Downton Abbey Recap: Branson and Sybil are back, Edith wants to be a writer and everyone’s into the new footman

Downton Abbey season 3 recap
Downton Abbey season 3 recap

By Randi Bergman and Paige Dzenis

We’re almost halfway through the third season of Downton Abbey and, despite the warnings of those who downloaded it in the fall, things just keep getting better and better. This week we discover that Lord Grantham is just as useless as we’ve thought all along. (He’s still the best at becoming outraged over anything his daughters do, so perhaps he should consider a career in that?) Elsewhere, Anna worries that Bates is worried about her, Matthew worries about Lady Mary’s decision to wallpaper the nursery and Edith worries about having nothing to worry about. Whew! We cover all of this and more in our recap, so read on

Best reason to become a writer:
“Gardening? You can’t be that desperate.” –Granny to Edith, on her post-jilting hobby options.

Best reason to hire a footman:
Though everyone universally slams Ethel for being a prostitute, they’re more than happy to hire Freddy, the new footman, solely for his looks. After all, “We all need a little cheering up around here,” says Mary.

Downton Abbey season 3 recap
Photography courtesy eOne Films

Longest legacy:
Poor O’Brien. While she seems to have grown a conscience this season, she’s still treated with the malice she deserved in season one. Maybe it’s time for a bang chop?

Most improved hair, maybe:
But wait—it does indeed look like O’Brien has a new hairstyle this season! Gone is her signature mop of brown curls at the crown of her head—now it seems to be all about two little ringlets on either side of her face. And is it just us or does her hair look a touch lighter? O’Brien, we apologize for not complimenting you on this new look earlier!

Best drop of the mic:
When Thomas walks in on Carson teaching Alfred about the various spoons used at Downton, we expect some sass to follow. However, we didn’t think it would come from Carson! “Jealous? I don’t know why. He asked for help, you never did.” Boom! Mic drop, Carson out. See ya, Thomas.

Biggest mystery:
What is going on in prison? Bates, can you send us some letters too, because we really don’t understand the ongoing issue between you, the guards and your roommate. (But we are thankful it didn’t end with violence!)

Most ’90s problem:
When Daisy spends the afternoon with William’s father she decides to ask him for some advice with her love life. While her father-in-law is more than happy that she’s interested in a new man, he doesn’t know if she should make the first move as that’s too modern a problem for him. We’re pretty sure the same “modern problem” was the plot of many an episode of original Degrassi and 90210, so sorry Daisy… it doesn’t get any easier as the decades pass.

Downton Abbey season 3 recap

Best way to lighten a revolution:
Nothing like talking décor preferences to make harboring a criminal seem like fun. Granny didn’t like the Irish castle either, Branson.

Biggest wimp:
Branson, you suck. While you may love Ireland, you need to love Sybil more—and leaving a pregnant woman alone in a land she doesn’t know is not the way to do it. (And you know that Bates would have turned himself into the police before he’d let Anna meet the same fate… so get it together. Please!)

Best sad scene:
Ethel giving her toddler to her soldier-fling’s parents. Sob, sob, sob, sob.

Worst sad scene:
Bates and Anna reading the backlog of each other’s letters. *cue our eye roll montage.*

And that’s it folks, until next week! Stay tuned for our recap of Episode 4 next Monday, January 28! You can catch new episodes of Downton Abbey Sunday nights at 9 p.m on PBS

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