Downton Abbey recap: S3, Ep3! (Better late than never!)

It’s Friday night at the end of a long and very eventful week. My friends came over to drink wine and play cards and eat brownies, but now they’ve gone home. My family are all in bed. I’m sitting in my living room, eating Bugles (lord, the SALT!) and finally grabbing a spare moment to re-watch and recap last Sunday’s episode.


(Why am I eating Bugles at 10:30 on Friday night? Here is what I’ve eaten today: a little bit of pear-apple-cranberry crisp for breakfast, two vaqueros on corn from Tacodeli for second breakfast, a pulled-pork torta and a small piece of homemade carrot cake for lunch, two Thin Mints while tidying the house this afternoon, a bacon cheeseburger and fries at Five Guys for dinner, plus a bushel of peanuts while waiting for MA and BK to meet up with us, a brownie, and two small glasses of prosecco. There is absolutely no reason for me to be eating Bugles other than that they are here, being crunchy and cone-shaped and salty and tantalizing. I’ve had so much salt today I can barely bend my fingers. STOP ME BEFORE I BUGLE AGAIN.)

Anyhoo. Downton. Dog butt. Downstairs, Anna is hurt because she’s not gotten a letter and even stupid Thomas has one. “Nothing for me, Mr. Carson?” “No, Anna, yet again, nothing for you.” Geez, Carson. Way to tact.

Prison: No letter for Bates. Bates has a sad.

Matthew and Mary beep boop boop boop Anna stiff upper lip.

Mrs. Crawley visits Mrs. Hughes downstairs and explains that she’s seen Ethel the Unnecessary Plot Device again; Ethel has been working as a prostitute. Mrs. Hughes recoils at the word because Victorianism  and says, “My my, that’s not a word you hear in this house every day,” she pearl-clutches. Oh, come off it Hughesy.

Upstairs, Carson wants to know if he has two daddies now. Matthew explains that he’s merely made an investment in the estate, but nothing else has changed. Carson wants to get the staff back up to snuff, bringing on a housemaid, a kitchen maid, and a footman. Matthew walks back his previous statement and puts his oar in about the relevance of a large staff, prompting Carson to climb up on the cross. “Well, I would like to return to my duties as a butler, but if you would prefer for me to continue also doing the work of a second footman…” LG defuses the situation, smoothing Carson’s ruffled feathers.

So, apparently some time has passed because the big dinner with the archbishop referenced in the previous scene is now the same night. Edith is having breakfast with Matthew and LG; Matthew asks why Edith isn’t taking breakfast in bed. “Because I’m not married,” she whines. Really? Is that a thing? Does marriage entitle you to breakfast in bed? If so, I am owed a LOT of back breakfast-in-beds. LG reads in the paper that Tennessee is going to ratify the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote. “Boy, I sure wish I could vote,” says Edith. “You should write a letter to the Times,” teases Matthew. “Maybe I will,” says Edith, the Accidental Feminist. Here’s my problem with this: Edith only seems to be turning toward suffrage because the whole marriage thing hasn’t worked out. It’s like, Plan B. To my mind, feminism isn’t something you take up because you weren’t able to follow the script. It’s an ethos, not a punt.

Mary has summoned Matthew to the nursery, which she has commandeered for their sitting room. Matthew was confused, because Mary had been to the doctor earlier and now they are meeting in the nursery. Nope, hay fever meds. “But what shall we do for a day nursery, should the need arise?” he asks, suggestively. Mary looks mildly alarmed, but brushes it off. TENSION, Y’ALL.

Edith has brought Violet a bottle of perfume. Violet’s worried about Edith after her jilting, and suggests that she keep busy. “There must be something you can put your mind to,” says Violet. “But what?” whines Edith. “Gardening?” “Well, no, you can’t be as desperate as that,” Violet retorts (this caused me to guffaw). “Then what?” “Edith, you’re a woman with a brain and reasonable ability. Stop whining and find something to do!” Violet just took Edith to CHURCH, y’all!

Carson is taking Alfred under his wing. Anna is weepy because she zzzzzzzzzz. In prison, Bates’ ally explains that he’s a target or whatevs. Bates is just relieved to understand why he’s not been getting letters.

Back at Downton, Alfred can’t even tell the difference between a soup spoon and a bouillon spoon. WHAT A MAROON.

