Tag Archives: season 3

Downton Abbey, Season 3: Season Finale

castle

The season finale of Downton Abbey originally aired as the Christmas special in the UK.  A time for families to gather round the telly with a nice cup of  hot cocoa or egg nog, or whatever the Brits’ drink of choice is on Christmas night.  Ready to watch a nice warm and fuzzy Christmas episode of Downton, hopefully with an equally warm and fuzzy ending as last year’s finale.  And then THAT happened.  If I had been the above-mentioned UK viewer watching this on Christmas night, sipping my hot cocoa, the cup and its contents would have been flung at the TV screen.

Fortunately (or perhaps unfortunately), I knew THAT was coming because it was almost impossible to not see an internet article about a certain major character leaving the series.  Unfortunate because it tainted the entire episode for me, but fortunate in that I knew not to have anything in my hands that might be thrown when THAT happened.

So, without further ado, let’s recap this episode.  Afterwards I’ll give a review of this season and my thoughts on THAT.

Warning: Major Spoilers for the season finale of Downton Abbey Season 3 ahead! 

It’s one year since the last episode took place, with the lovely cricket match and Lord Grantham’s finally allowing Matthew to implement his big ideas for the estate.  The family is packing up to visit Cousin Shrimpy (Lord Flintshire, who apparently received his unfortunate nickname as part of a nursery game) and his wife Susan and daughter Rose at their Scottish estate.  Apparently this is an annual outing for the Crawley family, even though we’ve never seen or heard mention of it before.  But as Bates explains, they did not go during the war years, and Sybil’s death prevented the excursion the previous year.  Mary is now eight months pregnant, and despite the advice that she should stay home and rest, she insists on going, because it isn’t 1850 anymore, after all.

Mary and Anna

“No one expects me to hide indoors until the baby’s born.”

O’Brien, Bates, Anna, and Molesley accompany the group (as valets and ladies’ maids often traveled with the family), leaving the rest of the servants to tend to Downton, and Tom (who wasn’t invited) while they are away.

At least he has Mrs. Crawley and Isis to keep him company.

At least he has Mrs. Crawley and Isis to keep him company.

Thus began the back-and-forth between picturesque Scotland and things “back home” at Downton that were at times tiresome.  A lot of new characters were introduced this episode that I didn’t give a fig about and were merely used as plot devices to help the main characters come to a better understanding about themselves (namely Tom Branson and Lord Robert).  To avoid further whiplash, I am going to recap the “downstairs at Downton” story first.

The downstairs staff hope that with the family away, they might be allowed a break, but Carson is having none of that.  There’s silver to polish, after all.  But Mrs. Hughes, softy that she is, convinces Carson to allow them time off to go to the fair, IF they get their work done.

Branson and Edna

Meanwhile new maid Edna is disturbing the delicate upstairs-downstairs balance by making her opinions known about Tom’s transformation from chauffeur to estate agent and family member.  She basically starts to stalk Tom, sneaking out and meeting him at the local pub when she overhears he’ll be there, and constantly asking him questions about feeling left out and not fitting in.  Which causes poor Tom to have a bit of an identity crisis (more on that later).

But Edna’s not the only one who is playing fast and loose.  A Mr. Tufton is introduced, a food supplier who takes a shining to Mrs. Patmore’s cooking.  He’s an unabashed flirt and Mrs. Patmore falls for his charms like one of Daisy’s early attempts at making a souffle.  And speaking of Daisy–whatever happened to the story line regarding Mr. Mason and the farm?  That was mentioned and forgotten.  And what about that love polygon?  It seems to have ended for this episode at least, though there is still visible tension between Thomas and Jimmy.

It’s Mr. Tufton who gives the downstairs the notion to attend the fair.  Mrs. Patmore suggests they should all go, though Carson stays behind so his bossy presence doesn’t spoil the fun.  Of course Edna gets Tom to go, even asking him to drive (ugh–I don’t like this girl).

But they aren’t the only ones going to the fair.  Dr. Clarkson invites Mrs. Crawley to go with him, after mentioning that he remembers she was a doctor’s wife.  And for some reason he suddenly decides he’s attracted to  her and perhaps wants to marry her…?  I can’t say this came completely out of left field, but it was odd, and I had always thought that if either of them were interested, it was Isobel, not Dr. Clarkson.  Go figure.

fair

The downstairs crew (plus Branson, no Tom, no, Branson–see, now I’m confused) arrive at the fair, and it soon becomes clear to Mrs. Hughes that Mr. Tufton may have led Mrs. Patmore to the wrong conclusion.  He gooses a girl working in his food supply stall, has ladies feel his bicep, and then she actually sees him kissing a few girls.

Mrs. Hughes seeing a bit more than she'd like of Mr. Tofton's flirtations.

Mrs. Hughes seeing a bit more than she’d like of Mr. Tufton’s flirtations.

Meanwhile the men enter into a tug of war contest, suggested by Jimmy, who appears to be out to make some money.  They win thanks to the last minute addition of Mr. Tufton and Jimmy walks away with a wad of cash which he quickly begins waving around to anyone and everyone while getting drunk at the same time.

daisy and lily

Elsewhere Daisy and Lily are exploring the fair together.  Putting their boy issues aside, they’ve grown to be friends since we last saw them.  It’s nice to see Daisy with someone her own age (rather than Mrs. Patmore) who can help her lighten up a little bit.  Alfred spends most of his time at the food supplier stalls and mentions to Mrs. Hughes that what he should be doing is cooking.  My hope?  One day he’ll wake up and notice Daisy, they’ll marry and live on Mr. Mason’s farm, and sell the food they make from the ingredients they grow.

