Downton Abbey fans still have some five months before the premiere of season three, but that hasn't stopped spoilers from making the rounds in TV land and beyond.
The latest involves the death of a Downton character. A major character.
Somebody will be born, and somebody will die, somebody pretty key in the cast, unfortunately not going to make it. It's the 1920s now, executive producer Rebecca Eaton told The Orlando Sentinel this week.
Eaton also confirmed (to the relief of M&M fans) that Matthew and Mary, who ended season two with an engagement that warmed even the coldest of hearts, do get married in the next season.
Season three, which is currently in production, also welcomes new cast member Shirley MacLaine, who will play the mother of Lady Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern). Surely, the addition of MacLaine will give Maggie Smith and her feisty Dowager a run for their money.
There are some wonderful scenes between Maggie and Shirley MacLaine -- Shirley MacLaine being as ditsy as ever . . . and Maggie barley restraining her sneer in having to deal with this American, Eaton revealed to the Sentinel.
Maggie Smith is a handful, it's true. She's very difficult. She knows her worth, and she's tricky on the set, but she delivers when the time comes, she added.
With the booming success of Downton Abbey (the season two finale gave PBS its highest ratings in nearly three years, with more than 5.4 million viewers tuning in), the actors on the show have been under close watch from fans, critics and gossipmongers alike.
In March, UK tabloid the Mirror reported that Smith, Dan Stevens, Jessica Brown Findlay and Siobhan Finneran are among the key players who have yet to renew their contracts for seasons four and five.
Downton Abbey has a history of major surprises, and the producers are not opposed to changing casting within the show to add to the drama. But it's hard to imagine the series without Maggie Smith or Dan Stevens involved in some way . . . to write the Dowager Countess out of the series, or even kill off the character, would be Downton's boldest storyline yet, a source told the Mirror.
Now that Eaton has confirmed that a character will be killed off in season three -- could it mean that the character is none other than the Dowager?
It's a stretch, but the connection is something Downton fans will hold onto until the start of season three (or whenever the next spoiler hits the airwaves).
Season three of Downton Abbey returns to PBS in September.
Which Downton Abbey character do you think will die in season three? Share your thoughts below.