Downton Abbey season 2 ends: What's next for season 3?

For those of us mourning the end of season two of Downton Abbey, it’s going to be many months before season three of the British period drama picks up again. How will it turn out?

Nick Briggs/Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for MASTERPIECE/PBS/AP
In this image released by PBS, front row from left, Iain Glen as Sir Richard Carlisle, Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary, and Dan Stevens as Matthew Crawley are shown in a scene from the second season on 'Downton Abbey.'

For those of you (us) now mourning the end of season two of PBS’s "Downton Abbey", it’s going to be many barren months before season three of the British period drama picks up again next January. Meanwhile, we can only wonder what will be.

Will Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley really settle their passionate-but-prickly relationship? Will the valet Mr. Bates be released from prison and into the arms of his beloved lady’s maid, Anna? Will the footman Thomas and lady’s maid O’Brien – ever the schemers – finally be found out?

And perhaps most titillating, will Shirley MacLaine as Lady Cora’s American mother strike acting sparks with Maggie Smith as the dowager countess? The clash of the Oscar-winning septuagenarian mothers-in-law? That alone makes it worth catching up on the first two seasons on Netflix and

Bloggers are going nuts, and there’s some actual reporting to note.

“On my Irish trousers... The 3rd series rocks more than the Cliffs of Moher!! (Irish national treasure!)” tweets Allen Leech, who plays the Irish chauffeur, Branson, love interest to Lady Sybil, youngest of the three Crawley daughters.

Naturally, Julian Fellowes, "Downton Abbey" creator and writer (who won an Oscar for his "Gosford Park" screenplay and who also played the wonderful Lord Kilwillie in the terrific BBC series "Monarch of the Glen") plays it very close to the vest in a New York Times interview.

Will Patrick Crawley, the crucial missing heir (who went down with the Titanic in 1912 but may – or may not – have reappeared years later) reenter the narrative, which would upset the whole story line about who gets the estate? (And make us revisit that British legal oddity known as the “entail.”)

“Some people have washing lines full of characters and blackboards covered with designs and things pointing at each other,” said Fellowes. (Known more formally as Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, he's a member of the House of Lords.) “I don’t really have that. I feel we need to know a little bit more about him, but whether we go back there, I don’t know.”

We’re pretty sure he does know; he’s just not saying.

Hugh Bonneville, who plays Lord Grantham, is similarly tight-lipped.

"Season 3 – well it starts in the spring of 1920, that's a few months after the end of season 2 and spans about 18 months,” he tells Zap2it. “After the urgency of the war years, things calm down a bit … but only a bit! … There are plenty of surprises in store, put it that way."

Will there be a season 4?

“Sufficient unto the day,” "Downton Abbey" creator Fellowes tells the Times, quoting biblically. “I feel that one can’t really think much beyond that. Although I agree, I do not think it should just go on and on forever.”

Many of us Masterpiece Classics fans would strongly disagree. Surely the story line could go on to include Princess Di and then Kate Middleton. We already know that Helen Mirren (that’s “Dame Helen Mirren” to those of us whose ancestry was definitely “below stairs”) could play a terrific Elizabeth II.

Meanwhile, we can watch YouTube videos of Elizabeth McGovern (who plays Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham) do what she does in real life: fronting the band Sadie and the Hotheads.

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