Editor's note: Do not read this recap unless you've seen the episode or are willing to be thoroughly spoiled. If you are spoiled for events beyond this episode, please do NOT post those spoilers in the comments—this recap is the place to discuss what has happened through this episode and no further. Series 3 is airing now in the U.K. and will air as Season 3 in the U.S. beginning in January.
Oh how lovely! The episode starts with the house getting ready for Edith’s wedding. Finally, Edith is getting a happy ending. Even she is shocked, saying, “I still can’t believe it! Something happening in this house is actually about me.” Yeah, seriously! It’s about time.
And, look! Sybil and Branson are back! Yay!
In the midst of the happy occasion, we are of course, dealing with the inevitable sale of Downton. Lord G. thinks they might advertise it as a “desirable nobleman’s mansion with surrounding estate and properties.” Apparently, the family has some land up North inherited by Lord G. through his great grandmother, and he suggests naming it Downton Place. Sniff. There has to be a way out of this!
Once again, Mary and Matthew have a row about Reggie’s will as they are getting ready for dinner. Apparently, Reggie’s lawyer is paying them a visit the next day to finalize everything, which really upsets Mary, especially since the family was planning to go visit the new house. To add insult to injury, Matthew wants Mary to pick a charity to donate the money to, and of course, Mary’s pretty furious that he would even ask.
After dinner, Lord G. and Sir Anthony have a nice heart-to-heart about Edith. Sir Anthony is still concerned that Lord G. is not supportive of the union, and tries to explain that he’ll do his best to take care of Edith:
Sir Anthony: “But are you happy about it?”
Lord G.: “I’m happy Edith is happy, and I’m happy you mean to keep her happy. That is quite enough happiness to be going on with.”
The next morning, Reggie’s lawyer arrives right before they take off for the picnic with a letter for Matthew. Matthew is conflicted about reading it because he thinks it’s just going to be full of praise for him, and how he is the best man Lavinia could find. He doesn’t want to read the letter because he doesn’t want to live with the guilt of knowing that he was actually the worst man Lavinia could find. Mary doesn’t agree, and urges him to at least read what Reggie wrote, but Matthew refuses.
The entire family’s off for their little picnic with Isobel and Violet sharing a ride with Sir Anthony. Violet doesn’t care for the “new” house, and calls it a “retreat from the world,” and she’s worried about what’s going to happen to her.
Violet: “What about me? Where am I to go?”
Lord G.: “We still own most of the village.”
Violet: “Oh. Perhaps I could open a shop.”
Wouldn’t it be fantastic if she ended up rooming with Isobel at Crawley House?
Meanwhile, downstairs, Thomas is stirring things up with Molesley. Apparently, Molesley knows someone who’s looking for a lady’s maid position, and Thomas lets on that O’Brien is leaving, and that it would be a good time for Molesley to approach Cora and put in a recommendation for his friend. Cora is completely shocked to hear about O’Brien’s apparent departure, and tries to coax her into talking about it. Of course, O’Brien has no idea what’s going on, so Cora’s prompts don’t go very far.
There’s no update on Mrs. Hughes’s condition, and when Carson overhears her mentioning it to Mrs. Patmore, he takes it upon himself to go to Dr. Clarkson and find out what’s going on. He follows up by cornering Mrs. Patmore and trying to get something out of her. I never thought Carson could be this sneaky, but hey, it’s purely out of his concern for Mrs. Hughes, so I’m okay with his prying.
Carson decides to lighten Mrs. Hughes’s workload a bit and asks Cora’s permission, which she gives readily. Cora then asks Carson about O’Brien’s departure, which comes as a surprise to him. He confronts O’Brien during dinner, and asks her why she chose to confide in Molesley, and not tell the rest of them about her plans. As you can imagine, this does not go over well with O’Brien, who proceeds to ream into poor Molesley right after he stammers that he thought Her Ladyship would be aware of O’Brien’s intentions. Before Molesley can get a word in edgewise, Thomas gets everyone up to go deal with dressing the family for dinner. Molesley is left as the latest victim of the Thomas/O’Brien battle. He manages to catch up with O’Brien later in the evening and sets the record straight. I can’t wait to see how O’Brien pays Thomas back for this.
O’Brien tries to reassure Cora that the whole incident was a rumor, but Cora’s still pretty disappointed and believes that she must’ve said something for Molesley to have assumed her departure. Meanwhile, Cora calls for Mrs. Hughes to reassure her that even if she is ill, she’s welcome to stay with the family for as long as she wants. It’s such a beautiful and emotional scene between the two of them, and it shows the deep, deep relationship that all the members of the household have built over the years.
Cora: “I don’t want you to have any concerns about where you’ll go, or who’ll look after you, because the answer is here, and we will.”
Mrs. Hughes (tearing up): “I don’t know what to say, my Lady.”
Cora: “There isn’t anything more to say until we know where we stand, one way or the other.”
