasons and wake up when Mary is about to marry someone else? Or gone to check on land he inherited in India and make the occasional cameo appearances? Someone suggested his death was Julian Fellowes vengeance. Maybe it was.
But will I watch it next year? Heck yes. And if you can't survive until next January in the US, then I have a new book out in August called Heirs and Graces that is about the unlikely heir to a dukedom, a home even statelier than Downton, three weird sisters, two strange children and one horrible duke. (and Georgie doesn't find out that Darcy has a wife in an insane institution and nobody eats a pie with arsenic in it!)
So what are your final thoughts on the season?