Lady Gillian recaps the final episode of Downton Abbey's third season for us. What twists await? Read on to see!
Let me preface this recap by saying I didn't really want to watch this episode because I accidentally read a spoiler a few weeks ago, so I've been aware that a highly foreshadowed death of a major character would be taking place during the season finale. What's that you say? You didn't see that coming? Well, I bet someone I won't mention wishes he'd seen a certain truck coming as well, so there you are. Finally, I just sat down and watched the damn thing, owing to my ability to live-text Clovis whilst I watched it. There's also the one-cent-per-word contribution I am making in [REDACTED]’s memory to the Isobel Crawley Home for Whores, Tarts and PROSTITUTES.
A year has passed since last week's episode. It is now 1921 and everyone’s going on a trip. Unfortunately for CNN, no one's booked a Carnival cruise; they're just heading up to visit the Flintshires at Duneagle in Scotland. Lil Sybbie is growing and is now big enough to point at things. Yes, Sibbie. Those are poor people. Yes, they are. Things remain (sexually?) tense between Jimmy and Thomas, although Thomas is acquitting himself admirably in his new role as under-butler.
Guess who's coming to dinner, Scottish cousins?
Mary is expecting a baby at last! Finally, the royal succession will no longer be in doubt. No one wants her to go to Duneagle so close to her time, considering the complete fucking mess that resulted from Sybil's pregnancy and all of her gallivanting about. Gregson telephones roving reporter Edith to let her know that he will be going to Scotland at the same time they will be at Duneagle. What a kowinkidink. Mary and Robert obviously suspect shenanigans. Cora wants to meet him, but Robert really does not, because really. I think we have quite enough low-born people in this family already. That's not even the best part about Gregson, Robert. Just. You. Wait.
The Flintshires are based in Scotland and we will hereafter refer to Lord Flintshire as "Shrimpie" not due in any part to his failings as a husband and father, but because of a childhood game in which Shrimpie and his siblings pretended to be various sea creatures. Seriously. Branson isn't coming with since he wasn't included in the invite since he's a Muggle so he's charged with dogsitting Isis. The Crawleys are taking basic bare-bones staff: Bates, Anna, O'Brien and Moseley.
Much more after the jump.
Downstairs, Alfred has the nerve to ask Carson if they're going to have some time off while the family is gone. Carson is like um, no. You're going to be polishing silver for your impertinence. Harumph.
New maid Edna Braithwaite has a rather concerning interest in Sybil and, to a much larger extent, Branson. She asks all kinds of questions that make it clear to Mrs. Hughes that she Doesn't Know Her Place. Mrs. Hughes tells Edna that Sybil was beautiful and sweet and kind and you're not good enough for her sloppy seconds even, so make the bed and forget about Branson, m'kay? Edna invites none of our sympathy by wondering if Sybil didn't think she could do better than the chauffeur. No! It was a great love story that transcended class boundaries but ended tragically! The Nerve.
Isobel is having Dr. Clarkson over for tea. Clarkson is concerned about the possibility of Mary giving birth in Inverness. At least these two can be frank. Isobel reassures Clarkson that things will likely go much better during Mary's delivery, and she invites Clarkson to the dinner she is having for Branson. Do I start shipping Isobel and Clarkson now or wait?
At Downton, Branson alone is in the breakfast room, staring off into space as per usual. Edna starts sympathy flirting. Branson says he's used to being left behind all on his own while the fine folks are off having a swell time in Scotland. Is the Crawley's HR person Pam from Archer? Does no one tell Edna the tale of the nefarious Ethel? No one?
Exterior shot of Duneagle. Well, that's a hell of a house. According to the good folks at DowntonWiki (which is a real thing), the filming site is Inveraray Castle in Argyll. Apparently, there's a tea room! And a gift shop! Anyhoo, we meet Lord Shrimpie and Lady Susan Flintshire, parents to Problem Child Rose from last week,who hate each other. In the grand tradition of Poor Little Rich Girls, Rose acts up because Mumsy and Daddykins are always throwing china at each other and IT'S NOT FAIR!
