Sep 17 2012 11:19am

Downton Abbey Season 3 (Series 3), Episode 1 Recap: Will Mary Marry?

The dowager countess and Mary CrawleyThey’re back! Are you ready for the intrigues and entanglements of the Crawley family, and their motley crew of devoted servants? Well, you won’t be disappointed with Downton Abbey Season 3's series premiere!


We left the family at the end of season 2 with Matthew asking Mary to marry him, and we begin season 3 with them gathered in church for the wedding rehearsal. It seems that Sybil and Branson won’t be attending because they can’t afford it (grrr), and Lord Grantham refuses to help them, saying that it would basically cause an uproar in the community if the former chauffeur attended Lady Mary’s wedding. Of course, Mrs. Crawley objects to Matthew about this, and insists that Lord G. is creating “a problem where none exists,” saying that the county just has to get used to the idea that the Earl’s daughter ran off with the chauffeur.

As usual, Isobel won’t let this be, and it seems that she has the Dowager on her side in this. Violet also agrees that Sybil needs to be at the wedding, and that the best way to allay the county’s “fears” about Branson, is to bring him out, rally around him, and “make sure he behaves.” Isobel offers to send the money to Sybil herself.

Back at the house, the servants are gathered in the kitchen (eating treacle pie) and Carson’s bemoaning the lack of an extra footman, when O’Brien jumps in and tells him to hire her nephew, Alfred Nugent. Carson objects, but of course, O’Brien goes over his head to Cora and gets her way. Thomas is his cheery old self, bad mouthing Bates, the fact that Anna is the recipient of Bates’ money, and you know, being a general nuisance. It seems that there is a bit of a rift between him and O’Brien. This should be interesting. The two rabble-rousers at odds with each other!

Meanwhile, Lord G. is in a bit of a jam. It turns out that he’d invested the bulk of his (and Cora’s) fortune in a railroad scheme (which was said to be a sure thing) and it went bust. Most of the money is gone and Downton is in danger of having to be sold off. Oh no! Poor Lord G. He’s completely devastated. He finally breaks down and tells Cora about it, and she’s very supportive, telling him that they should concentrate on the wedding, “If it’s to be our last, let’s make it a wonderful last. Enjoy our lovely home and the lovely people we spent our life among.” It’s nice to see the depth of their relationship, especially after the nonsense with Lord G. and that maid last season.

In an interesting coincidence, Lavinia’s father, Reggie, had named Matthew as the third possible beneficiary of his fortune in his will. Apparently, he had quite a bit of money. The first beneficiary passed away before Reggie, and the second one has gone missing, so Matthew stands to inherit quite a bit of money. He’s very conflicted about this and tells Mary that he’s having moral issues, and won’t be able to accept the money, should it come to him.

Edith seems to be focusing all her attention on Lord Strallen again. She’s flirting with him, and being super nice. He’s still his dear, sweet, bumbling, awkward self. Edith tells Anna that she doesn’t care if the family feels that he’s too old for her, and that she’s determined to be with him. I hope Edith gets a happy ending this season. There’ve been way too many misses with her, poor thing!

Branson and Sybil in Downton Abbey Season 3Meanwhile, Sybil writes to say that she will be able to attend the wedding after all. Finally! We get to see her and Branson together as a married couple! And, Sybil has a little baby bump to boot! Tensions run high at the first family dinner, because of course, the family doesn’t really know how to act around a former “servant” sitting amongst them at the dinner table. It gets even more awkward as Branson, who hasn’t changed for dinner because he doesn’t own tails, goes off and rails about the Irish cause. The servants don’t go easy on him either and when he stops by downstairs just to say hello, they treat him with respectful disdain.

Branson decides to move into the pub for the duration of their stay, but Matthew convinces him that that’s not the way to win the family over. They form a bit of a bond over the fact that they are soon to be brothers-in-law, married to a couple of headstrong women.

Some old family friends have been invited to dinner the following evening, and Mary cautions Sybil to prepare Branson. Apparently, Larry Gray, Lord Mercer’s (sic) son, had had a crush on Sybil when they were younger. As they sit down to dinner, Branson starts off about politics again, but this time, he seems to be quite drunk. When things really start to heat up, Lord Strallen accuses Larry of having spiked Branson’s drink earlier with some sort of a pill, which Larry doesn’t deny. It seems that he thinks it’s just a funny joke to play on the “grubby little chauffeur chap.” His family is horrified, and Lord Mercer apologizes to Branson. In a show of solidarity, Matthew, whose intended best man had fallen ill, asks Branson to act in his stead. I’m loving the friendship developing between these two!