Two nearly-simultaneous almost-proposals take place over at the refreshment area.  Mr. Tufton continues to compliment Mrs. Patmore’s cooking and thinks that taking orders from a husband would be better than taking them from a family one works for.  And just as Dr. Clarkson asks Isobel if she ever considered remarrying, Isobel very tactfully says that she likes her life the way it is and prevents him from making a fool of himself.

Jimmy and Thomas

Jimmy is still stumbling around like a drunken fool, and for some reason decides to go into the shadows under a bridge so two thugs could threaten him.  Thomas, who was apparently following Jimmy, distracts the aforementioned thugs so Jimmy can get away, taking the beating and mugging intended for him.  After they return to Downton, Jimmy pays Thomas a visit and asks him why he was following him.  Thomas explains that he was looking out for him, and knew he had too much to drink.  Jimmy tells him he can never give him what he wants, which Thomas understands, but would like to be friends.  Jimmy agrees.  Something tells me Jimmy may become Thomas’s new scheming buddy for the next season.

Patmore and Hughes

Now that they’re back home, Mrs. Hughes dishes out some observations she’s made over the course of the week.  First it’s with Mrs. Patmore, where she drops the bad news that Mr. Tufton has a wandering eye.  Much to her relief, Mrs. Patmore caught wind that he might only like her for her cooking, and is happy to hear she has an excuse to send him packing.

Tom and Edna

Next she talks to Tom about the Edna situation.  But not before Edna barges into his room, kisses him, and invites him to meet at the pub the following day (hussy much?).  And she then proceeds to try to disobey an order to get the rooms ready for Lady Mary by telling Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson that she promised to meet Tom Branson for lunch (the impertinence!).  Mrs. Hughes goes to tell Tom they are going to let Edna go.  She speaks frankly, telling him that he let Edna make him ashamed of his new life, that he’s done very well for himself, and Lady Sybil would be so proud of him.  Which prompts poor Tom to begin crying, stating that he just can’t bear to be without her.  To which Mrs. Hughes replies, “You must bear it. And one day I hope, and so would she, that one day you’ll find someone to bear it with you.  But until then be your own master and call your own tune.”  Well said Mrs. Hughes, well said.

Hughes and Branson

Now, we journey to the Highlands…

Scottish estate

When the Crawleys arrive at the Scottish estate (cue the sweeping Scottish themed music we heard every time we switched back to this part of the story) we once again meet bubbly Rose, whose rebellious spirit serves the purpose of reminding Cora of her dearly departed Sybil.  We are introduced to Rose’s parents, and their unhappiness with one another is on display for all to see, which may help explain some of Rose’s behavior.

Lord and Lady Flincher, Rose

The happy family

Edith’s editor, the married Mr. Michael Gregson, travels to Scotland and calls on her at the estate, with hopes of getting to know the family better so that he might get them on his side.  Because he’s in love with Edith, and he’s still pursuing her, despite her reservations that he’s a married man.

Edith and Michael

His arrival brings out Mary’s snark factor, and Edith calls her out on it, wondering why she always has to be so cruel.  This brings Mary to question why Matthew finds her so nice, when nobody else does–a running theme between the Matthew & Mary scenes this episode.  Matthew assures her he knows who she really is, and I do think that Mary shows a certain vulnerability towards him that she doesn’t allow herself with anyone else.

Matthew and Mary

Back to Edith’s latest love interest.  Michael takes his case to Matthew, who says that while he understands his desire to have a life, he can’t consent to his making Edith his mistress.  He promises not to mention his secret to anyone, but suggests that he say his goodbyes to Edith at the Gillies ball.

Anna and Bates

Onto a more successful couple, this episode featured more adorable Anna and Bates scenes.  It’s as if the whole jail sentence thing never happened.  I find the two actors really play well off each other, and some of my favorite scenes from this episode were between them (the picnic, and especially Anna learning how to do a reel to impress her man, who she learns has Scottish blood).

Rose teaches Anna to a reel.

Rose teaches Anna how to dance a reel.

O'Brien

O’Brien with Lady Flintshire and her lady’s maid

There’s also a random side story involving O’Brien and Lady Flintshire’s lady’s maid.  I guess we had to continue the tradition of including random ladies maids in the Christmas specials/season finales who try to stir up trouble (remember Lady Rosamund’s maid from last year?).  This year the jealous lady’s maid tries to make O’Brien drunk, but being the suspicious sort, she quickly recognizes her drink has been spiked.  But that doesn’t stop her from letting Molesley drink it, which leads to some much needed hilarity during the ball.

Molesley dances a drunken reel

Molesley dances a drunken reel

Shrimpie and Robert
Robert finally learns why Shrimpy and his wife are so unhappy.  Besides the fact they “just don’t like each other” (Shrimpy’s words), he has managed to let his estate in Scotland languish and all the money is gone and the place will have to be sold.  He’s basically in the same position Robert would have been in if he had not let Matthew take the reins of the estate.  So at last Robert realizes what a stubborn idiot he’s been and just how much he could have lost had he not listened to his family and finally gone along with their idea for modernizing the estate.

Michael and Edith

Edith comes to her own realization during the ball (apparently reeling causes people to have revelations?).  After hearing that Matthew disapproves of any sort of relationship between she and Michael, Edith decides that she will see him again after all.  Oh, Edith, you just never want your love life to be straightforward and simple, do you?

Mary

Mary, who has made multiple mentions of being jostled around on all the various Highlands excursions, decides she just can’t resist dancing a reel, one of her favorite pastimes (which we only learn about this episode).  Afterwards she decides it might be best for her to go home, but she insists Matthew stay so as not to alarm anyone and break up the party (oh Mary, even pregnant you’re as pragmatic as ever).  She and Anna head home on the train and as soon as they arrive at the station Mary informs her she needs to go straight to the hospital.

