May 30, 2013 at 9:57 AM ET
It's been three months since the third season of "Downton Abbey" came to a close, but for fans of the drama, the final scene still stings like it was yesterday. Matthew -- the heir to "Downton" and one true love of Lady Mary -- met his final fate.
What a shame. Matthew made it through his wartime engagement to Lavinia with just a temporary bout of paralysis. But his marriage to Mary? It proved fatal.
OK, technically it was a particularly unlucky joyride that proved fatal for Matthew, but his marriage to Mary didn't help things. After all, Lord Grantham's eldest daughter has a bit of a reputation.
Matthew wasn't Mary's first partner. Long before he entered her life, she was betrothed to another -- her cousin, Patrick. But of course, that engagement didn't end in a happily-ever-after either. That's because Patrick, who was the heir apparent to Downton at the time, sank into the icy depths of the North Atlantic Ocean along with the Titanic.
Things start to seem suspicious when the fate another man is considered. Kermal Pamuk, a Turkish diplomat who was a guest in Lord Grantham's home, seduced his way into Lady Mary's bed one night. But shortly after he and Mary hit the sheets, he suffered a heart attack and died on the spot.
You get the idea. Lady Mary's a black widow -- or at the very least, bad luck for the fellows. Either way, the men of the Roaring Twenties need to take care. When season four of "Downton Abbey" kicks off, she'll be single and (after she devotes an appropriate amount of time to mourning her lost love) ready to mingle.
According to the actress behind the widowed aristocrat, finding a new man only makes sense.
"She has the heir to Downton, she has baby George and she is under pressure to find someone," Michelle Dockery recently told the Los Angeles Times. "In that world, women had to find someone. It was all about marriage and who you'd spend the rest of your life with."
Or given Mary's track record, the man she'd spend the rest of his life with.
And there won't be any shortage of available men for Mary in the upcoming season. In addition to the also single and bereaved Branson (a match that would just be wrong, wrong, wrong), Lady Mary will be free to consider a few new faces. Lord Gillingham (Tom Cullen), an old friend of the family, will make an appearance. Another eligible option will be blue blood Charles Blake (Julian Ovenden). And if Mary isn't concerned about the upper-crust set anymore, there will even be a new easy-on-the-eyes jazz singer (Gary Carr) and valet (Nigel Harman) on the scene.
But those men better beware. Only one man offered himself to Mary and lived to tell the tale. Newspaper magnate Sir Richard Carlisle, who was briefly engaged to her back in season two, was left with a bitter, broken -- but still beating -- heart when they parted ways.
It will be a while before fans know for sure which man will tempt fate for Lady Mary. "Downton Abbey" isn't expected to return to PBS until winter of 2014.