The arrival of Cora’s mother, Martha, is anticipated with a lot of eye rolls, and quips from the Dowager:

Violet: “I’m so looking forward to seeing your mother again. When I’m with her, I’m reminded of the virtues of the English.”

Matthew: “But isn’t she American?”

Violet: “Exactly."

Martha in Downton Abbey Season 3Martha arrives and immediately starts criticizing the way Downton still operates the way it has for so long, and insists that they need to move forward. I have to say that I’m really looking forward to the interactions between her, Violet, and Isobel. It’s going to be fun to see which one of these old ladies gets the upper hand!

In the meantime, Lord G. decides to let Mary know about their dire financial situation, so she and Matthew can make more informed decisions about their future. Mary tells Matthew of the predicament and tells him that if he actually inherits Reggie’s fortune, then they’ll be saved. Matthew is appalled by this and tells Mary in no uncertain terms that he refuses to accept the money from a man who believed him to be his daughter’s one true love. He tells Mary that he won’t profit from having broken Lavinia’s heart. Mary loses it and tells him that he’s not on their side. Oh no! This is the night before the wedding! Mary storms upstairs in tears. When the family finds out, Lord G. offers to go talk to Matthew, but Branson intervenes and tells him that as the best man, it’s his job to bring the couple back together again.

Branson convinces Matthew that he needs to resolve this conflict with Mary, because they are meant to be together. He tells Matthew that he will never be happy with any other woman as long as Mary walks the earth. Of course, Matthew goes back to the house, and in a really cute scene, Mary insists that they can’t see each other because it would be bad luck, and Matthew declares his love, and what Branson told him, to Mary through a partially open door. He asks if he can kiss her, because he really needs to, if he promises to close his eyes, and she says yes. So cute!

Mary and Mattew marry in Downton Abbey Season 3Okay…phew. The wedding is back on. Mary looks absolutely lovely in her bridal gown, and in a complete fairy tale moment, she’s driven to church in a horse-drawn carriage, while the crowd cheers her on. The episode ends with her standing at the altar with Matthew:

Matthew: You came. To be honest, I wasn’t completely sure you would.

Mary: I’m glad to hear it. I should hate to be predictable!

Bates and Anna in Downton Abbey Season 3There wasn’t too much about Anna and Bates in this episode, other than the fact that Anna is working furiously to try and find some sort of evidence that shows Vera committed suicide, and free her husband. Bates questions her not giving up on him, and she tells him that she will never stop trying. Anna tells Bates that she’s not planning on accompanying Mary on her honeymoon, but he insists that she go, so that she can live for both of them. They are so lovely together, even while sitting in the jail visiting room; so in love…staring into each other’s eyes. Sigh. I really hope that Bates is freed soon. These two really need to be happy. Oh, one other thing: Bates has a new cellmate and there’s a bit of tension between them. I have a feeling this is going to develop into something that might get Bates into more trouble. Ugh!

Other minor plot lines in this episode included Moseley not being asked by Matthew to be his valet, which devastates him, but he tries to make the best of it, and Daisy “going on strike” in the kitchen (at Thomas’s prodding) because Mrs. Padmore hasn’t yet officially promoted her and hired a new kitchen maid. Nothing really comes off it though, because Daisy is just way too sweet, and Mrs. Padmore is way too fond of her for there to be any real problems between them.

Can’t wait to see what happens next week. I’m especially concerned with the money situation.

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.

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Heather Waters
1. HeatherWaters
Welcome back, Naz! Great recap. I haven't seen any of Season 2 (just kept up with the show through recaps) yet, but the wedding is making me want to go catch up on all things Mary/Matthew. Aww.
Megan Frampton
2. MFrampton
Whew! For Mary and Matthew finally getting hitched. I wish we could see them all romantic and such, but DA isn't that kind of show.
Naz Keynejad
3. nazkey
@redline_ it's good to be back! Oh, you should most definitely watch S2. It was very well done, and such a great payoff for us Mary/Matthew shippers at the end!

