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Top 5 lessons from the 'Downton Abbey' season finale

By Topher Gauk-Roger, CNN
February 19, 2013 -- Updated 1050 GMT (1850 HKT)
The show is filmed at Highclere Castle, which is located amidst 1,000 acres of parkland near Newbury, England. The show is filmed at Highclere Castle, which is located amidst 1,000 acres of parkland near Newbury, England.
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Popular British drama on PBS has viewers hanging on every arch word
  • Birth and death, love and loss mark season-ender
  • Tom remains caught between two worlds
  • Staff finally get out of the house for a while

(CNN) -- "Downton Abbey" has called it a season, and the concluding chapter had its fair share of the romance, births, deaths and scheming that make the show "must-see television" every week. That is, for everyone but Maggie Smith, it seems.

But for those of us who have been watching since the very beginning, this season was seven episodes of welcoming new characters and mourning the loss of a few fan favorites. Oh, and did we mention Shirley MacLaine?!

Production will soon begin on Season 4, but until then, here are our top five takeaways from Sunday's finale.

1. The end of Matthew Crawley

The end EVERYONE saw coming. It was reported months ago that main cast member Dan Stevens would be shutting the door on his time at Downton. It wasn't long after that news of a death in the Season 3 ender began circulating. For many, it was just a matter of putting two and two together. But for those who remained unspoiled, the car accident at the end of this episode may have come as quite the shocker. The end had come for heartthrob Matthew Crawley. After this, and the earlier death of Lady Sybil, it appears no life is brought into the world of Downton without the loss of another. Yes, Mary gave birth to her first son -- a child who will never get to know his father. The family dynamic at our favorite Edwardian country home certainly has changed since the start of the Roaring '20s. We now have a widow, widower, two young children and a teen occupying space at Downton. How will the family come to terms with the loss of Matthew? How will Cousin Isobel deal with the death of her only son? Will Lady Mary find love again? One can only hope the next season explores this hardship instead of jumping a year or two ahead.

'Downton Abbey' cast backstage at SAG
The real life 'Downton Abbey'

2. Romance is in the air

Almost everyone at Downton faced love life developments before last night's credits rolled. Lady Edith appears more interested in following her heart than her mind as she warms up to the advances of her married editor, Gregson. But is Edith willing to risk bringing scandal to Downton as "the other woman"? We'll have to wait for the next season to know for sure. Anna and Bates appear more in love than ever as they share picnics and let their hair down on their Scotland trip with the family. In the presence of the warring MacClares, Robert and Cora drew closer and shared a couple of tender moments. Even Mrs. Patmore and Isobel each found an admirer in this sprawling episode -- or so they thought. It's not long before both those flames are put out, but it was a pleasant surprise seeing focus spent on the loves of our favorite supporting players.

3. Tom is still dealing with his upgraded social status

Tom did not join the Crawley clan on the Scotland trip, and decided to spend his time with the staff to keep from feeling alone. There was one employee in particular who caught Branson's attention: new maid Edna. Edna develops an attraction to the widower and proceeds to act on her feelings with a kiss. It doesn't take long for Carson and Hughes to catch onto the pair, and they fire the chambermaid before things can go any further. Tom is still reeling from Sybil's death and is still struggling with his transition from employee to family member. He wants to relate to both sides, but has to accept that he is leading a new life. Will Tom find a new mother for Baby Sybbie? Perhaps, but neither he nor fans may be prepared for that just yet.

4. The staff finally get out of the house for a spot of fun

It was nice to see the staff get some time off from their employers. It's not often we see this bunch out of uniform enjoying a little fun outdoors. The trip to the fair provided a chance for the gang to let loose. We also got a nice resolution to the Thomas-Jimmy conflict that plagued episode six. After Jimmy is jumped by a trio of men, it's Thomas who comes to his rescue! There may be a heart of gold hidden underneath those layers of lies and schemes that initially made Thomas so villainous. It's not long before Jimmy thanks Thomas and the two agree to be friends. Strictly platonic, that is.

5. Cousin Rose is here to stay!

That's right, much to many fans' dismay, we haven't seen the last of Rose. In fact, the rebellious teen will be moving in with the Crawley family as her parents travel to India. We suspect it's only a matter of time before the Dowager Countess grows tired of Rose's antics and has her killed off, but perhaps that's mixing confusion with desire. Either way, the latest lady to enter Downton is sure to stir up trouble, and we all know the Abbey can't run without a little scandal mixed in.

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