'Downton Abbey' Season 3 finale: Season 4 promises new love and a new face at Downton

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downton-abbey-season-3-finale.jpgThe Season 3 finale of "Downton Abbey" aired Sunday night (Feb. 17) and there were some major plot twists, so don't keep reading if you haven't seen the episode already.

Did you have to grab a hankie for the last few frames tonight? We will confess to being just a little bit mad at actor Dan Stevens choosing to leave the show and therefore kind of painting the writers into a corner.

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Killing Matthew was really the only option. Having Matthew simply leave Mary would have been extraordinarily out of character and re-casting the role would have been a huge disappointment, we feel. Matthew's death is almost kind of fitting for his relationship with Lady Mary -- they just never could find much happiness, could they?

It's interesting that now there are two new babies at Downton who are each missing one of their parents. We wonder if the writers knew Stevens was leaving before or after they chose to kill off Lady Sybil.

Either way, it's a sad turn of events. We hope the Season 4 premiere doesn't skip ahead too much, because watching Lady Mary and Robert and Cousin Isobel deal with Matthew's death should provide for excellent television. Those actors will probably blow us away with such hearty material, so, as Lady Violet says, we hope the show doesn't go the way of Greek drama and have all that happen off-screen.

And speaking of Season 4 -- the creators have revealed they are casting a new love interest for Mary. How do you feel about that, fans? Do you think she should move on in the next season? Frankly, it kind of breaks our hearts to think of Tom and/or Mary moving on from their respective spouses. It'll be interesting to watch, that's for sure.

Creator Julian Fellowes also adds that "viewers will see Mary adjusting to her life and attempting to move on without the man she loved."

It seems as though most of the action-packed episode was eclipsed by the last few minutes, but there were a few other things that happened.

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The new maid making a play for Branson was not our favorite thing ever. As we said, we don't really want to see him moving on just yet, plus he certainly cannot be moving on with a staff member -- not after being married to a lady of the house.

It does intrigue us, though, to see him eat dinner with the staff and participate in tug-of-war at the fair with the staff. It will be fun to watch Tom navigate the line between the upstairs and the downstairs in Season 4.

The other staff members were great fun this episode -- Grandpa Carson being so excited about Mary's baby, plus bonding with baby Sybil; Mrs. Patmore and Mrs. Hughes were adorable dealing with the suitor; it was also very nice to see Thomas and Jimmy come to a resolution. Dare we say Thomas is turning into a bit of a hero and likable character?

Speaking of Carson, actor Jim Carter says he thinks Carson should marry Mrs. Hughes. We thought we were the only ones who 'ship Carson and Mrs. Hughes.

We were a bit disappointed at the outcome for Dr. Clarkson and Cousin Isobel. Do you think she knew what he was up to and played dumb to spare his feelings? Or do you really think she hadn't caught on? It might be nice to see that storyline pursued in Season 4. Isobel will need someone after the loss of her son and we were pleasantly surprised at how much we liked Dr. Clarkson pursuing her.

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The trip to the Scottish Highlands was a gorgeous outing for the family -- it provided quite the contrast to life at Downton, particularly the way Shrimpy is so unhappy in his marriage (as opposed to Robert and Cora).

Anna and Bates were in fine form and O'Brien giving Molesley the spiked drink provided for some hilarity.

We aren't sure how we feel about Lady Edith. She certainly deserves some happiness and her editor Michael is a great guy who seems to truly treasure Edith's brains and gumption. It's just that pesky wife detail. One thing is for sure -- Edith deserves better than to be someone's mistress, so we hope that isn't the way it ends up.

Finally, looks like hellcat Rose is coming to Downton for Season 4. How do you feel about that? She's no Lady Sybil, but it might prove fun to watch her butt heads with Lady Violet.

What did you think, Downtonites? Leave your thoughts below. And check out our Season 4 wish list for all the characters.
Photo/Video credit: PBS