Eight Better Ways To Kill Off Matthew Crawley
American fans of the British import Downton Abbey were livid this week when the third season ended by suddenly killing off beloved husband and estate savior Matthew Crawley in a car accident. And while writer Julian Fellowes may have had no option except death for writing off this character, he could have done it in a much more integrated and less lazy way.
Actor Dan Stevens, who played Matthew, did not renew his contract beyond this season. And Fellowes explained in interviews that it wouldn’t make sense to write off the loving father and husband without killing him.
Fine. But Matthew’s death seems like it was written in one sentence- “Suddenly, Matthew’s car runs off road”- after the entire episode had been filmed already. This is in stark contrast to the well-written and affecting tragedy of Lady Sybil’s death earlier in the season, which reflected her father’s unwavering commitment to statues and tradition, and the marginalization of women in that era.
Here are a few other ways Downton could have killed off Matthew:
- Mrs. Hughes’ electric toaster sets the house on fire, Matthew dies as he gets Mary and his newborn son to safety.
- Matthew is killed by an irate farmer who lost his livelihood because of the changes at Downton.
- Matthew dies in the infamous Abermule train crash.
- Matthew is assassinated by a greif-stricken former Turkish diplomat, who believes Matthew is responsible for the death of the diplomat’s son (yes, I know Matthew wasn’t even around then, but maybe the Turk wouldn’t know that).
- You know what was going on in 1921? THE IRISH WAR OF INDEPENDENCE. And once upon a time, Tom Branson cared about such things. This violent conflict could have offered any number of ways to off Matt. For example: Tom secretly flees back to Ireland to get involved, pursued by his brother-in-law/best friend who wants to keep him safe. Maybe Matthew leaps in front of a bullet intended for Tom.
- Alternatively, Matthew is called back to military service, sent to Belfast, and killed in the hostilities.
- Matthew is killed in an airship crash, which seems to have been a very modern and very dangerous mode of travel in the 1920′s.
- Matthew gets sick, is misdiagnosed repeatedly, and catches an infection in the hospital. Seven years before the discovery of penicillin, this was not uncommon.
Silly? Sure. Not entirely plausible? Maybe. But I’d say each of these has more thematic resonance than getting run off the road by a chicken truck. And they took me about five minutes to think of.
What do you think?