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The Downton Abbey Dish Season 3 Episode 1

British television maven and blogger Deborah Gilbert keeps you in the know with entertaining recaps of each Downton Abbey Season 3 episode. Count down the most memorable scenes from each episode, including the Dowager Countess' best zingers. New episodes of Downton Abbey Season 3 air Sundays at 9pm through February 17.
THE DOWNTON ABBEY DISH – Downton Abbey Season 3 Recap: Episode 1 (aired 1/6/13)

We can all exhale – Season 3 is finally here! It’s a New Year and a new season and I know you’ve all resolved to not miss a minute! It’s now 1920 and for our friends at Downton Abbey life begins to move toward something that more closely resembles our modern world. But with modern life comes modern problems. There’s dodgy investments, cancer, prostitution, labor disputes (and even Americans in the dining room, perish the thought!). But fear not, everyone still has at least one foot in the storied past…

Easy Come, Easy Go: Oops, My Bad
Lord Grantham rolls the dice and his top hat lands on B&O Railroad, so he proceeds to invest all of his wife’s looted fortune in it, against the advice of his broker, Moneybags. Now it seems like he’ll be trading Downton Abbey for a little place on Baltic Avenue. But wait, suddenly Matthew is set to inherit ‘a fortune’ from St. Lavinia’s dad, though he’s too principled to accept it. But of course the money to save Downton will be found somehow because we know there is going to be a Season 4 and they ain’t moving in next door to Honey BooBoo. So, where do you think the money to save Downton will come from? Might Martha still come through? Will Lord Grantham win the UK National Lottery? Will oil be discovered out back behind the house? Will seething Daisy strike out on her own and start a chain of restaurants, become rich and buy Downton for herself? We’ll just have to wait and see how it all unfolds.

If They Could See Me Now: Love Finds Andy Hardy
The news of Shirley MacLaine’s casting as Cora’s Mother from America had some fans excited and some worried, but right from her sweeping entrance in that fabulous red car, she fit right in. Equal parts vulgar and perceptive, Martha proved to be a great sparring partner for Violet; alternately flirting with hobbledehoy Alfred, offering unwanted advice and stirring the pot with well-aimed zingers. And just when you think she’s run out of moxie, this plucky American granny has a real Mickey and Judy moment: As everything downstairs goes pear shaped and the assembled Lords and Ladies are in danger of starvation, she saves the day by getting everyone to pull together and put on a show in the barn (or something like that). Carson was certainly not pleased. When Mrs. Hughes asked how it went, he quipped, ‘The problem Tito is it all seems to be ending. Do you think kids want to come and take fox trot lessons with their parents? Trips to Europe, that’s what the kids want!’ (Or something like that). But back to Martha, what’s with the French asides? Between Martha and Violet, I was starting to feel like I did when I was a kid and was dragged to borscht belt retreats with my parents and I couldn’t get the comedian’s jokes because all the punch lines were in Yiddish. As for Martha, somehow I don’t think we’ve heard the last of her. At least, I hope not.

War of the Roses: O’Brien and Thomas split?
How could it be that the couple who defined the phrase ‘thick as thieves’ is breaking up? If these two crazy kids can’t make it work, what hope is there for the rest of us? But it seems that until Mrs. Hughes sends them for some couples counseling, we will be treated to all sorts of summer camp pranks. Next week: Corn Flakes under the sheets! But what caused this seismic shift? And with each of them knowing all the other’s schemes, they have more to fear from each other than anyone else, so where might this lead? And what a revelation for Lord Grantham, ‘Are you not popular downstairs?’ This from the guy who was the last man on the continent to hear about Pamuk. How could he not have lost it all on the Canadian railroad when he doesn’t even know the first thing about what is going on in his own house?

No One Puts Edith in a Corner: The Cheese Stands Alone
Poor Edith, as Sybil returns with Branson (I mean Tom), Edith is once again the third wheel – a wheel that keeps rolling toward Sir Anthony’s manor. He may be too old, but as my mother used to say, ‘a girl like you can’t afford to be so choosy.’ Despite attempts to chase him off, it now sounds as if they are getting engaged- but given her track record, why did she allow him to leave without making the announcement? Somewhere there is a permanent rain cloud with her name on it. Will she get her happily ever after? Or just another drenching?

