Downton Abbey – Recap of Episode 3

Confession: I’ve never recapped a television show before. I’ve written almost 3 novels, hundreds of blogs, a wealth of book and restaurant reviews, maid of honor toasts, and of course book reports back in school but never a recap of a television show. I’m actually a bit nervous about it! Along with seven other authors/bloggers (Tracie Banister, Laura Chapman, Elizabeth Marx, Cat Lavoie, Jen Tucker, Tracey Livesay and Jenn Coffeen), I agreed to watch Downton Abbey every week and recap one of the episodes.  Watching the show was a no-brainer.  I would have done that anyway.  But I would never have written a blog about the happenings had I not committed to my writer friends.  It is one thing to enjoy a television show and gab about it at the water cooler the following morning but it is another thing entirely to summarize the episode in writing.  Unfortunately, some of the details were lost on me, although I understood the basic gist of what was happening.  That’s always enough for me but hopefully it will be enough for you as well 🙂

Tonight was the 3rd episode of season three and a lot of stuff went down!

In the tragic love story between Anna and Mr. Bates, at the beginning of the episode, Anna is torn up because she hasn’t received any letters from Mr. Bates in a long time.  She puts on a strong face but admits to Mrs. Hughs (who thankfully does not have cancer) that she’s afraid Mr. Bates is being gallant and wanting to set her free.  Back in prison, Mr. Bates is afraid Anna has given up on him because he hasn’t received any letters either.  Although both are heartbroken, it turns out somehow that Mr. Bates had fallen “out of favor” with the powers that be and they had withheld all of the mail in both directions. Somehow he got “back in favor” and at the end of the episode both Anna and Mr. Bates received a batch of mail from the other and are happy once more.  (I’ll be completely honest and admit that I’m not quite sure what went down in the prison scenes because the inmates in the prison all have accents, mumble their words or talk with their mouths full of food and I cannot understand a word they say.  Like I said above, I miss the small details sometimes… Feel free to fill in what I missed in a comment!)

Poor Daisy is in desperate need of another kitchen maid to help out downstairs.  She’s pretty vocal about her frustration, but Mrs. Patmore insists that she’s working on it.  Daisy is also crushing on Alfred and asks William’s dad if he would be okay if she liked another man.  William’s dad (who I adore) promises Daisy that he would never want her to be alone for the rest of her life.  Daisy is about to confide her feelings to Alfred when Mrs. Patmore interrupts to introduce them to the new kitchen maid, pretty Ivy Stewart, who immediately catches Albert’s eye.  Oh poor Daisy, be careful what you wish for!

There’s a new footman in town! His name is Jimmy “James” Kent and he’s kind of a cutey pie, if not a little cocky. I immediately guessed that Thomas would be attracted to him and, sure enough, that fact became very clear when Thomas checked out his bare chest and offered to assist him in “any way.” There was some competition for the footman position but when Mr. Carson told Mary that the girls (and Thomas…) preferred Jimmy to the other candidate, Mary urged Mr. Carson to hire him to cheer up the maids since “Alfred looks like a puppy who’s been rescued from a puddle.”  Since Mr. Carson always listens to Mary, Jimmy got the job and even Violet gave him the appreciative once-over when he was introduced to the family!


Sybil mysteriously disappeared and hung up the telephone on Edith after talking about being “out of the flat” and “no one had stopped her.”  Tom showed up at Downton drenched and when Mary asked him about Sybil, he said he could only tell the family after the guests had gone home, adding to the mystery.  Later he confessed that he and Sybil were involved in the burning of a castle (similar to Downton) and he ran away to escape the police. While most of the family was (rightfully) up in arms that he would a) burn down someone else’s house) and b) leave his pregnant wife behind in a place that was not her home to save his own ass, Violet commented that the castle was hideous anyway.  Robert agreed to go to London to try to straighten things out and while he was away, Sybil returned safely.  Later, Robert sent a telegram that neither Sybil nor Tom were to leave Downton and when he returned home, he advised that the two of them would be safe as long as they did not step foot in Ireland ever again.  Tom was not happy as he wanted his child to be born in Dublin.  In bed, Sybil told Tom that she wanted to stay in Downton where they would be safe from harm.  Tom kissed her and didn’t argue, but it was obvious he wasn’t convinced.  If the past is in any indication of the future, Tom will get them into more serious trouble before this storyline is put to rest.  (Like the prison storyline, I confess to not really understanding all of the political details here.  I tend to see the forest and lose some of the trees.  I suppose I could research it more carefully, but I just don’t want to. Sorry!)

