Oh, what an episode! Though, each episode of Downton always does cover a lot of ground and pack in the melodrama. Please stop reading now if you haven’t seen Episode Three or it bothers you to hear details before you have…
Alas, Mary and Matthew still aren’t seeing eye-to-eye, even after he accepted the inheritance and saved Downton. First, she wants him to pull his weight and take an active part in the estate, but then when he discovers that the estate isn’t being managed properly, she won’t listen or support him. [It's probably pretty clear that Mary isn't my favorite of the sisters. Sybil is, in case you're curious.]
The storyline with Ethel was absolutely heartbreaking, but probably realistic. Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Crowley team up to help Ethel give up her son Charlie to his rich and landed grandparents, so that he’ll have better opportunities in his life. I kept hoping Mrs. Hughes would offer Ethel one of the new jobs at Downton, but I guess she couldn’t work there with a child. Ethel forced herself to give up Charlie and if you didn’t cry at that, you just don’t have a heart. I wondered if Ethel would do herself in, but Mrs. Crowley offers her a job in the trailer for the next episode, so hopefully not.
The household is atwitter with the arrival of a new candidate for footman, the good-looking Jimmy, who Mary urges Carson to hire to please the ladies downstairs. But he pleases more than the ladies – Thomas, who refused to help Alfred, is eager to offer Jimmy assistance. It was sweet to see Carson defend Alfred, and to watch him train the younger footman.
Just as it was cool to see Matthew stumbling to support Edith in his clueless way. And I loved when the Dowager told Edith to stop whining and to find something to do with herself.
More reasons Mary is an insufferable brat: she essentially ignores Matthew’s question about what they’ll use for a nursery “when the time comes” in favor of redecorating the nursery as a sitting room, then when talking to Anna, she can’t wait to turn the conversation to herself and says, “well, your issues with your husband are coming to an end, but mine are just starting…” Um, Mary, Anna’s husband is in jail and YOURS is essentially trying to do right by you and your family. Obnoxious.
Which brings us to the nicer and more interesting sister: Sybil. Edith receives a mysterious phone call from Sybil, which is cut off. Then, Branson arrives in the middle of a rainstorm during dinner. Apparently, he’s had to leave Ireland and Sybil behind in order to avoid arrest for the burning of a noble family’s home, which he participated in but regretted. This infuriates Lord Grantham, of course, and worries the rest of the family, as well as the servants.
“What a harsh world you live in,” Lord Grantham says to Branson, who responds, “We all live in a harsh world, but at least I know it.”
Which was echoed a few scenes later when Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Crowley discuss Ethel and her giving up Charlie. Mrs. Hughes says that Ethel has done the right thing “until we live in a very different world than this one.”
Sybil arrives safely and has a sweet moment with Branson. Seeing her safely home seems to enrage the family all over again, especially Lord Grantham and Mary, who protests that the family whose home was burned “are like us.”
Daisy has a sweet moment with her father-in-law on the farm where he gives her his blessing to fall in love again and a bit of sage advice. She defends Alfred later, which he thanks her in a later scene. She tells him she’s on his side and is about to confess how she feels when Mrs. Patmore introduces the new kitchen maid, Ivy, who Alfred admires. Poor Daisy! Hopefully Alfred can redeem that clueless moment!
Edith stopped whining and wrote a letter about women’s rights to the paper, which will be published. Lord Grantham doesn’t approve of course, but Matthew is supportive.
Carson is a bit of the comic relief in this episode, saying he’d “He would rather not say” regarding Edith’s letter being published and rushing to put out a fire when smoke comes out of Mrs. Hughes’s office. It’s her new toaster! He says he never expected she would burn down the house, Branson maybe… She says, “You shoud never take anything for granted.”
There’s a troubling moment between Sybil and Branson when they disagree about where the baby should be born, and whether or not they should stay at Downton. He wants to go back to Ireland, but will be arrested on sight if he does.
Matthew tries to discuss the estate with Lord Grantham, who changes the subject, so Matthew goes to get advice from “Cousin Violet.” Daring! She tells him there’s no way not to put noses out of joint, but he should go ahead.
The Anna/Bates thread was a bit confusing, mostly because I couldn’t keep track of who the players were or understand their accents. But I did get the highlights: Bates was on the outs, his letters to and from Anna withheld, as well as his right to visitors. Both he and Anna were suffering, thinking that the other one had given up on their being together. Then Bates, with the help of a fellow prisoner, turned the tables on his cell mate, who’d tried to frame him for something. He got all of Anna’s letters and she got his, all in a big packet. The episode ends with them each reading the letters, laughing and crying, almost as if they’re together again.
Most of this is slightly out of order, batched thematically rather than strictly chronologically. I hope you’ll understand and approve. I wonder what you think of Episode 3?