Oct 1 2012 4:08pm

Downton Abbey Season 3 (Series 3), Episode 3: Happy Ending for One, Unhappy Ending for Another

Mary and Matthew in Downton Abbey 3.03**********SPOILERS*********

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.

Need a refresher? Don't miss Naz Keynejad's recap of the Series 3 premiere and last week's episode 3.02. And now, onto the recap for Downton Abbey Series 3, episode 3:

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 cast of Downton AbbeyThe 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.

O’Brien in Downton Abbey Season 3 episode 3Carson 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!

The Crawley sisters in Downton Abbey 3.03Edith 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.

Sir Anthony and Edith at the altar in Downton Abbey Season 3Oh 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.

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1. Ms411
Thanks again for your detailed recaps. You hadn't posted by noon today, so I read someone else's, and it didn't have your emotional investment in the characters or your attention to detail, so it was a disappointment, but better than nothing!

I watched "Upstairs/Downstairs" last night, and I think it was the US premier of the new version. Can't hold a candle to Downton Abbey! I never saw the original, and after seeing the new, I doubt I would have liked the original when it aired.

Looking forward to next week's post, and thanks again!
Naz Keynejad
2. nazkey
Thanks for reading! Yeah, there are other folks out there who do recaps, but you're right, it's not quite as detailed. Mine is more like a "live blog," if you will. I'm glad you like them :-)

The new Upstairs Downstairs is not really like the original one at all. I didn't mind it, but I thought it was way too intense. It certainly doesn't have the "airineess" of DA, IMO.
3. Deec
Naz, thanks again for the wonderful re-cap: you are my lifeline until this airs in the States!

Edith and Strallen wedding -- all I can say is, HOLY CRAP. He must have been insane. How could he do that to her? For God's sake....and could she be such a b.. ?(BTW, Naz if I can just make a comment, you say Duchess when I think you mean Dowager -- there's no dukes in this family). How could Edith even face anyone the next day. Time for her to pack her bags and go off to Canada and find that poor bloke with the burned off face. It would serve Violet and everyone else if he came back (again) as the real Patrick.

How can Mathew be so muddled-up. When will he stop torturing himself over Lavinia. Remember, we know that Lavinia was cool with all of this (remember the Ouiji board: May they be happy).

I'm sorry but I think Julian Fellowes is running out of steam a bit, don't you? He seems to be stretching and prolonging things that are silly and useless and for what point? Why go through all that financial muddle with the house if we know Mathew is just going to turn over the money eventually (lucky for him Mary didnt' really have to work him over -- we know she's already killed one guy through some mysterious action in bed....she might do another if he keeps acting stupid). If they own half the village why don't they have any $$.

I'm glad about Mrs. Hughes diagnosis but I'm still worried that if Dr. Clarkson had anything to do with it it will turn out F-d up. We'll see!

And my poor favorites..Anna and Bates. Don't know where that is leading, either. You know Bates is going to end up either killign his cellmate accidently (in a rage) or get caught with this contraband. Poor Bates has had a gigantic L branded in the middle of his forehead ever since Season 2 episode, 3? Loser. I still love him, though, I'm as crazy as Anna.

Carry on, dear Naz! Can't wait for the next recap.
4. Canucks
Naz ... I have been following your recaps of DA for the last three years, and I can say without reservation that you are already a wonderful "reader" (of the stories, arcs, and characters in this series); clearly a great "writer" all on your own, and a very gifted "editor" (of each and every one of these DA episodes). So, “About Naz” certainly needs an update!

Many “Thanks” for all your time & effort!

About the DA S03.E03 ...

I must confess that the altar scene was unexpected. (I like surprises!) Though I have no idea whenever or wherever this series will conclude, I have a feeling that we will find Edith to have an uncommon resilience and a formidable inner strength that will surprise many. But I would not be surprised if she ends-up inheriting the Strallan estate (and farm) and runs it to perfection!