Voulez-vous coucher avec moi: It’s a small world, after all
It’s former housemaid Ethel, who dreamed a dream in times gone by, when hope was high and life worth living: Now she is left standing in doorways wearing lipstick and God knows what else. And where is little Charlie? Is he with the dreadful grandfather or somewhere else? I’ve got to say, that in my book, the difference between what Ethel may be doing for money and what Ladies Mary or Edith (or Lord Grantham, for that matter) did for money is only one of degrees (and paperwork). Ethel’s predicament serves as a reminder of the cruelty of the old class structure. Major Bryant was her Pamuk, but she was born without money and station, and without that safety net the consequences of her folly are more than just embarrassment and cancelled party invitations; they affect her very survival. Will Isobel be able to help her?

Here Comes the Bride: That Julian Fellowes is such a tease!
After Matthew tells Mary he cannot save Downton even if they can’t find Mr. Pullbrook Pumpkin Pillbox Poolboy Papodopolous, a big fight ensues (witnessed by a gleeful Edith). So it’s off… again. This wedding has been off and on and off so often you’d think it was being organized by LIPA! Fortunately Branson (I mean Tom) reminds Matthew, ‘You won’t be happy with anyone else while Lady Mary walks the earth.’ Leave it to a rebellious Irish poet to save the day. But when Matthew goes to Mary’s bedroom to make up (cue the wistful Matthew & Mary music) and give her one last single girl kiss, we noticed that Lady Mary peeked – BAD LUCK! Why did Julian do that? Doesn’t he know how we worry? The next morning, a serene Mary descends the staircase as her two dads look on in wonder and she asks, ‘Will I do Carson?’ If it was 2013 instead of 1920, this would be the pilot of a new sitcom with Carson and Lord Grantham as two gay dads trying their best to raise their uppity minx of a daughter as hilarity ensues. But back to 1920, and what a day it is! Matthew and Mary are given the Wills & Kate treatment through the village and then… fade to black! Really? After all that – seven years of ups and downs, war and disease, scandal and interfering busybodies… and we don’t get to see the wedding!?! Yes, Lord Fellowes is a tease! One supposes he was trying to avoid that awkward moment when the minister said, ‘if anyone here sees just cause why these two should not be joined in holy matrimony, let him speak now or forever hold his peace’, causing a stampede toward the altar. But still. By the time we rejoin the action, Sybil and Branson (I mean Tom) have disappeared without a trace and the happy couple are getting used to each other – and getting used to the hired help walking into their bedroom with tea in the morning. Seriously, they don’t lock the bedroom door?

Free Bates: Man of Alcatraz
Faithful Anna goes to visit Bates and when we see that prison exterior we think, wow, in Britain even the prisons are stylish. Yes, it’s a prison circa 1920, but I’ll bet by now, in 2013, it has been redeveloped into luxury loft condos full of yuppies (who should all be in jail for stock fraud). Ah, the symmetry. But let’s not bury the lede: Have we just seen the dark, violent side of Bates? Is there more there? Or is it just the thought of Anna in her garter that pushed him over the edge? And speaking of pushing, when he said (rather forcefully) to his cell mate, ‘don’t push me!’, one wonders if Vera just might have pushed him too far? Could it be that our Batesy is guilty? Are we putting on our ‘Free Bates’ t-shirts a bit too soon? And hey, I’m only asking the questions – so don’t tell me to go ‘eat in the yard!’ I’m still thinking that O’Brien was in the mix somehow (I wonder if they found her letter when they were cleaning out the house). Bates has always been a cryptogram of a man; is this more riddle to unravel? This jury is still out.

…and the jury’s also still out on all the other questions yet to be answered, chief among them: Will Mrs. Hughes survive being given a clean bill of health by Dr. Clarkson? If I had to choose a picture as a highlight from this week, it just might be the ghostly final scene of Mrs. Patmore walking down the hall with Mrs. Hughes as she gave her soliloquy on mortality. It perfectly encapsulated what this show does so, so well — moving from comedy to pathos with such ease.

Dowager Countessdown

6. "They look far too exciting for so early in the evening."

5. "Was Napoleon overawed by the Bourbons?"

4. "No guest should be admitted without their date of departure settled."

3. "Never mistake a wish for a certainty."

2. "I don’t know what that means. It sounds almost as peculiar as you look."

1. "Do you think I could have a drink? I’m so sorry, I thought you were a waiter."

Often I wish we could include Maggie Smith’s facial expressions in this Countessdown because they are always priceless. Tonight’s best being when Isobel and Cora were discussing sending Sybil the money, and later when Martha (Shirley MacLaine) was singing to her. It makes me laugh, even now, just to picture her.

Homework Assignment:
I don’t usually give homework assignments here but I am tonight. Your assignment Downtonians, is to use the word ‘Hobbledehoy’ (which means an awkward, gawky youth) in conversation, and report back the reactions you get.

