Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 3 recap

There were an awful lot of new plot lines jammed into this episode (in classic Julian Fellowes style, we flitted from one character’s story to the next, hardly giving us enough time to digest what just happened), and while there were no major shocker moments like last week, it looks like the groundwork has been laid for some escalating conflicts that are sure to come in the remaining episodes.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 3 ahead!

Upstairs revolved around two main stories: Tom and Sybil’s escape from Dublin, and Matthew’s increasing involvement in the running of the estate.  The former was the big drama for the night, the latter looks like it will create quite a bit in future episodes.


Tom shows up on Downton’s doorstep (on a dark and stormy night, of course), on the run from the law after his involvement in burning down an Anglo-Irish estate.  He and Sybil had a plan in place in which they would leave Ireland separately should something like this happen, but that doesn’t save Tom from getting an earful from the Crawley clan.  I can’t say it was undeserved, leaving a pregnant woman in a very volatile situation to fend for herself.  But, fortunately Sybil arrives safely, much to Tom and the family’s relief.  And Tom’s name is cleared with the authorities thanks to Papa, as long as he doesn’t return to Ireland.  It’s understandable that Tom is crushed by this; after all, Irish independence is his passion and to be kept away is a cruel punishment for him. But Sybil becomes the voice of reason, telling her husband the baby’s safety is what’s important, and so at Downton they will stay.  Side note: I wish we could have heard a bit more about Sybil’s experience in Ireland here, and how she feels about Tom burning down an aristocrat’s home, given that she was raised as one herself.

Tom and Sybil


Matthew realizing his father-in-law is not the best business manager.

Elsewhere upstairs, Mary encourages Matthew to take a greater role in the estate, now that he’s invested in it.  She’s probably going to regret her prodding.  Matthew uncovers a lot of waste when looking over the accounts, which is not a big surprise given Lord Robert’s penchant for business management (need we be reminded of episode 1’s Canadian railway disaster?).  Matthew brings up the bookkeeping to Mary, who reluctantly tells him to talk to her father about it.  But Papa quickly brushes him off.  When Downton was so quickly saved thanks to Reggie Swire’s money I wondered where else we could go regarding story lines with the estate.  Now I know.  There’s going to be a showdown between Matthew and Robert, and maybe Matthew and Mary.  Change is certainly not their strong suit.

Mary and Matthew

A few other minor things upstairs: an interesting little scene between Matthew and Mary in the former day nursery.  Matthew apparently is looking to start a family, Mary not so much.  Seriously, can we please have a few scenes in which Mary doesn’t seem like an ice queen towards her husband?  It’s like first season Mary all over again.  What happened to dewy eyed love struck second season Mary?  Bring her back!


And then we’ve got Edith.  Poor Edith who seems a bit lost since her jilt at the altar.  But this episode gave me some hope that she’ll soon be finding her voice.  Her dear Papa is shocked when the newspaper actually prints an article she wrote about the women’s vote.  And Edith is not just becoming more vocal about suffrage, but also about the way her family perceives her.  I want to see Edith gain a little backbone when it comes to her family and the way they treat her.  And maybe move somewhere where she’ll be more appreciated, where she isn’t the overlooked middle child.  Go Edith!

Carson and the toaster

“What in God’s name is it?”

There was a lot of exciting new plot developments downstairs, and I’m not just talking about Carson waging war against a toaster.  Now that Matthew’s money has saved Downton from financial collapse, new staff members can finally be hired (even if Matthew seems reluctant about it…but Robert easily overlooks this), allowing Daisy to get her at-long-last promotion in the kitchen, and Anna to officially become lady’s maid to Lady Mary.


Poor Daisy, can this kid ever catch a break?  She’s got her eye on Alfred, and she even goes to visit her father-in-law for a heart to heart about being interested in someone else.  And wouldn’t you know, every single time she’s about to say something to Alfred, Mrs. Patmore interrupts.  Does this woman have some sort of sixth sense for interfering in Daisy’s love life?  I had hoped we’d be rid of Daisy’s scowl and foul moods once she got promoted, but just as she’s about to tell Alfred how she feels, Mrs. Patmore comes in with Ivy, the new kitchen maid, who immediately catches Alfred’s attention.  So Daisy’s promotion came with a simultaneous jilt in the romance department.  I don’t expect that scowl to disappear anytime soon.