Pictured: Bizarro Downton Abbey.
Down in the kitchen at Downton, gap-toothed player Joss Tupton has taken over Mr. Cox's grocery delivery and he likes Mrs. Patmore's vichyssoise. Mrs. Patmore pronounces him cheeky and shoos him away. Tupton “accidently” messes up her order by sending her the wrong kind of ginger and Mrs. Patmore asks Carson if she can send Alfred and Thomas into town to the grocery store. Carson protests because fun simply doesn't do, and only relents when he's told that Tom doesn't require (or want) a large amount of staff. Edna hears that Tom will likely have dinner at the Grantham Arms and so she decides to stalk him and show up there at the same time.
The Duneagle servants' hall is dreary as fuck. Apparently they all call the staff by the last name of the person they serve, and Anna and Bates think it's funny, although NO ONE ELSE DOES. Anna reveals that she's still called Anna because…she's Anna. O'Brien feels Anna is being degraded by being called Anna even though she's been promoted to lady's maid. Lonely old lesbian O'Brien finds herself attracted to Lady Susan's maid, Wilkins.
Shrimpie warns the Crawleys that there will be a personal bagpiper assigned to each Crawley who will follow them around from dawn until dusk. Although we are told that Duneagle is the highlight of the Crawleys' year, they still haven't accustomed themselves to the constant bagpiping. Or this is a new feature or their stay? Anyway, yeah. We can't be on location in Scotland sans bagpipes. I'm just sayin'.
Isobel has Branson over for dinner. She encourages Tom to take advantage of the Crawleys being away to catch up with his friends who work downstairs. He thinks Lady Violet wouldn't approve (he's right), but Isobel says she thinks Lady Violet probably disapproves of the working classes learning to read. Isobel encourages Branson that he has a right to talk to anyone who works "under" him, regardless of where they work because he is the agent of the estate. So, if he wants to talk to his former friends on the staff, he should feel free. Back at Downton, Tom runs into Mrs. Hughes downstairs, who makes him totally uncomfortable by asking his permission for the maids to clean. Branson's like sure, clean the damn house. I'm going to go walk the dog. And probably drink until 3 a.m. And wonder how the hell my life went wrong. And blame myself. And fall asleep in my clothes. On the floor.
Bloody hell. Bagpipes at dawn. The estate game warden (Neal? Neil? Niall? Sp?) is giving Matthew some stalking lessons. No, not Edna-style stalking! Deer stalking! Different kind of stalking! Neil explains to Matthew why we must periodically thin the herd. It's for the good of the herd, you see. They've earned our respect and they deserve a clean death.
Robert thinks that Niall's un-Anglicized ghillies speak is simply maaaahvelous. Shrimpie tells Robert that he's being assigned to a foreign post. Meanwhile in the garden, Real Housewife Susan tells Lady Violet she doesn't know what godforsaken, malaria-infested hellhole the Empire is planning on sending them off to, but Rose will undoubtedly not want to go.
Back in the house, Edith telephones Gregson to invite him to the ghillies ball. Hormonal Mary questions Gregson's motives for going on a holiday near Duneagle, and Edith explains that there's no funny business. Gregson's merely on a sketching and fishing holiday. Really, what's it to Mary? She doesn’t get to be the belle of the ball AND have all the eligible men fall at her feet because she's married and knocked up?
In puppy wuppy news, it's bring your dog to a pub day. You can do that in Britain. Edna weirds us all out by being at the Grantham Arms, lying in wait for Tom. She invites Tom to join her and tell her all his woes. Branson tells her he dresses nicely now because he got tired of talking about his clothes every time he came downstairs. So did we, Branson. So did we. Like a good girl on the make, Edna invites Tom to have dinner with the staff, and he accepts. Edna thinks it's because of her, but she doesn't know that Isobel's encouraged Tom to socialize with his downstairs friends.