In the storyline no one really cares about, Ethel Parks, i.e. single mother prostitute, has decided to hand over her son Charlie to his grandparents despite Isobel’s multiple offers to help her get her life back on track.  It turns out Mr. Briant already knew that Ethel has become a hooker (and yes, he’s judging her) but he loves Charlie and is happy to raise him. Although I didn’t really care for this storyline, I choked up when Ethel watched the car drive away with the Briants and her adorable son. 

Poor Edith is still heartbroken after being left at the altar.  The family thinks she needs to keep busy and Violet insists that she “stop whining and find something to do” (although nothing as desperate as gardening.)  Following in Sybil’s feminist footsteps, Edith decided to write an article on women’s rights and send it to the newspaper.  This did not go over very well with the family except for Matthew who expressed his support.

Speaking of Matthew, it doesn’t seem like anyone wants to hear what he has to say.  He wants to have a baby but Mary doesn’t seem too keen.  He was also asked to look through the financial books of Downton since he is responsible for saving it, but when he finally gets around to it, no one wants his opinion on how it is being mismanaged – not Robert who quickly changes the subject whenever it comes up and not Mary who doesn’t want there to be conflict between Matthew and her father.  The only one who will listen to him is Violet but in a rare turn of events, she has no real advice to offer.

I think that about covers it!  Don’t forget to tune in next Monday when Tracie Banister recaps episode 4.  Knowing Tracie the way I do, I promise she will not miss any of the small details like I did!


  1. Cat Lavoie on January 21, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Great recap, Meredith! (I have to admit I’m a little nervous too… I’ve never done a recap either.)
    Ummm… I was totally crying at the end when Mr Bates and Anna were reading each other’s letters. Not just tearing up… crying like a baby. I really hate those prison scenes (and not just because my imaginary husband Mr Bates is locked away.) Get him out already!!
    I’m glad Edith has found something that makes her happy… but, of course, Lord Grantham has to be opposed. Give the girl a break! (And a hug.) Can’t wait for next week!

  2. Tracie Banister (@traciebanister) on January 21, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    Good job, Meredith! You did us Downtoners proud! 🙂

    Yay for Edith finally getting some gumption and doing something positive with her life. It made me love Matthew even more that he supported her.

    In the category of “Things About Ep 3 That Confused Me,” why was Mary back to being such a rhymes-with-witch in all her dealings with Matthew? Shouldn’t she be happy now that she’s gotten everything she wanted and is married to the man she supposedly loves? She’s already acting like she’s miserable and Matthew annoys her and I can’t stand how snooty she is with him all the time. Lighten up, Mary!

  3. Elizabeth Marx on January 21, 2013 at 5:44 pm

    Love the recap Meredith and you did a splendid job of it. I think several of the storylines our converging on the same point: the old world is changing and those of the established upper classes are fearful of change. The industrial revolution and WWI brought many of the issues of class and social status to the forefront, and now issues of equality for women. For the British they tend to do things the way they’ve always done them and don’t care much for change, I thought the most fabulous example of this was the toaster, the look on Carson’s face when the housekeeper said she was going to order a toaster for upstairs was priceless! As if Lord Grantham is incapable of slipping two slices of bread into a toaster for himself! HA!

    I agree that Mary needs to happy it up a bit, but I think she’s afraid that she hasn’t gotten pregnant yet! Hayfever my aunt Fanny!

  4. Tracey Livesay on January 23, 2013 at 10:38 pm

    You did a great job, Meredith. I love your spin on things (“in a storyline no one really cares about… lol). Does anyone, other than Carson, actually LIKE Mary? If she were not setup as one half of this popular couple, would she get half the slack she does? Seriously, Matthew, let her have Downton. Run as fast as you can, far, far away.

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