@MFrampton - Oh yes, there was one point in the epi where I thought that there was going to be a fake out and the wedding would be cancelled. Thank good ness they didn't do that. I don't know if we're NOT going to see them all romantic. Next week's epi preview had them all nice & cuddly in bed. Hee. *blush*
Maria Noskova
4. MariaMirabella
Thank you for the detailed description and lovely photos. I live in Russia (Moscow), and we don't have these series on TV yet... I couldn't wait to see the wedding day, and finally they done it. Excellent!
Naz Keynejad
5. nazkey
Glad you stopped by! It was a great episode. I can't wait for next week!
6. Deec
Welcome back, Naz! I knew you would be online saving us all from dying of suspense. great re-cap and I've got my fingers crossed for a stronger season 3. Sounded great! Thanks again for your awesome writing and I'll be back next week eagerly looking out for more of your super summaries.
Naz Keynejad
7. nazkey
Hi! Thank you! I'm so glad you're back reading the recaps!
8. DarthClavie
I saw the episode and it was AMAZING!
I was so happy with how things progressed.

Also, rummor mill says that Edith will be married this season, but it's not clear to whom :P
Naz Keynejad
9. nazkey
Yeah, I've heard that Edith will finally find love. I wonder if it's Strallen. I mean, I don't mind him. He's kinda cute in his bumbling ways, but I sort of want a real romance for Edith. Poor thing deserves it, IMO.
10. Patricia Pascale
Hi Naz,
Came across this article by you by chance and you really made my day. I just finished Season 2 and felt down as I so love it all. I read I would not get to see it until Jan 5th and was so down. You are truly an angel and I look forward to hearing more.
Best regards from Smith Mt Lake, VA USA
Naz Keynejad
11. nazkey
So glad you found this! I'll be posting a recap every week, and while it's definitely not the same as watching, it might tide you over until January.
12. Ms411
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your great, detailed posting of episode one for season 3. I just finished watching season 2, and Jan 2013 is just too long for me to wait to continue with this fantastic show.

The season 3 trailer was such a tease!
Naz Keynejad
13. nazkey
I'm so glad you stopped by to read! I'll be here every week with an update. Hopefully that will tide you over until January!
14. Leah334
Hooray for the return of Naz! Thank you for once again enabling my weekly escape into all things Downton! We all depend on you!
Alexandra W
15. parasolprotectorate
Yay! Love these recaps! Just watched it now and am so glad that it's back.

And just me being picky, but it's *Mrs Patmore :)
16. bryantgm
Thank you for the recap! I did not want to wait till January. Thanks again, I LOVE this show!
Naz Keynejad
17. nazkey
Thanks everyone for stopping by and reading! I'm glad you're enjoying it.

@Leah334 - LOL. I'll try not to disappoint!

@parasolprotectorate - you are absolutely right! I fixed it in the second recap :-)

@bryantgm - I love the show too! Yay!
18. Pimkie44
Hello Naz, I'm french and we just ended season 2 in France, so it's very nice to read this funny recap to help wainting till the next season in France. I particularly appreciated the sentences under photos...
Waiting to read you again and sorry for the mistakes !
19. HollyP
Hello! I was searching for DA's latest season update and was led to this site. I love how you did the recap. I just love Mary's wedding dress! Don't you think O'Brien is too obssessed with his nephew's well-being? I won't be surprised if it turned out he is her son. Also, it's not Mrs Padmore rather it's Patmore. Anyway, I'm glad I chanced upon your site. I'll sure be visiting again. Ta-ta! :)
20. Jessimay
Hi! So I just started watching Downton Abbey, and am currently in the middle of Season 3 Episode 1 and am very confused! At the end of season 2 (episode 8), Matthew tells Mary at Lavinia's death that there is no way they can ever be together. And now they're getting married? Whatever happened to Richard? And how did Mary get him to stay silenced when Richard threatened her never to cross him? Please someone clarify this for me because it's just not making sense in my head. Thank you!!
Naz Keynejad
21. nazkey
Hi Jessimay! You have to watch the Christmas special for Season 2. It had a lot more information in it and was the "real" season finale!
22. Star@123
Hi! I only watched up to season 2 and really couldn't wait! I've read all the episodes and really hope that iTunes can bring it soon! I always watch the British version ! I hope you still read this comment and THANK YOU!!!
Naz Keynejad
23. nazkey
Hi! Thanks for reading the recaps! Come back and comment when you get a chance to see the episodes :-)
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