I’m a big fan of Downton Abbey. Huge. The Cousin Matthew and Mary love story, the Mr. Bates fiasco, the moral yet flawed Earl of Grantham, the fiendish Thomas, the anxiety-ridden Daisy and her emotionally abusive boss Mrs. Patmore. I love them all.
But I just finished watching Season 2 on Netflix, and I’ll be honest, I’m disappointed with how it ended. World War I ends, Matthew and Mary finally stop being silly and get engaged, Mr. Bates doesn’t get executed and he’s now legally married to the love of his life, Lord Crawly decides NOT have an affair, everyone is happy, everyone is still super rich. And that just sucks.
I don’t mean to tell the writers of Downton Abbey how to do their jobs, but where the hell are they supposed to go with season 3 now? Stories on television thrive on drama, conflict, and prolonging the unrequited love and sexual tension for as long as possible. Exhibit A, The Office (American Version): Jim and Pam apart, best show on television. Jim and Pam together, that annoying married couple with kids no one wants to hang out with.
So I decided to fix the problem. This is how Downton Abbey season 2 SHOULD have ended.
How Downton Abbey Season 2 Should Have Ended
First, a pissed-off Sir Richard publishes the story of Mary getting so rowdy in the sheets with the Turk that she killed the man, causing Mary the anticipated shame that forces her to move to New York City, where all ruined, immoral people go to make a name for themselves.
At the same time, Mr. Bates is sentenced to death and his execution date is set. Miss O’Brien or Thomas or one of those semi-evil characters goes to the execution, and tells the whole Crawly family Mr. Bates is toast. An inconsolable Anna goes to America with Mary to escape the good memories that now haunt her, like when I had to sell that ceramic bowl I made at Color Me Mine with my ex-girlfriend from college on our first date.
Meanwhile, Lord Crawly DOES have an affair with that one maid whose name I can’t remember. But he’s a good man at heart, and immediately feels guilty about it and they part ways, just like they did in the real season 2. But the last few shots imply that we haven’t seen the last of the slutty widow maid yet.
While all that is going on, a guilt-ridden Matthew is still crying over the death of Lavinia like a pre-teen little girl who just had her first period. But as he’s wallowing in self-pity while still finding time to gaze just off camera to let all the female viewers bask in the glory of his perfect baby blues, he has a graphic dream where Lavinia appears and tells him to stop being gay and go after his true love. This is followed by some touching scene at Lavinia’s gravesite where he finally lays her and his guilt to rest, giving viewers an opportunity for a gentle cry and an encouraging shout as he runs to the boat dock to stop Mary from leaving for America.
But he’s too late and arrives just in time to see her boat leaving. He sees her on board and yells her name, but a visibly depressed Mary is sulking and staring into the horizon and doesn’t see him. Matthew turns around to leave, all sad and crestfallen as Matthew often is, but out of the corner of his eye he sees a man who appears to be staring at him. It’s Mr. Bates. What?! Twist! No Way! I need to change my pants!!! That’ll make them press “next episode” on their Roku box.
Matthew takes the emaciated and injured Mr. Bates back to his home to care for him, and as they sit sipping tea like proper English gentlemen, Mr. Bates tells Matthew the details of his escape. Mr. Bates was sentenced to hang, but literally seconds before the sentence was to be carried out, the court granted his lawyer’s request to reduce his sentence to life in prison instead of execution. Thomas mistakenly saw someone else get hanged, and since they all have hoods on when they’re hanged, it was an honest mistake. Or was it? Close up of Thomas with a face that’s hiding something, evil music outro …
Bates continues his story. After returning to jail, Bates heard about Anna leaving for America, and couldn’t stand to be in prison or live without her. He managed to escape in a really super cool way that they’ll show via flashback. Injured and on the run, he evades policemen and suspicious shopkeepers to arrive at the docks just a few moments too late, but just in time to see his friend Matthew Crawly whimpering like little boy who just found out what sex is and that his parents do it not just to make babies.
So Matthew and Mr. Bates hatch a scheme to escape England and get to America to find the women they love. A few close-ups of their hopeful, dashing faces for swoon-quality, cut to next scene.
By the end of the season finale, we see Mary and Anna arriving in New York City at the start of what would be called the roaring 20s (tell me THAT wouldn’t be a cool setting for season 3), Matthew boarding a ship and sneaking Mr. Bates on as a stow-away or in disguise or something, and Thomas doing something sneaky like he always does.
As the audience is pissing themselves full of anticipation and excitement over what season 3 will bring, we see the jilted Maid what’s-her-name demanding that Lord Crawly divorce his wife and marry her instead or she will cause legal and social problems for the Earl’s family, because she is PREGNANT and likely carrying the true heir of Downton Abbey. DUM dum DAHHH!
End of season. Everyone’s minds are blown. I drop the mic and walk away.
See? That gives Season 3 so much more excitement leading in and a lot of fodder for the writers to work with. They can film half of it in 1920s New York, half of it in post-war Downton Abbey in England. That’s a no-fail formula. Why I’m not an award-winning TV writer yet, I’ll never know. But I do know this. Downton Abbey is an awesome show that could be even better if they actually responded to my fan letters and screenplay critiques. But they don’t respond. Why? Because they are snobs. Just like the ones they created for Downton Abbey. And oh, how I love those snobs.
In closing, here’s a picture of Mary looking sad.