Missed Downton Abbey’s Season 3 premiere? Watch it online for a limited time.

Downton Dish is written by Deborah Gilbert, a British television maven and editor of the E20 Chronicles, a free, weekly Eastenders e-newsletter, and an Eastenders column in the Union Jack Newspaper.

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  • michael c

    for some reason PBS merged the first two episodes. in the original british airing the first episode ended with the wedding. that’s why there were some jarring cuts, and why sybil and branson abruptly disappeared(they reappear in the next episode).

    • http://www.facebook.com/BenInBrooklyn Ben Smith

      OK, that explains it! Thanks.

      • Kate Los

        why wouldn’t we just see the cut 15 minutes in the next week’s episode? I don’t undertand why they take it out and don’t *show* it ever.

      • http://www.thirteen.org/insidethirteen Gotham Tomato

        They don’t take it out. I think one problem with the big delay is people have heard about certain things happening, and those thing will happen here as well, but they just won’t happen in the same episodes they did in the UK because it all has to be recut for non-commercial PBS. I’m glad we get to see it the way we do, on PBS without commercials. The commercial interruptions would ruin the spell. I think the fact that we see it here without commercials is a big reason why American audiences are, reportedly, more enthusiastic about the show.

      • MKDO

        See my comment above.

    • http://www.facebook.com/Wills614 William Moran

      PBS or WGHB Boston Edit out 10 to 15 minutes from each English Airing..so we see the cut versiopn here in the USA. I order the UK Edition on Blu-Ray DVD to own an I was stuned at how much is cut out and what we miss here !! Yes they think because we are American we would not notice that somethings are missing!!
      Like ya! Tom and Ladt Sybil just slipped out the backdoor ? Why we get an EDITED VERSION Idon’t know: but I shall askwhen they call for donations !

      • http://www.thirteen.org/insidethirteen Gotham Tomato

        Hi William, According to Rebecca Eaton, they don’t edit anything out. They just reassemble all the scenes so they fit the PBS time slots.

      • MKDO

        You are nice to buy this explanation, but it seems not to be true based on the mucked-up edits in prior seasons which (in the broadcast versions) kept from us the whole incident of the stolen snuff box and the run-up to Mary’s offer to William of time off to visit his mother, for example. Only in the purchased DVD did these points emerge in correct plot-flow condition. I’m afraid Rebecca is spouting protective corporate-speak here. At least based on prior seasons’ practice, it has absolutely NOT been a mere matter of cutting commercials but involves cuts that have truly harmed the narrative by introducing resolutions to developing issues without showing us the run-up development process of those issues.

      • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

        I think it’s standard practice now that all these DVD sets of TV shows and movies have bonus scenes that were left on the cutting room floor (as well as bloopers – which I’d love to see for this show!) So I’m thinking that those extra scenes weren’t seen on ITV in the UK either. Beyond that, it’s hard for me to think of Masterpiece as harming Downton Abbey since we never would have gotten to see it at all if PBS hadn’t brought it to us.

      • MKDO

        Never meant to blame PBS for bringing us the series, which I thank them both in spirit and in donations for having done. I’m interested in the possibility that U.K. viewers did not see those scenes either. In Season 1 there were also scenes on DVD (not in broadcast) where Matthew asked his mom if they should go up to D.A. following news of Pamuk’s death — not very important to narrative — and one where Thomas and O’Brien discussed briefly whether to use the info about Mary — very important in my view. My main gripes though are about the snuff box incident and the run-up to William’s trip to visit his mother — both essential to the flow. Don’t yet have the Season 2 DVD so as to make the same comparison there. You seem to be plugged in at PBS in a way I’m not so maybe you could let us know whatever you find out about whether U.K. viewers saw the scenes we did not. Thanks in any case.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/insidethirteen Gotham Tomato

      They have to recut the show to show it here. In the UK, the show is on ITV and runs with commercials. Just like commercial networks here, at least 20 minutes out of every hour is commercials. So they have to re-edit the show to make it commercial free and fit into the PBS time slots. But according to Rebecca Eaton, we don’t miss anything. Scenes may not be grouped in the same way they are in the UK, but they are all there.

  • ellebnyc

    Do you mean the altAr? The altEr sounds as if you are having a cat fixed.

    • Ben@THIRTEEN

      ahhhh, good catch. Thanks- we’ll make the change.

  • Erika

    Just saw that iTunes has the “Unedited UK Version” available. The whole season for $19.99.

