Downton Abbey 3×02


Laura Carmichael shone in the second episode (technically, episode 3!) of Downton’s third season. Alas, she has been just as neglected and underestimated by the media as her character is at Downton, so I hope this episode will garner her a bit of the attention Michelle Dockery and Joanne Froggatt have garnered here in the States! When this season aired last autumn on ITV, the jilting of Edith at the altar by the unfairly bullied and brow-beaten Sir Anthony Strallan brought out pitchforks from the legions of fans who warmed to the pairing and the prospect of Edith finally getting her Happily-Ever-After. Unfortunately, for reasons as yet unknown, Julian Fellowes decided that was not to be. and the circumstances surrounding the jilting soured me on Violet and Robert a bit. Historically speaking, Anthony was a great catch not only due to the shortage of elgible men after the Great War, but because he was well-off, in possession of his own estate, and was obviously fit enough–injured arm notwithstanding–to father children.

Violet was hesitant about the match in the Christmas special, but no one in the family presented any alternatives for Edith’s interest. Based on season 1, I can fully imagine that any of Edith’s tentative suitors were given the cold-shoulder by the family simply because–subconsciously or not–they just don’t value Edith. And if Mary so freely laughed at Edith’s attempts to catch Matthew to Matthew’s face (and he laughed too!), and wagered she could distract Sir Anthony away from Edith, I can also easily imagine her sabotaging the pursuit of any young man who ever showed interest in Edith during social events at Downton or in London. Ironically, Sir Anthony was one of the many suitors paraded through Downton for Mary’s perusal, so perhaps his jilting was a given! But at the end of the day, I want Edith to be with a man who will fight for her hand in spite of the family’s lifelong habit of dismissing, overlooking and undermining her.

Other thoughts:

  • Is Mrs. Hughes clear of breast cancer, or not? The ambiguity of her words and sending Mrs. Patmore to whisper the results of Dr. Clarkson’s tests to Carson was confusing.
  • Edith’s wedding gown was much, much, much more beautiful and flattering than Mary’s.
  • Glad to see Sybil has some spark left in her character, and that she dared to joke about sex in front of Granny!
  • I wonder why Martha packed up and left after…what…a week or a fortnight at Downton. Was Shirley MacLaine only available or willing to do two episodes?
  • Daisy must have a thing for emotionally unavailable footmen!
  • Cora’s speech to Edith post-jilting was supposed to be reassuring, but it came across as callous. What and why is she being tested? For being the “ugly duckling” middle sister whom nobody gave a fig about? And it was another blow that the family didn’t even have the same kind of conversation about the situation as the servants (go Alfred!)!! The next cut is to Robert moaning about losing Downton and Matthew offering Reggie Swire’s money to him–how rude!
  • It would have been as interesting if Mary had written that letter (just as interesting as the possibility that Bates killed Vera). She was willing to fleece her maternal grandmother of her fortune, and would do anything to save Downton…
  • Poor Molesley. He’s already ignored by Matthew and most the servants, and now he’s been pulled into the Thomas/O’Brien War!
  • Downton is saved by Daisy ex machina! How many miracles and coincidences can this show collect?
  • If Robert was hard up for cash, why couldn’t he sell their second country estate? No need to downsize when you can sell up.
  • I’m still an Anna/Bates fan, but putting Bates in gaol was a mistake, especially in light of the contrived plot Anna must unravel to prove his innocence.

Leave your ruminations and reactions in the comments below!


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14 replies on “Downton Abbey 3×02”
  1. says: Robin Woods

    I was so-o-o sad for Edith & HOW DARE Cora give that little speech to her! Laura Carmichael is a great actress & has done a great job as Edith! I wish Julian would get off the stick about her! Give her a good storyline for once. I really thought Edith was getting her “happily ever after” this time, unless Patrick, the REAL heir, is to return! That would be a story. Knock Mary right out of HER place as the future Countess!
    A divorce now would be scandalous, especially after the Pamook scandal AND Sir Richard Carlisle! I know there are probably laws there that decide these things.
    I’ve thought that, before, Edith & Patrick, might have been able to “carry on” if Edith stayed un married, but I want better than that for her!
    Robert can’t seem to think clearly about money nor does he have good advisors! Sell the London House, many others did at this time. There are many ways for him to have saved Downton & he seems to have no clue!

  2. I’m going to be ornery. I just can’t watch this series all the way through anymore. I loved the first season and own it. Only watched a couple of second season episodes. When I was in London in October I saw a third season episode that just killed the series for me (and a character…and I know there’s a second death coming. This almost ruined my vacation, LOL.). I think it’s unfortunate I am not immune to spoilers that drift across the Atlantic, because they’ve affected my attitude.

    Nearly every character deserves a good smack, and I am generally non-violent. I must add too that I’m a big fan of Julian Fellowe’s novels and am looking forward to his American-set series, but I’ll probably want to smack those people too.

    There. Now I’ve done it. The sets and costumes are still to die for, though.

