Welcome to the board, ukyprincesskelli. I hope you'll like it here. To answer your questions:
1. Why, oh why, did Dan Stevens decide not to return??? How could he do this to me, err us??? Or better yet, could we not have found a different actor to play Matthew?
DS wanted to pursue other acting opportunities, most likely in Hollywood (same reason why Jessica Brown Findlay (Sybil) decided to leave Downton and had her character killed off too). He felt that he had three good years playing Matthew and he wanted to move on to pursue other things. You could find his explanation on why he chose to leave Downton in his own words at http://www.telegraph...nton-Abbey.html
Julian Fellowes decided that casting another actor to play Matthew was too risky. He and the producers must've calculated that since DS has become the face of Matthew Crawley in the past three years and there's a lot of M/M fans out there who adore DS and Michelle Dockery, many fans might not accept the new actor as Matthew and there might be backlash/poor ratings in S4 as a result. That's why they decided not to recast Matthew and killed him off instead.
2. Where do you all think the show will pick up in season 4? Telling Mary about Matthew? Matthew's funeral?
Hugh Bonneville has been quoted recently that S4 will start appx. 8-9 months after Matthew's death (sometime in spring/summer 1922). So I'm afraid there won't be any funeral scenes for Matthew, just like there wasn't one for Sybil .
3. Does anyone else see the possibility of Rose and Branson liking one another?
It's possible. I'm not sure if it's going to happen though. Rose is supposed to be Sybil's replacement (but she doesn't have the brain, and the desire to change the world/the UK class system like latter had) and Tom is supposed to like her just because she's Sybil's replacement? I don't think so . I also don't see the possibility of a Mary/Tom romance either as they have absolutely 100% nothing in common (she's the classic British aristocratic lady and Tom is a socialist Irish revolutionary, albeit one who's "tamed" by his marriage to Sybil and his new position as Downton's estate manager). And as far as I know most M/M and S/T fans don't like the idea of a Mary/Tom romance either. But Edith and Tom might be a possibility I could live with, since both of them are rebelling against the class system of the 1920s (Edith in S3 resembles Sybil in S1), they're both considered by their family members as misfits and both were often ignored by their other family members. I think if Tom's destined to be paired with another Crawley sister, it should be with Edith.
4. "Her lady's soap" - will this ever come out?????? Thomas redeemed himself a little in my opinion by sticking up for James (Jimmy) but there are still a lot of secrets that must come forward. And O'Brien, well there is no redemption for her in my books.
Well, I think it would've come out sometime in S4 or S5, either from Bates or Thomas . The question then is after it's out, what would've Cora do against O'Brien, would she have the guts to fire her?? After all, they've grown much more closer w/one another within 8 years after the "soap" incident, signified by O'Brien's insistence to care for her during the Spanish Flu episode.
5. Will Ms. Hughes and Carson ever be together???
I hope they will be, but I have a feeling that they would've turned like Mr. Stevens and Ms. Kempton from "The Remains of the Day" who while clearly developing romantic feelings with one another but they never acted on them and in the end, never got together (at least for Mr. Stevens, I think Ms. Kempton would've dumped the dour valet she eventually married in a heartbeat had Mr. Stevens admitted his love to her). Carson is a strong traditionalist who always follow "service" rules and one of the rulers of housekeeper "service" in this period was that a male servant shouldn't fall in love with his co-worker from the opposite sex (and vice versa) and if they do they have to quit "service" (however, Bates and Anna were able to pursue a romance together w/out either one of them having to quit Downton), I doubt he would've ever admitted his love to Mrs. Hughes, at least not until he was in his deathbed or if she was in hers .
6. And Edith, what are your thoughts on this? I feel as though she is in the novel "Jane Eyre" Caring for a man who is married to a crazy woman. I think Edith can do better than this, and I wish Sir Anthony would return!!!
I don't like the idea of Edith becoming a mistress to Gregson either. I wish Sir Anthony would've returned as well since I think there's a lot of chemistry b/w them (despite their age differences and despite Anthony's reluctance to marry Edith). However, Robert Bathrust (the actor who plays Sir Anthony) is now starring in another period drama which is produced by BBC, a rival to ITV's Downton. Thus I think his chances of returning to Downton (at least in S4) is not good . On the other hand, if Edith falls in love with a younger man who could've make her happy (say Tom??), IMO think it would've been a happy ending for her and (for Tom as well) .
Edited by Lord of the Manor, 01 February 2013 - 03:42 AM.