Over at Tupton's shop, Tupton tells Jimmy, Alfred and Thomas that there's to be a fair in town, with games and Modest Dances. Nothing shocking. All very moral and upstanding. Thomas wants to go with Jimmy, but Jimmy will only go if there's a group. He's such a girl. Carson tells Mrs. Hughes that he's really getting annoyed with all of this responsibility-shirking hoopla and staff wanting to have this newfangled "good time." Then Mrs. Patmore approaches and asks for time off so SHE TOO can go to the fair. This is anarchy!
IRL fun, the kind of which Carson would not approve.
At Duneagle, Gregson enters cocktail hour and he's received graciously by Lady Susan. Mary makes a remark about Gregson bringing his tails because he intended to have dinner at Duneagle. Cora, however, is stoked to meet Gregson and fangirls his newspaper. Robert shows that he still regards Edith as the Meg Griffin of Downton and says it puzzles him why Gregson employs "amateurs" like Edith. You know, if they're going to rehab Robert's character, can we drop the nasty attitude toward Edith? Bitch is trying.
Speaking of wayward daughters, it's all painfully clear to Cora and Lady Violet that Susan and Rose aren't getting along. Rose's rebellious attitude obviously serves as a distressing reminder of Sybil, and Cora nearly breaks down into tears. Lady Violet tries to comfort Cora, and then dinner is announced. Violet can see from the body language of the unhappy family trio that not only are Susan and Rose not getting along, but there's tension betwixt Susan and Shrimpie as well.
In heartbroken widowers news, Edna wants to spend more time with Tom, so she asks him if he's ashamed of who he was and if that is the reason why he won't eat with the servants. Edna is kind of only really thinking about herself, and so it doesn't occur to her that the guy is just miserable.
Outside at Duneagle, Anna and Bates are taking a stroll. He asks Anna out on a picnic and she agrees, but then they happen upon Rose, bawling and chain-smoking. She's complaining because Mumsy and Daddykins are arguing, and Mumsy is being simply dreadful. Bates tells her his childhood was craptacular, and so she should suck it up. Bates and Anna try to comfort her, but Lady Susan, who is almost Disney-esque in her evil, has already found Rose and orders her back to the party. AND NO MORE WIRE HANGERS, ROSE.
At Crawley House, Isobel is hosting Dr. Clarkson for dinner again, this time minus Branson. Clarkson thanks her for having him over and he tells her that it beats reading a medical journal and going to bed with…a glass of whiskey. Oh, my. The mention of bed gets Isobel all atwitter, and she wonders there for a second with what or whom he was going to bed. (Prolly Ethel.)
No doubt bothered by Mary's not-so-subtle hints that Gregson is after Edith, Edith asks Gregson why he's come to Duneagle. Gregson says he thought it might be easier for Edith's family to accept him as her suitor if they got to know him first. Then he tells Edith that he's in love with her. Squee.
After all, I am technically younger than your last one. That's gotta count for something, right?
Rose bursts into Mary's room, looking for Mary, but she finds Anna. She thanks Anna for being kind to her because of all that Joan Crawford nonsense with Mumsy, and tells Anna that she owes her a favor. Anna instantly cashes in and gets hooked up with some beer for her picnic with Bates. Remember when Anna wants to learn to bust a move Highland style, and enlists Rose's help. She teaches Anna to dance for the ghillies ball so she can show Bates she's taken an interest in Scottish culture.
Robert, Shrimpie and Neal/Neil/Niall are stalking some stags. No aristocrats were harmed during the filming of this episode. (Well, maybe one.) Robert asks Shrimpie if everything is all right, and Robert assures him that divorce is a bit meh now that the Marlboroughs have done it. But, Shrimpie is reluctant because he has an official post, and figures once they've embarked for parts unknown, they won't spend much time together. Also, there is cholera to look forward to.
Mrs. Patmore has gone and bought herself a loverly new shirtwaist to prep for her date with Joss. Mrs. Hughes says there's only one reason why a man his age courts a respectable woman – he wants to get himself hitched. Branson finally works up the nerve to ask Mrs. Hughes if he can come down to dinner, and Edna a) does not get up to show respect for his position and b) thinks it's all due to her. Mrs. Hughes can see that there are shenanigans, and she may just have to Put Her Foot Down.
