Downton Abbey Recap: We’ve never been more thankful not to be Crawleys

Downton Abbey Season 3 Christmas Special
Downton Abbey Season 3 Christmas Special
Photography courtesy of eOne Media

By Randi Bergman and Paige Dzenis

As if Season 3 wasn’t tragic enough, we were dealt one final blow on Sunday night’s Downton Abbey finale. For the second week in a row, we were rushed through two heavily packed episodes full of drama for both the upstairs and downstairs crews. Thomas was vindicated, Mrs Patmore was proposed-to, Branson was seen topless, Mary had a baby…and then something else happened. And while we’ll leave spoilers until after the click-through, let us just ask: Why can’t characters be written off the Brenda Walsh way?


Downton Abbey Season 3 Christmas Special

Worst musical interlude:
Sure, they’re maintaining the old way by having a parade of bagpipes playing and morning, noon and night at Duneagle Castle in Scotland. But judging by the Earl of Grantham’s expression at 8am, we weren’t the only ones wondering why, exactly, bagpipes have to be the backdrop to everything.

Best Shrimpy joke:
While there are endless jokes that could be made about the nickname Shrimpy, we’ll go with Vulture’s “No one puts Shrimpy in a corner.”

Worst suspense mechanism:
While we weren’t entirely sure what the Christmas Special had in store, thanks to the internet we knew something tragic was going to unfold. So when most of the episode had the men of Downton carrying guns around and learning to hunt we were on the edge of our seats, expecting a mistaken murder to happen at any moment. (After all: you don’t introduce a gun unless it’s going to go off.)

Best use of the newsboy cap:
Randi’s had a hate-on for newsboy caps that even Ryan Gosling in The Notebook couldn’t turn on its head. She, however seems to be changing her tune after witnessing the servants (and Branson’s) flawless country fair outfits with the Crawleys are away in Scotland.

Best headbands:
Edith’s post-spinster uniform seems to get better each week. This week’s silk headbands were A+.

Downton Abbey Season 3 Christmas Special

Best double entendre:
“Mr Cocks knew what I liked,” says Mrs. Patmore about her former delivery man. We’re sure he did, Mrs Patmore, we’re sure he did.

Most covert bachelor:
Who knew Doctor Clarkson was a single man? Though we’re very disappointed that Isobel was quick to turn down his advances, even if they were fuelled by an extra shot of punch. We’re thinking she just may need a shoulder to cry on next season…

Most biased judgement of character:
When Mary tells Matthew “You think me nice. No one else does,” he responds by explaining why she is in fact, nice: Because he’s seen her naked.

Best sleeve reference:
When granny refuses to judge Rose’s Gillies’ Ball dress (though Lady Flicher thinks she looks “like a slut”), she admits to have worn the leg ‘o mutton sleeve. Aka the 1890s equivalent of the 1980s regret sleeve.

Downton Abbey Season 3 Christmas Special

Most curious encounter:
What, exactly was going on with O’Brien and Wilkins? First it seemed like there was a possible romance brewing, what with the talks of international travel and secret eye-locking across the kitchen table. But nope, once O’Brien was asked to help with cousin Susan’s hair, Wilkins turned on her. Which makes us wonder: do all lady’s maids have to be secretly evil?

Most too ironic to not be on purpose moment:
How hilarious of things for O’Brien and Wilkins to fight over, it was hairdressing. Has Lady Flincher taken one look at O’Brien’s legendarily bad bangs?

Best drunk:
Mosley! He’s really gone from being a concerned valet to a fun-loving lush, hasn’t he?

Strangest surprise:
Can anyone explain what the point of Anna dancing a few new steps in front of Bates was? Bueller?

Best suit:
Thomas certainly knows how to dress during his days off. The navy blue pinstripe suit and fedora was perfectly 1920s. (And just a touch Boardwalk Empire) Jimmy, now that you’re friends with Thomas you should take him up on some sartorial advice.

Downton Abbey Season 3 Christmas Special

Best replacement daughter:
We saw this one coming: Rose will be shipped off to Downton while her parents go to India. (Which, by the way, is that move punishment for losing all their money? We’re unclear on the lordship conventions…) Cora could barely watch Rose and Susan bicker without getting misty-eyed and making comparisons to Sybil, but it will be interesting to see if she can tame Rose’s wild side.

Worst replacement daughter:
If Edna, the new maid had ever seen Downton Abbey before, she’d know that nothing good ever comes for a servant with big eyes. We all know what happened to Ethel and Marigold, Aunt Rosamund’s maid, and now we see that Edna will never be a dame. Get it?

Best replacement son-in-law?
Now that the Earl is primed to appreciate the changing times (don’t want to wind up like Shrimpy!) and likely experiencing extreme grief over Matthew’s death will he approve of Edith’s courtship with Gregson? After all, he must want at least one of his daughters to have happiness…

Best humble-brag:
Sorry Mrs Hughes, Carson can’t come to the fair with you because it’s simply too hard being at the top: “Don’t envy me, you know what they say, uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.”

Strangest way to think of a baby:
Admittedly, we’ve never had the future of our home tied to the birth of our child, but when Mary says “we’ve done our duty” while holding her newborn, we were a wee bit irked.

Biggest way to ruin our lives:
Thanks to actor Dan Stevens
wanting out of his Downton Abbey contract, we’ve been dealt our second painful Crawley death this season. Listen here, Stevens: If you catch us in a back alley, you better run.

And that’s it folks! Feel free to start seeing a therapist until Season 4’s premiere next year. We’ve got a few on hold.