  3. says: Jennifer

    I am fairly disappointed in season three so far. Seasons one and two were amazing and I have waited long months for season three to air here in the states. But there seems to be something lacking.
    The storyline seems “shaky.” Robert isn’t coming across as passionate and sincere as he did in the previous seasons. Matthew seems a little lost, and I’d like to see him be a little more assertive. I was totally aghast when Sir Anthony left Edith at the altar! I thought Edith was finally going to have her perfect day. And yes, her wedding gown was awesome! Much prettier than Mary’s.
    I know because of whispered spoilers that someone is going to die. So I find myself on edge waiting for it, and dreading the possible loss of one of my favorite characters. Bates needs to get out of jail and back to Downton. He adds so much to the house dynamics. I want more of Sybil’s previously displayed spunk. She is adorable. I love Daisy, but the whole Thomas/O’Brien thing is getting creepy.
    Even though season three has yet to be what I wanted, I am still a totally obsessed American. My cell phone ring tone is the Downton Abbey theme song. And when I got home last night and realized that my television recorder had somehow missed the first seventeen minutes of the episode, I was frantic to find it somewhere online that I could see those cut out minutes! I spent an hour looking for it, found it, watched the whole episode, then sat on the sofa digesting all that had transpired. It’s hard to wait a whole week to get just 60 more minutes of Downton. I love you Julian Fellowes! You seem to know just what we Americans crave. You’re a genius. 🙂

  4. says: Henry Heck

    Please! Money from nowhere saves Downton Abbey. It’s as though Matthew won the lottery. Why not have Edith meet and marry a rich young American, Canadian, or Australian rancher? It’s been done before – see Lillie Langtry.

  5. says: Terri

    I just found your site, but here are my thoughts on last nights Downton……
    While I do feel sad for Edith I just have this feeling that she’s going to do something(s) great as a independent woman. She has it in her, she just needs to get over her “what about me” attitude.

    You just know that Mary is not going to let Matthew take a backseat for long when it comes to running Downton.

    Robert is either completely clueless about money or just plain stupid. He could have sold off the other estates to save Downton on his own, but for whatever reason chose not to.

    I think Mrs. Hughes does have cancer, but doesn’t want to be fussed over and treated like a ” china doll” who can’t do her job, so she lied.

  6. says: bette

    1. Does no one here believe in Karma? Edith was evil to Mary sending that letter about the Turkish Ambassador. She got some of her own back. They should have sent her off to America with Grandma to find a wealthy beau her own age.
    2. Sir Anthony is a fool and a coward – to wait until the altar to pull out? considering his wavering – pre and post war – he is no catch.

  7. says: Elisa

    Last year there was online chat hosted on the “Masterpiece” website for one of the characters (can’t remember which one) which at one point a poll of who killed Vera Bates. Of those who could’ve done it, the lead was on Sir Richard Carlisle.
    Remember Sir Richard threatened her?

  8. Honestly, after having viewed the entire Season 3, I am really, really disappointed in Julian Fellowes’ storytelling abilities. I won’t say anything further than that, but I have wondered if this show is now beyond saving…I hope not!

  9. I was very upset by this episode. Lady Edith has grown on me the past few seasons. She’s the typical middle child lost in the shuffle. Robert favors Mary and Cora Sybil. Only her American grandmother seemed to want her to be happy. I failed to see the family’s objections. You would think that they would want her out of the house and not dependent, particularly after all the talk about selling the house and how broke they are.

  10. says: Caroline

    Poor Edith! She needs a chance to shine away from her sisters. I loved Edith’s dress but I still preferred Mary’s. I’m a bit tired of Mr Bates, but I’m a huge fan of Anna.

  11. says: Merilyn

    Edith is no “poor little me.” Dare I say she is a bitch? Her betrayal of Mary to the cruel world of gossip in season 1 was unforgivable. As another commenter said, she may still have a future as an independent woman, and it sounded like she was getting there when she got up for breakfast at the end of this episode. If she stops looking for validation from her family and finds her own way, that can only improve her.

  12. says: Lynn-Jane

    Edith has always been one of my favouite characters, with her “place as middle girl” and how badly she is treated…..BTW- IMO, she is the most English looking of any of the girls.
    I heard Shirley signed for only 2 episodes….who knows, they might bring her back….2 deaths in series 3 ( from my English pals ) I will not spoil it. AND Bates had been in prison before, I think.
    Edith will do something amazing….there are more characters to be introduced. Go Edith- she looked lovely! I do love the idea of her going to the USA with Grandmother and buying the lot of them out…….

  13. says: Lucy

    Lady Edith must to to America with her grandmother and meet some suitable beaus. She must get away from the scandal of being jilted at the altar, people won’t be able to even look at her in the neighborhood for a long time without wincing. Anyone who would wait til the last minute like that to back out in front of everyone is not a good prospect for marriage, so as far as I’m concerned she dodged a bullet.

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