That's the thing about nature. There's so much of it. Matthew's finds metaphors about life being futile (while his is actually pretty stellar), while tramping through heather with Gregson. Matthew invites Gregson to go fly fishing with him the next day, and invites him to dinner. Matthew understands why Gregson is there and he is the only one with enough tact to actually address the subject.
O'Brien's approached by Wilkins in the hall, and she thinks Wilkins wants a quickie, but really she just wants help with Susan's hair. Lady Susan wants O'Brien to fix her hair like Cora's. Wilkins is bitter and resentful toward O'Brien, and O'Brien almost gets a taste of her own medicine, but not quite.
We can't snipe at each other at dinner due to the bagpiping, so during cocktail hour, Mary wants to know if Gregson is one of Edith's hard luck cases. Edith asks her why she has to be so heartless. Because she's Mary. Over at the other end of the awkward spectrum, Cora tries to convince Rose that Mumsy is a bitch to her for her own good.
Branson's eating with the staff, and Carson doesn't like it one little bit, obvi. Edna's really eager to have Tom come to the fair, and Edna asks him to drive them. Mrs. Hughes scolds her for being impertinent, but Tom's such a nice guy, he agrees. Alfred asks Carson if he wants to go with them. No, he doesn't want to come to a fair, Alfred. D'oh. At Crawley House, Clarkson asks Isobel on a date! To the fair! Old people in luvz FTW!
At the Fair, there is a carousel! There's a tug of war contest, and Thomas wants to enter with the Downton staff and Branson. Budding Top Chef contestant Alfred wants to find the food. Like the barnacle that she is, Edna takes Tom's arm and drags him away from the rest of the group, and Mrs. Patmore goes off to meet her gentleman friend. But at least Daisy and Ivy are getting BFFs now! So there's that!
Moar fun having! MOAR!
Jimmy puts a quid (an entire quid) on the Downton team in 10 to 1 odds. Jimmy asks Tupton to join their team, but Jimmy reveals to Alfred that he'd already asked him before he made the bet. Unsurprisingly, the Downton team wins, and Jimmy collects his tenner.
In a river runs through reality news, Matthew explains to Gregson that loving Edith isn't enough, given his situation. Matthew agrees that his position is a sad one, but he can't allow Edith to slide into a life of scandal. He won't tell Robert the truth, but he doesn't want Edith to become Gregson's mistress. He tells Gregson that he has to do the respectable thing, and say goodbye.
Jimmy gets trashed and pays thruppence for the girls to have a go at the ring toss. Ivy fails at hand-eye coordination, but Daisy wins a gold sovereign! Clarkson has Something He Wants to Ask Isobel. !!!!!! Jimmy's wondering around drunk, and he happens upon the team the Downton staff beat at tug-of-war. Thomas stops them from assaulting his crush, and his reward for his gallantry is a proper ass-whupping. And Jimmy still won't go out with him. Clarkson wants to know if Isobel has ever thought of marrying again, and she says she's never thought of it. Way to ruin my buzz, Isobel. Jimmy interrupts them and says Clarkson needs to come help Thomas. They find Thomas bloodied, beaten and robbed. Branson, likely eager to get away from cling-wrap that is Edna, helps Thomas to the car.
At Keeping Up with the Flintshires, Lady Flintshire tells Rose she's dressed like a slut. Lady Flintshire is wearing a tartan, so she's got room to talk about fashion. Violet was fast enough to have donned such daring fashions as bustles, crinolines AND leg-of-mutton sleeve. The Flintshires have a tartan-clad fight and Robert interrupts them. In adorbz news, Carson hears Lil Sybbie crying and goes into the nursery and holds her, and it's prosh.