Mary and Anna at train station

Cora has a heart to heart with Lady Flincher

Cora has a heart to heart with Lady Flintshire

Before leaving, Lady Flintshire asks Cora if she and Robert would let Rose stay at Downton while she and Shrimpy try to sort out their future.  Shrimpy wants his daughter to know what it’s like to be in a loving home, and Cora is more than happy to help.  Which means it looks like we’ll be seeing more of Rose (replacement Sybil?) in the future of the show.

Mary in hospital

Back at the hospital, Isobel has arrived to be with Mary while Anna returns to Downton to get clothes for Mary and to order Matthew’s car be brought to the station so he can drive straight to the hospital when he gets there.  Mary needs Matthew, telling her mother-in-law she feels only “half herself” without him (can I just mention–Mary goes through labor just as I thought she would, very stoically).

Mary, Matthew and baby

Mary gives birth to a baby boy, thus securing the line of succession.  Matthew arrives and is bursting with pride (really,  he says he feels like he’s swallowed a box of fireworks).  He tells Mary he knows she will be a wonderful mother, because he knows what a wonderful woman she is, and how he falls more in love with her everyday.  She says she’ll remind him of that the next time she puts a scratch on the car.  One of the best Matthew and Mary scenes yet.  Everything seems to be perfect in their little world at that moment.

Mary, Matthew and baby again

Cora and Robert

The ecstatic grandparents

And so, as Matthew races home to share the good news with the family, Robert reflects on how strange life is, how uncertain everything seemed at one point, and how now he has two healthy heirs and a thriving estate, and he wonders what he’s done to deserve it.  To which Lady Violet responds, “I agree, but we don’t always get our just deserts.”

Matthew

And then the unimaginable happens.  Matthew, who just moments before was grinning from ear to ear, is dead, killed in a car accident.  The scene cuts away to Mary, still holding their baby, still smiling with contentment.  And then the episode ends.

Mary and baby

Up until the finale of the show, I really did enjoy season 3 of Downton Abbey.  It was a bit slow to start, but the last few episodes were really well done, almost up to season 1 standards.  I liked how the focus returned to the family dynamics upstairs, and I thought that the stories downstairs (aside from the love polygon) were thoughtfully played out.  But the finale bothered me on a number of levels.  I hated how overly-dramatic they made Matthew’s death.  Not the death itself, but the scenes and lines being said around it.  It was as if I could see Julian Fellowes, script in hand, trying to figure out the absolute worst place he could possibly insert the image of Matthew lying lifeless underneath his car and said “Yes, it should go right here, right after Mary says that Matthew needs to wait his turn to see the baby, but little does she know, he’ll never see the baby again, because he’s dead.”  I mean, come on.  The only thing worse would be if he had been racing to the hospital and died on the way there and never got to see the baby.  Instead of making me cry (like with Lady Sybil’s death), it made me irritated, because I could see how hard Fellowes worked to fit in images of Matthew at the places he thought would most likely make us cry.  I think he would have been better served to have just showed the result of the accident, rather than trying to work it in around scenes of the happy family, blissfully ignorant of what had happened. (Update: since writing this I watched the finale a second time, and darn if I didn’t tear up–but it still makes me  irritated!)

But here’s the real reason the finale bothered me so much.  I know I read somewhere that Julian Fellowes originally had a three-season arc in mind for Downton Abbey.  And we saw that arc play out–we saw the estate in all its glory before the war, we saw how the war had a major impact on the country and on estates like Downton, and we saw how the post-war world forced many such estates to be broken down and sold off, and that the old way of doing things had to change in order for those estates to have any chance of survival.  Matthew represented that change, that new order.  Robert represented the old.  That last episode (the one before the finale) demonstrated this so clearly, and was done so well, and I will again state that it seemed the perfect stopping point for the show.

My fear is that now that the original story arc is over, Fellowes is going to scramble to come up with new conflicts and major arcs, and they are going to be ridiculous and not well thought out.  And I’m also concerned that more of the major characters we have come to really take an interest in (like Sybil and Matthew) are going to leave the show, and less interesting characters (like Rose) are going to come in to try and take their place.  I’m just concerned the future of the series might be in trouble, especially now that Matthew is gone.  I’ll admit it–I’m a huge Matthew & Mary fan girl, and without their love story, the show is not going to hold the same level of interest for me.  If the story had finished at the end of the third season, Matthew would not have been killed off (the actors had three-year contracts, and Dan Stevens chose not to renew his, thus forcing Fellowes to write him out).

But, that’s just my opinion on this.  Of course, I’ll still be interested to see what happens next season.  How will Matthew’s death impact the lives of Mary and her family?  Will Tom ever be able to move on, and will he still feel he fits in without Matthew there to support him?  And what will Edith’s future hold, now that she’s going down the slippery slope of entering into an affair with a married man?  Will Daisy ever get her man and take Mr. Mason up on the farm offer?  And will Anna and Bates’s love story continue to be so rosy?

All right, yes, even with the concerns for how the show will move forward, I’ll still watch.

What did you think of the season finale?  And do you feel that the show should have ended with the third season, as originally intended?  I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Miss any of the other episodes?  Read my episode 1, episode 2, episode 3, episode 4, episode 5, and episode 6 recaps.

And for those of you wanting to hear Dan Stevens talk about leaving the show, The Telegraph has an excellent interview with him which you can read here.

