Downton Abbey, Season 3 Episode 3: Review

So much excitement! Dinner, fleeing from The Authorities, mixed up prison mail, TOAST!

In the third episode of this season, the prodigal chauffer returns, there’s correspondence drama between Anna and Bates, Edith gets out of bed and writes another strongly worded letter, the house gets new staff and Mrs. Hughes gets a toaster!

In what is supposed to make us care about Irish history, but is merely a plot contrivance to get everyone back at Downton before Sybil and Branson’s baby is born, Branson bursts in on Downton in the middle of the night, interrupting (gasp) dinner! He’s escorted into the study by Mary, where he waits until everyone comes to the conclusion that dinner is boring and it would be much more interesting to see why Branson is here without his wife. Branson confesses he’s on the run from the authorities, due to his watching (but not participating in) the burning and destruction of some titled person’s house, all in the name of Irish independence! But now he has qualms, since he didn’t seem to realize most revolutions come with violence. Oh Branson. You’re pretty. Just shine that car and then drive it with a dashing grin and a tip of your cap!

Everyone is furious, particularly Lord Grantham who yells something about leaving a pregnant woman alone on the run. Branson looks guilty, but assures him that this has all been planned for a while, since he’s been in hot water with the authorities for a period of time now. Unsurprisingly, this does not appease the anger of his father-in-law.

Nonetheless, Sybil shows up, unharmed and very pregnant. Lord Grantham marches off to London and intercedes with the authorities for Branson. The result: Branson is exonerated but ONLY if he is banished from Ireland forever! “Nooooooooooo!” goes Branson. “Ok,” goes everyone else. Life continues. Branson sulks.

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In other happily married news, Mary pushes Matthew to get involved more with the estate he now technically co-runs. She comes to regret her pushing, since Matthew goes through the books and realizes the estate is in shambles. Oh, and it’s all Lord Grantham’s fault. Gee whiz, how shocking that the man who put all his money into ONE investment doesn’t know how to manage his business affairs. Now Matthew has to confront Lord Grantham about it. Awkward Matthew Moment Number 1.

On the bright side, he’s feeling all nesty when they start arranging the rooms they are to have as their own. He does some kissy kissy stuff and then drops a hint to Mary about a nursery. She brushes it aside, much to his confusion, muttering something about “plenty of time.” Awkward Matthew Moment Number 2.

In other, not married at all news, Edith gets out of bed and starts doing stuff. Her father makes a passing remark at the breakfast table about the women in the United States getting the vote. Edith supports this, and we learn she’s almost 30, which apparently means she’s not only a spinster, but a dinosaur.

As she is old, she exercises the privilege of the elderly by telling everyone her opinion even though no one cares. Thus, she declares it is unfair women in Britain are so repressed (as she eats her five course breakfast). Matthew, in an attempt to be supportive (and we suspect, to shut her up), says she should write a letter to The Times. Her father tells her to go help her mother with womanly household things. Her grandmother tells her to stop whining and do something with her life. Edith spends the rest of the episode deciding whether to write her strongly worded letter. She does. Hopefully it doesn’t contain anything about Mary being a ho again.

Downstairs, everyone’s favorite prison lovebirds are having trouble: neither of them thinks the other is writing to each other, because neither is getting the other’s letters! Does Anna not love Bates? Does Bates not love Anna? Nope. Turns out Bates’ cellmate has been stirring up trouble for him. Evil cellmate and Corrupt prison guard have joined forces to mess with him. Bates is tipped off by another inmate about the situation. He does super power Bates–like things and straightens it all out. Anna gets her letters. Bates gets his. They read them at the same time in a romantic montage. Awwwwww.

Carson FINALLY hires new staff, and starts interviewing people, which gets Albert ambitious. Carson takes a shine to him and helps him to learn silverware. Thomas insults Albert and goes around with his nose in the air. O’Brien glowers.

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Carson finishes his interviews and hires a pretty new kitchen maid, to the delight of Albert and the I-hate-her-on-first-sight of Daisy.  On the advice of Mary, who apparently likes comely staff, Carson continues his hiring and employs an even prettier footman named Jimmy, evincing yet even more delight from the rest of the maids and Thomas.

O’Brien is also delighted, not because she thinks the new guy is hot (I seriously doubt O’Brien has any sort of sex drive left and if she does, well, ewwwww) but because she knows Thomas has a new crush. You can see the plotting wheels turn in her dramatic side-glance away. And so the scheming continues.

In one of the most useless storylines ever written, but one that Julian Fellowes continues to push on us, ex-maid Ethel is still around. She’s been working as a prostitute and Mrs. Crawley has taken her on as her cause du jour. After living as a lady of the night, Ethel realizes it��s not a good environment for a growing child (no shit, Sherlock). She decides to go give her son to her dead baby daddy’s parents after all. Mrs. Hughes goes along to facilitate/help/give out hugs. Ethel sends the boy away. It’s sad. Much crying ensues.

Mrs. Hughes cheers up however when she gets her new toy in the mail: it’s a toaster! At first it doesn’t work and she burns a bunch, making Carson think the house is on fire. He bursts into her office, all ready to save the day. She assures him all is under control and shows off her new fangled invention. He disapproves—grrrr technology!—and tells her to try not to burn down the house. She smiles and makes beautifully browned toast. Ah, breakfast food. Clearly it is the key to happiness everywhere.