I don’t want to muddy anyone’s enjoyment of this series, but I also must confess that I am finding that a fair number of the DA characters appear to be stagnating. I have a theory why this may so: I did rewatch some of the S01 episodes recently, and the “dialogues” in the early series were substantially longer than they are today. This, I theorize, is making character development and evolution difficult. (Perhaps the writers are trying too hard to give everyone some sort of an “equal playing time”).

Finally, I am wondering if the Bates-Anna arc is being pushed a little too far into a “dark” corner. Prison, I am sure, does change people. But if the trajectory of this story persists, I am unsure that, even if Bates is free, the viewer will be able recover and reconnect to his character. (And speaking of liking surprise endings, I must say I still will be shocked to find out if he did in fact kill Vera! But my money is still on O'Brien when it comes to Vera's untimely demise).

Until next time …
5. Dzintra
I join everyone in appreciating your recaps in such a lively way. I think Edith may be affected by the desperate need to get married because in her day there is only one other alternative which is to be that "useful unmarried sister". I think she talked herself into believing she is in love with Strallan, who I think is a decent man. What a contrast between the three sisters - Sybil is nearly disowned and is married without the glory of a traditional wedding (I wish we could have seen her wedding because I am sure it was beautiful in a different way.). Mary has the true wedding of her class. Then poor Edith has the very worst kind of wedding where the groom stands her up. Perhaps ultimately she will meet her true love.
My favorite couple is Sybil and Branson so I try to imagine what their wedding was like. I don't know if their wedding was in church since Sybil would have to convert to Catholicism. But I think it was no doubt a joyous event with wild flowers, Irish music and a large Branson clan welcoming Sybil into their fold.
Naz Keynejad
6. nazkey
Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I apologize for being late with my responses, but it's been a crazy week!

@Deec - I totally agree that Julian Fellowes is reaching. I honestly don't see the need for the series to continue into a 4th season, if we keep up this pace. There's just nothing major happening, you know? And, the conflicts are getting resolved a bit too quickly (example is of course, the whole deal with the Crawley's being bankrupt, and Matthew coming to the rescue, albeit grudgingly). The scene with Strallan and Edith was truly heartbreaking. I was completely shocked. And tbh, Violet was a bit OOC, IMO. And you're right. Violet is a Dowager Countess, not a Duchess! *headdesk* I'll fix it in the next go-around. Thanks for pointing it out!

@Canucks - Thank you so much for the lovely compliments! I'm thrilled that you're enjoying the recaps! Stay tuned for a couple of other things I'm writing for this site. The style will be a bit different, since this one is really written as I watch, more like a "live blog," than an edited piece. I like your theory about Edith inheriting the Strallan estate. She really needs something that she can call her own, you know? Her whole story arc of failure after failure is getting a bit tired. I also totally agree with you about the characters stagnating. I honestly think that the series needs to end this season. There isn't anything left to talk about, and Julian Fellowes seems determined to keep the series at arms length from all the stuff that was going on in the world at the time, which I think is a mistake. This was a particularly interesting time in history, and I don't know why he doesn't bring that more into the story. I'm a little scared of what's coming up this week, with Branson apparently abandoning Sybil. We'll see!

@Dzintra - Thank YOU for stopping by and commenting! I agree with you about Edith. There is one thing I didn't mention in the recap: when Edith kicks the sisters out of the room, she makes a comment about how they're both happily married, one with a baby on the way, and another possibly pregnant. So, yes, she definitely is feeling the pain of being the spinster sister. I think she does deserve to have something that is purely hers. I hope she gets it! I'm worried about Sybil & Branson. Apparently, this week Branson abandons her. I can't wait to see what's going on there!
Naz Keynejad
8. nazkey
I know! Me too! But she bounces back. Read this week's recap :-)
9. KateRothwell
I was ready to smack the whole gang of Crawleys (except Lady Cora) as they gazed sadly upon the house--a house, the poor dears--that would replace Downton. STIFF UPPER LIP, MARY, CEASE THE WHINGING. . . . oh, Matthew saves the day. Now she can get indignant about something else. I hope she gets all huffy and snappish for poor Edith, but I doubt it.
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