At Crawley house, Ethel tells Hughesy that she wants to give up Charlie for adoption to his paternal grandparents (remember that Ethel’s babydaddy was an officer convalescing at Downton in S. 2, then went and got himself killed near the end of WWI). Mrs. Bird, Mrs. Crawley’s maid, refuses to help Ethel with her coat. Mrs. Crawley says, surprisingly pleasantly, “Some manners wouldn’t go amiss.” Have I mentioned that I LOVE Mrs. Crawley? She’s my second-favorite character behind Violet.

At the dinner, LG tells the archbishop that the Catholics are like foreigners. Wha? Edith takes a cryptic phone call from Sybil. Someone knocks on the door. It’s Tom. Mary sends him upstairs and covers for him back at dinner. Ok, I’ll be honest: I am not following what’s going on with Tom and setting someone’s house on fire and … LG shouts and makes Tom cry? I know it has something to do with the Irish war of independence, and to do with the fact that Tom is a Republican, but really, zzzzzzz.

In other news, Hughesy has treated herself to a toaster. Carson is scandalized. Meanwhile, a handsome young man who looks like that guy from that show arrives to interview for the footman job. The maids all look like this:


Thomas comes in, peeps Jimmy, and is like:


Only Hughesy has it together enough to move things along. We learn that Jimmy had worked for some dowager who’d moved to France and begged him to come along. Jimmy;s a player!!

Ethel gives up her boy. This was a hard scene to watch. Not quite sure why this storyline was in here. (Although it looks like Mrs. Crawley hires Ethel next week, which I’m sure Mrs. Bird is really excited about!)

Sybil arrives at Downton. Cora, wearing a hella-dowdy hairdo, fusses at Tom for abandoning Sybil. If you ask me, of all the Grantham girls, I think Sybil is the most suited to shift for herself. She ain’t no hothouse flower. Mary is pissed at Tom because he burned her some other debutante’s house down. A telegram arrives from LG; Cora and her bad hair tell Tom and Sybil that they are not to leave Downton.

Thomas comes upon Jimmy getting dressed (Jimmy manscapes!) and does an unsubtle


(My friend Elizabeth wondered on Facebook why the villain on the show a predatory gay man. I had the same thought; it’s such a lazy trope and it seems like we’re in a progressive enough moment to think up new, more responsible ways to portray gay people. Apparently, the issue is resolved in later episodes.)

Matthew tells Mary he’s been going over the numbers and realizes that the running of Downton could be much more efficient and less wasteful. Beep beep boop boop whatevs. Tom can’t return to Ireland. Violet wonders why all the Irish rebels are so well born. Tee hee. At dinner, the family is mildly scandalized to learn that Edith has written to a newspaper. LG doesn’t think it will be published. The upstairs folks are amused by how handsome the new footman is. Matthew gingerly tries to tell LG about how badly the estate is being run, but is brushed off.

Prison. I skipped over the part earlier where Bates got his revenge on his cellmate for planting drugs in his bed. This gets Bates back in the guards’ good graces and is handed a hefty packet of letters from Anna.

Toaster shenanigans. Silliness


Sybil takes a stand with Tom and insists that they stay at Downton for their baby’s sake. Edith’s letter has been published in the paper denouncing the limitations for the women’s suffrage bill. Matthew and Tom are impressed and supportive. LG is incensed. Carson grunts his disapproval. (Ugh, Carson. You turd.)

Daisy’s about to confess to Alfred that she lurves him, but Mrs. P brings in Ivy, the new kitchen maid, who is cute. Alfred is googly eyed and Daisy is disappointed.

Matthew seeks advice on how to handle the mismanagement of Downton from Violet. Violet advises him that there’s no way he can address it without misaligning people’s noses. The only way out is through, I guess. I smell a showdown at the Downton Corral!

The episode ends with Anna and Bates reading their backlog of letters. Aw, bless. GET OFF MY TV YOU MOST BORING PEOPLE WHO EVER BORED ME.

Ok, that’s it for this week! Look for another recap soon (Tuesday?), unless I die of a salt overdose between now and then.

Leave a comment


  1. i am having such a hard time mustering up the umph to watch this season. realizing that watching it in bits (aka an episode at a time) makes the storylines run very, very, very slowly. violet and daisy are what keep me coming back.

    • boxingoctopus

       /  January 31, 2013

      I just can’t get enough of Isobel. They have made her a firecracker this year!


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