In the Bates’s corner, Anna finds Mrs. Bartlett (sp?), who turns out to be quite hostile. Not a big shock, really, since she was Vera’s best friend. It doesn’t seem like she’s going to be any help at all. She claims that Vera was terrified of Bates, and that she is sure he murdered his wife. Meanwhile, Bates is having major problems at the prison with his cellmate, who’s trying to get Bates in trouble by hiding some sort of contraband in his bunk. Thankfully, Bates gets a heads-up from one of the other inmates, finds the stuff, and manages to hide it before the guards search his cell.
The night before the wedding, the family’s relaxing after dinner as she gushes about her upcoming honeymoon. It’s so nice to see Edith so wonderfully happy. She deserves it! Of course, this is also the perfect opportunity for some wonderful quips from the Duchess.
Violet (to Edith): “I really think you should go to bed. No bride wants to look tired on her wedding. It either means she’s anxious, or been up to no good.”
Edith: “I won’t sleep a wink!”
Sybil: “Tonight, or tomorrow?”
Violet: “Sybil, vulgarity is no substitute for wit.”
Sybil: “Well, you started it!”
Meanwhile, Mary takes it upon herself to read Reggie’s letter. Matthew is furious at her for prying into his private business, but Mary refuses to budge. It seems that Lavinia had somehow managed to write to her father right before she died, detailing her conversation with Matthew about breaking off their wedding. So, Reggie was completely aware of the situation, and is absolving Matthew of any feelings of regret or guilt in his letter. Well. That’s a neat way of solving this problem.
However, Matthew’s not convinced that the letter isn’t a forgery. He can’t understand how Lavinia could’ve possibly written to her father as she lay on her deathbed, without anyone knowing. Mary goes downstairs to ask the servants if any of them had posted a letter for Lavinia, and Daisy confirms that yes, she had. Mary’s ecstatic and tells Matthew that if he finds “one more excuse to not take the money,” she’ll “have to beat [him] about the head.” Matthew finally accepts, as long as they tell Lord G. after Edith’s wedding. Yay! They get to stay at Downton!
Edith looks absolutely beautiful in her wedding gown. She’s just positively glowing with happiness. Sir Anthony, however, looks absolutely petrified standing at the altar, waiting for his bride.
Violet: “He looks as if he’s waiting for a beating from the headmaster!”
Rev. Travis: “Do you think I should reassure him?”
Violet: “No! He’s done it before, so he must be in possession of all the facts.”
Rev. Travis: “Perhaps the first Lady Strallan was a difficult act to follow.”
Violet: “Or a difficult one to repeat.”
Uh … I don’t have a good feeling about this. Sir Anthony looks like he’s about to pass out.
Oh no!!!! Right when they’re about to start, he stops everything and tells Edith that he can’t go through with it! What?!? Oh my god! He’s ditching her at the altar, AT the altar! He says that he can’t let her “throw away [her] life like this,” and not to “waste” herself on him. Good lord! He’s doing this in front of everyone. Poor Edith is absolutely mortified! Violet steps in and actually agrees with Sir Anthony, urging Edith to let him go. What the heck is going on here? He just says goodbye, and walks out. Gah!!! I’m surprised Edith didn’t faint! She runs back to the house and up to her room in tears, as Lord G. asks Alfred to make sure the staff puts the house back to normal so she doesn’t have to see it all decked out for the wedding when she comes down. This is so sad. So terribly, terribly sad.
Matthew finds Lord G. outside and tells him about Reggie’s money. Lord G. turns down Matthew’s offer and refuses to accept the money outright. Instead, he tells Matthew that he should invest, and be co-owner of Downton. This is a great solution! Matthew’s going to inherit it all one day any way, so he might as well have a real stake in the place and learn how to run it.
Dinner is quite a somber affair, with everyone worried about Edith. Isobel suggests that they help her by finding something for her to do. I love Isobel. She’s always so practical! The next morning, Anna goes up to check on Edith, who has reconciled herself with her fate, and gets up to face her life as a “useful spinster.”
Downstairs, while O’Brien confronts Thomas, and tells him to watch his back, Mrs. Hughes heads down to the village to find out about her test results. Guess what! Mrs. Hughes doesn’t have cancer! It’s just a benign tumor. Carson is so happy to hear the news he actually starts singing! So cute!
By the way, the minor storyline about Ethel was explained a bit more in this episode. Apparently, she’s now turned to prostitution to earn a living. She keeps coming over to the shelter to talk to Isobel, but runs off before she gets to the point. Isobel takes it upon herself to find her, and gets her address from Mrs. Hughes. With all the drama surrounding the wedding, she hasn’t had a chance to go visit Ethel yet, but I’m sure that’ll happen soon.
Next week looks to be pretty intense. Apparently, Anna and Bates aren’t receiving any letters from each other (I suspect the cellmate has something to do with this), and Branson has run away, abandoning Sybil? I hope not! We’ll have to wait and see.
Can't get enough Downton? Check out Heroes and Heartbreakers's Downton Abbey Collection for more recaps, news, and more. And look for The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis, a behind-the-scenes look at the show, available now.
Naz Keynejad is an avid reader, wanna-be writer, editor and self-professed geek. She has a “thing” for period dramas and will watch anything as long as it’s filled with suppressed sexual tension, angst and of course, period costumes. Oh, and there has to be tea. Lots of tea.