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Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 6 recap

Matthew and Branson

Last night’s episode of Downton Abbey was the best of the season in my opinion.  We’re talking season 1 caliber here.  I genuinely enjoyed every single story line as they reached their conclusions (and the new ones introduced too).  My only complaint?  It was just a lot to process.  I know we’re used to having fast-paced plots thrown at us  by Mr. Fellowes, but I hardly had time to swoon over a Mary and Matthew scene before I was in the middle of O’Brien’s scheming and worrying over Thomas’s fate.  There was a lot of ground covered with this episode being two hours, so I am going to hit the main highlights.

Warning: Spoilers for episode 6 ahead!

Anna and Bates

Anna and Bates–together again

Bates is free!  Here I was thinking that surely something else would happen to drag out the jail scenes longer, but I was pleasantly surprised to find him sprung at the very beginning of the episode.  And it wasn’t until he arrived back at the house that I realized how much I had missed his character.  And he and Anna had some really adorable scenes as they set up house together.  Anna just can’t stop smiling now that her Mr. Bates is home again.  I don’t blame her–I was smiling too, glad to not have to watch Bates walk in circles around a depressingly gray courtyard anymore.  I mean, now we get to see him in a Panama hat keeping score at a cricket match!

Bates

But of course, Bates’s return means Thomas’s employment is in jeopardy.  And soon that’s not the only reason why.  Thomas finally falls for O’Brien’s multi-episode laid trap.  At first I wondered why on earth Thomas would believe anything that came out of O’Brien’s mouth, having been her partner in crime for so long.  How could he fall for it?  But, as Thomas tells Carson, he had hope, and that hope apparently blinded him.  Before the incident with Jimmy, he and Thomas are alone in the servants’ hall, and Thomas says to Jimmy: “We both like to look so sure of ourselves, but we aren’t so sure underneath now, are we?”  Such a telling statement about his character.  Hard on the outside, but underneath there’s a vulnerability that is closely guarded.  And for good reason too.  Because Thomas’s homosexuality was considered a crime in 1920, and he therefore cannot be who he truly is.  I found the subject well handled, wonderfully acted by Rob James-Collier, and it really added a layer of depth to the villainous Thomas.  The scene in which he is lurking in the shadows near Bates and Anna’s house was also very nicely done, when Thomas tells Bates he envies him his happiness.  Bates suggests that he be nicer to people, and Thomas replies that being nice is what got him into trouble.  Something tells me Thomas’s shell has been further hardened by his incident with Jimmy.

Thomas and Jimmy

But Thomas’s humiliation isn’t enough to satisfy O’Brien.  She pushes Jimmy to not only make sure Thomas is fired, but is sent away with no reference, which would basically destroy his future job prospects.  After his false accusation and prison sentence, Bates cannot stand by and let another man’s life be ruined by circumstances beyond his control.  So he invites O’Brien over to tea, and whispers something Thomas has told him in her ear, which quickly changes her tune.

"Her ladyship's soap."

“Her ladyship’s soap.”

Poor Bates–he does something nice for someone who always treated him so cruelly, and how is he repaid?  Thomas is made under butler (I didn’t even know there was such a thing!), which means he will now be in charge of Bates.  All because Lord Grantham wants to keep Thomas around because he’s a good cricket player and wants him to play in the big match.  Glad you’ve got your priorities straight, Robert.

Sybils christening

But I suppose Robert feels like he has to win somewhere in his life.  His granddaughter has been christened into the Catholic church.  Edith is going to work for a newspaper (more on that later).  And while he may be back in his wife’s good graces, even she won’t side with him when it comes to the future running of the estate.  Matthew’s certain that his business model to make Downton self-sufficient is the only way to ensure its survival.  And everyone agrees–except for Robert and his steward Jarvis.  The latter promptly turns in his resignation, which is probably for the best for the estate to move forward.  Plus, it provided an awfully convenient vacancy for Tom to fill!  And thus the Matthew-Tom bromance continues.  I love their relationship and the way Matthew (and Mary too, for that matter) has made Tom feel welcome in the family.

Branson

Tom is the one who brings Robert around to Matthew’s idea at last.  He explains that between his knowledge of the land, Matthew’s business sense, and Robert’s desire to do right by the farmers and employees on the estate, the three of them might be able to give Downton a future.  Well said, Tom!  Of course, it now means he has to play cricket to satisfy Robert, but still…wow, Robert really is obsessed with this cricket match, isn’t he?

Mary and Matthew

“Convince me again.”

Can I just say how nice it is to see some scenes with Matthew and Mary being loved up newlyweds again?  Mary has softened quite a bit, and whereas at the beginning of the season she seemed determined to stand by her father, she at last gives Matthew her full support, which seems to bolster her husband and their relationship.  Matthew continues to be concerned his war wound has caused fertility issues, but as it turns out Mary was the one with the problem, and after an unexplained operation (and a slightly embarrassing run-in at the doctor), she tells Matthew that all is well and they can now begin to start a family.

Matthew and Mary

Time to start making little princes.

Edith and Michael

Edith finally stretches her wings and becomes a columnist for a newspaper.  Which gave us an excellent excuse to see some very nice costumes–Edith wore quite a few nice ones while in London visiting her editor, Michael Gregson.

Edith

One of my favorites–love the hat!

Her editor admires her appearance, but Edith isn’t rushing in this time around.  She does a little investigating and finds out he’s married.  She confronts him, he admits that he is married, but his wife is in an insane asylum.  Poor Edith.  Let’s take a look at her track record, shall we?  Crush #1 was engaged to her older sister and died in the Titanic disaster.  Crush #2 was a much older man intended for her older sister, but who would have married her if said older sister had not meddled.  Crush #3 was a MARRIED farmer.  Crush #4 was a badly wounded soldier claiming to be Crush #1, who eventually disappeared without a trace.  Then there was Crush #2 revisited, who jilted her at the altar.  And now we have Crush #5, a married man whose wife is insane and who he can therefore never divorce.  Can someone please give this girl a break?  Please?