Just... just... D'Awwww... :)
Get out your kilt. It's the ghillies ball. Matthew tells Mary she's not allowed to dance, even though she knows all the reels. Wilkins offers to get O'Brien some of the already alcoholic punch, and she spikes it. With some peaty-ass Scotch. Which you can, um, taste. She's not very good at this machinations thing. O'Brien puts it down, but Moseley picks it up. We all know Moseley can't hold a drop, and so after chugging that down, he's wasted. O'Brien tells Wilkins she could run a clinic on her when it comes to scheming and machinations and whatnot. Crush = over.
It's bad enough parenting a child when you like each other, so there's no hope for Shrimpie and Susan. Rose drowns her sorrows in a cup of boozy punch. Rose tells Cora and Violet that Susan is just being her normal self, and it's All Cruella DeVille, All the Time around there.
In the billiard room, Shrimpie tells Robert that he's found himself in the same position Robert was in a year or so ago. He didn’t modernize like Robert did, and now his money's gone. Oh, the irony. Duneagle will have to be sold, and since we can't very well sell Rose, she'll have to get married off to money or something.
Rose grabs Anna for one of the reels, and Bates and Mary are surprised and touched that Anna learned a Highland dance. Aw, Bates. You oughta marry that woman. Moseley is drunkenly cavorting about the ballroom. Whatever he's doing looks less like reeling and more like boozy Gagnam Style. That convinces Mary that this is too much fun to miss, and she decides to get up and join the dancing.
Mrs. Hughes has some bad news for Mrs. Patmore. Joss has proposed, but Mrs. Hughes tells Mrs. Patmore that she saw Joss being all ass-grabby with some chicks at the fair. Mrs. Patmore realizes Joss was only interested in her vichyssoise (and no, that's not a euphemism.). Mrs. Patmore says she's relieved. She'd much rather be an Independent Modern Lady.
In people who don't news, Gregson feels like he has to end his relationship with Edith after talking to Matthew. Edith tells him that she wants to continue to see him, so she hangs on to his tails for dear life.
In shirtless Branson news, Edna walks into Branson's room sans knocking, and tells him she had a great day. Then she asks to meet him at the Grantham Arms, and plants one on him. Branson looks totes confused, then she leaves and shuts the door faster than you can say, "This chick is freaking me out."
Branson fangirls, your cognitive dissonance begins here!
Mary tells Matthew she wants to go home because all that reeling and bumping about in the carriage and whatnot has started her labor. Matthew tells her he wants to go with her. Mary says it will only be a couple more days, and Matthew agrees to let her go home with Anna.
The Crawleys send word to Downton that Mary is coming back, and she tells Edna to go and make up her bed. Edna says she can't because said she's agreed to meet Tom Branson in the village for luncheon, and Mrs. Hughes is like dafuq?
At Duneagle, Lady Susan tells Cora that she doesn't judge Mary so much about Mr. Pamuk now that she has a daughter who cavorts around London with married men. Shrimpie wants Rose to live at Downton while they're in India. Cora tells Susan she would never agree to that if it meant going against Susan. Rose can't have her debut in India and asks Cora if they'd be prepared to deal with her coming out and her first season. Cora tacitly agrees to take her on.
Mrs. Hughes explains the state of things to Branson, and chides him for not discouraging her enough. I have to stick up for Branson here. Edna is a succubus. The guy didn't have much choice because she didn't give him one. He didn't want to encourage her, but he didn't want to be a total jackass, either.
Branson asks Mrs. Hughes to give Edna a reference at least, but she's not cut out for service. Mrs. Hughes tells Branson that Sybil would be very proud of the way he's handled things, and Tom breaks down in tears. He says he can't bear to be without her. She hopes one day Branson will find someone who will help him bear it, but until then, he must make the best of things. Mrs. Hughes dismisses Edna before she can end up an unwed mother and/or working as a PROSTITUTE.
Mary arrives at Platform 9 3/4 and Anna is already there to greet her. Mary tells Anna she wants to be taken straight to the hospital, and asks that a message be sent to Matthew ASAP. Matthew is out stalking deer when he gets the message. Everyone at Downton gets the message and they begin prepping for the Crawleys' return. Carson says there's nothing to worry about, and you shouldn't worry about Mary, because this time, it's a red herring! Oh, Julian Fellowes. You wily minx!