This week’s edition of the “Anna & Bates saga” was a little more interesting.  All communication was cut off between the two for the majority of the episode, causing some temporary anguish as Bates feels Anna has given up on him, and Anna worries that Bates wants her to move on and forget about him.  But thanks to a helpful fellow prisoner and a set up of Bates’s cellmate, his good favor is restored in the prison, and a backlog of letters finally gets delivered to them both.  It was nice to see at least one happy couple in this episode.Bates Anna with letter

Jimmy Kent

The new addition downstairs that causes the biggest stir is handsome footman Jimmy Kent.  His arrival turns all the maids’ heads, gives Mrs. Hughes pause (did anyone else notice her look him up and down?), and catches the attention of Thomas.  That attention does not go unnoticed by O’Brien, and I could see the cogs of evil working in her head.  I have a feeling she’s figured out what her next move is going to be, and I fear it is going to be exceedingly low.  Because now she not only needs to get back at Thomas, but she has to keep this headstrong new footman from taking away Alfred’s chances for advancement.


O’Brien forming a new scheme


Finally, we have Ethel, who is still hanging around.  I actually felt some sympathy for her this week when she made the extremely difficult decision to give up her darling boy Charlie to his paternal grandparents.  I thought that might be the end of her story.  But now it appears that in next week’s episode Cousin Isobel is indeed going to make her her new project, and hire her on as a maid in her house.  Good luck with that, Isobel, we know how well that went last time.

I’ll be interested to see how all of these new developments play out in the remaining episodes.

All right, your turn!  What did you think of episode 3?

Missed an episode?  Read my episode 1 and episode 2 recaps.


Filed under Downton Abbey, Period Pieces

10 responses to “Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 3 recap

  1. I watched this episode today- well, half watched while I worked- and I can tell you it is one of the low points in the series. Nothing really happened, it was just a lot of plot ‘setting up’ for later episodes.


    The next episode is amazing though….!

    • That’s good to hear, because while there was a lot going on with this one, there was nothing of any major substance. Like you said, it’s just a lot of setting up for later episodes. Can’t wait to find out what happens, though!

  2. Pam

    My suspcion is Ethel will eventually be hired by Charlie’s grandfather or really the grandmother so she will be closer to her son. It appeared that the grandmother was more understanding about having to give up your child.

  3. I agree that this episode was a lot of setup. It seems that last week’s episode wrapped up the part one of the season, and this is clearly setting up part two; I think you’re right that Matthew and Robert disagreeing over the running of the estate will be the big story of the rest of the season, and I’m interested to see how that plays out.
    On another note, I’ve been waiting for them to hire a new kitchen maid so that Daisy would actually be in a higher position than somebody, but I wish Fellowes would just let her be content. Curious to see what kind of character Ivy turns out to be.
    And it seems like the Anna and Bates saga is going to be just as stretched out as it was last year.

    • It certainly is looking that way, isn’t it? Though it sounds like in next week’s episode Anna may have found an important clue that might set Bates free. Fingers crossed so it doesn’t drag out the entire season!

      It will be interesting to see Ivy’s character. I got a pretty good idea of Jimmy in what little amount of time we saw him, but Ivy barely got any airtime at the end of the episode.

      Thanks as always for your comments! Can’t wait to see what next week’s episode brings!

  4. Linda S

    I do hope that Thomas actually smokes because it would be a shame if he gets cancer from a prop. He seems to be smoking almost every time he is at the table. I love the character of Ethel – and what an actress that young lady is.

    Edith has become the most interesting of the sisters (who’d of thought it) and is putting Mary on the sideline. I really love how she has handled being jilted at the altar. She seems an adventurist to me and I’m glad that Sir Edward did not marry her, although I believe she did love him. But I agree with Violet – one day she would be tied to an old man. She is destined for bigger things.

    Who knows what is going to happen to Tom now. He appears to be determined to go to prison or get killed. If so, I hope he gets killed. I’m tired of prison scenes.

    I can’t imagine what they can do with the character of Bate if they send him back to Downton Abby. It seems like they have done about as much with him as they can do. I’m guessing they will kill him off.

  5. Pingback: Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 5 recap | Diana Overbey

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