Rose

Rose at the Blue Dragon

This week we were introduced to Shrimpie’s daughter, the grand-niece of Lady Violet, Rose.  Here’s a girl who has no qualms about dating a married man.  I think perhaps my favorite scene of the episode is when Matthew, Edith, and Aunt Rosamund go to the Blue Dragon club and find their flapper relative cavorting with a married man.  It pulled us away from the rigid morals and tradition of Downton Abbey for just a moment, and boy do the three of them look out of place.

Entering the Blue Dragon

And apparently, since we haven’t seen Matthew dance all season, we got a little bonus by having him give Rose a stern talking to while on the dance floor.  Great scene, and one of the best of the night in my opinion.

Matthew and Rose

“Married men who wish to seduce young women always have horrid wives.”

And while Matthew promises Rose they won’t say anything to Cousin Violet about what happened, you can’t get much by that lady.  She uses her stealthy dowager insight to find out about Rose’s tart-like ways and sends her packing for Scotland.

The boys

The episode concludes with the cricket match, which was fun to watch (even if I had no idea what was going on).  It almost had the same feel as the season 1 finale garden party (the part before the announcement that World War I had begun).  Robert wards off the police for Thomas after finding out that Alfred has called them (I guess nastiness just runs in the family).  Tom asks Cora if he and the baby might live at Downton for a while, which of course delights Cora.  Mary and Matthew are as happy as they were during that snowy proposal at the end of season 2.  And Robert has at last given in and fully supports Matthew’s vision for the future of Downton.

Matthew and Mary

“I didn’t think it was possible to love as much as I love you.” ~Matthew

Now, I will be honest.  With all of this happiness in all of the plot wrap ups, I would almost (dare I say it?) be pleased if the entire show ended here.  Maybe it’s just me, but everything was resolved so well, and the episode was so nicely done, that I almost feel like continuing will spoil it.  But maybe Mr. Fellowes will prove me wrong and the next episode will be even better than this one.  It’s going to be a hard one to follow, though.

What did you think about this week’s episode?  Did you think it was as good as I did?  Do you think it would have made a good end to the show, or can you never get enough Downton Abbey?

Missed an episode?  Catch up with my episode 1, episode 2, episode 3, episode 4, and episode 5 recaps.

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Filed under Downton Abbey, Period Pieces

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.

Branson

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

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!

Edith

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.

Daisy

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.

Anna

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

O’Brien forming a new scheme

Ethel

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.

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Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 2 recap

Well, that was interesting.  I’ve got some mixed emotions about last night’s episode–some parts were excellent, other parts contrived and eye-roll-able.  Let’s just get right to it, shall we?

Warning: Spoilers for episode 2 ahead!

Preparing for wedding

Upstairs the house is preparing for another wedding, this time for neglected middle child Lady Edith.  But everyone seems more concerned with the inevitable selling of Downton Abbey and the move to what Cora has termed “Downton Place” (which sounds like a great name for a soap opera, which this episode took plot cues from at points).  Matthew is still being badgered by Mary to accept Reggie Swire’s money and save the estate so the family is not forced to move into….a gorgeous country home with accompanying village that they own…?

Downton Place

Certainly it is no Downton Abbey.  And I can understand Mary not wanting to leave the home she grew up in, one that’s been in her family for generations.  But is it really worth putting your newly wed husband in guilt-ridden agony for months on end by constantly harping about the money?

Matthew

Yes, please, let’s talk about Reggie Swire and my guilt over Lavinia’s death. AGAIN.

On the day of the picnic at “Downton Place” Matthew receives a letter from the deceased Reggie Swire, which he refuses to read, much to flabbergasted Mary’s irritation.

Side note: This was my favorite "Mary outfit" this episode.

Side note: This was my favorite “Mary outfit” this episode.

So Mary takes it upon herself to read the letter, much to flabbergasted Matthew’s irritation.  And this is where my eye-rolling commenced–Reggie Swire’s letter reveals that Lavinia, on her deathbed (though I suppose she didn’t know it at the time) wrote her father a letter about calling off the wedding and Matthew’s chivalrous “I’m going to marry you anyway” attitude.  But wait, no one saw Lavinia write such a letter, or saw it leave the house (and for that matter–where did Lavinia get the paper and pen to write it if she was lying in bed the whole time?).  So Matthew accuses his wife of forgery–which to be honest, I wouldn’t put past Mary at this point in her desperation to stay at Downton.  He takes back his accusation, but doesn’t believe the letter’s legitimate.  But if it is real, it relieves Matthew of all guilt, regret, etc. in one tidy little note.  Why, what a handy, convenient little plot device!  First thing next morning Mary goes downstairs, her hair undone in her haste, to learn that Daisy was the one who posted the letter.  And in one fell swoop guilt is swept away and Downton Abbey is saved!  Good thing Daisy’s own moral dilemma over marrying William didn’t cause her to forget to post the letter.

Daisy saves the day.

Daisy saves the day.

So now that’s settled, it’s time for Edith’s wedding.  At least Matthew is kind enough to ask Mary to wait until after the wedding to inform dear Papa that he doesn’t have to move, so as not to steal Edith’s thunder.  Because you know Mary would have.

Edith's wedding gown

Despite countless efforts to convince her otherwise, Edith is prepared to walk down the aisle and give her life to taking care of an older man with a lame arm.  And boy does that get hammered home about a thousand times in this episode.  It’s featured in every discussion between Lady Violet and Lord Robert, and every conversation between Sir Anthony and Edith.  So I guess we should have been prepared for what would happen next.

