Percolating plots came to a boil last night on Downton Abbey‘s series 3 finale, and we speculate on what may be coming next. Spoilers ahoy!

Series 3 of Downton Abbey often ran like a freight train, but its finale played like a soft symphony. Though it thundered strong and intense at times, the overall theme was of resolution, and hope for a brighter future for almost everyone at the Abbey.

Perhaps the most sustained conflict of the episode centered around Thomas, whose fate hung in the balance after his attempts to seduce Jimmy were reported to Mr. Carson. Carson’s offer of a “fair” reference in exchange for Thomas’ resignation was quickly nullified by Jimmy’s insistence (by way of O’Brien’s advice) that he would press charges against Thomas unless he was released in disgrace.

Utterly distraught, Thomas reluctantly confided in Mrs. Hughes, who in turn tried to sway Carson to a more generous position. Matters looked grim for Thomas until Bates – having had his share of experience with Ms. O’Brien’s skills as a saboteur – shared his suspicions with Thomas that O’Brien had been behind Jimmy’s threats all along. Anxious to give O’Brien a dose of her own medicine, Bates used an obscure bit of information from Thomas to blackmail her into advising Jimmy to stop Thomas with the police. White as a sheet, O’Brien reversed so fast on her previous advice to Jimmy that she all but strangled herself trying to untangle her own web of snide suggestion.

Bates, meanwhile, attempted to settle into his new domestic life with Anna – who was much less sympathetic to Thomas’ plight than her husband. Ultimately, Bates’ good turns wound up reaping quite a few more than he had intended, initiating an accidental reorganization of the hierarchy of the male staff at Downton.

Upstairs, Robert was preoccupied with beating the village team at their yearly cricket match, while bitterly battling the waves of change sweeping over his life. Matthew and Tom made their stand for modernizing the estate’s business model, to which Robert finally capitulated – at a price.

At the same time, Edith found herself the reluctant chaperone for Violet’s young relative Rose (Lily James) who was mysteriously eager to return to London immediately after her arrival at Downton. Edith’s work at the newspaper seemed to be going well, until she sensed a romantic spark in her interactions with her editor, which led to a surprising confrontation. While in London, she, Matthew and Rosamund were forced to intercede in Rose’s wild goings-on and tow her back to Downton under promises of good behavior and silence. Lady Violet, however, neatly sussed out their secrets and arranged a satisfying comeuppance for Rose’s misbehavior.

Meanwhile, Matthew and Mary began the work of ensuring Downton’s succesion, Tom confided his plans for baby Sybil’s rearing in a hopeful Cora, and Isobel found herself forced to concede to Violet’s not-entirely-insensitive manipulation of The Edith Situation. In the end, everyone dressed in their finest whites and the men played a marginally awkward game of cricket.

And that was that for the third series of Downton Abbey! Overall, a much lighter installment than the previous episodes (both in content and in resolution) but it does give us certain expectations for the future. Will Mary become pregnant? Will the new servants hierarchy be successful? Has O’Brien finally been humbled, or will she swear revenge (once again) on Bates and Thomas? Will Edith take up with her editor? Will Isobel ever win one out on Violet? And perhaps most importantly, will all crucial members of the cast return for next season?

Viewers can expect at least a few answers in December, as Downton Abbey‘s Christmas special will air around the holidays. Still, it’s uncertain exactly how much farther the show will press on. “I think we definitely have one more series in us,” actress Elizabeth McGovern recently told the Mirror. “Nothing has officially been said, but I think we are going to go for one next year.” McGovern added, “I would hate for it to outstay its welcome.”

Is there such a thing as too much Downton Abbey? We shall see! In the meanwhile, Hypable will keep you updated on all information breaking from the Abbey, and the show will be televised for American viewers on PBS beginning Jan. 6.

What do you think the future holds for ‘Downton Abbey’?

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