  • Yvonne

    Everyone is on a Downton Abbey high around here!
    Thank you Debbie! Your blog, much like Downton Abbey, never disappoints!

    • http://www.thirteen.org/insidethirteen Gotham Tomato

      You’re welcome! I’m glad you like my blog!

  • RVA gal

    Huh, it seems that different PBS stations ran different versions because I saw the whole thing in Richmond, VA. We saw the wedding and there was no disappearance/ re-apperance of Sybil and Tom. The show started about 9:03 and it ended at 10:57 here with no interruptions.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/insidethirteen Gotham Tomato

      That is the same length the show was here. There weren’t different versions. We all saw the beginning of the wedding but no actual ceremony.

  • deborah spencer

    I learned “hobbledehoy” as part of a nursery rhyme, the third verse of which was “this is the way the farmer rides, hobbledehoy, hobbledehoy . . .”

  • Anne

    I never have watched this show,I have heard such good reviews I thought I would tape it last night for season 3.
    Will I be able to get up to speed without loosing interest ? Anne

  • dr2mom

    Geez.. that kind of irritates me that after 3 long suffering years awaiting the Mary/Matthew wedding they decide to edit it out of our version…infuriating.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/insidethirteen Gotham Tomato

      They didn’t edit it out of our version – there was no Matthew & Mary wedding in the UK either. I guess Fellowes thought that it would be anti-climactic.

  • http://www.facebook.com/louismunozjr Louis Muñoz

    Oh my goodness, I enjoyed the Downton Dish WAY, WAY more than the season premiere. Julian Fellowes needs you as his muse, Debbie, you’re a much better writer than what he provided us with last night. Re: the wedding, it felt to me that they hobbled two UK episodes together for the one ep we got last night. In other words, “build-up, build-up, buid-up,” brief wedding scenes, then episode end, then second episode added on. Ultimately, disappointed with last night’s premiere, but hanging in, I’m too devoted a fan now! Thanks for all the dish, EXCELLENT recap!!!

    • http://www.thirteen.org/insidethirteen Gotham Tomato

      Thanks Louis, and you’re welcome! I have fun writing it so I’m happy when people enjoy it!

  • http://www.facebook.com/louismunozjr Louis Muñoz

    P.S. Only one mention the whole entire “epidose” of “Branson (I mean Tom)” and (Lady) Sybil’s upcoming baby?!?! And barely a baby bump to show for it? ANYway…here’s a link I found showing the floor plan for Highclere Castle. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d love this (and fantasizes about living there)! Enjoy, fellow Downtonites! Thanks again, Debbie!!


  • Linda F.

    Great job, as always, Debbie! It’s always a delight (and challenge) to recognize your cultural references. This time I had to look up Honey BooBoo, LIPA, and Tito—but I’ll bet I’m one of the few who knew Papodopolous! :-)

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

      LOL, yes, I wondered how many people would recognize Max Kellerman’s speech from Dirty Dancing, but I thought it fit. But I’m sorry I had to be the one to inform you about Honey BooBoo and LIPA.

  • Linda F.

    Here’s an article about why there was no scene of Matthew and Mary
    exchanging wedding vows.

    “Downton Abbey” Writer Explains Season 3 Premiere’s Missing Moment:


    • Ben@THIRTEEN

      Great info. Thanks for sharing!

  • whilemyheartbeats

    I missed out on the first two seasons of Downton because of a family illness, which settled down a bit during the summer — my public library had them on DVD, that’s how I caught up, once I realized that this was something I wanted in my life. Anyway else who comes late to the party as I have might want to try the same route.

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

      That’s a great idea! Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/elizabeth.stephens.100 Elizabeth Davis Stephens

    You’re fabulous. HILARIOUS RE-CAP.
    A real LOL’er. or is it ‘ar ?

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

      Thank you! I’m glad you liked it.

  • Joanne

    I adore your recaps – they’re great! However, you left out an all-important comma. There’s a big difference between “Will I do, Carson?” and “Will I do Carson?” LOL!

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/downton-dish-season-3-episode-1/ Gotham Tomato

      Yikes! That would be an entirely different show, and one more suited to HBO than PBS!

  • Madam Ovary :)

    Hello there! Have been a big fan of yours on tomandlorenzo and here I find you – thanks for providing the link and more access to your wit and wisdom.

  • Peggy

    Will there be a Dowton Abbey 5?

    • http://www.thirteen.org/program-content/dispatch-from-the-downton-abbey-diaspora-16/ Gotham Tomato

      Yes there will! They go into production for Season 5 in February.

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