Edith & Sir Anthony

Poor Edith!  Her very happy day, the one that was supposed to be all about her, turns into a train wreck as soon as she arrives at the altar and Sir Anthony stops the proceedings by announcing he cannot marry her.  In front of everyone.  And to make matters worse, Edith drags the scene out by begging him not to leave her.  Granny has to step in and tell her to let him go, which he promptly does.  I know Sir Anthony did it because he loves Edith and did not want her to end up spending her life with a man she’d have to take care of, but he really picked a bad time to finally make his mind up about it.

Edith

But, I will say that while I wanted Edith to win the day and get her man despite what everyone else said, this gives us a chance to see a potentially more fleshed out character.  Laura Carmichael’s performance as the jilted bride was fantastic.  And now, instead of having all three Crawley sisters settled down into married life, we have one whose character arc could go in any number of directions.  So here’s hoping Edith picks herself up and finds a less traditional path for her life.

Matthew delivers the good news to Robert.

Matthew delivers the good news to Robert.

And just in case we weren’t positive that Edith doesn’t matter that much, we’ve got a scene where Lord Robert quickly dismisses Edith’s broken heart with a “she’ll get over it” and then is overjoyed to learn his son-in-law, thanks to his newly unburdened conscience, has saved the day, and in his thanks makes him a partner in the estate.

Mrs. Hughes smiling at Mr. Carson's serenade to the silver.

Mrs. Hughes smiling at Mr. Carson’s serenade to the silver.

The downstairs stories felt a bit weak to me this episode compared to the altar jilting happening upstairs.  We continued to bite our nails over the diagnosis of Mrs. Hughes.  Lady Cora (who finds out from Carson, who finds out from Mrs. Patmore, who apparently can’t keep a secret for a gold clock) tells Mrs. Hughes she knows about her health, and wants her to know she’ll always have a home at Downton.  A very touching moment, and it seemed to make Mrs. Hughes feel a bit closer to the family, as illustrated when she allows Alfred to talk badly about Sir Anthony for leaving Lady Edith at the altar.  In the end, it looks like the scare was for nothing, as the results indicate a benign tumor.  As Mrs. Patmore tells Carson everything is okay, I kept waiting for Mrs. Hughes’s relieved face to droop as if she were putting on a brave face and not telling the truth about her diagnosis.  But it never happened, so perhaps the health scare was just another minor plot point to pull us along for a few episodes before wrapping up neatly.

Cora & O'Brien

Cora under the misimpression that O’Brien will be leaving her.

Elsewhere we’ve got O’Brien and Thomas playing a slow, vindictive game of tennis.  Last week Thomas made trouble for Alfred (and therefore O’Brien), and then O’Brien retaliated by taking Lord Robert’s shirts.  In this episode Thomas starts a rumor that O’Brien is leaving, catching poor Molesley in the middle.  And now the ball is in O’Brien’s court–so what’s she going to serve Thomas with next week?

Bates finding the contraband his cell mate planted.

Bates finding the contraband his cell mate planted.

And then we’ve got the ongoing Anna & Bates saga.  Bates’s cell mate is out to get him for unexplained reasons, but Bates receives a tip off from someone on his side, which allows him to hide some contraband the cell mate has planted before the jail wardens raid the room.  Anna continues to devote every spare moment to freeing her husband, this time interviewing a friend of Vera’s who lived nearby.  If you’re playing “collect the clues,” we know that Vera ate an arsenic-laced pie.  The neighbor indicated that Vera made the pie the afternoon before she was found dead, and when she came to visit her she noticed that Vera was scrubbing under her fingernails like mad–my guess would be to make sure there were no traces of arsenic that would lead anyone to suspect she had put it in the pie.

Ethel and Isobel
Ethel appears again in this episode to say the same line over and over: “I shouldn’t have come.”  I couldn’t agree more.  I was done with Ethel last season, so why do we have to keep picking at this thread?  Yes, I get that we’re trying to show the gritty, not so pretty side of life after the war, and Ethel represents that.  But I’ve just never cared much about Ethel for some reason.  However, Cousin Isobel seems dead set on helping her, and my guess is she’s going to wriggle her way into Ethel’s life whether she wants it or not.

Daisy, besides informing Lady Mary that she posted the letter for Miss Swire, didn’t have much of a role this week, except to ask Anna if perhaps she should speak her mind more like the American girls.  She also seems to have her eye on Alfred.  I’d like to see an outspoken Daisy, maybe it’ll spice things up downstairs a little bit.  Because, for me at least, this back and forth between O’Brien and Thomas just isn’t cutting it.

Sybil and Edith

Just a few final thoughts–give me more Sybil and Tom!  They were barely in this episode, but I loved Sybil’s saucy little comment to Edith about not sleeping on her wedding night.  And Tom was in black tie!  But I thought he’d never buy such frivolous clothes–what made him change his mind?  And why wasn’t he more outspoken about the family having to potentially downsize to a house that has its own village attached to it?  Maybe he’s trying to play nice for his wife’s sake?  It looks like next week’s episode is going to feature the couple more prominently (and Tom leaves his pregnant wife behind in Dublin because he’s on the run?  What on earth will Granny have to say about that?).

I hope now that the ghost of Lavinia has been laid to rest we can see more cheerful moments between Matthew and Mary.  Yes, I know they’re going to bicker and squabble, but they’re newlyweds.  Surely the honeymoon period hasn’t ended already.  Give us some more light-hearted “proposal in the snow” type moments!

And even though the day ended in heartbreak, Lady Edith’s dress was stunning and in my opinion trumped Lady Mary’s.  I think the very simple gown Lady Mary wore fit her pragmatic personality, but Lady Edith’s dress with the detail work on it was just gorgeous.  So even though she didn’t actually get a husband on her wedding day, maybe Edith can take solace in knowing that her dress was prettier than Mary’s?  Maybe?

