How Maggie Smith’s departure will put an end to ‘Downton Abbey’

The hugely popular costume drama, ‘Downton Abbey‘ has had me hooked ever since I discovered it back in 2010. It was exactly what girls have always wanted in a tv show: love, scandal, drama, fancy costumes and gorgeous men, all in the spectacular English countryside of the early 20th century. Dame Maggie Smith, who we have seen in Gosford Park and Harry Potter, stole the show in her portrayal of the Dowager Countess . She has wielded her character’s powerful position with simple jerks of the chin, twitches of her lips, and a gaze that could make a bird stand to attention. She is a great presence in a show that boasts over 12 leading characters.

But the Daily Mail is reporting that Smith has told writer Julian Fellowes that she wants the third season of Downton Abbey to be her last. The source said, “She is keen to pursue other roles so Julian is preparing to write her out. He always has several endings so it won’t be too difficult for him, but losing Maggie will be a great loss.” Fans all over the internet are desperate for this to news to be nothing more than a rumor, but it is a rumor that has been circulating for some time and if the Daily Mail’s “source” is to be believed we will be saying farewell to the Dowager Countess in the 2012 Christmas Special. While I contemplated how sad it would be to see Maggie Smith’s formidable character written off through death I started to wonder whether this would actually be a fitting end for both the Dowager Countess and Downton Abbey itself. Before you run off and tell Carson that I’m speaking ill of the matron-head of our family hear me out.

Downton Abbey has had a great run for a show that isn’t based on a book and a wonderful cast that have all risen momentously to the challenge of making stiff old Edwardian life seem interesting and exciting. But can it survive after Season 3? Julian Fellowes has proven himself to be a more than capable writer. (He’s got an Oscar sitting on his mantlepiece.) Season 1 and 2 smoothly transitioned through the sinking of the Titanic to the beginning of WW1 through to its end and we got to see the development of characters who we loved or loved to hate. *Spoilers Ahead* But now that Mary and Matthew are engaged, and Bates isn’t going to swing what more can Season 3 conjure that will leave the audience wanting more? We’ll get to see Sybil and Branson’s baby, Edith might finally find love, Lady Grantham’s American mother will come to stir up some trouble and Bates will probably get out of jail. The only other storyline that could keep Downton Abbey running for a fourth season is if Patrick Crawley (or Peter Gordon) comes back to shake things up again. The end of the Dowager Countess’ life in Season 3 would not make any major differences to Matthew’s inevitable inheritance of Downton and that’s the issue that has been the backbone to the show. The will they/won’t they relationship between Mary and Matthew thread and the will he/won’t he inherit Downton plot have almost been completely resolved and only one more season is needed to tie the threads.

So maybe Maggie Smith’s decision to leave Downton Abbey is a tactical one. Would she leave if she thought the show had more to offer? Or is she just leaving because she’s felt that she’s explored all she can with her character? I guess we won’t know for certain until Maggie Smith herself confirms or denies this rumor.

Do you think Season 3 will be the last for Downton Abbey? Do you think there should be more? Leave your thoughts below!


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