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Three Reasons Why Downton Season 3 Smashed Records

Matthew and Mary's wedding made season 3 sweet. Photo courtesy PBS.
Matthew and Mary's wedding made season 3 sweet. Photo courtesy PBS.

Twenty-four million viewers have spoken! That’s how many of them tuned in to watch Downton Abbey Season 3, cementing the Masterpiece hit as the highest rated PBS drama of all time. Die hard Downton fans like us aren’t surprised at this news. Season 3 had all of the elements to make it the blockbuster it turned out to be. Here are three reasons why I think season 3 was so phenomenal.

1.) Mary and Matthew’s Wedding: You can’t go wrong by starting off with a wedding. Julian Fellowes finally gave us what we really wanted: the nuptials between pretty boy Matthew and Ice Queen Mary. It would have been nice to have seen the full ceremony. But catching Mary glide down the stairs in her gown and train as Mr. Carson and her father Robert had their breaths taken away was a good enough substitute.

2.) The Hunky Footmen and the Squabbling Servants: The introduction of the footmen James (I mean Jimmy) Kent and Alfred Nugent made our hearts and the maids’ hearts beat faster. Plus it put a pep in Thomas' mischievous step. And why wouldn’t they as Jimmy and Alfred are such good eye candy?

They became the source of cat fights among the ladies particularly Daisy who seemed to find her pouty voice this season. These men made the scheming O’Brien even more malicious as she tried to use them to push her former friend Thomas out. And speaking of Thomas he became human and and dare I say likeable this season because of how badly the tables were turned on him. Who couldn't resist shedding at least one tear when he stepped in to get beaten up on Jimmy's behalf at the fair?

3.) Sudden Deaths: Unfortunately no lives are safe in Downton, especially the lives of nobles. Julian Fellowes seemed to have no trouble killing off lovable characters Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley without giving much notice that the deaths were impending. (Sure if we really wanted to know who made the death roll, we could have scoured the Internet for information since the shows had already aired in the U.K. I know I did and hinted at it in this blog! )

But seeing how it plays out on screen is another story. Who really saw Sybil’s death coming? In her final episode, one moment she was holding her baby after giving birth; later that night she wakes up in pain shouting with full blown eclampsia. She convulses and dies in front of her shocked and helpless doctors and her family. Heartbreaking!

It is a similar story with Matthew Crawley. The entire final episode he was alive and quite well, happy to greet his newborn son. No one could have predicted he would meet his end during the final minutes of the season ender, in a car accident as he drove home from the hospital in ignorant bliss. (I was in such disbelief that I watched the screen for 15 more minutes, sure that there would be another scene where Robert and Cora explained that the last episode was just a dream! Doesn’t Julian Fellowes watch classic episodes of the show “Dallas”?” Oh well.)

I can’t wait to find out what happens in Season 4. Why do you think Season 3 was so sensational? What were your favorite moments? Leave some comments about it here.