Finally, I know that Downton Abbey has soap opera tendencies (like last season’s misdiagnosis that allowed for Matthew’s miraculous spinal recovery), but I really hope we don’t have too many more all-too-convenient plot devices that allow for difficult situations to be easily fixed.  That letter from Reggie Swire still bugs me.

All right everyone, now it’s your turn!  What were your thought’s about episode 2?

Miss the premiere of season 3?  Read my recap.

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Downton Abbey Season 3, ep. 1 recap

Well, it’s been a long year of anticipation, Downtonites, but boy did it pay off!  The premiere of the third season of Downton Abbey was well worth the wait.  If the first episode is any indication of the focus of this season, we’re in for a more “estate-centered” story that puts priority on the people living and working at Downton Abbey, as well as on the house itself, something I felt we got away from in season 2.  Not that I disliked the second season, it just felt all over the place at times and I’m glad to see we’re getting back to a central focus.  Now, onto the episode recap.

Warning: Episode 1 spoilers ahead!

Last night’s episode had Fellowes’s fast-paced story-telling style going at full speed, with plots piling up one after another.  There was a lot going on, so I am going to hit the highlights.

Upstairs it was all about wedding bells and money woes.  Finally (finally!) Matthew and Lady Mary are about to tie the knot, and it is so nice to see the two of them as a couple, swapping flirtations.  And Mary smiling!  Such a nice change from last season.  Of course, their impending nuptials are overshadowed by the fact that Lord Grantham, who apparently does not understand what “diversify” means, has lost the “lion’s share” of Lady Cora’s fortune in a really bad business deal.  I like how Lady Cora points out that what he did was stupid, but stands by her man.  Further proof that the woman is a saint.

Robert & Cora

The money troubles put a damper on the wedding, especially when Mary wants Matthew to use the potential money he’s inherited from Lavinia’s father to save Downton.  But Matthew, being the morally upright man that he is, just can’t bring himself to use money that reminds him of his betrayal to Lavinia.  Thus we have THE argument that leads to Mary storming off and possibly calling off the wedding.  Good thing Anna is there to remind Mary that good men aren’t like buses (“there won’t be another one along in ten minutes’ time”), and Branson, er, Tom, points out to Matthew that he’ll never be happy with anyone else.  So they kiss and make up.  I like how the two (well, mostly Matthew) realize that there are going to be some bumps in the road in their marriage, but they are just going to have to work through them because they love each other and want to be together.  We already knew it wouldn’t be smooth sailing for them, but at least the characters acknowledge it as well.

After making all that fuss about it being bad luck to see each other, why did traditionalist Mary open her eyes?

After making all that fuss about it being bad luck to see each other the night before the wedding, why did traditionalist Mary open her eyes?

One of my favorite portions of the upstairs drama was the interaction between the rest of the family with Sybil and Tom.  The two have obviously been living “a very different sort of life” and they both feel a bit out of place at the dinner table (of course, the constant questioning isn’t exactly helpful).  The scene in which Tom basically gets “roofied” by Sybil’s old suitor and Matthew steps up and asks him to become his best man was one of the best of the night.  The future earl is welcoming him into the family (after all, they’ve got to take on the “Crawley girls” together), setting the example for the others to follow. (Side note: I wonder if Mary would be quite as willing to welcome Tom into the family if he had married Edith instead of Sybil?  I didn’t think s0.)

Tom & Matthew

Matthew saves the day

Of course, we also have the introduction of Martha Levinson, Lady Cora’s mother, who travels from the States for the wedding.  She was a breath of fresh air, but I was somewhat underwhelmed by her presence.  It was a bit predictable, and so much hype surrounded Shirley MacLaine’s performance that my expectations were pretty high.  Still, the scene where she serenades Lady Violet was pretty classic.

The wedding goes off without a hitch.  Well, I assume it did, given we didn’t see the actual ceremony (which I was okay with–it was enough to have that little exchange between Matthew and Mary at the front of the church), and we cut straight to Mary and Matthew returning from the honeymoon (which again, we didn’t get to see–I would have liked a “first night together” scene, just because I’d like to know if Mary was afraid for her new husband’s life, given what happened the last time she took a man to bed–or if perhaps Matthew teased her about it.  But something tells me the Pamuk scandal is a sensitive subject).

Mary & Matthew in bed

Oh good. I’m glad to see you’re still alive.

In other upstairs news, we’ve got Edith flinging herself at Sir Anthony Strallan again.  I want Edith to be happy and I’m all for her take charge attitude, but she just comes off as a little bit desperate to me.  Does she really love Sir Anthony, or is he her “only hope” in her mind, given that so many British men were killed during the war?  By the end of the episode, despite her father and grandmother’s attempted intervention, it seems that Edith has secured her man.

Edith & Sir Anthony

While all the family drama and money issues are taking place upstairs, we’ve got health scares, workwoman’s strikes, and a new footman downstairs.  O’Brien manages to get her nephew Alfred Nugent a position as footman, and soon sets her sights on getting him promoted to Matthew’s valet.  For once I actually felt sorry Thomas, who worked for years to earn such a promotion.  I don’t blame him for disliking Alfred.  He’s not only being groomed for a position Thomas doesn’t feel he’s qualified for (rightfully so), but he’s put a wedge between Thomas and O’Brien, his only “friend” downstairs.  So naturally, Thomas and O’Brien turn on each other, and something tells me it’s going to get a bit nastier than coat-tail torching and shirt-stealing.  Each knows the other’s weaknesses and they’re going to use them to their advantage.

