Despite the explosion on blogs and social media regarding the Season 3 finale of Downton Abbey, as an author I have to comment. (Yes, I just caught up on episodes.)
My schedule demands I watch little television, rather than read a book or borrow a movie from the library to watch with my family. But as a writer whose emphasis is on character driven fiction, from the beginning I was hooked on Downton. (Plus Notting Hill and Love Actually are some of my favorite movies and I had to see what Hugh Bonneville would do with this story.) Another aspect I love about the Downton Abbey engine is that the show’s catapult can be attributed to exceptional writing, the format (character’s individual plot lines), setting, and historical pertinence within these fascinating people’s lives rather than just “branding and marketing”. Good storytelling still matters – YES! Truly, Fellows and his team, actors etc. have earned their success.
Unfortunately, beyond people’s control, real life has now intervened with this fantastic story.
Who besides me immediately thought of Pam hearing Patrick in the shower? It could happen, right??? It will happen . . . Please God . . . (Hey, I was young but I remember who shot J.R.!)
Now viewers feel as if they have been tricked for three years. They feel cheated and robbed. Cybil was bad enough, but we could recover . . . However, out of all the characters the one whose purpose, motivation, and skill has pulled everyone else together. When you remove the beat of that vibrant heart and seek to replace it can the story continue? Sure. Will the story’s resonance be what it was, or more importantly, will viewers be willing to emotionally invest in the story to the level they once did?
I don’t know, and that’s the biggest disappointment of all.
I give tremendous credit to Julian Fellows for writing the only plausible solution instead of having characters morph into someone else overnight to write an actor off the show. There is consolation in that (even though I despise it). Still, the result is one, unpopular choice . . . I, like the other millions have to wait to see what Downton will give, and I in return, with Season 4.