The Crawleys pack up and ready themselves for departure. Cora and Robert have finalized plans to take Rose, and she's thrilled. Edith has a private word with Matthew about Gregson, hoping to steer him into a different position, but he tells her that both Edith and Gregson know what has to happen next. Edith says oh yes, we do. Can we expect to see Edith slip Gregson’s crazy wife an arsenic pie next season?
Edna wants to know what she's done wrong to get herself dismissed, and Mrs. Hughes explains that there are rules. She takes her bags, reference and butt-chin and leaves. You kind of feel sorry for her in that last scene, but you kind of don't. She was desperately clinging to Branson as a means to get out of working in service. She saw him as a way to raise her social position and she wasn't truly interested in him (and he was defo not into her). But are we okay with Branson moving on? What if he finds someone else?
At the hospital, Clarkson asks Isobel to help prepare Mary for labor. He thanks her for not letting him propose marriage to her, and claims he was drunk. Isobel calms Mary's fears about going into labor a little early.
Up in the servants' quarters, Jimmy knocks on Thomas's door. Thomas still looks like he is undead. Jimmy thanks Thomas for taking a shellacking for him, and apologizes for running off like the wimp that he is. Thomas admits to following Jimmy, since Jimmy was trashed, and also he still wants to hit that. Jimmy explains that he can never have a relationship with Thomas, but Thomas says he'd like it if they could be friends. Jimmy says he could manage that, and all seems to be well in that quarter.
Isobel telephones Carson and tells them that Mary has come through the labor fine, but forgets to ask about the baby. Thanks, Carson. Matthew comes in and sees Mary, who has given birth to the long-awaited boy. They've done their duty and Downton is safe. Matthew is going to drive himself to the hospital, then go back to Downton to deliver the news.
Robert gives thanks to Matthew and he's grateful for Matthew's vision for saving Downton. Yes, thank heavens for Matthew.. The Crawleys are very happy, with two healthy heirs and an estate in good order. What has Robert done to deserve it, he wonders. We don't always get our just deserts, now do we?
Matthew agrees to drive back to Downton and tell the others the happy news. BECAUSE A PHONE CALL WOULDN'T HAVE SUFFICED. I won't go into too much detail about this final scene, but let's just say that Matthew is a leaf on the wind.
Absolutely no way this could go badly!
In the final scene, Mary cuddles her newborn son, blissfully unaware that her husband is lying dead just a few miles away.
How are we feeling, folks? Shocked? Angry? Surprised? Indifferent? Was it unavoidable because Dan Stevens didn't sign on for season 4? Is this what happens when you have sex with Mary? Is this going to be the fate of all the actors who leave Downton for other projects? Is Julian Fellowes going to kill off their beloved on-screen alter-egos in some horrific fashion? We can't expect everyone to stay on for the long haul if they are offered other projects, but it is kind of frustrating that some of our favorite characters are dying off at an alarming rate. Like 1918 flu epidemic alarming rate. I really wish Fellowes had left some room in the script for Matthew to return. Broadway is really grueling, and Dan may have decided to go back to television after a season of doing eight shows of the same thing every damn week. Or maybe he's a slut for live theater.
The Matthew/Mary romance has been a huge part of the series since its inception, and many fans might not tune in for the next season if that isn't going to be a part of it – or if, God forbid, Fellowes finds another suitor for Mary. Is it best to just end a series when the main actors start leaving? Maybe we could start an endangered Downton Abbey character nonprofit?
SAVE THE DOWAGER COUNTESS!
I've really enjoyed blogging for you all these past few weeks, and I appreciate each and every one of you who has taken the time to read my childish prattle, and those who have even taken the time to comment. Many thanks to the good folks at TV Sluts for allowing me so much space on their blog. Many, many thanks to Clovis for posting the recaps and adding hilarious photos and captions.