Thomas isn't about to help O'Brien's nephew learn the ropes.

Thomas isn’t about to help O’Brien’s nephew learn the ropes.

Elsewhere we’ve got Daisy, who STILL, three seasons later (that’s 8 years in Downton time) hasn’t learned to ignore Thomas.  She goes on strike, much to Mrs. Patmore’s amusement, and Mrs. Patmore, treating Daisy like the child she is being, ignores her until she finally comes around.  Most pointless and ineffective strike ever.

Daisy's protest of 1920.

Daisy’s protest

One of the more intriguing plot-lines was Mrs. Hughes’s cancer scare.  Given her status downstairs, the only person she has to turn to is Mrs. Patmore, whose bedside manner leaves something to be desired (but also led to some of the funnier downstairs scenes of the night).  How frightening it must be for a woman in a position such as Mrs. Hughes, who has no family to turn to in the event her health does decline.  How long can she stay on as Downton Abbey’s housekeeper?  And how long until she lets poor Mr. Carson know?

Mrs. Patmore & Mrs. Hughes

“If you must pay money, better to a doctor than an undertaker.”

Finally we have Anna and Bates.  Their storyline feels so out of place to me this season.  Everything else is revolving around the house, and here we have Bates stuck in prison, with his wife playing detective and trying to find the piece of evidence that will finally set him free.  I’m still interested, yes, but it does feel a bit out in left field to me.  Good to know that Anna bought a garter while in France, though.

Bates contemplating Anna's wardrobe addition.

Bates contemplating Anna’s wardrobe addition.

So, looks like we’ve got quite a few questions raised in the first episode to keep us tuning in.  Will the Crawleys be downsizing from Downton?  How tumultuous will Mary and Matthew’s marriage be?  What will Matthew do with his unwanted inheritance?  Will Edith and Sir Anthony marry?  When do we get to see more of Sybil and Tom (they left so soon!)?  Will Anna ever exonerate Mr. Bates?  How out of control will O’Brien and Thomas’s one-up-manship become?  What will happen to Mrs. Hughes?  So many questions, so much more Downton  to come that will hopefully answer them!

What did you think of last night’s episode?  And for those of you who have seen spoilers, please don’t mention them here!

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First ten minutes of Downton!

Mary and Matthew discuss their future home.

Mary and Matthew discuss their future home.

So PBS & Masterpiece gave a wonderful late Christmas present yesterday by presenting the first ten minutes of Downton Abbey season 3.  It had some trouble loading for a lot of people, but I’ve had better luck getting it off the PBS Facebook page than Masterpiece’s.  Here’s the link: Downton Abbey Season 3 Sneak Peek

Warning: spoilers ahead if you don’t want to watch the first ten minutes and be completely surprised when the season premieres Jan. 6.

Anna gives Bates a list of names she found while cleaning out his and Vera's apartment.

Anna gives Bates a list of names she found while cleaning out his and Vera’s apartment.

The first ten minutes are chock full of drama both upstairs and down, and if it’s any indication as to how season 3 is going to go, it seems very promising.  The focus appears to return to the house and the people who live in it and the people who help run it.  We’ve got a debate about lending Lady Sybil and Branson money to attend Lady Mary’s wedding, something Lord Robert staunchly protests (unlike other family members, he feels town gossip will be less if they stay away).  We’ve got Lady Mary and Matthew debating where to live after the honeymoon (with talk of taking Mary to bed, oh my! Scandalous).  We’ve got Lord Robert losing Lady Cora’s fortune in a very bad deal with a Canadian railway (apparently he was never taught to diversify his portfolio), thus threatening the entire future of the estate.  We’ve got O’Brien bypassing Carson and using her influence over her ladyship to bring on her nephew as a new footman.  And we’ve got Anna discovering some new evidence that might help clear her husband’s good name.  All in the first ten minutes!  A fantastic set up to the conflicts that will play out in the third season.

Carson, upset O'Brien bypassed him to get her nephew hired as footman, declares Alfred is too tall for the position.

Carson, upset O’Brien bypassed him to get her nephew hired as footman, declares Alfred is too tall for the position.

Has anyone else watched the preview?  What do you think?  Are we in for a great season of Downton?

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Downton Revisited

With Thanksgiving over, most people around here are counting down the days until Christmas.  But I’m counting down the days to Downton.  Okay, yeah, I’ll admit I’m looking forward to Christmas too.  But I have been eagerly anticipating Downton Abbey‘s return since season 2 ended.  I’ve been patient, and I haven’t looked up spoilers (well, I did come across one HUGE one, but I promise it was accidental, honest.  Blame it on Google).  And I hope my patience pays off.

I just finished re-watching the first season of the show and remembered why I fell in love with the series.  I’ll be the first to admit it is a guilty pleasure, a soap opera dressed up in period costume.  But the first season didn’t make that quite so apparent.  The scandals made more sense, and had major ramifications on the story line.  The second series was a little over the top at times (There was the whole “Matthew can’t walk, oh wait, he can!” thing.  And the scandal with maid Ethel and the soldier, then the scandal with the replacement maid and Lord Grantham.  And don’t forget forget (possibly) fake Patrick Crawley, who was in and out in one episode).  Did I still enjoy it?  Yes.  Did I buy the DVD?  Of course.  Am I going to watch it again to prepare for season 3? Absolutely.

BUT.  I do hope that season 3 will get back to the heart of what made season 1 so great.  Scandals?  Bring them on.  But make them a little more realistic, and a lot more important to the story arc of the series.

43 days until Downton and counting.  Don’t disappoint me, Julian Fellowes.

And for goodness sake, give Mary a reason to smile this season!

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